Star Wars Changed My Life – VI – Return of the Jedi Sucks!! Puberty and Ewoks

Maybe not that much.

Episode VI was just around the corner. I had bought as many action figures as I could up to that point and new figures were on the way.

Prior to the release of the film we knew that there had to be that final sequel. Lando and Chewy were off to find a carbonized Han, Luke is probably practising with his new hand and we need to know who “There is another” referred to.

Early promotional material appeared in newspapers and magazines pointing to the first “Revenge of the Jedi” title for the film. It was changed prior to release when George Lucas stated that Jedi do not enact revenge.

Due to the worldwide interest in the production of Return of the Jedi, the film had another title during production “Blue Harvest : Horror Beyond Imagination”.

When people spotted C3PO, Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker whilst whizzing around in Dune Buggys on the Imperial Sand Dunes in California where the Sarlacc Pit was filmed it kind of gave the surprise away.

The name has since been used as the title of an extended Family Guy episode spoofing “A New Hope” with a great spoof of one of the main Star Wars posters.

In the US, “Return of the Jedi” was released on 25th May 1983, in the UK we had to wait a couple of months until 2nd June in the same year.

The first proper promotional poster for the film I do remember was the raised blue lightsaber with the Return logo at the top.

No inkling of any of the characters looks from the new movie and no idea how it would end.

In 1983 I was now fifteen. I was also in another situation where I would soon be moving up to the north east in November of that same year. I lived in Dukinfield and was schooled in a Boys school in Stalybridge.

Between 1980 and 83 I’d attended a couple of Star Wars and Empire double bills at the original Odeon in Ashton Under Lyne, which was now an Independent cinema and renamed the Metro as of 1981. It now had an amusement arcade at a side entrance which would eventually be it’s future when the main foyer was taken over and it became Slotworld in 2003. Eventually it would close completely in 2011, and it still stands empty today.

My first memory of clips from Jedi was the attack on the second Death Star, my thoughts and comments at the time were that somehow the Death Star from the first film had survived. I didn’t even think that they’d be dumb enough to build a second one.

My very first action figure from the new film was a major character. He looked cool in his grey and blue duds, beard and his pointy stick. He must be the next Landonis Balthazar Calrissian, yes, that’s his full name.

General Crix Nadine was a blink and you’ll miss him character from the Death Star briefing, played by Dermot Crowley. Dermot went on to be is loads of British TV series such as The Bill, Mrs Brown’s Boys The Movie and probably more recognised as Luthor’s stressed out boss in Luthor.

I remember my grandmother buying this figure in Boots before seeing Jedi. This was the only figure I managed to pick up before seeing the film, so I was looking forward to seeing what Crix would be up to.

Attribution: Mike Cattell

It was a summer of 1983 and a time I was very much into my computers. In December 1982 I was asked if I wanted a ZX81 or an Atari VCS.

Prior to 1981 I started to get interested in the computer (singular) they had at school when I was down in the North West and I started to buy computer magazines. My favourite at the time was Your Computer.

Near to the back of the magazine in included a bunch of listings in BASIC and at the very back it had pages containing a list of the computers that were out at the time. This included the likes of The Commodore PET, The Acorn Atom, The ZX80, the Apple II and just arriving was the IBM PC. I dreamed of owning an Apple or a PC.

I remember the two page advert for the ZX81 distinctly in that magazine, promising an amazing home computer for a resonable price at only £69.99. You could also buy the kit form for only £49.99. I didn’t have a degree in electronics so we went for the built one.

The Atari VCS was just for playing games. With this I could write my own.

I took the choice of a Sinclair ZX81 and spent a lot of my time learning and programming in BASIC (Beginners All Purpose Instruction Code). Thankfully my parents gave me the instruction booklet before getting the computer for Christmas. I did get the 16K RAM pack for my birthday and attended my first Computer Fair at Manchester University and saw 3D Maze and 3D Defender running on the ZX81.

