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ESSEX BANDS 60s & 70s BY JOHN POWER Intro: Essex Rock Bands Intro: I think I have included all the best know artists to have emerged from Essex sincethe 1960s onwards. Sandie Shaw, from Dagenham, began her career as a Popsongstress and fashion icon in the early '60s and was then steered into becomingprimarily an entertainment act by her management. But as years rolled by she made her mark with music of her own taste which often crept into a more recognisably rockformat. In 1994 she opened up a parallel career when she qualified as apsychotherapist and opened her own clinic, but should certainly be given credit forher contribution with a varied musical career. A case could also be made for including Billy Bragg, who is from Barking, andwho's music verges on Rock, but I've always regarded him as an Electric Folksinger,in the political protest mould, so didn't go there in the end. Also in the Folk Singerbracket was Paul Simon, who arrived in England in 1964, and lived in Brentwood fora few years, playing the local Folk Clubs and writing songs like 'Sound of Silence'and 'I am a Rock', released on the album 'The Paul Simon Songbook', before he tookthem back to the States and rocked them up with Art Garfunkel. Looking through the names that did emerge it is clear that the Thames Estuary wasLondon's answer to the Liverpool musical explosion of the early '60s and that theSouthend scene easily comes out tops for successful acts. Its also proved to to be a bitof a retirement home for old blues and soul singers, firstly in the shape of PeterGreen, who retired to be near family there, eventually, after fairly barbaric treatmentfor his mental health problems brought on by by some badly contaminated L.S.D. hewas given in Germany in the early '70s. His career had seen him in the Cheynes, JohnMayall's Bluesbreakers, and go on to form the group that was, after many personnelchanges, to create Rock's greatest soap opera with its longest lasting transatlanticgroup member's love lives, Fleetwood Mac. Peter also briefly came out of retirementwith the help of friends around the Southend area who got him to form a blues bandthey called Peter Green's Splinter Band. Chris Farlowe, arguably England's finest white Soul singer also now resides in theSouthend area too. He emerged from London's Flamingo Club in the early '60s R&Bboom, with his excellent band, the Thunderbirds, who spawned other musicians thatwent on to acclaimed careers while Chris gained recognition by Rolling Stonesmanager Andrew Loog Oldham, who put him on his Immediate label to record,amongst others songs, some by Jagger and Richard. He went on to be vocalist forColosseum and in the Psychedelic era, Atomic Rooster, but has continued a solocareer on and off into his 70s, besides running a military memorabilia shop. The county thrives on pub rock and great musicians are too numerous to hope tomention, but I asked Ian Fortnam of Classic Rock Magazine, himself an Essex boy from Chelmsford, what young talent he would identify, he named Ben Drew and PlanB, Crass, Nitzer Ebb, Sunscreen, and the Horrors, again out of Southend. Maybesome day someone will be writing up them, or their members. They're sure to: its anon-going story. John Power 2016 Essex Rock Bands Contents: The Paramounts / Procul HarumThe Fairies / Pink Fairies Graham Bond Organisation / The Small Faces / FacesViv Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Do Da Band /Curved Air Suzi Quatro /Dr. Feelgood / Mickey Jupp / Eddie and the Hotrods / The Kursaal Flyers / Ian Dury /Jeremiah Marques / The Hamsters / Depeche Mode / Yazoo / Erazure /Blur / Prodigy. WARNING copyright with this article remains with the author John Power
ESSEX BANDS 60s & 70s BY JOHN POWER
Essex Rock Bands Intro: I think I have included all the best know artists to have emerged from Essex sincethe 1960s onwards. Sandie Shaw, from Dagenham, began her career as a Popsongstress and fashion icon in the early '60s and was then steered into becomingprimarily an entertainment act by her management. But as years rolled by she made her mark with music of her own taste which often crept into a more recognisably rockformat. In 1994 she opened up a parallel career when she qualified as apsychotherapist and opened her own clinic, but should certainly be given credit forher contribution with a varied musical career.
A case could also be made for including Billy Bragg, who is from Barking, andwho's music verges on Rock, but I've always regarded him as an Electric Folksinger,in the political protest mould, so didn't go there in the end. Also in the Folk Singerbracket was Paul Simon, who arrived in England in 1964, and lived in Brentwood fora few years, playing the local Folk Clubs and writing songs like 'Sound of Silence'and 'I am a Rock', released on the album 'The Paul Simon Songbook', before he tookthem back to the States and rocked them up with Art Garfunkel.
Looking through the names that did emerge it is clear that the Thames Estuary wasLondon's answer to the Liverpool musical explosion of the early '60s and that theSouthend scene easily comes out tops for successful acts. Its also proved to to be a bitof a retirement home for old blues and soul singers, firstly in the shape of PeterGreen, who retired to be near family there, eventually, after fairly barbaric treatmentfor his mental health problems brought on by by some badly contaminated L.S.D. hewas given in Germany in the early '70s. His career had seen him in the Cheynes, JohnMayall's Bluesbreakers, and go on to form the group that was, after many personnelchanges, to create Rock's greatest soap opera with its longest lasting transatlanticgroup member's love lives, Fleetwood Mac. Peter also briefly came out of retirementwith the help of friends around the Southend area who got him to form a blues bandthey called Peter Green's Splinter Band. Chris Farlowe, arguably England's finest white Soul singer also now resides in theSouthend area too. He emerged from London's Flamingo Club in the early '60s R&Bboom, with his excellent band, the Thunderbirds, who spawned other musicians thatwent on to acclaimed careers while Chris gained recognition by Rolling Stonesmanager Andrew Loog Oldham, who put him on his Immediate label to record,amongst others songs, some by Jagger and Richard. He went on to be vocalist forColosseum and in the Psychedelic era, Atomic Rooster, but has continued a solocareer on and off into his 70s, besides running a military memorabilia shop.
The county thrives on pub rock and great musicians are too numerous to hope tomention, but I asked Ian Fortnam of Classic Rock Magazine, himself an Essex boy from Chelmsford, what young talent he would identify, he named Ben Drew and PlanB, Crass, Nitzer Ebb, Sunscreen, and the Horrors, again out of Southend. Maybesome day someone will be writing up them, or their members. They're sure to: its anon-going story.
John Power 2016
Essex Rock Bands Contents:
The Paramounts / Procul HarumThe Fairies / Pink Fairies Graham Bond Organisation / The Small Faces / FacesViv Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Do Da Band /Curved Air Suzi Quatro /Dr. Feelgood / Mickey Jupp / Eddie and the Hotrods / The Kursaal Flyers / Ian Dury /Jeremiah Marques / The Hamsters / Depeche Mode / Yazoo / Erazure /Blur / Prodigy.
WARNING copyright with this article remains with the author John Power
The first incarnation of Southend band, the 'Paramounts' was as early as 1959, as 'the Raiders'doing early Rock covers around the local Youth Centre circuit, with a variety of drummers untilB.J.Wilson took over that stool right through until they morphed into 'Procul Harum'. When the1960s Beat and then Blues booms arrived they became the Paramounts in 1961. Keyboardist GaryBrooker and guitarist Robin Trower where the two long term members of the band. Chris Coppingcame and went and returned on bass and then later, on the organ. Diz Derrick took over the bass fora second Paramount line-up in 1963.
