Sunday 21st February 2016 my first visit to Regent St Cinema, London to watch a documentary called ‘ Basically, Johnny Moped’.
Back in mid-seventies Croydon there lurked a DIY band who, depending on how you look at it, were either well ahead of the next musical movement OR just blissfully unaware of how to function as a normal group. First time director Fred Burns’ heartfelt documentary is funny, poignant, captivating and sad-often all at the same time. And the fact that lead singer Johnny Moped was sitting just a few rows back (in the picture house where London’s first ever ‘X’ rated movie was shown) added another strange dimension to a memorable afternoon. Johnny’s Q&A after the screening was quietly moving as he tried to explain his rather wayward behaviour and how he struggles to deal with the passing of his beloved wife, Brenda.
Ill-advised tattoo’s, kidnapping, alcoholism and trouble with the mother in law are all important parts of the Johnny Moped story. Star turns from a beaming Cpt. Sensible and humbled Chrissie Hynde (fired not once but twice from the band!) add credence and pathos to an already colourful story, as the band lurch from one fully formed disaster to the next. If early punk ever stood for anything it was that people should dare to be original-and Johnny Moped (the singer and the band) achieved this in spades.
So when your local art house cinema screens this movie-go see it! Best music documentary I have seen all year. Can’t wait to see what the talented director Fred Burns does next. And go see Johnny Moped live as they sporadically promote a new album with gigs up and down the country.