Month: August 2014


It very rarely happens that a “supergroup” succeeds at the level that Bad Company did. Coming from their former bands of Free (Rodgers and Kirke), Mott The Hoople (Mick Ralphs) and King Crimson (Boz Burrell).
In my opinion their two first albums were their strongest and I recommend everyone who isn`t familiar with Bad Company to listen to them. Great music from great musicians! Enjoy.


B Company on the march

They`re autographing LP`s for the kids, and the businessmen are gibbering with glee. Yep, it looks like this could be the start of something big…

By Lisa Robinson

The red, mimeographed sheet sent to 100s of radio stations across the country reads: “BAD COMPANY: `Can`t Get Enough`. Rockin` smash. Huge album. Will be a monster single. New 30-13`q, kliv, werc, 25-WAYS, KTLK, 24-WDGY, WBBQ, KZOK, Debuts: 40-WBSR: 28-WVLK (`big LP`); 25-Q105; 26-WSGN; 23-WPGC: 30-WFLB; 40-KILT. 14-10-WIXY; 14-12 KJRB; 25-20-WSAI (`should do well`); 26-KJR. On WMAK, WHHY, WKIX.”
What does it mean? It means that Bad Company are perhaps the biggest group to break out in this country this year, something I was told again and again during the week I spent with the band in Los Angeles.

Honest, straightforward, funky, gutsy, straight ahead, no gimmicks, right on, teenage, powerful, lusty, heterosexual, hard on, down to earth, rock and roll.
All this and more has been said about Bad Company. So I`ll attempt to describe what happened with them without resorting to one of those adjectives…

MONDAY. I arrive in L.A. after a nightmare flight where one engine blew out and we had to return to JFK to refuel.  And because my L.A. home, the Beverly Hills Hotel, was overbooked that night I had to spend an evening in the alien Beverly Wilshire – where Ringo, Ron Wood, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Tony de Fries and Mick Jagger all stay while in town.
None of them were there that night, and Bad Company were at the Hyatt House.

TUESDAY: Mick Ralphs` room at the Hyatt is the neatest hotel room of any rockstar I`ve ever seen. (Paul Rodger`s comes a close second, although he`s got a few clothes dripping out of opened trunks and stuff.)
Simon Kirke, down the hall, has the distinction of being the only rockstar I`ve ever seen who has BOOKS neatly lined up on what David Johansen would use for a make-up shelf. They`re mostly science fiction, porno and John Steinbeck.
Mick Ralphs seems quietly confident about the band`s success here.
“You know,” he smiled, “one reads so much in the British Press about how this band or that band comes to America and is STORMING the place. But when you actually get here you realise that most people haven`t even heard of them…well, it all gets to be a bit of a hype, doesn`t it?”

This obviously is not the case with Bad Co. however. Their album was Number 6 on the charts that week and the single rapidly climbing.
“Well, we were very confident when we put the band together,” Mick continued, “we sort of had a good feeling about it. But it was really a case of whether or not everyone else would do their thing. Like the record company is really behind the band which is very important; you just can`t make it doing good gigs.
“And we are reaching a lot of people with this tour. I`ve never been in this position before – on tour with a successful album. It`s always been that you`re on tour and you have an album out but the two aren`t really connected.
“It`s all really come together for us. That`s the really great thing about having Peter as a manager. We`re lucky to have him with us.”
“Also we`re really a completely new band, and we`re opening the shows we`re on, so we have to go out there and make a good impression wherever we go.

“We weren`t scared at all really – we were excited to come here. I was used to headlining. So was Paul. But being the opening act gave us a chance to try and blow other people off the stage!
“There`s been a sort of friendly competition on stage; Dave Mason and Jo Jo Gunne – we`d watch them try that much harder after we`d gone off and the show as a whole would be that much better for it.
“The drawbacks, of course, are that when you do open the show the PA system and lights and all aren`t your own. You don`t have time for a proper sound check – all those little technical things that audiences don`t and shouldn`t know about, but would give us more control over it all.
“I`d like to think that the next time we come over here we`d be able to headline. I know we could pull it off in terms of the act. We certainly could play an hour and a half or two hours, and here we`re reduced to forty-five minutes.”

Paul Rodgers walks into the room draped only in a towel, fresh from the shower, looking for his shoes.
Mick Ralphs says, he likes touring America.
“What gets me is the bigness of it all, the wealth here – you know? Especially coming from England because it`s such a poor country now.”
What about all those rich British popstars? “I don`t know, right now I haven`t got much money. But for the first time in my life I`m in a position where I can buy a house, and it`s sort of incredible to me. Because by the British standard, this is the sort of thing you go for – the goal.
“When you`re young you have your ambitions and this is always one of them, to own your own house. I sort of forgot about that while I was with Mott and everything. It was a struggle just to keep our heads above water, let alone think about things like that.”

Down the hall Swan Song Vice-President Danny Goldberg is talking relentlessly on the telephone. “It`s Number six with a bullet on the Billboard charts this week, and we know it`ll definitely go to Number Five – it`ll be top five and we fully expect it will be Number One.
“Everyone has been working really hard on it, I mean we`re all working really hard on it, but listen – you know, the group are really good, they`ve been doing it themselves.”

“You know what`s so good about Paul,” Mick continued, “is that after the Free thing he could have played with anybody because he is so well-respected in the business. He could have put together a band of amazing musicians, and he had offers to do LPs in Muscle Shoals and places like that, but he wanted to be part of a unit, and that`s great.
“We`re both slightly old-fashioned – but we do believe in the idea of a group…we all dig people like the Stones who can put over a total image rather than a solo artist like Bowie or something.”

People keep calling Paul Rodgers, and from the sound of the phone conversations, it seems as though the majority of them want tickets to the various gigs in the L.A. area.
Between the calls, we talk about his band.
“I`m having a great time,” Rodgers says, “because it wasn`t really happening for any of us with our bands before and this tour has been a joy to do. I really see it as a band, and I`m the singer, but it`s a band and I`m part of it. We all see it that way, and we all do our little movements and things, but we do it together.
“I play piano onstage during a few numbers now, and I`d like to do some more piano and some more guitar. But I am a bit limited at the moment because I have so little experience.
“When I do play it`s really a set piece, and I`d like to be able to ad lib freely. At the moment I have to work out everything that I do. I used to play bass – a long time ago, when I was about 13. And I wasn`t very good, so they said `well – why don`t you sing?` So I sang.
I sang `Long Tall Sally` and it was pretty good. I surprised myself really.”

I asked him if he thought the band would get so big – like Zeppelin or such – that they`d do more tours here than in Britain.
“Well, I don`t know…we`ll never give up on England – no way.”
Talking about how he got together with Peter Grant, Rodgers said, “I just phoned him up, because there wasn`t any action coming out of Island at the time. And I didn`t want any more flash in the pan situations. You know – where the band sort of folds after six months. I wanted it to be solid. So I thought, well – who`s the best manager in the business” – he smiled – “and this was before we knew anything about the Swan Song label.
“Peter was just great. I said, `I`m getting this group together and would you like to come hear it with a view toward managing it`, and he said sure. He came down to hear us and we didn`t even have Boz at the time. But he saw the potential and got behind us.”



Paul Rodgers

Paul Rodgers

Peter Grant, Bad Company`s manager, has just arrived in L.A., and since he got to the Hyatt too late to take the bus to San Bernadino with the band, we`re travelling in the Mercedes limo made especially for Elvis – with fur on the floor, reclining back seat, tv.
Grant had been picked up earlier at the airport by a gold Lincoln Continental.
It`s a two-hour ride to San Bernadino where the band will open for Edgar Winter at The Swing – supposedly the first place the Stones played in America. (San Bernadino is also the home of the Hell`s Angels, although I`m not implying  anything.)
The Swing looks like an airplane hanger, Grant warns us. He`s been there before.
We talk of other tours, of other halls – halls and arenas that Zeppelin never played in this country because Peter Grant never felt right about them, and then he says, “You know, it`s been nice being with Bad Company on this tour, especially at the beginning when we were staying in all those Holiday Inns.
“You tend to lose your perspective sometimes when it`s all private planes and big hotel suites. It`s nice to get back to a simpler thing once in a while – it reminds you of where you`re coming from.”

