Tag Archives: Family

March 16th 1975

“Rebel – Winter Gdns B.Mouth – INCREDIBLE (met them etc)”

So, my second Cockney Rebel gig … but my first experience of rubbing shoulders with the stars!

Winter Gardens in its heyday… and as it fell into disrepair

The Bournemouth Winter Gardens always felt like a strange music venue to me. It was built in 1937 as an indoor bowling-green. Then, after WWII, Bournemouth Council converted it into a Concert Hall and improved the landscaping around it.

It was blessed with perfect acoustics – rare for old converted theatres – but the seating layout never really felt suited to anything approximating a ‘rock concert’ to me.

It started suffering from a lack of use in the early 90’s, the cost of renovation outweighing the possible income. In 1999, the Council invited development proposals from the private sector for the entire site but only where those proposals retained the Winter Gardens. Sadly, no application was successful, and in 2007 the complex was demolished in preparation for a new mixed use development.

This gig was – I’m pretty certain – my first at the Winter Gardens and I went to it with my friends Niles, Sarah and someone else whose name I can’t recall. (Alex?). We all caught the train down, hoping to then catch the last train back after the show.

Yep, that never happened.

This was the all-new incarnation of Cockney Rebel – now billed as Steve Harley AND Cockney Rebel – drummer Stuart Elliott the only surviving member from the 1974 shows. Elliot later recorded with Al Stewart on his breakthrough “Year of the Cat” album and has since played with the likes of Sting, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney.

Harley’s new laid back bassist, George Ford, was the brother of Emile Ford, both of them founder members of the Joe Meek-produced Checkmates, who nabbed 1959’s Christmas Number 1 spot with the doo-wop classic “Why Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes at Me For?” (Damn, I’ve just discovered that he died in March 2007. RIP George)

Keyboard player Duncan Mackay came to Cockney Rebel via a spell as a member of both Sergio Mendes ‘ brazilian rhythms band and – even more unlikely – Jon Hiseman’s blues/jazz combo Colosseum II. Before joining Harley he had already released one solo album and was preparing a second. (Life after Cockney Rebel included playing on Kate Bush’s first three albums, several Alan Parsons Project…. erm, projects, as well as becoming a member of pop group 10cc)

Guitarist Jim Cregan’s pedigree included playing on Julie Driscoll ‘s debut album and being a member of both Family (of whom I have waxed lyrically before) and Roger Chapman’s post-Family band, Streetwalkers. He was married to songstress Linda Lewis, who enjoyed a Top 20 hit single in 1973 with “Rock-a-Doodle-Doo” and would go on to enjoy further hits. Cregan’s rightful place in the musical firmament was somewhat assured in 1975 when he joined Rod Stewart’s band, eventually becoming his music director and (with Rod) co-writing worldwide smashes such as “Forever Young“, “Passion” and “Tonight I’m Yours (Don’t Hurt Me)“. He has since won Grammys and plaudits galore.

Tonight in 1975 the band evidently gelled to such a degree that one (OK, very biased) 17-year-old reviewed the concert as INCREDIBLE

They were good though, very good. I can still remember elements of this evening. Their renditions of both “Best Years of our Lives” and “Sebastian” have remained with me all these years, the crowd singing and swaying along in unison.

The support act for the night were Sailor, who had enjoyed a minor hit single the year previous with “Traffic Jam” and who – maybe as a result of this support slot with Cockney Rebel? – would enjoy massive success at the end of 1975 (and into 1976) with a pair of very infectious Top 10 smashes, “Glass of Champagne” and “Girls, Girls, Girls“. Their sound was a peculiar hybrid of catchy lyrics backed by a weird glockenspiel/jingly-jangly acoustic guitar mix. To replicate their oft-complicated studio sound, group founder Georg Kajanus traveled with a piece of equipment he called “The Nickelodeon”; a huge keyboard contraption that had to be wheeled on and off stage by several roadies.

And, yes, since you’re not asking, the band DID dress up in sailor costumes. Despite that – no, not because of it – I enjoyed them a lot too and happily bought their singles when they were eventually released.

After a fun performance by Sailor and a stellar show by Cockney Rebel, the best part of the evening was still to come…

My friend Niles had a habit of wanting to meet all the bands and artists he went and saw. He would either loiter by the stage door before the shows, blag his way into the soundchecks or ‘stalk’ the band whenever they left the auditorium. Tonight was no exception – he was eager to meet Steve Harley & Co…. secretly I suppose I was too, although I wasn’t prepared for what we had to go through to do so.

By the time the four of us had got out of the Winter Gardens crowd, the band had already left, but Niles found out from a roadie where in Bournemouth they were staying for the night.