Wow. 3D. It’s like garlic bread. The future.

Distractions again. Back to Star Wars. We will probably go into my life with computers in another blog. All I can say was that computers were starting to take over my life.

For some reason, the first cinema I saw Return of the Jedi in has become a bit of a blur. The regular cinema in Blyth was the Wallaw in which I do remember seeing the rerelease of the trilogy.

The cinema I probably saw it at was the Cannon in Monkseaton, Whitley Bay. Another film I saw there was in 1981. James Bond’s For Your Eyes Only which was running on a continuous cycle. They just played the same film straight after the previous run. So to get the full film we had to watch the full end titles and cycle around to the same scene so we could understand what was going on. We went in during a scene where Q was showing Bond the experimental ‘3D Visual Identigraph’ whilst loading up a huge removable storage device into what looked like a washing machine in todays standards. ‘Sharon’ brought in two cups of tea into the same room as the prototype device. Sheesh!

If it wasn’t the Wallaw in Blyth I would occasionally go to the Cannon with it’s two screens. This cinema closed in 1999 and was sadly demolished in 2000. Nowadays the only cinema in Whitley Bay is the small and perfectly formed independent Jar Jar cinema. If you want the chains, you’d have to trek to the Silverlink Odeon.

Let’s break it down. I didn’t need to break down Empire as it’s a perfect film…. in my opinion. Well, look.

Some of you out there are saying the original trilogy are perfect. Well. I’m not soooo sure. A lot of younger fans didn’t have to wait three years from watching an amazing film to watching Return of the Jedi. Let me explain. I’m not dissing this film, I’m just saying it wasn’t as good, but it had some great bits. Just like Episode I.

A cool imperial shuttle touches down on the new Death Star. Vader gets out and let’s the imperial officer know that he’s going to have to speed up construction coz the boss is on his way. Having a second Death Star felt like a cop out. They were obviously going to blow this one up in the end. I did end up buying one of these model kits and it was one of the very first that I spent time weathering instead of just painting with a brush. I sprayed this model and still managed to get the wings to rotate without sticking.

We return to Tatooine R2 and 3PO are off to see the mighty Jabba surrounded by a plethora of merchandise… I mean creatures. C3PO made his way into Jabba’s palace to be greeted by Bib Fortuna. Was I jaded as a teenager? Possibly. But I still giggled at “Di’ Wanna Wanga!”. Did he really say that?

Nice fact was that Michael Carter was also the guy that gets killed on the London subway escalator in “An American Werewolf in London”.

Luke ends up having to rescue everyone even though Lando is already there. It was a surprise to see Leia but I kind of guessed that it was Leia as Boushh due to her slight frame and she had to be the one to rescue Han.

Now one thing that stood out, was Princess Leia. The Princess we had grown up with in 6 years was now wearing a gold bikini… and I was 15, I had matured. I’m sure I ended up with a poster on my wall. I wasn’t much of a fan of the Princess when A New Hope was released, but now she had my fun attention. I wonder why. Respect to the late great Carrie Fisher and her stories of that outfit. At least she still managed to kill the bad guy even whilst she was hardly wearing any clothes.

Luke fights a cool Rancor after he bites the head of a guard and we all still got upset when he dies. The poor Rancor keeper ended up crying, probably as he’s now out of a job.

Everyone gets captured. Boba Fett goes out way too early. I was really shocked that one of my favourite characters and the one I’d been waiting to in the new movie ended up in the belly of the Sarlacc because Han accidentally sets off his backpack. That’s not fair. I waited three years and you kill off Boba? What the hell.

Thank goodness Dark Horse’s canon (at that time) comics got Boba out of the pit.

Also mentioned in book form in Tales from Jabba’s Palace and Tales of the Bounty Hunters.

This has since been removed by Disney as everything except the films are now considered canon. The old books and comics are now part of the “Legends” brand. This has been used as sources to bring back certain fan favourite elements into the new Disney canon like Grand Admiral Thrawn. So, as I type here’s hoping that Fett makes some sort of appearance or nod in the new Mandalorian seasons to come.

