Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals

 January 1977 – January 2010 (played occasional keyboards Nov’ 1988,

occasional 12 string guitar April & June 1995 & occasional guitar Mid’ April Early May 2000)

 

 

Having got to know Andy in 1978, we have remained good friends ever since. Here is a very detailed look at his musical career.

 

Born in Hammersmith, London, Andy was in the thick of things even as a boy. He was shot in the left eye with an arrow, his right eye with an airgun and since he enjoyed climbing trees and jumping out of them, he eventually knocked himself out when he landed having jumped from some incredible height.

 

During the early 60’s Andy had trials with Arsenal Football Club. Also back then, a lot of youngsters used to carry a harmonica in their pocket. It was an ‘in-thing’. Andy was one of these youngsters (listen to “No Russians In Russia” on Radio Stars second album) and after meeting up with his old mates Chris Townson and Louis Grooner from Box Hill Boarding School at an old boy’s re-union, he was quickly invited to meet the rest of the band his mates had formed. He joined up with them shortly afterwards. Dubbed The Clockwork Onions by guitarist Geoff McClelland, Andy joined vocalist Louis at the front of the stage for their debut gig at St. Georges Hall in Ashtead. But since Louis, who was hating the experience more and more with every passing minute – would repeatedly stop the band and start shouting through the microphone at ‘some bloke in the audience who was chatting up his bird’ left the band immediately after the gig. Andy was promoted to vocalist, doubling up on harmonica until someone else could be recruited into the line-up. Finally the search ended when Chris Townson brought along a large East End mod whom he had met at art school called Martin Sheller. Martin later went onto play in the Regents who had a hit single with “7teen” in 1979.

 

A change of name to The Few during 1965 soon followed and the band started to perform around three gigs every month. These were at village halls, art schools, but best of all was a small pub in Guildford called the Harvest Moon. Then Martin Sheller decided he wanted to leave and Chris Dawsett also decided that he wanted to give up playing bass and concentrate on playing keyboards. The band agreed and that was the cue Geoff McClelland had been waiting for. He brought along John Hewlett, who he had met earlier. John claiming that he knew various prominent members of the local music fraternity as well as pointing out his talents on the instrument. All this wasn’t true of course, it was just John wanting to be in a band. Shortly after John’s arrival, Chris Dawsett’s parents forced him to leave. This paid off as Chris eventually became a Professor of Art at Oxford. His departure coincided with a change of name to The Silence.

 

The band’s set list included Andy’s first ever composition – “Green Light” as well as “Killer Ben”. The Silence also recorded some songs for Pierre Tubbs in his garage - “Down Down”, “Forgive Me If I’m Wrong” and “Cold On Me”. These three songs eventually turned up on an album “Yellow Street Boutique” on Dig The Fuzz Records in 1996. Two other songs on the album are also credited to The Silence, but these are actually solo offerings by Chris Dawsett and Geoff McClelland. With their reputation still growing the band began to progress not only to small venues outside their immediate neighbourhood, but also to Leatherhead’s premier club, a converted Nissen hut in Bridge Street called The Chuck Wagon (it later became The Bluesette, following a mysterious fire forced their owners to rebuild it). It was there one night that the band learned that representatives of Don Arden were present and after visiting him at his Carnaby Street office, a provisional form was signed to support The Small Faces on four gigs, two in the South and two in Wales.

 

Down at the Bluesette one night, John and Chris were talking to Gordon Bennett, one of the owners and a close friend of the Silence as well as having the ability to acquire other people’s cheque books. He asked them if they wanted to go to St. Tropez. The boys said yes, picked up their passports and off they went to Heathrow Airport in John’s car. Despite piling the car in to a brick wall en route, they did mange to buy three return tickets for Nice – paying buy cheque of course. Another cheque was bounced on the French taxi driver who drove them to St. Tropez. The threesome were really enjoying themselves, then all over a sudden Chris and John found themselves in jail with Gordon elsewhere. As it was, the Police were happy to believe that they had merely netted two harmless young victims of a truly evil criminal genius, and John was set free to collect his and Chris’ bail from a friend in one of the clubs.

 

In the meantime, John had hitched up with a local prostitute, who despite her allegedly fantastic body, was cursed with a particularly equine face. Something which immediately attracted the attention of one Simon Napier Bell, when the couple walked into the club where he was having lunch. Simon, at 27, was owner or part owner of five companies, manager and sometimes producer of The Yardbirds and was a resident of a flat that overlooked the Queen’s back garden. This particular day, Simon yelled out “What’s a good looking boy like you doing with an ugly cow like that ?” John joined Simon for lunch, shared his hotel room, cadged a lift back to Nice, threw up down the side of Simon’s white Renault convertible, and extracted a promise that the world famous manager would come and see The Silence at their next gig. Chris meanwhile, had made his way to the nearest British consul, where he announced that he was tired of this hippy lark and wanted to go back home. Chris arrived back in Leatherhead the day after John, and the band had a gig. That night Simon found himself driving down to Surrey fulfilling the promise he had made to John. The gig was at a barbecue party at Burford Bridge swimming pool. Having being forced to set up their gear in the pool’s changing rooms, that didn’t help the sound and Simon dubbed them ‘the worst group I’d ever seen’. His initial impulse had been to simply walk away without a word, but unable to be quite so cruel, he followed the band to a nearby pub and, seven beers and twelve whiskies later told them he would become their manager.

