Interview was conducted in November/December 2021:
Our latest interview is a special one and an emotional one with Aislinn Knight, Aislinn worked with the band in a few areas, very much behind the scenes, but we will get to that in a moment. She was also married to the late great Andy Field, Marillion and Fish’s Production Manager. As we all know Andy died very young, perhaps you were at the tribute show to him in Hammersmith back in the day, this is a tribute to him on his 30th anniversary.
MMM: Hello Aislinn. Huge thanks for taking the time to share your memories of your time with the band and of course Andy himself. I guess we should start at the beginning, how did you first meet Andy, was it through his work?
AISLINN: Thanks for asking me Mark. I’m happy to shed some light on “those who were on the fringes, those who never really got the fame but contributed hugely” which is how you explained to me why you wanted to do an interview with me about Andy. To answer your question: I first met him through friends of mine, Bob and Chris Bowman. He was having a cup of tea with them in the kitchen. Back then in the early 1970s it was not unusual for people living and around in Cannock, Staffordshire to know someone who was in a band or worked for one, The Midlands a hotbed of talent. Bob Bowman, himself a very accomplished, technically precise guitar player, seemed to know them all. Mel Galley from the band Trapeze was a close friend and a frequent visitor there. Andy started his career with Trapeze as their Roadie joining their USA tour in 1972.
MMM: For fans like myself who perused the finer details of album credits and tour itineraries, Andy Field's name will be very familiar. He started off with Marillion as a crew member but quickly rose through the ranks to be Stage manager, Crew manager and eventually Tour/Production manager by the time of Clutching at Straws. Can you remember how he got the gig with Marillion? was it through John Arnison?
AISLINN: It was Gary Townsend who asked him, I’m not sure how they met. Andy at that time, early 1983, was working freelance and toured with various bands, so they probably crossed paths on the road. This is what he wrote about his “Misplaced Youth of a Production Manager” for The Web 1988: “Asked (conned) by Marillion Roadie friend Gary Townsend to do 4 shows as Drum Roadie for Mick Pointer and have worked for Marillion until today.”
MMM: From doing these interviews and chatting with other band and crew from that time with the band, Andy's name always seems to pop up, it’s always positive, he must have been very good at his job, but he also seems to have been a bit of a joker?
He did have a good sense of humour, most of the time anyway, and he and the crew were a band of brothers so got up to all sorts of mischief and fun. They worked hard and played hard, but, as the old saying goes “what happens on tour stays on tour”. I didn’t get to hear about much anyway….. and I didn’t ask!
MMM: I'm reminded of a story you once told me of the great 'Lighter Wars' tour. Can you tell us about that?
AISLINN: I think it was started by Ian Moseley. He would steal anyone’s lighter as he kept losing his own, and then everyone started doing it. There would be a lot of giggling and skulduggery, especially when someone desperately needed a cigarette, they all smoked back then. Always up for a bit of fun and constantly playing daft tricks on each other.
MMM: How would you describe him as a boss on tour, was he strict or fun to work with?
AISLINN: He was both strict and fun, old school, but still one of the boys. He had T shirts made up for the crew “Never Change a Winning Team” which sort of said it all really. I worked for him at home in the office typing up schedules and tour itineraries. It was obvious by the careful way he arranged everything for the entourage that he was doing his best to look after everyone. Keeping them safe and well fed too with good catering was the priority. He was always worried that accidents might occur through the crew being too tired to cope, and he would adjust the budget to make sure there were days off and hotels to break up those gruelling back to back tours. He justified these extra expenses to the accountant by saying “a tired crew, accidents bound to happen, drop a lighting truss on a rock star’s head during a show and see how much that will cost you!”
MMM: How would you describe a typical work day for Andy?
AISLINN: He would call his work on tour “18 hour days”. When describing what he did as a job to our neighbours he’d say “Oh I do a bit of this and a bit of that” but when questioned further would come back with “Being a Production Manager is not as tiring as being on the lighting or catering crew who are first in and last out of the hall. I just spend the whole time juggling everybody’s problems and thinking on my feet, the worrying machine of the tour.”
MMM: What did you and Andy like to do to unwind on those rare days off?
AISLINN: When he was on tour and had a day off and a hotel he would sleep mostly and catch up on paperwork, he’d phone me if he could, no mobile phones back then, and often send postcards back home, which I still have. When he was at home, he’d sleep for a couple of days then start doing loads of DIY or plan our next house move, he was a workaholic and restless soul, I think he had a Gypsy Traveller’s heart.
MMM: We always ask interviewees if they have managed to save any memorabilia or tour items, did you manage to save any?
