Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roger Lomas - From the Sorrows to Award Wining Producer

Another from the prolific pen of  Pete Clemons - from a recent edition Coventry Telegraph..
This time up the story of Coventry's only Grammy winning musician and record producer - Roger Lomas. Best known for his work with Two Tone but there's a lot more to Roger - read on...

Stage and studio days of a hit man

WHEN you talk to someone who has won a Grammy award, particularly when you are talking to the only person from your city to do so, and who has produced more than 50 albums along with 18 hit singles you expect a little brashness or swagger.

But I never saw a hint of it. Yes there is a steely side and immense pride when he talks about his craft but that aside this is a warm, come in, have a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable sort of person.

Roger Lomas will always remain synonymous as a producer for his work with bands like The Selecter and Bad Manners whic several gold and silver discs bear testament to. But before all of that he had been a guitarist and songwriter.

Roger was born in Foleshill in 1948. His introduction to music was when a friend of his elder brother Nigel called in on the way to a trip to the tip. He was getting rid of an old acoustic guitar with only two strings. Roger salvaged it, bought a new set of strings, and went about learning chords.

When Roger sets his mind to do something he does it to the best of his abilities. As he rightly says, if you have the will, and are prepared to work hard, then you can make your own luck in life - there lies the benchmark to his success.

Teenage life revolved around his guitar and by 1963/64, and encouraged by his father, he joined his first band George and the Dragons. Alongside Roger were Brian Wilkins on guitar, Rick Bradford on bass and Tom Russell on drums. The band played Foleshill Social and other local pubs. 

By early 1966 Roger had joined The Clouds along with his brother Nigel on drums and Tony Lucas (aka Tony Martin and ex of The Echo Four) on bass. An early success included a support slot to The Zombies in Coalville. The Clouds were also very popular on the local pub circuit.

However, June 1966 saw lead singer Don Fardon and bass guitarist Phil Packham leave The Sorrows.

The remaining band members, rhythm guitarist Wez Price, lead guitarist Pip Whitcher and drummer Bruce Finley had been offered work in Italy and urgently required another guitarist. Roger was drafted into the band on lead guitar while Wez switched to bass and Pip took over on lead vocals.

The 'work' was the 5th Cantagiro tour, a massive affair that involved touring Italian stadiums with a dozen or so other bands. Promotion for the tour was huge. Having only known the hit single 'Take a Heart', Roger had to quickly learn the rest of the band's repertoire.

While in Italy The Sorrows had considerable success. Take a Heart was actually re-recorded for the Italian market as 'Mi Si Spezza il Cuore' and reached number eight in their charts. Due to immense demand The Sorrows relocated from the UK to Italy, touring extensively, and such was their popularity other singles such as Pink, Purple, Yellow, & Red also had Italian versions cut - 'Verde, Rosso, Giallo, e Blu'. In fact the popularity of The Sorrows continues to this day in Italy and other areas of Europe.

The following year saw The Sorrows back again alongside bands like The Rokes (hugely successful in Italy yet rarely heard of in the UK) for the 6th Cantagiro tour. By now Roger was making full use of an added Bigsby tremolo arm and had introduced feedback into his playing, which was featured in several feature film sound-tracks working alongside Ennio Morricone.

But, in September 1967, Roger left the band and returned home.

When settled Roger teamed up again with Pip Whitcher, who had already returned to the UK a little earlier, and the pair struck up a song writing team. Over the next few years Rog & Pip recorded several songs including, 'From a Window' c/w 'Warlord' which eventually saw a formal release in 1971. In 1968 and in parallel to his song writing activities with Pip, Roger formed The Eggy along with bass player Bill Campbell, Bill Bates on vocals and brother Nigel on drums. This band would be active up until 1969 gigging when commitments allowed. The Eggy would bear the fruits of those earlier Rog and Pip sessions as the single 'Your Still Mine c/w Hookey' was released during 1969 on the Spark label. 

Due to session work commitments with Southern Music Roger also spent several months in London.

While there he built up good contacts like producer Peter Sullivan and opportunities began to open, for example, having access to Air studios and its state-of-theart 24-track recording studio. Also, while in London he teamed up with Virginia Williams (the estranged wife of Danny Williams) who recorded one of Roger's songs 'Loving and Forgiving' c/w 'Never Let Me Go' which was released under the name of Renegade on the Parlophone label in 1973.

After a re-shuffle of band personnel, Renegade saw Roger link up once again with Pip. Mick Eastbury provided bass and again brother Nigel sat in the drummer's seat. And yet again songs would surface from those Rog and Pip sessions. And a second single 'A Little Rock 'n' Roll c/w My Revolution' followed in 1974 which was released on the Dawn label.