 

One of the first things Simon did was to re-name the band after John as some kind of protection since he was by far the worst musician of them all, so he called the band John’s Children. He also created a nice image for the boys with short hair and white suits. A record contract soon followed with Columbia Records and the band’s first release was a song he had written himself titled “Smashed Blocked”. Simon got session musicians to play on the song, but Andy did the lead vocal and this was the same for “Strange Affair” which was the ‘B’ side. The single was released October 14th 1966 as “The Love I Thought I’d Found” in the UK because the record company found the original title too offensive. Promotional copies were accompanied with a picture sleeve and there was also an accompanying video. The band’s debut release was actually the second version of the song Andy had recorded, the first having a different arrangement. The song was also released in America on White Whale Records (as “Smashed Blocked”) during December where it was a minor hit reaching No. 102 on the national singles charts. The Americans wanted an album due to the success of the single, so an album of the bands best songs was recorded and titled “Orgasm”. With advance orders of 35,000 and copies of the album’s cover being flyposted across America, a release date was set for March 18th 1967. But just prior to the album’s release, The Daughters Of The American Revolution, a group of moral guardians devoted to upholding the standards of decency in American society, took exception to the record’s title and sleeve and it was shelved until it was released during September 1970.

 

The band continued to gig but didn’t have the best of luck with their vans as one broke down on the way to Leicester and when a replacement arrived the band reached their destination only to find out that they weren’t due there until the following week. They turned round, but hadn’t got even half way home when the hired van conked out. Another van caught fire in the wilds of Norfolk. One got lost in Bognor. Another one got demolished outside the Bluesette and Chris was the guilty person laying into it with a pickaxe before pushing it into a large hole that the council had conveniently dug behind the club. It ended up being buried beneath eight feet of concrete. All the lads wanted was a transit van like all the other bands !!

 

A second UK single was released by Columbia on February 3rd titled “Just What You Want – Just What You’ll Get” and come March, Geoff McClelland had been replaced by Marc Bolan. Marc had never played an electric guitar before. So Simon bought a Gibson S.G. for him from Trevor White who was in the A-Jaes. And he played it incredibly loudly. Marc’s debut was at a hall in Watford. Backstage he had drunk his way through two bottles of red wine to combat his nerves with the rest of the band feeling obliged to accompany him. It was a very drunken John’s Children who staggered on stage to greet their audience. All one of her, a leather clad girl who stood at the back chewing gum, then walked out midway through the first number. By the end of the second song, the venue’s manager came round and told them to stop. Marc ended the evening in tears. He used to take it to heart if the band had a bad gig, but if the band had a good gig he would be bubbly for hours. The other members of the band never really cared about how the gig went, they would just get on with whatever was happening afterwards.

 

At the beginning of April the band were packed off to Germany with The Who where they played in front of thousands every gig. The band caused total mayhem with their stage antics – Andy would leap into the audience and run everywhere spreading feathers, as well as end up having a fight with John, Marc would kick his equipment and beat his guitar with a chain and Chris would either keep thrashing his drum kit or just simply demolish it and throw it out into the audience!! All seemed to be going to plan and a jolly good time was had by all. Or maybe not, one irate fan, an English serviceman based in Germany, was so moved by what he had witnessed commented in a letter to Melody Maker - “On April 11th, I witnessed a fiasco in the guise of Pop Music. This was a concert in Dusseldorf, with The Who as stars of the show. There were two British groups, and four German groups.  The group John’s Children, took the prise for the most atrocious excuse for ‘entertainment’ I have ever seen. They issued forth a barrage of sound bearing no resemblance to anything on earth. The lead singer ran around the aisles, rolled on stage, had a fight with the bass guitarist, leapt into the audience several times, and collapsed crying at the back of the stage. The lead guitarist kicked his equipment, beat the stage with a silver chain and sat in a trance between his speakers producing deafening sounds on his guitar. It was sickening. I maintain British pop is the best. But this unholy mess has made me wonder if it is all a big confidence trick. Britain was shamed on that stage.” His name – SPR. H. R. Hutchinson, BFPO 34 BAOR.     

 

But as the tour was progressing Simon was convinced that John’s Children were not destined to last much longer, so they might as well make the most of it while they could. And by the time they had reached Lugwigshaven, which was the biggest venue yet, and so were the bouncers having heard about the previous nights events, were determined not to let similar things happen here. But as they lined up in front of the stage, it did not make any difference to Andy, because as soon as he came on stage carrying a pillow full of feathers under each arm, he simply jumped over their heads and proceeded to run around the stadium with feathers flying everywhere. Half the audience were trying to grab him, while the other half were trying to do their best and help him back on stage. The feathers hung over the auditorium like a pall of smoke. Chairs were being smashed and everyone was fighting. The place looked like a disaster area and that was just the first five minutes !! When Andy started singing, his voice aroused the audience even further, and the entire 12,000 crowd launched into an orgy of destruction. The bouncers were hitting anyone they could grab, and things were getting wildly dangerous. Two bouncers grabbed Andy’s legs and tried to pull him off stage. Marc threw his guitar at them and grabbed for his chains. He slashed at the bouncers, while his guitar screeched with manic feedback that echoed through the auditorium like death screams. Then the riot police arrived. Simon managed to pull the band off stage and into the car park just as the fire brigade arrived. The band clambered into his Bentley only seconds before the hoses were turned on them, somehow getting away before the full force of water hit the car. They raced out onto the autobahn, leaving the remainder of the gig to be cancelled and their equipment in the hands of the German police. Andy had dislocated his neck and sat in agony with his head pointed sideways like a deformed parrot. He’d also got a huge black bootmark right on the crotch of his white trousers where someone had kicked him. Chris’ face had been cut open with a bottle, Marc and John both had nose bleeds. Later Andy got his neck sorted out when he went to see an osteopath in Cologne. He took one look at it, gave him a quick twist, Andy received some pain and then he was all right again. 

 

They all headed down to Munich for the next gig, but predictably, Kit Lambert, The Who’s manager told them they were off the tour. So they headed back home via the mountains of Luxembourg, although they did take in a Ravi Shankar gig along the way in Luxemburg. Then they made their way to Ostend to catch the night ferry back to England. With plenty time to kill, everyone, with the exception of Andy, for reasons only known to himself, got fairly drunk, but they all ended up on the ferry home with Marc entertaining people sitting cross-legged on a table while the passengers were trying to eat their dinner.

