Photos: Solo - Mott The Hoople - Dexys Midnight Runners - Paul Brady Band
Photo: Peter Mould
At the White Rock Theatre, Hastings. Beatles Day 2017.
Beatles Day is a fantastic event, organised for nearly 20 years by local musician/singer Pete Prescott. Over 300 people take part - playing Beatles songs on 3 stages for about 12 hours, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Artists of all ages and styles take part, playing Beatles songs in their own way. I'll be taking part again on April 7th 2018.
In May or June 1973, this advert appeared in the back pages of the Melody Maker (now sadly defunct). Among the classified ads for musical equipment, clothing and gigs, bands used to advertise for musicians. For the first time in a few years I wasn't in a band - my previous band had folded up a couple of months previously. I answered the ad and was told the band was Mott The Hoople, then one of the biggest bands around. I didn't know much about their music apart from the big hit single of the previous year All The Young Dudes. Their organist Verden Allen had left and they had decided to replace him with both an organist and a pianist. Previously Ian Hunter had played piano on stage, but this allowed him to take centre stage and be more of a front-man.
I auditioned for the piano job, but that rightly went to Morgan Fisher, previously of Love Affair. I didn't expect to hear from them again, but a couple of days later Stan Tippins their tour manager called and asked me if I played organ. I answered 'yes' and a few weeks later the picture below was taken during a tea-break on our first day of rehearsal. After 4 months touring the USA supported by bands such as Aerosmith, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top and more, we toured the UK with Queen as our support band. Morgan and I were offered full membership of the band. Morgan accepted and continued with the band, but I left at the end of the UK tour.
There's more about my time with Mott The Hoople on my Biography page - and a list of all the gigs on my Gig History page.
I think this photo was taken by drummer Dale Griffin (then known as Buffin), as he's the only one not in the picture. It was taken on Monday 18th June 1973, the first day of rehearsal at a studio in West London - possibly in Netherwood Road. The photo with the logo is on the back cover of a live CD.
Left to right: MB, Mick Ralphs, Morgan Fisher, Pete Overend Watts, Ian Hunter.
Buffin and Pete sadly died recently.
Guitarist Mick Ralphs played his last concert with MTH on August 19th at the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC. His last performance was on a live ABC TV show recorded in New York City on August 22nd (Uriah Heep also appeared). He left to join Bad Company and his place was taken by Luther Grosvenor (known as Ariel Bender in MTH). The picture above shows him making his first appearance with the band. We had returned to London for just 16 days, during which he rehearsed with us for the second half of the US tour.
This was the Midnight Special TV show, recorded on September 11th in Los Angeles.
Pete Watts, Buffin (almost missing out on a stage photo, as drummers often do!), Ian Hunter, Ariel Bender, MB
Looks like Ariel has settled in nicely! Here he is on the UK tour in November 1973 - going to the front of the stage to acknowledge the applause at the end of the show. Looks like Pete (2nd left) has borrowed his stage gear, or maybe it's the other way round- see the photos above at the Midnight Special TV show.
L to R: Morgan Fisher, Pete Watts, Ian Hunter, Ariel Bender, MB.
Buffin missing out again.
Somewhere on the UK tour - taken backstage in front of some scenery. For some reason I have always thought that this was at the New Theatre, Oxford but I might be wrong.
I think we were supposed to be putting on our serious faces, but someone over to my right must have amused me.
Pete's thigh-high leather platform boots could be a source of some difficulty, particularly when getting on and off the stage in tight situations. He couldn't bend his knees and when we played the Tiger Stadium, Massillon, Ohio he had to be physically pushed from behind by a couple of roadies up a steep ramp onto the stage - in full view of the audience. I don't suppose that silver metallic paint did his hair much good either.
