Rick Price - A Brief History.

STARTERS

I picked up my first guitar in 1957. It was for a school play at Colmers Farm Secondary Modern School in Birmingham. I picked up my second guitar in 1960 when I first realised that girls liked boys in groups…

I had been in full time education for nearly eight years without getting into a scrape. Then, at the age of thirteen, I managed to pick a fight with one of the hard men of the school. He wasn't totally hard like 'Masher' Mallet or Big Chris Dickenson, but he was in the second tier and not to be messed with. I wasn't particularly strong or brave for that matter, but dad had been an amateur boxer and had taught us kids to stick up for ourselves. We weren't tough guys but we could take care of ourselves. I can't remember why the argument started or got so heated but after a couple of minutes, the usual playground pushing and shoving gave way to actual fisticuffs. I swung at him and missed, then he hit me square on the chin. I can remember thinking "If that's the best you can do mate, this is going to be easy". Just then, everything went black.

Onlookers said I was out cold for five minutes but two of those minutes had been me lying still, with my eyes closed, trying to work out what had just transpired. I got over the embarrassment quickly enough, but something else had happened. I started to have panic attacks. Every day, I would get up ok, I would eat breakfast ok, I would walk to school ok, then not be able to walk into the building. I know now that it was all in my head, but it felt like a physical barrier.

If I persevered and forced myself through the door, I would actually throw up right there. The caretaker and me were on first name terms. This occurred every school day for five months, until the rehearsals for the school play took over all our lives and I just got over it. I hadn't a clue why. Many years later I realised it was probably the loss of self-esteem after the fight that started the attacks and the confidence boost of being in the play that stopped them. I can't explain the sensation as the curtain swished open on the first night of that play and I saw that sea of parent's faces, but the feeling has stayed with me all my life. Incidentally, so has the smell! A mixture of stage makeup, Nivea Cream and flatulence.

GROWING UP

Born in Birmingham in 1944, to Catherine and Frank Price. Dad, known as dad. Mom, known as Kate. I had three brothers – Geoff the youngest, Fred the oldest and Phil the middlest. One sister, Jean. Jean's husband Don was a very keen photographer and must have taken a gazillion pictures of me as a baby. We all lived in Northfield until I was eight years old. We then moved out to a new estate in Rednal, on the Worcestershire border with Birmingham. It was a magic place for kids – we had the whole of the Lickey Hills to play on. New school, new neighbours, new friends, new enemies.

The new school was a brand new, purpose built place with a fair share of fresh faced, eager young teachers. Mr. Thomas was the biz. He was the 'modern' one that knew all the words to the Johnny Ray and Guy Mitchell hits of the day. I was always singing or whistling in class and Mr. Thomas was the only one who wouldn't ask me to stop. He'd occasionally join in. He even taught me some of the words to 'Walking My Baby Back Home'. There was always music at home as well. Both older brothers played piano, one of them played violin. All my uncles sang. Mom and dad must have hoped that I would be a musical child. They even tried to send me to piano lessons at the age of six. I lasted two sessions before I revolted, and I've been revolting ever since.

Our new neighbours were the MacDonalds. Old Charlie (the dad) was a quiet Scotsman who ran the local Post Office sorting depot. Jessie (the mom) was known as 'Mac' to everybody in the street, including all the kids. 'Mac' was a diamond. The person everybody put upon. She was a great support to my mom, particularly during her many spells of ill health. The MacDonald kids were called Charles and Delise. We hit it off from the day we moved in.

Malcolm Turner lived at the other end of the street but we met at school and we became inseparable best mates until we were eighteen or so. We were the classic 'school buddies' who shared their first alcoholic drink, their first Woodbine cigarette and their first snog (not with each other, of course) with a dark-haired beauty from another estate. I'd take her to the cinema and then he'd walk her home. I was confused about girls. I still am.

New enemies? Well, that would be the old folks. Halfway up the street, there was a purpose built, manicured green area about the size of a football pitch. Perfect for playing games on, except that the council in their wisdom thought it would be a nice place to build a dozen 'Old Folks' bungalows. The bungalows ringed the park area. To us kids, the inhabitants were just miserable old buggers. To the old buggers, us kids must have seemed like the spawn of the devil. I mean, when your nine years old you just can't play quietly - It's not natural.

A bunch of young adventurers, at the age of eleven or twelve we were convinced that one of the old residents was a Witch. She would stand on her doorstep and shout abuse at us. What we heard was "I know where you live – I'll call the council" or "I'll have your foot off". This second comment was the most worrying because we'd sneaked a look through her kitchen window and all of us were convinced we'd seen body parts in jars!!

It turned out she was just a lonely old woman who was spending her few remaining years pickling fruit for what was left of her estranged family. What she was actually shouting was "I'll ring the council and have you put off". What imaginations we had.

I'm going to sound like an old git now, but in my day…… Well we made most of our entertainment for ourselves. Family get-togethers, singing around the piano. Even sadder, singing to the radio set. The exception to this was the Saturday visit to the local picture house. There was only ever a vague semblance of a queue and it cost sixpence to get in. It was known as the 'tanner crush'. The program was always the same: a cartoon, a short feature (usually a cowboy film) and a cliff-hanger serial. If the cliff-hanger was Superman, every boy that left that cinema thought he was the super hero. Hundreds of young hooligans running home in different directions with the sleeves of their navy blue raincoats tied around their grubby necks. Jumping off garden walls and climbing trees in strangers' gardens. Bloody Kids.

As my brother Geoff was four years younger than me, I was in charge of the cinema money. We had sixpence each as admission money and sixpence between us for 'some sweets'. We could, for example, get a Mars Bar for four- pence and four 'a'penny chews with the rest. A Cadbury's Cream Egg was a luxury at sixpence. One Saturday we decided to share one. Having broken many a Mars Bar in half, I didn't foresee a problem. So, on the way to the cinema we set about separating the two halves of the egg. Not being a scout, I didn't have a pen-knife. I did, however, have a sixpence!! Geoff held the egg while I sawed it. By the time we'd finished, there was chocolate and cream (both white and yellow) stuck all over our hands, our clothes and our admission money. I would now like to sincerely apologise to the poor woman that sold me the tickets.

At home we had an old Dansette record player and a few 78's, but next door the MacDonalds had a proper radiogram the size of a sideboard. This is where I first heard the Tommy Steele recordings of "Rock With The Caveman" and "Singing The Blues". My own record collection was a bit thin and not very promising. I had "The Indian Love Call" by Slim Whitman and "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Pretty cool eh?

Malcolm Turner and me managed to con our respective folks into buying us both an acoustic guitar. Mine cost five quid and his was eight pounds ten shillings. There were ten of us would-be guitarists in the school play, which was directed by Mr. Smith, the maths teacher. Mr Walsh, the English teacher, taught us to play guitar. Well, he showed us three chords, dressed us as cowboys and made us play 'Please Sell No More Drinks To My Father'. Fortunately our encore was a rousing version of 'Rock Island Line' or we might all have been emotionally scarred forever. I believe Mr Walsh regularly formed a guitar club for years afterwards.