The formation of Zips in 1974 saw Rog and Pip in a band that had slimmed down to a three-piece and with Paul Hooper, ex-Indian Summer, on drums. A single was released 'Bye Bye Love' c/w 'Evil Hearted Woman' on Mickey Most's RAK Records. During their short life Zips also released a wonderful version of The Beach Boys song 'You're So Good to Me' c/w 'Gonna Leave the Door Wide Open'. Both singles were produced by Adrian Baker and also featured the vocals of Paul Davinci.

The Dodgers had been formed by Bob Jackson, Tommy Evans (from Badfinger) and John Wilson during 1975. Over a couple of years they had lost several members and first Paul Hooper and then later Roger were drafted into the band. During his period with them several singles and in 1978 an album 'Love on the Rebound' were released on the Polydor label. Both Zips and The Dodgers received considerable airplay on national radio stations.

1977 also saw Roger set up his first recording studio. Almost immediately Neol Davies came to him with a tune. Although not active in the ska or reggae scene in the past Roger instinctively realised that the track 'The Selecter' had a certain magic and so set about recording it. Following a deal while with The Dodgers, he was able to improve on his recording studio by using advance finance from a deal with The Dodgers' management.

February 2003 saw Roger win his Grammy award at the 45th Grammy ceremony held at New York's Madison Square Garden for his major part in producing and creating what was nominated as the best reggae album of the year. The creation of the album Jamaican ET by Lee 'Scratch' Perry released in 2002 is actually a story in itself. But needless to say that the award was a massive accolade and testament to the fact that Roger has that rare ability of being able to put a band together that will produce a certain sound.

The subsequent years have seen Roger working with his son Kevin, bass player of popular Coventry covers band The Subterraneans. In fact The Subs have been recording their own songs under the name The Subsonixx, including the excellent track 'What If I'.

2013 is also sure to be a memorable year with the re-release of many of those Rog and Pip songs on the Rise Above Record label. Rise Above Records, as some will know, is run by Coventry-born Lee Dorrian who himself fronts bands like Napalm Death and Cathedral.


Some of Roger Lomas's productions - A full list can be found on Roger's website here http://www.rogerlomas.com/records.htm

Roger Lomas as Producer
Includes Selecter, Specials, Modetes, Body Snatchers, echo and the Bunnymen, Bert Jansch, Hazel O'Connor, Subsonixx, Bad Manners, Lee Scratch Perry, Roy Wood, Reluctant Stereotypes,
Desmond Dekkar, Toots and the Maytals, The Tubes, 3 Red Colours, Elkie Brooks, The Country Joe Band, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Ashley Hutchings, The Wildhearts, Jeremy Spencer, The Ripps, China Crisis and more....

Roger produced The Selecter's 2nd and innovative Album Celebrate the Bullet

Lorraine - Bad Manners

Too Much Too Young - Live

The song that started it all - The Selecter - (B side of Gangsters) but written by Neol Davies, played by Neol Davies with John Bradbury on drums and recorded on a 4 track porta-studio by Roger Lomas as early as 1977.

Echo and the Bunnymen - Me, I'm all smiles  album

Desmond Dekker and the Specials king of kings album

Coventry Ska / jazz outfit fronted by Paul King - (later front man of chart topping band King)

Roger Lomas
(Producer / Engineer)
(Lee 'Scratch' Perry)

And Roger's latest production The Subsonixx

Roger Lomas as Musician

Roger joined the Sorrows in 1966. This 1967 track from the Sorrows, features Roger i think

In the late 70's Roger was in The Dodgers with former members on Badfinger and the Coventry progressive band Indian Summer -

From the The Sorrows to Roger and Pip - under-rated heavy heavy track!

Another Roger Lomas outfit - Renegade as musician - Revolution by Renegrade

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rocking at the Ritz - Coventry Venue

Back in the early 60's the Ritz (in Longford Coventry) was the place rock it out. Pete Clemons takes you back there via his Coventry Telegraph article...

The reformed Sorrows playing live after decades in 2012 and featuring some of the guys mentioned in the article like Nigel Lomas

Monday, February 11, 2013

Don Fardon - From the Sorrows to Indian Reservation

Pete Clemon's takes up the story of  Don Fardon from the early days to the Sorrows and beyond. From his recent Coventry Telegraph article...

Pink Floyd at the Coventry Locarno 1972

Once again, Pete Clemons is writing about the Lanchester Arts festival gigs at the Coventry Locarno 1972. Following on from the Chuck Berry Concert, he takes a look at the Pink Floyd concert in his Coventry Telegraph article.

Chuck Berry Live at Coventry Locarno 1972

Pete Clemons with more Coventry music history via his article published in Coventry Telegraph, this time on the Lanchester Arts Festival 1972. The Lanch was Coventry poly now known as Coventry University. Some of the festival was held at the Locarno in Coventry and this article concerns the recording of  Chuck Berry's biggest selling record My Ding a Ling, recorded in Coventry at the concert.

Although the recording of the single was from the Coventry gig, this footage is from the later London Concert.