First I want to thank you for this big opportunity to make this interview.
I will start from very beginings.
Where you were born and how did you get in touch with music? As a kid?
I was born in Woking, Surrey Friday 26th April, 1946. My parents were living with my father’s parents near Waterloo Station in London, which meant that I should have been born in the nearby area hospital, St Thomas’s. However, during the blitz in the 2nd World War the maternity department of the hospital had been relocated for safety reasons to the suburbs in Surrey, and even 12 months after the end of the war, it had still not been rebuilt and reopened in London.
When I was 18 months old, my father got a new job and we moved to the South coast, near an industrial (in those days) harbour town, Poole in Dorset, near the seaside resort of Bournemouth. My first exposure to music as a small child was like anybody else’s at the time, the radio.
Where did you hang out as teen and what were your first shows what you saw?
As a young teenager, I hung around small clubs and hotel gigs in Bournemouth and Poole, or at least the ones that would let me come in at such a young age, listening to quite literally anything and everything that I could, a lot of different jazz, small lounge trios, and local beat groups which mostly played top twenty hits of the period. I was just fascinated by the drums for some reason – I just watched and listened to the drummers. The first big live music shows I saw were Del Shannon, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dion, and most importantly The Shadows. This has a big effect on me, I had a cheap seat behind the stage, but it was right behind their drummer, Brian Bennett! (he had replaced the original drummer, Tony Meehan).
Did you had any influence?
If by “influence”, you mean what lead me to take the plunge from just listening to drummers to getting my own kit and believing I could be in a band myself, that was all down to Robert Fripp! At school there were three of us who sat behind each other in alphabetical order, Fripp, Haskell, Hunter. Bob and Gordon Haskell had a very fine band when they were just 16 years old that played locally, called The League of Gentleman* and I used to go see them whenever I could; the fact that these were my classmates on stage, playing in a band, made me realise, “Hey, maybe, just maybe, I could do this too”! I got my Dad to sign a credit agreement to buy a Broadway drum kit, about £50 (relatively cheap for a full kit in those days but quite an investment for a schoolkid), and started trying to accompany records in my bedroom – it really didn’t do much for the neighbours, but I persevered nevertheless. I did have a couple of lessons from an old pro in Bournemouth, which opened my eyes (and my ears) to some basic points of technique , but unfortunately I couldn’t afford to keep them up.
Did you played with some other bands before The Deviants? How did you get idea that you will become drummer?
Eventually, I auditioned for a local Bournemouth pop group, The Dictators, who played top twenty and older standards. The first number I ever played on stage in public was “Speedy Gonzalez”, which was a hit for Pat Boone. (I didn’t get the job). Later I played in a couple of local soul bands, The Big Six (and one whose name I forget) before ending up for a couple of years in “The Mob”. We weren’t half bad actually, we toured Northern Working Men’s Clubs, supported some big name bands like The Animals and The Yardbirds when they came to Bournemouth & Southampton, and gained a modest local following. We recorded a couple of tracks for Joe Meek in his Holloway Road Studio, but they never got released, as far as I know.
*This seems to have been erased from Bob’s history, as it is rarely if ever mentioned in any history of King Crimson’s founder. Of course Bob reprised the name for a band he gigged while living in the US, between versions of King Crimson, but with never a mention of his schooldays’ band of that name, as far as I’m aware.
Gordon Haskell later played bass for The Fleur de Lys and many international artists, had solo No1 hits in Australia and all over the World, and then had a big UK Number 1 hit as a solo artist in 2001, “How wonderful You Are”, and a platinum selling album, “Harry’s Bar” and wrote his autobiography! My own musical career, if you can call it that, never reached anything like the heights of either of them, but I’ve always liked the idea that the three of us from the same classroom, at the same school, all continued along musical patsh, albeit in diverging directions.
I left “The Mob” in 1966 when I moved to London, and shortly after they changed their name to “The Shame”, and recorded a Janis Ian song, with Greg Lake on bass and vocals. He joined after I left - he was a mate of the new drummer, Andy McCulloch, and they both went on to play with King Crimson: Greg of course had a huge career with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, Andy played with just about everybody who was anybody, then gave up music to become a qualified yacht skipper in the Med, which I believe he’s still doing.)
How can you describe to me and others who were born later, atmosphere of society in 1967 and behavior of young people. Things which we can't find online to read about. So that we can imagine in what conditions first album „Ptooff“ was made. This album sounds amazing in 2020, I am trying to imagine that was made in 1967. Did you have more problems with police than young people these days? Were parents in those times more tough/conservative? Problems with religious people? Rasist on streets against hippy? Etc.... Your experience.
It is almost impossible to convey the vibes and tone of a total different age that was over 50 years earlier. In 1967 I was 21yrs old, and 50 years ago then it would have been 1917! In the 1960’s I could no more truly experience 1917 and the 1920’s than you can now get a real feel for the 1960’s. All the film footage and recorded recollections in the world can give us an impression of what it was like but it can never be more than second-hand, and inevitably will be coloured and distorted first by the teller, and secondly by the differences in interpretation we all place on everything we are told.
In Deviants case, music industry was not on your side (later with Fairies and Motorhead also). Many will say that yes, in those days was business but in the same time many from industry choose quality too. But it was not all like that, right? „Ptooff“ was to much for them in 1967.?