To help buy more records I took on two paper-rounds at Clay's newsagent in Edgewood Road, Rednal. The managers name was Bill Argyle and the owners were Mr and Mrs Scott. The Scott's always needed someone to run errands and Bill regularly gave me the jobs. The Scott's were also very good tippers. I often earned more from their tips than from the paper-rounds. The shop closed at seven thirty every night, after which I swept the floor – another five bob a week! This time next year Rodney…..

On a Friday, flush with wages I would take a bag of American Gums and my five quid guitar and serenade Jennifer Howlett on her front lawn. Her dad would put up with it for an hour or so, but she was always called in before dark. Smart dad or what? Jennifer was my biggest schoolboy crush.

As well as records and American Gums, the paper-round money came in useful for buying clothes too. Mom used to run a clothing catalogue for family and friends and in the 1958 Brian Mills book, there was a pair of 'drainpipe' jeans to die for. Would she let me buy them? Over her dead body. I wanted them so bad that I had to get a friend to order them for me and give him the money. The jeans were black with a fancy turn-up piped in white. The turn-up looked like the top of a cowboy boot – cool. Oh, and ridiculous. I wore them to one dance at Edgewood Hall – not many people took the piss.

By the late fifties my musical influences were Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Cliff Richard and Lonnie Donegan. Don't ask me why Lonnie is in there - I just like him. At the age of twelve, the first time I ever escaped my parents on holiday in Weston-super-Mare – I found my way into an amusement arcade and the jukebox was playing his recording of "Rock Island Line". The track behind the vocal consists of just acoustic guitar, stand- up bass and washboard but it really rocks. Put it on a 50's juke box and crank it up over the sound of flippers and flying ball-bearings and it really comes into its own. In a nostalgic moment, I visited the same arcade again recently but the smell of oil and dirty pennies had gone. It was totally NOT the same.

I had to wait until 1972 before I managed to see Lonnie Donegan play live, and although he had probably passed the high point of his performing career, it was still magical. Legend has it that Lonnie was only paid a normal session fee of three pounds ten shillings for the job of starting the whole UK rock & roll bandwagon.

A PROPER JOB

September 1960, I had just started work at Radio Rentals in Kings Heath and was being trained as a TV service engineer by Ray Williams and Bob Watkins. In the beginning, after my mom had taken out my bus fares, I was earning ten shillings a week less than on the paper-rounds that I had just given up! My shop manager was called Mr. Simpkin. A nice enough chap who put up with a lot from me, but he constantly played Shirley Bassey records - pooh! Well, pooh! at the time – I don't mind her now. In fact, I think she's brill. Bob Watkins on the other hand, had made his own electric guitar and could play it through his radio set! This meant that he could tune to Radio Luxembourg and play along to Cliff and The Shadows on a Tuesday night. My hero. This sounds positively pre-historic now but it was serious, cutting edge stuff in 1960. Once I had heard the noise that Bob could make with this invention, there was no going back. Within days, I had my Grundig tape recorder and my old acoustic plugged into Moms radio. Feedback heaven.

I pestered my Mom and Dad until they cracked under the strain and bought me an electric guitar and amplifier etc. I didn't realise at the time but my Dad must have spent the best part of ten weeks wages on that first piece of proper kit. It consisted of a Futurama guitar, made in Czechoslovakia (forty two pounds ten shillings and sixpence), a Watkins Dominator amplifier (forty nine pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence) a Watkins Copicat echo unit (not sure of the price) a mic and stand and an Italian suit. Apart from the suit, all purchased from Jones and Crossland, which was the music store in the 1960's. The shop was about twenty yards from Alex's pie stall, which was the pie stall. We were just beginning to see pictures of Hank Marvin with the red Stratocaster that CLIFF had given to him. Plus, suddenly, The Shadows sound was taking shape with the addition of complicated echo effects, so everybody had to have an echo unit. My first setup certainly wasn't the red Strat and Vox amp that we all lusted after, but it did the job.

My first band all plugged into my little blue amp for rehearsals, turned up flat out, it must have sounded like shite, but we all felt so hip. About this time, I went to see The Shadows at Birmingham Town Hall and the biggest surprise was how quiet they were. I was in the fifth row back and I could hear Bruce's pick hitting the strings!

By 1963 (just over two years into my apprenticeship) I broke my parents hearts by swapping my "job with prospects" for a driving job, with Wrensons the Grocer. I had decided that this would allow me to spend more time practising and rehearsing with the band. I had to face it, although I'd been messing around with radio sets since I was five years old and it had been a life long ambition to work in the industry, I was crap at being a TV service engineer. I could do all the practical stuff in my sleep. It was the theory that I just couldn't get. The first year at college I managed to get 51% which was the minimum pass mark. The second year I managed 85% but everyone else was up in the high nineties. The end of term report makes sad reading, the only place I got 100% was in the attendance column.

Mom and Dad were choked when I first left Radio Rentals. They had made a lot of sacrifices to get me an apprenticeship, so a sudden change of tack from a stroppy eighteen-year-old must have been difficult to deal with. (Please note: A normal eighteen year old in 1962 had about the same civil rights as the average eight year old does today). Eventually they warmed to the idea, and they were both totally involved in my so-called career from then on.

Dad was a terrific organiser and great at carrying gear and setting it up long before we knew what a road manager was. Mom was the caterer from heaven. Almost every memory I have of the time includes loads of, mainly, home-made food. Ask my brother Phil about Cal Denning and the Jaffa cakes! Cal was such a dapper dresser and so fussy about his appearance. He spent longer than a woman in the bathroom, but he ate like a camel with a cold.

It wasn't just Mom and Dad who helped though - my brother Phil became our manager. My brother Fred recorded our early efforts on a machine built by a chap named David Fouracre. We set the whole band up in my Mom's lounge and Fred set up the recorder in the kitchen. David Fouracre was part of the team at Streetly Electronics that later developed the Mellotron. I've searched every nook and cranny but can't find any of those old recordings.

My Uncle Frank became a promoter. We did Frank's gig once a week. It was usually in a village hall in Harborne, Birmingham. I met my first grown up girl friend at that gig. Her name was Margy Ellis. She knew the harmony line to every Everly Brothers song ever released. I loved her so much that, for the sake of an extra cuddle, I would regularly miss my last bus home which left me with a six-mile walk. No, really! Then I met my second grown up girl friend. Her name was Susan Green, she was best friend to my cousin Anne. I'd fancied her for six months before I got up the nerve to ask her out. On our first date, we ended up alone in her parents house but I was so nervous that I ran away. That was it for Susan and me.

