Early photo of Privet Hedge, Mick Pointer, Stef Jeffrey and Darrell Foster Kirsop in Long Marston. Photo coutesy of Stef Jeffrey Deppola
Darrell Foster Kirsop interview June 2023
Hi Darrell, many thanks for taking the time to share your memories of the early days of
the band and your time with them. I think its fair to say that most fans won't know your
name but those who do, will know that you designed the very first logo and the first t-shirts the band
made, namely the elusive Herne the Hunter shirts.
1. Can you tell me how you first got involved with the band, had you been friends
No, I didn't know any of the band members prior to becoming a regular at the Queen's
Head pub in Long Marston in the company of a small coterie of friends that included
Christopher 'Privet' Hedge. He lived in Long Marston, whilst I lived in Cheddington, about
2 miles away. Along with two other Cheddington friends nick-named 'Miller' and 'Farm
Animal', we used to walk there and float back (literally!) whatever the weather. This must
have been around 1978/79.
Dougie, Mick & Stef lived in a cottage a few doors down from the Queen's Head, so
Privet already knew them and had been helping out previous incarnations of what would
become Marillion. At the time he was servicing generators for a local company, so
already knew more about electrics than I'll ever know and was thus quite useful as a
roadie cum technician.
I met the core of the band as it was then, through Privet's introduction and most
probably in the Queen's Head over a pint or two. I'd long since been a member of the
legendary Friars rock club in Aylesbury and had a strong interest in (particularly)
progressive music, so it seemed a natural step to volunteer to help out. The band had
their own PA, so along with Brian's numerous keyboards (including a backbreaking
Mellotron) and Mick's double bass drum kit, they were probably grateful for all the help
they could muster. Mick used to refer to his box of metal drum connectors as 'the hernia
Around this time the band had just parted company with their guitarist, so were seeking
a replacement. Thus Steve joined them shortly after. I recall a rather shy young chap
from Whitby, with a Yorkshire accent, a Yamaha guitar and an impressive ability to play it.
2. Someone told me a few years back, you went to school or college with Mick? Is
Not to my knowledge - you'd have to ask him. Mick is two or three years older than me,
but I think I'd have remembered the strikingly long blond hair of one of my seniors at
Aylesbury Grammar School. I'm pretty sure we'd never met prior to Privet's introduction,
but we do have one quite interesting historical connection. As already mentioned, I lived
in Cheddington, the railway station of which was the epicentre of the initial police
enquiry into the Great Train Robbery in August 1963. Mick came from Brill (about thirty
miles away), which turned out to be where the robbers had gone to ground in an
abandoned farmhouse straight after the robbery. Neither of us were involved by the
Incidentally, on Wikipedia, Fish is named as an old boy of Aylesbury Grammar School.
This is completely untrue as I'm sure he'd tell you himself.
3. Can you remember the circumstances around you being asked to design the Herne
the Hunter shirts? Were the band involved in ideas or was it solely your concept?
It's near on 45 years ago, so difficult to remember precisely. My recollection is
suggesting that the band might be able to make some extra money by selling
merchandising to their growing number of followers. At the time I was working for a big
stationery company and had recently been involved in buying-in some silk-screen printed
stuff - banners and t-shirts for an exhibition I think.
As such, I'd made contact with Graham Burton, a director of a silk-screen printing
company near Watford, so already knew a supplier who could run off a limited number at
a wholesale price, leaving a retail profit margin for the band. Any income was much
needed, so this was agreed.
Doug suggested that Herne the Hunter would be a good motif to use, so I got down to
hand painting what would become the band's first logo. The lettering was hand drawn
too as Letraset was quite expensive and too limited in font options. There were no home
computers back then!
Looking back it seems quite naive as designs go, but they sold quite well so I think
everyone was happy.
4. I recently discovered an old band bio from 1980, in it you are listed as part of the
crew, you are given the job titles of Publicity and Artwork. The Artwork speaks for
itself, what did the publicity entail?
At this time I was studying for the Institute of Marketing exams at night school, and had
ambitions to become an advertising copywriter.
At Friars, they always handed out flyers advertising forthcoming gigs, which was very
effective. It was therefore a natural step to do the same at Marillion gigs and I
volunteered to do the writing - some good practice for me really. I used to knock them
out on my old manual typewriter and someone else Roneod or photocopied them -
probably on the quiet whilst working at their day job.
Again, looking back, the writing seems incredibly naive now. I'd like to think that I've
produced some far better stuff since those early days.
5. I also heard that you might have booked the bands first show as Marillion at
Berkhamsted Civic Centre in March 1980. Were you a tour manager for the band too?
Everyone just mucked in doing anything and everything at the time, be it humping
Brian's Mellotron up and down narrow stairs somewhere like the Corn Dolly in Oxford or
persuading a promoter to give the band a poorly paid gig somewhere - anywhere!
Nobody had any flashy titles like tour manager, it was just a cottage industry.
Graham Burton had by this time taken an interest in the band, and he then lived in
Berkhamsted, so it seems likely he had a hand in the Civic Centre gig you mention. I'd
imagine he also had a hand in the Watford Street Traders Fair gig as he was well connected locally having a business based there.
