In June 2016 I was invited to talk via a phone in on the BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire Jo Cameron show about Coventry music and the 70's. Here is my bit -
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
In January 2016 Pete Clemons, Trev Teasdel, Paul Wright (A London Specials fan) arrived at BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire to talk about aspects of Coventry's rich music history as part of a wider programme created by the production company 7 Wonder,who were making pop programmes for BBC 4 under the heading of The People's History of Pop. This was one of the local radio spin offs.Helen Shapiro topped the bill of this programme via a phone in that can be heard at the end of the programme.
Peoples History of Pop Radio Coventry Jan16 from Coventry Music Scene on Vimeo.
Here is some of the memorabilia that we took down to Coventry.
Peoples History of Pop Radio Coventry Jan16 from Coventry Music Scene on Vimeo.
Here is some of the memorabilia that we took down to Coventry.
Pete Clemons -
From Trev Teasdel
From Pete Clemons
From Paul Wright
Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at BBC Radio Coventry
Remembering Coventry-born Moody Blues producer Tony Clarke
Pete Clemons documents the life of the producer who passed away in 2010
‘A true gentleman with a fast wit and great sense of humour’. These are the words of Mike Pinder, most famously remembered for being a member of pioneering rock band The Moody Blues.
Mike was writing about Coventry born record producer, Tony Clarke, who passed away during January 2010.
Tony was born during the time that the Second World War was affecting the city. During his teens he discovered skiffle and rock ‘n’ roll. This led to him playing in bands like Danny Storm and the Strollers who, at that time, were being managed by Reg Calvert.
Tony found work as an artists and repertoire (A&R) staff member for Decca Records. The A&R division of a record label is also responsible for overseeing the recording process. Functions include finding the right producer and generally working alongside the artist and guiding them through the whole music publishing side of things.
And I am guessing that it was these early associations with Reg Calvert that led to Tony teaming up with Rugby band Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours where he produced the single ‘Mirror Mirror’. This was his and their first chart success.
The Moody Blues announce Timeless Flight 2015 tour.
But it is with The Moody Blues and his 12 year association with the band that Tony will long be remembered for. Between them the created seven of the most remarkable records you are ever likely to hear.
And this association began 50 years ago, during 1966, when Decca Records assigned Tony as producer to the ‘new’ line up of the band that now included Justin Hayward and John Lodge alongside core members Graeme Edge, Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder.
Despite receiving no formal training Tony, by all accounts, was inquisitive and eager to learn. He set about personalising his allocated studio to the point that it became specific to the requirements of the ‘Moodies’.
Graeme Edge was quoted as saying that ‘Like the band, Tony was young and enthusiastic. We could have stuck with traditional guys but tony was open to the music and hearing our ideas’.
The Moody Blues.
1967 Decca Studio 1,was equipped with a custom, 20-channel, wrap-around console,15-inch Tannoy monitors in Lockwood cabinets, and a Studer J37 four-track tape machine and Ampex half-inch four-track. The live area did have swinging panels, where we could have a hardwood surface or absorbent wall tiles, yet part of the key to the sound there was the echo chamber on the roof, there was another one for Studio 2, but none for the big Studio 3, which had been built in 1961 or 1962 and was a bit of a failure. Because of muti-track, there were also four EMT echo plates in the basement that could be switched between Studio 1 and Studio 2, and we had to plug them in to tie lines, as we did for the echo chambers. That meant there were six echo sources for the two studios, and another pair were installed for the remix room that was very close to Studio 3’
For the Moody Blues first LP release with Tony at the helm, ‘Days of Future Past’ Tony introduced cross fading. This is a technique where as one song fades out the next fades in and overlaps for a short period and gives the impression that you are listening to a continuous piece. And this would become a feature for the Moody Blues music.
During 1968 The Moodies encamped themselves in Decca’s Studio One with Tony Clarke and engineer Derek Varnals. They reappeared with ‘In Search Of the Lost Chord’ which was the product of a highly inventive period.
The Moody Blues play at the NEC Arena.
Mike Pinder mentioned at the time that ‘Tony was a calm and collected man with musical talents and great ideas. We soon realized that Tony was playing an equal part in our recordings. He was the right man to complete our recording team. We really were a team and Tony was the captain of our ship.
The creative channels were open and we shared our musical ideas and much laughter’.
