Linda Hoyle
The Piper Pays

I have a cold and a very sore throat today. Even now, whenever my throat hurts I get a rush of anxiety, an old reaction to 'the show must go on'. Now I can just mooch about, croaking.

In 1970 I developed polyps on my vocal cords, as Adele did a couple of years ago. One of the problems for me was poor amplification and the absence of voice monitors. I remember being stunned at the volume of Terry Reids speakers and the presence of a tiny monitor in front of his mic stand. What luxury!

It took surgery and many weeks of silence to sort out my problem, an accomplishment which my family can hardly credit. When I first sang post surgery I sounded like Minnie Mouse. When I see singers perform I tend to watch out for the tell-tale strain in the neck - the visible veins and the tight tendons. Its a pretty good indicator that there is trouble ahead.

In 1969 Affinity played often at the Revolution club. One Saturday night Stevie Wonder was in the audience and asked to sit in with the band. Up on the stage he played the harmonica - I think it was 'Alfie'. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. But he wasn't able to sing. He had done his voice in and needed to 'rest' it, long term. Now when I hear him sing I am aware of the trained singer, who produces any rough guttural sounds on the soft palette rather than in the throat. That atmospheric rough, throaty sound is admired in modern music - world weary, partied out, hard used. Unfortunately, it is usually the piper who has to pay in these cases.