The band are overjoyed to see Peter. They hug him. There`s a lot of obvious closeness in the dressing room.
Boz, however, is lying down. He doesn`t feel well. Mick is deciding which shirt he should wear onstage. Simon and Paul and Peter talk, then disappear into the bathroom and then return; Paul fools around with “Midnight Hour” on the guitar, and soon it`s time to go on.
The first thing I`m struck by is that Bad Company have perhaps one of the few rhythm sections one can actually write about. You know how it is with bass and drum players…often all you read about them is that they kept up a good, steady, solid beat – often that`s all there is to say.
But Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell are really like a Memphis rhythm section. There`s a lot of Al Jackson and Duck Dunn influences there.
(When I mention that to Simon after the show he smiles and says, “Ah, Al Johnson – he`s the guv`nor.”)

They go into “Deal With The Preacher” – one of the songs not on the album, and Paul is up front, wearing a patterned white and beige shirt and white leather trousers bought just that day at North Beach Leather. (The pants were too long, and since there was not time to have them fixed, he bought higher shoes.)
Rodgers actually looks better onstage than photos suggest, if you know what I mean, and he certainly is in total command.
Mick moves around more than I was led to believe, but there isn`t any of that corny “lead guitarist” bullshit.
Boz, despite his not feeling well, plays well. (“You have to,” he said later, looking decidedly grim.)
Simon Kirke must be the most physically expressive drummer in rock. He thrashes about – even more so than Bonzo or Moon, and the faces he makes are terrifying. He sweats a lot too. It`s a good show.

“Rock Steady”, “Ready For Love”, “Little Misfortune”, “Bad Company”, “Easy On My Soul”…and the audience is properly receptive. But it`s on the final number (the rapidly-climbing single, “Can`t Get Enough”) that Paul really wants to get the audience with him.
In fact he seems a bit hung-up on audience response – with all this “LEMMEHEARYASAYYEAH!” stuff. He screams out to the audience and they do as they`re told. Which is more than I can say for Slade`s early gigs here.
That`s all – and it`s not too hokey. The audience also sing along with him on “Can`t Get Enough Of Your Love”.
Of course there must be an encore, and they come back to do the old Free song “The Stealer”, and leave the place cheering. (This is for real – it`s not any of that “UK group storms America” stuff. It just happened that way.)

Back in the bus for the two-hour ride to the Hyatt House; in between beers and general horseplay, Paul says, “One interviewer asked me if I minded glitter, and I said, `no – not really. Well – actually, I bloody hate it!”

WEDNESDAY. The band visit a record store in West Los Angeles to autograph albums.
Boz still isn`t feeling well, so he`s back at the hotel. “I`d never have had the nerve to ask them to do it,” Peter the Gee mutters earlier. But they go, and are in quite good spirits.
I have a copy of NME which shows their album to be at no. 18.
“That means it`s going down,” groans Simon.
“Yes but it`s Number Six on the American charts.”
We arrive at the record store and there are a respectable number of actual Fans waiting to buy signed LPs. The Bad Co. LP (natch) is playing in the record store, and then the hippies behind the counter prove just how hip they are by playing old Mott and Free discs.
This evening the band are to tape Don Kirshner`s Rock Concert out at the Long Beach Auditorium. Also taping for several different airings are Curtis Mayfield, Edgar Winter, and the Natural Four. Bad Company are supposed to tape around 9.30 pm but it`s somewhat later by the time they do go on.

Danny Goldberg and Steve Paul and other industry insiders are in the room where the tv monitors are and they are talking about – you guessed it. “Well,” says Danny, “it`ll peak in a few weeks and then the single will start it all over again and keep the album in the top ten. It`s already top 25 on the top 40 station in Cleveland,” he continues. “They were treated like the Rolling Stones in Cleveland…”
I am amazed and confused by this kind of conversation. I wonder if anyone will remember the Billboard charts ten years from now, although I feel sure that the good music will remain. It`s extremely strange to hear grown men talking about the strategy surrounding pieces of plastic with intense love and/or enthusiasm.
Don Kirshner, now hosting his own show, takes a few of us into the control truck where we can see five monitors, and the directors choosing of what goes down on tape.
Rodgers looks terrific on TV, especially on close-ups when he`s singing solos. Boz is obviously feeling a bit better and moving around the stage more. Other than that, the band seem a bit uncomfortable in the bright lights and TV-studio-like atmosphere.

Afterwards Peter G. is not thrilled by the way some of the best shots of Paul and/or Mick were missed on the final tape.
Nonetheless, I`ve seen other shows and this has been done far more professionally than most.
On the way back to Sunset Strip the boys are weary. But Mick and I manage to sneak in some talk about Bowie, Main Man, et al.
“Yeah, one good thing about this tour,” Mick asserts, “there aren`t all those poseurs about. You know – all those manicurists and hairdressers and all. We got REAL KIDS coming to see us.”
We`re back in the Red Roulette Room of the Hyatt House and Lucky Young is singing, wearing what looks like a rug on his head and a white safari suit on his body. He`s singing “Drift Away” with Mick and Boz singing along.
BORING! shouts someone in our party…others are trying to make arrangements to go to a Joni Mitchell party in Laurel Canyon (never materialised), and Boz wants to go and see Chick Corea at the Troubador but can`t get anyone to make his arrangements for him.

THURSDAY is the big date – the L.A. Forum. Elton John has sent the band two bottles of Dom Perignon along with his regrets that he can`t come and see the show.
He`s just flown into L.A. for two days to do a session with Ringo.
Steve Weiss, legal whiz and charmer supreme is on hand for this concert, and the backstage area is decorated with some special people: “16s” Gloria Stavers with Lenny Bruce`s daughter Kitty, Rick Springfield, Shaun Cassidy, Steve Paul, Mickie Most and Liz Derringer.
The set is definitely the best of the week. Paul is strutting and prancing around more than ever.(“I don`t care what he says,” someone close to the group whispers, “he likes Jim Dandy…”), tossing and whirling with the mike, and his voice is fabulous.
Boz, apparently totally recovered from his earlier-in-the week illness, moves slowly, sexily towards the microphone – he and Mick join in on harmonies, the audience is extremely responsive.
Thank goodness there are no firecrackers in Los Angeles (Well, just a few at the end, but nothing like New York…) although there is a thunderous roar for an encore.
They`ve certainly “warmed” up this crowd for Edgar.

The charts that week.

The charts that week.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own  webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Roger McGuinn, Black Oak Arkansas, Fleetwood Mac, Annette Peacock, Woodstock (the festival), Jimmy Cliff, Toots & The Maytals, Greenslade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
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What a strange article this is. The journalist strikes me as a pompous, arrogant, self-righteous guy that the other kids probably beat up when he went to school! I am really impressed with Hensley`s self-control in this interview as even I, the reader, 40 years in the future, wants to slap this interviewer around.
Have a good read!


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So tell me, Ken, why is it Uriah Heep drive rock critics to suicide?

Chris Salewicz fearfully puts the question, remembering adverse album reviews and also the murderous bottle-throwing devotion of Heep`s fanatical supporters.

“It gets on my tit when people start talking when I`m listening to music, so when I`m at `ome I always turn the sound right up loud so that it`s impossible for anyone to try and hold a conversation.”
And the entourage grins sycophantically at the chortling Ken Hensley, and I begin to wonder what I`ve let myself in for.