AISLINN: Not much I’m afraid. Andy had been so ill for so long, 7 ½ years, and towards the end just before he died accumulated a lot of debt, I don't think he realised how bad our finances were, and neither did I until after he’d died. A couple of months following the funeral I was forced to sell the house to clear some of the debts and had to store everything I owned in a garage, which was damp and far from ideal. Unfortunately, the box of itineraries from his 20-year career in the music business was ruined by vermin. Tour jackets and T shirts and laminates disappeared, presumed stolen. Such a shame. But thankfully all our photos survived as they were stored in a wooden crate, and during the first Covid19 lockdown I sorted them into albums. Made me smile as I went through them as typical “on tour Andy Field memorabilia photos”, not many of the band, just a few from backstage, but plenty of the crew, tour buses, trucking, staging, backline equipment, lights and sound, all things important to him. A few promotional Marillion and Fish signed photos, silver disc “Fugazi” 1984, gold disc “Reel to Reel” 1985, double gold disc “The Thieving Magpie” 1988. Also, from the Lighter Wars Tour 1987 - 88, Andy’s inscribed brass Zippo. All Marillion and Fish picture discs from that era, most of them signed, and many “not for sale” CDs including A Singles Collection 1982 to 1992 which Marillion kindly dedicated to the memory of Andy Field. Packed away in boxes which I haven’t look at in years mugs and tour bits and bobs, a Willie Nelson bandana comes to mind, and an inscribed pewter beer mug from Ian Moseley.
MMM: You mentioned tour itineraries, they are some of my favourite items, so jam packed with great detail of life on the road, I believe you had a role in making them with Andy?
AISLINN: Because I'd trained as a secretary, I found office work really easy, we worked together organising the tours. He thought everything through as though he was actually travelling on the tour, and I typed up the itineraries and schedules by the dozen. Besides looking after the family, farm and animals, I supported him. I was his unpaid personal secretary, taking notes, making phone calls and driving him here there and everywhere, but it was great to be involved.
MMM: You drove one of those big American trucks across the US? That must have been exciting, any memorable stories from the road you can share?
AISLINN: Crazy really but yes oh so exciting! I could not resist the job offer from John Arnison to share the drive with Andy across America in a big truck, complete with CB and twin stacks. From Hagerstown to Hollywood, a 2,600 mile journey in a 3½ days, 3 showcase gigs for the band in LA, and then back to New York 2,800 miles, again in 3½ days. It wasn’t one of those huge articulated trucks as in the 1978 film Convoy, but it was certainly bigger than any truck I could legally drive on my ordinary licence in the UK. I had driven a Bedford TK horse box, but…not many miles. When confronted with “The Little Ryder” yellow truck with 16 gears and 5 steps up to get in the cab on the wrong side I was a little flustered to say the least, but soon gained confidence under the cool instruction skills of Andy as follows: “keep that yellow
line exactly that part of the mirror on the offside and you know you’re sitting in the right place on the highway, just keep looking ahead, if you have to stop don’t bother with first or second gear, engine is governed so you can’t break the speed limit” We then swapped seats “wake me in a couple of hours.” Acutely aware that all of Marillion’s backline was in the back, I was on full alert and extremely careful not to throw the truck about. So off I went, donning my newly purchased Coors Beer baseball cap, singing to myself “Willin” by Little Feat, Dallas Alice, but no weed, whites and wine. LOL! I was trucking! Anyway, that’s how we carried on, eating up the miles, and besides calling in to say hi and have dinner with his “American family” in Oklahoma, and getting coffee and trucker’s meals at the famous 76 Truck Stops along the way, we had one short night in Motel, just a few hours’ sleep and a shower, can’t remember where exactly. We stopped at an American Native Indian Reservation roadside shop to buy gifts of beautiful handmade turquoise jewellery.
It was such an incredible experience for me, but for Andy who had driven that route many times before, just treated it all like any other time out on tour, and found my naivety and excitement, like a kiddie in a sweet shop, very amusing. A few days in Hollywood, a day off treat for us and crew to Disney Land, I didn’t go to any of the three showcase gigs, I did my usual stay out of the way of busy people thing. Then back in the truck for 3 ½ days to New York, flew to Heathrow met with rain contaminated from the Chernobyl disaster. Life in the fast lane.
MMM: It really sounds like you and Andy were a great Yin/Yang like team and complemented each other well.