The music business was, and in many ways still is, exactly that, a business. As such, it wants to get hold of what it perceives its audience wants to hear and sell as much of it as possible. That doesn’t mean that quality is overlooked or ignored solely in the name of profit, far from it, or we would never have heard of many of our favourite artists had not somebody in management or recording not believed in them and stuck with them, but it is true to say that in general what could be called minority tastes were not as well appreciated or catered for as they are today. These days, it may be difficult to fully comprehend the how much more limited the opportunities were then to make and distribute music on a national and international basis. Making a record was a big deal, you couldn’t do it in your bedroom and even if you could have, there was no internet on which you could be seen and heard by literally everybody. Even just being in a band was quite an unusual thing, certainly in the late 1950’s and early to middle 1960’s. So, I would not say that the music business particularly had it in for The Deviants or The PFs, it was just that we were not a majority interest and did not have the earning potential that would interest the business long-term. Ploydor thought the Fairies might make it big-time and gave us a pretty good advance, but it was never going to work out and eventually they cut their losses and turned us loose.
Ok, how did you met Mick and other guys from Deviants?
In 1967 Mick was on the door at an all-night Club called UFO in Tottenham Court Road. I knew him by sight from that but didn’t actually meet him until I auditioned for his band The Social Deviants. I was told by a lightshow tech at UFO called Mike Lhaslett that they were looking for a drummer, as the present incumbent was a born-again fundamentalist, who was forever urging the rest of the band as well as audiences to repent and play God’s tunes.
When and how did you decide to become the band? I heard Mick said The Fugs and Zappa were kind of influence?
The band’s direction, for want of a better word, was Mick’s department. Mick was the Deviants, they were his thing, and he kept bands of the same name going on-and-off all his life. When I joined, I was fitting into an already-formed band, I had no influence on what we were going to play.
How much at begining did you actualy know how to play? Did guys did some experimenting thing with instruments, in a way that they tried to play guitar, drumms, bass... and than choose which they can handle best?
Certainly not! The bass player when I joined was a Canadian guy, Pete Munro, who was jazz-obsessed. The first guitarist was a guy called Syd Bishop, who was perfectly competent and had had a Streatham-based blues band, and there was a madman called Alex Stowell who played a weird & wonderful light machine – we didn’t swap around! And of course Mick - I never thought we were too bad, but we would have probably sounded a lot better if we had all been pulling in the same direction: and I have to say that much as I loved Mick, not even he would have said he was the greatest singer (he would also insist that it didn’t matter). By the time we came to record Ptoof, Pete Munro on bass had been replaced by a sharp-looking young mod guy by the name of Cord Rees, who would have at least looked more at home in a band like The Who. It was an ill-fated combination, he only lasted for the duration of the recording – I’m not sure we ever played a gig with him? – he had some major personal hang-ups and needed what is euphemistically called “professional help”, although I do not know if he ever got it. He literally just walked out one day and we never saw or heard of him again.
How process of recording was going? Mick talked about one guy who helped to do technical weird things during recording sessions. What was that all about?
I don’t know who that could be, unless it’s a guy Mick knew from the London Arts Lab, Jack Moore. He did some sound collage work on Ptoof. Sadly, we cannot check with Mick.
Were you happy with guitarist? What was your best songs on this first album?
I had no problem with Sid’s playing. I think he was finding it hard to commit to the band because of his domestic situation.
On last song you do vocals too „wow just like Jimi Hendrix, simulate acid experience...?
That’s not me doing the bits you mention.
Late Duncan Sanderson was on this album too? He did percussion?
Sandy did some vocal bits – I don’t recall him doing any percussion, but maybe he banged a tambourine here & there.
How did you promoted this first album and how did you sell it? Did people on festivals new who you were when saw you on stage?
I really don’t remember much if anything about Ptoof’s promotion, or even if there was any. I think there were a couple of ads in IT
Can you remember some weird stuff from festivals and people? Situations? I know like Mick and Sonja Kristina said, you were like no love and flowers hippy, you were 'we want world and we want it now'. But there were other different freaks around. There was some guy who tought he is Jesus? Dancing all the time? I heard Phil Animal Taylor (Motorhead) punched him in some club in 1983.
What you refer to is a free concert in London’s Hyde Park in 1969. It wasn’t at the time called a festival, but I suppose it could very loosely be called one. In 1968 and 69 there were a series of free concerts set up in Hyde Park, at least three, maybe more, although really they were neither long enough nor structured enough to be called festivals. There were only ever 3 or 4 bands each time and little or no infrastructure - refreshments, huge toilet blocks, security etc - there was literally just quite a rudimentary stage erected in the park and thousands of people turned up to listen. Simpler, more innocent times! The Stones is the most famous one, shortly after Brian Jones died. Pink Floyd topped the bill on another. The one we did was the last of them I believe, top of the bill were The Soft Machine, a great band, highly respected, and I think The Edgar Broughton Band were also on the bill? It was a good gig, Mick Farren describes it in his inimitable style in one or other of his books. The following week we flew to Vancouver for what turned out to be a chaotic North American tour, after which (or during which actually), everything changed.
You asked about a guy known as Jesus. He was definitely a legend in his own lifetime, he turned up at every gig and every band, and sometimes I swear he was at several gigs at the same time! He wore long flowing robes and just danced non-stop in a trance-like state. There was nothing he couldn’t or wouldn’t dance to. He was an enigma really, I don’t know anyone who knew anything about him bar the fact he turned up everywhere and just danced: I never knew his name other than Jesus, where he lived, never spoke to him, nothing at all about him. But he was definitely a
presence – you ended up looking for him and being somehow pleased when you spotted him. If Jesus was there, everything was OK. I don’t know anything about Phil punching him – if it’s true obviously not everyone loved him!