6. Do you have any standout memories of that first show or any others from that
A few spring to mind, but I simply don't have time to write them down right now. I think I
previously shared an anecdote about a gig in Bicester with you, which you're welcome to
share if you wish*. As for others, I guess I should write them down sometime if they're of
interest to anyone.
One thing that remains in the memory was visiting a chap called Gus in Watford with
Doug. Gus ran a small emporium stocking all sorts of music related bits and bobs, along
with pyrotechnic paraphernalia. Not many shops stocked these sorts of explosives, dry
ice etc., hence the need to drive all the way to Watford in order to stock up. Doug usually
had a quite a long list of requirements, which he'd go through one by one. To every
request, Gus, with his sing song Welsh accent would begin his reply with "Well, funnily
enough ..". This amused Doug even more than it did me, and he would enjoy repeating it
on the drive back, whilst simultaneously running through bass lines on the steering
wheel. I'm surprised one of the early Marillion songs wasn't entitled 'Well, funnily
Incidentally, someone (it may have been Stef) recently told me that Doug had no
recollection of Darrell Foster Kirsop, which disappointed me somewhat initially. Then it
dawned on me that everyone called me by the nickname of 'Percy' at the time, so Doug
probably only remembers me by that name. I've no idea how the name came about, and
never really liked it, so I'm happy to say that even Privet calls me my real name these
days, despite the years of conditioning in calling me Percy.
Anyway, if Doug happens to read this, he will recognise the anecdote about Gus and
hopefully realise that Percy and Darrell Foster Kirsop are one and the same person.
***DARRELL'S ROADIE ANECDOTE IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
7. You also have the distinction of photographing one of their earliest shows at the
Watford Street Traders Fair in the summer of 1980, these fantastic photos were
exclusively published in last years Record Collector Marillion Special. What do you
remember of that day?
I'd hardly call it a distinction - they were just a few black & white snaps taken on a bog
standard Kodak Instamatic.
I don't remember a huge amount about that event to be honest, other than perhaps the
story the photos tell. The best of them to my mind is the local police patrol passing by
and suspiciously eyeing what they probably saw as a bunch of hairy hippies. If they were
sniffing around in the hope of catching a whiff of cannabis they would have been
disappointed on two counts. Firstly, and despite appearances, none of the band were
drug users at all, and secondly, the stage was set up right next to a fish & chip shop, so
the only pungency in the air was that of cod or haddock!
Perhaps the presence of fish was somehow analogous to the next chapter in the band's
8. Why did it take so long for these photos to be seen, had you just found them?
About a year ago I came across them whilst looking through an old photo album. I'd
completely forgotten they existed. In the same album there were some pleasingly
embarrassing photos of a far younger Privet, which I intend using for the purposes of an
extended blackmail campaign :)
In retrospect, I wish I'd taken more and better photos at other gigs, but of course none
of us knew at the time that the band would become famous.
9. Did you continue with art as a career or was it just a hobby at the time?
I'd studied art at A Level, but never pursued it as a career per se. I joined the advertising
industry as a copywriter, then latterly as creative director. As such I became well-versed
in the intricacies of graphic design, typography, photography, video editing and audio
production in the process of writing, directing and producing advertising and
commercials for all types of media.
When the internet started to boom, I taught myself website development, a major part
of which is graphic design, so in that sense I do as much design work as writing these
days. When time permits, I'm working on a satirical novel (a farce really) about a real life
event that happened in my childhood.
My French partner's daughter has a gîte next door to us, very close to Sword Beach in
Normandy. We'd be delighted to welcome any Marillion fans who fancy discovering this
lovely part of France and chatting with me. They can check it out at www.legaisejour.site
10. I interviewed Privet Hedge recently, Have you kept in touch with him or any of
the band or crew from those early days?
Privet and I have been friends since the stone(d) age and remain so. Even when he was
touring the world sound engineering we regularly exchanged satirical emails, largely
arguing the toss about the state of English rugby and cricket - we still do.
Now he's retired, he, like me, lives in France (albeit at 700km distance) so we've visited
each others' houses and continue our bizarre correspondence as ever. His French
vocabulary is largely limited to the names of cheeses and types of charcuterie and wine
at present, but I'm hoping to move him onto some useful French rugby terms and
obscenities next time we get together! Our respective partners observe us with
bemusement and mutter things like 'it's like having your kids with you'.
Graham Burton remains a lifelong friend too and we still collaborate on various projects,
including the current T-Shirt idea.
Thanks to the internet I've kept in occasional touch with various band members past and
present. A few months back I noticed that Marillion were playing in Nantes, here in
France, where my partner has a niece who's very handicapped following a freak illness in
here teens. She doesn't have too much joy in her life so I thought it might be a special
treat to arrange for her to be an access all areas guest at the gig. Steve Rothery very
kindly arranged this for her, so I'm happy to take this opportunity to publicly thank him
11. Getting back to the Herne shirts, do you still have the original artwork or is lost
in the mists of time?