AISLINN: Yin and Yang a good way to describe us I guess as we were very different, me being very shy, quiet and home loving, I never wanted to travel, not bothered about holidays abroad or in the UK actually. I spent more time on the farm with the horses, sheep and rescue animals than with people. In contrast Andy was out there, just on it! Living a life larger than most, dealing with all sorts of problems on tour that not many people would ever come across in their lifetime, he had such a strong work ethic. He was very clever, quick witted and a natural organiser, but also quite complicated and sometimes a contrary character. Not always sweet and forgiving, did not suffer fools gladly, and as Fish wrote about Andy in The Company fan magazine issue Jan 1992: “He was a Roadies’ Roadie, and could charm, fix, threaten, blag, score and manipulate anything when he needed. He was scrupulously straight and sincere, and God save the bullshitters!” Yes, I’d agree with all of that!
MMM: In 1988 with the band at their commercial height, Marillion split up, that was a huge shock to me and to fans all over the world, were you or Andy surprised or could you see it coming?
AISLINN: I had no idea, and shocked as everyone else was at the time. Sorry, I can’t enlighten you on much about the situation as I never got involved with band and management politics. At that time Andy was in The Royal Marsden Hospital in Epsom having treatment and a bone marrow harvest operation. I was staying there with him. I seem to remember we were there for a week, which was unusual as Andy normally talked his way out of staying in any hospital
overnight let alone a week! The only comment Andy made to me on hearing the news was that if he had been around and involved with what was going on, he may have been able to do something about it, and things might not have turned out the way they did.
MMM: There is then the awkward moment of which crew members decide to go with the band or go with Fish, I'm thinking Andy was so close to Fish that the question answered itself? Can you remember any chats you and Andy had about the split at the time?
AISLINN: I had no say in it, which wasn’t out of the ordinary, it’s just the way we were and our relationship worked. It was Andy’s career and lifestyle and I just fitted in around it. I just got on with it, and things worked just fine. He often spoke of me being “the ideal Rock n Roll wife” which was okay with me. Fish came to stay with us, we were living in a renovated Welsh longhouse Pantcoch in Tre'r Ddol, Machynlleth, Fish thought our address was made up from the left-over letters of a Scrabble game. Made me smile, and definitely no offence intended, it was just acknowledging that the Welsh language can be rather challenging at times. I remember keeping out of way and left them to it. They spent hours chatting, went out for a drink, and after Fish had left Andy told me that he was going to work for him. I think that apart from the excitement of being part of Fish’s new solo career and touring again, the thought of helping him sort and equip a studio was a challenge that he could not resist. Always one to test himself. At that time Andy was also offered work from the manager of Bon Jovi and The Scorpions. He flew out to Rio De Janeiro to stage manage a show with Rick O’Brien who was Production Manager for Queen and Pink Floyd. He was in demand but turned down all the offers, being cautious not to commit to any contracts as he became aware that he was no longer in remission with a future of frequent hospital appointments and treatments of chemotherapy. He knew Fish would support him through thick and thin, and likewise. Yes they were close as friends, so I guess the question does answer itself.
MMM: You mentioned earlier Andy's Chemotherapy, as we all know Andy passed away on January 25 1992. Despite his illness, Andy, now in the Fish camp, continued to work through it as best he could, I'm guessing these were very hard times for you both and Daniel your son of course. Did Andy find the work a helpful distraction?
AISLINN: Yes, he continued to work at the same pace as he’d always done with Fish. When he wasn’t arranging or actually on tour, or sorting out equipping the studio at The Funny Farm in Haddington, he kept himself occupied at home. He was just always busy. We moved in March 1989 from Tre'r Ddol to a small farm in Llanddeiniol where he found lots to do which made him very happy. Planning the future, fixing up the house, outbuildings, stables, fencing, buying sheep, a horse box, a new hay barn. He also just kept on spending like there was no tomorrow, and I guess that was on his mind but he never once spoke about it. He bought a wreck of tractor, a vintage grey Ferguson, in Wales fondly known as a “Fergie Bach”. He was so happy with this project. He spent hours in the garage working on it, totally restored it to like new, then loaded it on to a trailer and towed it through a snow storm up to Haddington as Fish had quite a rather large garden back then. He was just fearless. When he set his mind to do something he just did it, and usually made a good job of it whatever it was! I don’t think Daniel was aware of quite how hard things were, we tried to keep things,
our homelife, as “normal” as possible. He was at school during the week, on weekends and during holidays out and about with his friends mostly.
MMM: In March 1992, Fish and Andy's old friend Glenn Hughes got together to have a memorial concert in Hammersmith. That was a truly wonderful night for music fans, but it was mixed emotions of joy and sadness for those who knew him. What are your memories of that night or how the show came about?