 

Next on the band’s schedule was a gig at the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream Festival on April 29th at Alexander’s Palace. The concert attracted 5,000 hippies. John’s Children announced that they would be playing their set without any clothes on. Modesty prevailed however, and the band made do with being as raucous as possible. Andy ran around screaming and throwing feathers everywhere, Chris demolished his drum kit in record time, and Marc put his guitar on his head and walked around with it feeding back for the whole set.

 

With the cancellation of “Orgasm”, the American tour, which had been arranged for May, was scrapped. So, by way of consolation, Simon booked the band on a five week engagement in Paris, playing three hours a night, every night, at the Bus Palladium, supporting Jamaican reggae artist Jimmy Cliff. 

 

By this time Columbia had agreed to release the band from their contract, as Simon had said he wanted the band’s next single to be “Not The Sort Of Girl You Like To Take To Bed”. Their new home was Track Records owned by Kit Lambert and the band’s first release was “Desdemona” b/w “Remember Thomas A’Becket” on May 24th. The ‘A’ side was written by newcomer Marc Bolan. The single had a picture sleeve featuring the four boys pictured above a lady. This was the same photograph that was used for promotional purposes for their first release, with the exception of Marc’s head being superimposed onto Geoff McClelland’s body. “Desdemona” also an accompanying video. Sadly, the song was banned from national radio because of the lines ‘naked in the nude’ and ‘lift up your skirt and fly’. So as good as the song was, it was only successful in local charts. Marc re-wrote new lines for “Desdemona” and a new second version was recorded which included an additional organ part.

 

The band appeared on the Brian Matthews Show (Saturday Club) on BBC Radio One during June performing four songs. Also during June “Midsummer Night’s Scene” b/w “Sara Crazy Child” with both sides written by Marc was planned for release. Copies were pressed up and dispatched, but withdrawn at the last minute. Various reasons have come to light why it was withdrawn, but mainly it seems that Marc wasn’t happy how Simon had mixed the song after the band had recorded it. Copies of this record now sell for anything above £6,000. A remixed version of “Remember Thomas A’Becket” with different lyrics was done and this became “Come And Play With Me In The Garden”. This was released on July 14th with the same ‘B’ side and even the same Cat. No. By this time Marc Bolan had left the band. The single had a drawing of a flower for a picture sleeve and a video to accompany it as well, but this was just of the three remaining members. While Marc was a member of the band, quite a lot of songs had been recorded.

 

A gig at Hamburg’s Star Club in Germany standing in for the Bee Gees soon followed with roadie Chris Coville playing drums as Chris Townson had now switched to guitar. Simon had arranged for the band to be picked up at the airport and when he saw them he just freaked out. Gone were the white suits and the lads had replaced them with kaftans and beads. There was no way that they were going to wear those white suits ever again. Well they couldn’t anyway because Chris had buried his in a field somewhere, and the rest of the band had burned them and jumped up and down on them and thrown them in the river !! Prior to the gig, the band toured the streets in the back of an open top Mercedes covered in just flowers and totally naked. After another gig in Munich, the band returned home and a new set of lyrics were put to a previously recorded backing track – “Mustang Ford” and the song was titled “Go Go Girl”. The ‘B’ side was “Jagged Time Lapse” and the single was released October 6th. The band were now struggling to get gigs as there wasn’t a promoter in the country who would touch the band more than once. A tour of West Country Village Halls was set up, but moral was at an all time low, even though Trevor White had agreed to join the band and start rehearsing with them as soon as the tour was over. But tempers flared, especially between John and Chris Townson and the final straw came at The Famingo Club in Redruth when both Chris’ walked in to the club about 10 minutes before the band was due on stage only to find John and Andy still sat around in their swimming gear. No one cared anymore, so Chris threw his guitar down and walked out with Chris Coville and that was the end of the band.

 

As well as what has been mentioned above, John’s Children had singles issued in Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Holland, Japan and South Africa, as well as an EP issued in Spain. The “Orgasm” album was issued in Australia as “John’s Children”.

 

While the two Chris’ went back to London, John and Andy stayed in Cornwall, slowly fishing their way around the coast back to London over the next fortnight. They finally arrived home to find Simon, far from angrily waiting to hear their side of the story, already plotting his next move; launching Andy as a solo artist. There was even some talk of John managing him, but it didn’t happen.

 

Andy began his solo life by assisting Simon in the editing of “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush”, a typical late 60’s film about life in swinging Stevenage. The film however needed a love song and Simon suggested a John’s Children song that Andy had written called “It’s Been A Long Time”. Simon hired an orchestra, booked a studio, re-arranged the song (grabbing a co-writer’s credit in the process), then with a suitably pensive vocal from Andy, he delivered the completed item to director Clive Donner who liked it. “It’s Been A Long Time” was, for many critics, the only real highlight of a surprisingly lacklustre soundtrack. The song was also released as a single by Track Records during December 1967. The ‘B’ side was an unreleased John’s Children song called “Arthur Green”.

 

In the New Year, Andy found himself contracted to CBS Records. A couple of Beatles song were recorded, “You Can’t Do That” which was blessed with Andy’s most cultured English accent, full orchestral backing and a girlie chorus, plus “Help”, but it was never released at the time. Although it saw the light of day for the first time in 1988 on the ‘B’ side of the John’s Children “Midsummer Night’s Scene” 12” single issued by Bam Caruso.

 

Early 1968 possibly saw the release of “You Can’t Do That” b/w “Casbah Candy” (Cat. No. CBS 3308). I personally have never seen a copy and don’t think it was ever released irrespective of it being given a catalogue number, especially with “Fool From Upper Eden” being released during March. “Casbah Candy” however, saw Andy’s lyrics paired with the backing track to Marc Bolan’s “Jasper C. Debussy”, one of the songs Marc had recorded with John’s Children.

