The chief frocker first met Mat Sargent, the driving force behind the Sex, Drugs and HIV project, about 10 years ago when she was in France and dressed as a nurse. It’s a long story that involves John Otway, his Big Band and Max Splodge (as themselves), Deadly the Roadie (random nun), Andy the Roadie (dodgy priest) and a whole line up of nurses (Patsy, Gina, Jane, Janie, Ruth, Pam and this guy in drag), as well as a few extras who had raided the dressing up box for the annual Otfest across the Channel.
The Eight Otettes perform I'm Cured with John Otway and his Big Band
Suffice to say, the aforesaid Mat made a big impression, not only as Splodge’s bass guitarist but also as a seriously nice bloke. Who’d have guessed what lay behind that winning smile, wit and repartee?
Mat was diagnosed HIV positive in 1989 (the year the Berlin Wall came down and Danny Frocker came into the world) and was given a gloomy life expectancy of between two and five years. How frightening must that have been for a young man of 18 with everything to live for? But the prospect of ‘rolling over' could never match the power of rock’n’rolling and he’s still here banging out the bass lines and doing as much good for the rest of humanity as he possibly can.
Sex, Drugs and HIV is Mat’s magnum opus that has finally come to fruition as a result of his indefatigable spirit (something we have blogged about before) and we frockers are right behind his efforts to raise awareness and money for good causes. The project supports the Terrence Higgins Trust, Release, Rape Crisis and Cancer Research.
If you are old enough to remember that Duracell battery advert, you’ll get Mat. In his own words:
“Twenty-six years ago I was given between 2 and 5 years to live. After refusing treatment for 10 years I finally succumbed to new medication after developing full blown AIDS. I never gave up the fight to live a normal life and when I thought all was lost the new medication gave me the freedom of life. Instead of only seeing a couple of years ahead I now see a future. The Sex Drugs & HIV album has been an amazing project to work on and over the 19 years it took for it to come to fruition there was always the thought in the back of my mind that I might not be around to see it finished. I am happy to be able to share the moment and the album which is due for release on the 2nd November 2014 (available on Amazon).”
Here’s a taster song from the album: Why, by Jimmy Pursey, Mat’s former bandmate from Sham 69 (They're coming to Glasgow in November, frockers!)
Sex, Drugs and HIV comprises 40 tracks and features over 200 musicians spanning five decades of music. The project band, Rock'n'Roll Gypsies, play songs from the album and Mat is currently editing 'Rockumentary' films of the various musicians meeting up in the studio to record their parts and share their stories. The films will be available in a limited edition box set.
We should forewarn our readers that there is some strong language in the video below, but we promise to wash the offending mouths out with soap if you buy the album! The highlights from our point of view are Max Splodge’s creative trombone playing (4.50 mins) and Mat’s matter-of-fact upbeat discussion of his diagnosis (19.30 mins).