Ian Curtis Upper Fifth Divinity Prize, 1972

A sad anniversary passed this week; even sadder to reflect that, just 8 years before the end, about to turn 16, Ian Curtis was preparing to leave the King’s School, Macclesfield, armed with 7 “O” Levels and a religious education award. I know this because he was in Upper 5 Modern and I was in Lower 5 Modern, and I happened to find this rather historically interesting 1972 school report in a box of old stuff.

I didn’t know Ian well, although we were both in the Dramatic Society and I think we were both in a play called The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew. The last time I saw him was in 1976. He handed me a dole cheque through a pane of glass and we exchanged nods.

Meanwhile here I am later in the same report, chalking up a rather indifferent trombone grade as compared to my obviously more gifted brass playing peers. It was at about this time, at the age of 14, accompanied by some of these fellow brass players, that I had my first recording studio experience. The town of Macclesfield was putting on a grand Town Faire, and to enhance the grandeur it was decided to pipe brass ensemble music from large Tannoys. For some incredible reason which I have never divined, this incidental music was recorded in Studio 1 at Abbey Road, London.

Thus it transpired that every reasonably competent brass player in Macclesfield was bussed down to Saint John’s Wood. Being in Studio 1 was mind-boggling enough; down the corridor in Studio 2 The Hollies were recording, and during a tea break they allowed some of us schoolboys to stick our heads briefly into that hallowed space. And so my life’s course was set.

10 thoughts on “Ian Curtis Upper Fifth Divinity Prize, 1972

  1. Martin Mossop May 21, 2015 / 7:25 pm

    This just gets better and better !! Rico what a dark horse you are.


  2. Alan Parker April 16, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Brilliant piece of nostalgia! Thanks. I was a few years ahead of you. I think I threw my school report away..I’m just planning a talk on the rules at Kings – minimum (and maximum) trouser width, hair length, etc. Sounds like another planet… If you’ve got any memories to share I’d be grateful.


    • ricoconning April 23, 2017 / 10:47 am

      Thanks Alan, what years were you there? I can’t even remember the rules regarding trouser width, I suppose in those days of “loon pants” it was deemed necessary to enforce trouserly decorum…


      • Alan Parker May 1, 2017 / 9:55 am

        I was a year ahead of Ian. Vaguely remember him in the Sixth Form Common Room before he got kicked out. Probably him who played us the Stooges, to no avail. Us hippies preferred Yes (no taste some folk) and Captain Beefheart.

        For rules, there were trousers too narrow (teddy boys), trousers too wide and of course hair too long. One wag came to A levels with his tie as a headband arguing that the rules did not mention WHERE the tie should be worn. Happy days!


      • ricoconning May 1, 2017 / 4:39 pm

        Happy days indeed…and happily long gone…although I did see some old friends from Kings the other day, for the first time in 40 years. They had hardly changed. Amazing.


  3. Richard Goalen May 19, 2020 / 4:39 pm

    I just chanced upon this when reading about Ian Curtis. Slightly disappointed not to see myself featuring with a likewise mediocre grade in piano. I must not have taken an exam that year. I guess I was in 3D at the time, but recognise Stuart Davies and Richard Conway who were your fellow trombonists plus one or two others from the school orchestra!


  4. ricoconning May 28, 2020 / 11:40 pm

    That’s cool Richard, I do remember those fellow trombonists slightly, and I recognize your surname, do you have an older brother?


    • Richard Goalen May 29, 2020 / 6:40 am

      I do indeed, Ian – a couple of years older than me so I guess was in the year below you


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