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Joe Simmonds: One of the main characters

This book is based on conversations I’ve had with Ralph Murray about my life with Mary and our son Chris – well her son to be precise.

Chris died in 1993 and we had the media camped on our doorstep for nearly a year, so when one evening I turn up at the Green Man pub – well, O’Neil’s as it’s now called – and I see this black bloke deep in conversation with my mate Alf I was suspicious straight away, even though it’s been 10 years since Chris’ death. I wanted to tell him to sod off, but old Alf was having a whale of a time reminiscing about how he gave Chris’ band its first break in his pub.

Anyway this bloke, Ralph he called himself, was obviously a huge fan of the band and seemed genuinely interested in Chris’ background. When he finally convinced me he wasn’t a journalist, I guess I became less defensive. We started meeting up regularly and I have to admit it did do me good to talk through the last decade. I tried to get Mary, my wife, to meet him but she refused. Too painful I guess.

After a cuppla years Ralph asked if he could write a book about Chris and his life. I wasn’t sure cos you hear such horror stories about being misrepresented don’t you? And as for Mary, well she was dead against it.

But my mate wouldn’t let it go. He said it would give people an insight into Chris and what he stood for, in a way that CDs and videos of the band’s concerts could never do. He also said that I could vet every word he wrote, which I thought was fair enough.

Anyway, after begging her, Mary finally agreed to meet Ralph. I can’t say it was the greatest evening I’ve ever spent. Blimey, in our 45 years of marriage I’ve never seen this side of the old girl. She grilled the poor git for an hour about his motives for wanting to write the book. I could see Ralph was a bit  shocked by the inquisition, but he must’ve done something right cos at the end of it she agreed that he could do it.

So here we are five years later, the book is complete and we’re all hoping that it’ll get published.

Read the first three chapters here. Hope you like ‘em!

Ralph Murray: Author

I’ve been a fan of Chris Simmonds and his band from their first album in 1979 up to 1993 when he was killed. It was such a loss to the world, not only his music, but everything he stood for.

There were so many contradictions in what had been written and said about him that it was hard to get a handle on the real person. From what I got from the lyrics, he was an incredibly deep individual. I can’t say I understood it all but it certainly made you think about life and what we are all here for.

Anyway, for years after I kept playing the CDs by The Message – the name of his band – and I suppose I got a bit obsessed with this guy who, it seemed, the media either loved or hated even though he rarely gave interviews, preferring the music to speak for itself.

In about 2003 I moved to London. I started poking around the East End looking to see if I could discover anything about the singer and guitarist of one of the biggest bands in the world. I tried to find the famous Green Man in Leytonstone where the band first played, only to discover it’s now a trendy O’Neil’s bar.

After grabbing a beer, I got talking to some really old bloke sitting in the corner on his own. It turned out to be the ex Landlord called Alf Bassett, who had helped give The Message their first gig. We were talking for about an hour when a big guy about 70 came up to us. I was introduced to Joe Simmonds, Chris’s dad. I couldn’t believe my luck, not that he seemed pleased to meet me.

So seven years after that initial meeting and countless others with him and his wife, comes the story of Joe, Mary and Chris in my novel From Out Of The Blue.



  1. I can’t say that I have heard of The Message or of Chris Simmonds but I enjoyed reading the 1st 3 chapters and am intruigued to know how things will turn out. It would be helpful for a bit more information on who Chris Simmonds was so that the reader can place him in context a bit better and as to why the author was a fan and what Chris Simmonds stood for. This would help the reader to feel a bit more involved from the start as initially I wasn’t sure whether the book was about real people or fictitious ones. So, expand a bit on the blurb as to what the book is about, but I look forwarding to reading the rest of the book when it is published!

    • Hi Yvonne, thanks for the comment. The blog is intended to be a teaser so when I start contacting publishers/agents it would have created a bit of a buzz and that it will get published. Then, and only then will it become clear who Chris Simmonds is 🙂

  2. And a great teaser it is, Ralph. It’s a great way of getting people into your story and interested.

  3. This is pretty Cool idea Ralf, are you getting it published?

  4. I love your writing. What a great story so far – can’t wait until it’s ready and available in print.

    • What a lovely comment. Thanks Elisabeth

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