There was another occasion, a very strange gig on the steps of St Paul’s cathedral. This was most definitely not a festival, just an odd gig. I’m not entirely sure how it came about, possibly an idea of a newly appointed trendy verger at the cathedral. I’m really not sure. But it was very odd, it was early afternoon one day and our audience was almost exclusively bewildered office workers on their lunch break. The thing I particularly remember about it is the fact that we were set up on the stone front steps, so of course my bass drum spurs had nothing to grip onto (drum mats had not been invented in the 1960s), so our roadie, the legendary Boss Goodman, spent the whole 45 minutes or so grimly holding onto my bass drum trying to stop it skidding off the step. There’s a photo of him looking incredibly pissed off and fed up!
So, line up changed when you started next album in 1968. Duncan came in. Who else came in? And after all what happened to those other guys later who were not part of third album later?
Sandy came in to play bass. Most of the significant changes happened after the recording of Disposable. Dennis Hughes, occasional keyboards, killed himself. Tony Ferguson, another part-time keyboard contributor also eventually succeeded in committing suicide. Mac, who started off as the bass player, drifted away – he was never particularly into it. Sid quit and was replaced very briefly by a guy called Clive Muldoon. He left to front his own band (they did a gig supporting Chuck Berry at the Albert Hall where he managed to fall off the stage). The Big Moment was the joining of Paul Rudolph from Vancouver. He came over especially to join us, on the invitation of a guy called Jamie Mandelkau, also from there, who acted as a kind of unpaid manager and general factotum to the band. When Paul arrived, things changed, in that Paul dragged us together musically, forcing us to become more focused and try to up our game. In retrospect, this was the start of Mick’s dissatisfaction with the band – he was at that time anyway, much more interested in the symbolism of the band’s political position and his own proclamations through that medium, than musical content for its own sake. But that was still to come, in the beginning he welcomed Paul as did the rest of us, gratefully and with open arms! Sandy, who lived in a room in Mick’s Shaftesbury Avenue apartment, which was over the theatre that was showing the musical “Hair”, originally appeared on stage with the DVs as a vocalist and kind of foil for Mick, back when we were slightly more theatrical than we later became. (For a while, Mick seemed to be hankering after presenting more of a Fugs scenario in our performances, fairly unsuccessfully it must be said.)
Sandy was a devastatingly good-looking guy, women used to fall at his feet, particularly in his younger days. Mick used to refer to him in the early days as the band’s eye candy. Nowadays, this would be considered a very un-PC thing to say, very disrespectful – at the time Mick used it with a mixture of mostly affection but, yes, tinged with a certain measure of condescension. Anyway, after Pete Monroe had departed back to Canada, Mac came in to attempt to replace him but his shortcomings were very obvious, so Sandy took it upon himself to teach himself to play bass from scratch. I was tremendously impressed by the speed (no pun intended) at which he did this, and very soon Mac left and Sandy became the full-time bass player. He was always an unconventional bass player because of his origins, and I always thought he was a lot better than he was given credit for, although in his latter years, illness was taking its toll. To my mind he’s at his best on “Kings of Oblivion”. And he remained my friend all his life, even during the times – in fact, particularly when – Larry and I had fallen out. I always enjoyed playing with him, in fact I could never imagine the PFs with a different bass player, and we also shared a life-long love of the sport of cricket (something I’m sure you do not share Sasha!)
(Actually, it’s not commonly known that in the 1990s, I qualified as an umpire and officiated in the Surrey county league and various competitions for the next 15 years – a pastime that on the face of it sits very strangely with the idea of the pastimes of the Pink Fairies drummer, but it can never be over-emphasised that most of us are multi-faceted individuals with more than one interest and ability.)
What changed in recording second album? It sounds very different. I mean, approach was different.
Mick once described the recording as a totally unfocussed chaotic Methedrine shambles, and he wasn’t far wrong. It was the third engineering assignment for the late Andy Johns – I believe we persuaded him to join us in the Methredrine orgy, which led to some very long sessions. He was a very nice guy and a great engineer who went on to engineer and produce some iconic albums – I definitely do not include ours in that list, through no fault of his.
„You've Got To Hold On“, „Slum Lord“, „Guaranteed To Bleed“ just some amazing songs....What was that sleeve all about?
-I’m glad you liked at least some of the songs – “You Better Hold On” and “ Slum Lord” are probably the best of a rather uneven bunch.
You finaly recorded this one for better label?
The record label was Stable Records, founded by Simon Stable. It was an early example of an independent label, after years of market domination by a few major corporate labels. A brave attempt, but they had no money for significant promotion, and in those pre-Internet days, press and publicity was everything.
Ok, so Woodstock still wasnt here, even many from that time will say Woodstock was begining of the end. Before we move on third album, Woodstock etc... Was 1967 and 1968 peak of revolution? What is your opinion how did that movement influenced some changes on world and was it succesful? Many expected radical change. Somehow I feel people, others, didnt want to be fully free? They saw it like some teen fun? Not seriously like Farren for example? Is this result of brainwash, religion, hundred years of kind of feudalism and peasents mentality in people? They would be lost in minds without somebody watching over them? Why radical change didnt happen?
A very difficult question to answer in less than a book! Certainly, and obviously, we didn’t change the World significantly for the better, or arguably for the worse, although I have come to believe that the much-vaunted at the time sexual revolution did no favours to women in the long-term. The nuances of what did change can probably be detected in an analysis of social history of the 20th and early 21st centuries, but it would take many more pages than are available here, and a much more academically minded and thorough investigator than I. We made much of criticising the mores and behaviour of earlier generations, just as the youth of today castigate us for our failures in the area of addressing climate change and economic inequality, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from getting older, it’s the pointlessness of inter-generational blame-games. Every generation feels its way along and broadly does the best it can, but we are all hopeless at predicting future outcomes and understanding warnings that seem blindingly obvious years later. A good motto for the whole of the human race is,
“WE REALLY NEED TO TRY MUCH HARDER, AND KEEP TRYING – ALWAYS”.