The Roundhouse Hotel was quite the trek from the seafront but we walked there nonetheless. Niles casually strolled into the hotel foyer, managed to stumble across Rebel’s tour manager and said we all wanted to meet the band and get their autographs. The tour manager told us we might have a ‘bit of a wait’ whilst they all cooled down following the show. Niles told him we didn’t mind waiting and that we would be outside near the hotel’s entrance.

So, we waited…

… and waited…

… and waited…

… and waited…

… and then Niles went back in to ‘jog memories’…

and we waited…

… and waited…

… and eventually the group came out (albeit piecemeal) most of them somewhat amazed that the four of us had hung around for so long.

We told them they’d done a great show – the usual overawed “blah blah blah” – and got their autographs, each on a page of a notebook Niles always (naturally) carried with him for such eventualities. Harley himself was a little standoffish (as I have stated before, he did have the reputation of being a bit of a twat), but the other guys in the band – especially George Ford – were lovely to us, asking where we’d come from and what other bands we liked. (I believe I said Be-Bop Deluxe?)

That set of autographs remain one of the few things I have kept in good condition. In fact, I framed it along with a bunch of other 70’s/80’s/90’s ‘music memorabilia’ (concert flyers, ticket stubs, etc) a few years back…

Here it is, safely under glass…

That’s Harley’s moniker top right (“forever….”), Duncan MacKay’s top left, George Ford’s below with Jim Cregan to the right of that. Towards the bottom is Stuart Elliot’s theatrical scrawl. There are two other autographs on the page that I couldn’t remember or make out…. well at least until I found the tour programme from the show.*

Squeezed in below Ford’s and next to Stuart’s scribble is the autograph of Lindsay Elliot, Stuart’s brother, who played percussion on the tour. At the bottom right of the sheet, obscured by the camera flash reflecting off the glass (sorry about that readers) is “Snowy“. This was from Snowy White, a guest guitarist, whose later career would encapsulate being a full-time member of both Thin Lizzy and Roger Waters’ band.

After the band went back into the hotel, a certain realisation set in. That realisation was that – given the fact it was now way past 1 a.m. in the morning – we had most certainly missed the last train home to Southampton.

As was often the case in those days, a (doubtless worried) parent was called with the unfortunate news that a) we were stuck without a way of getting back, and b) he would have to come and collect us. I think on this occasion it was Niles’ dad who drew the short straw, forced to get dressed, drive to Bournemouth, find us, and then transport each of us to our respective homes.

It was a great night though, a great gig and my first meeting with anyone ‘famous’. Over the course of my career in the industry I would meet many, many musicians, producers and record label bosses and was able to cast aside any ‘starstruck’ emotions. But this night in 1975 I was most certainly in awe of meeting a few of my ‘heroes’, cementing my love for the music of Cockney Rebel.

*Yes, I kept it… guess what the EFA70sTRO posts will padded out with the next few days?…


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March 4th 1973

“Went up Trevs and got bike wheel” / ” In afternoon took out drawers of bedside cabinet and primed them – gonna paint them red and gold (smart) – Gonna paint chair gold as well” / “In evng (no tibs) recorded In + Out of Focus + Old Songs new Songs – Family”

My word, what a veritable cornucopia of things today eh?

No real idea about the what and the why regarding the bike wheel comment but it appears self-evident on the face of it.

I DO remember (“huzzah” says the crowd) painting my bedside cabinet. It was a six-drawer affair that my Dad had made with his own fair hands a few years earlier, and I was obviously channelling Lawrence-Llewellyn Bowen a few years in advance to spruce  it up a little. It was obviously a well made piece of furniture because my Dad STILL uses it underneath his workbench in his garden shed. Same funky little legs on it and everything.

However, … a gold chair? Blimey, what kick was I on?

I borrowed “In & Out of Focus” back in October 1972, and (even more strangely) I said I sent away money to BUYOld Songs, New Songs” the previous June… so…. erm….. I’m not entirely sure why I was recording either of them again?!

Perhaps I was just copying both to cassette for greater portability?

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February 14th 1973

*valentine* / “Got Bandstand – Family off of Martin S – It jumps as well – must be needle, gonna get a new one” / “carried on wiv jigsaw” / “went up nigs”

The word “valentine” was printed in the diary. I chose to highlight it by making it look as if it was exploding from the page.

Was this to somehow remind me? Crap, I wish I could remember. Did I send Angela a secret card? Did she send me one? Oh brain, why must you continue to taunt me this way!

I’ve already over-pontificated at some length about Family and my love for their compilation album “Old Songs, New Songs“.

Bandstand” – their sixth studio recording – is the only other album from the group that has really stayed with me in the interim 35 years. I think that was because – musically – it was something of a departure for them, being more mellow and mainstream than their prior releases.