The point is that hardly anyone I know exactly gets off on Uriah Heep`s music. Yet all over Europe, North America and the Far East the band helps maintain the scarcity rates of precious metals by picking up silver and gold albums each time they clear passport control.
And then, of course, there`s the blind allegiance of their followers – loyal, dedicated, murderous (remember their maniac Lord Of The Flies bottle throwing at Alex Harvey at Alexandra Palace last year?).
So this has become something of a voyage of discovery – an attempt to discover the answer to “Why Uriah Heep?”

Already, though, I`m beginning to fear the worst. The setting – the King Henry VIII hotel in Bayswater – epitomises that kitsch opulence that often seems associated with the band: plexiglass habitatty chairs, portraits of the Tudor ruler and his various ladies, and the obligatory swimming pool with green and blue surround.
This obviously ain`t no place for any rock`n`roll confessional. So the Uriah Heep keyboards player and myself are ushered through the hotel to one of the bedrooms where we can sprawl on burnt ochre bedspreads (what else?) with nothing to disturb us but the distant rumble of the Circle line.
In my experience, heavy musicians tend to be somewhat lightweight mentally – I once spent the most awkward hour of my life attempting to discuss the philosophical and sociological ramifications of their music with a member of a very popular and very heavy band – and so I take my time letting Ken get comfortable. There comes a point, however, when small talk can be carried beyond the bounds of decency, and, from the way he`s shuffling about inside his denims, it quickly becomes apparent that he knows I`m procrastinating.

Alright, then. No point in holding back any longer. Why is it, Ken, that rock writers seem, shall we say, not too keen on Uriah Heep? After all, when Melissa Mills reviewed your first album in Rolling Stone she wrote that if the band ever made it she would commit suicide.
“You asking me this on tape?” he mutters quizzically.
Well, yes, I am actually genuinely interested in this loathing or, at best, total apathy that mention of Uriah Heep tends to generate. I mean, how do you react to it all?
He considers this for a second or two, and then: “I think it was because we dropped a bit of a cobbler when we first got going.
“See, what we did was to try and advertise our product before we took it on the road and it was just about the time people were getting tired of hypes.

“But I didn`t regard it as a hype because I was too busy. Mind you, we were very, very rough when we first got going and I think that some of the criticism was right. But it didn`t just apply to the critics, y`know – it applied to the public as well.
“The only criticism I didn`t like was the stuff that just rejected it out of hand and that didn`t attempt to make any constructive remarks but was just totally destructive.”
And he cites that initial Rolling Stone review.
“We`re still waiting for her to do it.”
Am I to take it, therefore, in the light of what you`re saying about having been very rough, that you`re not exactly satisfied with some of your records?
“If you`re ever totally satisfied with any of your records then you might as well give up.

“But on those first three albums – well, we were just thrashing about trying to find a direction. You should just listen to a couple of cuts of any of them and it`ll indicate just how much out of our depths we really were.
“Our feet were right off the ground!
“In some ways, though, it seemed to help us. We were good and aggressive in our early days and not very much else. And when we went out to Germany they seemed to like that and went out and bought a lot of copies of our first album.”
Okay, you`ve said some of what you think about Uriah Heep and its problems. Now let me say that I tried to understand your music by playing “Sweet Freedom” several times, but I just felt that it churned on and on and on.
In fact, the only moments that I faintly enjoy were when the structuring reminded me of the early Vanilla Fudge.

For once I seem to have got Spot The Influence right on target.
“Being totally honest I think that Vanilla Fudge is the strongest influence on the band – that first album they did was such a totally original heavy album.”
But what of my feelings that “Sweet Freedom” does just churn on?
“Oh. I felt that too.”
“In fact, I felt the same about all of them – this sense of emptiness. There`s a lack of achievement. But after I`d heard `Wonderworld` (Uriah Heep`s new album) I thought that we had actually achieved something at last, because we seem to have got so much more dynamics on it.”

Ken Hensley

Ken Hensley

Now I`ve already been told that Ken Hensley drew the majority of his inspirations for the lyrics on “Wonderworld” from dreams. Which gives me a chance to make the point that his lyrics often seem at odds with the relatively violent sounds of the music.
His reply surprises me, to say the least.
A thoughtful swig on his scotch and coke and: “I think this comes as a result of the inevitable – but hopefully minute – interpretation loss that comes from presenting something to four people who then have to listen and present something in their own way and then present it as a group.
“But for the most part the music and lyrics are sympathetic with each other.”
Well, how do you see your lyrics? Do you see them as short poems or just as lyrics – because I really can`t see they stand up without the context of the songs?

“Sometimes I write lyrics first, but the songs I`m happiest with are the ones where the music and the lyrics all come together at the same time. I was talking to this bloke in Norway who`d listened to my solo album and he`d interpreted it as being space rock because the first line goes:
`I`d travelled across the universe on wings of space and light.`
“And I said `No. You`ve got it completely wrong. All that that is is just a poetic way of saying I`ve been all round the world and I like coming home again`.”
Thank Christ someone else has suggested it.
Ahem. Er, actually, Ken, that guy was saying what I feel, that your lyrics are rather Ladbroke Grove spaced-out. But you`d claim they`re not?
“I`m only learning to write songs. While I`ve been given this licence to write songs, then hopefully people will accept that my songs will improve.

“But I happen to be the proud owner of a very, very dangerous piano – a very large Steinway. And when I`m writing I can sit there and play it for hours and hours, y`know.
“And I just vanish into some place where I can`t be contacted at all. The phone can ring for hours and people can bang me on the shoulder but I`m just lost in this kind of…wonder world.”
(N.B. Plug for album).
This is all going a whole lot better than I expected. No moodies or incoherent mumblings when I criticise the music or his lyrics.

However, Uriah Heep suddenly made it in America about eighteen months ago. What happened? “The American thing was a freak thing of very, very good luck. We happened to do our first tour with Three Dog Night, which meant that in one month we got to thousands and thousands of people – they liked us and we`ve just gone from strength to strength.”
But wasn`t there a tale or two of strange gentlemen latching on to the band in the States?
A long and thorough mouthwash with the remnants of his drink and Ken Hensley wryly rubs his face with his hands. He shakes his head.
“People really got the wrong end of the stick about the `Demons And Wizard`s` album. And we followed it up with `Magicians Birthday` – that`s when we got the diagrams for space ships and all the weirdos decided to come and visit us in the hotels. Probably didn`t do us any harm though. It`s nice to get away from life for a moment and get into your imagination. I like it. I like going off into fantasies and things. I enjoy it…I find it stimulating. Then when I come down to the real world I`m ready for it.
“Bit like going to a football match really.”

Well, considering all that, what is Uriah Heep`s music really all about?
“Our music now is just about five people who`ve taken rock`n`roll and tried really hard over the five years we`ve been together to make it our kind of rock`n`roll – to establish our own kind of identity and make it in some way original.
“We work very, very hard at it, y`know, and it`s honest music – that`s one thing I can say for sure – because it`s music that`s intended to try and entertain people and take them away from everyday life just for the period they`re listening to it, whether it be an album or a show.”
And can you truthfully promise me that if I`d come up to you after your third album and said that I just couldn`t understand or appreciate your music that you would have maintained your cool and not have given me any misunderstood artist bullshit? That you would have been as up front with your replies as you have been today?
No hesitations whatsoever?
“Look, if you`d said that to me then i`d have probably said okay and gone away and thought about it.
“The trouble is that now it sometimes seems to happen the other way round and we get a good review of something that we know has been lousy.
“When that happens it`s really the end, it`s rockbottom. It was better the way it was before.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: David Cassidy, Deep Purple, Slade, Slapp Happy, Russell Harty, PFM, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Showaddywaddy, Lou Reed, Marilyn Monroe, Tim Buckley, Donald Byrd, Duke Ellington, Inez Foxx, Warhorse.