Were you part of activities as Mick? Being on streets protesting and stuff? Is it posible that people understand one day that nations and religions are just artificial human cults and tools for manipulation in starting wars? That blood and genes have nothing to do with nations because those two were on this planet much before any nation was invented? Its „blood and soil“ thing what actualy nazis took also.
Certainly in the beginning, we were on the streets with Mick – for that matter, from 1967 through to 1969, there were a hell of a lot of people on the streets protesting and demonstrating, it wasn’t by any means just Mick and the band.
There seems to be a revisionist tendency, almost an obsession to rigidly compartmentalise those times into “peace & love hippies” and “angry street protesters” and it really was not so clear-cut. Many of us tried with varying degrees of success to practise a mixture of peaceful protest (although there differences of opinion on how to respond to physical assault by the powers-that-be) with a new understanding of, and commitment to, community action and just a greater all-round social awareness, and for want of a better word, courtesy – everyone just did their best to be nicer to each other, at least in the beginning.
On UK scene in those days were probably many bands which never had chance to record. But some did. Did you heard Rockin Vickers and in 1968 Sam Gopal band with Lemmy?
I never heard the Rockin’ Vicars, who I believe were a local Midlands band, but the DVs often played with Sam Gopal – they were also on Stable Records.
When did you met Lemmy and what do you think about him as person and his work?
I don’t remember exactly when I first met Lemmy, probably at a Hawkwind gig or maybe the Mountain Grill in Portobello Road – probably there, it was a very popular cheap café, the proprietor of which was a very nice guy who was one of the first to welcome hippies, longhairs, Angels, and pretty much anyone else who in those early days initially had problems getting served in cafes – hard to imagine these days. Hawkwind even named an album “In the Hall of The Mountain Grill”. I wouldn’t say Lemmy and I were ever close friends, more professional acquaintances (although I know that sounds a bit daft and pompous), but we got on OK, no problems. I remember being very impressed when someone told me that Lemmy had sold his bed to raise money to buy speed, the reason being that he rarely slept and considered a bed a waste of space, took up too much room!
As a bass player I thought he was definitely different – I sat in with Hawkwind a few times, and I always found it challenging getting a feel on whatever we were playing. I thought Phil did a fantastic job for M’Head in the drum chair; they were not an easy band for a drummer, but Lemmy’s different ideas on bass were definitely a huge part of Motorhead’s success, the basis of their eventual success, which was also a tribute to the steadfast belief he had in the band: as you know, they were not an instant success and really had to stick at it before they became a worldwide name.
So, in 1969 another change happened in line up and Paul Rodolph came in. You recorded third album. Very interesting cover of album. Can describe it to people? You were enjoying making this album? Were on this one any changes in recording approach?
I think we’ve already addressed Paul’s arrival into the Deviants. Afraid I can’t throw any light on the cover of Deviants 3, I didn’t see it in the early stages or have any input and only saw it when the final proofs came in: it was presented as a fait accompli. Don’t get the idea that this upset me because it didn’t. I’ve never been particularly involved in album covers, I figure that it’s the preserve of visual artists and designers, which I do not pretend to be.
It was time of Woodstock and you were part already of many festivals. Mick made one festival too. Somehow with that year and this third album „The Deviants“ Deviants came to the end. Why?
As is well documented, the DVs ended in Vancouver with Mick falling apart emotionally and physically and the increasing tension that his paranoia produced amongst us all. How much the rest of us contributed to his breakdown inevitably has always been a matter of one’s own viewpoint – Mick was convinced we were plotting to replace him and it is certainly true that Paul and Mick were growing apart musically. Paul thought Mick’s professed commitment to revolution and rebellion was unrealistic and ultimately doing the band no favours, and Sandy and I were enjoying ‘stretching out’ musically and were strongly influenced by Paul’s trans Atlantic style – not to mention he was bloody good and it was a privilege for us to play with him. I believed we could have continued as the Deviants but things started ton get out of control. Mick’s increasing truculence was in turn reflected and amplified in us, and pretty soon we were unable to exchange a civil word. In the end, Mick’s paranoia about being replaced became a self-fulfilling prophecy and we made it plain that we couldn’t go on like this – well it was obvious to Mick as well. Mick boarded a plane to London 36 hours later, was immediately admitted to hospital in London, a physical and mental wreck. I firmly believe that it was a merciful release that he went home, and in later and calmer years, Mick had the good grace to privately admit that I was right and in retrospect it was the best, and only realistic, way out for him and the rest of us.
If you ended on Woodstock anyway and instead of Country Joe or some other flower stuff, you blow with your sound their brains/ears out, would you think that some other festival would become famous instead? :) :) Its funny because somehow I think people are annoyed with that kind of bands like Deviants, mentaly progressive bands. They wanted gooey sweet flower power peace songs not knowing human history that, that kind of approach will not make radical change. If you said them something like this, they are even angry why are you telling them this from 'high' position point of view. Well, because you dont get it :) Would you agree? In Croatia we have expresion for this maybe it will sound funny on english but you will get the point: „They want to have sex but without penetration“. This is not way to do real change.
I can’t answer that question. We can never know what could have happened with a multitude of ifs and buts. But I do know that you cannot make people like your music and if they prefer different things that is ultimately their decision to make and no-one else’s, whatever I, you or anyone else thinks.
How much Paul Rudolph made progress in sound of third album and band all together?
Paul was a huge influence on the DVs, at least on Sandy and me. As I’ve touched on before, his playing was way ahead of anything we’d ever heard before, and that is not a slight on Sid or anyone else. Paul was, and is, in my opinion a unique guitarist. I’ve been incredibly lucky in the PFs to have worked with three incredible guitarists, all genuine virtuosos in their own right, and that’s not even including the legendary Martin Stone, who joined us for a long tour of England, Scotland, NI and Ireland, and appeared on the single ‘Between The Lines’.