WHAT'S IN A NAME

My first official group was called The Cimarrons. After 'Apache' was a hit for The Shadows, it seemed that every other guitar instrumental had a Red Indian sounding name. Totally non-PC of course but we wanted a name, for the band, that reflected a Red Indian background. Alan Hicks and I studied a map of North America looking for a place name that we could use. Then we found a river in New Mexico called The Cimarron. The other members of the group were all really pleased with the name and we all felt very Red Indiany. Naturally, we wrote a tune called "The Cimarron" which we played like an anthem at the start of every gig. Pretentious? We all imagined the name had been part of native North American history for thousands of years. We later found out that the name had come from the Spanish for "Wild". In hindsight we probably should have found the Spanish for "mild". Members at various times included Alan Hicks - Maurice Preece - Peter Withers - Thatch – Dave Spilsbury - Malcolm Turner - John Shepherd - Cal Denning (John Fletcher) - Lee Zenith (Ray Hyde) and me.

By now I was playing a Burns Trisonic guitar through a Selmer amplifier and a Swissecho unit (Big Time). We were a covers band that was as close to The Shadows as any four spotty youths (with the wrong equipment and no style) could be. Malcolm Turner, my schoolmate, was the first vocalist. Cal Denning was the second and Lee Zenith was the third. There might have been a fourth but before we managed to find someone, the rest of us discovered that we could do it ourselves (sing, that is). We became a four-piece and learnt every Beatles song on every album.

The Cimarrons recorded 'Pretend' for an L.P. called Brum Beat. The line up for Brum Beat was a collection of Birmingham groups, hurriedly thrown together and recorded in the hope that people would turn to the Birmingham sound when they got bored with The Beatles. I'm still holding my breath. I managed to upgrade my gear to a Fender Telecaster, a Binson Echo unit and a Fender Tremolux amp. We worked mainly around the Midlands area and appeared alongside acts such as Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers, The Tornados and Little Stevie Wonder (I lent him my amp – he gave me a harmonica). One of the guitar heroes and innovators at the time was Mick Green of The Pirates. He seemed to be getting a more American sound than anybody else.

When we worked with Johnny Kidd and The Pirates at Rubery Social Club, I asked him what type of strings he played, and in the true spirit of musician's comradeship he said (in an Arthur Mullard voice) "Rum and Blackcurrent, mate". Later, he did hand me the guitar, and it all became clear – light gauge strings with a plain 'G' string. What a revelation! At the time, most of us idiots were using the factory-supplied gauges, which were .012 to .056. If I wanted to bend my 'G' string – I needed a fork-lift. Modest.

Regular venues at the time included The Hen and Chickens at Langley, where we supported The Hollies and Denny Laine and The Diplomats, and The Winter Gardens in Droitwich where we played every Wednesday. At The Matrix Ballroom in Coventry, we missed playing with the (not yet famous) Beatles by one day. They were supporting The John Barry Seven, who had just had 'The James Bond Theme' in the top twenty. I remember looking at the poster and thinking the word Beetles was spelt wrong.

The Cimarrons greatest achievement was attaining second place in the Locarno Ballroom Rhythm Group Competition. Mr. Jones, of Jones and Crossland presented the cup. This band was together from late 1962 until early 1966 when, for no particular reason, it became time to move on.

Truth be told, towards the end The Cimarrons seemed to be forever replacing members. Every few weeks, a new drummer. We ended up rehearsing more than working. While working at Wrensons Grocers, I had met Grant Kearney. He was also in a group and the stories he told always seemed so much more exciting than mine! When he offered me a job with The Sombreros, I took it without hesitation. Grant had a friend called Jo Burton, she managed a record shop in Northfield. I'd spend all my lunch-times in there, just listening to records, drinking coffee and chatting up Jo.

SIGHT & SOUND

I joined The Sombreros soon to change their name to Sight & Sound. Members at various times were: Grant Kearney - Peter Smith - Joe Dignam - Ken Underwood - Bob Doyle - Geoff Turton, Tony Collinge and me. At last I'd attained the Fender Strat and the Vox AC30. The repertoire of the new band was mainly Beach Boys and Four Seasons etc. I had loved vocal harmony sounds since childhood, as my Mom's brothers were all great singers. I was often taken to see them perform in choirs or barbershop quartet competitions. Grant Kearney, who had moved from guitar to bass when I joined, was a master at vocal harmony arranging. At the time I took his talent for granted but have since realised that he was the driving force behind the whole thing.

By 1967 Sight & Sound had turned themselves into a flower power group. We were suddenly all kaftans and beads and love and peace etc. The band worked hard under the management of Mike Carroll for two years. We went to Germany for a month because it seemed as if every band that did that came home famous. Sadly, we would be the exception to that rule. We would work fifty minutes every hour from seven in the evening until two in the morning. We could only finish early if the club was empty. Even one punter meant that you had to keep going. Because we weren't paid until the end of the second week, we had to live on tinned food that we had taken out with us from the UK. I can tell you now, that a diet of mainly baked beans is not at all compatible with seven hours on stage.

Various record deals came and went but no chart success. We released 'Ebenezer', 'Little Jackie Monday' and 'Alley Alley', all written by Mike Sheridan and me. I'm not sure how we came to write the 'A' sides, we had only just started writing together. Mike had been writing songs for a while, so was quite accomplished. I had only ever written the Cimarrons theme tune!! One afternoon out of the blue, Mike asked me over to his house in Northfield and it all started from there. He had an old steam piano at home with a microphone set so close to the strings that every note you played was accompanied by a percussive 'thunk'. It was very inspiring, like an early rhythm box.

Sometimes we'd write at my place, sometimes at his, usually about twice a week. The wives didn't approve, they thought it was another way of getting out of the decorating. While Roy Wood was penning such lyrics as: "If this perfect pleasure has a key" Mike and I were coming up with nuggets like: "He's the type of man who peels an orange in his pocket". When we weren't writing songs, we'd write plays. Well, we'd improvise them straight on to tape, both taking two or three parts, with the one who wasn't doing dialogue making mouth sound effects. You'd have to hear them to see the funny side. Our wives did and still didn't.

Pop radio in the UK was still very limited. Most lunchtimes the Light Programme had a live broadcast either from the studio or from some factory canteen or other. There would be a couple of resident singers (one boy, one girl) and a big band such as the Northern Dance Orchestra, whose hip name was the NDO. This line up would perform cover versions of the popular tunes of the day. Mostly songs out of the chart, but sometimes a newcomer got a chance. This is how we got to hear balladeer Vince Hill singing 'Ebenezer'. I wonder what he made of that?

GISS A JOB

By the beginning of 1969, flower power was over and Sight & Sound had become a harmony / comedy band. This seems like a strange mixture now, but at the time there were lots of groups doing the same sort of thing. Mike Sheridan was our Comedy Guru and the first version of our new act was mostly a poor copy of Mike's old act. It got us loads of work in social clubs all around the country though - so who cared? My part of the act included an uncanny impersonation of Wayne Fontana followed by a very unflattering impression of Roy Wood.