“Tony really understood the Moodies,” said Ray Thomas. “We were talking with Tony 24 hours a day, not just music but philosophy and astronomy too. He had a huge telescope on the roof of his house and we’d go up there, look at the moon and stars, and talk about everything. He knew the lyrics of our songs always had other connotations, and was really good at seeing the broader picture.”
An example of how Tony understood the feel of The Moodies music happened during 1969, at the start of the recording of the bands next album ‘On the Threshold of a Dream’. Even from demo’s he had already picked up on the spiritual feeling that this album would bring.
These feelings would be relayed to engineer Derek Varnals who would, in turn, provide the sounds for the atmospheric beginnings to the album.
The next album up was ‘To Our Childrens Childrens Children’, also released in 1969. Apart from the obvious subject matter, as depicted by the album’s title, a major inspiration for this record was created by the moon landings. And that was time and space. Again Tony Clarke and his team were instrumental in provided the atmosphere behind the songs.
The final Moody Blues album that included Tony’s production talents was titled ‘Octave’ released in 1978. It was a difficult album to release due to logistical issues amongst other things.
Although it was a very welcome release for the fans it had been, apparently, a stressful time for all involved. But the album itself still stands up well and had its really good moments.
But that was the end of Tony Clarke’s involvement with the Moody Blues. Although he remained friends of the band members he moved on to pastures new. But those twelve years with the band ensured that Tony’s legacy was cemented forever in popular music history.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Remembering Nektar guitarist and Coventry musician Roye Albrighton
Pete Clemons on Bell Green axeman who has sadly passed away
Roye Albrighton was born in the Bell Green area of Coventry on February 6 1949. He is a son of Arthur (Senior) and Anne Albrighton. He will always be best remembered for his continuing involvement in the world renowned band Nektar where he plays lead guitar and is also lead vocalist.
Roye, actually born Roy, started learning to play guitar at around the age of 10 when brother Arthur (Modie), who had been a television repair engineer, used to fix elderly people's TVs for free. One day he was given an old Spanish guitar by one of his clients. Roye came across the guitar that, apparently, only had one string. This minor issue did not deter him, the guitar was repaired, strings were replaced and the rest as they say is history.
His early influences included bands like The Ventures, The Spotniks and The Shadows. Later, as he was learning his craft, he would be inspired by bands like The Beatles and the various Jimi Hendrix bands like The Experience and The Band of Gypsies. Incredibly, in fact, Roye once actually jammed with Hendrix during a spell of living in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Roye began his musical career in local band The Peeps who went on to release several singles for the Philips label. After this he became a member of Rainbows. Actually The Peeps and The Rainbows were essentially the same band. But it was at this point when Roye started to write his own material and began to work it into Rainbows music.
Rainbows were known for their flowing silky robes, eye liner and Vidal Sassoon styled hair. This was fairly outrageous stuff for the time. The band also relocated to London for a while where they signed up with Ashley Kozaks management.
During 1968 Rainbows were doing some gigs in Germany. These included dates at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg. And it was during some leisure time that Roye paid a visit to the famous Star Club next to the Reeperbahn.
While there he heard a drummer rehearsing. His curiosity got the better of him and Roye went into the club and met up with Ron Howden who, at that time, was drummer of house band Prophecy. The following day Roye took his guitar along and the 2 jammed together. The chemistry between Ron and Roye was almost instant.
Roye rejoined Rainbows but, sometime during 1969, the band went their separate ways. Incidentally, after the split, the nucleus of Rainbows went on to form a band called Still Life who, themselves, released their own highly regarded album.
From Rainbows Roye then moved to Sweden and took up residency for a while. While there he met up with a promoter who had worked with him when Rainbows toured the country. This led to him being put in touch with a band called The Outsiders who he played with for a short time until it was time for him to return to the UK.
Martin Cure (left) with Roye
It was now late 1969, and a year or so after those jamming sessions with Prophecy, and Roye received a telegram out of the blue from Mo Moore who was Prophecy’s bass player. The telegram asked if he would be interested in going back to Germany and taking up the lead guitar position within Prophecy as their guitarist was leaving. At the time Roye had been rehearsing for a part in the backing band for the London debut of Hair.
However, in November of 1969, Roye teamed up with Prophecy and, shortly afterwards, together they formed the band Nektar.
In the 40 plus years since their formation Nektar have often been regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 1970s within their genre. They were pioneers of futuristic live shows and performed some of the earliest gigs that included lights and pictures. Their 1970’s albums are some of the most adored records of the progressive rock genre.
