Paul Newton Interview  Questions by Oliver Lange and Stefan Eickhoff

This interview is printed in Times magazine issue 36

 
   Heep.com      Stay on Top                        Hensley.com                  Heep Holland  email

Fellow Heepsters,

This Interview gives us a fantastic insight in the early Heep. The story is told by the man who was there at the time: Paul Newton. Paul was the bass player with Spice and Uriah Heep on the first three albums. He appeared in the Hensley Lawtonband during Heepvention 2000 in London. Thanks to Paul, Graham Hulme and the guys from Stay on top mentioned above we have this great interview. Enjoy!

The Heep.com Webmasters

What was it like to play "July Morning" and "Gypsy" again together with Ken? Were there memories coming back to you? How clear are the memories of your time with Heep after all these years?

It was just a lovely fun weekend. July Morning was always one of my favourite songs, so it was great to relive that again, so of course it brought back a lot of memories. But Heepvention really was about all these fans who had travelled around the world to be there. It wasn't really about us musicians with our egos, it was about those people, and it was a great experience. The main thing that came out of it all was friendship. And meeting John was a highlight. He's a real down to earth, straight kind of guy, and I'm certainly not poorer for having made his acquaintance. I'm definitely a richer person for that.

 

Do you still play bass regularly? – Your playing certainly gave that impression!

 

Well, I've been playing on and off all the time. There have been gaps – long gaps – but every now and again, I'll pick it up again and do something just for fun. Thanks for the compliment. I have a different life now, and it's not the be all and end all to me, but I've played in one or two bands, doing pubs and clubs and things, and it's all good fun. I played in a 60s covers band for a while, you know, doing the Hollies and Tremeloes stuff and things like that. But I don't play full time.

 

How long did the Hensley-Lawton Band rehearse for Heepvention 2000? Did you know all the songs.

 

We rehearsed at John Henry Music in London on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Heepvention. Monday was a big learning curve for all of us, just getting to know each other as musicians and people, and getting together what we were supposed to be doing. By halfway through the Tuesday, we were beginning to get it sorted out a little bit better, and then the Wednesday was just getting the finer points of harmonies and things sorted. All told we did about 12 hours on the Monday and Tuesday and 8 hours on the Wednesday.

With the songs, I knew Gypsy and July Morning of course, but there was quite a bit of new stuff. John had sent us all a tape about six weeks beforehand, and we'd all got the feel of them on our own in our own homes before meeting up. I didn't really do anything about Gypsy or July Morning, but I practised the others a bit. Funnily enough the only one I had problems with was July Morning! Haha!

 

Why did you leave Uriah Heep, and what was your father's role?

 

Well, as you know, my father managed the band in the early days, with the Gods and Spice. He bought a lot of the gear and so on. When we became Uriah Heep, and Ken joined the band – and Ken is the first to admit it – he had very definite ideas about what he wanted to do in a band. I suppose in some ways it was like the band was a vehicle which Ken needed and used to put his own ideas together. And there's nothing wrong with that as such. I mean, let's face it, the fact that what we did was successful was great for me too. But after a while you're bound to get some in-fighting in a situation like that. There were other problems too, because Gerry Bron was now the manager, and my father was trying to get back some money from him - get some of his money back on the equipment and so on. There was a lot of unhappiness on all sorts of levels, and everybody was unhappy in a lot of ways. I actually wanted to leave the band for quite a while before I actually left, but I didn't. Anyway, with the heavy work schedules and the pressures and so on, I ended up collapsing on stage one night, and the other members of the band decided I should go. It was funny because I didn't want to go, and there was a lot of animosity, but at the same time it was a tremendous relief.

 

Did you ever see the band, even privately, after you left?

I didn't see them until one night around about 1979 or so, when I saw them at the Hammersmith Odeon. I'd moved away from London by then, and our paths just didn't cross. I'd moved on in my life and had a different existence. Anyway, that day, I'd gone to London to try and get some money from Gerry Bron which was still owing to me, and bumped into Mick, and he invited me along, so I went.The next time I saw them was in Dudley a couple of years back.