Roy came to see Sight & Sound at a club one dark January night in 1969. He swept in wearing a long black cloak - looking all mysterious and offered me a job with The Move. Presumably, he had missed the impression! I was a Move fan at the time and had even taken Jo on a date to one of their concerts. The original line-up of The Move was definitely the best. The strong four and five part harmonies were virtually unheard of in British pop music at the time. Added to that, they seemed to have a vast supply of obscure American material which was the envy of every other band. Before Roy swept in that night, I had never spoken to, or even met, any of the group. I was taken completely by surprise and, of course, said yes.

Well, it was just as if Elvis had offered me a job! 'Blackberry Way' was in the charts and headed for number one. There had been rumours for a while that The Move were looking for a new bass player, but most people expected it to be offered to Richard Tandy or Jeff Lynne. The job would not go to a relatively inexperienced chap like me. The Shadows had recently broken up for the first time so they even asked Hank Marvin to join.

All that night I talked it over with my Mom and my girlfriend Jo, and at seven o'clock the next morning, having not slept myself, I woke up Mike Carroll (The Manager) to tell him the news. When he saw me on the doorstep so early, he must have thought there had been a death in the family. My usual waking hours at the time were three in the afternoon until four in the morning. As he filled the kettle he said, "What's up? - Don't tell me you're leaving the band". When I said yes, most of the tea things ended up on the floor.

We had just spent five hundred pounds on new band photographs and publicity and all of it would now be out of date. He must have been very angry but he had the decency to sit me down and talk to me about the pitfalls of wealth and fame etc. and about the way my life was about to change beyond recognition. Eventually, we did part on good terms, although we have rarely spoken since. That's probably down to me because, supposedly, my attitude to people changed completely. I'm told I went through a period of being a complete twat.

It is hard to look at yourself in those terms, but over the years I have met plenty of newly successful 'turns' who have changed overnight when fame and money came their way. With this in mind, I'm prepared to accept the word of my alleged friends when they insist that I was once one of those flash tossers. Thanks Mick, thanks Laurie.

There were various versions of Sight & Sound under Mike Carroll's management for a long time after all the founder members had left the building.

THE MOVE

So I joined Bev Bevan, Carl Wayne and Roy Wood to become part of The Move #3. At the time that I joined The Move they had 'Blackberry Way' moving up the chart, and before I had learned half the stage show they were at number one. I appeared on 'Lift Off with Ayshea' and 'Top of The Pops' wearing a shirt borrowed from Roy and a pair of Carl Wayne's trousers and shoes. It was my own hair and teeth, honest. The first session that I recorded was 'Curly' and 'This Time Tomorrow'. Little did I know that the group was already in its death throes.

All I knew was, I was going to be a pop star. To me, that meant performing. Nothing else. The machinations of management were a mystery to me. I didn't realise that Peter Walsh Management was steering The Move towards the respectable side of the business. Underground clubs in Ireland soon turned into cabaret clubs in Newcastle and Birmingham. As the new boy, I was on wages and had no input into the business side of things (something I'd live to regret in the not too distant future). Not that I would have been any help at all, I knew nothing about the business. "What business? - This is just for fun isn't it?"

We did quite a lot of cabaret work, much to Carl's delight and Roy's disgust. It wasn't that Carl preferred cabaret work, I think he could see that there was a large untapped market out there. Roy, on the other hand, hated the whole concept. I have vivid memories of an adventurous evening at Batley Variety Club, involving a flying vodka and orange. Over a period of about six months we did most of the Baileys clubs and a few obscure rooms in the north east of England. One evening we wandered into Baileys night-club in Birmingham to look at the room before we performed there, and ROY ORBISON was on stage!

We also toured the USA later that year. It was a tour that should have taken place back in January, but Trevor Burton leaving and me joining the band meant it had to be put off for eight months.

When I say toured the USA, don't run away with the idea that it was all articulated trucks and air-conditioned tour busses - no sir. Five of us, Carl, Roy, Bev, me and Upsy (Loveable Roadie) in a car with a U-Haul trailer on the back - full of gear. Exactly like the words of the song, we drove from Chicago to L.A. along Route 66. Two days off in L.A. and then, after playing The Whisky on Sunset Strip, another long drive up to San Francisco. Upsy and Carl shared the driving. Our prize at the end was that we shared a stage and a dressing room with Little Richard and Joe Cocker.

My drink was spiked that night, my one and only acid trip. Not recommended. It's bad enough taking that muck when you do it on purpose, but quite another thing when you've got no idea why you are feeling so weird! After the concert I was suddenly feeling unwell. Not sick, not dizzy but at the risk of sounding like Phoebe Buffay - strangely hover(y).

Upsy kindly offered to run me back to the hotel and return later for the others. When the rest of the lads got back they found me semi-conscious in the middle of what appeared to be a burgled room. We hadn't been burgled, I had ransacked it, and was in the process of unwinding all of Bev's exposed film. He was not a happy drummer boy, and when it became obvious that I was not about to calm down and let them sleep, he very kindly offered to knock me out. Thankfully, Roy and Carl decided a better course of action would be to take me for a long midnight walk. We walked to a coffee shop where they sat with me most of the night. It was the last night of the tour and we were flying home next day. In the morning, still no better, the others bundled me onto the plane where I slept all the way back to Heathrow. Thank God!

The whole Route 66 journey had been a hideous nightmare. We had been booked into a series of Motels along the route, all sharing one family room. These rooms usually housed one double, two singles and a camp bed - cosy. We had been chased out of a roadside diner/bar by rednecks looking to pick a fight with these longhaired English faggots. When we got to Los Angeles, the hotel that we were booked into refused to admit us. As we walked into the lobby a local looked us up and down slowly and recited those immortal words: "Well, I'll be dipped in shit". It was the first time I'd heard that phrase. I've used it myself many times since, but never to such good effect.

We then had to check in to The Hyatt House on Sunset Strip. All the visiting bands stayed there. It was known locally as the riot house. This is the place where TV's first went out of bedroom windows. Where things were thrown off the roof etc. It sounds like a dump, but it wasn't. After two weeks of sharing a room with the other four, it was sheer luxury to have my own loo at last. The tour was mostly a disaster, done on a shoestring budget.

Because we had a day or so to spare, we decided to visit the offices of A&M Records in Hollywood. They were our record company in the USA. Imagine the blow to our egos when we arrived and nobody knew who we were. Eventually we were invited into one of the pluggers' offices. He waited until we were all present before he pulled our record from the bottom of an extremely dusty pile. Was he trying to make a point, d'ya think? Am I making one now by not remembering his name?