AISLINN: Following Andy’s death Fish was very kind to me. He did his best to help me out and it was his idea to put together a benefit gig, a tribute to Andy. He set things in motion and worked through the logistics to make the show happen. A friend of mine from Aberystwyth accompanied me on the journey to London, and without her support through that day and evening, I doubt I would have been able to attend. I was so distressed and disorientated during this time, still in shock and grieving, and worrying about the future. Everyone involved gave their time for free, so generous of them, the show was fantastic, and it was wonderful to see everyone backstage. All his friends and work colleagues were there, it was really overwhelming. My knees turned to jelly when Fish invited me up on stage to say thank you to everyone, I really wanted to, but physically couldn’t. I’m so proud of Daniel that he went up on stage on my behalf and thanked everyone, it was all very moving. I stayed a while after the show, it was a fitting way to say a final goodbye for us all, but especially so, as playing in the background during the load out was Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out”, the perfect tribute to the crew and all the people he’d worked with over the years.
"Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and last to leave" Jackson Browne
MMM: Wow! What a profound and fitting lyric that is, Thanks again Aislinn.
Here's a very direct piece of advice from Andy about how to become a Roadie, just in case any of you still have that notion,.....courtesy of Aislinn.
"Apart from the obvious of "have a Lobotomy" I would suggest the first steps would be to apply to a Sound or Light company (there are loads of em!) If you're lucky you would probably start in their warehouse, moving equipment and learning how to repair it, Go to college at the same time, When you've proved your ability you would probably get offered your first tour as a junior member of the crew and from then on its all up to you"
Here are some very recent dedications and thoughts of some of those who worked with him. Huge thanks to all who took the time to write something.
"Andy was a major part of the Management team, his experience of Live touring and looking after the Band members when I was not on the tour with them was exceptional"
John Arnison (Former Marillion Manager) January 2022
"My first ever tour was with Marillion in ’84, and I worked on all of their European tours until ’89. As an 18 year old, fresh into the world of touring, I could not have been with a better group of people…band & crew. Andy was the drum tech at the time, before he became Production Manager, but more importantly for me he was one of the seasoned pros I got to learn from, and I had a lot to learn back then… it had only been a year since I had left school. Andy was someone who you listened to because it was clear he knew what he was talking about, and he was always happy to offer guidance. He always had a smile on his face, and he loved a good ‘wind up’, and I feel most fortunate to have crossed paths with him at that point in my life. I still think of those 5 years of touring with Marillion as one of the best times in my life.
It was tragic losing Andy… he went way too soon. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years, but even now I can still picture Andy’s grin clearly in my head."
Warwick Burton (Lighting Crew) January 2022
"I only worked with Andy for a few short years but it was at a time when we were all young and green. Andy brought a lot of experience to the job and was always a calm and pleasant person to be around. He is missed by everyone who knew him. !
Mark Kelly ( Marillion) January 2022
"I had the pleasure of working with Andy and Marillion for a number of years, In life you meet a few great people that mentor you and show you the right way, Andy was one of those people to me!
He had a way of bringing a crew together and motivating them to do their best and more for the band while having a human touch which was always interweaved with humour.
I remember my first job for Marillion we were flying out to France to do a television or a show and the crew had to fly from Heathrow. At the time they had an old Austin princess as the crew get around. When we arrived at the airport Andy asked me to go park the Car in the car park while the rest of the crew checked in. Eager to please I found a parking spot and went to find reverse and the gear stick came off in my hand!! I Panicked then laughed to myself and pushed the car in the slot. When I got back to the group Andy asked if every thing was ok ? I replied “if by ok you mean this”!and handed him the gear stick I said”yes its parked” Everyone who was obviously waiting to see what my response would be, fell about laughing along with Andy who said “you’ve passed your initiation test”
We as a crew and Band had many years of hard work which was always fun, I will always attribute this to all of the people involved but mostly to Andy’s great man management skills. He was always so laid back but a lot of that was due to the amount of work himself and Ash would do running up to a tour so everything was in place.
I still think of him often."