Boom! Leia kills Jabba, Luke blows stuff up.

The Emperor with a fresher face and a different voice than Empire waltzes onto the scene.

Luke visits Yoda, just for him to die. What?! Another death. But another amusing way out. “There is another Sky- wah-aw-aw-k-er…”

Oh and Luke finds out Leia is his sister. What?! But they kissed in Empire and he liked it! Ergh!

Cool fly bike chase. I also bought this model kit and spent time building and weathering the model. This kit actually lasted longer than most of my other kits. But a lot of the time it kept falling off shelves, getting crushed under boxes and stuff and generally needing regular repairs. Strangely I still have one piece of the model kit left and you can see the spray marks from my early weathering attempts.

Sadly every other part of the model is gone and I don’t want to throw this one small piece away. Scout troopers are cool but dumb. I do have the action figure version but it wasn’t as accurate as the model kit. You can’t bend the troopers legs, but it does have two clever features. It stands on two feet and press the button disguised as the bag and it falls apart.

More explosions. And Ewoks.

I did do some artwork in school at that time.

Totally made a mistake with the location of the blaster on the Speeder Bike

Okay, Ewoks. I kind of like Ewoks, but I didn’t think they’d be able to bring down the might of the Empire. At least at the end of the Rise of Skywalker they brought all the rebels together to kick some ass.

Ewoks swinging through trees doing the Tarzan cry threw me out of the film. Why? Why would they do that?! It’s a galaxy far far away!! Not Edgar Rice Burroughs!

I did feel sorry for the Ewoks in that one scene where one of them dies and a pal checks to see if he’s okay.

It was down to Chewy to save the day on the ground and it’s been clearly identified that the Empire gives their soldiers rubbish helmets – even a rock will knock them off their feet. I’ve worn motor cycle helmets better than that.

Admiral Ackbar is another iconic character with an iconic catchphrase. “It’s a trap!”

They managed to blow up the shield generator, Luke beat up his dad. His dad threw his boss down a shaft and we managed to see the frail old man behind the helmet. It was good to see evil returning to the good side as I imagine it would be difficult to watch another cause pain on your own child.

It’s fine that you wanted to kill him in the last film and ended up chopping his hand off, but in this one your heart grew three sizes. I’m also impressed you managed to lift the Emperor above your head with one hand and a stump.

Having seen the prequels, neither Obi-wan or Anakin aged well in the short time between films. It was only 23 years between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi, according to the old pre-Disney timeline. I think Disney’s new official timeline leaves the time between events out of the equation.

It makes it easier to slot new stuff in and means there is a lot of “space” to fill between the Mando and Awakens.

Leave that to Disney +.

The space battle and ultimate destruction of the second Death Star was spectacular and created, a huge fan of VFX, the greatest celluloid composite in the history of film.

SB19 – 19th shot in the space battle
There are more boxes under that top one

This shot contains 63 elements in this shot. An element being a spaceship, the Death Star, a starfield, the planet etc. As this was prior to the age of CGI but was getting closer, the majority of these elements required three separate pieces of film. It totalled about 170 separate rolls of film all of which needed to be combined with an optical printer. Imagine if you had to place each of these elements onto a film and you only had one chance to get it right. Mess up on element 125 and you’d have to start again.

Check out this clip from an old BBC2 programme “Horizon : How to Film the Impossible”

They did happen to get one TIE fighter on the wrong layer and instead of disappearing behind the Falcon it flew in front as it disappeared off into the distance. With the Special Edition released in 1997 they did actually fix this all due to the magic of CGI (computer generated imaging). Actually it’s a bit of Photoshop trickery which ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) the people behind the VFX (Visual Effects) created. Look for the names Thomas and John Knoll pop up in the Adobe credits.