Back home I thought things couldn't be better. How naοve. I was on great money, appearing in magazines and on TV. My Mom could now watch in colour thanks to my new-found wealth. She also filled scrapbooks as if her very life depended on it. I discovered some newspaper cuttings in my Mom's scrapbooks after she died. Some of those magazine articles make me cringe when I read them now. It seems that I had an opinion on everything. I mean, I voiced an opinion then on stuff that I don't even have an opinion about now. You see, flash tosser. Thanks Mick, thanks Laurie.

Although Carl and Roy were finding it harder and harder to work together, nobody was letting on. It wouldn't be long before Carl would leave, but I didn't know it at the time. Most of their disagreements took place in private and, as the management company felt no responsibility toward me, I was the last to know most things.

I left The Move in February 1971, or at least it left me. By then Jeff Lynne had replaced Carl Wayne and although we did half a dozen live performances, it was clear that everyone else in the band was concentrating on the formation of ELO. The first ELO album was started as a Move project. I played bass on all the original tracks, but I have it on good authority that Roy re-recorded all my parts. Hmmm, consigned to digital heaven.

Having such a change of financial circumstances when I joined THE MOVE had allowed Jo and me to put a deposit on a house and get married. Here we were, two and a half years later and despite further hits without Carl, it was all over and we were struggling to pay the mortgage. I was doing the occasional gig, not taking a proper job in case the phone should ring! Jo had to work shifts to pay some of the bills. Both our families chipped in and helped us out from time to time and somehow, with the help of a brilliant solicitor named Aiden Cotter, we managed to hold on to the house. At one point the TV shop even tried to repossess our telly. Cheek!

RIK,MIK and LOL

Around 1970 I'd realised that I needed a manager of my own. Deals were being done that went way over my head and I needed help. Enter Laurie Mansfield. Laurie had been a friend of Jo's for some years, but had recently moved into management of artistes. He had previously been a record company salesman. Oh yes, and he hates being called Lol.

Laurie was based in an office in Leicester Square, which sounded posh enough to me. The senior partners in the firm had been at it for donkey's years. They represented the hottest acts at the time, David Nixon, Rolf Harris and Charlie Drake to name but three. Together (but mostly Laurie) we managed to get an advance for two solo albums from Eddie Kassner at Gemini Records.

Things went fairly badly from day one. Laurie was daft enough to let me look after the advance royalty, and at the time the notion of "budgets" was a mystery to me. I caught up on my mortgage payments, cleared my Amex card and then thought about the recording costs. It took me about two years to pay off the musicians and studio fees. I phoned the record company on April the 5th 2001 to see how my royalties stood. To my horror, I still owed them seven thousand pounds! Which I suppose means we did a good deal if nothing else. Laurie was to pop in and out of my life at very opportune moments from this moment on.

The first Gemini album was just OK - just. The second was complete crap. Actually, it wasn't even that good. I'd love to lay the blame somewhere, but it was all down to me. The best memory I have of it is my five year old son, Warwick, sitting in the corner of the vocal booth eating Jelly Tots while I was laying vocal tracks at the rate of four an hour. I haven't heard it since I recorded it and what's more, I have no desire to do so. So, if anybody reading this thinks I'd be thrilled to get a copy through the post - forget it. When Laurie phoned Eddie Kassner to tell him I was disappointed with the design of the cover, Eddie's reply was "Has he heard the poxy record?"

Laurie also did a deal for Mike Sheridan and me. Mike and I had been writing together for some time and had a shelf full of new songs. Somehow the songs made their way from our shelf to Laurie's shelf, where most of them still are to this day, even though Laurie has moved offices twice! Mike and I had written most of the songs recorded by Sight & Sound and all of the material for our own release "This is to certify that...". I must say, It is a wonder that we wrote anything at all considering the type of encouragement given to us by our respective spouses. Mike's first wife Ann and my Jo both had a way of listening to a new song and just passing a withering look between them. Both of us have continued to write with very little success, so maybe the women-folk were right.

Even stuff that escapes such as 'Lightning Never Strikes Twice' has somehow been wrongly credited to Mr. Wood. Not Roy's fault – a clerical error.

COME BACK CARL

Back to 1971. This is when Carl Wayne decided he wanted to put out a package show. It would consist of himself, myself and a band from Wolverhampton called Light Fantastic. This way he could offer a club a whole night's worth of entertainment without them having to bother with support acts or lights and sound etc. The band would open with a song. I'd go on and do twenty minutes then the band would close act one. Act two would consist of Carl doing twenty minutes of cabaret type songs, then I would join him for a twenty-minute-long finale of hits etc. Sounds good on paper, but hands up anybody that thought it might work out.

First of all, Light Fantastic actually were - fantastic. All great singers. All good looking lads. The front man, Ian (Sludge) Lees, was a great singer and a great comic! Plus, their act ended sensationally with a coffin being set alight and Dracula jumping out of it to chase female punters around the room. Most of them dying to be caught. This is how they closed act one. Needless to say, Carl and me in act two were a bit of an anti-climax. If only Buffy had been around at the time.

I messed around for a few months with solo projects, but then got another call from Carl. He wanted a backing band for his new cabaret act. As the Light Fantastic thing had so nearly worked out, I was looking forward to working with him again. Maybe this time we would make a better fist of it. When Carl called me, he had already spoken to Keith Smart and a couple of others, and booked The Club Cedar in Birmingham for the rehearsals. Well strangely, we never saw Carl. He had chosen a great selection of material. He would send tapes of songs and arrangements to be learnt, but he never actually showed up. In the end, frustrated by months of constant rehearsal and no work, we added a few self penned tunes and took Carl's set on the road, with our pianist Bob Brady taking most of the lead vocal.

MONGREL

The band was called Mongrel. The name came about because we felt it reflected the fact that we had all come from different bands. Members were Keith Smart - Charlie Grima - Bob Brady - Roger Hill - Stuart Scott and me. Although we were only together for six months or so, we got a record deal with Polydor. We managed to record a whole album and then...

Early summer 1972 Mongrel was supporting Heads, Hands & Feet. We were all great fans of the band that included Albert Lee and Chas Hodges and we were looking forward (nervously) to supporting them at The Belfry Hotel. After the gig, Roy Wood did his "sweeping in" thing again. This time he offered the whole band a job, and with the exception of two of the guys, Mongrel became Wizzard overnight. Bob Brady and Stuart Scott brought in the lovely Megan Davis and re-cut some of the material on the Mongrel album. Once again, some of my bass tracks were consigned to digital heaven. There must be more up there, than there are down here.

Four more months of rehearsal but by December of that year we had 'Ball Park Incident' at number six in the chart. There followed six top ten singles including two at number one. During that time we experimented with new sounds, new instruments, new people. The regular line up ended up being: Roy Wood - Bill Hunt - Keith Smart - Charlie Grima - Nick Pentelow - Mike Burney - Hugh McDowell, Trevor Smith and me. Later, Bill, Trevor and Hugh left the band and Bob Brady joined. Thankfully, he didn't bring Stuart with him.