The Rolling Stones played on the same bill as the Paramounts in Deal, Kent on one occasion andon the Saturday evening music T.V. Programme of the '60s, 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' theyannounced their opinion that the Southend boys were the ''The finest R&B band in England'', andgave them guest billing on many of their subsequent gigs, all of which helped to bring them topublic notice. EMI signed the second line-up in 1963 and their debut single 'Poison Ivy'/ 'I feelGood All Over' reached a modest 35 in the charts. That was followed by 'Little Bitty Pretty One'/ 'ACertain Girl'; 'One Who Loves You'/ 'It Won't Be Long'; 'Bad Blood'/ 'Do I?'; 'Blue Ribbons'/ 'Cuttinin'; and 'You Never had it so Good'/ 'Don't Ya Like My Love?' A lot of the blues and soul standardsthat the group had borrowed from black American artists were being used by many bands by thenand they lost their advantage, having to resort to backing gigs for Sandie Shaw and and ChrisAndrews, another Essex pop singer, for bread and butter money and so eventually split in to othergroups: Robin Trower into a band called 'the Jam', not to be confused with the '70s post-Punk Modrevivalists.
Gary Brooker decided to concentrate on song writing and teamed up with fellow writer KeithReid. They then decided to form a group to perform their songs. That group, in 1967, becameProcul Harum and all the members of the Paramounts came and went through the group. Theoriginal line-up was Gary Brooker on piano and vocals, Matthew Fisher on organ, Dave Knights onbass, Bobby Harrison on drums and Ray Royer on guitar. They only did half a dozen gigs and putout one single, but that was of course the world best seller 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', backed byLimestreet Blues.'
After July '67 Harrison and Royer were replaced by old mates B.J.Wilson and Robin Trower andthat line-up cut three albums: 'Procul Harum' and 'Shine on Brightly' in '68 and 'A Salty Dog' in1969. The surreal lyrics of 'Whiter Shade' didn't provide a formula for repetition and withmanagement problems too they went into eclipse in England and fared better in the U.S.
The third line-up for the band, from '69 to '71 was back to the original Paramounts, after ChrisCopping finished university and returned to the fold. They did one more album for contactualobligation: 'Home', and got a new deal with Chrysalis for the album 'Broken Barricade.' Then RobinTrower left in 1971 to form his own, guitar centred, group, 'the Robin Trower Band' and makingway for Dave Ball on guitar in Procol. When this line-up set off on its next U.S. tour they worked with a symphony orchestra and choir which format recorded a live album: 'Live', in '72, and'Conquistador' became their first single since 'Whiter Shade of Pale.'
Mick Graham replaced Dave Ball for a 5th incarnation of the group from 1972 to 76. Still at timesfeaturing orchestral backing, this line-up produced three more albums: 'Grand Hotel', 'Exotic Birdsand Fruit', and 'Procol's Ninth'. The U.S. President admired them so much that they played a gig inMexico City at his request.
One further line-up change occurred to the band before the 1977 Punk shakeup of the music scene,when Chris Copping vacated the organ stool for Pete Solley who had played with Chris Farlowe,Arthur Brown, and Snafu. Chris stayed in the band but played bass. Their final album was'Something Magic', in '77. Gary Brooker recorded solo and joined Eric Clapton's band for a while;B.J.Wilson joined Joe Cocker's band; and the Robin Trower Band carried on as it was.
Gary Brooker later joined Bill Wyman's star studded band, 'the All Stars', and brought about arenaissance for Procul, leading to a reformation of the group for special occasions like the yearlyCropredy festival organised by Fairport Convention, which they played twice, and a two day eventto celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. In 2003 Gary Brooker brought another orchestra and choirto a packed Chelmsford Cathedral as part of the annual cathedral festival.
Although Sandie Shaw, a Dagenham girl, had scored the first hit record for Essex in 1964, in theclubs of the day there was also at that time a thriving Beat and Blues scene in the wake of theBeatles and Rolling Stones. Colchester's finest were best known when they adopted the name'Fairies', in a 'fingers up' to the nickname applied to the post-Mod generation of longhairs.
The group were originally called 'Dane Stephens and the Deepbeats.' 'Dane's' real name wasDougie Ord, and he was accompanied by Fred Gandy and John Acutt on guitars, 'Wimp' Weaver onbass, and John 'Twink' Alder on drums. You could see them in Youth Clubs or supporting otherbands at the lost, lamented, Chelmsford Corn Exchange before the name change and a couple ofsingles: 'Any Time at All', backed by a then virtually unknown Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice it'sAlright', which many people regarded as the 'A' side, in 1964; and 'Get Yourself Home'/'Don'tMind'. Doug Ord sang on the first single but was replaced on 'Get Yourself Home'/'Don't Mind' in1965 by Nick Wymer, from Nix Nomads, while Doug spent time in jail for manslaughter after aroad accident. When he emerged Doug became a scenery painter for Colchester's Mercury Theatre.
The member of the band who made the biggest impact on the music scene was drummer John Alder, always referred to as 'Twink'. The group's management,which included a couple ofChelmsford lads, also managed the 'Pretty Things' formed by early Rolling Stone Dick Taylor [notto be confused with the later Mick Taylor] and Sidcup Art School mate Phil May. Keith Richardhad been another 'Stone' at Sidcup Art School. Dick Finished his Art Studies rather than risk theprecarious life of a rock musician. Not the best career move as it turned out! Twink was to join thePretty Things in 1968 after their third line-up change, and had previously played on their secondalbum 'Get the Picture' in 1965. He stayed until 1969 and played on their [first ever, pre 'the Who's'Tommy'] rock opera 'S.F.Sorrow'. En route he had been in 'the In Crowd' and 'Tomorrow'. The lattergroup with singer Keith West had had chart success with 'An Excerpt from a Teenage Opera' with abacking choir which lost the band support from the rock audience, and never resulted in theprojected 'opera.' Previously, and more importantly, Tomorrow were the centre of the cyclone whichwas the emergence of London's psychedelic underground as it emerged into daylight, playing at thelaunch party for 'International Times' and became regulars at the earliest psychedelic nightclub , theU.F.O. Club in Tottenham Court Road. They released a couple of singles 'My White Bicycle', aboutthe free bicycle system organised by their contemporary Amsterdam Beatniks/Hippies, and'Revolution', as well as an album. Tomorrow guitarist Steve Howe went on to be a virtuoso withbest selling 70's band 'Yes' and then 'Asia.'
Twink was by then well established in the underground bands scene, and apart from the work withthe Pretty Things jammed, and recorded with various groups including the 'Deviants' until theymorphed into the 'Pink Fairies', where he occupied the drummers stool full time after line-upchanges. He joined ex- Pink Floyd genius and founder Syd Barratt in 'Syd Barratt's Stars' for threegigs before it became clear that Syd's mental health had become so bad from over use of L.S.D. thathe could no longer perform live. Twink also played in lesser known bands like the 'Fallen Angels'and the 'Rings', as well as 'Twink and the Fairies' and doing crossover gigs with Hawkwind andMotorhead too. He 'retired' in 1977 and spent many years in Morocco studying the local culture.
The Pretty Things continue to gig into 2015, with Phil and Dick from the original line-up chasingtheir 70th birthdays. A planned Pink Fairies reunion in 2012 failed to materialise, but a collection oftheir songs was published in 1998 as 'Mandies and Mescaline at Uncle Harry's'. Unreleased studiorecordings and the live recording of Tomorrow's contribution to the 1967 'Christmas on Earth'event headlined by Jimi Hendrix at London's Olympia also appeared in 1998, as the '50 MinuteTechnicolour Dream', taking its name from another International Times Free Speech benefit gig in1967 at North London's Alexandra Palace, with a cast of thousands and called 'The Fourteen HourTechnicolour Dream', described by the news of the World as being like the last rites of a dying tribe,but which actually turned out to be the birth of the Hippie Generation. John Lennon attended
The Graham Bond Orgaisation.