Flying into the Death Star was a stroke of genius and knocking the satellite dish off the Falcon and it’s escape from the fireball was thrilling and reenforced the fact that stuff could hit the fan an not everyone may make it out alive. It’s the last film, anything can happen. Lando and Nien Numb did great. I did want to scream “Yahoo!” alongside Lando.

Eventually, they danced around the fires on the Moon of Endor and a celebrated the defeat of the Empire. Old Anakin, Ben and Yoda appeared out of nowhere and they got on with a happy life until more stories were needed to keep the public happy.

Once exiting the cinema, still daylight, the trilogy was finished. That’s it. The story of Star Wars was over. No more. What do I do now? My initial feelings of Jedi were that it wasn’t as good or as gritty as Empire, but I still really enjoyed it. Empire will always be my favourite as it stayed in my head for three years until the story was complete.

For me, at that time, it was finished. Well, the film at least. Now I had to finish off my collection.

This is the card back I remember from my final few Star Wars figures. The two hidden figures were the Ewoks.

It did get rather confusing as to the total number of figures out at this time. The original C3PO came with fixed arms but by Empire Strikes back he had removable arms and a backpack so Chewbacca could carry him. There were various versions of R2D2 which and original clicker in the first film to an extending scope in Empire. So multiple versions of the same figure existed.

I won’t go into the different head sculpts that changed over time. I do remember having the smaller head rather than the larger and more angry larger version.

I still own a handful of my original Palitoy collection including my Boba Fett and a Squid Head. I’ve also got the final 17 Anakin Skywalker figure from the end of Jedi. Somewhere.

Sadly, our British Palitoy company stopped making Star Wars toys in 1983, with Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight Outfit), Squid Head (Palitoy ROTJ) being some of the final figures in their fourth wave. They actually finished by working on a Tri logo card including English, French and Spanish Jedi logos with other European manuafacturers before closing production on Star Wars. Palitoy ceased trading in 1985.

The final figures produced for Europe on the Tri logo cards allowed General Mills, to reduce costs and spread them across the different countries and licenced manufacturers. If you want to read more about this check out Trilogo.info

In the US, Kenner finished producing Star Wars figures in 1985, with the final 17 being the hardest to find (excluding the Droids and Ewok lines). This final figures included the infamous Yak Face, Amanaman and others. These came on the final 92 card back.

I had most of the figures at the time from the original 65 Palitoy range, whether I still had all their weapons was another thing. We will go into what ultimately happened to them in a future blog. I loved my figures, until I didn’t.

Music, yes, the wonderful vinyl tunes and storybooks. To be honest I must have got bored with the music of Jedi because the only original LP I have in my collection is “The Story of Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

In the usual way the single 33rpm vinyl LP was featured in a gatefold album.

In the centre is a colour brochure featuring the story of Jedi in pictures and finished with a nice posed shot on the Endor set.

It is a great album but the march of the VHS and TV showings meant we didn’t need to imagine any more. It’s time for the future of home entertainment and some cool 80’s films.

Sit down and have a biscuit and I’ll see you next time.

Star Wars Changed My Life – V – The Empire Strikes Bank

By the time 1980 came around I had just made it past the 12 year old post and I was ready for more Star Wars

By late 1979, I had received my previously mentioned Boba Fett figure, which still didn’t fire rockets and thankfully I hadn’t seen the Star Wars Holiday Special by this point.

We did get to see The Muppet Show featuring a plethora of characters from Star Wars. This iconic show from the 70s first premiered on UK TVs on leap day, 29th February 1980. This was a clear three months before Empire was released in cinemas.

At that time The Muppet Show, due to the very British TV mogul, Lew Grade, (but actually born in Russia) was being filmed in England at Elstree Studios. This very studio just happened to be the main location for the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. American TV networks didn’t want anything to do with Jim Henson’s Muppets.

Mark Hamill made an appearance as Luke Skywalker and his “cousin” Mark Hamill. Luke was dressed in a clean version of his, at that time, unknown costume from Dagobah and Cloud City and carrying his blaster.

