Johnny Remember Me

by Cathi Unsworth

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Cathi Unsworth is a writer and editor who lives and works in London. She is the author of three pop-cultural crime novels, Bad Penny Blues, The Singer and The Not Knowing, and the editor of the short story collection London Noir, all published by Serpent's Tail. Cathi has written on music, film, art, fashion and culture for Sounds, Bizarre, BFI Flipside, Mojo and Nude, amongst many others. Her collaborator on this release is Pete Woodhead, an electronic composer who cut his musical teeth as part of O Yuki Conjugate and The Sons of Silence and is now best know for his soundtrack contribution to the hit British zombie movie Shaun of the Dead. Pete and Cathi previously collaborated on the Transmissions Series that are available for free download on and continue to conspire on new projects.

Cathi Unsworth writes...

“Johnny Remember Me was originally commissioned by Brighton's Literary Loogster Jay Clifton for his Peripheral Vision series of live screen talks, in which authors were requested to pick a movie and spin off a character or situation from the film into an original short story. Already deep in research for Bad Penny Blues, a novel set between 1959-65 in Ladbroke Grove and Soho, I chose Edmond T Gréville's Beat Girl (1959), set around a swinging beat cellar club in Berwick Street that is populated both by art students and the strippers and their moody bosses from the nitespots of neighbouring Walker's Court. It was the club itself that I chose as my starting point. I had originally wanted a band to appear in the novel and had based The Buccaneers mainly on Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, but with Carlo Little, the drummer from Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages, morphing into my character Fredo Long. As it gradually became apparent that I would never fit the band into the finished tale, I let them take centre stage in this story instead. I have always been somewhat obsessed with the John Leyton song 'Johnny Remember Me', and while researching the life and times of its producer and co-writer Joe Meek for Bad Penny Blues, had pause to wonder why it was that he ended up with Johnny Kidd's band as The Tornados – but without Johnny. The song being so evocative of curses and ghosts, I wove a little urban myth of my own. Here's how it begins…”

“He stood at the back of the room, in a smartly cut pale blue suit, so cleanly shaven his skin still had a rosy glow from the razor’s kiss, thick brown hair set into a shiny pompadour that looked as though it had been set in plastic. His bulbous dark blue eyes darted around the cellar, and he pulled on a cigarette fretfully. For a second it seemed that he was too nervous to come across the floor, but then his eyes became still as they settled on what he was searching for. With a sudden sense of purpose, he walked towards Johnny. And that was when all the trouble started.”


released July 23, 2010

Written by Cathi Unsworth. Recorded by Pete Woodhead at Techsmex, London W10 on 18.04.2010. Illustration: SavX. TTW#21.



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