Listening to the radio whilst driving up combinations of the M5, M6 and M74 yesterday on a gruelling 9 hour trip from the sunny South of England I was reminded hourly of the sad death of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins. As I drove home I wrote in my head the words here that fire forth from my fingers.
Like many people in the 80s, I was gripped by the TV spectacle that was the snooker. Not snooker. That was something else. No, ‘the’ snooker. That’s how we referred to it. A game brought back from the dead-end of the working man’s club and the seedier side of life was arguably as big then as the English Premiership is nowadays. Instead of your Rooneys and John Terrrys, it was your Reardons and Terry Griffiths that were the household names in those days. Alex Higgins was different to his contemporaries in every way. Rough, ready and rakish, he brought punk attitude to the tables. He refused to wear a bow tie (de rigeur in those days) as he claimed it itched his neck. He head butted a judge when asked to provide a urine sample. He took drugs. He smoked at the side of the tables. He drank like the ubiquitous fish and he played fast. Very fast. Hence the ‘Hurricane’ nickname.
The Hurricane came out the traps like a bolt of electricity. You know those short, short gaps between the songs in a Ramones live set? He could muster up a double figure break in roughly the same time. Remember too, that this was the era of table bores like Steve Davis. A Rick Wakeman keyboard solo could’ve passed in the time it took Davis to consider all possibilities and all angles before lining up one of his defensive shots. Higgins was all about death or glory. If he was a rock star, he’d have been like Keith Richards or The Clash or Them the New York Dolls or any of those bands who meant it 100%. His life was snooker and snooker was his life. He earned and spent an estimated £4 million in his liftetime. Spent the lot. Drugs, drink, gambling, you name it. This time last week he was living in sheltered housing, penniless, toothless and 6 stones in weight, snooker cue-thin. A tragic waste of a life. Look at the picture above and remember him like that, eh?
The Music Bit
Here‘s Neil Young doing a live verson of Like A Hurricane. Taken from the excellent Rock ‘n Roll Cowboy 4 Cd bootleg, I’m not sure where it was recorded, but it’s a cracker. Neil Young, Crazy Horse and a million amps turned up to 11.