 

March 15th saw the release of “Fool From Upper Eden” b/w “Another Lucky Lie” on CBS. The ‘B’ side was one of Andy’s own compositions. To promote the record Andy appeared on Southern Television doing some very strange miming. He wasn’t allowed to move around, he had to stay within the chalk lines on the floor, but he still managed to get out of the camera view simply by jumping up and down on the spot. He had taken up mime soon after John’s Children had broken up. His interest in Marcel Marceau’s London appearances had encouraged him, and he had a vague idea of incorporating such routines into his stage performances even though he had no intention of appearing live unless he had John’s Children, or a close approximation thereof, to fall back on.

 

Andy actually made another television appearance. He was on the first of Tony Blackburn’s thirteen week ITV series, ‘New Release’. Based along the lines of the BBC’s ‘Juke Box Jury, an all star panel (which that week also included Kenny Lynch, and representatives from The Tremoloes, Manfred Mann, and an all girl trio called The Paper Dolls) would have their latest release played, and then be subjected to a good humoured interrogation from Tony Blackburn.

 

TV commercials were another outlet for Andy. He would get called up whenever they wanted someone to jump off the top board. His agency, not connected to Simon, also placed him a few short films about music, people say that none that none of them ever got shown, but ‘Pop Down’ did during 1968. Andy’s character was Dr. Love and his song “Another Lucky Lie” was featured in the film. From there it was just a short step into stunt work. He fell off a few horses and got generally bashed about in ‘The Avengers’, but contrary to popular belief, he never appeared in a James Bond film.

 

The soundtrack to “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” was released in the UK, Europe and America. Andy’s “It’s Been A Long Time” was sandwiched between songs by Traffic and the Spencer Davis Group. An EP featuring “It’s Been A Long Time” plus three other songs was also released in Japan.

 

With “Fool From Upper Eden” picking up interest, Andy began planning a solo album which would showcase not only his vocal talents, but also his varied taste in music. The fourteen songs he had in mind encompassed the entire previous decade, “Fool From Upper Eden” and a reworking of “Desdemona” were to be joined by versions of “Like A Rolling Stone”, “Satisfaction”, “The Crying Game”, “End Of The World”, “She’s Not There”, “Handbags And Gladrags”, “Anyway That You Want Me”, “One Night”, “I’m Into Something Good” and three Beatles numbers – “Hard Day’s Night”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Unfortunately when the single failed to take off, plans were shelved indefinitely, and then permanently. 

 

While Andy was busying himself with that, Simon was in the throes of putting together his own record label for distribution through CBS. Modestly named SNB Records. Amongst the releases on May 31st was “You Can’t Do That”, backed with “Cornflake Zoo” which was written by Andy, but not credited to him. The ‘A’ side is slightly different to the one that may have been issued by CBS as it has a different ending vocally. Despite decent reviews, the single flopped just like the rest. Andy was contemplating returning to live work in a band with Trevor White. The only drawback was a lack of equipment, but once Ian Moody came to hear of their dilemma, that was the least of their problems. Over the next few weeks Ian kept going round to Trevor’s flat every night with more and more gear. There was enough equipment to start half a dozen bands as well as a couple of recording studios. Some of the gear had to be stacked in the hall and on the stairs outside his flat. In the end, there was that much equipment, Trevor had to get Ian to take it all away again.

 

Andy, too, was unhappy. But his disillusionment stemmed from the knowledge that he was still contacted to Simon for the next three years. So he left he country and met up with a French chap and they went off to San Raphael to busk around and act like loonies for a couple of years. Then when he got bored again he came back to England and started painting, and wanted to make a living at that. Then around the end of 1973, he decided to get back into music, and joined a band called Free Fall.

 

Track Records decided to issue a series of compilation albums called “Backtrack” and in 1970 “Backtrack 1” featured Andy’s “It’s Been A Long Time” and John’s Children’s “Desdemona”.

 

Around mid’ 1974, Chris Townson phoned Andy to see if he would be interested in starting a band with Martin Gordon (ex-Sparks and fresh from an appearance on TOTP) and himself. Martin wondered what ever he had let himself in for at his first meeting with Andy as he turned up in a green labourer’s anorak. Davy O’List was next on board after the band heard his guitar playing on Bryan Ferry’s “The In Crowd” and even though they hadn’t thought about a keyboard player, they picked one up in the shape of Sir Peter Oxendale (Spark’s second keyboard player) due to him picking up Martin’s messages on his answering service and arranging to meet Davy at his place. The name Jet was chosen and the band entered TW studios in Fulham, London and recorded three songs – “Desdemona”, “Start Here” and “My River”. A tape found it’s way to Jamie Turner and he took it to Mike Leander and within two weeks of the band getting together, they had signed to Leander’s management, publishing and recording agency RAM (Rock Artist Management). Jamie was taken on as the bands manager. One of the first decisions made was that the band needed a second guitarist. An advert appeared in Melody Maker on August 31st and this resulted in Ian MacLeod joining the band. But after recording just two songs with Jet at Trident studios - “It Would Be Good” and “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”, Ian was told that he was no longer in the band as an enormous bill had been run up recording these two songs.

 

For Jet, the deal with RAM had been accepted for just one thing – money. RAM’s side of the deal included their complete control over every aspect of the band’s career. When it came to recording songs for an album, RAM chose the record company – CBS and the producer – Roy Thomas Baker. The band entered Sarm Studios during December 1974 to record their debut album, staying there until January 1975. A short tour of Scotland followed, but only days before setting out drummer Chris Townson broke his leg playing football. His replacement was Jim Toomey. Jet made their live debut at Queen’s Hall, Dunoon on February 28th, the first of half a dozen or so gigs to help them find their live feet before their great unveiling as opening act on the long awaited Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson tour which kicked off in Exeter University on March 15th and concluded at Croydon Fairfield Halls on April 6th.