The name Graham Bond is unlikely to mean anything to anyone under the age of fifty, but themusicians that passed through his rhythm and blues bands were linked to some of the most prominent groups of the 1960s. There were three groups that served the function of providing earlytraining grounds for the most talented musicians of the post beat boom era created by the 'Beatles'and other groups that grew out of the wake of the Merseybeat sound. Firstly there was 'AlexisKorner's Blues Incorporated', who themselves had grown out of 'Chris Barber's Jazz Band' and hisinterest in American blues music. Bond and and all the musicians he fostered played with Alexis atone time. Korner's harmonica player, Cyril Davis, was the man who taught Mick Jagger to playharmonica. Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts all did stints sitting in with Alexisand his band before the 'Rolling Stones' emerged. The second band where '60s blues musicians cuttheir teeth was 'John Mayall's Bluesbreakers'. John came from Manchester, but it was when hearrived in London that blues purists were drawn to join his ever changing line-up to make a namefor themselves. The biggest purist, when he first arrived from the commercially successful, and hethought, thus compromised, 'Yardbirds', was Eric Clapton. When Eric left to form 'Cream' in 1965,he was replaced by Peter Green, founder of 'Fleetwood Mac', already known for his work with VanMorrison's 'Them' keyboardist Peter Bardens in the 'Peter Bs' and Rod Stewart/Beryl Marsden's'Shotgun Express'. Peter Green in turn was replaced by Mick Taylor, who became a 'Rolling Stone.'
Both the aforementioned seminal groups were largely guitar orientated, with occasional brasshorns playing a less important role, but Bond's breakaway group from Korner was formed ofmusicians with a jazz background. At first, after the split, they were known as the Graham BondTrio, although that should have been 'and his Trio' which consisted of Bond on keyboards andvocals, Jack Bruce on bass, Ginger Baker on drums, and John Mc Laughlan on guitar, whose stylewas of modern jazz improvisation which led him to form his own 'Mahavishnu Orchestra' withshades of Eastern mysticism thrown in. When John left later in 1963 he was replaced by DickHeckstall-Smith, also from 'Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated,' on multiple saxophones, and theband changed its name to the 'Graham Bond Organisation.' Whereas the 'Blues Incorporated' streamof musicians had arisen out of London's Marquee Club, then in Oxford Street, a style of Rhythmand Blues centred around another nightclub, the Flamingo, in Wardour Street, with jazz routes,exemplified by 'Georgie Fame's Blueflames' and 'Zoot Money's Big Roll Band,' featuring not onlykeyboards and rhythm section but large brass sections too. The 'Bond Organisation' straddled thegap between the two styles.
Bond himself had previously been an alto sax player, from 1960, in 'Goudic Charles Quintet', thenthe 'Don Rendell Quintet'. He was born in Romford in 1937. It seems that his father was a lorrydriver, it later emerged, and his single parent mother, as was usually the case in those days, put himup for adoption via a Dr. Barnado's Home. He went to school in Guidea Park and discovered histalent for music. In later life he became obsessed by the Western Quabalistic Magical Tradition andcame to believe that he was an abandoned son of Victorian Occultist Aleister Crowley. Posthumousinvestigation revealed his true parentage to be otherwise.
Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker became best known for their teaming up with Eric Clapton to form'Cream' a trio melding jazz improvisation with traditional blues songs and those penned by Bruceand poet Pete Brown. Baker was replaced on drums by John Hiseman who went on to form aheavily brass sectioned outfit called 'Colosseum' with Heckstall-Smith on saxes, often two at once,and Chris Farlowe on vocals, whose band had been the 'Thunderbirds', and who recorded later withMick Jagger's support, on his manager Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label, scoring a couple ofchart successes with his deep soulful voice. 'Colosseum' unashamedly used numbers from Bond'srepertoire, even songs that he had written. Jack Bruce had often squabbled with Ginger Baker andleft Bond before 'Cream' formed, doing short stints in 'Mayall's Bluesbreakers' and even chartsuccessful 'Manfred Mann.' Baker again teamed up with Clapton and soulful singer and keyboardistSteve Winwood from the 'Spencer Davis Group' and 'Traffic', along with Rick Gretch fromLeicester band, 'Family', to form 'Blind Faith'. Despite the musical expertise, 'Blind Faith' lasted lessthan a year and only produced one album.
Bond was an innovator, who built one of the first electric pianos, and was the first musician toembrace the new technology of his day, in the form of the the Mellotron, a keyboard 'organ' withearliest tape recorded sounds that made it possible for one person to create a whole orchestra, and which developed into 21st century synthesisers. He demonstrated it on cult '60s music T.V.Programme 'Ready, Steady Go' in 1965. Like so many musicians he suffered poor management andunderstanding from record companies, who failed to see that there was an 'underground' clubculture which was emerging which paid little attention to Top Twenty singles charts. His massivebuild was never going to make him a popular figure with teenybopper girl fans. He knew his ownworth and was often frustrated that he never received the recognition he deserved. Combined withthe effects of drink and drugs it even lead to nervous breakdown. His first album 'Sound of '65',featured mostly studio recordings of his stage act, which hence lacked the sparkle of the liveperformances, and there was even a ballad cover of a movie theme, 'Tammy' that was used as asingle and which missed the mark with his audience completely. Also in '65 was the 'Organisation's'second album' There's a Bond Between Us', of more studio recordings of live material. Butfeaturing the Mellotron. A' 'Live at Klooks Kleek' album did actually manage to catch the stageperformance sound. 'Solid Bond', a double album, was recorded with guest musicians in '66 butwas released later after tussles with record companies.
By 1967 there had been a seismic change in underground music as the Psychedelic era kicked inin and suddenly Bond was 'old hat', so he pulled up sticks and went to camp out in America, wherehe did session work with Harvey Mandel and Creole voodoo man Dr.John. Whether it was the Dr.who ignited Bond's interest in Magick or just caused him to re-examine an earlier interest in theEnglish strain of the occult, history will remain silent on, but 1968 saw him release an Americanalbum 'Mighty Graham Bond' which included Egyptian invocations, and in '69, 'Love is the Law', acatchphrase of Victorian Magus Aleister Crowley, who because of Bond's own 'Dr Barnardos'estrangement from his parents, he came to believe was his father. Back in England with a wife,Dianne, and fronting a line-up called 'the Graham Bond Initiation' this trend became full flood as hereleased 'Holy Magick' in 1969, with a cover replete with magical symbols and pictures of Bond inmagical postures at 'power centres' of the British Isles. The lyrics reflected magical matters, and oneside was a single track, with Bond returning to saxophone, for yogic breathing, and intoningEgyptian and 'Atlantean' invocations to 'build an astral temple of protection around the listener' The'Initiation' line-up soon followed this with 'We Put Our Magick On You'. In 1971 the 'MightyGraham Bond ' was released in the U.K. as 'Graham Bond in America.' Post-psychedelic mysticismhad spawned groups like 'Black Widow', advised on there stage act by Witch leader Alex Saunders,and the less authentic 'Black Sabbath'. The term 'Roccult' had been coined but the trouble was occultparanoia was so ingrained in the media and Hollywood no one wanted to know, and Bond's great, ifsomewhat delusional plans for his music flopped. In 1970 to make a living he turned to old mateGinger Baker, who was by then running an outfit called 'Ginger Baker's Airforce' for work, thenbriefly did the same in 'The Jack Bruce Band' as Jack also cashed in on his post-'Cream' fame, andfinally teamed up with 'Cream lyricist and poet Pete Brown in 'Bond and Brown', after Brown's'Battered Ornaments' was reconfigured. They recorded 'Two Heads Are Better Than One', whichfailed to impress anyone, and in 1973, fuelled by musical and marital failure, drink and heroindependency he was hospitalised as a result of a breakdown. Upon release he was involved with afolk rock duo that they called 'Magus', but whether they would have created any interest becameonly a matter for speculation as the mighty Bond wound up under the wheels of a tube train atFinsbury Park station in 1974, at the age of '37. Owing to the depression he suffered as he went outof fashion with the music buying and supporting public it was assumed to be suicide, but no oneknows for sure if he fell by accident: he carried a lot of weight and although thought to have beenclean of heroin had experienced many forms of intoxication than might have contributed to such aneventuality. Long John Baldry, who had worked with Bond in 'Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated,before forming his own breakaway group 'The Hoochie Coochie Men', and subsequent bands withRod Stewart, added a further possibility into the pot boiler of possibilities when he said in the'News of the World' at the time that he had lived in a house that he thought was haunted, andknowing of Bond's interest in the occult asked him if he could exorcise it. Bond turned up withsome acolytes and did what was asked of him. Baldry said that after that there were no signs ofhauntings in the house, but it seemed to him that afterwards Bond himself was possessed!
