In 1976 I was living in Mülheim/R. and it was the year that I became member of „1. Deutscher Ringtausch“, a club of record collectors. I was like member #87. Alfred Hebing had been a member for some time and as he lived close by (in Essen). We struck up a friendship. As our (then) girlfriends (now wives for many, many moons) would also get along fine, things ran smoothly, and soon my friend Alfred and I were offered the opportunity to make a music magazine for the club. Clumsily we did Plattenfakten I and II (II being the first issued and illustrated Star-Club Records discography – pioneer work then!). When we realized that no.II was actually sold and not given away for free, we branched out with the idea to become rich ourselves, and that’s how Gorilla Beat started: in English, as our approach was anglophile anyway – and we wanted to conquer the world. As our English was far from being perfect, this special lingo was soon branded Gorilla English.
The Gorilla Beat period was a period in my life I wouldn’t miss for all the money that Lehman Brothers wasted. We were young, we were loaded with enthusiasm up to our collar-bones, we had energy galore, we got something rolling, and we had a purpose in life, which meant running about in gorilla costumes, carrying a live size gorilla doll around (even having it at the steering wheel of my Lada car), getting legless at record fairs, being prosecuted for being too loud-mouthed, going to London record fairs making good money on German T.Rex picture sleeve singles and meeting interesting people from all around the world. Some of them have remained friends.
Gorilla Beat was a record collectors magazine dedicated to 60s music in the first place, though from the very beginning I was able to sneak in a New Wave / Punk section. It was A5-sized as long as I was on board. A nice format if you want to save on postage. In order to get Gorilla Beat started, we got up at three in the night to be the first at the car boot sales at four in the morning buying those records for little money which we would later sell at record fairs at collectors‘ prices. We put the profits into the piggy bank until the first issue was safe. At the time I was at university and regularly worked at an advertising company called Graphia in Hagen through which we were connected with a printer’s shop which we could afford. Herr Hiby was a strange guy, member of some kind of very conservative religious sect and he had a son who was continuously drinking Coca-Cola. Printing a thousand copies of an A5-sized-60-page magazine was almost beyond his scope and when one of the features included a photo of Destroy All Monsters‘ Niagara showing considerable flesh, he fired us for indecency. Alfred then came up with Druckerei Hitzegrad in Dortmund who would support our (well, my) ventures until 1998 and Hitzegrad would always print our stuff at very decent costs. If Mr Hitzegrad Snr. had not taken a liking to us, we would not have been able to do what we did. Gorilla Beat always sold enough copies to finance the next issue. Almost all of the day to day costs like petrol, paper, type writer ribbons, photocopies etc. were paid for by ourselves.
When debuting with Gorilla Beat No.1 at the Hannover Record Fair in 1978, I had graced our table with a large banner saying „Gorilla Beat – Deutschlands Oldies Magazine No.1“. Also – when he visited our stand – I greeted the head of 1. deutscher Ringtausch record club, Frank Goldmann, with “Oh, Herr Silbermann”. I still remember Detlef Voge, who had the stall to our right, looking sceptically at me. He knew I had started a war. I didn’t.
Goldmann somehow was a descendent of the Goldmann publishers family. It is needless to say, that I regarded Goldmann as a complete asshole and dumbhead who was looking for some place where he would be acknowledged. And I can be a pretty arrogant asshole, too. Pretty soon afterwards we got a letter from Goldmann’s lawyer accusing us of false allegation: Whereas we interpreted “No.1” in regards to quality, Goldmann regarded it in regards to time. He was first, we were second, our lawyer successfully beat down the charge for damages by 50%, but nevertheless we paid.
I later paid again – when Mr. Goldmann had nazi era picture discs replicated: a series of discs “Was die SA so singt” or something like that. I was furious, and I addressed a letter to him “An die Nazivertriebsgesellschaft Frank Goldmann”. Another response from his lawyer, and my lawyer soon found out that as long as he only sold the discs in the USA – which he did (I had seen his ad in Goldmine magazine, that’s how came to know about these records) – it was not illegal by German law!! But me openly using the expression “Nazivertriebsgesellschaft” on the letter with the mailman able to see it, was fulfilling an act of libel. My lawyer was doing his utmost of freeing me of the charges – as he had (as far as I remember) lost a grandfather or his father in a nazi concentration camp and was personally horrified by Goldmann’s unscrupulousness. He did not succeed. I was a student then, did not have a substantial monetary background. I gave in. Today I would go through all official channels.
Okay, back to nicer things:
From the start, Ari Plikat supplied us with great cartoons. His drawing graced the cover of #1. He also designed the Gorilla with the guitar. Wonderful. We still write each other postcards these days.