This edition is sold!


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

What a legacy Zappa left us with, not only in music but also in words! He is one that deserves to be remembered – I only wish he were with us a little longer. Enjoy this interview from the 10-year anniversary of the Mothers of Invention.

This is also the article that marks 5000 views on my blog. Thank you for reading!

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Mothers` Day memories

Barbara Charone – CHICAGO

Frank Zappa celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Mothers of invention by stopping off in Chicago for a very special show. After all it was Mothers` Day, so why not bring out the plastic inflatable lady and really get it on?

In the past Zappa has avoided being a jukebox of old hits, but this tour is something special, with anniversary cards in the hall lobby and a musical run through from the Mothers` history.
At midnight Zappa announces it`s officially Mothers` Day, while the sold-out crowd screams delighted faaar-outs. Then the man gives us a 15-minute rap about those early days, before kicking off an hour-long medley of the “freakout” album. As he puts it, “You`re gonna hear `Freakout` till it`s coming out of your ass.”

“This tour is different, this time I`m going out there to play oldie mouldies,” he told me beforehand. “Most of the songs haven`t been played since the earliest days. It`s gonna be an improvement over the `Freakout` album, and, who knows, we might even get a live version on tape.”
I mumble something about “Freakout” being a definitive time-warp album, all about living in the 60s.
“If that`s what the 60s were like we`re in trouble. We couldn`t keep a beat on that record,” Zappa says in disbelief. “The main weakness was the beat – it was sloppy and lopsided. But now we`re playing everything stronger, and those tunes sound like top 40 only better.”
Of course, the current band is far removed from the early Mothers – so much so that they`ve had to learn the numbers from the old records.

Zappa commented: “Those songs are all so easy compared to what we`ve been doing recently. In rehearsal we learned two and three of them a day – which is sickening, because when we first put out `Freakout` it took weeks just to get one little song right. No-one knew how to play their instruments.
The current 10-piece band is a far cry from the early 60s drum/bass/guitar syndrome. One wonders what a synthesiser will sound like in the middle of `It Can`t Happen Here?` And how relevant are the social problems of the 60s in these blase 70s.
“Of course I`ve had to change the old arrangements to suit our present instrumentation.
“Much of the appeal of the `Freakout` album was because it was something kids of that era could relate to. But I think audiences will still enjoy it because the songs are short. There`s a beat, a tune and a bass line. And the basic feel is easy to understand.
“What I`m going to do,” says Zappa with restrained excitement, “is play twenty of those things in a row, and I think the audiences will love it. Last time we toured Europe we put `Brown Shoes Don`t Make It` into the set and the response to that one song was amazing.

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“Today `Freakout` sounds like a bunch of demos to me. But you`ve got to remember our first three albums were recorded on a four-track machine. There wasn`t any 16-track then. The biggest amp you could get was the Vox Superbeatle – they didn`t even have Marshalls!”
For some reason the Zappa audience always seem to expect him to be some freaked-out druggie who has to be wheeled on stage or pushed up against the amplifier. On the contrary, he`s a strictly disciplined musician, who runs the band with a firm hand. In concert, the outfit impress with their expertise. There`s so much natural energy on stage it`s refreshing.
Says Zappa: “In my band anybody caught using drugs on the road gets dismissed immediately. What they do in their spare time is their business, but as long as they`ve working for me it`s got to be disciplined.
“Kids assume that anyone they like is as stoned as they are. The drug problem in the United States is of sufficient scope that many of the people in a rock audience are chemically altered and have to perceive everything from that point of view. I mean 90 per cent of the rock audience are more concerned with appearance than music. Have you seen Kiss? Oh God!”

On stage, Zappa`s new band resembles an all-star broadway musical, and singer Napoleon Murphy Brock has the charisma of Jagger as he stalks the stage straight out of Porgy and Bess.
“Rock has always been a what-else-can-you-show-me thing except in its earliest days – when kids didn`t want to be shown anything different, just more of the same.
“Now that same idea is transmitted today, because people obviously don`t want to see anything new. They`d hate it – because it wouldn`t be rock `n` roll. But there are certain characteristic elements that you can hang on to so that the music will sound rock`n`rollish. Like, if people hear a horn, they think it`s jazz.
“The public don`t really demand anything – what dictates trends is always some office opinion of what will sell. So many bands are manufactured. So you`ve got all these bands that receive lots of hype but have no musical substance.”

Undaunted by the critical reception of his `200 Motels` film of the celluloid media still fascinates Zappa – who prefers spending his money on media projects than fast cars and dope.
He says: “The next feature film I do will be totally animated, but it`s a long way from completion. Lately I`ve been working on a movie for television; a combination of animation, straight scenes, and footage of the band on the road.
“A guy who runs a food and beverage service in Colorado Springs let us use his restaurant for part of the film. He gave the band busboy uniforms and we brought a bunch of kids back from the concert to act as customers. Our road manager made this mysterious salad of garbage, dry ice and stuff. The customers ate it and pretended to die. It`s just a quick little scene but it looks funny.”

Right now Zappa is just finishing up the last dates of his anniversary tour. He`s just finished reading the `Secret Life Of Plants` which he highly recommends, and he wants to take the band to Japan.

An ad for what I  feel is the strongest album Sparks ever made.

An ad for what I feel is the strongest album Sparks ever made.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Sparks, Pete Shertser, Graham Bond, Steely Dan, Beatles, Sharks, Monty Python, Chick Corea, Mike Garson, The Fatback Band, Scott Joplin.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

What is there to say about Deep Purple? Personally, I think they are one of the most musically exciting bands ever.
So when this article suddenly appeared there was no doubt, even though it was quite long and took some time to write, that I would like to share this with you. Have a nice read!

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As ELP power-blitzed Wembley last week, heavy league stablemates DEEP PURPLE returned fresh from rampant triumphs in the U.S. to kick off their 1974 British tour in Scotland. Cherry Ripe, in Los Angeles, reports on Purple`s progress to a position of top-draw British band in the States. Andrew Tyler picks up the threads of this Transatlantic Heavy Metal Yarn via a train bound for Dundee.

Who`s the loudest in the land?

“Three minutes,” calls Ossie Hoppe, Purple`s fastidious German-born roadmanager (adding “2.58….57…” as he gently leads off all those wanting backstage seats). But Jon Lord still goes on fooling round on his Arp keyboard.
It`s Purple`s last gig for this five week Stateside tour, and they still aren`t showing any signs of strain. In fact a more relaxed pre-gig dressing room would be hard to find.
America for Deep Purple is a huge success story, and getting bigger. Out front there are another 18,000 kids waiting for them – and it`s their third gig in the Los Angeles area in four days.
Tonight, the San Diego gig was due to start at eight. And that`s a hundred miles outside L.A.
Purple were to leave in a convoy of eight sleek black limousines for the airport and their own waiting jet, parked, as it happened, on the tarmac next to the all-black Hugh Hefner skymachine with its white bunny on the tailfin, in the Private Jet section of L.A. Airport.
“Some people get funny about the money,” says Lord. “But we`ve got just five years to do what those company directors take fifty.”
It`s a twenty minute flight – just time for two glasses of champagne – before everyone`s speeding off again in slick black convoy to the Sports Arena, Touchstop.

The crowd are nearly at frenzy point, even though they`ve already sat through long sets from the support bands, Tucky Buzzard and Savoy Brown.
Purple hit the stage and are straight into a heavy instrumental jam.
Lord gets into some Emersonesque gyrations with his organ. “Ah yes!” he says. “But I was doing it before they were.” Later, he pays tribute to The Face`s Ian MacLagan: “It was Mac taught me to play.” Coming from Lord, that`s some compliment. (Purple have now completely surpassed The Faces in Stateside popularity. The `California Jam` which they played two days before, drawing a quarter of a million people, had grossed two million dollars. And rumours had it that Purple had had a share in the gate, which is smart business in the US).
“This is the last gig of our tour,” hollers David Coverdale. “So it`s gonna be a blast-aah!” They take straight off into “Burn”.
“Gonna give you ta Mista Lord,” announces Blackmore.