We also didn’t really know about Yoda and the fact that the voice of Yoda, Frank Oz was playing against Mark Hamill as Fozzy, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Sam Eagle in the same show.

It was cheesy and funny at the same time and by far much more fun that the dancing disco which was the Star Wars Holiday Special. Yes, I have seen it, and it isn’t good.

In 1980 I we went to see Empire at the Odeon cinema in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, fairly soon after the film was released on the 20th May 1980.

I had my parents in tow and we all thoroughly enjoyed the film and were stunned at the revelations and the cliff hanger at the end. A staple of George Lucas’s idea of basing Star Wars on Saturday morning serials.

I remember walking back up the queue in stunned silence with the “Darth Vader is Luke’s father” stuck in my head along side the fact that Luke now has robotic hand. Oh, a carbonized Han Solo was taken away to Jabba the Hutt by the now definitely cool, bounty hunter Boba Fett.

Before I go on I have to discuss the name “Boba Fett” in Empire Strikes Back. His name was never heard out loud during Empire. It was only in Jedi when we heard Han say “Boba”. From 1980 until 1983 and beyond I’ve always pronounced “Boh-ba” as “Bobb-ah”. Even to this day I’m trying to change to he proper pronunciation. I think many of my generation also have the same problem.

Even Youtube can’t decide to this day.

I could have said any one of those three bits of information out loud and I could easily spoil it for everyone in the queue waiting for the next showing. I was holding such power in my mind. I was 12… it was a lot to carry. In those days we couldn’t just pop home start up the computer and start chatting with other viewers. That was probably about 15 years away, at least. We had to wait to get back to school and discuss it with our mates.

Yoda was unexpected and new. When I initially saw him he was just a weird rubber puppet that we would have to get used to, but by the time Luke departed Dagobah he was a fond part of Star Wars canon and rife for merchandising. The point where I started to really connect to the Yoda character was when Yoda was arguing over a small torch. We were all convinced in the theatre that there had to be some other Jedi Master living on Dagobah and not that silly creature. The film was filled with surprises.

It was much grittier than a New Hope, there were more locations to add to the expanding galaxy with Hoth, the Asteroid, Dagobah and the amazing Cloud City. We were introduced to new characters like Boba, Lando, Lobot, Ugnaughts, Sheckil (that was the human character Jeremy Bulloch played on screen as well as Boba) and they blew C3PO up. I thought maybe Anthony Daniels might not have wanted to play C3PO, so they blew him up. They blew up R2 at the end of A New Hope, so it was probably C3POs time and it would have been rather slow chases around Cloud City if everyone had to wait for that slow droid.

It was now my most favourite Star Wars film of all time and the most frustrating. I honestly thought nothing could top the original, but it did. Even with that weird rubber dude that occasionally looked cross-eyed.

The only problem now was that we’d have to wait for the conclusion… in three years. What was I going to do in three years? I’d be 15, it seemed a very long time.

In these days of more recent Star Wars you had to wait a couple of years between Star Wars films with the odd Marvel movie to fill the void.

Thankfully we did have a Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, Clash of the Titans, E.T., Tron, Star Trek II and the Dark Crystal. Obviously missing some of the other films which I’d be too young for including one of my all time favourites, The Thing, with Blade Runner, and First Blood.

So as well as watching the age related films, I’d better occupy myself with buying more stuff, or at least letting parents and grandparents treat me to a figure or two for the next couple of years.

In 1980 Palitoy/Kenner released a further 11 figures, this excluded the previous Boba Fett and Yoda which was revealed later in the year.

The cardback for 1980 showed the original 20 figures and added an extra 10. There was also a 31 back figure package with Yoda.

Also on the bottom was the Droid Factory and the troop transport which although was never a vehicle seen in any of the films, eventually made it into both Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian.

By the end of 1981 with The Empire Strikes Back being a popular choice for Christmas the total number of figures raised to the 41 back.

There were numerous mail aways during the Empire Strikes Back run of action figures and I took full advantage of them.

