It was just an ordinary day in Barnsley until Paddy Phield, the Japanese drummer from The Cuddly Toys, telephoned me.

‘The Toys have split up. If you join my new band, I promise you that my uncle’s management company will get us a big record deal, front covers in Japan’s top magazines, a hit album, massive concerts… he’ll make us BIG IN JAPAN!’

I was 17 years old, on the dole and not really happy in my current band, The Danse Society, how could I refuse?

So, I moved to London a month later and true to his word, Paddy’s uncle made all of the above come true.

What wasn’t in the script was that just before the first album was released Colm, the band’s singer, would have a massive row with Paddy and make him leave the band. Of course the grown up Bee that I am today would have took charge of the situation and either left with Paddy or given the singer his marching orders and grabbed the mic myself. But that didn’t happen. The argument happened on the eve of a promo tour of Japan that Paddy, Colm and I were about to go on. The management company were so pissed with Colm that they refused to pay for his flight and said that I had to go there alone. At first I refused but Paddy persuaded me to go, saying that his uncle had invested a lot of money in the band and would lose it all if the band split. I agreed to do the promo tour and not to tell the press that I would be leaving too as soon as I got back to London.

At the time, I didn’t have a place to live, so was staying at my friend Sue Steven’s place. She shared a flat with the Stray Cat’s drummer Slim Jim Phantom. Sue would later appear on the front page of every UK newspaper when the police opened fire on her car and shot the driver believing it was her boyfriend who was wanted on a drug charge, but that’s another story so back to mine… One frosty December morning I got on the bus to Heathrow airport and took the first flight of my life.

I’d been told that I would be met at Tokyo’s Narita airport by the management company but the plane landed early and they were nowhere to be seen, so I followed the rest of the passengers. After passing through customs and collecting my luggage, I approached the exit doors, which in those days were clear glass pannels. Pressed up against the glass a mob of young Japanese girls suddenly went into hyper-mode and started screaming hysterically. I looked behind me expecting to see Bowie or some other mega-star and then realised they were going berserk for me. I froze like a deer in headlights, which seemed to make them go even more mental. Suddenly six security guards jumped on me, dragged me back through customs and tossed me in the back of an old white van. A group of grinning suited businessmen dived in after me threw a bunch of flowers at me, and said ‘Welcome to Japan Paul San’.

I did leave the band soon after I got back to the UK. Although it wasn’t made official until the Japanese management company had made their money back. I returned to Japan for a tour with the remaining members of Panache but never played on any subsequent recordings. They were sweet guys but aside from Paddy we didn’t stay in touch. I still see Paddy every time I visit Japan. He’s adorable as ever.

For more Bee/Panache pics