 

What did you think of Gary Thain? And the other bass players, Mark Clarke, John Wetton, Trevor Bolder, Bob Daisley?

My replacement, Mark Clarke I met a few times, both with Heep and later with Colosseum.

He was a good player, and will go down in Heep history having written "The Wizard". I liked that song, and it was great to play it at Heepvention. GaryThain, I only met once, when I was with Heep and we played a gig with Keef Hartley. It didn't mean much to me at the time, but listening to his stuff later, he was an excellent player, and was perfectly suited to Heep. The others I don't really know. Trevor Bolder I saw playing at Dudley, and he's a really clever player, but that night wasn't particularly good to judge from, because Heep were using the in-house PA, and the sound wasn't very good. But there's no doubt he's a clever player.

 

Do you think the current line-up of Heep should have been at Heepvention? How do you interpret their absence?

Well, I don't think I can interpret it really. It's quite difficult, because they're a working band and they have to earn a living. I'd be the same. Having said that, if you WANT to do something badly enough I suppose you could find a way somehow. But it's not really for me to judge, and like I say, they have to earn a living. It would have been great to have them there, but either way it was a wonderful weekend.

 

Would you do a tour with the Hensley-Lawton Band? Had you ever met John Lawton before, and what do you think of him as a singer?

Doing that set was great fun, and I think it set something off in all of us as regards playing again. As far as doing it again, yes, it would be great, but the thing is it's down to the practicalities of it all. I mean, to do something like a tour, it has to pay the wages, or it couldn't be done. In my case I've got a mortgage and commitments, so it's not easy just to pack up and go on a tour. But I would never say never, but it would have to be practical too.

Regarding John, he rang me just before Christmas of the previous year, when he was looking for a drummer, and I put him in touch with someone. We spoke again at the back end of last year, when he approached me about Heepvention, and later when he asked me if I'd like to do the Hensley-Lawton thing. On the phone, he seemed the right sort, and of course he was a really good guy – a real diamond. And what a voice! As soon as I heard him I was thinking "Where's a guy with a voice like that been hiding all these years?"

 

Do you think the Hensley-Lawton Band could survive in today's music scene?

Why not? I mean, we've all got a certain amount of ability and talent, and as a band with so little rehearsal, I think it gelled pretty well together. But actually making it or surviving in the big wide world, who knows? But I don't see why we shouldn't be able to.

  Do you still write songs?

I never really was a songwriter as such. I wrote the odd one or two, but I'm not one of those guys who sits down and says "I'm going to write a song"

Which bands or artists do you listen to these days?

I get asked that question a lot, and it's funny, because people think you're bound to have millions of records in your collection and listen to music all the time. I don't. I like music, and I suppose I like people like Steely Dan and The Eagles, and all kinds of things. But I don't really like people putting things into neat little boxes and saying "This is rock" or "That's blues" or whatever. To me it's all music, and I like music, but I actually don't listen to it that much on a daily basis.

You surprise me a little, Paul, because when I listen to a lot of your playing, especially on something like Salisbury, there seems to be a lot of jazz influences in there. If that didn't come from what you were listening to, where did it come from?

That really came from a time in the 60s when I was playing with a guy from The Nice, Brian Davison, and another guy, a keyboard player, who was a real genius. It was a trio, and most of it was really jazzy. This keyboard player was a guy called Don Shinn, who went on to play with Dada, which was the forerunner of Vinegar Joe. I don't know what happened to him after that – he's probably up a tree somewhere, because he was a bit of a strange guy – a total genius but a wee bit strange. He used to teach me bass lines on his organ pedals, and they were really technical jazz stuff. That's where that came from. But I've never really been a jazz fan, especially the modern jazz stuff. Bores me senseless.