Ariel used to wear that floppy blue silvery hat everywhere he went on that tour, plus a full length fur coat - rather an alarming sight for the guests and staff at the 5-star hotels we stayed at as he clattered unsteadily across the lobby on his platform clogs (see next pic). I still have that black T-shirt with the musical notes and rhinestones. I wore it when I got married on September 7th between the two US tours.
I first saw Luther Grosvenor in 1968 or 69. I used to regularly attend the all night concerts on a Friday night at the Lyceum in The Strand, London. They were called The Midnight Court. One night at about 3pm Spooky Tooth took to the stage. They were a wonderful band to see live - Hammond organ on one side of the stage and electric piano I think on the other. My particular memory of that night is seeing Luther standing centre stage churning out the riff to Better By You, Better Than Me - and playing a stunning solo on Evil Woman.
At that point I hadn't even thought of joining a band, so the chances of me sharing a stage with him were minimal. But here we are a few years later, somewhere on the UK tour.
In 2016 I shared a stage with him again at the Mott The Hoople Convention in Hereford and had the chance to join him in Better By You, Better Than Me, and Mott The Hoople's The Golden Age of Rock And Roll.
I took some random photos on the first US tour with MTH. This was taken on 23rd July on our first day of production rehearsals at the Capitol Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey.
The USA was very new to Morgan Fisher and I - neither of us had been to the States before. So quite a few things were strange. The combination of heat and humidity around New York City were something I'd never experienced before, so the fact that the theatre was air-conditioned was very welcome - also finding that soft drinks were sold chilled in a fridge was something new to me! And the hotel staff asking 'how are you today?' and looking at me strangely when I started to answer the question.
That's Morgan taking a look at the shop next door to the theatre, but I'm not sure if the person with the blonde hair is connected to the band.
The Capitol Theatre was a well-known venue. You can see two bands that were soon to play there - Focus and America - and a production of the rock opera Tommy by The Who. There are some great live videos of shows at the Capitol from the 1970s on YouTube. My favourite is a stunning support set by Steve Goodman (writer of The City Of New Orleans). But I digress...
After three days production rehearsals in Passaic NJ, we flew to Chicago for the start of the tour on Friday 27th July.
This would probably have been the day before the show. The hotel overlooked Lake Michigan and there was a pool on a balcony a few floors up. Here are Alan Harris and Morgan Fisher making the most of our leisure time.
I'd never been able to swim, but when I saw young kids nonchalantly doing somersaults into the pool I thought it can't be that hard. All the hotels in the States had pools and by the end of the tour I'd learned to swim - well kinda. My wife finds my untutored and complete unorthodox style highly amusing.
Here's a pic taken in New York City showing three members of the road crew. I don't know who the two on the right are, but Philip John is the one on the left - and I wouldn't be surprised if it was Richie Anderson carrying the other end of that cardboard box. Richie and Phil served as the road crew for pretty much the whole time of MTH's existence.
Richie sadly died a while ago. Phil lives in the same town as me and we see each other occasionally. He's always been completely dedicated to Mott The Hoople and in 2016 he organised the convention in Hereford. I've also done a couple of spoken-word events with him.
I wonder if the box contains Pete's hairspray?
This was also taken by Philip John - many years later. Me and Luther Grosvenor at the film premier of the documentary The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople. It was shown at the British Film Institute in London. It was quite an occasion with several members of the band attending including Ian Hunter, Verden Allen and Stan Tippins. It was quite strange watching the film and knowing that several of the people on screen were in the audience, especially when the film was covering some of the disagreements between them!
Luther was exactly the same as he had been all those years earlier. He walked into the full theatre and as he took his seat next to me he shouted: 'Hello everyone - It's me, the GREAT Ariel Bender.'
Luther and Phil John on their way to another screening of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople. This was at the Rough Trade East record shop in Brick Lane, London organised by Shindig magazine. After the screening there was a very lively question and answer session with the audience with Luther, Phil myself and the directors Chris Hall and Mike Kerry.
