THE JON CAMP INTERVIEW

By Martin Kinch

December 2012


Martin Kinch with Jon Camp - Helicopters tour 1980

Martin Kinch: First of all Jon, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for my Roy Wood website.

Jon Camp: Hi Martin and thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you. We've bumped into each other at concerts over the years but never got to do any thing about my work with Roy so it's nice to be able to do it now.

MK: Tell us how you first got to know Roy .

JC: If my memory serves me correctly we were working on the new Renaissance album-I think it was 'Turn of the Cards' at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley in London and our engineer and close friend Dick Plant was on the session. Now Dick had worked with Roy for many, many years and as it turned out Woody was in the next studio and popped his head round the door to see if he could borrow some drums as I think he'd broken the skins on some of his tom-toms.(he always did hit them hard!) Anyway he stayed to have a listen for a while and we started talking guitars and he was very interested in my Rickenbacker Bass and the sound that I achieved with it on the recordings. We just seemed to hit it off straight away and I must admit that it was difficult for me not to start picking his brains straight away because I have always considered Roy a kind of genius when it comes to his writing and recording and we were both massive fans of the Beach Boys so we had plenty to talk about from day one.

MK: So you must have been aware of Roy's work with the Move,ELO,Wizzard and Solo stuff, You are right about Roy being a Beach Boys fan, Don't know if you remember it but he had a hit with a solo single called 'Forever' which was very Beach Boys with some Neil Sedaka thrown in as well (in fact he dedicated the single to Brian Wilson and Neil Sedaka on the label)

JC: Yes Martin I was very aware of Roy's work-it was difficult not to be really. From 'Flowers in the Rain' being the first record played on Radio 1 to the 'Wall of Sound' that was Wizzard and then the orchestral genius that he created in ELO. Roy was always at the cutting edge of music and like myself he never took the well trodden path prefering to create something that was always new. I don't know if you're aware that Roy actually by chance got the opportunity to sing with Brian Wilson and some of the Beach Boys when he was in the States once. He always described it as the' defining point in his musical career.'

MK: Yep, One of the tracks he recorded with them is called "It's OK" which was released as a single, it's a track on the '15 Big Ones' album. Were you star-struck at all when you first met him

JC: It a strange thing really but other musicians don't tend to get star-struck as you put it. It's such a big decision to take when you decide to make a career in the music industry that there's always this incredible amount of respect that you feel towards someone such as Woody who has created a legacy that will go on and on.

MK: Did you go and watch Roy working in the studio - I'm assuming he was working on his solo album called Mustard at the time

JC: Yes once Roy and I started our frienship we spent a lot of time in the studio together. I believe he was working on 'Mustard' at the time and I was amazed at his capacity to remain creative when working into the wee small hours of the morning - admitedly he didn't used to start until midday but had an amazing stamina when it came to studio work. It was Roy's vision that always fascinated me - he'd no sooner lay down one track on a song before he had the next part in his head. I'm sure he won't mind me saying that he never had a particular strategy in mind on studio days but as soon as he walked through the door everything seemed to come together! I learnt a lot from him with regards to some recording techniques and they're 'tricks' that I still use today .

MK: Yes, I've heard several people that have worked with Roy say that they have learnt a lot from him by working with him in the studio, including Annie Haslam who by now had started dating Roy, she actually ended up doing some vocals on the Mustard album didn't she.

JC: Yes I believe she did but I'm not sure on what tracks - I'm sure she's on there somewhere!

MK: Wizzard gradually began to split up soon after Mustard and the last single 'Indiana rainbow' had a B side called 'The thing is this (This is the thing)' which on some pressings was credited to Wood,Camp,Tout, Roy also put on the label 'With love and thanks to Renaissance for their help, (He even scratched 'With Love to Annie,Jon, John, and Charlie' on the groove run out of the record) I can hear Annies voice on it, and I have often wondered if you played on it, can you remember ?

JC: I certainly did, In fact this rather bizarre track was created from a bass line I started playing in the studio. Renaissance had been recording that day and we finished early and John Tout and myself didn't fancy going home yet so we we dropped in on Roy's session. Roy didn't have a 'b' side for 'Indiana Rainbow' so we said let's write something and that's what came out. It's quite a strange piece but very interesting and great fun to create.