Don Arden was the bands' manager. He had a fearsome reputation, but despite all the rumours I knew him for four years and only ever saw a gentle side to him. In business, he took no prisoners and he always aimed high. Consequently, The first live Wizzard gig was at Wembley Stadium. We shared the stage with Gary Glitter (unaware of the danger) and a host of rock & roll stars.

My favourite memory of that day is watching Bill Haley sob like a baby, as a crowd of 85,000 gave him a five-minute ovation before he'd played a note. He wasn't ready to be a rock star the first time around, how could he deal with this? He did, he dried the tears and tore into his set like a teenager.

WIZZARD

Almost from the day Wizzard was formed we were never off the television. We had outrageous costumes, we had road managers dressed as gorillas and even Mike Sheridan made an appearance as a second Roy Wood. Every time we got a 'Top of The Pops' we felt obliged to come up with even more outrageous outfits. Well we did have Sweet and Mud to contend with.

With the release of 'Ball Park Incident' a UK tour was the next step. We would need a p.a. system, a regular sound-man, a road crew. It's a bit of a blur but we went through lots of road crew, Pete Shepherd and Richard Battle lasted the longest as far as I can remember. Both of the above were gorillas at one time or another.

I can't remember why but we decided to buy, rather than rent a p.a. system. Trevor Smith had a mate who built mixers. We ordered a forty-channel custom built jobby. We struggled with this thing for about two weeks before we opened it up to find the inputs wired to the outputs, bypassing all the channel controls except the fader volume. Lesson learned, we rented from then on.

We recorded loads of great tracks. 'Wizzard Brew' was a bit outside the rules, but 'Eddie And The Falcons' was excellent. Thanks to Roy's writing and production all the singles were outstanding, and although it sounds corny, when we were mixing 'See My Baby Jive', we did know it was a hit.

It was a blazing hot summers day when we recorded the Kerr-ching for the opening of 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday'. The idea of a "Christmas Single" was brand new in 1973. Previous December hits had been things like 'Two Little Boys' by Rolf Harris and 'Ernie (the fastest milkman in the west)' by Benny Hill. When Roy first suggested a song specifically aimed at the Christmas market, we all thought it was a great and revolutionary new idea. We didn't have any idea that Noddy and Slade had got one lined up too.

There is no doubt that Roy Wood is one of the nicest, kindest, most generous men on the planet. There is no doubt that he is one of the most talented and under-rated songwriters ever, but his attitude to money in 1973 made me look like Donald Trump and Bill Gates rolled into one. When we finished recording 'Angel Fingers' it was rumoured that we had spent more time in the studio than Paul McCartney had with the whole of the 'Band On The Run' album. Whether it was true or not, this meant that most of the record company's money was spent in studio time and that the members of the band had to rely on live touring work for their income. A couple of tours in the UK and one tour of the USA were not enough to ensure regular wages for the band. One by one the band members found other, more lucrative, things to occupy their time.

We had done a reasonably successful tour of the USA, but we had failed to capitalise on it. There was certainly more money involved than there was for the Move tour, but although the record company had changed, the record company attitude had not. There is a lot of bullshit in the record business, but despite the record company's apparent inability to promote our records, we and especially Roy seemed to get a truly warm reception wherever we went. If Wizzard or indeed just Roy had stayed in the States for a few months, I'm sure it would have been a different story.

About two months before the American tour, Roy and I were invited out to do a short promotional tour of the radio stations around Los Angeles. We were wined and dined by Warner Brothers Records who seemed, at the time, to be ready to pull out all the stops to promote this new UK talent. We had chauffeurs. We had guides. We had tickets to Disneyland and to a Carol King concert. They arranged a meeting with Elvis, which kept getting postponed and was finally cancelled altogether. They did get us a meeting with Brian Wilson and being a complete Beach Boys anorak, I couldn't wait.

When the day finally came, I wished I had waited. A limo took us to his house where a woman that we assumed was his housekeeper invited us in. We had already sent over a copy of 'Forever' for Brian to listen to and the young Wilson girls sang it to us as we drove through the gates. Roy had written and sung it in the style of The Beach Boys and we thought that the production had captured the sound that they were creating at the time. It wasn't a piss take, it was a tribute. We sat in Brian's music room for about half an hour, imagining that he may have created Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations sitting at that piano, before we were invited into what looked like a garage with a bed in it.

We were altogether unprepared for what followed. He was very poorly. Bloated by drugs and food, he was alarmingly overweight and totally bed- ridden. He was lying on his back and it was all he could do to turn his head to look at us. Think Elvis and double it. It was a saddening and shocking sight. All of L.A. knew about Brian's lifestyle and the minders from Warner Brothers Records had assumed that we did too. We didn't.

To see the genius that had created such great work in such a pitiful mess was a life-changing event. The gift that we had sent to him, clearly hadn't helped his mental state either. He was convinced that the vocal had been done by his brother Carl and from the all too brief conversation that followed, it was obvious that the playing of our record had only served to increase his paranoia.

As I left I was sure I had just spoken to a dead man. Happily I was wrong. Although it took him twenty years, he appears to have crawled out of the hell that he had created for himself. OK Warner Brothers, now I'd like to meet him.

By the beginning of 1975 Roy was concentrating on his own material and Wizzard was more or less finished as a going concern. A second tour of the USA had fallen through because the band members, including myself, had wanted more money. We felt we'd done the first tour on the cheap and that feeling, along with the big spending on the recordings, made us believe that someone was taking advantage. Looking back, I'd say that we could easily have negotiated a deal, but tempers were frayed and it all got a bit silly.

I stayed on for a few months. Mike Burney was around too. I was helping Roy in the office and the studio with his own project, and even living in a flat over the office, two hundred miles from my family. The lack of live work meant that I had no real income. Suddenly, I was aware that I was turning into a secretary and I didn't like it much. Mike Sheridan felt so sorry for me that he created a job. The Nightriders gained a pedal steel guitarist for a few months and I got to know the wife again.

PETERS AND LEE

Early one morning in January 1976 I got a phone call from Laurie Mansfield, who was now managing an act called Peters & Lee.

Laurie

"Do you fancy a job as Peters & Lee's Tour Manager?"

Me

"Get lost Lol, are you insane? I'm a musician for Christ's sake!"

Well, I did own a guitar. And Peters & Lee - perlease! To be honest, they seemed a bit wishy-washy to me. They were the kind of act that I would have been sending up in a comedy routine not too many years before. I had banged the phone down in a rage, but as I looked at the pile of bills and pictured Jo once again struggling up the front path, through the snow with her hard earned wages, common sense prevailed and I called Laurie back to say yes.

Having previously been my manager and a friend of the wife, Laurie knew I was skint and that I would have worked for peanuts, but still offered me eighty quid a week (that was loads back then, and the answer to a prayer). Don Arden warned that if I got into management and stopped performing, I would never go back to it. I knew he was probably right, but went ahead anyway.