Outtake from photo shoot to promote Dexys tour in 1985. Unfortunately I don't have any photos from the 1984 recording sessions for the Don't Stand Me Down album.
This is the band that toured France and the UK in Autumn 1985, with the exception of drummer Duane Cleveland - a fine drummer who rehearsed with us, played on a couple of the recordings of Kathleen Mavourneen and Marguerita Time and made some videos for the album. Before the tour he was replaced by Tim Dancy.
You can see from the picture what a diverse bunch we were. I think this was the only incarnation of Dexys in which the band were allowed to wear whatever they wanted. I find it funny that many members of the press and TV presenters couldn't look beyond the drastic change Kevin, Helen and Billy had made in their appearance since their Come On Eileen days. As you can see they look perfectly normal to our eyes today, but those same TV presenters look so 1980s when you see them in those old interviews!
This photo was taken on the stage of the Dominion Theatre, London probably on the last night of the 3 night run. We're standing in front of the backdrop showing a bridge over the Thames. Tim Dancy (drums) is 4th from the right.
Our rather glum looks are probably because we knew this was the end of our time with Dexys. A week or so earlier we'd been called into a conference room in the hotel in Nottingham. I thought they were going to give us more details about their plans to tour the USA and Japan, which had been mentioned a while earlier. But instead we were told that the band was splitting up at the end of the tour. Poor sales of the album were probably the main reason, plus the amount of money that had been spent on it. But artistically it was a huge success, as you can see from the quotes from reviewers when it was re-issued years later - they're on my Biography page.
And here is the keyboard section - Vincent Crane with me in Paris when we played at L'Eldorado. During the recording of the album he had been my rival for the piano job. First he got the job, then I was brought in and finally Vincent was brought back. We were obviously hard to choose between! But when we toured he played piano and I sat next to him playing Hammond organ, an instrument which he had played with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and his own band Atomic Rooster. He co-wrote Fire, Arthur Brown's number 1 hit - and arranged the brass on that record I believe.
I first saw Vincent play when my first band White Myth supported Atomic Rooster at a college gig in Manchester in 1971. I sat a few feet away from him as he started the set by putting his arms across the keyboard to play as many notes as possible at one time and then gradually brought the volume up to ear-splitting level.
After Dexys came to an end, we wrote some songs together and made a demo of a few of them, but nothing came of it. We talked about going out as a keyboard duo, playing our own material and Atomic Rooster songs. Sadly Vincent had mental problems and he took his own life on February 14th 1989.
Jerod Minnies (lead guitar). Photo - Penn Pennington. Taken onboard the ferry over to do a few gigs in France before the UK tour of 1985.
Our first gig was in Rennes in northern France. Jerod had a long guitar solo at the end of The Waltz. He played a brilliant solo in full guitar-hero mode, striding around the stage striking poses and at one point dropping to his knees at the front of the stage - everything except setting the guitar on fire! Well no-one had told him not to - so why not!. As we walked to the dressing room at the end of the show I congratulated him on his solo. Kevin was just behind and he ushered Jerod quietly into a side room.
During the rest of the tour Jerod never strayed from his position towards the back of the stage just next to the piano. Kevin always encouraged us to play with great passion, but individual displays like that just weren't the Dexys way.
I'm not criticising either Jerod or Kevin by saying that. It just illustrates that, although we could each express ourselves individually, the group identity was always the defining thing about Dexys.
The whole Dexys band and crew onstage in front of the backdrop at the Dominion Theatre.
Note the monitor on the left. Kevin was standing in front of it at one point during the show. He took a couple of steps backwards without looking and fell flat on his back over it. When I played at the Dominion a couple of years later with Paul Brady (far right in the photo below) he was running around the stage during one of the livelier numbers. He tried to jump over the same monitor - and he would have succeeded, if he hadn't clipped the top of it like a racehorse. Somehow he managed to save his precious Takamine guitar - and get up to make a similar gesture to the one in the picture. Which links nicely into my next section...