Lord and Paice take over the next two numbers, Paice`s drums turning blue, pink and purple, while Lord throws his organ through the most excruciating gyrations.
“I wan` you so badleee,” screams Coverdale.
Blackmore`s guitar is now twelve feet in the air, now crashed down against the stage, and seven-eights smashed before a roadie runs on with a replacement for the final riffs.
Then they`re away, gone. Of course they`ll get called back for an encore, but the audience has to wait over six minutes – until, right on a screaming crescendo, they`re back. “More! More! More!”

There`s to be a party aboard the Star-Ship tonight, to finish off all the undrunk champagne and to say goodbye to the roadies.
None of the band are given to any hype about how big they are, although they`re well aware of how successful they`re becoming, and how unique among British bands in having cracked the American market first go.
They are all more than enthusiastic about their next US tour (in August) for which they`ll be hiring the Star-Ship again if they can get it. But for now it`s all eyes on the road for their British tour.
Apparently they`ve sold out the Hammersmith Odeon in a record seven minutes. No wonder, as it`s been a long time since Britain got a look at this home-grown billion-dollar proposition.

How do you start unravelling such a Heavy Metal Yarn without resorting to the unlikely ploy of getting you, the loyal reader, to imagine yourself on a train bound for Dundee where, out of the corner of your eye, you note a plump, almost-pretty girl of 19 staring dreamily through the carriage window at a strange hallucination involving herself and Deep Purple`s moody-guy guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore?
Her name is Muriel. She has chapped lips, rumpled purple jeans, hat and jacket and she comes from Paris.
Muriel loves Ritchie Blackmore so badly she just spent eight days sleeping rough at Heathrow`s arrival lounge waiting for him to dock in from Los Angeles. Blackmore never did show up, having detoured via Gatwick Airport.
Muriel rethought her strategy, checked in at Kings Cross station and bought a ticket for Dundee. Tonight, Thursday, she`ll be around for Deep Purple`s first British gig in 18 months.

And that means first night jelly-legs all round, despite the ecstasies of a grand-slam American tour and a well-regarded new album called “Burn” that came close to demolishing the old Purple stereotype that had them cast alongside Sabbath as the all-time leaden-headed dullards of British rock.
Inevitably, they`ve been hit by another bout in a plague of disorders that seems to accompany their every grandiose scheme. In recent times they`ve seen two American tours blown out by attacks of hepatitis on group members; then there was the Montreux fiasco in which the local casino crashed to the ground in flames at the very mention of the band`s name.
Purple`s latest troubles involve vocalist Dave Coverdale, former principal boy in Redcar`s Fabulosa Brothers, who flew back from the States to the news that his father, apparently in good shape before the American tour, was dying in a Teeside hospital.
Coverdale was by his father`s bed for the last hours and the next day, the Thursday, joined the band at the Tay Centre hotel, Dundee, just two minutes removed from the Caird Hall where two and a half thousand expectant locals were waiting for their first glimpse of Coverdale and another new boy called Glenn Hughes.
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This is the new revitalised, vitamin-drenched Purple that`s been designed to erase memories of an ego-maimed five piece that finally erupted into many parts following a Japanese tour last June.
Ian Gillan, the glamour-puss vocalist who is attributed with most of the blame for the wreckage, has not been gravely missed by fans after all, and, ever since his departure, has been behaving with mysterious unpredictability.
The least likely of his interests is an investment in a motor cycle scramble team that is only marginally less credible than his purchase of the old De Lane Lea studios in London`s Kingsway, now renamed Kingsway Recorders.
“Ian apparently got the place for a song,” reports Purple`s prudent organist Jon Lord, “and although it seems to have been a strange thing to do, it`s worked out well. He`s already had people like Wings and Beck down. And we`ve also been along to do a bit of mixing.”

The other Purple member who hasn`t been sorely missed is bassist/producer Roger Glover. According to Lord, Glover became more and more weary and ill as the group`s personality disorders reached new levels of absurdity.
“The main personality conflicts were between Ritchie and Ian,” says Lord, “and that led to a general feeling of lethargy among everyone in the band. Towards the end we didn`t even bother talking to each other.
“It got to the point where Ian was travelling to gigs in a separate car and was booking in at a separate hotel. I don`t think it was really Ian`s fault or Ritchie`s fault. It`s just one of those intangible things.”
Glover, it seems, was rarely more than a victim of the internal squabblings and, being “a very sensitive person”, was markedly affected by the carryings on between Gillan and Blackmore.
“But I sometimes get the feeling he`s kind of sorry he ever left,” says Lord. “Everything is so much tighter these days”.

Including Muriel, who`s now hurtling across the banked seats behind the Caird Hall stage picking off members of the road crew through her plastic camera and recording crowd noises as a final check for the band`s performance.
This is the same hall, with its maze of dusty corridors, attics and fire doors that the Strawbs played the previous night to an uncomfortable number of empty seats.
Wedged between the likes of Mick Ronson and Deep Purple, the Strawbs never had a hope, and reportedly left Dundee extremely disgruntled by the whole affair.
Ronson was also reported to have done no more than “reasonably well”, yet tonight the turnout is patently more encouraging. Even so, promoter Harvey Goldsmith is billowing around in college-boy garb, his face bleached by expectations of power failures, riots and bomb attacks.
“It`s noisy isn`t it?” he says after the opening set by ELF. “I`m not used to all this noise.”

ELF are Purple`s American adoptees – a small-town rock five-piece Purple ran into two years ago and have now absorbed into the Purple Records network.
Band leader is a minute, hollow-eyed singer called Ronnie Dio, a friendly man with a sharp sense of vocal dynamics and an arresting writing style. The whole band are dwarf-like, largest of the bunch being Stephen (don`t call me Steve) Edwards, who clips the 5ft 9 mark, drives a Porche 911T and plays lead guitar.
The sound system is rampantly haywire. From side and front stage, all you can make out is an explosion of electric metal that does no credit at all to their finely sculpted pieces. Mickey Lee Soule, the band`s pretty-boy pianist, provides an interesting variant by way of acoustic piano, a Steinway that he later reports to be “kinda in tune”.
There are markings of Lennon and McCartney in their writing and a feeling of Free-verging-on-Beck in their playing. But the sound is such an awful blarrp, it foils them at every turn.

The firepower is stepped up several hundred watts for Purple`s set. Either you fall to the ground in pain or join in the revivalist fervour and let the whole spectacle wash you clean. Kids explode into a besotted rage as soon as the lights fall on Blackmore, who hammers open the intro to “Burn”.
Half the crowd are doing a weird one-legged Purple stagger that takes them careering around the hall crashing into startled security men. Sabbath crazees specialise in the hunched-up double-barrelled victory salute whereas Purple freaks want nothing so crass. Their finishing touch is a wild, one-armed royal wave that can be performed as a companion to the Purple Stagger or from a seated position and embellished with a simple neanderthal grunt.
Stranger still are the activities on stage, where each Purple member has his own tortured brand of patented self-expression. Most subtle and absorbing of all are the worm movements of Ritchie Blackmore, whose singed hair and black wet-look shirt and slacks give him just the right air of brooding chicness, except we`ve seen most of it before from Jimmy Page.