The Small Faces 1965-69/Faces,'69-'75and a couple of reunion versions.
The border between London's East End and Essex is a conurbation in which only local government officials would find any boundary noteworthy. It all changed in 1965 with the creation of theGreater London Council. Before that Ilford was part of a municipal borough, which originally hadbeen an Essex village on the road to Colchester. It was in this urban limbo that one of the bestselling groups, the Small Faces, came together. 'Itchycoo Park' is in Ilford, although that's not itsreal name. The effects of its stinging nettles on Mod love makers in its hidden corners gave it its hitsingle title. Lead singers of the two main versions of the band, Steve Marriott and Rod Stewartchose to retreat to Essex to live when in this country: Steve to Arkesdon, near Saffron Walden, andRod to Epping.
Steve Marriott had shown early musical talent and become a child star when he performed in'Oliver', the West-End musical. He met fellow founder member of the Small Faces, Ronnie 'Plonk'Lane, when he was working in a music shop in Manor Park. The original line-up that they gatheredaround themselves consisted of Marriott, guitar and vocals; Lane, bass and vocals; Kenney Jones ondrums; and Jimmy Winston on organ. But after their debut single Winston was replaced by the moreexperienced Ian McLagan on Hammond organ. Ian had played with the 'Muleskinners' and 'BozPeople' previously. In Mod parlance a 'face' was a prominent figure in that youth movement, and asthe band members were all of smallish stature, a girl fan soon supplied the suggestion for the name.Infamous entrepreneur, Don Arden, was soon attracted to Marriott's belting, soulful voice and hadthe band signed to a contract within four weeks of their formation, and within four months the firstsingle 'Watcha Gonna Do About It?' was released, and became an instant hit.
Arden was after quirky singles and he started the group on a trail of 10 top ten hits out of 14releases, as well as three albums, while the band were under his management and after. WhereArden's knowledge of the music business benefited the group his control of finances didn't, andlengthy legal wrangles over dues owed carried on for decades after the band had broken up. Only in1996 was reparation for lost income achieved by band members. At the time he put them on a lowweekly wage but opened accounts in Carnaby Street boutiques for them to insure that their trendyimage was met for the fans. So to bump up their wages they ran up the accounts to the full and soldon clothes to fans, and friends. 'I Got Mine', a Marriott/Lane follow up to 'Watcha Gonna Do AboutIt' was far less successful in the music charts, so Arden got two professional writers to come up withtheir next single. That was 'Sha la la la la la le' and it reached number 3 in the charts. The band'sfirst album, 'Small Faces' was a mixture of commissioned and self-penned songs, but managed tocapture the bands vital live stage act sound. 'Hey Girl', the next single, reached number 10 in thecharts. Then came 'All or Nothing' which reached number 1, and knocked the 'Beatles' off of the topslot. At that stage the group managed to wriggle out of the Arden and Decca records contractsthanks to 'Rolling Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who promised them more studio timeand creative freedom on his Immediate label without a punishing gig schedule. Arden released 'MyMind's Eye' and 'I Can't Make It' on Decca to fulfil contractual obligations, but the band did notpromote 'I Can't Make It'.
'Here Comes the Nice' [about an amphetamine dealer] was the first single on Immediate in June1967. It reached number 12. 'Itchycoo Park' reached number 3 in August of that year. 'Tin Soldier 'got to number 9 in January '68 and 'Lazy Sunday' reached number 2 in May'68. 'Lazy Sunday' wastaken from the album 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake', with a round sleeve displaying graphics in the styleof an Art Nouveau style tobacco tin. One side of the album was a single piece of music, 'Song of aBaker' with a narration performed by Stanley Unwin, in his characteristic gobbledygook inventedlanguage. Within three years of the band forming the album reached number 1 in the charts.
Marriott's virtually solo rendition 'the Universal' failed to chart and on New Year's Eve 1968 heleft the band in order to form 'Humble Pie', a band with ex-'Herd' frontman Peter Frampton, GregRidley from 'Spooky Tooth' on bass and Jerry Shirley on drums. This outfit lasted until 1975 anddid best in the U.S. There was a short 'Small Faces' reunion from'76 and '78 where Marriott,McLagan, and Jones were joined by Rick Wills and Jimmy McCullough instead of Ronnie Lanewho had reformed 'Slim Chance', the name the Small Faces had used after Marriott left. When thereunion broke up Marriott went back to the U.S. with a different line-up of 'Humble Pie', when that didn't work out he returned to England doing pub rock gigs with 'A Packet of Three' or similar pick-up bands until his tragic early death in a house fire in Arkeston in April 1991.
Meanwhile, after Marriott's departure from the Small Faces, the first 'Slim Chance' approachedRonnie Wood, who had recently left Jeff Beck's band, after a career in his brother's 'Artwoods','Creation,' and the 'Birds' [not to be confused with the American 'Byrds'.] Another of Ron's mateswho had been the singer for Beck and who had left at the same time was Rod Stewart. Rod startedto hang out with the band and the group became a five piece, which revived the 'Faces' name butdropped the 'Small' as Ron and Rod were not of that physical stature. Rod had a long pedigree ofbeing in well thought of nightclub bands: Jimmy Powell and the 'Five Dimensions', , LongJohn Baldry's 'Hoochie Coochie Men', ['64-'65], ' Steampacket' [a Tamla Motown review style outfitwith Julie Driscoll and 'the Brian Auger Trinity'-'65-'66], 'Soul Agents' ['65-'66], and 'ShotgunExpress' [with Liverpool's Cavern Club survivor Beryl Marsden and Peter Bardens' band 'the PeterBs' in '66, making a similar line-up to 'Steampacket'], before joining Beck from '66 to '69. In allthese bands he had demonstrated a deep soulful voice that had the best chance for anyone to takeMarriott's place. The reformed outfit were slow to take off with the public but soon took on its owncharacter, especially on stage where shows turned into drunken party revels often involving thefans. The first 'Faces' line-up from '69 to '73 was McLagan, Lane, Jones, Wood and Stewart, whorecorded the albums 'First Step' ['70], 'Long Player' ['71], 'A Nod's as Good as a Wink to a BlindHorse' ['71], and 'Ooh La La'.
