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Fred Smith
Back in 1968 when a Kings Heath band metamorphosed from playing pubs and working men's clubs as "U NO WHO" into the more esoteric "Bachdenkel we encountered Fred at the various happenings and idealistic events that were organised to raise funds for the B'ham Arts Lab. His Amoeba light show was a sight to be seen and we wanted it to be seen as a backdrop to our new found "underground" music. We worked with Fred constantly in and around Birmingham and gained a reputation for being credibly psychedelic thanks in no small part to Fred's input. We rated him as a true artist and were proud and touched that he so enthusiastically and generously gave of his time, inks, overheads, gels, stained glass and hands. How we managed to persuade him to leave the delights of Moseley and come with us to France, we'll never know. But in the spring of 1969 we slipped into France across the Belgian border like a gang of clandestine desperados. The music was going to be heady, the visuals startlingly original (especially to the French who had never seen a light how before (another of Fred's innovations ? ) and the times gloriously tough. We taught Fred how to sleep in the showers on University Campus', play a pretty mean game of pinball and how to divide a croque monsieur into five equal parts. He was a good solid person to have on board, smart, inventive and enthusiastic. He could fix amps, solder leads and on occasions miraculously bring an old Morris postal van back to life. He stood by us for several months, though we'd told him we were only going for a week or two. This was probably why he only had the one pair of green velvet trousers that he had to wear for months on end, except come dossing-down time, when he stood them up in a comer. The great thing about working with Fred was his ability to get us into "artistic" circles in France. People were fascinated and mesmerised by his work and we knew that he was going to move on to greater and far more creative things. He did. We missed him when he went back to England and his spare trousers and like everyone who knew him we miss him even more today.
His spirit is in the Midland's Arts Centre and his illumination is still impregnated on the back wall behind the stage.
Here's to you Fred. May your light keep on shining.
Peter Kimberley, Brian Smith, Colin Swinburne, and Karel Beer. lightshows/amoeba/amoeba.html