So, how end of Deviants really looked like? Mick said Im going home? Just like that?
I’ve already talked about Mick’s departure and the end of The Deviants. That is pretty much how it happened: although after his departure, the three of us continued in the US as a trio still using the name Deviants to fulfil the rest of the dates, we immediately started playing different stuff, much looser more improvised stuff vaguely after the style of the Dead, clearly there could not be a Deviants without Mick Farren in the long term.
So The Deviants ended. Mick went to do Twink album „Think Pink“ and Twink was on his album „Mona“ in that 1970. How rest of you met Twink and decided to go to form Pink Fairies?
We were all on ‘Think Pink” in various degrees, Mick, Sandy and myself. I remember that as being before the DVs ended, but I could be wrong. I had nothing to do with ‘Mona’, things were still a bit raw between us at that time – I’m not even sure we were in the country when Mick was making ‘Mona’.
As for meeting Twink, that came about through the DVs supporting The Pretty Things at various gigs. Forming the Pink Fairies was a project of Mick, together with Steve Took of Tyrannosaurus Rex. I was in the US at the time of their only outing, so did not personally witness it but I have it on good authority from a variety of sources that it did not merit being called a gig, consisting as it did of three hopelessly drunk individuals with one pair of bongos between them falling about on a stage and haranguing the audience at, I believe, Manchester University. (And the only reason they landed on the idea of ‘Pink Fairies’ as a name was that each of them happened to own a pink velvet jacket)
After this less-than-promising beginning, Twink apparently realised that as a functioning band this simply was not going to work, so he approached Jamie Mandelkau, who had remained in London, and floated the idea of hooking up with us remaining members of the Deviants when we returned to the UK, which to cut a long story short, is exactly what happened.
I must point out that Twink, as a drummer himself, never actually wanted me to join him, just Paul & Sandy. However, I was very touched when the two of them apparently refused to hook up with him unless I was included, and that’s how The Pink Fairies ended up as a band with two drummers. I know that Twink has denied this in the past, but I am certain that my inclusion was an afterthought, which is somewhat ironic when one considers that ultimately I spent far longer in the band than Twink’s relatively brief tenure.
In 1971 you had „Never Never Land“. Was this kind of hit in clubs around London and rest of UK in that scene? I mean you did that for Polydor, it was not label like for „Ptooff“ album. How that connection with Polydor came?
We were gaining a bit of a reputation as a good-time exciting band gigging around, principally in the London area, and Polydor got it into their heads that we were worth taking a chance on as the proverbial Next Big Thing. They approached us with a 3-album deal and we got a £20,000 advance, which although not in Rolling Stones league, was still not bad money in 1970. Never Never Land was our first album and very much Twink’s album in some ways, and lots of it can certainly be viewed as a follow-up to ‘Think Pink’. But Paul and Sandy and I had returned from the US with a good understanding of each other and feel for each other’s playing, having been forced to virtually invent an instant repertoire, in Mick’s absence, and we muscled in a good proportion of that free-form improvisational stuff into Twink’s compositions. However, as a true reflection of the band’s ability, it was a very pale shadow of our stage performances at their best and I was by no means thrilled by it.
In retrospect, we were already starting to grow away from Twink’s original conception of the band. Personally, Never Never land is my least favourite PF album, although I concede that my reaction may be coloured by subsequent events. I believe it crept into the UK top 50 album charts for one week at something like No 48, but it was not conspicuously successful – in fact no Pink Fairies album has ever been conspicuously successful!
Did you finaly get feeling that this is gonna be long time band?
Never once did I think about how long or otherwise Pink Fairies would last as a band. I doubt that members of most bands think very much about the long-term. You just go with it, and along the way stuff happens.
After this album Twink left. Why?
I believe Twink was having some kind of personal domestic crisis with his girlfriend, apart from anything else that may have been going on in his head. I just heard that he was going to Morocco “for a while “. So we carried on without him and I amalgamated his kit into mine.
You did in 1972 „What A bunch Of Sweeties“, another big album. Was in this year when you played many times with Hawkwind guys? How was that collaboration on stage and behind stage? Did you hang out together, had funny or weird situations?
Yes, that was probably the heyday of these onstage collaborations that became known as “Pinkwind”. They were tremendous fun, at least for all of us, though with the benefit of hindsight I’m not sure that they were all such a treat for the audiences. Sometimes they were somewhat disorganised! But sometimes they were great. We did not tend to deliberately hang out together off-stage, although we bumped into each other often around Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road. We got along well but did not live in each other’s pockets.
Some people have in the past tried to manufacture a kind of schism between us when ‘Silver Machine’ became a hit, pointing out that after that ‘Pinkwind’ gigs dried up. Let me say right now that this simply was not the case: we were thrilled that “one of our lot” had a hit single, we thought it was great! The reason we stopped playing together was simply that as a chart band, Hawkwind started getting bigger headlining gigs than we could command, bigger venues. They moved to a different level and our paths did not cross nearly as often as they used to. But there was no bad feeling at all.
What specialy good is from songs from these first two albums with Rudolph for you?
I enjoyed the feel of most of “What a Bunch of Sweeties”, it was a looser album than NNL, which as you know I didn’t much enjoy or like, and it was fun to record. I thought we played really well on some of it, although I will concede that not all the songs were that great – the execution was better than the material in many cases. A lot of it was done at Island Studios locally, and friends and acquaintances dropped in and riffed with us, Paul Kossof from Free and notably Trevor Burton from The Move. He and Paul became great mates, we all did in fact, and Trevor joined us on a lot of gigs, including a BBC radio show with John Peel.