Ronnie Lane left the 'Faces' with a new line-up of 'Slim Chance' and a fantasy Gypsy lifestyletouring with a 'Passing Show' marquee leading to financial disaster. The gradual decline in hishealth due to multiple sclerosis caused him to move first to Texas in pursuit of treatment and abetter climate. He died in Colorado in 1997.
The second 'Faces' line-up from'73 to '74 saw Ronnie replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi on bass. ButRod Stewart had started a solo career with an album called 'An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let YouDown' followed by 'Gasoline Alley', and when he followed this with 'Every Picture Tells a Story',the single from it, 'Maggie May' was a big chart success and even though the band that recorded itwas mainly the 'Faces' the writing was on the wall for the group. One more solo album appearedwhile the band was still together, 'Never a Dull Moment', but the final straw came when MickTaylor left the 'Rolling Stones' and Mick Jagger asked Ronnie Wood to play with the 'Stones.' Atfirst he said he would play in both bands but this soon proved to be logistically impossible, whichwith Rod's solo success meant that the band inevitably ground to a halt in 1975.
Ian McLagan became a Los Angeles session musician and recorded and toured with the 'Stones',Bob Dylan and Bonnie Rait. Back in England he did the same with Neal Sedaka and Billie Bragg.Sadly he died in December 2014 leaving only Kenney Jones alive from the 1965 line-up. KenneyJones took over Keith Moon's drum stool in 'the Who' for a while after the 'Faces' split [enviablejob!] but didn't replace Moon in Roger Daltrey's eyes. So he joined Paul Rodgers, previously of'Free' and 'Bad Company' in a group called 'the Law' and later drew members from there and othergroups he'd played in to form 'the Jones Gang', who were very successful in the U.S. Wood remainsa 'Rolling Stone', and although the Glam Rock era caused Rod Stewart to lose a lot of creditabilityto his old fans, record sales show that there is still a big fan base out there, who even put up with hiscrooning 'The Great American Song Book' of yesteryear classics while his throat recovered from acancer operation. In 2014 he returned to displaying his own songwriting talents.
The much loved group was treated to a celebrity revival line-up in 2009 with Kenney Jones andRonnie Wood being joined by Glen Matlock from 'the Sex Pistols' and Mick Hucknall from 'SimplyRed' to reprise some 'Faces' classics for a short tour. I never heard them, but wonder how wellHucknell managed in filling Rod Stewart's vocal parts!
Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band Vivian, born Victor Anthony Stanshall [1943 to 1995] was born in Oxford in the Second WorldWar, but when his father returned home from serving in the R.A.F. he moved the family to wherehis own family had originated in Walthamstow. A younger brother was born in 1949. A later movesaw the family move to Leigh-on-Sea and Viv attended Southend High School until 1959. His firstjob was in Southend's amusement Park, the Kursaal, where he was a bingo caller in the summer andpainted the fairground rides during the slack months of the winter.
From the Kursaal Viv returned to Walthamstow to attend Walthamstow College of Art, where IanDury was also a student, and they both fell in with a reactionary alternative student social group onthe fringe of the academic mainstream, which comes as no surprise. Viv intended to extend his ArtEducation, but his father wouldn't fund him to do it, so he joined the Merchant Navy for a year andsaved the money to fund himself, and so gained a place at Central School of Art in London. Whilstthere he met Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear, and Neal Innes, himself an Essex boy fromDanbury, who were also Art students, but at Goldsmiths College. Along with Viv these anarchicSurrealist musicians were to become the founders of the Bonzo Dog Do-Da Band. They actuallymet in New Cross in South London where Viv was noticed for his comic theatrical clothing.
The band was originally called the Bonzo Dog Dada Band. This was due to the group's interest inthe Dada anti-Art Art movement that developed in Europe after the First World War and eventually gave birth to the Surrealist Movement. The Dadaists borrowed a Victorian parlour game whichWilliam Burroughs and David Bowie, borrowing it from him, both made famous. That techniquebecame known as 'Cut-up Poetry' and consisted of cutting up lines of type and rearranging them inrandom order so that mental processes of recognition would find new meanings to the words inrearranged fashion. Rodney Slater and Viv used this technique to find a name for he band. But asthe Dada part was unknown to those outside artistic circles, to avoid endless explanations, theychanged it to something even more nonsensical. Many of the songs were parodies of old music hallsongs and pre-war 78 rpm records they found, and usually used to send up middle-class values.
Surreal props, like large papier mache heads and dummies jostled for space with large instrumentslike tubas and the musicians in the van that took then to London gigs and then the working man'sclub circuit after they got a manager and turned professional. The songs became more Surreal andcomic. I saw the group at around this time at North London's Rainbow Theatre supporting Cream,and considering what adept musicians Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were I still had tofeel sorry for them having to follow a stage show like the Bonzos put on.
Paul Mc Cartney talent spotted the band and promoted them by giving them an appearance in theBeatles 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour backing a striptease routine in song, Surrealy enoughentitled 'Death Cab for Cutie'. That in turn gave rise to them becoming the house band for satiricalT.V. show 'Do Not Adjust Your Set', which also featured early appearances by figures who were tobecome members of the Monty Python's Flying Circus team: a marriage made in heaven! PaulMcCartney also produced the single 'Urban Spaceman / Canyons of Your Mind' for the group,which became a Top Ten hit that led to the albums 'Gorilla', 'The Donut in Grannie's Greenhouse','Tadpoles', 'Keynsham' and a 'Lets Make up and be friendly' collection. Much touring on both sidesof the Atlantic then followed that. While they were on the second U.S. tour Roger Ruskin Spear'swife had a miscarriage in England and he was not told by the management who thought they mightcancel the tour, so with that and other issues like Viv's stagefright and a resulting dependence onValium to deal with it, they decided it was time to split up the band while they were still winning.The Valium addiction, coupled with a drinking problem, was to plague Viv for the rest of his life.The Bonzos played their last gig in 1970. Viv had married fellow former Art student Monica Potterin 1968, and they had a son, Rupert, the following year. The marriage in the mayhem lasted until1973.
Viv played in a variety of bands after the Bonzos, including the Sean Head Showband, BonzoDog, Freaks, and Big Grunt. Eric Clapton joined Sean Head for the single 'Labio Dental Fricative',while Viv continued to mix alcohol and Valium to deal with his anxiety problems. The result wasquite the opposite, as he teamed up with the Who's manic drummer, Keith Moon, for wild pranks onand off stage, which can only have given more causes for anxiety. Moon did produce a mockcrooning single, 'Suspicion' for him however. Viv also took over the John Peel radio show for a fewsessions which he transformed into another comic caper. The B.B.C. repeated some episodes fromtheir archives in 1996. A first solo album was released in 1974 entitled 'Men Opening UmbrellasAhead '[parody title of the roadsign for men working on the road.] It was a jazz-rock outingfeaturing Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi from Traffic, Neil Innes, Ric Gretch from Family andBlind Faith, and soul singers Doris Troy, and Madeline Bell. It was re-released in 2010. Viv's continued mockery of the [self appointed] 'upper classes' took the form of an oration about'Sir Henry Rawlinson at Rawlinson End' which went out first on on Radio 1. In 1978 it was releasedas an album, and then as a film in 1980 with Trevor Howard in the title role, and Viv as his youngerbrother. Then it was released as a book. Rawlinson's disasterous African expedition was the subjectof the follow-up, 'Sir Henry at N'didi's Kraal', in 1964. Viv was living on a house boat moored in theThames near Shepperton from 1977 to '83 and produced the recording for the album there. SirHenry was dis-interred for a Ruddles Ale advert in 1994 with Viv and Dawn French.
