One afternoon in the early 1980s I demonstrated a system to a distinguished, immaculately suited American who was a high-flyer. His employers had phoned me to tell me that on his behalf they would pay for his chosen system – and there was no budget limitation. His chauffer waited outside while I went through the preliminary briefing.
It’s hard not to be influenced by the personal appearance of the customer. You try not to be judgemental, but you can’t help it. Anyway, part of my first stab at a system composed the ultra rare, mighty and visually imposing Wharfedale Option-One active speakers. The visitor, reluctant to impose his desires, invited me to choose the music. Naively, as it turned out, I selected opera, jazz, full orchestral, piano and so on.
The demo passed pleasantly enough, but the visitor although impressed didn’t seem highly motivated.
During a pause between tracks I heard this man mutter, seemingly to himself, and with an air of regret “I used to be young – dammit” I said something vacuous like ‘yup, I know how you feel’ and started to select the next classical track. But he caused me to pause by asking if I had any 1960’s West Coast/Bay area acid rock? What, like Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger, Skip Spence – that kind of thing?’ He smiled – broadly. I was and remain a deep enthusiast of that music, and I had some to hand for my own after-hours entertainment.
I slipped on Jefferson Airplane’s “Bless its pointed little head”. I sat next to him, turned to look at him, and this captain of industry had tears in his eyes. He told me he’d been at that very gig, at the Fillmore, as a kid. He took of his jacket, shortly after giving me his Amex Card. We didn’t exchange a word, side after side, and side by side. He was transported. Hours passed. He told me I’d influenced his life in a way he never though likely, nor possible.