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Music

Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner's first memories of music

@josephtaysom

Alex Turner became one of Britain’s most cherished rockstars while still a teenager after the stratospheric success of Arctic Monkeys’ debut album. However, Turner didn’t come out of the womb whistling a melody and, in reality, music didn’t become of interest until later than most of his contemporaries.

Turner was 16 when he formed Arctic Monkeys and had only learnt how to play the guitar a year earlier. The garage rock revolution of the early 2000s made him fall in love with indie music and place his Roots Manuva records back on the shelf.

As a child of 1984, Turner was too young to have lived through the Britpop craze, and by the time he became obsessed with music, the genre had become a washed-up caricature of what it once was with the Arctic Monkeys singer instead choosing to get his kick from rappers over indie bands.

Although Turner didn’t have an interest in music as a young child, it’s always been part of his life, and strangely, he owes a lot to a childhood friend’s father. When he was extremely young, Turner and his friend would spend endless days hanging out together, and it was here that he was first indoctrinated into rock ‘n’ roll.

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“I probably didn’t want much to do with music at that age. I was just so devoted to climbing trees and being Batman,” Turner told Pitchfork about his favourite record as a five-year-old. “But I used to hang out with my neighbour growing up, and his dad loved classic rock”.

Turner added: “He would play Deep Purple on this boombox in their back garden. I can remember playing Batman and Robin to Hush on Saturday afternoons. My neighbour was a bit older than me, and he was allowed to chew bubblegum– I couldn’t do that as a five-year-old. Why? It’s fucking dangerous, you can choke! He was allowed to wear hair gel, too. I wanted to be him a little bit.”

While those Saturdays in the sun introduced Turner’s ears to rock music, his mother’s taste also played a major role in his musical development. He continued: “Also, the other night we were in a cab in Chicago, and that Toto song ‘Hold the Line’ came on: [sings] “Hold the line, dun dun dun dun, love isn’t always on time.” I knew an alarming amount of lyrics to that tune because my mum used to play it in the car, driving me around in the booster seat”.

He concluded: “She would always play the Eagles, too, so I’m word-perfect on shitloads of Eagles tunes whenever I hear them in restaurants now. I can sing ‘Hotel California’ all the whole way through. Anyway, moving on.”

Thankfully, Turner would develop a taste of his own. He successfully managed to put his encyclopedic knowledge of Eagles lyrics to the back of his mind in favour of Julian Casablancas and never looked back since.

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