In the '70s and '80s Viv was found guesting with live bands and on recordings by other artists, likeMike Oldfield, on 'Tubular Bells', and in 1975 on a rock version of 'Peter and the Wolf' featuring ahost of stars. When Ronnie Lane left the Small Faces in 1973 for a 'gypsy' lifestyle and take atouring Rock Circus on the road, Viv was the Ringmaster. He married for the second time in 1980, to his long time girlfriend Pamela 'Ki' Longfellow. In 1981 his third solo album was 'Teddy BoysDon't Knit'. Pamela helped him to write 'Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera'. In 1982 he added spoken wordto the single, 'Lovely Money' by he Damned. When Viv and Pam's houseboat sank they bought abigger boat that was moored at Bristol Docks, which Pam turned into a floating theatre: 'The OldProfanity Showboat' and put on a performance of 'Stinkfoot' there. The play was movedunsuccessfully to London's Bloomsbury Theatre, but was revived again in 2010. In 1991 the BBCshowed a 15 minute Biography 'Viv Stanshall the Early Years, a.k.a. Crank' and in 1994 a Radio 4biography was entitled 'Viv Stanshall, Essex Teenager to Renaissance Man'.
Viv's death was the result of a house fire when he was staying in a flat in Muswell Hill in 1995. Itwas followed by a celebrity funeral. After the Bonzo's records, as a solo artist he had six singlesbetween 1970 and '81, four albums between 1974 and '84 and guested on many other artists albums.In 2015 in Camden the remaining Bonzos and guests reformed for a 50th anniversary gig, butwithout the charismatic lead of Viv it could only be rather lackluster, even with help from PhilJupitus and Ade Edmunson.
Where better to start the story of 'Curved Air' than with singer Sonja Kristina. She was an EssexGirl, but not in the later use of that term. No white stiletto-healed shoes here...barefoot was moreoften the case. Sonja was blessed with musical and theatrical gifts from an early age, performing infolk clubs from the age of 13. Her parents were to insure that she had an unusual upbringing: herfather was headmaster of a school for delinquent boys and a criminologist and even puppeteer in hisspare time, while on her mother's side she was the granddaughter of a Swedish silent movie star.After school she also studied drama and my mate Jeff, at that time from Thurrock, met her at GraysHall College where she travelled into from Brentwood. At the time she was still performing in FolkClubs, alongside such talents as Sandy Denny and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Folk clubs in the '60s' werea hotbed of social discontent as the Vietnam War raged on, so Sonja got to mix with radicals,writers, poets, musicians, hippies and Hells Angels. In 1968 her combined musical and actingtalents landed her the part of 'Chrissie' in the original London cast of 'Hair', with its taboo-breakingnaked cast scene. In 1970, when she became the voice of 'Curved Air', much to the disappointmentof the male members of audiences, she kept her kit on.
The band already existed in embryonic form before that as 'Sisyphus' after Darryl Way, who hadstudied at the Royal College of Music was getting his violin electrified at an Orange music storeand was overheard by guitarist and experimental keyboard player Francis Monkman, who hadstudied at the Royal Academy of Music, and who suggested that they form a group, which they didwith a drummer with the most Rock and Roll name ever, Florian Pilkington-Miksa. They were thenlacking a singer when someone suggested Sonja, and the idea proved to be a fruitful one, Monkmansuggested the new name taken from an electronic album by Terry Riley called 'Rainbow in CurvedAir'. There have been many line-ups for the group since then, but Sonja has always remained thedefining and permanent central figure. The term Prog Rock had hardly been coined by the time ofthe first album, but hindsight would have pundits place them in that category, due to the mix ofclassically trained musicians with folkies and rockers of various hues.
The first album, 'Air Conditioning', in 1970, was something of a gimmick, being the first everpicture disc, but by being first it suffered because the technology had not been perfected. The vinylsides made a sandwich of a sheet of printed card, which didn't respond well to the heat treatmentand began to degrade after a few plays to the detriment of the vinyl. It was re-released in plainformat but left many fans who bought the original disc rather disgruntled.
In 1973 Eddie Jobson, who had worked with 'Roxy Music' and Frank Zappa's 'Mothers' replacedMonkman and Way. In '74 Stewart Copeland became drummer for two years before joining 'Police',and 'Curved Air' split up, for the first time, as 'Punk' became the flavour of the day. However, Sonjasustained a 16 year relationship with Copeland.
By 1989 Sonja had returned to her Folk roots, with a brand of electric folk she called Acid Folk,staying true to her Hippie origins as well. In a T.V. interview in 2015 she was still promoting thevalue of Transcendental Meditation too. She was joined in 'Sonja Kristina's Acid Folk Band' byviolinist Paul Sax and keyboard player Robert Norton in 1996. Both had been members of reformedline-ups of 'Curved Air' in the interim. Their tours included an appearance at Glastonbury Festival.Sonja has done duet recordings with cellist and violinist Marvin Ayres, who produced therecordings, which became 'Heavy Petal' and 'Technophobia', released under the joint performers'name of 'Mask'. In 2012 Ayres also produced a 'Curved Air' 'Live Atmosphere' C.D. Album.
Curved Air's other albums were '2nd' in '71; ' Phantasmagoria' in '72; 'Air Cut' '73; 'Midnight Wire''74; 'Curved Air Live' '75; 'Airbourne' and 'Best of' '76; 'Live at the B.B.C.' '95 [recorded in '70', '71and '76]; 'Reborne' 2000 [some old songs and some new]; 'Retrospective' 2010 [an anthologyfrom'70 to '76, with three tracks from 'Mask as bonus tracks]; 'Live Atmosphere' and 'Airway'[recorded for the B.B.C. at the Paris Theatre] 2012; and 'North Star', a new studio album, 2014.1971 also saw five singles, including 'It Happened Today', classically influenced 'Vivaldi', and 'BackStreet Love'. Two singles were released in '72, two live singles in '75, and six singles in '76.
There were eight line-up changes before the '76 breakup, but it can be seen there have also beenmany reformations. The most recent line-up by 2015 saw Florian Pilkington-Miksa back in theband , along with Robert Norton, Paul Sax, Kirby Gregory and Chris Harris, and Sonja, as ever, upfront on vocals and guitar. Past members were Darryl Way and Francis Monkman, founders; andRob Martin, Ian Ayre, Mike Wedgewood, Eddie Jobson, Jim Russell, Phil Korn, Stewart Copeland,Mick Jacques, Tony Reeves, Alex Richman, Andy Christie and Kit Morgan.
Can we call a girl from Detroit an Essex girl? Well yes, when she has lived in Chatham Green,near Great Waltham, for 35 years by 2015, as Suzi Quatro has, and mixed with the locals keepingher musical hands in by gigging in local pubs like the Kings Arms in Moulsham Street in the '80sbefore the venue went through a few name changes: to the Wig and Mirkin, Cm2, Smiths andMaisons. She's still just as likely to turn up, as she did in 2015, at the Bassment Blues Club, whichher daughter Laura runs and, ignoring superstar status, you're just as likely to bump into her at therailway station rather than in a limo. No promoter or manager has ever succeeded in telling her howto mould herself, and that independent outlook has shown itself in all facets of her life.
