There are those who will surely remember them, and there are those who surely will not; and the latter are the losers, because they will never have rolled bigger stones, will never have known the teenage thrill of cruising the local store-parade drag with the top down, her feet in your lap, her hair in your eyes, and the sound of The Coward Brothers in all their lasting glory, blasting from the radio, their voices a melodic clutch that seemed to embrace every aspect of adolescence in that permanent summer before all of us were old.
For most of us, The Coward Brothers were the definitive sound of our youth; a soundtrack for our juvenile fumblings, declarations and early infatuations. Listening to their records today is a passport to yesterday, a passport to the innocence, the idealisms of a past we can recall now in our most nostalgic dreams of other times, other places, other people, some of whom we were ourselves. The Coward Brothers, antique fixtures these days in the furniture of modern pop, are a bridge between what we are and what we were, evoking through their music memories of first kisses, last buses, broken hearts and broken engagements.
For nearly a decade, when all of us were younger, The Coward Brothers were the spokesmen of generations. The music seemed to die, somehow, the day they decided to split, driven continuously apart by commercial pressures of the industry, the petty spitefulness of too much fame and influence, the overwhelming tensions of success.
Henry Coward, you may remember, assumed the alias of an old Texan blues guitarist and became T Bone. As T Bone, Henry recorded a series of solo albums whose merits were often extolled by the press and ignored by the public. Subsequently, he found God, toured with Bob Dylan and was to be found only two years ago serving at tables, a barman in a cheap Las Vegas saloon, benign, enlightened and broke.
Howard Coward played the opening ball of his solo career the year the King died; he called himself Elvis, then, and quickly became famous for the sheer malignancy of his songs, the spite and venom of his writing. He had several notable hits, but eventually the prolific nature of his talent seemed to exhaust his audience. His records continued to be widely admired, but