Wizzard - The thing is this (This is the thing)


MK: So with all this hanging about with Roy, Did you ever meet his manager Don Arden, if so what did you think of him

JC: Yes I did meet Don- in fact we were in preliminary discussions about him becoming our manager. The Arden's have a reputation as I'm sure you know but I always found him a perfect gentleman - as to what he would be like in a working relationship I can't say - but he didn't suffer fools gladly and who can blame him. I was quite friendly with Gary Moore at the time (another of Don's acts) so got to be around him and Sharon (soon to be Osbourne) Strange to think that that young girl became such an influence on Ozzy and others careers.

MK: Renaissance had a big hit with the single 'Northern Lights' from the album 'A Song For All Seasons' a song that was about the way Annie was feeling when she was apart from Roy while the band were on tour, I always thought it sounded like Roy singing at the end "To you" but Annie told me it was you, was there ever a temptation to have Roy playing or singing on any Renassaince stuff.

JC: I think it would have been great fun and I believe Roy did do some early production on the 'Tuscany' album after I left. The thing with Roy and Renaissance is that our musical styles were poles apart but as you know Roy can turn his hand to anything and I must say that taking individuals talents from Renaissance and pairing them with Roy's talents probably produced better results than the other way around-and yes that's definitely me on 'Northern Lights'!

MK: The band were more known for releasing albums, Were you surprised when that single made the charts (Number 10 in 1978) What do you think it was about that song that made it a hit

JC: There's no doubt that it had a very strong chorus and several people have said to me that the bass line intro caught their attention, but when I listen to it now it's definitely a 'single' of it's time but we had no intention of it being so when we recorded it. The producer was the great David Hentschel who was responsible for all the Genesis albums after Peter Gabriel left so maybe some of his 'fairy dust' fell on our record. The song itself had airplay potential but I didn't expect Warner Bros to get behind it as they did. As it happens it came at a very awkward time. We were on a three month tour of America and I remember picking up the phone in my hotel room in Rochester(upstate New York) and being given the news that we'd charted-I thought it was a hoax! We had to fly back to England immediately putting the US tour on hold and do the round of interviews, appearances etc.

MK: Did you do 'Top of the pops'

JC: We did TOTP several times-but to be honest it's not much fun-there's only about 30 people in the audience and they keep moving them around into camera shot to make it look like there's hundreds! It was an experience and for me my highlight was chatting to the members of 10cc who were No. 1 with 'Dreadlock Holiday' I've always loved that band and have a lot of their albums-they're really 'quirky' and I like that.

Renaissance - Northern Lights on Top Of The Pops


MK: Was there any pressure on for someone to come up with another hit single

JC: As ever the label wanted another hit but instead of us writing a tailor made follow up they took 'Back Home Once Again' from the TV show of the same name and although it was a strong song we could have done better, but we had to get back to the States to finish the tour.

MK: As we have mentioned Roy and Annie were now an 'item' and Roy produced a solo album for Annie called 'Annie In Wonderland' You were involved in that album as well, When did you start recording, Was it done in the same studios as Mustard and the Renaissance albums

JC: Yes there was only Roy, Annie, Dave Donovan, Louis Clark and myself involved on that album apart from the choir on 'Going Home' I can't remember when recording started but we did continue to use De Lane Lea-the same studio as 'Mustard' and the Renaisaance albums with our 'dream team' of Dick Plant and Barry Kidd doing the engineering.

MK: Did Renaissance have to take a back seat for this album to be recorded, or was it done at different times when time allowed

JC: Apart from Roy (who was supposed to be taking a break!) we carried on working round it but somehow we managed to keep everybody happy and it was great fun to do. I'm like Roy I love being madly busy and we all certainly were at that time!

MK: As well as playing on the album, you also wrote a couple of the tracks on it (If I were made of music, and Inside my life) were these written especially for the album, or were they songs you had already written

JC:
I wrote the songs specifically for the album-they were in quite a different style from my work with Renaissance but I was interested to see how they would turn in Roy's hands. I really like 'If I were made of Music' it's one of my favourite compositions-it blends well into the rest of the album I think.