Suzi was born Susan Kay Quattrocchi to an Italian father and Hungarian mother in Detroit in1950, and had three sisters and a brother. Her dad like many people from the Motor City, workedfor General Motors. She had been a t.v. Go-Go dancer at an early age, having been inspired by Elvisand the leather garb of the Shangri-Las, an all girl vocal group, and had had straight musicaltraining on percussion and piano, which skills she used to play in her fathers jazz combo. She wasself taught on bass and got her first instrument, a Fender Precision, aged 14. That year, 1964, hersister Patti formed a group called The Pleasure Seekers after hearing the Beatles. Suzi and anothersister, Arlene, became members. The third sister became a member when Arlene became a mother.Suzi played her bass and sang. The group changed their name to Cradle in 1969. They releasedthree singles, and sister Patti later went on to be in all-girl rockers, Fanny.
In 1970s Suzi was a sometime character in the t.v. Teen Rock soap opera, Happy Days, playing aleather-glad bass guitarist, which helped to form her early public persona, but may have also formeda teeny-bopper image that prevented American critics from taking her later Rock directionsseriously, as she was always more popular in Europe and Australia. She moved to England in1971,having been 'discovered' by Rock producer Mickey Most after her manager got him to watch herperform with Cradle, in the States. Her debut album was in 1973. Her name had been shortened bymedia pundits for ease of memory and pronunciation and gave the album it's title. Her first solosingle, 'Rolling Stone', backed by Peter Frampton, Alan White, and Duncan Brown went to numberone in the charts in Portugal. Then she auditioned for a permanent backing group, which becameLen Tucky on guitars, Alastair Mac Kenzie on keyboards and Dave Neal on drums. Nicky Chinnand Mike Chapman wrote most of the songs but Suzi co wrote several album tracks with Len Tuckyand Shirley Roden. Her studded leather look fell right into the Glam Rock look of the era.
In 1972 she backed Thin Lizzy and Slade on tour, and in '73 'Can the Can' was number one inseveral European charts and in Australia. That single,'48 Crash ['73], Daytona Demon ['73 ]andDevil Gate Drive ['74] all got gold discs for over a million sales. Her attempts to retake the U.S.Market, backing Alice Cooper on tour were marred by poor reviews from less Pop-oriented critics,despite her influencing more hard core rockers like Joan Jett. Also in '73 she guested on 'Dance withthe Devil' with drummer Cozy Powell, and Len Tuckey's brother became their manager. Shemarried Len in 1976. They moved to the mansion near Great Waltham in Essex in 1980. DaughterLaura was born in 1982, and Leonard Jnr. in '84. They were divorced in '92 and she re-married German promoter Rainer Haas in'93. Either in or out of the mansion she has always lived in the area.
Back in '78 the mode of the singles changed with a slower, more mellow single' If You Can't GiveMe Love' as she re-gigged her music after the string of hits tailed off, and she turned more towardsalbum releases. In 1980 Suzi joined Mike Chapman's Dreamland Records and recorded the album'Rock Hard', which went Platinum in Australia, while a Greatest Hits album from her oldmanagement was released too. In 1982 'Heart of Stone' was her last hit single although there wereother releases. She also embarked on collaborations with Bronski Beat, the Kinks and Eddie and theHot Rods in that year. A revived couple of singles were released in '87, back to back, as a result ofcharity gigs: 'Can the Can' and 'Devil Gate Drive'.
In 2005 Suzi was the subject of a documentary 'Naked Under Leather', and 2006 saw the release ofa new album, 'Back to the Drive'. In 2007 she did a cover of the Eagles 'Desperado' as a single, andher biography 'Unzipped' was published. In 2010 she was part of 'Girls Night Out' at the Isle ofWight Festival. 2011 saw the release of her 15th album. In 2013 she was awarded a DistinguishedLifetime Award in Detroit and there performed her first U.S. gig in 30 years. In 2014 a boxed set ofsix C.Ds with mostly old, and some new songs, was released on Cherry Red Records.There is a Official Youtube Channel devoted to her music. She has sold over 50,000,000 recordsworldwide. As well as the singles and 15 studio albums there have been ten compilations and onelive album.
Apart from her 'Happy Days' appearances she appeared in an episode of 'Minder' in 1982, in ahorror film called 'Nightbreed' in 1990, an episode of 'Dempsey and Makepeace' in 1994 and an'Abs Fab' cameo in 2006 as well as being in episodes of Rock School and Midsomer Murders.While in the theatre she played Annie Oakley in 'Annie Get Your Gun' in '86 and in the title role'Tallulah Who', about Tallulah Bankhead, in1991. She has also added another string to her bass, by presenting 'Rockin With Suzi Q' and 'Wake UpLittle Suzi' for BBC Radio 2.....quite an all-round talent.
There are few groups to come out of Essex that exemplify the county's Rock spirit better than 'Dr.Feelgood', and those that do were mates of theirs anyway, as they orbited around the county'sanswer to that other great musical estuary city, Liverpool..... that is Saffend-on-Sea.
Lee Brilleaux [because his hair looked like a Brillo pad, and it sounded more Rock and Roll thanCollinson, the name on his birth certificate], singer, harpist , and occasional guitarist; John B.Sparkes ['Sparko', as he was often found reclining thus], bassist; and drummer, 'Big Figure', JohnMartin, had been playing around Canvey Island in jug bands, skiffle groups and various ensemblesduring the end of the early Rock era and into the Rhythm and Blues era made public by the 'RollingStones.' Then they were joined by guitarist busker Wilko Johnson, a rocked-up handle for thepreviously named John Wilkinson. It's generally recognised that 1971 was the year when therecognisable quartet emerged. A couple of lads from Westcliff-on-Sea, and a different drummer, hadpreceded Wilko's arrival, as the rest of 'Essex Five' who played such venues as the Thorney BayHoliday Camp, while Wilko busked outside, or played inside, the Monico Amusement Arcade, theCanvey Club, the 'Admiral Jellicoe' or 'Oysterfleet' pubs. He also backed '50s rocker Heinz, whohad previously been one of group, the 'Tornados', who gave the world its first top ten electronicinstrumental, 'Telstar'. All this on an 'Island', with a couple of river creeks making up two sides withthe River Crouch estuary, reclaimed from the water by Dutch engineers in the 17th century before itbecame host to numerous oil tanks, with the Shellhaven oil refinery for a backdrop. It inspired theband of R&B enthusiasts to think of it as Oil City, like the Mississippi Delta where all their Blues-singing heroes hailed from, in an era when they actually got to visit England and play at suchvenues as those in Romford or Chelmsford, at the Corn Exchange.
Wilko had been a typical child of the sixties, hitch-hiking across Europe to India and Nepal, beingspokesperson for anti-oil tank expansion, a local cause that succeeded although the island wasalready peppered with tanks. He also went to University and tried his hand at teaching English, butlike most of us got on better with the kids than school hierarchy that had been promoted out of theclassroom because they didn't. He left after being carpeted by the Head over his appearance, whichincluded shoulder length hair. One of his pupils later became the group's manager in a very estuarykind of way. Wilko's guitar style was very distinctive, as he was left-handed, but played his FenderTelecaster as if he was right-handed, without a plectrum, leading to a very 'choppy' action whichcombined rhythm backings with bursts of lead solos, a style which he had learned from MickGreen, guitarist with early English Rock 'n' Rollers, 'Johnny Kidd and the Pirates'. His liking foramphetamines gave him a manic bug-eyed appearance as he skipped around the stage forwards andsideways, with jerky head thrustings, which later went down well with Punks as their music foundfertile ground with that era of fans. Dr Feelgood was a nickname originally for doctors who wouldgive out dodgy prescriptions for drugs to patients, like the 'Beatle's' 'Dr. Robert' on the 'Revolver'album. The Essex boys had come across the expression from American Blues pianist WilliePerryman, who called his group 'Dr.Feelgood and the Interns'. The expression came to refer to drugpushers generally, and Wilko's bulging eyes backed up the group's name in a highly visual manner,even though most of the band were usually happy with a few pints and the odd 'funny fag'. Wilko, who didn't drink and was married to wife Irene quite young, said that his intoxicant preferencehelped him when it came to writing the group's songs, a job that his English degree set him up well for.