 

Would you be interested in taking part in a performance of Salisbury with an Orchestra?

All these ideas are very interesting. I certainly wouldn't say no to anything like that. A lot depends on what's happening at the time, and where it is and when, but yes, I'd be interested.

 

Regarding "Salisbury", what can you tell us about the recording of that piece?

I remember we recorded it in three parts – the opening section and the first vocal, then the bit with the bass and orchestra doing what they were doing and then the end section.

 

Was it recorded "as if live" with the Orchestra in the studio?

No. As I remember we did our bits just as we performed it live, and then I think it was Gerry's idea to put the orchestra on afterwards. He got John Fiddy in, who was a bass player, to score all the parts, and we only really heard it after it was all done. We got a lot of criticism in the press at the time for doing it, because around that time you'd got Deep Purple doing their "Concerto" thing, and one or two other things around. Mind you, we seemed to get a lot of criticism about everything back in those days. So everyone thought we were jumping on the bandwagon, but it really wasn't a conscious thing like that – we were just doing what we did.

I never really thought of it as being particularly special or brilliant at the time. It's only in later years when I've pulled it out and listened to it that I've thought "Hey, that's not bad".

 

Who are/were your favourite bass players?

Hmmmm. That's a hard one. I'm always asked this of course, but it's difficult to pick names out because I just tend to listen to the music, and there are just so many great bassists. I suppose the people who influenced me most were the predictable ones, like Jack Bruce. I liked a guy called Greg Ridley who was with Spooky Tooth – I always liked what he did. I suppose you then move on to all those people like Stanley Clarke, and Jaco Pastorius, but I can't say I was ever really a fan of those, or influenced by them. I mean, you can listen to someone like Mark King slapping and twiddling all over the fretboard, and I suppose you can't help but admire their playing, but I could never really get into all that. If you're going to do that in a band, you might as well go and play lead guitar. My favourites were always the guys who did their job well as a bassist. People like Boz Burrell out of Bad Company, and Andy Fraser of course. John Entwhistle was another great one like that. He could play and play well, but he did his job as a bass player, and that's always been my approach.

 

Is there a particular contribution from you to Uriah Heep, of which you are most proud?

I suppose out of all the stuff we did, I'd have to say the Look At Yourself album I'm quite pleased with, because by then we were beginning to know what we were doing. And I suppose July Morning would be the song I'd pick because that was probably the most intense and emotional in terms of the bass line.

 

Did Ken have any involvement in the writing of Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble?

On Gypsy he was quite involved in the writing. The song was already there, but he did do quite a lot with that one. Also "I'll Keep On Trying" he was involved with. But the other stuff – no. They were songs we were playing live before Ken came into the band. He had quite a hand in some of the arrangements, but not really writing as such.

 

When did "Come Away Melinda" come into Spice's set? Who brought it?

Melinda was just a song that David and Mick always used to play, and I think David had it on an album somewhere and they both liked it. We always played it. It just gave a nice little break in the set, amongst all the frantic stuff that we were doing. Just something nice and peaceful to give us and the audience a bit of a gentle break, that's all.

 

What do you remember about the evolution of the song "Wake Up, Set Your Sights"?

Well, again, this was just a song that we played live. I don't want to sound boring, but I don't remember any particular evolution as such. The song was brought in, we played it, and then recorded it.

 

Do you still listen to the records you did with Heep?

Not really that much. I suppose sometimes, when a friends asks me for some stuff or something, then I'll have a listen, and it's quite nice, getting that feeling of nostalgia, but I can't say I listen all that often.

 

What do you think of the Heep albums of the 80s and 90s?

Well, to be honest, I don't know because I haven't heard them.

 

You once said, "Ken is probably his own worst enemy." What did you mean by that, and do you think he has changed?