Laurie had asked me to meet Lennie and Dianne in their dressing room at Stratford on Avon. The meeting went well and Laurie offered me a trial period of four weeks while Lennie and Dianne were working at The Talk of The Town in London.

At the time, The Talk of The Town was a very prestigious floorshow and you knew you had made it if you were booked to work there. On the first day of rehearsal, unaware at the time of the pecking order of 'proper' show biz, I swanned in wearing my ball hugging, flared trouser'd suit (the one I'd bought to meet Elvis). Add to this a bright red teddy boy style overcoat and my curly Henna'd perm flowing behind me like a bridal train. I walked straight through front-of-house, past the choreographer, the producers, the designers and worst of all – the director, Robert Nesbitt. Up the steps on to the stage to say hello to my new employers.

Well, I'd never heard such language. Actually I had, but not from posh people like directors or producers and such. Fortunately, Lennie and Dianne saw the funny side. Watching their act on stage during that four weeks, I realised that they had a very special quality indeed. Suddenly, what they were doing wasn't so damned funny anymore. It was captivating – it was chocolate cake. Anyway, Lennie's mother packed up the best liver sausage sandwiches I'd ever tasted. At the end of the four weeks, not only had I passed my trial period, I also felt like one of the family.

As a tour manager, with the exception of actually getting the gigs and TV work etc, you are responsible for practically everything the act does, day or night, on stage or off. Booking hotels and flights, driving them when necessary, carrying bags, buying a loaf! You don't have to be a rocket scientist - just organised and awake. After six months I felt as if I'd got that tee-shirt, and started to feel restless. I missed playing in a band. Then to my relief, because of my background, I was offered the chance to mix Lennie and Dianne's live sound.

OK, so it was a cheap way for Laurie to get some consistency into their live sound. I didn't care, it was more money in the bank and more responsibility. One thing led to another and eventually I produced two of their albums and played guitar and pedal steel in their band. They worked non-stop until 1980. We toured every bit of the UK and then dates in New York and Nashville, followed by a tour of New Zealand and Australia with Harry Secombe.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I moonlighted the 'Wizzo' gig, which made one live TV/radio broadcast before breaking up. Spookily, the show was called 'Sight And Sound'.

Because of the nature of the Wizzo band, Roy decided we would need a conductor to stand out of shot, controlling the readers in the group. Mike Alexander was approached and agreed to do the job as long as he wasn't credited. He didn't want to upset his current employers. On the day, in true 'Musical Director' fashion, he turned up in his best Tuxedo. And to ensure he wasn't recognised, a Jimi Hendrix wig.

THE COMEDIANS FRIEND

In 1980 Peters & Lee broke up and went their separate ways. I worked with Dianne on her solo tour for a year before answering a call from Laurie Mansfield (It's him again!). He had Jim Davidson going out with a massive rock and roll type production. Jim was taking a ten-piece band, a lighting and laser show and, best of all, he needed a quadraphonic sound system for the tour. I didn't jump at this chance straight away because the previous time I'd seen Jim, I was (sort of) the enemy.

My only previous experience of Jim had been when he was supporting Lennie and Dianne in a Torquay summer show. It was the last year that he would be a support artist as his TV appearances were becoming compulsive viewing and I think he was frustrated at being second on the bill. Like most comics he was guaranteed to run over his time every night. Jim was closing act one and Lennie and Dianne were doing all of act two, so the only people affected by his overrun was the top of the bill. I had to go to his dressing room nearly every night and tell him off. Mad eh? He's a millionaire businessman now so, looking back, it all seems a bit daft and unnecessary. The only time he was ever off stage early was when his performance clashed with Star Trek on the telly. In spite of all this, I did take the gig and it's a good job I did, as it's led to most of what I've done since. It was also the tour that introduced my son Warwick to lighting designer Spike Falana. It sparked his interest in lighting and he went on to design lighting rigs for many well-known artists including Diana Ross and Luthor Vandross.

Anyway, the tour with Jim had gone without a hitch. Well, nearly. I stayed on for two years as his driver/sound engineer. This was during the 'drunk' period. Jim was a terrific drunk. Not to the wife of course, but to an outsider, particularly a bloke. His boozing never offended me - he was always in such a good mood. Well, I say never, there was one time.

I usually drove him around in one of his own cars but one weekend we were going from The Circus Tavern in Purfleet to his home on the Wentworth estate, in my old but treasured Volvo 1800S sports car. Normally Jim could hold his drink, I'd never seen him get sick from it. This particular night, after coming off stage, he had demolished the best part of a bottle of brandy and was invited to join a party that was downing champagne and orange juice by the bucketful. Naturally, old Jimbo joined in.

We were about five minutes from the club when Jim slurred "D'ya mind the window open, Rick?" He wound it down but didn't have the time to turn his head. The second-hand bucks fizz, brandy and pizza hit the inside of my windscreen, still fizzing like a large glass of Andrews. Apologising his brains out, he took off his shirt to clean it up, but only managed to wipe it all over the car instead. Then, with the window wide open and wearing no shirt, he fell sound asleep. I drove all the way back to Wentworth, manhandled him out of the car, managed to get him over my shoulder and carried him upstairs and onto his bed without him waking up. Thankfully, he only weighed nine stone at the time.

I never managed to rid the car of the smell and twelve months later I was forced to sell my prized possession at a bargain basement price. As you can imagine, there were other weird and wonderful adventures but I'm keeping them to myself. This story only gets an airing because I know he's fond of telling it himself!

From 1984 to 1985 I worked as personal assistant to Tommy Cannon of Cannon and Ball (Another Laurie job – "You're like a little job centre to me Tommy"). I loved the work and loads of golf, but I missed being involved in the music and sound side of things. Once again, galloping out of the sun came Jim Davidson, who had just formed his own audio company. I managed the company for four years, until the summer of 1989.

I finished with Jim at the end of a Great Yarmouth season and was offered the chance to design the sound system for a West End musical. I'd never done this before. Usually, I'd just turn up and empty the van into the gig.

BUDDY

For some time Laurie Mansfield had been talking about a musical play based on the life and times of Buddy Holly. 1989 was the year it all came together. I designed the sound system for all the productions of 'Buddy' world-wide. When the West End production opened I mixed the show myself for ten months, while designing some of the other productions. At one time there were thirteen running at once all around the world and it's still going strong after thirteen years in the West End. Since 'Buddy' I have been asked to design the systems for 'Jolson', 'Summer Holiday', 'Oh! What A Night', 'Dusty' and 'Great Balls Of Fire'.

Most recent and more complicated designs have been a joint effort between myself and Graham Simpson. Second and third sons Mitchell and Richard have both worked on 'Buddy'. Richard also did a short spell on 'Great Balls' to get me out of trouble with a staffing problem, but neither of them really enjoyed the work and have both gone on to do other things. Richard is studying drama and Mitchell went back to "a normal job with real people".