The opening track was the hit single, Burlesque, which ranks as one my favourite Family tracks ever. It’s quite a standard rocker about drinking at a bar, but it cranks along at a marvelous pace and includes the fabulous lyric “Well, drinking and sinking, I’m feelin’ alright, right down to my snaky spat shoes

Burlesque reached Number 13 in the UK charts. An acoustic cut “My Friend the Sun” was chosen by the band’s record label as the follow-up single, but it (surprisingly) sunk without trace. A big shame. It’s a beautiful little ballad with Chapman’s usual sheep warble contained.

Coronation” became a fan favourite for years to come – and I can remember it was this track that skipped, as a result of what I was quickly suspecting was a duff needle. We always called it a needle in those days, even though the correct name was a stylus. In fact, years later when my Dad’s CD player started going wrong and he tried to fix it, he called the laser a “needle”.. much to my amusement.

Along with the contents, I was probably equally drawn to the LP because of its magnficent die cut sleeve which was shaped like a a vintage TV set. The photos below give a much better idea of how it was done than any description I could give.

It felt like something very special. Moreso than Alice Cooper’s paper knickers inside School’s Out or even the Rolling Stones’ infamous “Sticky Fingers” cover. 

Bandstand became one of the hundred or so vinyl albums I have kept and moved across the world with me! (So it must be special, right?)

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February 7th 1973

“Cup City 2 Liv 0 (Colin, Tommy)” / “Arguverge > Argument (agane)” / “Went up Nigs in evng – lent him Phantasmagoria + borrowed family – Anyway – Quite Good really” / “Found out that I was 4th in TD with 60% although I haven’t dun homework for 3 months”

City for the cup… City for the Cup!

(Yes, my embarrassment at having to admit I was a teenage fan of Manchester City remains)

I had borrowed Nig’s copy of Family’s “Anyway” before, so maybe I decided to give it another chance? It’s certainly not amongst their best, although I’ve always had a soft spot for “Holding the Compass

No homework for 3 months and I come 4th in Technical Drawing? I either had natural aptitude for this subject back then….. or…. the school was crap.

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January 29th 1973 (I)

“Wrote a silly play” / “Borrowed Family Entertainment – Family – Quite Good”

No idea what “wrote a silly play” refers to exactly – maybe the next few days entries will give a little more of a clue?

Entertainment” was Family’s second album – referred to these days as their “sophomore” release – first released in 1969. 

I have written about Family before, so there’s not much I can add to my past comments about the band themselves.

This album features “The Weaver’s Answer” as the opening cut, a track which – as time went on, and despite hit singles – very much became the band’s signature song. It’s a haunting, depressing little number about a dying man revisiting his life, which concludes with Ric Grech’s violin depicting the fellow’s final breaths.

There are 10 other cuts but none that I can recall with any clarity as this album has failed to in any way ‘sit with me’ in the interim 35 years. If I want to hear Family these days I will always gravitate towards their singles or the previously mentioned “Old Songs, New Songs” album.

In keeping with my wife’s feelings about Family’s vocalist, I read this comment about him recently…… “I always thought that sheep would know what Roger Chapman was singing about” – OUCH!

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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 5)

…[continued from Part 4]

You know when you write about a year in these terms – all the number ones – you wonder whether it gives a realistic representation of the music everyone listened to.

In terms of sheer public popularity I guess it does, but in my own personal world I feel there were many different songs – which didn’t reach Number 1 – that I would play over and over again from my weekly tape recordings of the Top 30 show.

So along with the likes of “School’s Out”, “Claire”, T.Rex, Slade, “Son of my Father”,  Lieutenant Pigeon, plus all the Prog rock and pop already mentioned in my 1972 diary entries, would the following songs also stand up and take bow for providing a suitable distraction to the arguments going on at our house…

• America – “A Horse with No Name
• Argent – “Hold Your Head Up
• Blackfoot Sue – “Standing in the Road
• David Bowie –  “John I’m Only Dancing
• David Bowie –  “Jean Genie” 
• David Bowie –  “Starman
• Alice Cooper – “Elected
• Dr Hook – “Sylvia’s Mother
• Electric Light Orchestra – “10538 Overture
• Family – “Burlesque
• Roberta Flack – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
• Gary Glitter – “Rock & Roll Part II
• Hawkwind – “Silver Machine
• The Hollies “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress
• Hot Butter – “Popcorn
• Elton John – “Rocket Man
• John Lennon & Yoko – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
• Lindisfarne – “Lady Eleanor
• Melanie – “Brand New Key
• Mott the Hoople – “All the Young Dudes
• Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now
• Redbone – “Witch Queen of New Orleans
• Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side
• Rolling Stones – “Tumbing Dice
• Roxy Music – “Virginia Plain
• Paul Simon – “Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard
• Ringo Starr – “Back Off Boogaloo
• Status Quo – “Paper Plane
• Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle
• Cat Stevens – “Can’t Keep it In
• Temptations – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone
• 10cc – “Donna
• The Who – “Join Together
• Stevie Wonder – “Superstition

1972 was therefore a year that had me listening to all kinds of music, creating a varied love for it that would not only supply me with an eventual career (of sorts) but a lifetime of many happy memories.

