Then the Wishful Thinking audition came up. I went to Frimley Green for this. It went OKish. But at least they did give me a tape of the harmonies and guitar parts that Terry New did which I was to emulate. The band went to Denmark for six weeks and I was to audition again on their return. I got the job and have never been so thrilled to be given the chance to extend my musical career.
The times I had with Wishful Thinking will never be forgotten except those that I can’t remember. After all it was the swinging 60’s “Peace love dove bells and beads”.
If you are interested in more of my exploits including The New Seekers, working with Liza Minnelli, Jack Jones, Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis Jr., please continue reading the long version of my biography, after the gallery below.
Thanks for visiting… John.
Long Biography: “It’s all about me”
I remember my first guitar that my Dad bought for me from White and Sentences music shop in Sleaford. I think it was about £13 perhaps a bit more with the hire purchase interest. I made friends with a couple of brothers, Ian and Alan Wright and an eccentric electronics wizard Dab Barfield who made his own Fender Strat guitar and an amplifier from a “Practical Wireless” kit, which was constructed on a wooden tray with the loud speaker pointing toward the ceiling. It was quite amusing with strange smells, noises and coloured smoke billowing from the massive KT88 valves while Dab was struggling his way through a version of Apache.
Anyway, that was the start of my musical career and my first band. Are you ready for this? Eddie and the Deviletts. Eddie was an addition to the band as lead singer (real name Peter Green). Having realised at an early stage that Devilettes are supposed to be women, and God knows, Quentin Crisp was not the only gay in the village, he was the only gay in the world at that time, we quickly changed the name to the Minimax. That turned out to be the name of a well-known fire extinguisher so we eventually settled on The Maniax. No comment.
We toured all over the country supporting all the big names of the time. The Kinks, The Merseybeats, Dave Berry, The Fortunes even The Rolling Stones at Peterborough Palais plus loads more. Dab left the band soon after this. I think he was voted out because he refused to upgrade his amplifier, which was now housed in a rabbit hutch with the speaker tied to the wire mesh in the door. Perhaps if he had taken his rabbit out for gigs, we would have been more tolerant.
A tour of Germany followed but we had to have a girl singer. Sheen joined the group and was quite a valuable asset. I wonder what happened to her? So off we went to Germany with Munich being the first gig. Peter Green and I travelled in his Morris Minor with the p.a. speakers on a roof rack. All the way down there I had to clout the bulkhead with a hammer because the fuel pump was kaput as they say.
It was the first Christmas I had been away from home.
We were working in Dachau, which was then an American Base, but we didn’t have to work on Christmas Day. We had little money but found a roadside café called Weinerwald where you could order anything as long as it was chicken.We managed to scrape enough together between us to buy one chicken, no extras, just one chicken. New Years Eve, we did work but it was clouded by my introduction to a chap called Jack Daniels.
Back in England we did a few more gigs. Why was it that The Hollies and The Ivy League had Commer vans and we had a doggy old Bedford Kenebrake Gull wing? The reason it was a gull wing was that the bottom runners for the sliding doors had rusted away so every time we went round a corner the doors would fly open. On one occasion, Ron Wright, father of Ian and Alan who became our manager, was taking his wife Renee to a whistdrive or dominoes evening and was still talking to her long after she had fallen out of the van some miles back having been ejected by the “gull wing manoeuvre”. The final demise of the Bedford was when we were appearing at the Ram Jam Inn on the A1 and Ian opened the gull wing a little forcefully. This time top runner submitted, leaving the whole door hideously clattering to the ground like the lid coming off a dustbin quite some distance from the back of the van. We left the door in the car park and drove the 20 miles home al fresco. Ian opted for the windy seat where each woodbine he smoked lasted about thirty seconds as sparks and “fag ash” shot round the inside of the by now, one-winged gull wing.
A few more changes in the line-up and the Maniax were no more; with the exception of making a record at Tony Pike’s studio in Putney. It was called Out of Reach; music by Mikis Theodorakis, words by Peter Green. It sold quite well mainly due to the fact that we all had plenty of relatives but the record buying public alas, were not as patronising.
Wishful Thinking was the start of joined-up music for me along with harmony vocals, new chords and songs that all members of the band started and ended at the same time. Scandinavia came along quite soon after I joined, where Wishfuls had already enjoyed great success. Copenhagen opened my mind, opened my sandwiches, opened copious bottles of Carlsberg special brew and opened up a world of free-loving people. So many girls, so little time.