 

March also saw the release of the band’s debut single “My River” b/w “Quandary”. The following month, “Jet”, the album was released. And the month after, Andy and Martin visited various radio stations throughout the country promoting the album. A second single, “Nothing To Do With Us”, which is an edited version compared to the album version was released on May 16th. It received some good reviews, but failed to do anything. There was a tour of Germany planned, but since Jet had their gear stolen, that put an end to that. They then got down to planning for a possible British tour with Fox, something that was brought about by Roy Thomas Baker’s involvement with the band. But that also fell through, and when a set of Swedish dates went the same way, and repeated calls to their agent began proving unworthy of even the cost of a phone call, the band resigned themselves to rehearsing for their projected second album. The band did record a radio session for Hullabaloo and supported Streetwalkers at the Paris Theatre, London on Radio 1 In Concert, both done with drummer Jim Toomey. A John Peel session took place on June 12th with drummer Mike Nicholls. 

 

Demos for the second album began at TMC Studios during July with Davy O’List, but it wasn’t too long before he called it a day, so in his place came Ian MacLeod, who had been waiting on the sidelines ever since being rejected by Mike Leander. August 1st saw the new line-up, and Chris Townson, do their first and last gig. The venue was London’s Marquee. More demos were done, but there was also a period of inactivity and by the beginning of 1976 CBS despatched Jet to a studio in an old converted church in Burton, Somerset. Here they recorded many demos, but as performing the songs live, they decided not to have any breaks in-between them, just bridges and links into the next song. So when CBS sent Nicky Graham from the A & R department down to Somerset to sit through the entire 2 hour set, he was not impressed. Then, giving the band warning of his intentions, he returned to London and recommended that CBS drop the band forthwith. No sooner said than done, and Jet spent their last night in Burton demolishing the studio – then putting it all back together again when suddenly they felt sorry for the guy who owned it. RAM also dropped the band.

 

Jet struggled on rehearsing for a while and Trevor White joined on rhythm guitar, but then realising things wasn’t working out too well he turned his attention to producing the band. Trevor got John Hewlett to book some studio time at Island and “Don’t Cry Joe”, “Sail Away”, Antler” and “Dirty Pictures” were recorded. Island turned the songs down, but towards the end of the year Andy had got Chiswick Records boss Ted Carroll interested in the songs, especially “Dirty Pictures”. So come 1977 Andy, along with Martin and Ian signed to Chiswick and “Dirty Pictures” became the band’s first release, plus they had changed their name to Radio Stars. The band toured like crazy until they were forced to call it a day in 1979. Along the way Andy was insured for £250,000 for damage he may cause to other people and other things at gigs. Radio Stars released five singles, one EP and two albums. They appeared on the ‘Marc Bolan Show’, ‘TOTP’ and ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’. “Nervous Wreck”, reached No. 39 on the National Charts.  

 

The early eighties saw Andy record quite a number of demos. Some were recorded in studio’s around London and Sussex, while others were recorded at his home. Trevor White helped out on the mixing of various songs. One of these songs - “To The Beat Of A Different Drummer”, was recorded during 1980 and released on a cassette album called “The Point & The Rays” many years later in 1991. The song also features on Andy’s 2006 solo album “ Cornflake Zoo”.

 

1982 saw Andy helping out Paul Roland by producing the ‘A’ side of two of his singles as well as appearing on them. These were “Dr. Strange” on Aristocrat Records and a version of Marc Bolan’s “Hot George” on Moonlight Records. It was Moonlight Records who showed an interest in the Radio Stars back catalogue by issuing a single “Good Personality” during March and during the first week of April a compilation album titled “2 Minutes Mr. Smith”. This prompted Andy and Martin into action and they put together a seven piece version of Radio Stars. Three gigs were done in London and these featured new songs. One single “My Mother Said” b/w “2Minutes Mr. Smith” was issued on Martin’s own Snat label. A second single “The Ghost Of Desperate Dan” b/w “This Is Your Next Life” was planned and recorded, but wasn’t issued at time. The two songs however did turn up on the Radio Stars compilation album “Somewhere There’s A Place For Us” that was released on Chiswick Records during 1992. Another song – “I Got the Buzz” was also recorded during 1982. The band came to an end towards the end of the year. During May, Cherry Red Records issued the John’s Children album “Orgasm”. There was a possibility of the band doing a gig to coincide with it’s release and a couple of rehearsals did take place, but that is as far as things went.

 

For the next few years Andy continued to make home demos and during 1986 assembled a group of musicians to be part of a band he had titled Bubba-Reece. The band rehearsed quite a lot and by late 1987 decided to change to Radio Stars. The band gigged around in London and Brighton during 1988, but by the end of the year they had called it a day.

 

During May 1988 Andy recorded a version of “Desdemona” with Boz Boorer. The song was included on the Marc Bolan tribute album “An Exalted Companion”. This year Bam Caruso Records decided to release a John’s Children compilation titled “A Midsummer Night’s Scene”. This was as well as a 12” single of “Midsummer Night’s Scene” which featured three unreleased songs by Andy on the ‘B’ side that he had recorded during 1968 – “Help”, “Casbah Candy” and “Hippy Gumbo”. These three songs also appeared on his March 2006 solo album “Cornflake Zoo”. Bam Caruso also released a compilation album featuring a version of “Hippy Gumbo” by John’s Children. Cherry Red Records issued John’s Children’s “Orgasm” album on CD for the first time during August.

