Jeff Plewman aka Nash the Slash.
26th March, 1948 – 10th May, 2014, RIP
On a Monday evening, 8th Sept 1980, a certain youthful 14 year old Mancunian boys life changed forever. Why? Well the simple truth was this 14 year old was not just attending his first ever live concert but he was also free from the shackles of parental guidance and in the company of several close personal friends. These youths were attending the Apollo Theatre, Ardwick Green, in Manchester, UK. The event – seeing Gary Numan’s – Teletour ’80 live.
That alone was and would have been enough to fulfil this particular 14 year old teenagers untethered night of excitement and adventure. However this extraordinary event and evening was given an added dimension when soon after 20:00pm a bandage face man wearing a white top hat, white suit to match and carrying a violin took to the stage. By his side he had a stack system of electronic devises that provided sound and music. Set-up beside this assortment of electronic analogue devises, he had a small keyboard (synthesizer) and other string instruments, including a rack, upon it an assortment of string instruments, from mandolins to violins and violas. After a twist or two of the stacks modulators an electronic score came bouncing out of this backing system. This mummified apparition began to play his violin which was not like your usual violin, “oh no!” for it was hooked up to an electronic cable that sent a cascade of deafening electric sound spewing from the bows connective touch with the strings of his instrument, which in turn amplified and mixed with the sound of the syncopated drum machine music which accompanied the feverish red dotted light display coming from his background units. When this bandaged man spoke the audience noted a voice that sounded strangely powerful, uniquely heavy, almost foreign, despite the clear English dictation of his lyrics. For the next 45 minutes the audience was provided with what would be the track listing which included material from his “Dreams and Nightmares”, (1979). (later re-released on CD as “Blind Windows”, 1997). Most of his set however was given over to new material from his forthcoming album as it was to become at the time, “Children of the Night”, (1981). This wonderful comic strip vision of disbelief ladies and gentlemen was the first live act I had ever witnessed and the name of this Avant-garde, multi instrumentalist was, Nash the Slash – “Nashville Thebodiah Slasher”. Former founding member along with Cameron Hawkins of 1970’s Progressive Rock band FM. He went down a storm with the legion of Numanoids gathered that night and became a personal cult hero of many a Numan fan for decades thereafter.
“Children of the Night 1981”
“Blind Windows 1997”
So why is Toronto’s very own Canadian export and musical enigma getting a mention on TCMR. The simple truth is his massive, ever lasting effect on that Mancunian kid – me, which was immense, as was the whole event that evening, which was topped-off with the inclusion of my musical hero Gary Numan. If however you are unfamiliar with Nash the Slash and his other work, then you will not know of his obvious loving connection to the genre and therefore I am afraid you have missed a vast treat. Firstly you only have to listen to the music and lyrics to his own written material to note his own love of the macabre and the horror themes denoted in his musical aspirations. I mean his bandaged persona and the title of his most noted album, “Children of the Night” heavily hint at the direction of his own personal influences. Even his musical cover work of others in the music world – often branched out into the darker recesses of rocks eclectic back catalogue. If you have ever heard the menacingly dark tone and teasing lyrics of his outstandingly eerie, “Swing- Shift” (my personal favourite), then you will rightly understand his importance. What is clear about this lone musical figure, was his beloved side projects and this is were he clearly figures his mention on this blog.
“Nash the Slash – Swing-Shift”
He became renowned for his work in re-developing classic movie soundtracks for live cinematic events and never more highlighted in ‘2000, when he developed his own soundtrack composition to F. W. Murnau’s, “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” (1922). He played his musical composition, often accompanied along side this classic cinematic feast, at organised special theatre showings, or at Nash’s personal shows. Reviews of these events never once suggesting anything other than entertainment genius. In that same year Nash the Slash released this particular soundtrack on CD via his own independent record label Cut-Throat Productions.
“Soundtrack, Cut-Throat Productions”
“Live performance of F. W. Murnau’s classic featuring Nash the Slash”
Nosferatu with Nash The Slash Soundtrack
Previous to this he had also worked his same magic upon, Robert Wiene’s, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920). Again these live events gaining massive positive reactions from those fortunate audiences members attending these musical – cinema extravagances. These special showings taking place over many years after their debut. They becoming regular occurrences in his home city in particular.
“Another Nash the Slash favourite, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”
During ‘1980 Nash the Slash accompanied Gary Numan’s Teletour ’80 as the UK support act. In Gary Numan’s ‘1981, farewell gigs at Wembley Arena he was also the main support act along with “Shock” (featuring Tik and Tok – Xtro (1981) and Barbie Wilde – Hellbound: Hellraiser II, (1988) and the author of ‘The Venus Complex, (2012)). Nash even performed during Numan’s actual live set list. Of the new material played that night for Numan’s forthcoming album “Dance” (1981), Nash the Slash was one of the session players on the album also.