Annie Haslam - If I were made of music

MK: Louis Clark did some great string arrangements on the album , I think he also worked on some Renaissance stuff as well didn't he

JC: Yes he did-he did some wonderful arrangements for us including the famous LC 'glissando strings' which became his trademark-he's a very nice guy and a pleasure to work with. I did a couple of sessions for him -I remember one of the pieces was called 'Fire Dance'

MK: I love the version of 'Going Home' on that album, it must have been a great session to have the London Welsh Male voice choir in the studio, I think I read somehwere that they got paid in beer

JC: This believe it or not is quite true-they were quite excited at working on an rock album and they were fantastic-you could feel the studio rumble with the depth of the bass voices. I know we arranged coaches and hotels for them and I do remember having several barrels of their favourite ale being delivered from the brewery!

MK: Towards the end of the 70s Roy released another album called ‘On the road again’ and he also produced an album for the band ‘Darts’ – I assume you were busy with Renaissance again for a while,but it wasn’t long before Roy announced a new band called ‘Roy Wood’s Helicopters’ featuring yourself, Mike Deacon from Darts, Paul Robbins, Robin George, and former Magnum drummer (the late) Kex Gorin – That must have been so different from playing live with Renaissance, did you enjoy the chance to do something different

JC: 'Enjoy' is an understatement! I love doing different things, it keeps your mind and your playing fresh. Of course we used to have fun on the road with Renaissance but we never stopped laughing with 'Helicopters' We were really good live and the amazing thing working with Roy is that when you get on stage it's wall to wall hits. Sometimes it's easy to forget how many he's had!

MK: You're right, he's written so many great songs - Can you remember if any were favourites of yours to play

JC: All of them! My personal favourites were 'Blackberry Way', 'Angel Fingers', 'California Man', and 'Green Glass Windows' and of course that song about Christmas!

Helicopters - Kex Gorin, Roy Wood, Mike Deacon, Paul Robbins and Jon Camp

MK: As well as the Wizzard and Move hits, there were songs from Roy's recently released ‘On the road again’ album, and even ELOs 10538 Overture, how long were you rehearsing before the band went out on the road

JC: We used to rehearse at Roy's house in Kinver Edge in his garage! That said his garage was bigger than most people's houses! We used to do about three weeks rehearsal in total I suppose but it tended to be spread over a longer period of time to fit round individuals work commitments

MK: I came to quite a few of the gigs, even one at The Marquee in London, where Roy’s band The Move had a residency back in the 60s – I think one of the shows you did there was recorded for a live album that unfortunately was never released

JC: That's quite possible Martin but I can honestly say I can't remember the reason it never got released. Roy only accepts the very best with regard to sound quality so maybe that was be part of the reason.

MK: Roy released some singles under the name of Helicopters, but he played everything himself, were you all too busy with your own bands or do you think Roy just preferred to do it himself

JC: I think it was a combination of the two - many of us in the band were juggling our musical careers at this time and of course Roy always had the option to do it all himself if time was tight - not many people have that option open to them!

MK: The first single was called ‘Rock City’ and was released on the Cheapskate label. The MD of that label was the legendary late Chas Chandler. What was he like

JC: Chas was a really nice person - larger than life in every way and very switched on with regard to the music business - after all he went from bass player in 'The Animals' to managing Hendrix to production and running his own label. I must admit that once the pleasantries were over and done with I think I bored him senseless with questions about Jimi - I'm a huge fan!

MK: The Cheapskate deal didn’t last long and the next thing I knew Roy had signed up with EMI and was releasing a new single called 'Green Glass Windows' I remember thinking this would mean more chance of the band having a hit, but it didn’t happen for some reason, Any idea why you think Roy was finding it harder to get back in the charts after all the hits in the 60s and 70s

JC: Music was changing - just because you were a respected name and had more hits under your belt than you could remember didn't automatically give you rite of passage into the charts. Punk and Brit Pop were altering everything- although I find it strange that a major label such as EMI would pick up Roy if they didn't have faith in the man and the product. A&R men were being fired on a daily basis if they didn't deliver and the industry in general was in a state of flux. However it was a very fine record and did receive a fair amount of airplay.