From #8 onwards Gerard Davelaar, Dutch music connoisseur and collector, supplied us with professional artwork for the cover. He would also have postcards, stickers and promotion posters printed for us – all without getting paid for it. He talked Dutch comic artist Jan de Boer into drawing a cover for us (#16). Gerard really gave Gorilla Beat a boost, and just for the love of it. (A wonderful guy, we are still friends today and visit each other regularly.)
Soon we also had diverse record collectors contributing to Gorilla Beat: Pontus von Tell (Sweden), John Wagstaff (Germany), Rainer Moddemann (Germany), Greg Provost (of the Chesterfield Kings, USA), Roeland Bajema (NL)…
#12 had been published. I had struck up a friendship with Kim Kane of The Slickee Boys. Alfred and I wanted to leave another mark on the fanzine circuit. Why not include a disc with our magazine? The Slickee boys would supply us with a track recorded live at the University of Maryland. “A Long Way To Go”. The sound was brilliant. The song was great too.
Our mag was only A5 (14,8cm wide) and a 7” (17cm) disc was too big to be enclosed. We needed a 6” disc, and in order to keep it from breaking when mailed with the magazine, it ought to be a flexi disc.
We negotiated a deal with Sonopresse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Okay, affordable. We mailed the tape to Rotterdam, and a couple of weeks later we were informed that we could pick up our 1.000 copies of “A Long Way To Go” at the port of Duisburg-Ruhrort. It had virtually been shipped. By ship!! And the box, the 1.000 copies had been put in was flimsy, not really up to river navigation standards, and thus damaged. On picking the package up at Duisburg-Ruhrort, the flexis already came falling out. The silver-print on the flexi-records had not been dry when they were thrown into the cardboard box, so most of the copies were smeared. When I put the disc on my turntable at home, I was disgusted. Such a muffled sound! Well, we had send the tape by mail and it turned out that the tape had been x-rayed at the customs and consequently been ruined. We would know better today. Here it is nevertheless.
In 1984 Alfred and I parted company. Alfred carried on with Gorilla Beat for another 5 issues. I started hartbeat! (first billed as h’artbeat).
The contents of GORILLA BEAT as far as I was involved:
#1: The Searchers, The Big Three, Casey Jones & The Governors, Gaslight Union, The Sorrows, New Wave records
Cover drawing by Ari Plikat
#2: The Who, Downliners Sect, Beat in Germany, The Mojos, Faron’s Flamingos, New Wave records
#3: The Yardbirds, The Eyes, Lee Curtis & The All-Stars, Ariola Liverpool Beat records, Hilton Valentine, New Wave records
#4: The Move, Washington DC’s, The Rattles, British artists sing in German, New Wave records
#5: The Rattles, The Monks, The Action, The Koobas, Gloria cover versions, 70s Newcastle-on-Tyne scene, pre-Move bands, New Wave records
#6: The Troggs, The Creation, Ton Steine Scherben, The Remo 4, The Phantom Brothers, The Darelycks, New Wave records
#7: The Hollies, The Small Faces, Ian & The Zodiacs, The Rivets, P1/E, New Wave records
#8: The Doors, The Nashville Teens, Manfred Mann, Bomp Records, New Wave records
#9: The German Blue Flames, Procol Harum, Elvis Costello, Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, Liverpool New Wave scene, The Roadrunners, New Wave records
No copy in my house! I guess it was green and had The Animals in war gear on the cover
#10: The Animals, The Smoke, The Liverbrds, The Tonics, Skip Bifferty pt.1, New Wave records
#11: Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Dynamite Records, Skip Bifferty pt.2, The Animals, The Applejacks, Elvis Costello, New Wave records
#12: The Pink Fairies, The Moody Blues, The Shamrocks, Joy Division, Terry Brooks, The Birmingham 60s Beat scene, Polydor International Records, New Wave records
#13: The Kinks, The Slickee Boys, Dave Edmunds, The Naturals, New Order, New Wave records, plus 6″ flexi disc: THE SLICKEE BOYS „Long Way To Go“
We also had a „Do-it-yourself“-sleeve printed for about 400 of the flexis. You had to cut it out along given lines, fold it and glue it together.
#14: Screaming Lord Sutch, Steve Gibbons, The Boots, The Feelies, Nick Lowe, PVC, New Wave records
#15: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Tomorrow, Pink Floyd, The Misunderstood, Bitter Blood, The Vogue, The Chesterfield Kings, Psychedelia, The Creation, New Wave records
In my opinion the best issue of Gorilla Beat
#16: Joy Division, John’s Children, Jet, Radio Stars, The Angry Men, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, New Wave records
Cover art by Jan de Boer
#17: John’s Children, Jook, Andy Ellison, Nederbeat, The Milkshakes, Peter Green, 60s re-releases, New Wave records