Following the release of Nektar’s fourth album ‘Remember the Future’ during 1973 (their second album release in the U.S.), the band were launched into orbit as they became hugely popular, not just in Europe, but also in America.
Sadly Roye passed away recently in his home town of Poole.
During 2014 I was fortunate enough to have a chat with Roye. He was great company and was agreeable to answering all the questions I had ready for him. And so here is that conversation in full..............
You grew up in the Little Heath / Bell Green area of Coventry. Were they happy memories?
They were very happy memories, especially just after I left school and started out on my musical adventure.
When you think back and reminisce is there anything about Coventry that still makes you smile and that maybe you still miss?
Because I left Coventry not long after I was able to get a passport, I used to go from pub to pub wherever live music was playing, I have fond memories of that time when you could literally go from one gig to another and just get up and jam with whoever was playing.
What other early Coventry memories do you have, such as youth clubs, and where in town did you go to buying your records that kind of thing?
I was never really one for going to youth clubs, but used to hang out wherever music was involved be it at pubs/clubs or music shops. There were two main music shops in Coventry at that time with similar names, Cranes and Paynes, Paynes were great because they would let you take a guitar down and try it out.
The Peeps were formed in 1965. Who approached you about joining the band? Are you able to recall your first gig with them?
I think our first gig was in Hamburg at the top ten club but I can't be sure. Martin Cure came around to my house one day and told me that Steve Jones their guitarist was leaving and asked if I would step in.
Of course I said yes Martin is one of the nicest guys you ever want to meet.
Did you have a favourite Coventry venue where you enjoyed playing at the most?
The Navigation Inn and the Heath hotels back room which we always called Dantes Inferno.
Next group up were The Rainbows. How did that band get up and running?
Rainbows were the Peeps reincarnate, Terry Howells came on the keyboards and Gordon Reed was on drums. Graham Amos was on the bass. We got involved with Ashley Kozak who was previously Donovan’s manager and recorded our first track which was Rainbows. It was music away from the normal verse chorus of the day and was probably the beginning of what would later be known as progressive rock.
Of course you were with Rainbows when you went to Germany and first met up with the guys who would become Nektar?
That's right, we were doing a stint as the house band in the Top ten club in Hamburg and during the day while the clubs were being cleaned I passed the Star club and heard a drummer practising. This was Ron Howden from the band Prophecy. He and I decided to spend the next few days together playing and when it was time for Rainbows to return to the UK I told Ron that if they ever needed a guitarist they should call me. A while later I got a telegram from the bass player asking if I want to join them in Hamburg. That was November 5, 1969.
With The Peeps I am guessing the music style was described as beat. With Rainbows it got a little more ambitious. Throughout those years in the 60s can you describe your own music ambitions? I think what I am trying to get to here is when did you begin to realise that you could create music that was even more ambitious and even more stretching than the normal three minute song. When did you get that spark? Each album created by Nektar is a journey rather than an album of songs.
When the Peeps were together we played a lot of Motown material and some lightweight soul music. When we changed to Rainbows we sat down and really thought about what we could really do that would be different. Of course we wanted to stay in the rock vein but were unhappy to continue to play standard material, something new was needed. We came up with a few ideas that were touching on commercial but not too much but at the same time able to venture into other parts, a little like the classics would do. This for me would be the start of my own personal song writing career which would expand even more when I joined Ron Howden to form Nektar.
Nektar of course are well documented around the world. I could really go off on one right now and gush over some of those albums you created with them. But I don’t want to do that, only to say that after all these years those albums still make the hair on my back stand.
It was a very special time with Nektar, we were very productive in the space of a few years, it was a kind of relief to be able to play and create music as we want, we were lucky in the fact that our then record company gave us the freedom to do this. Ninety nine percent of all other record companies were afraid to take on our first album.
I accept that times change and musical tastes move on but today’s music listener is not afraid to travel back in time to listen to some of those classic rock acts of the past as well as embrace what is current.
For me though the music is just too good to ignore and although I would personally recommend that you listen to and totally absorb yourself in a Nektar album from beginning to end, given today’s listening habits, you can treat yourself to selected tracks.
If that is your preferred option then give songs such as ‘Wings’ ‘New Day Dawning’ and ‘Do You Believe in Magic’ a spin. They are truly astonishing and they really do stand the test of time.
Treat yourself and hopefully you will gain a better understanding of why Nektar were so successful worldwide and why the band are still welcomed in and able to tour many parts of the globe.
More on youtube.
Earlier articles on the Nektar