Book Review

Rantings of the Loon Pant King | Tex Austin | The Book Guild | 2023

There’s something of the Zelig figure to Tex Austin, or maybe even Forrest Gump perhaps.  He appears to have been there at some of the key points of the 20th century, not just moments relating to the world of rock and roll, but also his brushes with the rag trade during the so-called Swinging Sixties, the man who gave the world the infamous Loon Pant, those unfeasibly awkward fitting trousers that had plenty going on below the knee but hardly anything above (or was I wearing a size too small?)  Then there’s his brief venture into the soft drinks industry, vintage cars and further connections to rock royalty and perhaps even actual Royalty itself.  Tex, formerly Craig Austin, has a story to tell and tells it in an almost shambolic way, in fleeting reminiscences throughout the book, each chapter of his life squeezed into no more than four-pages at a time.  The language Tex uses and his own idiosyncratic phrasing, his frequent use of metaphors and clichés, nicknames and put downs, has the feel of being verbally relayed from the comfort of bar stool.  I’ve had late night conversations like this myself.  Having been a fan of the Amazing Blondel since the early 1970s, devouring each of the band’s albums along the way and as much information I could get my hands on, this memoir comes as a pleasant surprise and adds a little more meat to the band’s story.  Being a former band mate of Blondel’s John Gladwin and Terry Wincott during their formative years, playing in such bands as The Imps, Dimples and Gospel Garden, before turning up the volume for Methuselah, there was bound to be some juicy nuggets in here somewhere.  Discovering that Tex once shared a double bed with Wincott in a haunted house, was simply a hoot, which makes me see the crumhorn wielding minstrel in a completely different light.  By the author’s own admission, much of this account is flippant, irreverent, and tongue-in-cheek, yet it becomes more and more difficult to identify for sure where fact blurs into fiction or where real-life morphs into romanticism, but it all fits the pattern of what I imagine to be life on the road.  Candid in his descriptions of the seedier side of the rock and roll lifestyle, where brushes with the underbelly of society become commonplace, and for which Tex eagerly describes various scraps and punch ups along the way, there are one or two highly descriptive moments that could be considered too much information!   Illustrated with photographs, flyers and publicity shots, Rantings of the Loon Pant King is a fair roller coaster ride through the memory banks of one of rock and roll’s lesser known hellraisers.