What I meant by that was that Ken was Ken, and that caused problems for himself as well as those around him. Ken's always been a special person to me. He's a very talented and clever guy. Like many clever people he was always very focussed on what he wanted to do, and could be quite manipulative. With Uriah Heep, and other things that Ken's been involved in, he tended to use it for what he wanted to do. As long as you accept that with Ken, you know what you're dealing with. But the bottom line is that, as far as I'm concerned, without Ken, Uriah Heep wouldn't have been who they were, and when he went, the band ceased to be what it was intended to be. I often think that Ken would have been better off, if he'd achieved a higher level of success, to go about as Ken Hensley or the Ken Hensley Band. One ship, one captain. With a band like Uriah Heep, you had one ship with 3 captains. Ken wanted to be top dog, David wanted to be top dog, and Mick to a certain extent didn't want to be left out of it either. Ken used to be quite selfish – I guess we're all selfish in a way. Ken's now older like the rest of us, and as we saw at Heepvention, he wants to make peace for some of those things. At the end of the day, I have no grudges – in the main we had a great time with, and largely because of, Ken.

 

How would you compare the Gods and Spice as bands?

Well, musically we were quite different, although there were a lot of similarities, I suppose. We both played the same type of venues, we both were classed as kind of "progressive" bands, both 4 pieces, we were both trying to do our own material, both were trying to do a lot with vocal harmonies. So I suppose, even though the music was very different they were similar in some ways.

 

Your father obviously had a big influence on the bands you were in. What was his involvement, exactly?

My father was very involved from virtually the time I started playing, and when I turned professional at about 17 or 18, he continued to look after the bands I was in. He used to do a lot of bookings of bands for dance halls in the South West of England, and had a lot of contact with agents in London who he'd book bands from. He used to get us a lot of gigs through these agents when he booked one of their bands - he used to get us a reciprocal gigs. With the agents then it was a kind of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" sort of a deal. He looked after the thing with Don Shinn, he looked after The Gods, he looked after Spice, and of course he looked after Uriah Heep in their early days. And it was he who really got us involved with Gerry Bron.

 

How did that come about?

We just got to the point when we were professional, and my father was a semi-pro manager. He wasn't high enough up the ladder to negotiate record deals, and personal management deals and so on. So he wrote to all kinds of companies, one of which was the Bron Organisation. One of their guys, an older guy called Don Something-or-other came out to the Blues Loft at High Wycombe, and obviously reported back favourably to Gerry that we were worth considering, and we ended up signing a deal with him. I've read in various places that Gerry actually came to see us himself, but that's not true – it was just one of his underlings.

 

A place of legend for Heep fans is the Hanwell Community Centre. Do you have memories of it?

Well, I don't know why it's a place of legend really. I don't know how that came about. Just as we were getting stuff together for Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble we booked the place for a week, and that was about it. We used to spend a lot more time rehearsing in the Fox and Hounds at Chiswick, because that was a lot more centrally located for all of us. That was really the place where it all happened. I suppose the legend came about because one day, Deep Purple rehearsed at Hanwell at the same time as us, but that was just one day.

 

Who was Colin Wood? How did he become involved?

A lot of our early stuff as Spice– the stuff that you've heard on the Lansdowne Tapes – we'd already recorded, and it just became evident that some of the stuff really needed a keyboard. Gerry called Colin in, just on a session basis. Dave Byron had begun to learn a little bit of piano, but he was just at the learning stage, and wasn't really experienced enough. So Gerry called in Colin, purely on a session basis. He was never actually part of the band as such. He was a bit of a jazzer, who'd done stuff for Gerry with Richard Barnes and Manfred and people like that doing sessions, and Gerry just called him in to do these songs. He was a fine musician, and he was somewhat older than us, so it wasn't really a case that he would be right to join the band. Funnily enough, a little while ago, I saw a jazz quartet advertised near to me, with a guy called Colin Wood, and someone told me it said "ex-Uriah Heep", so he still out there doing it.

 

Then Ken came along?.....