The first was to get a free Dengar figure with 3 purchases and 30p postage and packaging.

The second was for the “Survival Kit” which included a bunch of accessories for the figures including back packs, asteroid face masks, a training harness so that Luke could carry Yoda around plus a bunch of blasters and a grappling hook belt.

Everybody loves free stuff especially as I was collecting as many of the figures as possible, so that I could complete my collection.

I was buying them from various places both in the north east as well as Ashton market on Tameside.

Alongside the 3 and 3/4 inch figures, this time there was much more merchandise around. Two of my favourite all time Star Wars toys were bought around 1980, this included the Yoda Hand Puppet and the 12 inch or large scale Boba Fett.

At some point during multiple cinema visits during those gap years we visited my gran in Ashton. We took her to see Empire Strikes Back and she thought that Yoda was cute. So we ended up getting her a couple of Yoda figures which she put amongst her regular mantelpiece ornaments.

I must admit that the 3 3/4 action figure of Yoda wasn’t exactly that screen accurate and the design with his fluffy coat and his chubby cheeks made him much more cuter than he was in the film.

I also remember my grandma and grandad buying me the Yoda rubber hand puppet which I still have on my collection. He is on a shelf and 40 years later, he doesn’t look a day over 900.

About the same time, I remember picking up my favourite action figure of all time. Boba Fett.

He came with a Six Million Dollar Man style peep hole, backpack with grappling hook on string, laser blaster, cape and wookiee scalps (at that time. They were later changed to padawan braids in the books and comics).

This american advert from the early 80s will give you an idea of the truly amazing figure and accessories.

Hang on…. did he say “Bobo Fett”?

My figure did not fair too well. This will be covered in detail once we get past the time of Return of the Jedi.

Let’s just say, bits are missing, and you should never try to give Star Wars toys away to other kids a couple of doors down because if you ever manage to get them back after they are bored, they won’t be complete.

It’s heartbreaking, but I do still own the majority of my original 12 inch figure, minus the grappling hook end, wookiee scalps and blaster.

When your toys cease to be toys, you can start calling them collectables. That way you can keep them, no questions asked.

Following on from the previous blog, lets talk music. Once the film had been released we had access to the story albums and the official soundtracks.

“The Adventures of Luke Skywalker – The Empire Strikes Back” This was the official release, again with the dialogue, sound effects and music direct from the film. This was a gate-fold album but with only one vinyl.

The inner gate-fold revealed the entire story in pictures except the whole Vader being Lukes father bit.

I think I made another horrible mistake in 1980 and acquired another cover album of the Empire Strikes Back music.

I have no idea why I own this album. Don’t worry some time in the late 80s I managed to fix it all. But for the moment please sample this interesting Disco Empire with a mix of jazz, flailing trumpets, lead guitar, backing singers, clapping, mellow lounge tunes, electronic junk, lots of hihats and an bunch of wacka-chicka.

Why?! I must have had a that’ll do attitude at the time.

This time around I was in middle school and I remember spending a lot of money on Panini stickers. You’d buy an album for 25p and you’d buy the individual packets from the local newsagents for probably around 10p a packet containing 8 randomly selected stickers.

We didn’t get trading cards, like we did with “A New Hope”, this time around we got Panini stickers instead.

School was the best place for swaps and I remember taking my pile of swaps with my list of needs.

Here’s a great Youtube video with a look at the UK version of the Panini stickers.

We could go into the amount of books, magazines and comics but I will be doing a separate blog about this little lot. Here’s a picture of the three of the novel sized editions available at the time. I do have a novel sized comic edition too.

One thing that has to be mentioned before we go on. Before Disney bought Lucasfilm and their properties, they didn’t treat some of the characters very well. This kind of thing makes me feel ill. This is not my Boba Fett. Bohba Fett…. Bobby Feet.

I loved the Star Wars weekends…. but this is just silly.