Blackmore exhibits the same black arrogance offstage, making him the least likeable and the most interesting of the whole Purple crew.
Dave Coverdale`s technique is the illusion of sustained orgasm. His chief prop is a telescopic mike stand that he opens and closes at crotch level all the while pouting, jabbing out his chin and punching a fist in the air.
Bassist Glenn Hughes`s epileptic mannerisms fall somewhere between those of Coverdale and the stripped-off, trench-digging style of drummer Ian Paice. Jon Lord kneels, leans and poses by his keyboards – and is little more absorbing than a man at a workbench.
Again the sound is fuzzed over, and Coverdale and Hughes` two-tone harmonies glop together and stew along in the general furore. There`s still the feeling that Purple are out for easy crowd reaction via demonstrations of firebrand aggro, as against reaching for the kind of music that`s well within their reach.

Blackmore in particular is a fine and underrated player who, despite his excellence on the recorded versions of tracks like “Burn” and “Mistreated”, goes loop-brained the minute he`s faced with a crowd.
And the kind of neatly-flexed dynamics present on most Zeppelin tracks are nowhere to be found in the bustle of “Might Just Take Your Life” or “You Fool No-one”.
But just tell any of that to the crowd, who are so sticky with delight even Patsy and Jim of Artist Services are milling around with more than their usual air of casual involvement. And that pair have been around for the worst nights of Led Zep and the Stones.
It`s an enormous reception, naturally. By the time the band`s two hour set is through, most of the kids are totally spent and flop together in a tight little wad against the front of the stage.
“It`s getting bleedin` hot up here,” shouts Glenn. The crowd wheezes along in agreement.

Jon Lord, shirt buttons popped open and dragging on a cigarette like some wolfish cardsharp, breaks up the set to introduce the two new boys: Glenn, who they stole from Trapeze after watching the band at the Marquee; and Dave, who was spirited away from a Redcar boutique and sounds as close to Paul Rodgers as dammit.
“Yarr. Yarr. Yarrr. Pupple. Pupple,” the crowd yell back. They go completely wanton for “Fire On The Water” and other hot tricks circa Gillan and Glover.
The final section degenerates into some dogged solo playing that has no visible point of departure or re-entry and probably exists as Purple`s answer to all those critics who say they don`t know a semi-tone from a Buster Keaton movie.
The encore is Don Nix`s “Going Down”, and you can just spot the muscular frame of a bouncer pinned the wrong way round against the stage front. Earlier he`d walked his rippling biceps several times past Jim and Patsy, but this man has no brains to get caught in a situation of that sort.

The show`s done with, and now the real fun starts up.
Several girls have been prised free from the crowd by the band`s “entertainments director”, and three or four make it back to the Tay Centre lounge. Muriel`s there too and her story gets more and more bizarre.
Just 20 minutes into the gig, just as the band struck up “Mistreated”, Muriel began sobbing with joy. She worried the local bouncers so much that they dragged her from the hall and topped her up with tranquilisers.
The more they wrestled her down, the more Muriel sobbed. It was only for the final moments of the gig that she was allowed back in. Even then it was under the close scrutiny of commissionaires who shut out her view of her beloved Ritchie.
“It`s really the music I care about,” she said sadly. “It`s not so much the boys. I don`t think they really care for me that much. I don`t think they care at all.”

But Muriel has technique. And it keeps her with food, drinks and a place to crash.
“Would you tell everyone in your paper about my new fan club? It`s called Purple Stars International Fan Club. I want to get interviews and pictures and music tapes but I don`t have money to do it right now. Tell them to write to 6 London Street, Paddington, W.2.”
OK Muriel.
Most of the band slip away early, but ELF, roadcrew and assorted strays hang in there consuming unseemly amounts of beer and scotch.
A chick in a leopardskin coat is storming around the lounge in a drunken daze, falling into people`s laps. At one point she looks set to get to business with a small man with a swollen chest but winds up with one of ELF instead.
Glenn Hughes is lolling about with a bottle of lemonade muttering “Kirkaldy, Kirkaldy.” But enough of all that.
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The next morning we get the real lowdown from Jon Lord, who drives us in a rented car from Dundee to Edinburgh for gig number two: The Edinburgh Odeon.
“Both ELP and ourselves have had the same sort of criticism at one time or another,” he acknowledges. “You know, overloud, over-indulgent. But if it worries them as much as it worries us, they can`t be very bothered. As it happens I like what Keith does very much.”
That`s very strange. What are we to make of those reports from the San Diego Speedway gig of tussles over which act was to be the star turn.
“All that was more to do with the management thing. I don`t think either of the bands seriously cared that much. As a matter of interest, it was a joint top. We got the opportunity to choose when we`d go on and we chose sunset. ELP went on last, during the dark.
“But it even got down to quibbling about whose name was to go on the left side of the poster because, apparently, that`s the most prominent spot in the natural line of vision.”
Yeah. So whose name did go on the left?
“Ours did, as a matter of fact.”

Purple and ELP seem to have been getting tangled with each other for some time now, either in terms of similarities or via acute points of departure.
Both crews, for instance, seem to be playing the my-amp`s-bigger-than-your-amp game (Don`t believe what they tell you,” says Purple`s Professor, “no other band`s got this amount of volume”).
Then there are those comparisons with Birmingham dementoids, Black Sabbath.
“Obviously criticism sometimes hurts. I still believe in valid criticism, providing it`s constructive and doesn`t resort to attacks on personalities. But it doesn`t happen too often now…touch wood.
“I know Ozzie and the rest of Sabbath get a lot of it. But I saw him on the plane the other day and he looked very happy. They must be a really thick-skinned lot because they didn`t look down at all.”

Purple are also happy. Especially with the way personell difficulties have been resolved with hardly a stitch out of place. Yet Blackmore, in particular, is at great pains to conceal his one-time vision of a refurbished line-up including vocalist Paul Rodgers.
“It was around the time of the Japanese dates that we knew it was all over. We already knew Roger was leaving and had asked Glenn to join us, and our thoughts for a new singer were automatically for Paul Rodgers. Paul said he wanted to think about it, and although he didn`t commit himself we could detect nice positive kinds of vibes.
“Then someone broke the story. I think it was one of our secretaries at the office, and there was this front page story in one of the papers.
“Paul got the idea that we`d leaked the story deliberately to pressure him. And that more or less clinched it. Island phoned him up and said `What`s all this about you joining Purple?` because at the time he was in the process of forming Bad Company,
Paul said there was nothing to it. And that was that.
“Ritchie and I had set our hearts on it but, being objective about the whole thing, I think he believed he wouldn`t have been able to project himself as much in a band like Purple.
“So that left us high and dry and we went through this doldrum period.

“Then these tapes started arriving from prospective singers. More than 500 of them. We listened to the first 150 and got more and more disillusioned. Some of them were hilarious, most of them were awful and would have made worthy Monty Python material.
“Some came with really strange letters like the one guy who said `I`m very good looking, at least my mother says I am. I`ve had no experience but I know I could be a star and get the girls excited`.”
There was a real chance the band would crack for all time, says Lord. Conflict was mounting. Everyone was gripped in lethargy, and there seemed to be no-one around with the right kind of voice to fill for Gillan.
“Then Dave`s tape arrived and it stuck out like a diamond. He was doing `Everybody`s Talking` with his mates from the Fabulosa Brothers and it was a really strong masculine voice that we knew was right.”

So whatever happened to Gillan?
“When he first joined the band he was one of the lads, just a regular bloke. And then something happened to him. Success, I suppose. But he was a fighter was Gillan. Totally caught up in everything. He wanted it all to be right and good, and that`s why it`s so sad it ended the way it did.”
And Blackmore? He seems like a cagey bird.
“You have to work at Ritchie. I`ve known him seven years and I still have to check myself occasionally and remember that when he says something it`s just Ritchie being honest. He wouldn`t pull a punch for a million dollars, yet he quite honestly believes his opinions are not of that much value.
“I respect him for his honesty. I`m a bit of a coward when it comes to being upfront. I`m usually too much of a diplomat…”

Soon we`re pulling into Edinburgh`s Carlton Hotel, a grub-faced old building strutting by the side of a road bridge and overlooking some old railway sheds. Lord takes to the hotel lounge where he snacks on pork sandwiches and a detective thriller, and the rest of the band evaporate into a fine afternoon, coming together just in time to tune up for the night`s show at the Odeon.
And here Muriel`s story climaxes on a predictably obscure note: so brought down by the lack of attention from band members, Muriel commits the ultimate revolutionary act of catching the 8pm train to London in preference to watching Purple`s show that night.
Last words were alleged to have been: “I don`t like Deep Purple anymore.”

