On Tour with Pip Simmons

Rod [Bedell] and his wife Sheila were members of the Pip Simmons Theatre Group and one night on returning from a European tour he brought along someone I didn’t know to one of the Sunday night gigs. Rod introduced the man to me as Pip Simmons. He was the enfant terrible of theatre at that time. Nude women, explosives and goodness knows what else. He did shows like ‘And Die Musik’ which was about concentration camps. Full-on stuff. We agreed to meet up for a drink, where he said, ‘I’m doing a new show which requires a rock singer and I wonder if you’d be interested.’ I thought, actors nude on stage! Fuck that! I said, ‘You’re joking. I know nothing about theatre and have no pretensions to be an actor. He said, ‘But you don’t have to do anything expect sing.’ Rod Beddell said to me, ‘Pete, you ought to give it a try. Pip wants to work with you because of who you are and what you do.’ He urged me to give it a try. There was no way that I could remember lines but songs were another thing, I didn’t have a problem with that. Pip was doing a European tour of a show called ‘Towards a Nuclear Future, which was based on the Karen Silkwood case in the United States. He talked me into getting involved with it. It was only to be for one tour but it ended up five years.

Pip is a very provocative theatre director and coming out of drama school in the sixties became internationally known. The show we did went very well and Pip liked working with a stable cast and it just carried on really. We were making good money. I could afford the mortgage on my house and two children so it wasn’t a financial burden.