Steven "Robbo" Robinson (Road Crew) January 2022
"I first met Andy in 1980 he'd come along with his mate Dave Whitehouse to a Saxon gig that MCP were promoting Dave worked for them, i'd been roped in to look after the support by Malcolm Hill Audio who I worked for think it was the first or second gig and i needed another roadie, Dave explained Andy history and it was no brainer, spoke to the bands manager and next thing Andy on the tour forgot the band were from the USA (RIOT) hence no crew, had a ball working with Andy so professionally made the tour easy plus he liked a smoke!!!. End of the tour promised Andy would keep in touch and if any gigs came up would be the first person I would phone, wasn't till 82 when John Arnison rang to say Gazza i got this band there going to be huge i need a stage manager come babysitter because the band had never done any major tours next thing i'm flying down to London, at first I thought what the fook but anyway he talked me in to it, took a couple of months it was then i told John we were a couple of crew short he said get one and we will take it from there, hence the call to Andy and has they say the rest history, when i left because of personal reasons i stayed in touch with Andy he was top bloke can notsay enough about him i shared a room with him i slept in the next bunk on the tour bus and we drove all a cross the USA and Canada together while Privet slept in the bunk he did not drive, it takes a lot to be in close proximity to someone for weeks on end, was in contact with him almost till the end still miss the guy"
Gary Townsend (P.A. Crew) January 2022
"I first met Andy during the tour following Marillion’s signing with EMI. He came with Arni, along with Gary Townsend and a couple of others. He was initially Mick Pointer’s drum roadie, as I recall. He had a ready smile and clearly knew what he was doing. This was a whole new ball game for me as I had previously helped set up and take down Mick’s kit but he made me feel welcome, with a laugh and a joke and I liked him. I didn’t really get to know Andy though until he became Fish’s tour manager. Working in the office, I probably had more contact with Andy than I did with Fish. He was a pleasure to work for, always courteous but a consummate professional in his job. He never lost his cool. His instructions were clear and concise, he was easy-going, up to a point. I knew better than to argue when he had made his mind up, like the time there was a gig in ? and a fan from the olden days, working for Radio Luxembourg, played Fish’s songs all day, in the hope of a quick phone interview at some point. I think Fish had a bit of a sore throat or something and nothing I could say would change Andy’s mind that he would not allow the interview to take place. He refused to let me speak to Fish. That was the firmest he ever was with me and left me a bit embarrassed explaining to the dj it was not going to happen!
He could organize things at the drop of a hat. At the end of the Vigil tour, EMI had arranged a party, which for various reasons was cancelled. Within a couple of hours, Andy had found a venue, catering and the Deep Sea Divers’ party appeared, like a rabbit from a hat. It was tremendous fun, probably better than the original would have been. We sat up after till the wee small hours laughing and chatting. It is one of my favourite memories, along with him driving us down the motorway, flashing his lights at anyone who dared to get in the way!
I miss him tremendously and like to think we would still be in touch now, if it were only possible."
Stef Jeffrey Deppola (The Web, The Company) January 2022.
"I was lucky enough to meet Andy and the crew just the once in London back in the 80's. I was on my own and they asked if I was enjoying the show, I said "of course, they're my favourite band" they were all top blokes and very nice, they were surprised I'd traveled so far to see the band, they chatted with me for about 15 minutes, their parting gift was to give me a backstage pass and an invite to the after show party, I was a young teenager at the time so was too scared to take up the offer much as I'd like to have. The kindness of Andy and the crew always stuck with me down the years."
Mark "Marko" McCormac (MMM) January 2022
The Misplaced Youth of a Production Manager by Andy Field 1987
1972: Joined a band called Trapeze as all round back line person/"Roadie" and learnt all aspects of setting up equipment and touring. We did 15 tours of teh USA in 3 years.
1975 Toured with Justin Hayward and John Lodge (Blue jays) as a drum roadie
1976 Lived in America and worked for Concert Lighting where I learnt all aspects of lighting desgina nd toured mainly with Country and Southern bands, Willie Nelson, EmmyLou Harris, Poco, Pure Prairie League, Flying Burrito Bros, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and more....
1977 Moved back to England and joined Deep Purple's crew and looked after Glenn Hughes as his personal tour manager
1978 Trapeze reunited for farewell tour of the USA on which i was their touring manager and lighting designer. At the end of this I decided to get a proper job, but after a couple of years had to return to the 'Business' which I missed anyway.
1981 Toured with Fashion, Riot and Rods and others...
1983 Asked by Marillion Roadie friend Gary Townsend to do 4 shows as drum Roadie for Mick Pointer and have worked for \marillion until today.
1986 Busman's Holiday! Europe, Monsters of Rock Tour, The Scorpions, Bon Jovi etc as stage manager
1987 Busman's Holiday 2, Rock in Rio and festivals as Stage manager
After Marillion split in 1988, Andy went to work with Fish as his tour manager for a while before his illness and his untimely death.
.....and finally here's a link to the BBC documentary 'Rock against the Clock 1987' which includes Andy and the other members of the road crew, looking at it today its remarkable how fast they were at taking down a stage, it really is a tough job.