11:19:00 am on
Tuesday 21 May 2024

Adieu to Our Sid
David Simmonds

Not a photograph of Sid Glume.

The rock and roll world has lost another icon. Sid Glume, also known as ‘No Hand,” has died. He was 74.

Glume was socially mobile.

Born Sidney Glumsky to working class parents in the industrial city of Sheffield, England, Glume rose to fame with his backup band, Doomsday. Briefly, Doomsday was the hottest act in the pop world. It topped the charts in 1971, with the single “Obliteration” and sold five million copies of the eponymously named album.

Interviewed in 1990, Glume was modest when it came to his accomplishment. “The Beatles had broken up; Simon and Garfunkel were breaking up and people were looking for somewhere to park their loyalties. Doomsday happened to be in the right place at the right time, I guess. “Better us than Grand Funk Railroad, he told the New Daily Express.

Glume brought an unusual presence to his performances. He was taciturn, barely acknowledging his audiences. It’s a trick he claims to have learned from Miles Davis, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. 

His guitar playing style was unusual. He played it with only one hand, his right hand. His left hand never touched the fretboard.

Glume obtained melodic results by holding his instrument next to his amplifier. This produced changes in tone, distortion and feedback. As a result of his no frets approach, he was tagged with the derivative nickname No Hand; Eric Clapton is called Slow Hand.

The unusual approach, of Glume, didn’t mean his left hand wasn’t part of his act. He always used it to cradle a prop. Once he held a lighted candle, while he played; once he held a puppet. 

At his infamous Madison Square Garden concert, in September, 1971, he cradled what appeared to be a severed head, smashing it to the floor at the end of the concert as his audience gasped in horror.  He later revealed it was a head of lettuce that had been soaked in beet juice, but the damage was done.

Glume never played in America again.

Vegetable rights groups had him in their sights. He never received another invitation to play at any American venue. “I was following the same creative path as Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne and Frank Zappa,” he protested at the time. “The lettuce was given a respectful burial in a compost heap. Yet, it was me who got blacklisted.”

Never much of a vocalist, Glume nevertheless performed all the Doomsday vocals himself. He was unpopular with band members because of his insistence they wear face masks, when performing, to obscure their identities; they did not share in profits from their musical enterprise, but received pay on a per assignment basis. 

“He wanted all the attention for himself,” said one former bass player for Doomsday. “I guess he deserved it. Today, of course, his insistence on masking seems prescient.

Glume remained popular through three best-selling albums: Obliteration, Glume and Doom and Live in Luton. Glume claimed his record company wanted him to play mainstream music, but he saw this as their way of parting company with him. “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ is not the sort of material that Sid Glume and Doomsday have in their repertoire” he complained at the time. Glume was unable to secure a deal with another company.

Fed up with the music business, Glume retired in 1974 to live the sheltered life of an English country squire. He busied himself with his garden and became a successful breeder of roses. He developed a hybrid variety that was officially registered as the Glumous Maximus rose.

In recent years, Glume returned to music, developing an opera based on the Thomas the Tank Engine book series. He eyed Paul McCartney for the role of Thomas, after having been turned down by both Mick Jagger and Elton John. He was, however,  stymied by gender balance issues: most of the meaty roles, Gordon the Big Engine, Percy the Small Engine, James the Red Engine, Edward the Blue Engine and Henry the Green Engine, were for males. 

Emily the Emerald Engine was too small a part to ask Adele to take on. Although actors usually say there are no small roles. Coming up with memorable melodies was also a challenge that he had never had to face before.

E Coli did in Glume.

Sid “No Hand” Glume died of an E Coli infection traced to greens bought at a local supermarket.  He is survived by his wife Maxine, five ex-wives, twenty-three children and an uncountable number of grandchildren. He will be missed. Adieu, S

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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