Yes. It was decided we needed a keyboard player an a full time basis, and I thought that with the kind of stuff we were doing Ken would be the right man. We'd bumped into him a couple of times, when we did gigs as Spice and he was with Cliff Bennett playing guitar, and occasionally he and I would go out for a meal or a beer with our wives, and it just seemed a natural sort of thing to get someone in the band that we already knew. If you bring someone in that you already know then it tends to make it a lot easier.

 

By this time, though I guess you were aware of the difficulties involved in working with him.

Yes, but he was so right for the band. I must confess that my father said at the time that although he thought Ken would be ideal for the job, he thought it might be a wrong move, and I had one or two misgivings, but there can't be any doubt that he was absolutely right for the band. This thing with Ken, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I mean yes, there were difficulties – Ken was disruptive - but at the end of the day, if we'd got somebody else in the band would we be here talking tonight? I don't think so. The band may or may not have made it, but we certainly wouldn't have had the wonderful songs that Ken wrote.

 

Can we talk a little about David Byron? What are your memories of him as a person?

David was just a lovely, lovely man. He was a pretty naive guy. He didn't really have any girlfriends until we went to Germany and he met Gaby, and they struck up a relationship and became an item. And Dave was happy with that. I guess he used to have this fantasy of what a lead singer rock star should be like, and he used to model himself on that fantasy, which is why you eventually got him swanning around onstage with a glass of champagne and that kind of thing. He acted out a fantasy.

 

Did that lead to difficulties while you were in the band?

Not really. Maybe a little bit, but David had his feet more on the ground in the early days. I always got on very well with Dave. I mean, like everyone in the band, he had fixed ideas of what he wanted to do, but he was a really nice guy. I don't know what he was like in later life, but in my days in Spice and early Heep I could class him as a good friend. He'd get caught up in the star business, but then if you're going to be a lead singer in a rock band, you've got to be a little bit outrageous. You can't be just any ordinary Johnny. We used to socialise together, with Gaby and my girlfriend, and he'd come round to our place for a meal, and we'd talk about all sorts of things, not just about music. He was a very good conversationalist.

I could see why things went wrong after he got fired. Dave used to get carried along with things, and as the band achieved more and more success, I could quite imagine it having and adverse effect on him. He got into the booze and lost touch with reality.

After he got fired from the band I could never imagine him recovering from that, because whatever anybody says, Uriah Heep was everything to Dave....his whole life. And I think he was very unsettled and unhappy. He tried to get one or two other things together, but I could never see it working and I wasn't really surprised things didn't happen in the same way as they did with Heep.

 

Did you see him in later life?

He had a studio in Sonning, and there were a couple of times when I was going to go into the studio and do some things with one or two people, but really, Dave had kind of lost it by then. I could sense, talking to him on the phone, that there was so much bitterness about the Heep situation, and I didn't really want to get involved, because I'd moved onto other things, and I didn't want to get involved with someone who had all that inside him. So I spoke to him a few times, but never met him.  I was amazed when I read in New Musical Express that he'd died, although I'd always had the feeling that he would end up a rock and roll victim. I didn't think it would end up killing him, but I thought he may succumb to drink or drugs or something. Because that was just the way he was. He was very gullible and easily led. So it really is very sad.

 

What can you tell us about the song "The Ninth Door"?

"The Ninth Door"? Bloody 'ell! (laughs)

In the early days, when Heep became Heep it was the end of flower power and all that stuff. Everybody in an around the band was involved in this kind of "hippy" stuff, and "Lord of the Rings" and all that old shit, and we used to experiment with a bit of acid, and this was just one the those things that Ken came out with at the time, probably coming out of the drug thing. I don't know what it means. It was one of Ken's things that came out when he was tripping all the time. It was a bit arty farty for me - a bit contrived. One of the things that Ken got into through his drugs was all this heavy, deep-meaning stuff, that actually meant bugger all to anybody except him. Not my kind of thing at all really. A bit weird. I don't think it was ever recorded.

