Ask anyone who was the first man on the moon. Most of them will tell you straight out: Louis Armstrong. They might have to think a little bit harder to tell you who was second, but there will be plenty who say Buzz Lightyear. The thing is that nobody seems to remember the poor bloke who went up there with them but had to stay in the command module in orbit whilst the other two went down to the surface of the moon to take their place in the history books. No one bothers about Phil Collins. It was certainly “No Jacket Required” for him on that mission, because he was staying in while the other two got all the fun and attention. A bit like Cinderella, only there was no fairy godmother and no Prince Charming to bring in a slipper for him to try on. Just a lonely space capsule and a pair of moon boots that would never get used.
We were all glued to the telly watching his two mates bouncing around on the surface. It was really exciting, because the pictures were live, and we seriously thought that the moon aliens might pop up at any minute and capture them. The Lord alone knows what we thought they might do. Maybe hypnotise them and make them kiss one another, or slaughter them in cold blood and feast on their bones, or take over their minds and send them back to earth to weaken our resistance somehow, so that the moon people could invade us kill all who resisted, and use the survivors as slaves. None of that stuff happened though. They just bounced around a bit, stuck up a plastic flag, and came back home. A bit like me and Raymond taking our Michael to Withernsea, and me staying in the car while them two mucked about on the beach.
Our Michael loved the astronauts though. He said he wanted to be a spaceman when he grew up. He might have managed it too, only I think NASA expect you to get out of bed at a reasonable time in the morning and leave the ruddy booze alone, so when he got a bit older, he gave it up as a bad job.
Phil Collins left NASA a broken man. He couldn’t bear living in the shadow of Armstrong and Lightyear. He turned to drink and hard drugs. In the seventies he joined a progressive rock band, but he couldn’t form relationships with the others, and eventually left to record a few obscure songs of his own, and make a film about one of the great train robbers. Few who met him to day would recognise him as the man who once orbited the moon in a space pod while his pals frolicked on the surface.
Auntie Doris’s top pop pick of 1969: “Ruby – Don’t Take Your Love To Town” by Kenny Rogers. It’s a lovely story in that song. Listening to it is just like reading something in the “People’s Friend” in fact I wrote a story based on it once and sent it to them. I changed the war to World War Two, and the woman’s name to Maureen. I also had him with the tip of his thing shot off, because I thought that it was too upsetting to write about people being crippled. Any road, they never printed it.
Talking about music and men on the moon though. I would recommend that you have a listen to “Whitey on the Moon” by Gill Scott Heron. I couldn’t make it my pop pick of 69 because it didn’t come out till 1970 and it’s not really the kind of music I normally enjoy listening too. But the words are very good. I might adapt them and send them to the “People’s Friend” You never know…