Graham Brazier – a Danger to Shipping

The first time I heard of Graham was way back in the day when Hello Sailor was creating a sensation in the same way as the Stones had a decade earlier in the old country. At that time I was living in the city famous for boasting a quarter capacity town hall for none other than the Beatles..again – more than a decade before. I wasn’t there when the Beatles played but I got to see Hello Sailor at the Shoreline all those years later and I have to say they were really something. They sounded like the real thing and had charisma long before Mark Todd had the horse. No pun intended.

Speaking of which – and at this time – I had a friend who called herself Issy and she was well acquainted with the “airline made of snow” to quote Steppenwolf. She told me that she had a mental condition which involved the loss of the will to work and that when she was tasting she and her boyfriend wouldn’t do anything at all and he would not say a word for days on end and it drove her crazy and that’s probably  why she came to live in the city that didn’t succumb to the Beatles….She took me to see Graham play …..

The Shoreline was absolutely packed and Brazier was bigger than Elvis and friend or no friend it was just impossible to get near him. So I didn’t get to meet  him until I opened for his band the Legionaires  at Vic  Orientation many years later and again at the Shoreline in the 80s and a Rock Festival in Te Anau  about a decade ago where I was greeted with conviviality and asked how I was to which I replied   “I’m a danger to shipping”….which was greeted with much hilarity and from that moment I think I became one of his many friends.

If I had the time and saw that the shop was open I visited him cause you just sensed it would not be open next time you passed by….and often it wasn’t and if you pointed this out to him he would always tell you he kept regular hours. At first he was a bit wary of me but in time it was possible to hang out and share a box of dumplings from San Bao next door and listen to his amazing stories few of which were about himself and his life in music but more about writers and his father and the way his father instilled into him the fact that there is an 8th deadly sin……Gossip. I was an offender and he made it perfectly clear that he was very put out. He left a message on my answerphone something like this

“Hey Luke. Graham Brazier here.  I’m not ashamed to put my name before the GCSB.  There’s a message from the past that’s come back to haunt me and i think you may be a protagonist…This is  going back to an incident 14 years ago, so i need to talk to you.. and remembering this my son… gossip is the devils radio i need to talk to you. If you’ve got anything below your belt and above your underpants  come and see me my friend please. I need to talk to you cause this has turned evil. Gossip is the devils radio*.”

“Gossip is the devils radio and gossip is the 8th deadly sin.”

Come and see me…So I did and he forgave me and we in fact became closer friends after that.

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A few weeks ago I tried to buy a book off him. He was going to sell it and at the last moment decided instead to lend it to me. He told me that he NEVER lent books and that he wanted it back. I have it still.

At the funeral yesterday it was astonishing to discover that in the early days of his songwriting career Graham liked to do a 20k run before picking up his guitar. He loved nature and walking on the beach and in the hills and believed that if he touched alcohol he wouldn’t be able to stop .

His son spoke of how Graham was not afraid of moving on. “Son…don’t be scared of death. Don’t worry. It’s beautiful and peaceful without pain. Like I’m floating. It’s real nice”, and he didn’t want to come back.

He is happy and he told us not to worry so lets put  the whiskey bottle back in the box marked “props”. Graham don’t need it anymore.

* Eds note: Gossip is the devils radio is a George Harrison song off 1987 album Cloud 9.

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5 thoughts on “Graham Brazier – a Danger to Shipping

    1. Hi Luke…I read your eulogy to Graham shortly after reading this attachment I’m sharing from Bob Gass. I thought your eulogy was steeped in love and though I never met Graham properly ( just once back stage after an awesome gig very briefly). It occurs to me that when fame isn’t enough and the drugs aren’t enough then love is the answer. You have put this truth into song..one of my favorite of your creations. Anyway I just wanted to thank you for sharing this reflection of your friendship with Graham and for reminding us of that 8th deadly sin of which we area all prone to succumb to. Love to you bro… Chris

      When Dr E Stanley Jones preached a sermon on love in India, a church leader told him how a layman, whom he loved and had helped, was making trouble and threatening to split the church. The frustrated clergyman asked Dr Jones what to do because, in this case, love didn’t seem to be working. ‘Increase the dosage!’ retorted Jones. Our self–centred nature would have us believe that happiness comes when we get what we want and all of our needs are met. Yet, when we do get a better job, or a bigger house, or a bit of fame, we find ourselves empty because these things don’t bring us lasting joy and fulfilment. They actually whet our appetite for more—and around and around it goes.

      Peter Gillquist said, ‘Every time we have a chance in any way to flesh out the love of God to others, our joy cycle gets fulfilled all over again.’ Francis of Assisi may have expressed it best in his famous prayer: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’

      1. Thank you for your great observations Chris. Good ol Francis. I think his words saved me from a few punch ups when I was growing. Ha ha.

        The fire of mans transgression needs more than a cup of water to put out. I agree about increasing the dosage. It’s like in the mean old world where if you have enough money you can make something work. Well the same is true with love in the spiritual. Love is the only currency that can fix anything and if it’s not working it just means we need to increase the supply.

        Most of my adult life I have wondered where alcohol fits in and why it is the drug of choice for the multitudes. Is it because it kills us a little every time we take it and that we get to taste of death and that in that taste there is a euphoric preview of the real thing? That floating away that is so nice that we don’t want to come back and that this sensation is something humans can’t get enough of.

        It was a bad drug for me when I used to take it and I now realise that it’s not necessary to touch it to feel the pleasure of moving out of the pain and into the floating beyond! It’s not death i was afraid of facing. I was afraid of facing life.

        There is no escape from love. It will consume us entirely and return us to the supplier in good time.

    1. That final statement you make encapsulates the truth of life. There is a shit load of unnecessary anguish consistently happening around the whole world…how do people deal with such dysfunction in their day to day existence??

      On the street you see a lot of life Luke… You have a great vantage point from which to observe and comment… And you can reach people through your music.. You travel a path less often travelled by most of us. Consequently your musings are profound and this is transposed into your life song. When they talk about paying your due’s…you sure have done that bro!…and some. I tip my hat to you and look forward as ever to when our paths cross again.

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