So Rudolph left. In 1973 Larry Wallis came in. This is now situation what we fans dont know to much. This is very interesting to us fans to find out truth. Rudolph left, later in 1977 when he did EP with Farren, Mick said about „two guys who doesnt like each other“ in studio. Then we have situation Larry against Twink, I know Twink said somewhere that Larry was not Pink Fairy. Than Larry said you didnt also liked idea of Twink in 1987 album „Kill Em and Eat Em“.
Lets solve this. What happened here? Paul on one side, and Larry vs Twink? What was this all about? Than Paul and Alan Powell had fight with Dave in Hawkwind (after Paul replaced Lemmy). Was Paul had fight in Fairies with you and Duncan? Paul/Twink/Larry like problem guys :)
OK – I’ll tell you what I know about this. It’s often been said that Paul was pissed off about Sandy and my consumption of LSD. That may be true to some extent, but my drug problem at the time was heroin, I’d become a bit of a smack freak and junkies are quite annoying people to non-junkies. But I think there was more to it than that. Two events in particular stick in my mind. On one occasion we were playing a one-nighter in Glasgow, and Paul went home with Vashti, a girl he met there. Sandy and I were at another flat with a couple of girls. That night, the police raided the place where Paul was, he was held for a few hours on some trumped-up bullshit charge then released. Now this was not especially unusual: I got low-level police harassment in the streets in London quite frequently – nothing serious and certainly nothing like as bad as the kind of viciousness experienced by black and Asian youth in later years, no comparison, but it was common for longhairs to get pulled over and occasionally slapped around for little or no reason. Paul however took it very badly, he seemed genuinely shocked and annoyed and although we never really discussed it, I sometimes wonder if this was the start of his disillusionment with the band?
There was another incident that was potentially more serious, although quite funny at the time. We were coming through Gatwick Airport late one night with two road crew, returning from gigs in Germany, and we were somewhat surprised to find two airport officials hurrying us through the back corridors of the airport. We had our passports at the ready but these guys didn’t want to know. One of them said, “Never mind all that, it doesn’t matter, you’re all British”. What had happened was they were expecting Rod Stewart & The Faces at the same time, mistook us for them, and were getting us out the back way to avoid a small crowd of fans who were waiting to greet them! One bunch of longhairs with guitars obviously looked just like any other to them! This would have been no problem, except Paul, like a prat, pipes up and says, “No, I’m Canadian!”. Then they realised their mistake, looked at his passport and it turned out he’d overstayed his work visa, which was the start of another source of problems for him. If only he’d kept his mouth shut, they’d never had known, or at least not for a while yet.
I’m just saying, that there were other things that were worrying him, besides my smack addiction. Then the call came from Hawkwind in the States to replace Lemmy on bass, and it was a way out for him, so off he went. As for the dynamic between Mick and Paul in 1977, I cannot comment with any authority because I was not there, I had no part in that recording. I can surmise that there may have been some awkwardness because I believe that Mick for a while put some blame on Paul for the break-up of the DVs, but you would have to ask Paul, as sadly you cannot ask Mick.
The situation between Larry and Twink deteriorated because of what Larry considered to be Twink’s dubious business practices with regard to the licensing of Pink Fairies product. It’s fair to see it got very bad and never improved to Larry’s dying day. There was considerable bad feeling between the rest of us and Twink for several years about this, but I met up with him in 2012 for a “clear the air” meeting and he and I at least agreed to let bygones be bygones and speak no more about it, as there had been some mutual slagging-off in the press over the years. Therefore, I do not wish go into any detail about this, the topic is closed.
It’s true that our ill-fated reunion for “Kill ‘Em and Eat’em” was by and large an uncomfortable affair and the gigs that followed were for the most part not the greatest after a promising start: the very first of those gigs, a packed night at the Town & Country Club in London was actually great – I wish it had been recorded. However, things started to go downhill quite quickly – Larry’s alcohol problems overtook him, to his own and the band’s detriment, and it was our perception that Twink became increasingly irrational, for whatever reason. The one good thing that came out of it was joining up with Andy Colquhoun to augment the guitar sound. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was Andy’s presence that was the saving grace of several of our gigs around that time, he rescued us from complete disaster and made us sound at least presentable. We had known all Andy casually for many years, but his joining the band was the start of a long musical collaboration, and more importantly a friendship between the two of us and our wives (we both owe a tremendous debt to our respective wives for their love and support over all the years) that has persisted to this day.
I know absolutely nothing about Paul and Alan Powell in Hawkwind, you would have to ask them. I should add that whatever may or may not have gone down between Paul and Sandy and me all those years ago, it is water that has long-flowed under the bridge. Paul and I are the best of friends and although we live on different continents, we are in touch with each other by email. We invited him to join us in 2014 for our gigs and later the ‘Naked Radio’ album and gigs, but he felt his health wasn’t up to touring at that time. It’s a great pity – I for one would have loved to hear him and Andy playing off each other.
How and why did you invited Larry to come in Fairies and write „Kings Of Oblivion“? Why him?