Wishfuls eventually broke up. It was a unanimous decision. We were leaving a wet Wolverhampton, Kevin was driving the transit van when the gear stick came away in his hand. We all looked at each other as if to say ”shall we call it a draw fellas”?
There was a song called Hiroshima that we had recorded prior to the change of personnel of Wishfuls, along with several other tracks all written by Dave Morgan. This was to become the most successful record ever recorded by Wishfuls. The only problem was, by the time it had hit the German charts, there was no Wishful Thinking. So along with Kevin and Tony we formed a band using other musicians we had worked with along the way and did a short tour of Germany.
Kevin was going out with Petrina Lordan ex wife of Jerry Lordan who wrote Wonderful Land recorded by The Shadows plus loads of other fantastic tunes. I used to spend a lot of time at Petrina’s where Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Olivia Newton John were often visiting. It was at that time that I was introduced to a guy named John Farrar who changed my life. Before he wrote the music to ‘Grease’, John was a session guitarist and at the time was booked to play with THE NEW SEEKERS at Stockton Fiesta Club but because of commitments with Marvin Welch and Farrar, asked if I could do the gig. I dithered for almost a second and then accepted.
The next thing I knew I was off to America with the band as Musical Director to tour for six months. This, for a boy from the Fens, was a bit weird. Firstly, if you think that the New Seekers were squeaky-clean then that’s a bit like thinking that Quincy doesn’t get angry. Secondly, the gigs. The Johnny Carson Show, The Sonny and Cher Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Boston Pops, Vegas…………..and on and on were commonplace.
Thirdly, the studio sessions where Eve from the New Seekers would be teaching a very young Jimmy Osmond judo moves at CBS studios on Fairfax. The parties where Lyn decided to stop even Led Zeppelin coming in, Cher was handing out joints and Elton and Dusty were………. well, up to something. I just acted super-cool while inside I was thinking, “ Is this really happening”?
Then came the tour with Liza Minnelli. Well I could bang on about this forever. I even got the t-shirt.
The topless trolley dollies, the après-gigs, the best musicians in the business and of course Liza, are only some of the ingredients that made this the most unforgettable slice of American pie. Only soured by the death of Jim Croce whose plane crashed in a storm that we had avoided by being rerouted from Dallas to Huston that same night. It was more intensified by the fact that we had seen him at ‘The Whisky-a-Go-Go’ in L.A. only a couple of nights before.
After more tours of the U.K. the Middle and Far East, the NEW SEEKERS broke up, restarted, broke up restarted but finally broke up and restarted……… for good…………….. Or so it seemed.
I toured with Lyn Paul in the interims and eventually set up a jingles company with Kevin, which lasted about as long as a jingle. Only joking, among other clients, we had the monopoly of writing commercials for the top Maltese Ad’ Agency LBC.
Kev’s career then took a nose-dive; he landed a job with Disney working out of Pall Mall. I felt so sorry for him that I put his name forward to audition for a derivative of THE NEW SEEKERS called Marty Paul and Danny (Kevin being Danny). Subsequently, disaster, he got the gig as singer in the reformation of The New Seekers along with me as musical director.
Since 1972, I had been courting (now there’s a sexy word) Teresa. We got married in 1981. It is important at this stage to mention that Teresa’s Dad is Bob Potter who was the manager of Wishful Thinking and instrumental in this rambling biog’. We had been dating for about a year convinced that Bob knew nothing about it, although Teresa had told Daphne her mum. As it later transpired, Bob also knew. Nothing got past him.
“ NO-ONE IN MY BANDS EVER WEAR JEANS AND IF YOU GO NEAR MY DAUGHTERS, I WILL BREAK YOUR LEGS”. Those encouraging and feelgood utterances were the first that echoed down the streets of Mytchett from Bob when I first had an “audience” with him. I took to him straight away.
I am going to namedrop again. Tony Bennett, Jack Jones and Ray Charles are some of the acts I did the sound mixing and lighting for. It was hard work physically and mentally and I ended up looking for other pursuits.
Frinton-on-sea was my next stop. Musically of limited contemporary consequence but a good vehicle to see more of Kevin and Eve. Theme parks was the name of the game here which included recording music, voices and SFX for Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World Of Adventures and many parks in Europe.
I now have my own studio at The Lakeside where Teresa and I record all kinds of audio productions including, I am pleased to say, new and unfinished Wishful tracks.
Me at work on a “Wishful” track. (photo by Tony)