Remembering the RnB '64 Tour
Rekindling memories during a night out
It was great to bump into some old faces, particularly Animal drummer John Steel, after he kindly left me tickets on the door of the Tivoli Theatre, Wimbourne.
That was some tour!
Fifty years ago on that night (31 October), we would’ve been playing The Bradford Gaumont, on the RnB ’64 tour. You can see of most tour venues on the map here.
The tour bus carried everyone; as well as the Animals, the Quotations, Nashville Teens, Tommy Tucker, Elkie Brooks, Barry St John, The Plebs, Carl Perkins and the compere, Ray Cameron.
The longest journey was probably the Lyceum in Dumfries to the Essoldo in Stockport – some 16-odd miles; and that was with the M6!
While The Animals were building on the success of House Of The Rising Sun, Elkie was doing the same with the soul classic Nothing Left To Do But Cry, released a month before the tour started. She had a fair bit of brandy before she went on stage, although it didn’t do her voice much harm!
RnB 64 Tour venues
Surprise, surprise, Cilla
In 1964, Graham and The Quotations got back from a gig at the Starlight Ballroom in Wembley where they had been backing The Drifters. They went straight on to another gig at the Starlight Club in Stratford Place, opposite Polydor Records.
It was a private surprise birthday party for Cilla Black. Many of her friends had turned up for the event including Tom Jones, John Lennon, Steve Marriott, Twinkle, Elkie Brooks and Phil May and The Pretty Things.
The venue was a small club with a tiny stage but, musicians being musicians, as the evening went they couldn’t stop themselves from making music.
Eventually, several had crowded onto the stage for a jam session. Graham vaguely remembers Tom Jones on vocals with Johnny B Great on piano – the rest is lost in the mists of time.
The upshot was that everyone had a great time. But the sad part is that Cilla never did turn up for her surprise party!
A tribute to the King
In commemoration of the recording, 60 years ago, of Elvis’ first single, ‘That’s All Right’, on July 5th 1954, we thought we’d put this little story online.
It was an evening in the late 70s in North Hollywood and Graham had been invited to the Gibb Senior household through Janet Gross - "A terrific lady who became a lifelong friend." Graham originally met her at United Artists but she was now working for The Robert Stigwood Organisation.
It was a small gathering to celebrate the birthday of the Bee Gees’ sister. Andy Gibb was the brother who was most known to Graham, and he was there with his partner Victoria Principal. There was also Martin Sheen, Mark Hulett, Andy’s manager. Jerry Shilling formerly of Elvis’ entourage and an ex-Elvis backing singer, Mirna Smith of ‘Sweet Inspiration’.
"Andy was sitting on his father’s organ stool singing and Mirna and I were sitting on the floor on backing vocals.We went on to sing some Elvis songs and then Lulu arrived with her new husband John Frieda and joined in with the harmonies," Graham says.
"Another guest, Colonel Tom Parker, the late Elvis’ manager sat across the room in a corner.
"Andy launched into ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ and I noticed Janet Gross gesturing to me from across the room. She nodded in the direction of Colonel Tom and as I looked over at him I saw a couple of tears rolling down the side of his cheek. I guess the song had stirred up some memories."
Sampaguita rehearsal 1979
With the Brazilian World Cup currently in vogue and that country’s Latin rhythms ringing in our ears, we thought we’d share the link to this recently ‘dug up’ recording (circa 1979) of Graham and friends: Godfrey Wang on keyboards, Colin Pincott on guitar, Rob Tate on drums and Graham on vocals and guitar rehearsing Sampaguita at the ATV Music Studios in Bruton Street, London.
The song was to be included on an album called Carrie which, unfortunately was never released.
Its upbeat Latin rhythm reflects the strong musical influence on Graham of his favourite Brazilian composer, Carlos Jobim.
Originally written in the Philippines, where he was inspired by the beauty and intoxicating aroma of the country’s national flower, he later completed the song with Jack Keller in 1975.
That same year, it was included on an album by Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist, Moacir Santos called Carnival of the Spirits at The Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, and soon became a favourite on the London jazz scene.
In a later tracking session for the album Carrie at Pye Studios, Stan Getz who had been recording in another studio, reportedly came in to have a listen and voiced his appreciation of the track.
Hope you like this little bit of nostalgia!
Gigging with Them
The first time that Graham played with Them was in the mid 60s. He’d had a call from the Phil Solomon Agency in New Oxford Street saying the band needed a guitarist to cover for Billy Harrison until they found a replacement.
Graham stayed with the band for a few months then left to work with Steve Marriott. "In those days everything tended to be last minute - rushing from session to session. I’d get a call from the agency, and jump onto a train, or race across town.
"Sometimes the guys were already on stage. Then through the stage door and someone would help me on with a jacket, grab my guitar and straight on. I’d do the gig then learn the songs properly later."
The next time Graham played with Them, two more members had left and their replacements were guys he already knew – Terry Noon, on drums who went on to manage ‘Honeybus’ and Pete Bardens on keyboards who formed ‘Peter Bs Looners’.
On one occasion, when touring with Them, Graham was having a post-gig drink with Van Morrison at The Dungeon Club in Nottingham. People always came over to chat with members of the band and one guy came up and shook hands with Van and Graham – except he wouldn’t let go of Graham’s hand.
Instead he smashed it against a metal post – a serious matter for a guitarist.
Graham was in agony and set about the guy. Then the guy’s mates appeared and Graham, looking around and finding himself alone, took them all on.
A bouncer arrived and Graham duly punched him, then the club manager came and met with the same. Finally, a policeman joined the group, all trying to hold him down. ‘I was a punchy guy in those days’, admits Graham. When he got back to London there was a call from the Agency boss telling him, ‘we can’t book you again if you go around punching club managers’.
Anyway, seems as if he was forgiven because the gigs still kept rolling in.
Driving with Phillip Mitchell - Muscle Shoals
In 1971, Graham was working in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as a session musician and songwriter.
He’d travelled there from Macon, Georgia, with Roger Cowles, an old friend from London. Roger introduced him to the guys at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, they were David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Beckett.
Says Graham, “I always thought that the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ was black but found that they were all white guys”.
The Muscle Shoals crew, 1971
Whilst backing Prince Phillip Mitchell in the studio, Graham got to know him well and wrote some songs with him including ‘Gotta Tell Daddy’ and ‘Me, Myself and I’.
“Philip was from Louisville, Kentucky and was an ex-boxer who had trained in the same stable as Mohammed Ali. He drove a big car and liked to wear colourful clothes and shades. It must have been quite a picture as we drove around town with Philip all sharp and flashy and me dishevelled and bearded beside him in the car”.
Racial tension was still in evidence at that time in Alabama and it was risky for blacks and whites to be seen together. Luckily, Graham had found a room at a motel out of town where the owner, bravely, allowed them to write in the room, “Just so long as they were discreet”......................
Prince Philip Mitchell
The writers' agreement for Gotta Tell Daddy