Thankfully they treat them much better these days with the character encounters and I’ve never seen Kylo Ren dance to DJ Rex in Galaxies Edge. No, just no.

Boogie Storm is just about my limit.

Anyway, that’s it for the moment. See you next time for the last Star Wars film of all time. Return of the Jedi…. well…

Star Wars Changed My Life – IV – The Music of Star Wars and the Diddy Men

I loved records as a kid and as soon as I could carefully place the needle on the record I was hooked and if I wasn’t watching the black and white TV in the lounge, I’d be listening to my records. I remember always having a record player available through the 70s moving into the 80s where I started to buy cassettes to listen to tunes on my Walkman.

My earliest memories of owning records, 45 and LPs (Long Playing), in the 70s, involved inheriting or being given an interesting mix of childrens music from such classics as Max Bygraves with his “Pink Toothbrush”…

There was Ken Dodd and his Diddy men….

I particularly remember Ken Dodd’s “Where’s Me Shirt!” because of a particularly nasty scratch that always used to get stuck at the “That broke his heart, that broke his heart, that broke his heart…” and so on. I do know I have it in a cupboard with some of my old 45s. I also have a couple of classic albums from those 60s and 70s greats, Pinky and Perky.

I did discover that if you slowed Pinky and Perky from 45 down to 33 speed you heard the original singers at regular speed. Mind blowing that these puppets didn’t do their own songs. There wasn’t even the backlash that Milli Vanilli got. I don’t know how they got away with it.

My collecting of film soundtracks and scores started when Star Wars came out. Although across the 70s and 80s I did deviate slightly with some Smurfs, Joe Dolce, Roland Rat, Clive Dunn and Tony Capstick. Here’s a playlist of some of the tracks I spent my hard earned pocket money on up until I discovered Adam and the Ants.

Amongst that lot, was that song that was about the area that was fairly local when I grew up….

My parents music consisted of Gene Pitney, John Denver, Glen Campbell and the Five Penny Piece with a hint of Mike Harding. I didn’t really get into those apart from the odd novelty song like John Denver’s Grandma’s Feather Bed.

Quick weird thing to note, my father did some family research and discovered that Don Estelle, real name Ronald Edwards born in Crumpsall, Manchester, was my grandmothers cousin. So I think I’m his first cousin, twice removed. I did buy that single too.

Back to Star Wars…

As I’ve mentioned previously, listening to the sounds and the music for me, brings back the memories of the films. This was a horrid time when there were no videos or DVD or even online streaming. Music was one of the ways we could relive the films in our heads but without the dialogue.

There were other ways of reliving the film and these contained snippets of dialogue and music with a usual deep voiced narrator. The cheapest of which at the time came in cassette form, it had replacement dialogue with extra wibbly wobbly effects added to give Darth and C3PO an “out of this world” sound. Interesting, but it was great to give kids when you spotted it hanging from the shelves in Woolworths.

The Obi-Wan of this cassette piece sounds like he’s trying to do a Ewan Mcgregor, doing Alec Guinness, even though this was 40 years ago.

There was also the more superior “Story of Star Wars”.

This contained the a mixture of the actual dialogue, sound effects and music from the film and also an interesting narrator who would keep things moving along and describe what would have been happening on screen. It also contained a book stapled to the middle of gatefold album with pictures from the film.

Further down the years a new extended version of the story of the newly titled “Episode IV : A New Hope”

We were introduced to the Star Wars The Original Radio Drama which stretched the story out to a six hour epic written by Brian Daley and starring Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Perry King as Han Solo, Brock Peters as Darth, and more. It was released in 1981 the year after Empire Strikes Back was released in cinemas.

It featured new scenes such as Luke racing across the dunes of Tatooine and “Heater” meeting Han Solo outside the Falcon using dialogue which would eventually be spoken by the CGI Jabba the Hutt in the special edition. It also included a small mention of Boba Fett in the same scene.

Later Empire and Jedi would also be produced to complete the original trilogy by 1996.

