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date: 29 February 2020

Cale, John locked

  • Richard Witts

Extract

(b Garnant, South Glamorgan, March 9, 1942). Welsh composer, singer-songwriter, producer and arranger. His father was a coal miner and his mother a primary school teacher, who taught her son the piano. As a working-class boy growing up under the postwar conditions of ‘one nation’ Britain, he gained access to a grammar school education and the provision of free musical instrument tuition, in his case the viola. As a teenager he became a viola player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales but at the same time he explored the rebellious subculture of the ‘teddy boy’, a teenage lifestyle increasingly associated with American rock and roll.

Between October 1960 and July 1963 Cale undertook a teacher-training course at Goldsmiths College, London, where he developed an interest in avant-garde music and made contact with Cardew, a liberal arts tutor there. In July 1963 they together organized ‘A Little Festival of New Music’ at the college, which comprised works by Cage and Fluxus artists such as George Brecht and Nam June Paik, and included the British première of La Monte Young’s controversially repetitive X for Henry Flynt. Two of Cale’s own early Fluxus-style compositions were published in the ...

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