I was sorry when I heard of the death of Alastair (Ali) Donaldson who I knew as William Mysterious, once a member of The Rezillos. His obituary in The Scotsman is here. The Rezillos were, and are, a lively punk/new wave band fom Edinburgh who performed some great, light-hearted songs. I didn’t know The Rezillos in their heyday of the late seventies but their reunion gig which I saw in around 2003 was about the best I’ve ever been to. Edinburgh audiences are known for their coolness, but for them the venue shook with ageing punks dancing themselves out of their old Rezillos T-shirts.
Ali left The Rezillos before they got big enough for Top of the Pops. He did various things after that, including busking and playing in Edinburgh’s pubs. He appeared a lot at the Full Moon Club which my boyfriend Fritz Van Helsing ran and I helped out at, where he did humorous songs like Bring on the Pancakes. He often did The Rezillos’ (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures, a song full of lightness and humour:-
She don’t care
For one night stands
And naughty boys
With sweaty hands
She got a thing
About carving wood
Or shaping a figure
From a lump of mud
Don’t love my baby for her pouting lips
Don’t love my baby for her curvy hips
I love my baby ‘cos she does good sculptures yeah…!
We’d visit him and his lovely wife Ksenija in their little flat in the Southside. It was his second marriage and they had a baby, which Ali looked after while Ksenija worked. My memory is of Ksenija and I talking our heads off while Ali was present, handsome, a little detached and with a dry, understated humour.
Someone wrote a poem about him called “Billy, You’ve still got that Sax Appeal”. (Ali played sax and bass, and other instruments as well).
The picture of a
Power pop combo
In the first flush
Of joyous youthful arrogance
Burns bright from within
Scottish pop’s murky depths
They all had guitars
They all had chords . .
And still, you sit
On the sidelines by choice
Watching all and sundry
As if you’re saying
“I’m free” and doing
Exactly whatever the hell
You want, just like
Any true punk would
His funeral last week was attended by a lot of people from Edinburgh’s music pub scene. Ali’s own songs were played, as well as Johnny Cash performing The Beatles’ In My Life.
There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more