 

Throughout the late 80’s and into the early 90’s Andy continued to record demos. 1990 was the start of what turned out to be a good decade for John’s Children releases. 1990 saw “Desdemona” appear on a T-Rex/Marc Bolan compilation album titled “Cosmic Dancer” issued on Amiga Records in Germany. Later in the same year during November, Zinc Alloy Records, again in Germany issued a 6 track mini album titled “Playing With Themselves” and the following year the same company issued a 5 track mini album titled “Playing With Themselves Vol.2”.

 

During 1991 German punk band Die Toten Hosen decided to do an album of punk covers and feature an original member of each band on the recording. They chose “Dirty Pictures”, so Andy was featured on lead vocals. The album was issued on vinyl and CD. During December Die Toten Hosen did some gigs in Germany to give the songs an outing and Andy went over there to perform “Dirty Pictures” with them.

 

This prompted Andy into getting another version of Radio Stars together, this time with original guitarist Ian MacLeod on guitar. The band made their debut at the Marquee, London supporting 999 on January 18th 1992. The new year also saw Andy put together a new John’s Children line-up with Chris Townson. The band featured Boz Boorer on guitar and Jonny Bridgewood on bass guitar. John’s Children were planning a 25th anniversary comeback gig in Germany. March 5th saw Andy appear with Die Toten Hosen again, this time at the Borderline Club in London when he performed “Dirty Pictures” and “No Russian In Russia” with the band for the encores. The end of March saw Chiswick Records release the double CD “The Chiswick Story” which featured four Radio Stars songs. Andy appeared once again with Die Toten Hosen when the band appeared at the Marquee on April 9th. Then towards the end of May, Chiswick Records released the Radio Stars compilation album “Somewhere There’s A Place For Us”. A few days earlier in the month, on the 23rd, John’s Children did their debut comeback gig in Darmstadt, Germany at the Marc Bolan Festival. This was followed a few days later by a gig in London at St. John’s Tavern on May 26th. Radio Stars continued to gig around London throughout the year and supported Stiff Little Fingers at the Astoria in London on December 10th. Chris Townson was now on the drum stool.

 

1992 also saw Zinc Alloy Records in Germany issue a limited box set. This featured both John’s Children’s mini albums, plus a T-shirt and a signed photograph. Also, in 1993 they issued a compilation CD of the Marc Bolan Festival recorded the previous year in Darmstadt, Germany. “Midsummer Night’s Scene” appeared on it.

 

Throughout the next four years there was various line-up changes within Radio Stars. The band did record four songs during September and October 1993 for Munroe Productions and these were issued in the form of a 12” EP for promotional purposes during 1994. Various gigs were done here and there including an appearance at the ‘Holidays In The Sun’ event (a celebration of 20 years of Punk) in Blackpool during 1996. “Blame It On The Young” appeared on a compilation CD and video that Visionary Communications Ltd released during 1997. But their gig in Hartlepool during November 1996 turned out to be their last. During 2005 Cherry Red Records issued a compilation DVD of the ‘Holidays In The Sun’ event and this featured “Blame It On The Young” as well as an interview with Andy. 

 

Andy’s “Cornflake Zoo” appeared on a compilation CD titled “Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks” issued by Archive International on January 1st 1995. “Cornflake Zoo” had previously been issued on Vol. 4 of the “Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks” series on LP.

 

John’s Children continued to be reasonably active on the gig front throughout the rest of the 90’s and also the releases kept on appearing. 1995 saw a Russian flexi disc appear of “Desdemona” and during October, Dig the Fuzz Records issued the compilation album “When The Tangerine Strikes Twelve”. This album featured three of the four songs John’s Children recorded for the Radio 1 Brian Matthews session during June 1967. September 16th saw the band perform two acoustic songs “Sara Cray Child” and “It’s Been A Long Time” on Greater London Radio. This was the day before the ‘Undrugged’ gig Andy and Boz did with Chris Townson and friends at Dingwalls in London.

 

Cherry Red Records re-released the “Orgasm” album on CD during 1996 and during November Dig The Fuzz Records released another compilation album titled “Yellow Street Boutique”. This featured a marvellous piece of musical history as the album featured three songs by The Silence. It did credit the band to five songs, but the other two were solo offerings by Chris Dawsett the bands organist and guitarist Geoff McClelland. The album has excellent sleeve notes by Andy (Danny Soleil).  

 

After a gig at London’s Borderline Club on June 20th 1997, the band appeared at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts on December 6th. The event was billed as ‘The Recurring Technicolor Dream. It was thirty years since John’s Children and other bands had appeared at the ‘Fourteen Hour Technicolor Dream Festival’ in 1967.

 

New Millennium Communications were the next company to issue material by John’s Children. Two CD’s appeared in two months during 1997 and these included both of the Zinc Alloy mini albums. August saw “Smashed Blocked” appear, again with excellent notes from Andy. Boz Boorer (a fan of John’s Children as well as guitarist in the band) also provided some good notes. Throughout the CD booklet were some great photographs. The following month saw the release of “Jagged Time Lapse”. This CD included two of Andy’s 60’s solo recordings “Help” and “Casbah Candy”. RPM Records issued “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” on CD for the first time and this included Andy’s first solo single “It’s Been A Long Time”. The following year in 1998 saw the album being released by Rykodisc in America. Also released during 1998 was the two New Millennium Communications CD’s on 180 gram HQ vinyl by Get Back Records in Italy. They also released the “Orgasm” album as well. All three albums had gatefold sleeves. “Smashed Blocked” made an appearance on the twelve track CD that was free with the book “Unknown Legends Of Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Richie Unterberger. The band did one gig during the year and that was at the Notre Dame Ballroom in London on February 21st.   

