For a start, here’s a picture of me in November 1995’s issue of Aktuel, Turkey’s biggest selling gossip magazine at the time. I had just got a new job at a school. At my interview, the Head said, ‘You can have this job if you give up singing in bars. And cut your hair.” This article came out three months after I started working there.
I wasn’t even working that night. I was in the legendary Flatline in Ortaköy, Istanbul. My friends’ band was playing and I was having a peaceful drink. The custom in rock bars at the time was that if a musician was recognised in the audience, he or she would be invited on stage to sing or play. I was the natural choice for a Led Zeppelin song, making, as I did at the time, much of my income from impersonating Robert Plant. This was ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and, in the picture, I am in the process of singing the oohs after the classic line, ‘I wanna be your backdoor man’. A photographer there thought this scene would be suitable to illustrate an article in the following month’s issue. I was called into the office on the Monday after this came out and, as part of the package of concessions negotiated, I had a haircut.
Anyway, I was performing with Not With My Sister in our residency in Flatline one night. Things were going well and I had been passed over the top of the crowd so often that I no longer bothered to look when I jumped off the stage. This time, I did it in the first song after our break. Most people were still at the bar or coming back in after their smoke. I landed on an unexpected patch of bare floor and felt a bit silly.
To cover up my gaffe, I knelt, screamed some lyrics into my cordless microphone and lay backwards, ending up supine on the floor. There was a pause, then a roar from the crowd. I looked up. There was a wall of people converging on me. I was being bundled. Once again, I had misread the customs in a foreign country.
The first, second and third people didn’t hurt too much. It was all a bit of a laugh. I even got a few words out into the microphone. Then someone landed onmy head. I couldn’t see anything after that but I could feel them just keep coming. My arms had been next to me. I tried to get them between my chest and the steadily increasing tonnage of people for some protection but they were wedged on the ground. It was getting hard to breathe. People kept coming. I could feel the strain on my ribcage. There was nothing I could do. I just felt the ribs give way.
Fortunately, everyone got thirsty and got off me. I finished the show without any serious attempt to take deep breaths. Nobody seemed to notice. At the end, people came up to me and said things like, “Great show. I can’t believe you do things like that.” I didn’t after that.