Paul Hollyer’s Story

Paul Hollyer sent me this e-mail in September 2000:
Ram & Sel were good friends of mine. I knew them from the Felixstowe days. He’d have liked your site…. for sure! He was a lovely man and I will remember him with warmth and affection forever.

After my request for more info, he sent the following e-mail on the 26 September:

Ramases and Sel

Ramases and Sel

I met Ram & Sel when I was living in Felixstowe with my first wife Louise. I think it was either John Kitson or Mick Brand (these guys if you can find them will have some tales too) who introduced us when R&S were living at Felixstowe Ferry, which is about 4 miles outta the town.

He was born between 1935 and 1940, as he served as a conscript in the army later on as a PT instructor… definitely. Born in or near Sheffield.

EVERYBODY (well, all the hip dudes) knew who is was because of ‘Space Hymns’ and the fact that he really stood out in a crowd, but few got close. He was a very intelligent and older man, shit, I was in my early 20’s and he must have been the same age that I am now, and he didn’t ever suffer fools gladly and cut quite a presence. He was a big fit man, as before he was into the central heating game, he was a PT instructor in the Army, and therefore still very fit!!!

They moved into a new town house (with Ram’s mother!!), I think it was in Stanley Road in Felixstowe, very shortly after meeting them. Louise and I lived 500m away in Montague Road, so we were kinda neighbours for a bit, and started to really get to know each other. Ram, the randy old sod, was VERY interested in my missus, as she was a kinda beefier version of Sel and quite a lot younger, but he ALWAYS behaved with impeccable manners and our relationship went from strength to strength. We were about a lot before ‘Glass Top Coffin’ was recorded, we used to listen to him play the tunes on his guitar that went on the album and say whether we liked them or not… my fave is still ‘Saler Man’.

He was really upset by the cover of the album. I saw the first proofs and they weren’t at all what he envisaged. The cut-out was meant to show a man falling backwards into space into the Horsehead nebula, which when you open up the album revealed that bird. Well, he didn’t like what they had done, but the artwork was completed and the record company said, that’s that!! So Ram persuaded the record company to let him scratch (literally) the litho plates before the cover went to press. He sanded down that little circle that is lighter in the man’s head that forms a part of that bird’s shoulder, and it did look marginally better. His vision was that the man would look like he was in a space suit with helmet on, etc, etc…

Glass Top Coffin Inner

Glass Top Coffin Inner

He was quite an artist too, always fiddling with something in his garage. He made some really ace chess men with resin and metal dust, which looked like metal, but were super light. He was a whiz with an airbrush, etc, etc, and he showed me how to do marquetry, you know, working with wooden veneers etc, etc. Needless to say his efforts at making chess boards were a million times better than mine.

Just after GTC was released, Louise and I moved to London. Ram & Sel were frequent visitors, as they preferred to stay with us rather than in Hotels. One day, he persuaded me that we were gonna take a wall out of my flat and stick another door way in! I wasn’t at all practical way back then, so was full of fear. Bless him, Ram took control and we did it. This got me started on a lifetime’s DIY and building!!

He was quite a wheeler-dealer too. On one visit to London, I think it was the HOT summer of ’76, we were all out in his open top, very flashy sports car, heading off to Hampstead Heath for a beer and a smoke. In the Euston underpass (big road thang) the traffic stopped and we had to wait for the gridlock to clear. The car let outta kinda shudder and Ram said it’s the something or other that’s on the way out. I’m gonna get rid of this car and get another one now. Within 2 hours the deal was done, Ram did a straight swap, and we were all sat in a different flashy motor while Ram rubbed his hands in glee that the old car was gonna seize-up next time it did 10 miles!!!

Boy o boy! I could go on and on… I really dunno what I should keep to myself, as I know some unhappy stuff too and the real reason he was called Ramases, stuff about his suicide, etc, etc. Maybe some stuff is best left unsaid. I’ll think about it. THE person to find is Sel really. I’m gonna put out some feelers. She was lovely, a gentle kind, sweet country gal that really stuck by Ram. He was a difficult character sometimes and what I am mindful of, is that her privacy, if that’s what she wants, is maintained. And that the dream goes on….

Absolutely NO problem [to reprint this stuff on the website]……. I’m simply glad that folk are interested all these years later…. he really was a memorable and striking person…. I don’t wanna sound ‘cute’, but I really do feel privileged to have met and hung out with him…… the one thing that really has always haunted me, is just how ‘predictive’ GTC was… a metaphor for the guys life…..

Pual Hollyer, September 2000

7 Responses to Paul Hollyer’s Story

  1. Felixxx says:

    Hey hello, my name is Felixxx and i am a rock n roll musitian from mexico city, a few days ago i found space hymns, an i just get it and show it to many friends, we are very fans from the psychedelic bands from the 60’s, like the zombies, beach boys, and such stuff.
    Space hymns is at the level of oddesey and oracle, or even parsons works, i dont know much about Ramases, just that he used to say he was the reincarnation of ramses, and that he was somekind of quantic magitian philosopher alquimist rock n roller!
    Any way i would like everyone to listen space hymns, i really wish it, so i will allways promote the legend of a king of old when i can in my own musical carrer.
    Maybe Jesus will really comeback after all.

  2. Colin Horne says:

    Hi I first heard space hymns in 1974 as I was away at sea a lot in those days loved it ever since and ended up sailing out of Felixstowe for many years often wondered if the album cover was based on a church in Felixstowe can’t remember the name of the church but it does look sort of similar, rest in peace Ram

  3. zeon22 says:

    Hi The Church is St Georges, Wellington Rd, Stockport

  4. miramodus says:

    Interesting site, and thanks for still having it up here after all this time. Quick question, though; are you certain about the birth date range for Ramases/Barrington Frost? A search of the Sheffield birth records throws up no entries for Barrington Frost between 1935 and 1940, but there is a Barrington Frost born 1/1/1934. Given that it is probably an almost unique name, I’d be surprised if this isn’t Ramases’ original name and actual birth date. The Sheffield birth records can be accessed here:
    ATB, Gavin

    • Brian Currin says:

      Thank you very much for this information … seems quite plausible!

      • Gavin says:

        Very welcome – I still find it surprising how little is publicly known and available about Ramases’ life. Again, thanks for the site – Space Hymns was one of the defining albums from my youth (a concept that’s lost on my twenty-year old children!)

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