ELF have already been on and have again been screwed to the ground by a lousy sound system. Purple also look to be in trouble when Oscar, the German road manager, drops and cracks the transistors in one of Lord`s ARP synthesisers.
The same torrid scenes are repeated all over again as the rankled Purple monster goes strutting and pouting across the Odeon stage. If you`re a believer, it`s an enthralling business. If not, there are always the cotton swabs that Jim of Artist Services was passing around the previous night in Dundee. I can`t believe very much of it and the two hours drag on and on.
It was round about this time I remembered reading how the brain was a 20 watt self-scrutinising symbol factory. No wonder I was having trouble dealing with 1700 watts that roughly translates into the sustained force of 110 dB that roughly translates into the spectacle of having your head sandwiched between a couple of duelling Mystere jets.
Jon Lord is leaning on his keyboards again in spasms of mock insanity; Blackmore shows glimpses of true ribaldry but snaps back into the familiar brutal posturing because it all gets to be too winky for the crowd. And the crowd hoot and sweat and holler for more volume.

Back at the hotel Blackmore says how it`s all such a challenge and so much harder to play loud and keep it tapped down.
Come on Ritchie. Own up. How much control have you got when you`re in one of your weirdo clobbering moods.
Are you really in full control? Aren`t the crowd leading you down?
“No. But every now and then you have to make some sort of compromise. You name a musician that doesn`t.”
Hendrix never did. When the people howled for “Purple Haze”, he gave them “Electric Ladyland.”
“Did you know Hendrix?”
No. I didn`t know Hendrix. Who says you have to know Hendrix?
“I did know Hendrix, and even Hendrix played crap towards the end. After `Electric Ladyland` it just got worse and worse. `Band of Gypsies` was nowhere. Face it.”
Of course it was. But that was Hendrix falling apart. It had nothing to do with the man compromising for an audience.

This is going to get worse. We adjoin to a private corner to wrench the conversation to some sort of natural conclusion.
“It`s a challenge to play hard because it`s so much harder to control,” says Blackmore. “You`re dealing in things like harmonic feedback that the so-called greats like Andres Segovia know nothing about. All they know is what is taught in every guitar school. There`s so much snobbery involved.
“People don`t realise that to play like Segovia just requires a lot of practice whereas there`s so much feel involved when you`re dealing in things like harmonic feedback where, say, I`ll hit an A and I`ll hopefully hit a harmonic and, say, a D flat will come back at me. Which can be worked on.
“At the opposite end of the scale to Segovia is Jeff Beck who chances it every night and when it comes off it`s music from another planet.
“A crowd`s not musical. And you have to respect them. You can`t say now I`m gonna play minor 4ths and 5ths and expect people to get off on it.”
Now he`s saying there`s some kind of conspiratorial gullibility among rock writers. A built-in “attitude” to bands like Purple.

But don`t you have any “attitudes” Ritchie? How about Slade, for instance, who you`ve already mentioned three times in the conversation?
“No. I don`t have any attitude to Slade. I just think they`re a people`s band. But with Slade there`s all sorts of musical prejudice because they have hits and it`s easy to put them down. At the same time people say `Oh well they`re doing their best` let`s leave it at that`.
“But then a band like Purple comes along that mixes thud with musical ability and we get worked over by the cynics and journalists.”
But surely, if you have Slade`s hit-making skills plus musical ability, why would anyone arbitrarily put you down?
“It`s like if you`re in a beauty competition and you see a girl with spots who`s fat. You`re not bothered by her because she`s no competition. But if she`s fat and spotty and goes out on a limb, people are going to criticise.
Does that mean Purple are the fat, spotty band that goes out on a limb?
The idea seemed so preposterous I didn`t even catch Blackmore`s reprise. Maybe he delivered some kind of telling blow. The next thing I remember is him staring at me and saying “…you can`t answer that can you?”
The pair of us got more and more irate, calmed down, fed each other smarmy compliments and wound up regarding each other as fine human beings.

But there are more interesting things going on. Ian the band`s “entertainments director”, has gathered everyone together for a seance.
Everyone`s so drunk. Nobody wants to group in formation. Nobody can be bothered to turn the lights down.
Ian bares his buttocks. Baz, the roadie, thrusts a lighted cigarette between his cheeks. Ian throws a table across the room and horrifies the night staff. But they don`t do anything more than watch from a corner of the room. And neither do I.

A lovely ad from Nazareth.

A lovely ad from Nazareth.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Joni Mitchell, Queen, Grateful Dead, War, Yes, ELP, Leo Sayer, Wayne Kramer, Miles Davis, The Exciters, Jimmy Smith, Slade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This is the third article in a row on this blog written by Julie Webb and it is a pure co-incidence. It is just that I have found that those articles were the most interesting to share, and I never look at the writers name before choosing the article. So no – this is not some Julie Webb fetish.
I remember from my childhood that Elton John suddenly became involved in the beautiful game through Watford. It was a big thing at the time. Throughout the 70s there was only one TV channel in Norway, and every saturday at 4 o`clock local time there was a football match from England on TV. This explains why so many men of my generation became obsessed with English football. Even today, when travelling in England, I think of the cities in footballing terms; Nottingham will forever in my mind be Forest and Brian Clough, Liverpool are red and Kevin Keegan, Leeds are Peter Lorimer and so on.
My favourite team in English football today is Grimsby Town – they may not be at the top of the league, but it is a club you will love when you get to know them. Really wonderful place to visit too.
Enough of me writing about football – here is a gem from those golden days that were the 70s.

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The Stack-Heeled Striker

Portrait of the Star as a football tycoon. Viewed from the terraces by Julie Webb.

It was a classically tense moment. Slowly and forcefully, Elton John, big-wig of Watford Football Club, walked towards his seat in the directors` box. People nudged, winked and pointed him out; he regally carried on walking.
Only one thing broke the silence: a loud voice bawled, “You great poof.”
Football is well removed from the rock business, and since EJ is considered somewhat “us in the music industry”, he stands out like a soccer ball amid cricket stumps in the world of sport. Yet it`s a well-publicised fact that he`s now a director of the underdogs of the Third Division, a team who at times seem as competent as Inspector Clouseau and as exciting as a rotting egg.
And he takes it very seriously. You could tell that by the way he was half-way dressed in the hornets` colours of black and yellow – wearing black satin top and black trousers.

He`s already bought a Watford scarf and waves it on the slightest indication that there are any football supporters around. And believe me, it`s a bizarre sight, seeing a grown man wave a black and yellow scarf out of the window of a Rolls Corniche.
On this jaunt with Elton, we were coach-spotting on the M1 – diligently searching out the Watford coach. When he thought he`d sighted them, he slowed down to a sedate 50 m.p.h. and moved into the middle lane – only to be disappointed with the discovery that it was the Coventry City conveyance. This brought the petulant remark: “Couldn`t have been Watford, they haven`t got a toilet in their coach.”

It was at the end of last year that Elton first approached Watford – after hearing that they could do with some moral, if not financial, support. Now, he`s put in money, and has shares in the club.
“When I went down initially,” says Elton, “they were cautious because they thought I might want to do it for publicity – that it might just be a diversion, and I`d inject some money and then lose interest.”
So how many shares does he hold?
“Don`t know.”
Okay, well how much money has he sunk into the team?
“I don`t know that either. It was a five-figure fee, I know that.”