Have you ever heard of the Skywalker Maintenance Service?

Enough of the diversions, back to the music. Once I had seen the film, I needed that epic classical music in my life, so somehow I ended up with my first couple of albums in 1978.

The first listen of “The Sounds of Star Wars” by “The Sonic All-Stars” on Pickwick records. was an interesting experience. At the time I didnt realise the music on this album was different to the film music. I remember sitting at the dinner table just listening to this album and rolling the film through my head. It even had sound effects. It was funky and was so wrong, but I loved it.

I did get spooked by the weird mysterious eyes on the back cover.

My particular favourites included “Imperial Attack” and “Tie Fighter Attack” and the “Throne Room and End Theme” which went rather mellow towards the end with electronic wind sound and a slapping bass.

The “Star Wars Main Title” also contained various wind sounds, electronics beeps and boops, which were very reminiscent of R2D2.

This was the end of the 70s and disco was very King and electronic music was preparing itself for the 1980s.

My next album featured some of the Star Wars music but also allowed me to sample other Scifi tunes such as Doctor Who, 2001 the Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Thunderbirds. I didn’t know the details of copyright in those days so having a strange looking Starship Enterprise with rockets and a Luke that looked like he’d stepped out of an 70s action movie with perfect hair. He stood alongside a cleavage filled buxom Barbarella so it was all a bit weird.

I didn’t really pay too much attention to the cleavage at that time as I was very much a ten year old. The music on this album was from various films and TV shows which I’d never seen or heard of, but I enjoyed them all the same. This album was a big more classical and less disco.

I did at some point own another Geoff Love album with a strange looking Blake’s Seven Liberator on the front.

Around this time I also acquired the music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind another great John Williams composed score. I can’t remember seeing this film at the cinema until the special extended edition came out, but I still have the album to this day. It also featured “Other Great Space Music” which again meant that this album was not the official composed and conducted by John Williams version. It looked authentic…..

“Geoff Love and his Orchestra” met an untimely end in our household.  One day whilst listening to the Star Wars album, I left poor Geoff Love and the Close Encounters album leaning against the wall. Unfortunately I left them leaning over an air vent from our central heating system.

LPs and heat do not not mix well. You can make a great vase out of an old vinyl album.

Geoff took the full brunt of the hot air blowing through the vent. It warped horribly. Geoff had protected the possible similar fate of my Close Encounters with his sleeve and thankfully survived to this day. Very pretty painted covers.

Following that incident poor Geoff couldn’t be played without listening to the changing speeds, as the needle ascended and descended the hills and valleys of the warped surface. A sad end.

Once I’d put the whole Geoff Love incident behind me, my dreams were eventualy fulfilled when the family bought the official double album of Star Wars by John Williams.

This sleek and glossy black double album featured a gatefold sleeve featuring a number of photos in it’s centre. A shadowy face/mask of Darth Vader amoungst the stars and a simple white Star Wars logo on the front.

You will note that they had added a sticker to the front of the album just to point out that this was “THE ONLY SOUND TRACK ALBUM – BEWARE OF IMITATIONS”

It was too late, I had bought two of the imitations and actually rather enjoyed them.

This was the real stuff.

This isn’t me….

It included two LPs, sleeve notes about each of the tracks, a poster by the late John Berkey and was all contained in its gate-fold sleeve.

The poster was amazing, from a distance you’d think it was a frame from the film but close-up it was painted with simple brush strokes in using the same techniques used to create matte paintings for films. It also featured a Death Star with the dish on the equator parallel with the trench, based on the early design which also made it’s way to the Yavin briefing room scene.

You can see me standing proud in my bedroom which my parents decorated with a silver moon, flying saucers and stars with the poster being in the centre of the wall.

I’ve no idea why I wore my watch so far up my arm, although they were quite thin and maybe the strap was too big.

I was now set. I had my poster, my music, my toys and now all I needed to do was wait around until they finally released The Empire Strikes Back just over two years later on the 20th May 1980.