Before he joined us, Larry and his girl friend used to come round to my flat in Ladbroke Grove and we’d hang out together. We were friends before he joined up with us, but I knew he was keen to join the band. When Paul left us, I think Larry still had commitments to UFO, so we hooked up with a guy called Mick Wayne who played in a band called “Junior’s Eyes”. We knew each other through his wife and various dealings. Mick was a really nice guy, a good guitar player, on paper everything we needed, but somehow it just didn’t gel between us all – just didn’t really work, although we recorded a not-bad single for Polydor and did a pretty good gig at Wembley, supporting Rod & The Faces (them again!) But it wasn’t right and our old fans were disappointed at what was a new and different direction – Larry guested with us one night, with Mick, and things came to a head. Everyone liked Mick and didn’t want to say it, so I had to be the bad guy and put it simply, “Mick’s got to go, or I’m going, unless Larry joins”. And join he did. Almost straight away, we had to do a 3rd album for Polydor, so we went off to Chipping Norton studios for a fortnight and Larry concocted “Kings of Oblivion” almost single-handedly. It was a great feat by him, and I think we responded by playing as well as we ever had on that record. It is my favourite Fairies album. I always say that Larry and us at our best fitted together so well because he taught us about songs and song-writing and we in turn showed him how to improvise and stretch out musically.
After this album, Pink Fairies took brake but you recorded live album in 1975, with all former members which was later released as „Live At Roundhouse“. Were you pleased with that gig?
There was an interlude where we all did other things – I went off to South America for four months. The live Roundhouse album came at a time when Paul was available and somehow Twink got involved again as well – I can’t remember the precise details. It wasn’t a bad gig as I recall, considerably better than the record which was crap – my snare drum mike went down in the first number and was never heard again! So, gig not bad, record terrible!
Larry goes for Motorhead but in 1976 he left and you with Pink Fairies are doing single „Between Lines“. That was Martin Stone with you on this release? How that happen?
-Larry got involved with Motorhead in their early years – he formed a close friendship with Lemmy, forged and fuelled by massive amphetamine binges – Sandy and I had been through the Methedrine madness of the sixties, when injectable Methedrine was available on prescription in Britain if you knew the right dodgy doctors, we so had largely got over the thrills of speed – but it was new for Larry and he fell into it with enthusiasm. He recorded Motorhead’s first album and did their first gigs, but then he and Lemmy fell out big-time and he hooked up with us again. I know something of what happened between them, but with them both now gone and unable to put their sides of the story, I will not comment further.
We recorded “Between The Lines” with both Larry and Martin, and Martin came with us on a tour of Scotland and Ireland. He was of course a superb guitarist that any band in the land would be lucky to have and it was great to have him with us, and enormous fun as well. He was a great guy and I think he
enjoyed himself with us for a while, but he was in too much demand to ever stay with us. Great while it lasted though.
You know Michael Moorcock did release new album which was recorded few year back with Stone. You know Moorcock well?
I never knew Michael Moorcock personally, although of course I knew of him and had read one or two of his books.
Than Pink Fairies released some EP „Previously Unreleased“ but with Butler on drumms? Than band took break for ten years. What did you do in that period of time?
“Previously Unreleased” was recorded at a time when Larry and I had fallen out. That’s why George played on it. It’s about the time when Larry was spending a lot of time with the Stiff records’ crowd, Nick Lowe, Elvis, Eric and Jake. Jake in particular was whispering in his ear that he could be a big star on Stiff records and didn’t need the rest of us, and he became great friends and a great admirer of Elvis’s drummer, Pete Thomas. I remember one of our last rehearsals when Larry kept complaining that I wasn’t playing his new song the way he wanted, the way Pete would have played it – why couldn’t I play like him? I pointed out that we weren’t The Attractions, I wasn’t Pete Thomas, and he was Larry Wallis, not Elvis Costello. Things went from cross to angry to insult, the rehearsal ended abruptly and Larry spent the next six months telling the World what a crap drummer I was. (I hasten to add that in his latter years Larry could never stop apologising for the things he said, and much as I tried to reassure him it was forgotten and not worth fretting about, he seemed to find it hard to forgive himself. He took it all way too seriously. Anyway, I quit the band and hooked up with a band led by a woman called Theresa D’Abreu, who had been in a theatrical group-cum-band called The Sadista Sisters.
She and her husband Nick Hurt had started a band featuring her as the vocalist – (she could really sing) – and I auditioned for them, got the job and worked with them for a year. I really enjoyed it actually, quite different stuff from the Fairies, it served to remind myself that I could play various styles I had tended to forget about over the years. My early days covering chart hits and old r & b classics in Bournemouth bands stood me in good stead. We worked mostly in Holland where we were quite popular, and made one single that disappeared without trace. Husband and wife in the same band proved somewhat problematical and neither the band, nor ultimately the marriage survived. But I did make a great friend in the bass player, Don Young, a fabulous Geordie guy who became a sound engineer, worked for Sky TV, and eventually moved to New York where he become a well-respected engineer with CNN amongst others, and also lectured on all aspects of sound recording. Like many talented good-guys, he died far too young, from liver cancer. Theresa also died in the late 1990s from, I believe, liver failure – another loss. So, there I was, now in 1979, no band no job, needing to make a living. So, for two years, I became a bus conductor, then a bus driver for London Transport, as it was then!
So you lost interest to become a rock star? I mean you are. But more famous around world? In 1987 you choose to make reunion album „Kill Em And Eat Em“. To me its ok album. Not maybe on level of some older but still ok album. Did tour went well?
