For a long time now rock music has been the glue which binds together me and my two best buddies.
Right from the early days it was a love of all things hard and heavy that drew the three of us closer.
We’d buy patches for our jackets, vinyl for fun and, when we could afford it, the odd concert ticket. Our A4 files would be decorated with elaborate band logos and cuttings from Metal Hammer.
We’d talk power chords and hair metal chicks, dodgy drum solos and even dodgier pop. We had a common interest and a friendship founded, on the whole, on rock.
But it’s not as if we all liked all of the same bands all of the time. I shared a love of Yngwie Malmsteen with Rick and an admiration of the Black Crowes with Ham.
Rick worshipped Maiden but it took me 15 years to appreciate the finer points of Bruce and his boys.
Ham loved a bit of Led Zeppelin but in the early days they were just too old for my hair metal tastes.
And of course I worshipped Def Leppard. They didn’t.
But just as I’ve made them attend many of the mighty Lepps’ finer moments they’ve made their respective cases to me. And rock is still the subject we love to debate most.
During a non-stop 55-hour trek from Europe’s northernmost tip to its most southerly point (think the Cannonball Run with speed limits), rock was the soundtrack to an incredible journey.
That was 10 years ago. Ten years before that we were starry-eyed teenagers talking top 10s and killer riffs, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the Friday Rock Show. And we were talking about it every day.
Fast forward to 2009 and just about the only time we get together is to rock. Whether it’s to Aerosmith in Hyde Park, Heaven & Hell in Newcastle or Turisas in Edinburgh. Like I said, rock is what brings us together and keeps us together.
This weekend we’ll be slumming it in a chalet at a holiday camp in Wales. Why? Because we’re still good mates and we still love to rock (me, admittedly, more than the others).
We’re probably too old, we should probably know better and we will probably be shunned by friends and family who, quite frankly, think we’ve lost the plot.
If only they knew.