I cannot remember exactly when Stephen and I first got in contact but must have been late 80s or early 90s. He sent me some tapes and information about his BBP label. He worked tirelessly for other people’s music and was a huge champion of the true punk and underground scene in Great Britain. Evidently cursed by health issues for many years, ultimately he succumbed to cancer on Christmas Eve 2012.
He was part of the KFR Collective in the early 1990s. This was a way to distribute tapes from various sources around the world. This was how I heard of bands like The Apostles and other truly underground groups.
Kevyn Dymond and I visited him and his parents in 1991 when we were on our European Tour. His parents were extremely gracious and nice. I feel bad that their son is no longer on this planet with them. On our visit we traded stories and information with Stephen and saw his BBP operation located on his desk in his bedroom at the time. A very affable and engaging guy, Stephen was a positive whirlwind of communications and label promotion.
I kept in touch with Stephen somewhat erratically after that but our sporadic emails and letters were always friendly and worthwhile. I cannot say when I heard from him last, perhaps in 2011. He was still at it and appeared to be going full tilt although he may have been privately suffering at the time.
I will miss Stephen. His wonderful spirit will always be with me.
Back in the late seventeenth century prior to the beginning of my career as a fat old man with all sorts of fascinating stories about the good old days when industrial music meant a gentleman in a wig reciting an amusing ode about serial murder whilst his accompanist rummaged around inside a harpsichord, I involved myself with the independent cassette scene. It began with an advert in Sounds music paper, and took me to all sorts of strange and wonderful if not particularly tuneful places. Still at school, every other day would see the letter box bulging anew with tapes, letters, and fanzines from all sorts of people all across the globe, and even the worst of them had more integrity in a single crappy C30 of some bloke moaning about Thatcher than in the entire run of America’s Got the X-Factor in Their Eyes; and about half of those envelopes, once open, would invariably loose a pile of flyers for other tapes and fanzines onto my living room carpet, amongst them adverts run off on an old spirit duplicator for Big Banana Productions.
I met Steven Parsons, the man behind Big Banana Productions about a decade later. By then his tape distribution label had simplified to the less conspicuously wacky BBP Productions, and had expanded to the emission of vinyl records. I was playing guitar and keyboards in UNIT with Andy Martin, Dave Fanning, Nathan Coles, and Pete Williams, of whom the first two I initially encountered through that previously mentioned network of people like ourselves making and sending tapes, letters and fanzines to each other. We spent about a week in a studio in Brixton recording a pile of songs which BBP released on 7” vinyl as Richard Dawkins is Together With Us. That record still sounds good to me, and it was a very enjoyable week hanging out with Ian McKay – who had produced Skullflower and Ramleh amongst others; and Steve Parsons, or Gogs as he was known due to the glasses – who was there because he was paying for it; playing pool upstairs in the studio whilst Pete battered his drum kit into fragments; and finding myself ridiculously starstruck by a random encounter with Mark Perry of Alternative TV.
Anyway, I’ve just heard from Andy that Gogs died on Christmas Eve after the sadly typical lengthy battle with cancer. He wasn’t my best buddy, anyone I knew particularly well, or even someone I’ve actually seen since about 1995, but that doesn’t make his passing seem any less sad. He was one of those people who did stuff in an era when it actually required work to do stuff rather than just sitting there clicking on a mouse. He made the world a better place than he found it in some small way, and certainly made mine briefly exciting when the first copies of the UNIT EP turned up.
Mick Magic created this tribute page to Stephen Parsons here
Information about one of Stephen’s favorite UK bands, The Apostles
Sad to hear this morning of the death of Steve Parsons of BBP RECORDS AND TAPES. I knew Steve well when we were both living in Bristol. Steve would be surounded by jiffy bags, tapes, one pound coins covered in sellotape, soaped stamps, letters about obscure bands and all th joys of running a punk tape distro service.Always running to catch up -months behind. I went with him to Greenleaf booksop to pick up his mail – two huge carrier bags full. ‘Won’t be down the plough tonight then’ I laughed….’but he was and with his usual self effacing generous good humour.I persuaded him to stick out a LIVING LEGENDS GREATEST HITS tape………he spent hours/days/weeks trying to re-rcord crackly old tapes………It’ll be a surefire little earner Steve I promised…it wasn’t but Steve couldn’t have cared less if it was….the obscurer the better.I didn’t see him much after he moved to Sydenham but BBP kept on anarcho-punking.
He was very happy with partner Helen and pints in the Dolphin.If ‘punk’s not dead’ its thanks to sellotaped pound coins and people like Steve Parsons who have had the patience and good humour to scrape the tape off.Cheers mate.
More info about The Apostles
Stephen posted this 1991 Christmas song by The Red & Blue Car on “you tube