 

March 12th 1999 saw the band perform “But She’s Mine” and “It’s Been A Long Time” electrically on Greater London Radio prior to a gig the following day at The Monarch in London. Later in the year, White Whale Records, John’s Children’s American record company of the 60’s, was the subject of a release by Varese Sarabande Records in America. They put together a compilation CD titled “Happy Together – The Very Best Of White Whale” and this was released on August 10th. Prior to this Cherry Red Records issued the “Orgasm” album yet again. John’s Children eventually made it to the American shores when they appeared at the “66 99” four day event at The Casbah in San Diego on June 11th.  A few months later the band played at Vicar Street Club in Dublin on August 20th and a 5 track CD was issued featuring three new recordings.

 

2000 saw the Jet album from 1975 being released as a double CD package along with ‘B’ sides, out-takes, live material and songs that were contenders for their second album. This was on the Fan Mael record label. In support of this album Andy was involved in the ‘Nothing To Do With Us Tour’ that featured songs by John’s Children, Jet, Trevor White and Radio Stars. Three gigs were done in total, one at Dingwalls in London and the other two were in Berlin and Amsterdam. These were done during late April and early May. The following year a live album was issued titled “Music For The Heard Of Herring” first in Japan, and then shortly afterwards in Europe.

 

John’s Children invaded Italy on September 27th playing a gig in Cattolica. As for other releases throughout the year, RPM Records issued the CD “Bam Caruso Waxworks” and this featured the John’s Children song “Just What You Want – Just What You’ll Get” and Cherry Red Records issued the “Orgasm” album yet again on CD, but this time it featured what they thought was the promotional video to “Smashed Blocked”, but actually it is the out-takes. The year finished off with John’s Children playing at the Monarch in London on December 30th.

 

The Astoria, London was the next stop for John’s Children on April 20th 2001 when they played at the Steve Marriot Memorial Concert performing two songs – “It’s Too Late” and “Lazy Sunday”. A CD of the event was released on April 22nd 2002 on the Sanctuary label and titled “”Mustn’t Grumble”. John’s Children had one song on the CD - “Lazy Sunday”. A DVD titled the “Steve Marriott Astoria Memorial Concert” was issued by Sound Discs Ltd during 2004. Sadly, John’s Children do not appear on this performing any songs, but individually they can be seen when everybody is on stage for the final song “All Or Nothing”. Also in 2001, Andy was interviewed for a CD that came out titled “The Life And Times Of Marc Bolan By Those Who Knew Him”.

 

The year was full of gigs for John’s Children. They played in Unkel, Germany on June 3rd, the Monarch in London on June 30th, Gijon, Spain on August 5th, Camden Underworld in London on September 15th and once again finished the year off at the Monarch in London on December 29th.

 

Andy ventured down to Bristol on March 23rd 2002 to perform a solo gig at the Holy Cross Social Club as part of their annual Bolan Bop. A few months later on June 29th Andy, along with Chris played at the Liverpool Bolan Convention. A new John’s Children album was recorded, but so far hasn’t seen the light of day. A double CD came to light - “The Complete John’s Children”. This is the two New Millennium Communications CD’s packaged together. Jet had their double CD issued as single CD’s by Radiant Future on September 9th and both CD’s featured new sleeve notes and photographs. September 16th saw Andy and Chris play at the Klub Extreme in Golders Green, London as part of the 25th anniversary of Marc Bolan’s death. December was quite an active month for Andy as he appeared with Boz at Dingwalls performing an acoustic set for a charity for Dyslexia. Then on the 22nd, again with Boz, and other friends, he sang some early Rolling Stones songs at The Verge, Kentish Town, London. Finally, John’s Children played at the Monarch, London on December 28th.

 

Once again, Andy appeared at the Brisyl Bolan Bop at the Holy Cross Social Club in Bristol on March 22nd 2003. Then, just like the previous year, ventured up to Liverpool on June 7th to appear at their Marc Bolan Convention. The John’s Children song “But She’s Mine” appeared on the Jeff Beck Anthology album “Shapes Of Things”. This was released around Autumn. Jeff played a guitar solo over Geoff McClelland’s original solo on the song.

 

Andy eventually recorded the vocals to an Andy Lewis penned song “Heather Lane”. The song took a while to see the light of day, but it made two appearances during 2005, firstly on the compilation album “Sugar Lumps” and secondly during September on Andy Lewis’ debut solo album “Billion Pound Project”. Both releases came out on Acid Jazz Records. Andy sang “Heather Lane” live on the Robert Elms Show on London Radio on October 11th. Earlier in the year Andy was filmed singing the old Small Faces song “Wat’cha Gonna Do About It” for the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal and the Band Aid 20 charity. Released as Modaid 20 as a three track CD plus enhanced video on the Biff Bang Pow label, Andy can be seen briefly on the video only. November 4th saw Andy and Chris played in Northampton along with T-Rextasy.

 

April 2006 saw Mojo magazine give a free CD away titled “Mojo Psych Out”. This 15 track psychedelic compilation opens up with “Smashed Blocked” by John’s Children. 

 

On June 2nd & 4th 2006, a new John’s Children line-up featuring Chris Townson, Trevor White, John Hewlett on bass and Andy, entered a recording studio in Mill Hill, North London after a couple of rehearsals to record a new song they had written for the World Cup. The song was mixed on June 6th is titled “Come On England (Our English Sons)” and is available as a free download from www.myspace.com/johnschildren3 John’s Children started rehearsing again towards the end of July and on August 1st started to record a punk version “Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner” at Mill Hill Studio’s.  

 

Voiceprint Group Of Companies released a solo album by Andy titled “Cornflake Zoo” during September 2006. The album features solo singles, ‘B’ sides and unreleased material from the 60’s, as well as solo offerings from the 80’s, 90’s and present day. 

 

March 9th 2007 saw John’s Children perform at Manchester’s Night And Day Café. This is the furthest North the band have ever been, and that includes life in the 60’s !! The Acid Jazz Records compilation album “Sugarlumps 2” was released on April 16th. This features the Andy Lewis songs “Disappear Across The Sky” which Andy sings lead vocals on. “I’m A Londoner” (shortened title) has now been added to the above John’s Children My Space site. The band did a London gig on May 19th as a three piece at the Inn on the Green (Parliament Club). 