You`d think that money and shares would be enough – yet the man is so keen that he even phoned while he and the band were away in Japan and Australia, to keep in touch.
“I`ve also been to all the away games. In fact, I`ve only missed two games since I became involved. Anyone can join a club for six months and get fed up with it – but really you`ve got to be totally dedicated to it, and I am. It`s given me so much enjoyment. They say to me, `How can we ever thank you for all the publicity that you`ve got us,` but I honestly think they`ve done more for me than I could possibly have done for them.
“I`ve got pleasure from mixing with ordinary people again. You do lose the value of things when you are racing around all the time on tour. Your lifestyle changes. Your standard of living changes. And your appreciation of things lessens to a degree. You forget, for instance, how much joy you can give by giving an autograph to a person who is actually knocked out at getting it – or a record, and you think `Christ it`s only a bloody record.”

On May 5, Elton John will give his piece de resistance of involvement by playing at the Vicarage Road ground – capacity 36,000 – and donating all proceeds to the club.
“I promised I`d do this from the beginning, and I think that clinched the thing. I thought it would be nice to do it at the ground because it`ll draw more people to Watford. I mean, I could have done a week at the Hammersmith Odeon and given them the money from that – but it wouldn`t have been the same.”
Elton`s current paranoia concerns just how many people he`ll be able to pull in.
“I`m a bit paranoid about everything as far as concerts and records go. Like the record company phones me up from the States and says, `this record is going to be a million seller`, and I say `great` and jump around and think, `yeah, it`s going to be a million seller`, but I don`t really believe it till I`ve got the gold record stuck on my wall.
“So many times before I made it I was promised so many things that never happened, so I still have this built-in paranoia.”

It seems silly to think he won`t pack the place, since, as a direct result of the cancelling of the British tour, his gigs are rare events. Incidentally, he seems very apologetic about cancelling that British tour: “We`ve never really had a proper break since we hit the road, and it`s been very hard. We do two albums a year as well as tours and never get time off. None of us gets much of a personal life at all.
“We rushed off to America after the last British tour to record the new album – with the knowledge that we had to do it in ten days then fly to Japan.
“Then in New Zealand, when all the trouble started and my manager was sent to prison, we had time to talk and we all decided we were physically exhausted and the thought of going on another tour for the time being was just impossible.
“The band would have done the British tour and the European one, if we`d thought we could actually last out, but I don`t think we could have done. I think we`d have come home in the middle of the European tour and really buggered things up for the rest of the year.

Elton in the terraces.

Elton in the terraces.

“I`m very close to the rest of the band and they more or less said, `we can`t do it any more` and `can we relax for a bit?` and I think we all deserve a break. But we`re not going to become hermits – it`s just so that everyone can sit down and plan things a bit better.”
There is, says Elton, no danger whatsoever of them becoming just a studio band. He looks positively horror-struck at the mere suggestion.
“No, I really love playing, especially now because the band are getting better all the time. I`ve got somebody else in now – Ray Cooper – and we came off the road playing really well. Ray`s only playing percussion and vibes on the new album, but on stage he`s going to play electronic keyboards, vibes, clarinet and all sorts of things. In fairness to him, we had to come off the road to rehearse.”
The new album, scheduled for release end of June, and being previewed at the Watford gig, at the moment rejoices in the title “Old Pink Eyes Is Back”, and was recorded in the States.

“We did it at this ranch we heard about during the last American tour, and flew there in a helicopter to have a look. We were so knocked out that we booked it immediately. It`s about an hour from the nearest large town and very high up, completely isolated.
“It took seven days to do the tracks and voices. We had a lot of problems at the beginning – and I got depressed and did a moody for a day-and-a-half. Also, we had trouble adjusting to the American system of monitoring, so we lost three days. We literally did 14 backing tracks in three days, then did overdubs, and on the way to Japan we stayed at LA for two days and put some backing vocals on a couple of tracks.”
Highlights of the album are, according to Elton, “A rock`n`roll song called `The Bitch Is Back`, which will probably be a single, and a track we`ve already played on stage, entitled `Don`t Let The Sun Go Down`.”

This latter number he is particularly delighted with – and justifiably, since he managed the coup of getting The Beach Boys to do backing vocals.
“That came about because I know Bruce Johnston quite well – he goes out with the girl who runs Rocket in the States. In fact, at one time he was going to record for Rocket, but he`s so lazy he hasn`t done anything. Anyway, he arranged it all. Tower Of Power are also on the album and they really were fine, added a lot of balls.”
This will be the first elpee on which Elton and Bernie Taupin actually `own` their own songs. He explains:
“Songwriting really isn`t as lucrative as everyone thinks, especially when you don`t own your own songs. If you go to a publisher you have to give out – and I`m not having a go at Dick James, it happens with any publisher. It`s a 50-50 partnership, a stock publishing thing – it means he gets 50 and Bernie and I get 25 each. With songwriting you don`t get much per track. It`s much more lucrative recording. Probably Bernie has earned less out of it than anybody else.”

One project Elton is currently toying with is a song for – would you believe – the Watford football team.
“We`re thinking of writing a song about Watford, but it would have to be done in a special sort of way. I don`t want one of those awful footbally things. Just a track, not by me, by the Watford football team. I`d rather write a really commercial song and put the Watford song on the B side so that they`d earn a lot of money via the A side. I don`t want it to be one of those terrible naff football records.”
Other than being referred to loudly as “a great poof”, the most traumatic experience Elton has come across recently must have been the incident in New Zealand, where his manager John Reid was jailed for three weeks. So what really happened?

“It was at a Press reception in Auckland, held by Festival Records. And the incident occured because the reception was badly run. We ran out of booze and food after ten minutes and we just got into an argument over the fact – and the lady who was assaulted in the first place happened to be the girlfriend of the man who was running the reception.
“I didn`t see the incident and thought no more about it, then later we went to a reception for David Cassidy. Someone came up to a friend of mine and said to her, `are you connected with the Elton John group`, and she said `not really, why?`, and they said, `because of that incident this afternoon they`re all marked men!`
“And as we were going out the door, I heard that one of the roadies had been threatened with being beaten up.
“We asked who was doing the threatening, and apparently it was this little reporter who worked for a paper. I went up to him, seized him by the collar and muttered things like `you no good son of an Irish leprachaun – who do you think you`re doing`, and was just about to clock him round the face (me of all people) when my manager stepped in and hit him for me.

“So we left the club post haste, and were all physically threatened that anyone to do with the Elton John party had better watch it. Then when we got back to the hotel we got a phone call saying `there`s a car load of people on the look-out, so just stay inside your hotel`.
“The next day the police came down and we thought it would all be cleared up. They said they were just going to give me a warning and that would be that. And John Reid paid this girl a certain amount of money because she had a black eye, and that was it – but it all got out of hand.
“I was arrested the next morning for assault – even though it was a first offence – for hitting a guy and a girl we`d already paid damages to – and we`d been provoked in the first place.

“The magistrates just didn`t believe any of us had been provoked. The trial was over in 20 minutes without any of us having witnesses. It was just a joke, a farce.”
Despite all this, he says there`ll be no ban on New Zealand from his side. Still, Kiwi land was easily pushed to the back of his thoughts while Watford were on the field – even if they did only manage a goalless draw.

Purple on tour with ELF. All Purple fans knows what happened later.

Purple on tour with ELF. All Purple fans knows what happened later.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Graham Nash, Ian Maclagan (Faces), Bob Dylan, Hot Chocolate, Amanda Lear, Bill Wyman, Eddie Cochran, Mick Ronson, Sandy Denny, Roxy Music, Allen Toussaint, Lindisfarne, Alvin Lee.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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