Drummer John had the van, borrowed from work, and off they went on a punishing couple ofdecades of gigging, at first sometimes straight from work with Lee wearing his suit from his day jobin a lawyer's office. I was lucky enough to be at college with 'Kursaal Flyer/Eddie's Hot Rod'Graeme Douglas, from 1970 to '73, and being another Southend boy he managed to get the'Feelgoods' to play at the college, in Brentwood [now subsumed into Anglia Ruskin Uni.] abouttwice per year at least it seemed. The music fashions of the time were either Progressive Rock, popGlam or Disco. The 'Feelgoods' were having none of it, not even Prog, but stuck firmly with theirbeloved R&B, and what a welcome change it was. When the Pub Rock era of groups like 'DucksDeluxe' emerged in '72, the 'Feelgoods' found their niche as the Rock world discovered Lee'srasping blues-shouting voice and wailing harmonica, and Wilko's manic thrashing guitar, with theirsolid rhythm section. The advantage with the pub rock scene was that it was pretty ad hoc. Youdidn't need to be in with the music business managers or record companies, but the 'Feelgoods'became so popular that they caused a storm by getting on the front page of a major musicnewspaper, the 'New Musical Express', before they had a record deal. The deal soon followed as aresult, with United Artists, along with an established manager, once he saw one of the live gigs at'The Kensington' pub. Whereas they had performed cover versions of R&B songs up to then theywere told they'd need to write their own material if they were going to sell records and Wilko roseto the challenge. Embryonic Punks like Joe Strummer, soon to be of 'the Clash', and future 'SexPistol' Glen Matlock became fans..... along with Lady Diana Spencer!
The first album was 'Down By The Jetty' in 1974 and was followed by 'Malpractice' in 1975. Livemusic was their biggest strength and so the pressure on Wilko was relieved a bit with the livealbum, 'Stupidity' in '76, which hit number one in the album charts. The following album saw a riftappear in the band as Wilko moved to London and became more withdrawn during tours, ostensiblyto fill the songwriting role, but probably with an element of drug psychosis and woman doubletrouble. Lee especially didn't like the resulting songs and Wilko decided to leave the band. He wasreplaced by John 'Gypie' Mayo until 1981, when he also left to feature in bands that included a re-jigged revival of the 'Yardbirds', where he was filling the shoes of the grand trio of previousguitarists, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. He also played with Rasta Blues-shouter andharpist Jeremiah Marques' Braintree bands, 'the Marques Brothers' and 'Bluetones'. Sadly Gypiedied in 2013. 'Milk and Alcohol' became a top ten single for the 'Feelgoods' in 1979. Wilko on theother hand, ran his own band, on and off, between gigs with Ian Dury's 'Blockheads' in1980 andgenerally jamming around with his mates. Further band line-up changes after 1981 left LeeBrilleaux as the only original member of the 'Feelgoods'. In the U.S., not everyone 'got it', aboutwhat the 'Feelgoods' were about, sending R&B back to where it came from. But in New York,where the Punk revolution had begun, they were very well received, and members of 'Blondie'raved about the album 'Malpractice' when it arrived, admitting to it being an influence on them.Lee's wife was American, and Johnny Guitar played lead for the band in '81 and '82 so appeared onthe album 'Fast Women and Slow Horses', recorded in '82.
Tragically, Lee died of lymphoma cancer in 1994, after much chemotherapy, and working nearlyright up to the end. This should have led to the final collapse of the Band, but before he died he toldthe other then members that he wanted them to carry on the name with Pete Gage as singer. Petecould do little but respond to the request and after a re-union gig in '95 the group, who had been'Feelgoods' for at least five years began touring with Gage in '96 until '99 when he was replaced byRobert Kane, who had featured in one of the post Eric Burden versions of the Animals. The presentline up has Kane backed by Steve Walwyn on guitar [since1989], Phil Mitchell on bass [on and offsince '83] and Kevin Morris on drums [since '83]. There have been 14 'Feelgoods' over the years,with another 21 albums and 25 singles after Wilko leaving. There is a Lee Brilleaux memorial gigevery year on Canvey, memorial nostalgia sightseeing walks around the island, and there was a filmabout the band in 2009 called 'Oil City Confidential', such is their legendary cult status.
Mickey is a musician's musician. When he used to bring his band from Southend to the KingsArms in Chelmsford's Moulsham Street in the '70s [now morphed into Maisson's Night Club] mateslike Gary Brooker and Robin Trower of Procol Harum and Chelmsford's adopted daughter SuziQuatro could be seen admiring his work and lending support. Southend bands of the era all namehim among their influences. Yet the man himself was in it for the music and never pursued celebrity.
Mickey was born in Worthing in Surrey in 1944 but his musical talents came to the fore afterleaving Art School and the relocation to Southend. His band from '63 to '65was called the Orieoles,but they never made any recordings. In '68 he formed a band called Legend, and they recorded analbum called 'The Red Boot Album' on Bell records, which was a mix of acoustic Rockabilly andBlues Rock, but they then soon split up. A new line-up with Jupp on guitar, piano and vocals, MoWitham on guitar, John Bobin on bass and Bill Fitfield on drums recorded an album for VertigoRecords in 1970, also called 'Legend'. When Marc Bolan saw the band he poached Bill to bedrummer for T.Rex and changed Bill's name to Bill Legend. He was replaced in the Legend band byBob Clouter, who had been drummer with the Orieoles. A second album for Vertigo was called'Moonshine' and was produced by Dave Knight of Procol Harum. Matthew Fisher, also of ProcolHarum, and B.J.Wilson, joined Jupp and Witham to create the single 'Georgie George' also aroundthat time. 'Moonshine' was re-released as a C.D. in 2007.
When Pub Rock arrived Mickey wrote 'Down at the Doctors' for fellow Saffend/Canvey mates Dr.Feelgood. In '78 he signed to Stiff Records, who re-released a compilation from the first threeLegend albums. Jupp played for a while with Dave Edmunds Rockpile, but also recorded a 'solo'album called 'Juppanese' produced by Brinsley Shwartz's Nick Lowe, who was by then a solo Stiffartist, and Gary Brooker of Procul Harum again. A second Stiff album, 'Long Distance Romancer',was[over]-produced by Godley and Creme from 10cc and didn't do so well in the music tastes of theera. Jupp went on to record seven more solo albums, some released on Swedish and German labels.Ricky Nelson, Elkie Brooks, the Judds, Searchers, Chris Farlowe, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, GaryBrooker, Hamsters, Dr. Feelgood, and Roger Chapman of Family and Streetwalkers have allrecorded his songs. Chris East, from the first Legend group, Mo Witham, John Bobin, Bob Clouter, and Mickeyreleased a collection of East's and Jupp's songs over 20years called ' Never Too Old to Rock' in2009. The 'Moonshine' era Legend members released a double C.D. 'Legend Live at the Riga' in2015.
Jupp's biography 'Hole in My Pocket' by Mike Wade was also published by Amazon in 2015. Henow lives in the Lake District. A list of all albums and singles Mickey has played on, and songs others have recorded would takeup several pages.
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