 

Andy was invited to unveil a plaque for the Small Faces in Carnaby Street, London on September 4th. This was below where their manager Don Arden used to have his office. Ex-drummer Kenny Jones gave a talk. The Silence nearly signed to Don Arden and did a tour of Wales with the Small Faces. The opening gig was at Llandudno Pier.     

 

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Marc Bolan’s death a documentary was shown on BBC 4 on September 14th. This featured an interview with Andy & Chris and showed unseen footage of John’s Children playing at the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream Festival at Alexander’s Palace in late April 1967. The following night, September 15th, a gig had been arranged at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire featuring many people paying tribute to the songs of Marc Bolan. Andy performed three John’s Children songs - “Mustang Ford” & “Sara Crazy Child” with his electric guitar, and for his third song he performed “Desdemona”. This saw him fronting the T-Rex tribute band T-Rextasy. The band’s sound was boosted by the addition of a second drummer, Clem Burke from Blondie. This performance was the highlight of the evening as Andy was climbing up the PA speakers and teasing the audience as only he knows how !!   

 

The Andy Lewis album “You Should Be Hearing Something Now” was released on October 15th on the Acid Jazz label and features one song with Andy on lead vocals titled “Top Of The Tower”. 

 

March 1st 2008 saw Radio Stars do a 31st anniversary gig at the Blow Metro Club in London. This was the first time since November 5th 1978 that Andy, Martin and Ian had played an entire set consisting of Radio Stars songs. Also on the same date a live Radio Stars CD was issued on the Radiant Future label titled “Something For The Weekend”.


 

Andy also released a solo 4 track CD EP titled “Fourplay” on the evening of the Radio Stars 31st anniversary gig. Songs on the EP are “Anyway Goodbye”, “She’s Trying To Kill Me”, “Cold Light” and “Cluster Bombs”.

On September 29th the DVD of the Marc Bolan celebration gig (1947 – 1977 – 2007) from the previous year was released. This features the three songs Andy performed on the night – “Mustang Ford”, “Sara Crazy Child” (just Andy with his electric guitar) and “Desdemona” (with T-Rextasy and Clem Burke from Blondie as a second drummer). Andy was also involved in the two encores – “Get It On” and “Hot Love”. There is also an interview with Andy and this was filmed during the soundcheck. His evenings water spraying activities can be seen perfectly, along with his bongo playing !!

Radio Stars played at the Forum in London on December 13th as part of the Rebellion Punk Festival, and they also played in Southampton the following night at Talking Heads.

During May 2009 Acid Jazz Records released the album “Rare Mod” in CD and LP format. The album features two songs by The Silence from 1965 - “Down Down” and “Cold On Me”.

On September 18th Andy did an acoustic set at The Standard in Walthamstow, London supporting T-Rextasy. He also came on for the encores with the T-Rextasy performing a blistering version of the Radio Stars nugget “No Russians In Russia” (click here to see it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VuZjSvcf5s), “Desdemona” and “Hot Love”.

Radio Stars made an appearance at the legendary 100 Club in London on January 22nd 2010 when they supported Eddie & The Hot Rods.

Early February saw the promotional video for “The Love I Thought I’d Found” by John’s Children from 1966 turn up in Germany. The video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT6E-XtU6nc

Come March 1st, Jet’s concert from the Colston Hall in Bristol on April 1st 1975, and most of their gig from Hammersmith Odeon the night before was made available on iTunes and Amazon.

On March 16th, Andy recorded the vocals for a new Andy Lewis song titled “Mr. Camera”. This was at Paul Weller’s studio in Surrey.

During June, Andy flew to Finland to do two shows, one in Helsinki at the Bar Loose on June 4th and the other at the Bar Kuka in Turku on June 5th. Andy also did a short acoustic set in Fatty Sounds Records store prior to the Helsinki gig.

October 25th 2010 saw RPM Records issue Jet's album. Only this time the album has been re-mastered, along with the additional B side, “Quandary”. The package is complemented by a second CD titled "Even More Light Than Shade", which contains a few unreleased songs. The double CD comes with an excellent booklet that contains even more information and photographs than ever before !!

Acid Jazz Records released the compilation album “Rare Mod Vol. 3” on February 21st 2011 and this features the second version the “Desdemona” from 1967. Apart from keyboards being added to the song, possibly by Simon Napier Bell, “Desdemona” also features the rerecorded line by Andy, ‘why do you have to speak’. This replaced ‘lift up your skirt and fly’, because it offended quite a few radio stations and they banned the record at the time !!

The John’s Children album “Black & White”, which had been sitting around gathering dust for the last 10 years, finally saw the light of day on June 6th by Acid Jazz Records. In support of the album’s release, the band that had supported Andy in Finland came over to the UK to back Andy again for a show at the Barfly in London on July 28th.

Before the year was through, Andy made a couple of guest appearances at a couple of Andy Lewis shows and also made a guest appearance at T-Rextasy’s appearance at The Standard in London on December 3rd. This turned out to be the final appearance by any band at the venue, because it sadly by the end of the month it had closed down.

Andy has made more appearances at T-Rex/Marc Bolan conventions than I have mentioned, with and without Chris Townson over the years both in England and in Europe. Also, various bootleg CD’s, LP’s and EP’s have been issued over the years connected with Andy, but I haven’t mentioned these. Just like the many Marc Bolan compilation LP’s and CD’s that have featured John’s Children songs, as well as various other compilation albums too.  

 

If you have got this far, give yourself a pat on the back. I guess I got a little carried away writing a more detailed version of Andy’s biog……ha ha !! I hope you found it interesting and worth while reading ? The book comes out in…………

 

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