And you broke up again? :) Recording of this album went well? Did Twink got his two hats? :)
Larry phoned me out of the blue one day in 1987 and told me that Twink (!) had approached him about reforming the PFs. I honestly don’t remember the whys and how’s of this, but Larry, Twink, Sandy and I met up in a bar in Waterloo and talked. I have to say that Twink and Larry were by far the most enthusiastic about the idea – but Sandy and I were certainly prepared to give it a go. We decided we wanted to thicken the sound with another guitar and there was only one name in the frame – Andy Colquhoun. Our old roadie Boss Goodman was then booking bands for the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town, so that was set-up as our comeback gig. And it was great – as I believe I mentioned earlier, I wish it had been recorded. We did a few more not-bad gigs and then we made “Kill ‘Em and ‘Eat ‘Em” when we weren’t ready, we needed more time playing together and more time to develop new material but it was rushed into, and it shows. But in a remarkably short time, the whole thing started to go bad again – Twink departed again, Larry’s booze problems escalated, and it became obvious that it had not been a great idea – we did a short tour of Germany, came home and it was soon all over. As I said before, as far as I was concerned, the one good thing to come out of it was hooking up with Andy. I’d known him casually for several years, back when he and a guy by the name of John Manley were in The Warsaw Pakt, and of course he and Larry had played together with Sandy & George Butler under a variety of different names after I left the Fairies (arguably these line-ups could loosely be characterised as Larry’s particular versions of the Pink Fairies although they never went out under the name), but this was the first time that he and I had played together.
After this album we had few use of Pink Fairies name. Some people, fans, dont like it. Who is Pink Fairies? For me personaly its you and Sandy. But we had Twink and Rudolph doing „Pleasure Island“ and „No Picture“ albums under that name. We have actualy very good album with Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey and drummer of my best band Lucas Fox on album „Resident Reptiles“ under Pink Fairies name. Who is Pink Fairies?
Twink turned up in Canada and he and Paul recorded something called I believe “Pleasure Island”? As far as I’m concerned, Paul has the absolute right to record under the name of Pink Fairies – he was a founder member for Christ’s sake, of course he can! He played a huge part in originally gaining us a following – you don’t seriously believe that Sandy, Twink and I would have built that following without him? AS for this album, I can honestly say I’ve never heard it.
Why not all guys today, former members, not to be in Pink Fairies together? Why in old days to be separate?
Twink’s particular tastes in lyrics are not really of any interest to me any more.
In discussions I subsequently had with Paul, I know he very much regretted getting involved with Twink again, for reasons that you would have to ask him about. Much more recently of course, Paul put out a PFs album with Lucas Fox and another bass player. I can only repeat what I said before – Paul is absolutely entitled to put out records under the Pink Fairies banner, although I was mildly surprised that they didn’t make more of Lucas’s Motorhead connections, they being a much bigger band than we ever were.
To your question, who is/was the Pink Fairies, I’d have to say that any of our three guitarists have earned the right to use the name, but of course Larry is now gone and I know Andy will not record or tour again, so Paul now carries the standard alone. Sandy is now gone and my health is poor, I no longer have the stamina to play. Anyway, neither Sandy nor I could or would have used the name without Paul or Andy or Larry with us. I believe Twink still trades on his long-gone connection with us, if not actually using the name Pink Fairies – I guess that’s his business, although personally I would not do it.
In 2016 you released new album Pink Fairies „Naked Radio“. This is like I said to Andy, earthquake of the album. Very very good one. I suggest to all to buy it of course. How idea for this one, 30 years after „Kill Em And Eat Em“ started? You wroted song on which Jaki sings?
I’m pleased you liked “Naked Radio” – it’s definitely a new slant on the Pink Fairies, and surely that’s how it should be? We could not pretend to be the same people, and by extension, the same band we were 45+ years ago! It’s not a perfect album of course, to my mind there is some “filler” material on it which with the benefit of hindsight, we could have left out – it would have been better with at least three fewer numbers.
Yes I did write “You Lied to Me” that Jaki sang. I actually wrote that song in 1990, after my wife and I went to a fetish ball in London, guests of Laurie Vanian who used to make clothes for that market. I recorded it on an old Atari computer, played and sang it all myself, and sent it to Larry for him to put on a guitar part.
After 25 years that still hadn’t happened, so I gave it to Jaki to sing, and Andy effortlessly put on a great guitar part. Better late than never I suppose, though the song itself does sound rather dated now.
What are the plans for the future? You doing now other job? Maybe some new album which you always wanted to record? Something completely different (like Monthy Python said)? Solo album?!
I’m completely retired! As I’ve pointed out, I no longer have the stamina to play full-on live drums – I have an electronic kit and for a while I could manage to put drum parts on songs that Andy used to send me, taking my time and working in small chunks, but now I can’t manage that either. My playing and singing days are over.
Russell. I didn't ask you about other releases and releated stuff, because interview would be much longer. I know in 60's and 70's there was much things going on, on concerts, tours, off stage... cant be said all in one interview.
Last few short questions would be what do you think about these persons.
First Robert Calvert?
I didn’t know him well, but he was a very charismatic guy, who could not be satisfied with or constrained by, Hawkwind.
A great guitar player, a troubled guy – I miss him now, even more than I ever thought I would.
Sandy – a dear friend, another who struggled with alcohol, another I really miss.
Mick – this procession of dead friends is a bit depressing. Mick was a very talented guy with an original take on the world. Ironically, his dearest wish, to be a rock star, was probably not where he most excelled, but even so it was a pleasure and privilege to know him and to perform with him. He mellowed in later years, and despite his fierce looks and reputation became the sweetest guy to those who really knew him. Again I miss him.
Great guitarist, a lovely guy, proud to have shared stages with him – and he has the considerable advantage of still being alive.
Another fine guitar player, has become a dear friend and my only regret is that we never got to play together more than we did.
A lot of stories circulate about Dave and his relationship with members of Hawkwind, past and present. I didn’t know him especially well – as I said we didn’t live in each other’s pockets – but we always got along fine, and regardless of what anyone may say now, he has never done me any harm and I personally have absolutely nothing against him at all.
Mr Hunter thank you very much for your time! Hope this interview will help so many people to see and hear one of great musicians of UK 60's and 70's scene.
That’s all folks!
>To people: Listen The Deviants / Pink Fairies/ Hawkwind / Motorhead!!!