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Clemmy strummed a chord, sipped her coffee, and checked her watch. Scotty would be here soon. Her other pupils could pick a tune, but Scotty was going places. Scotty could not just play music, he could create it.
So could Clemmy, although she had not created much for 20 years, not since the band had folded.
The Screamin’ Demons had been a serious proposition. Part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, their first album had sold well. They had come the usual route, pub gigs, support gigs, their own tour, when they were spotted and offered a deal. The first LP had produced a track which was almost a hit.
They were aware of two things. It was Clemmy’s songwriting, playing and vocals which got them listened to. It was her long black hair, tight jeans and tighter
T-shirts which got them looked at, “the hot chick with the hot licks”.
By their third album, it was holding them back. Clemmy was fed up with record execs and video directors trying to put her in bikinis, and as much as she did not want the attention, her three band mates were jealous she got it. They insisted on writing and singing songs for the album, and Clemmy agreed, even though she could hear how weak the material was. The record flopped, their contract was dropped, and the Demons were silenced.
Clemmy was glad it had ended when it did. All three albums still sold, even the third, and the royalties paid for a modest house in a London suburb. She had seen enough budget hotels to last a lifetime, and if she never sat in a smelly tour bus again, it would be a day too soon.
She still had bills, though. A solution presented itself as she thumbed through a music paper. There were many adverts for “tuition”. Clemmy had always been good at explaining her ideas to the band, it was the music business, and there was no commuting. One advert and she was established.
Her students ranged from the hopeless, to those who were only there because of her fame. The occasional teenager would tell her how “my Dad used to love you”, but it was fun fostering talent and ambition.
Not many had been as talented as Scotty, though. He had come to Clemmy, not to learn how to play, but to play exceptionally. He had given her a four-track demo from a gig, the songs full of catchy hooks and driving rhythms.
The doorbell rang and she put down her guitar and walked to the hall, seeing his tall shape behind the frosted glass. A second later his frame filled the open door. He wore a black T-shirt of the latest band, under a German army surplus shirt. Baggy combats stretched to his off-white Converses, his guitar case in his left hand.
‘Come in,’ said Clemmy. ‘Get set up, I’ll make coffee.’
When she entered the lounge with two steaming mugs, Scotty was poised on one of two stools. His guitar was cradled in his lap, the neck in his left hand, his right running through his shoulder-length black hair.
‘So, how are preparations going for the gig?’ Scotty’s band had their first headline slot. The back room of a pub, but a big thing when your name is used to get people in.
‘Pretty good – in fact, I’d like us to work on a song we want to add to the set.’
‘You’ve written another one?’
‘No – what we’d like to do is … Well, we’d like to do one of yours!’
Clemmy was touched. Over the years, she had heard her work murdered by performers with far less talent. She was sure she could trust him. ‘Which one?’
They had chosen one from the debut album, a killer riff, a clap-and-sing-along chorus and an unforgettable hook. For the next two hours she passed on all her tricks. He mastered them quickly, all except part of the hook.
Eventually, she put down her guitar and stood up. She slid behind him and placed her left hand over his on the neck. ‘Like this,’ she said, manipulating his fingers. As she touched him, he stiffened. She reached for his right hand with hers, so her arms half-encircled him, then guided the plectrum to the spot where it needed to be. ‘Now pluck.’
His picking seemed shaky as he hit the note, but it was an improvement. He stiffened again, this time so much his back scraped her breasts. She felt her nipples respond involuntarily, and her own body shivered.
‘Great! That’s perfect! Now try it again, without me.’ She stepped back, glad they were not face to face, so Scotty could not see the flush in her cheeks. He plucked the strings more confidently, and the result was perfect. ‘You’ve got it. Now practise like your life depends on it.’
Scotty smiled and played the hook over again, and looked at Clemmy. ‘You’ll come, of course?’
‘To the gig. It’d really mean a lot to me. I’ve already put you on the guest list.’
‘Oh! Well, if you’re sure …’
‘We’d be honoured. And nervous, but you always say nerves are good – keep you focused.’ Clemmy laughed to hear the glib comment she had once used to get their drummer out of the toilet now turned into a great saying.
‘Of course I’ll come!’