 

Were any of your concerts recorded or filmed?

This is really testing my memory. I know we did a live TV show in Belgium once. I always remember because "Blinky" Davison's band Every Which Way was playing as well. We were supposed to be promoting Look At Yourself, but we went on and did a live version of Why. I remember Gerry Bron was going apeshit with us because we were supposed to be promoting Look At Yourself, and we'd had a few beers and there we were on live TV jamming away to Why!

We did some Old Grey Whistle Test shows for the BBC, and its forerunner Disco2. In fact I was trying to get hold of some of these tapes from the BBC some while ago but it never came to anything. Also earlier when I was with Spice, we were working for NEMS Agency, and I did a TV session with Tony Joe White. I did two songs with him for a current affairs show called Late Night Line Up. Anyway, the BBC came back and said they couldn't find the tapes.

I'm sure there were other things recorded, but I really can't remember what.

 

Is it true that you auditioned for Deep Purple after Roger Glover left the band?

No, that's not true. Not at all. I don't know where these rumours come from. My only remote connection with Purple was when I did some rehearsing and messing about with a band called Sammy. The drummer was Mick Underwood, who used to play with Glover and Gillan in Episode Six. I met up with him when we were in Germany and he was in Quatermass. Maybe that's where these rumours vaguely came from, I don't know. But it's not true.

 

What did you do with your time after Heep? Did you appear on any more records?

After I left Heep I didn't do anything for a few weeks. I had difficulties getting my amps back from Gerry Bron, but that got sorted after a while. I did all sorts of things, but nothing really earth-shattering. I did a few pick-up gigs, a few depping jobs, a few studio things. I went out to the States for about four or five months, and did some work with Tony Joe White again. I had the remnants of a work permit from my time with Heep, and when that ran out, I came back. Then I got together with some guys in a band on the Mecca Ballrooms circuits, just playing covers. It was a totally different thing to Heep, but it made me a lot of money. We did the Mecca circuit and boats and odd clubs abroad. I did that from about 73 to 75, and we had a good time, and it paid the rent. Then eventually I got a bit pissed off with it and in about 76 I came back to London and got onto the sessions circuit. I had a lot of work right through until about 1980 just purely on sessions. Very often you didn't know what you were playing on, but I did things for all sorts of people - Roxy Music, Kiki Dee, Julie Felix. You never quite knew what you were playing on because they'd just call you in to do 3 hours or 6 hours , and you'd just play the backing track. Some was for demos, and I guess some were for proper records, but you never knew exactly what. Most of the time the artists themselves weren't there. I quite enjoyed the sessions, cos there weren't the same pressures as in a band. In those days session money was good, and I quite enjoyed the fact that most of it was in London, so I got a good social life. It gave me a bit of a normal life because I'd had enough of schlepping around and living out of a suitcase. You just turned up and played the tracks and that was it. I just remember hoping each session would last for 3 hours 10 minutes – then you'd be into the next 3 hour session and they'd pay you for it (laughs). It got to the point in the early 80's with the advent of synthesisers that there wasn't enough session work for a bass player, cos synths took over the role and that was more cost-effective than hiring session musicians.

There wasn't one moment when I suddenly said, "Right I'm packing it all in, and don't want to do this for a living." I just drifted away from it really. I buggered off to France one Summer - I had a bit of money from the things I'd been doing. I went down to play a couple of gigs in the South of France, and just met up with some guys doing grape-picking and things, and I just bummed around there for a couple of months or so.

 

And you're an architect now, is that right?

No. I'm not an architect. I don't know where that ever came from. Before I was in the band I went to college and did a 2-year ONC Building and Construction, and then I left college and before I went pro, I went to work as a building surveyor for a civil engineering company. Then when I drifted out of playing, my father was still in the construction industry, and I did a bit of work for him in spare days and weeks, and I just ended up back in construction where I am now. I've worked as a surveyor, a site foreman, site agent, all sorts of things. But never an architect. You have to study for 5 years to be an architect. (laughs).