Meanwhile, (I love a good “meanwhile”) 4000 miles away, my future wife who had started her own musical education early was finding that Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was proving to be an awkward choice for her classroom’s show and tell session.

Both of us can now only hope that the 8 and 14-year-old kids of today carry forward the same kind of interest, love and enthusiasm for music into their middle and old age as we have.

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October 6th 1972

“went up Nigs and borrowed Anyway – Family” / New set batts > 50 days”

Nig – Or Nigel – was a school chum who lived just around the corner from me.

Like Trevor, he also had an older brother (Keith) who was something of a experimental music fan. I feel as indebted to Keith for some of my early musical learning as I do Trev’s brother Stephen.

I was already a fan of Family, having purchased their “Old Songs, New Songs” album back in June.

Anyway was something of a stopgap album for the band, and was actually a half-live, half-studio recording. I already had what I considered the best cuts from it on that purchased compilation, so I was doubtless intrigued by it moreso for the sleeve than the record itself.

For what were, I admit, something of an ‘average’ band, Family did appear to have influential friends in the cover-design department of their record label.

For Anyway, the record was in a simple slip cover, wrapped in a foldover cardboard insert, the whole kaboodle encased inside a thick plastic sleeve with a fold-in flap. Other Family albums featured die-cut book-style covers and one (Bandstand) was even made to look like an old-fashioned TV set.

There is a LOT to be said for the ‘golden days’ of vinyl, and how a well-designed sleeve or some groovy artwork could draw you to a particular album over another in the record racks. I know I was suckered in many a time, deciding to buy an album purely because of the sleeve.

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June 6th 1972

“Gave in Career booklets” / “Sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” / “bought singles 20p”

No idea what career booklets were, but I’ll hazard they were booklets intended to help us schoolkids pick a career. I’ll warrant none of them featured the careers many of my closest friends, or I, eventually followed.

sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” meant that this was likely my first purchase from the ‘back pages’ of Sounds. Many, MANY mail order companies advertised albums for sale at discounted prices, amongst them (eventually) the incarnation of what was destined to become the mighty (Sir) Richard Branson-owned Virgin corporation. (As you will discover later dear reader, Branson owes a some of his success to l’il ol’ me)

Business was obviously so brisk for discounted vinyl, one company – I can’t remember it’s name – used to regularly advertise (basically what was just a list of titles with prices) on the entire back page of Sounds and NME, and I wouldn’t bet against the notion it was from them I ordered Raft Records’ compilation of Family tracks called “Old Songs, New Songs“.

The Roaring Sixties (formerly the Farinas) were a simple bar band from Leicester, signed in the late 60’s by the ‘happening’ Liberty Records, and given their more distinctive “Family” name (originally “The Family” – eat your heart out Prince!) by none other than legendary American producer Kim Fowley.

Several band changes and record labels later they ended up at Raft (an offshoot of Reprise) with the core group of Rob Townsend, Ric Grech, Jim King, Charlie Whitney and vocalist Roger Chapman. Chapman arguably gave the band their distinctive sound, his gravely cries perfectly off-setting the well-structured jazz/folk/rock fusion. I guess they could be considered “Prog Rock”, but their name never appears when that genre comes up in conversation… and certainly not from me.

Chapman’s delivery isn’t for everybody. My wife HATES his voice, and to be fair it is an acquired taste. In a nutshell – “a little bit bleaty, a little bit goat’n’roll!

I’ll always have a soft spot for Family though. Mainly because I’m pretty certain the first 7″ single I ever bought with my own pocket money was their hit “In My Own Time” the previous year. I continued to buy the material they released in subsequent years, and enjoyed seeing them on Top of the Pops doing their other “hit” singles like “Burlesque” and “My Friend the Sun“. I don’t think – or, at least recall if – I ever saw them perform live, but my future diaries may tell a different tale that will shock me and regret the later intake of memory-thieving herbs.

As for “bought singles 20p“, oh how I WISH I’d written what I’d bought and where I’d bought them from. Your guess is as good as mine, as long as your guess isn’t the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards version of “Amazing Grace”, which had just been a Number 1 hit in the UK. People who know me will know how I feel about bagpipes.


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