MK: I remember coming to one gig and ended up in the VIP bar with you all along with Noddy Holder, Jim Davidson, Rick Price and the late Carl Wayne from the Move, it turned into quite a party, was that the usual thing after a gig with Roy

JC: We enjoyed ourselves so much that after the gigs it could turn into quite a party! There were so many comedians in the band that we never stopped laughing - one of the advantages of a fairly large group - you're never short of conversation!
In short - yes we did tend to have a drink or two after the concerts!

Roy Wood's Helicopters in the bar - Photo © Neil Farnsworth


MK: Noddy Holder sang backing vocals on the B side of Green Glass Windows, the track was called 'The Driving song' Did you go to any of the recording sessions

JC: No I'm afraid I didn't - the only time I met Noddy was when we all went to the Houses of Parliament for the launch of The Guinness Book of Hit Singles and I went as Roy's guest. Everybody who had had a number one was invited. What a night - Queen, 10cc, Status Quo, Elton John - you name them and they were there! It was also the opening night of 'Stringfellows' night club -
I'll never forget it (what I can remember that is) Noddy wa an absolute star - I don't think I've ever met anyone so unassuming.

MK: A later line up of the band saw Terry Rowley and Tom Farnell join, Did that change the sound of the band much after being used to Mike and Kex

JC: It didn't change the sound so much but Mike was more of a 'boogie-woogie' player than Terry who was a little more restrianed in his playing style but to me that was a good thing sometimes. Tom was a great drummer indeed but again different from Kex.
Kex managed to play with a kind of 'menace' that got right under your skin - he was agood friend and I still miss him to this day.

Jon with Roy Wood, Terry Rowley, Robin George and Tom Farnell


MK: Another single was due to be released called 'Aerial Pictures' but EMI decided not to release it, Was that when the band came to an end, The gigs always seemed to be well attended.

JC: Believe it or not Roy wasn't always comfortable on the road. He was such a perfectionist in the studio (as I am) that he expected to have that kind of control and sound on stage and it's almost impossible to create that.
The gigs were always full but to be honest with you I can't really say why the touring stopped - we obviously were all involved in other things and it just sort of came to a natural conclusion - very sad really.

MK: Even after Helicopters split, you continued to work with Roy with more gigs and TV shows, you ever perfomed on one show with The Move's Carl Wayne performing ‘Flowers in the rain’ Did you get to know Carl much during your time with Roy

JC: I only saw Carl (Charlie as he liked to be called) when we did TV shows and personal appearances but we struck up an instant rapport - he was very easy yo get on with and even easier to like

Jon with Roy Wood, Carl Wayne and Kex Gorin performing Flowers in the rain on BBC TV

MK: One gig that must stand out in your mind must be the Heartbeat 86 at the NEC – A big charity event put together by ELOs Bev Bevan - What are your memories of that day - Did you get to meet George Harrison

JC: It was memorable from start to finish - everybody was in such a good mood - we were doing it for a wonderful charity and you just kept running into people you knew but hadn't seen for ages - an absolute blast! Yes I met George, his wife Olivia and his son Dhani (only a baby then) I'd met George before when I saw him at Madison Square Gardens with Ravi Shankar - another memorable night. He was an incredible man - he exuded peace - considering he was a member of the biggest group the world will ever see it was a very humbling experience sharing time with him.

The Roy Wood Band - Heartbeat 86 Part 1

The Roy Wood Band - Heartbeat 86 Part 2


Roy and Jon - Heartbeat 86 - Photo © Gill@Magicarts


MK: ELO also did a great set that night , Were you a fan of the band and what do you think of Jeff Lynne and the success he went on to achive producing other artists including George Harrison, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and of course putting the Traveling Wilburys together

JC: Jeff's a bit of a genius isn't he - just like Roy in fact. I know there are lot's of stories that have been floating about for years that ELO was Roy's idea and Jeff pushed him out but personally I don't see it - they were the backbone of the Birmingham music scene and had been friends forever. You can't argue with Jeff's talent both as a writer and musician but also as a producer
I would love to have been a fly on the wall at some of those recording sessions!

