A POTTED HISTORY OF THE NYAS PART IV
CATCHING UP WITH ALAN JENKINS
An Interview By Richard Hoare
Alan Jenkins ran the NYAS and was the editor of Broken Arrow from Issue 16 in August 1984 to Issue 82 in February 2001 Ė a period of 17 years. When he put out his last issue he drew a line under Neil Young. He had become unwell, there were financial problems and he needed a complete break. While in dialogue with Scott Sandie about my own recollections of the early days of Broken Arrow Scott commented that he would really like some word from Alan in Issue 100, given his lengthy involvement with the NYAS. I made contact with Alan and he agreed to talk: -
RH: How did you become involved in the NYAS?
AJ: I had known Andy Cox (and Pete Long) from the early 70s. I happened to buy NME one day and there was an ad for the NYAS. I saw it again in a subsequent issue and eventually I wrote off to Paul Makos. By that time Andy had contacted Paul to assist and so Paul asked whether I wanted to get involved.
RH: Had you written about music before?
AJ: No. I had written some pieces on football - I was a member of The Association of Football Statisticians. Iím not very good at writing but I had always compiled lists of Neil Young related material.
RH: Remind me how you became involved with running the NYAS and editing Broken Arrow?
AJ: Around Issue 12 Paul Makos announced that he couldnít continue running the NYAS and putting out the magazine. We had a meeting and we decided to split it. Andy wanted the magazine and I ended up with the running of the NYAS membership. I wasnít happy; we had no money and Paul didnít know how we were going to raise more. Also the membership records were incomplete, and I had to set about sorting out the subscription records. Then after a few issues Andy complained that he wasnít getting any contributions to go in the magazine. We had another meeting and if I hadnít volunteered to take on the magazine the NYAS would have closed down. It wasnít an easy start, as I had almost nothing to put in my first issue.
RH: Can you explain the mechanics of putting the magazine together at that time?
AJ: Well, back then there was no word processing and no email. I would receive articles; some typed, some hand written. I would sit hunched over the typewriter in the living room for hours getting all the spacing right. I was eventually able to use a PC in 1991/1992, but even then that was a DOS based machine (not Windows). Producing the magazine sometimes got quite stressful but it was something that I really enjoyed doing. My only regret is that Iíve never been very good at writing articles.
RH: How did the NYAS afford to start colour covers with Issue 47?
AJ: The membership had gone up over time a little bit.
RH: Did the colour covers attract more subscriptions?
AJ: Virginís distribution arm, Caroline would take a few issues. Sometimes you would see some in Virgin stores. I put subscription forms in the middle of those issues and they were sent all over the world. Some of them resulted in more subscribers to the magazine.
RH: Did you make many friends while working away at the magazine?
AJ: I got to meet and correspond with lots of people from all around the world whom I consider to be friends. Besides the NYAS gang of Graham Reed, Andy Cox, Paul Makos, Dave Clarke, Paul Nicholas and yourself, there were guys from Germany, John Einarson in Canada, Poncho Ė whom I met on a number of occasions Ė, Jef Michael Piehler, Mike Kaufman (who sadly passed away a few years ago), Ron Scarlett and many others. Apart from our initial meeting with Neil in 1982, however, I never did catch up with him again.
RH: How did you contact Frank Sampedro?
AJ: I met him after one of the Ď87 Neil Young and Crazy Horse gigs and we spoke for hours; heís a really nice guy. I then corresponded with him and that led to some interviews by post. He was instrumental in getting the NYAS address on the inner sleeve of the Freedom album. Eventually he interviewed Neil for me and that was published in Issue 40.
RH: Was it a natural progression for you to include CSN in the magazine?
AJ: Well, people would complain there wasnít enough CSN information in the magazine. When I then printed pieces about them a different section of the membership would complain that they shouldnít be in the magazine. I couldnít win! Gareth Lewis, a Welsh guy who lived in the States, would send me loads of CSN articles and snippets of news.
RH: What were some of the more memorable issues of Broken Arrow that you published?
AJ: Itís so long since Iíve been back to them, but lets think. Issue 23 (devoted to Neil Young and The Squires) by John Einarson was a good one. John provided all those amazing photographs. In Issue 59 I managed to collect together all those Ducks articles and artwork that had appeared in various small US magazines in 1977. I also liked the way Bry Carter wrote Ė he did a good interview with Joel Bernstein at Wembley (included in Issue 33, 1988). Someone also sent me that massive log of songs that Neil lodged with Warner Brothers (Issue 27).
RH: Do you remember ď10 Days With The LonerĒ by Constant Meijers in Issue 32?
AJ: Yes - Iíd forgotten about that. He was the guy who had written the Dutch review that was printed on the insert in Tonightís The Night. The piece I printed was going to form part of a book that didnít get published.
RH: Was it a constant problem getting material?
AJ: I relied on what people sent in. Sometimes it was touch and go as to whether I would have enough material for the next issue. A lot of the concert reviews were samey and perhaps I should have edited them. But I was afraid that if I was selective and didnít print some of the contributions then those subscribers would not submit reviews next time Neil toured.
RH: Did you ever consider enlisting the help of anyone locally to assist with the magazine?
AJ: No, it was just me, my wife Paula and Zuma, our cat. I didnít want to put anyone else through it!
RH: What are your memories of the last few years when you were editor?
AJ: Towards the end my health was failing and I started missing deadlines a little. In the early 70s my day job was working in finance, to deadlines, so when it came to taking over the magazine working to deadlines was easy. After my brother died in 1997 I started to struggle. The magazine became a burden, but I didnít want to let any one down. It really started to get away from me then.
RH: On behalf of the NYAS thank you for putting out 17 years of Neil Young information. What do you listen to now?
AJ: Believe it or not, opera!
The Neil Young Appreciation Society founded in 1981, still going strong in 2015.
An unbroken run of 134 issues of Broken Arrow.