At one time too, my wife and I ran a Fish and Chip shop for a couple of years. We had a clothes shop for a while. We had a general store. Over the years I've done all sorts of different things.

Every now and again I've done a bit of playing here and there. I must admit people have phoned me from time to time, and asked me to do a tour or something, but I never really fancied it. At the end of the day, you've got to be practical about it. There's no point leaving your job and going on tour for 3 months, and when you come back you don't have a job again. So I never really fancied getting back into it properly.

 

What about Off The Cuff with Keith Baker? Tell me about that.

When I moved down to this part of the world, a friend of mine went to a local pub one night, and told me about this band, which was only a 3-piece, but they were brilliant. He told me he'd got talking to the guys, and mentioned my name. I vaguely knew the drummer, a guy called Alan "Sticky" Wicketts. He's probably the best drummer I've ever worked with. He was brilliant. Only a little guy, but a fabulous drummer. He's played with everybody, Steve Marriott, Steve Gibbons, Barry White... he's done a real variety of stuff. The guitarist was an ex-Steve Gibbons guy. I went up to see them play a couple of times in pubs. Anyway, a little later they fired their bass player, and they asked me to go and play with them. So I did that on and off. It was only a low-key casual thing, because the guitarist and drummer were doing other things as well, and I was sometimes unavailable for gigs. We got together whenever we could. We didn't really rehearse or anything, we were just doing anything we knew....R&B, Chuck Berry and all that old shit. It was purely enjoyment.

Keith Baker got involved when Sticky left to work with Chris Barber's Jazz Band, who he'd played with some years before. He needed a bit of money, and Chris was paying good money so he couldn't afford to turn it down. By then I'd got to know Keith again when I'd seen a gig advertised in a local paper, and I went to see him and said "Remember me?", and we'd had a good old chat. So when Sticky left Off The Cuff, I just said I knew Keith and that was it. And we carried on for a couple of years, but then Keith went to play with another band.

 

Who was the best of the drummers you played with in Heep?

I don't know. It's difficult to say. I suppose Lee was the one who was most suited to Heep. But then again, Alex Napier perhaps wasn't the ideal personality for the band, but he was one hell of a heavy strong drummer, so he was as suitable as anybody. Alex left, and we got Nigel Olsson who wasn't really suitable. Then of course Keith...well, Salisbury was right up his street, he was a bit of a jazzer. Iain was good too. So it's hard to judge. We nearly had Geoff Britton in the band at one time. He auditioned, and we were all fairly keen to have him, but then he got a gig with a band called The Wild Angels – just a straight traditional rock 'n' roll band, but they were earning more money than us in those days. He would have been good, I think.

We had a lot of problems with drummers in the early days, which made it difficult. As a bass player, it was always off-putting. You'd just get to know a guy, and how he works, and then he was sacked and another one was coming in. So I suppose, looking back, it didn't give me much of a chance to build a proper rhythm section with anyone.

 

Is there one gig that sticks out in your memory?

The gig that stands out for me was one of the last gigs I did with the band. It was at the Royal Albert Hall, and that was very memorable. We were supporting Colosseum, and that night, I don't know why, but we all played really well. I suppose it was the feeling of playing in that hall, and on that stage where so many great people had played over the last hundred years or so. It just had this great atmosphere. We just pulled something out of the hat. We had a superb mix and balance, and everyone just played out of their skin. I'm glad that was so memorable, being one of my last gigs.

Another memory was when we first went to the States and supported Three Dog Night. They were a bubblegum band of course, but they were one of the biggest attractions in the States at that time, and to be playing to 20,000 people. That was a real experience for all of us, as young lads from London, who'd been playing in pubs, and suddenly there we were in these huge arenas.