The musical advisor for 'Buddy' was Bruce Welch. During the first few months of working on the project, I was lucky enough to meet him several times. Naturally, in the circumstances, we met on equal terms but I was bursting to shout "HEY, YOU'RE BRUCE WELCH - I'M YOUR BIGGEST FAN – I USED TO HAVE YOUR PICTURE ON MY BEDROOM WALL".

I never did have the nerve to mention it, especially the bedroom wall thing. When you're in the pub though, it's impossible to resist the temptation to ask about the 'old days'. He has a wealth of stories about the early British pop scene in general and The Shadows in particular. I could listen for days. He still owns the Red Stratocaster that Cliff gave to Hank back in 1959, the one we all lusted after. He has lovingly restored it to its original condition. That makes him a good bloke in my book. Would it be too weird if I put him back on my wall? I think not.

VIRTUAL ORCHESTRAS

From April 1993 until April 1999 I went back to the Jim Davidson empire to manage his ever-growing company, Alpha Audio Ltd. Despite the name, the company was now running lights, lasers and sound. Alpha Audio supplied the equipment to Jim for six major shows every year and provided sound, lighting and lasers to many other production companies. For me, this was mainly a desk job but I did get my hands on a mixing console from time to time. I mixed front of house for Roy Wood on three occasions including a Christmas concert at The Birmingham Symphony Hall. These were all outstanding nights. You have to wonder why he's not more well known and more accepted as a live act.

During this time I also came up with the idea of Virtual Orchestras, a system of pre-recording all the music for a live show and playing it back via a computer. As we had four shows to put on and only one lot of favourite musicians, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The musicians get paid for staying at home and we have a perfect show every night. We have used this system for about four years and never lost a show. That is, twenty different productions without a hitch. Last year we added lighting control, so the lights now chase a code on the music track.

We record the orchestra onto forty-eight tracks in the studio. We then mix this down to sixteen tracks on the hard drive. We end up with six lots of stereo mixes such as: stereo strings, stereo keyboards, stereo horns etc. and four tracks of emergency vocal. This then gives the front-of-house operator some mixing opportunities on the night, but limits the possibilities of a complete cock-up in the event of a last minute change of operator.

With 'Dusty' we tried a halfway house approach. We used a live rhythm section and put the orchestral stuff (strings, horns and woodwind etc.) into the computer. A lot was made of this in the publicity blurb surrounding the show. Probably because we had been so 'up front' and had drawn everyone's attention to the fact that there was some pre-recorded material being heard – Karen Noble was accused of miming the show. Truth is, most shows these days run with an emergency pre-recorded vocal track in case of illness, and this one was no exception. I can say with my hand on my heart that we only used Karen's track once on the whole tour, and that it was for the first song ("Going Back") on the opening night. It was used for purely technical reasons - we lost her radio signal less than a minute before the curtain went up - and nothing to do with her performance, which was always magnificent. Karen has a voice for sore eyes, if you get a chance to see her, do not miss it.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

In 1999 I decided that I'd had enough of full time work and the pressure of the sharp end with JD. I fancied slowing down a bit. Dianne and I had started our own studio back in 1985 and had produced the last ever Peters & Lee album and most of Jim Davidson's comedy albums. There is a steady drip – drip of regular bread and butter type work so we wouldn't exactly starve. I was recording backing tracks for other artists and making daft one-offs like the 'Buddy' Karaoke album (you may laugh, but we sold five thousand). A nice idea from Richard Jnr. We've also produced a solo album for Dianne, an instrumental ballads CD by me and are just finishing a live Dianne and Rick album.

One day in 1999 my old mate Mike (Sheridan) said, "Why don't you and Dianne go back on the road? You could do a spot at The Old Sils". Mike runs a night on the second Sunday of each month at this club in Solihull. It's a great night, lots of old Birmingham faces turn up and play for fun. So there I was, gigging again (performing) after more than eighteen years.

Of course, Dianne had never stopped doing solo dates all this time, so she was well up for it. Me, I wouldn't say I was nervous, but have you ever tried eating ten Pringles at once. That's how dry my mouth was on the first night. However, all is well. I'm down to five Pringles now. We have a set that includes some of Di's hits, some of my hits and a large amount of nostalgic chatter. We have supported such acts as The Batchelors – Ted Rogers – Bernard Manning and Vince Hill etc. As you can see from the list IT'S NOT ROCK 'N' ROLL ANYMORE, so if you see us advertised don't complain because we're not chopping up television sets or biting the heads off whippets. We've calmed down and thankfully most of you lot have mellowed too.

Mainly because of the virtual orchestra thing I am still involved with 'Old Nick- Nick'. Despite the stress involved, the show-stopping ideas that he has, and the stuff that he dreams up on the spot is always radical, never boring, so I hope we can work together for a while yet. There's no doubt we are a good team, but I've always thought "short bursts" is the secret to a long partnership. I suppose one day I will just be too old for short bursts or any kind of burst.

AND ANOTHER THING

Well, that's it really, you're up to date. One last thing though for any dedicated Roy Wood, Wizzard or Move fans out there. As I was writing this, yet another 'Move to re-form' rumour was doing the rounds. I hear about one a year. These days, I only ever meet dear old Carl Wayne on sessions and TV shows, but when we do bump into each other we nearly always end up talking about the possibility of getting the old bunch back together. There have been some very serious offers.

I admit the idea appeals to me, even though I would have to lose three stone and put my hair in a grow-bag. I'm pretty sure we'd never get all the old members to agree to perform again. I've heard all the arguments for and against. My feeling is that we could probably have a lot of fun if we limited the whole thing to, say, three months a year. The main thing that it would do is put Roy's song catalogue back into the market place. Once that material gets a proper airing, who knows what could happen? He may finally get the recognition he deserves.

Truth is, a Move concert would be like visiting a museum piece but lots of people love to do that. It wouldn't have as much raw emotion or be as truly artistic as it once was, but so what? You won't convince me that Cliff feels the same emotion as he did in 1975 when he first sang 'Miss You Nights'. He still performs it and the punters still love it. After forty years, I imagine that Joe Brown is heartily sick of 'A Picture of You'?

We are just people who write or perform for money. It seems glamorous to the general public but we know it's not. It's just a job like any other, except it's harder than most. In the end, we're buskers. We play the tunes – people give us money. Whether you're doing Wembley Stadium or the pavement outside, it's the same principal - doing some form of work in order to get paid. If it becomes possible to do the stadium, why would you want to stay on the pavement? Am I ranting? Sorry.

For now then, I'll be taking it easier. I am leaving myself a space in my diary for the occasional gig and some seaside paddling time with Miss Dianne.

Rock on..............................

Rick Price





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