Stephen Cobb
Stephen Cobb, Snapshot 2      Stephen Cobb, Snapshot 1

Vital and Non-Vital Statistics:

Coventry, England, 1952
(the year the Queen became Queen)

Middle/High School:
King Henry VIII

(all male, founded 1545, by The King)

Leeds, 1971-74

(as in "The Who Live at Leeds")

McMaster University, Ontario
(a nuclear reactor + Tim Horton donuts)

Sussex University
(who needs a PhD in William Blake?)

US since 1981
(But welcome back in UK any time, I hope)

Human from Earth
(tribe of Ursula on my mother's side)

Proudest moment: Dare Not Walk Alone
(the screening in Lithonia, Georgia)

This page contains links of personal interest but you probably shouldn't read too much into them.

We start with a couple of rock song parodies that used to be hosted elsewhere but have come home to roost:

Born To Be Wired
(a golden oldie from 1995)

Born To Be Acquired
(a 1998 sign of the times)

For some genuinely cool music, check out my friend Pamela Z, the first person to compose and perform a cell phone concerto in Japan. For cool Internet jazz check out brother man Fernando's Ancient City Radio coming to the world from Saint Augustine, where I have lived since 2001.

Strange, but possibly true: Saint Augustine's arm was one of the relics that was lost when Saint Mary's cathedral in Coventry was demolished by King Henry VIII, who founded the school that I wnt to. And Saint Augustine himself decreed the founding of the church at Reculver in Kent, my father's family's ancestral home.

Home Town Links:

For a start, there is the amazing city of Coventry, home of the original naked feminist tax protester, Lady Godiva, and the infamous voyeur (Peeping Tom is somewhere on this link). In the Middle Ages, Coventry was one of the greatest cities in Europe. The city wall had 12 gates, a strong trade and craft culture, and an enormous cathedral that has only recently been rediscovered. Founded as the Benedictine Cathedral and Priory of Saint Mary, by Lady Godiva's husband, Leofric, Earl of the ancient kingdom of Mercia, the building was demolished after the dissolution of the monastery by King Henry VIII (who used the proceeds to found the school I went to).

Over the centuries the progression was made from silk-weaving and jewelry, through watch making, to bicycles, the motorbike, sidecars, and the car. A source of automotive innovation for over a century, Coventry still makes some of the best automobile engines raced today.

Indeed, some of the fastest cars on the planet reside in Coventry, such as Thrust and Thrust SCC, fastest vehicle on the planet and the first to officially break the sound barrier, a record likened to John Cobb's landmark of 397 mph, which stood for 17 years. Cobb's Railton Mobil Special was the first vehicle to exceed 400 mph and the last piston-engined car to hold the outright world land speed record. John Cobb died a few days before I was born, while attempting to set the water speed record on Loch Ness--he was going 206.89 mph when he crashed, the first person to break the 200 mph barrier on water.

Coventry is also a place of good causes, great food, and a decent soccer team. It is a hub of artistic activity, just a few miles from the homes of Shakespeare and George Elliot. More recently fellow alumni of King Henry VIII School include dead poet Philip Larkin. Not to mention Jerry Dammers, living founder of the legendary 2-Tone label and ace Ska band, The Specials.

Back in the Day, Circa 1971

That's when I headed off to the University of Leeds, although in those days I referred to myself as "Steve." The photo on the right was taken in a railway station booth for use in the Leeds University Student Union ID Card, required for access to the Student Union building, with its famous bars and cafeteria (where the "Who Live at Leeds" album was recorded).

In fact, rock music was a major theme at Leeds. Guitarist Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) graduated from the School of English one year ahead of me, and my first year room mate was also a brilliant guitarist, Steve Donnelly, who can be heard today on albums by Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, Elvis Costello, Mitchell Froom and John Wesley Harding. He also wrote and played all the lead guitar material for the 1998 movie Still Crazy. Catch him jamming on YouTube here (he's the one on the right).

Major musical influences on my life before university were mainly black, from Blues (Coventry Library had a good collection of early field recordings) to Soul (my mates and I cried the day Otis Redding died) to Ska and Reggae, and of course Hendrix.

Many of my contemporaries shared these tastes (c.f. 2-Tone Records in the facing column). Aside from the music, I think we were deeply moved by the black struggle for freedom and equality. We were inspired by the bravery of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and we cheered the black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics. We did what we could to fight apartheid.

Stephen "Steve" Cobb, 1971

The strange shape in the lower right of the screen is a Sphinx, the official seal of the Students' Union, required because access to the union, which ranked as the largest pub in Leeds at the time, was much coveted and people were constantly trying to create forged cards.

Coventry's own Jerry Dammers wrote the anthem "Free Nelson Mandela" and I was in the crowd that charged police lines in an attermpt to stop the all-white South African rugby team from playing in Coventry.

A few weeks after the above photo was taken, Rod Stewart and The Faces were playing at Leeds the very day that Maggie May made it to #1 on both the US and UK charts. That was October, 1971 and "I was there."

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This page updated 2007 by webbloke at © Copyright, S. Cobb