Roy, John Young, Jim Davidson and Jon


MK: You went on to record an album with former Helicopters member Robin George and went on tour with his band, who else was in the band

JC: As I remember it Martin the late, great Kex Gorin was on drums, a guy called Hughie played second guitar and John Young (from Cathedrale) was on keyboards.


MK: What are you memories of working with Robin

JC: For a while I'd always wanted to play in a proper 'rock' band. It was good fun but as a bassist I must admit I found it a little bit limiting and it appeared from pretty early on that it it was all about promoting Robin as opposed to it being a proper band. This was fine but as time went on I found it a little uncomfortable.

MK: Was the music much different to what you had been playing with Roy

JC: As I said it was much more straight ahead rock - some very strong melodies on some of the material but nothing in comparison to playing with Woody - that was pure joy!!!

On stage at the Marquee in London - Photo © Martin Kinch


MK: Once the gigs with Roy and Robin dried up, what did you decide to do next

JC: Well I'd just moved to quite a large property in the wilds of Shropshire with lots of outbuildings and I wanted to build my own recording studio so that's what I did. I had met John Young while working with Robin and he and I formed Cathedrale.We got a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and came very close to being signed by Atlantic Records but over a period of time people drifted and it came to a natural end. That said I've put a compilation of songs that we recorded at my studio together and that is available from me if anyone is interested. It's sold pretty well and I've donated all the proceeds to animal charities here in England.
I also did a lot of recording at my studio as I set it up as a commercial enterprise. I also joined the legendary 'Groundhogs' (with Tony McPhee) and spent a couple of very happy years touring the UK and Europe. The band were a three piece so I had plenty of opportunity to stretch out on the bass! Tony Bodene (from Cathedrale) was on drums so a jolly good time was had by all

MK: Roy Wood actually ended up working on a Renaissance album called ‘Tuscany’ that was released in 2001, Is that an album you would have liked to have been involved with. I assume you have heard it, What are your thoughts about it

JC: I've heard the album, and without it sounding like sour grapes it doesn't do it for me really. John Tout and Terry Sullivan tell me that it wasn't a pleasant experience at all and I believe Roy left before the recording was finished so I'm glad I wasn't involved really.

MK: As we are doing this interview (Dec 2012) we have recently heard the tragic news that you former Renaissance band mate Michael Dunford has recently passed away, had you kept in touch with him, was there a chance that you may have worked together again, and what will you most remember about him, any favourite stories etc

JC: I find it difficult to talk about Michael as we were like brothers when we were in the band. He phoned me on the Friday before his death to ask me to work on a new project with him - I miss him every day.

MK: Do you think you will ever work with Annie Haslam again one day

JC: I don't think this will ever happen to be honest with you Martin. It's a real shame but some things are better left as they are. We were in contact when Michael passed away but we never discussed music.

MK: What projects are you working on at the moment

JC: John, Terry and myself are re-forming our own Renaissance. We've been asked to do an album and already have a tour of Japan lined up that will then spread to the USA and possibly Europe. I'm working on my own solo album which is going really well - I'm playing and singing everything myself-great fun! Terry is doing an album too and I'll be working on that with him - I've also written an orchestral/choral piece that should be performed in concert later this year.

MK: I haven’t really asked you much about your Renaissance days, mainly because others have done it better than I could do, and I’ve done this for my Roy Wood website so that other fans can read about your time with Roy. Would you like to work with Roy again one day And do you have any favourite stories to tell about you time working with him

JC: I would work with Roy anytime. Apart from being an amazing person he has always been one of my favourite writers and performers - he manages to tread that fine line between genius and lunacy - that's why everything he does is so different. As for stories there are many - perhaps too many and most of them are probably best not being catalogued here!!!

MK: Well Jon, Many thanks for taking up your time to do this and good luck in all you do in the future

JC: Martin it's been an absolute pleasure, You are probably the most informed person on the work of Woody - that's why your questions have been interesting and fun to do. Long may you continue to promte the 'Wizzard' that is Roy!!!

MK: Ha ! Thanks again Jon

Jon, Martin, and Roy

Roy and Jon - Photo © Gill@Magicarts


This interview is © Martin Kinch and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission


Back to the Clinic

web analytics