“Dance, Gary Numan 1981”
Nash the Slash did the opening accompaniment violin solo to the delightfully haunting, “Cry The Clock Said”. He also played during the live version of the “Telekon” (1980) epic, “The Joy Circuit”. You can also catch this musical enigma on, Gary Numan’s, Micromusic (1981). This wonderful concert and Nash the Slash’s inclusion is now available on DVD.
“Nash performing with Numan on The Joy Circuit”
“Nash the Slash performing Cry The Clock Said live at Wembley Arena 1981”
On Sunday 30th November 2008, at Manchester Academy 3, UK – Flag Promotions presented a tour dedicated to Gary Numan’s staunch fan base. This event was known as the Numania ‘2008 tour. This tour featured British based bands that had either been influenced by Numan’s work, or did cover material from his Tubeway Army days to Numan’s solo work. The headliner of these gigs would be quite the surprise? A full 28 years after my first contact with the legend in the bandages, I had the good fortune of seeing – Quote: “The Godfather of Industrial Noize” – Nash the Slash do his unique live thing once again. Not only was he still the showman I remembered from youth, but for a full one and a half hours, I was mesmerised once more. He was just superb. From the darkly imaginings of “Swing-Shift” and “Children of the Night”, to his incredible electrical instrumental, “Wolf” and his now famous rendition of Jan & Dean’s (1964) hit, “Dead Man’s Curve”, It was all there in screen visuals, (including imagery of Max Schreck as Nosferatu) and topped by this strange ominous musical physical presence. His reworking and spectacular interpretation of the Iron Butterfly classic, In-A-Gada-Da-Vida (1968), which featured on his then current ‘2008 album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Nash. (A collection of old songs for a new generation), was breathtaking.
“The Godfather of industrial noize”
After this wonderful, often gothic interpreted concert output, both my wife, best friend and I had the good fortune to meet this music legend. He gave autographs to all who wanted them. He spoke to everyone who offered conversational exchanges and was affable beyond belief. Eventually he and I began a conversation which lasted a good ten minutes, he was polite and extremely courteous and answered every single question I/we asked of him. During our friendly and cordial exchanges I also mentioned my hopes of my wife and I eventually going to Canada for a holiday of a lifetime.
His response went something like this. “Well Eric, if you and Tracey, (my wife) ever make it over to Toronto you are more than welcome to stay with me, should you need a place to rest your heads!… Genuinely, I mean that sir!”
At this point I was absolutely stunned. He also enquired as to whether we as a couple were married. After answering yes. He replied, “… well if you ever wish to renew your wedding vows and you make it to Toronto then I am fully ordained by the province of Ontario to carry out weddings, so bear that in mind should you ever make the dream and get to Canada. The offer is there, I mean every word!” Sadly we never made that trip to Canada, which under the circumstances would have been very special should we have taken up his genuine offer.
“Nash the Slash, yours truly and my lovely wife Tracey Jane after the show”
“My personal signed copy of In-A-Gadda-Da-Nash”
My love of Nash the Slash, his whole imagery, persona and his musical uniqueness, I have held dear in many fond memories since that Monday evening back in September ‘1980. My meeting with him in ‘2008 only reinforced his value as both an artist and human being. On that cold November night meeting, I finally met one of my heroes on a personal basis, which was indeed a great honour and one of those extraordinary moments and privileges you only ever dream of experiencing, let alone it actually happening like some surreal moment. So for this gracious man to be beyond perceived expectation is indeed an added gift. I will always remember and never forget my brief opportunity and time spent in the company of a true genre genius. I for one will sadly miss his music, performances, humour and his undoubted magical, perhaps spooky spirit. I will definitely miss his very unique quality as a perfect entertainer of often dark and bizarre, brooding musical musings, while he still remained a gentleman of the highest order beyond his stage persona. It is clear that his legacy of work upon other movies and TV projects aside from his work upon, F. W. Murnau’s, “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” (1922) and Robert Wiene’s, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920) is what allows him every right to appear on this movie site in both recognition and contribution toward the horror genre in particular.
“Nash the Slash with his good friend Robert Vanderhorst”
On 12th May 2014, it was his close friend, collaborator and surreal artist Robert Vanderhorst broke the news of the passing of this legend. RIP, Jeff Plewman aka Nash the Slash. ‘Will always be remembered – never ever forgotten’. E.D. Leach.