Sadly no. I kept it in one of my art portfolios for years, but it, along with a lot of other art
and precious rock-related memorabilia was badly damaged by flood water some time in
the nineties. Thankfully quite a few photographic references to the logo still existed, so I
was able to faithfully reproduce it as a digital vector drawing.
12. You've decided to do a run of the old Herne shirts that fans have been screaming
for, for many years. Why now after 40 years?
It was entirely driven by unexpected demand, not least from comments on your museum
The first thing I checked was the copyright status, which via a bit of legal research I
discovered rested with the original artist, notably me. No charge was ever expected or
made for the design, likewise I made no personal profit from sales of the original shirts.
As I said earlier, everyone just mucked in a did what they were best at to keep the band
What staggered me most was learning how much some fans were prepared to pay for an
original - rarity value I suppose. Looking back I wish I'd kept a pristine example of each
colour somewhere safe, dry and well away from moths.
MMM Yes I keep track of pricing of these things, I actually only know of 5 that still exist for certain, so if anyone has an original, you're sitting on some lovely cash
13. Where can the fans order them or express an interest?
At present we're just asking fans to express an interest. That way we can judge whether
it's worthwhile doing.
If so, the approximate numbers will enable us to price it as competitively as possible. An
added problem that Brexit has caused is with regard to EU taxes possibly being added to
goods shipped from the UK.
We're looking into finding solutions to this issue, but meanwhile, fans can help us move
the project forward by filling in the short research questionnaire I've created at -
https://tinyurl.com/hernethehunter - we'll see where we go from these results
The mystery of the missing roadie & other stories...
Sometime around 1980, Marillion were booked for a first time gig at the King's Arms in
Even by then, the band had amassed a considerable amount of gear, including Mick's
infamous 'hernia box' of drum kit connectors, and Brian's ancient, bone-achingly heavy
Mellotron. Certain roadies were apt to do a quick disappearing act when it came to
shifting them, and I swear I still have a slight stoop from manhandling them up and down
the narrow stairs in places like Oxford's Corn Dolly.
As such, hiring a Luton van was in order to accommodate all the tackle, and this almost
proved our undoing on arrival at the King's Arms. Being an old coaching inn, it has a low,
narrow entrance out to the rear, clearly designed for sleek horses and carriages, but
definitely not bulky Luton vans.
Mick was driving if I recall, and had the devil's own job squeezing it through in reverse.
Going in forwards wasn't really an option, as we had no guarantee of being able to
reverse it back out, and definitely no chance of getting some of the gear through the
precious little space left on either side had we done so.
After much waving of arms and shouting of instructions, teamwork eventually managed
to shoe-horn it through, with at least the prospect of an easier exit in a forward
direction. The gear was unloaded, soundcheck done, and everyone had an hour or two to
relax, grab a bite, and perchance explore whatever other delights Bicester had to offer.
An hour or so before gig time however, it was discovered that Russell, aka 'Little Percy'
was missing in action. Normally a reliable sort, he held the grave responsibility for
setting up and detonating the pyrotechnics at the right time, which being a pyromaniac
suited him perfectly. Yet he was nowhere to be seen - disappeared without trace.
Thus, the great search began, taking in just about every pub, chippy, burger bar and any
other likely place in the small town. He was nowhere to be found. As his brother, I knew
him not to be a great drinker, so it seemed unlikely that he'd got pissed and fallen in with
a bad crowd. Abduction by aliens was also mentioned, but again, I could readily confirm
that they'd have to be pretty desperate aliens with a very poor sense of smell.
As we were considering our next move, it was discovered that a considerable number of
biscuits some of the girls had baked had gone missing. It further transpired that these
biscuits contained a goodly quantity of hashish, and that whoever had snaffled them
must by now be very stoned indeed.
Knowing that 'Little Percy' didn't normally touch any drugs, it seemed unlikely that he
would have knowingly scoffed most of them, but had he done so, he would be beyond
very stoned and likely in a more Zombiefied state than normal!
By pure chance, somebody needed something out of the back of the van, and upon
lifting the sliding door, we discovered him curled up in some cardboard boxes, snoring
and farting to his heart's content. He had indeed helped himself to the hash biscuits, and
was happily sleeping them off.
Several cups of coffee later he was ready for action, and all was well. However, one of
the finale explosions failed to ignite, and true to form, he climbed up on the PA to light it
by hand. It definitely went off this time, and blew him head first into the audience - quite
possibly the origins of crowd-surfing.
A few months later, he disappeared into the clutches of the British Army of the Rhine,
where he doubtless discovered enough explosions to satisfy even his gargantuan
appetite for destruction.
To finish off a memorable evening, we were stopped by the cops on the journey home.
Providentially Doug, who hated all drugs and didn't drink much, was driving, but they
failed to look in the back of the van, where had they done so, they would have found
Privet & I engulfed in suspicious green smoke with eyes the size of dinner plates - happy
MMM: Many Thanks again Darrell, some great anecdotes from the early years of the band.
Marillion playing on the back of a truck at Watford Street Traders Fair 1980. Photo (C) by Darrell Foster Kirsopp. Do not use without permission of Darrell himself.
in photo: Steve Rothery guitar, Brian Jelleyman Mellotron, being watched by some inquisitive local bobbies.