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Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:48 pm
by Adam Blake
And here's the rest of it. Hope you enjoy it.



(Discussing John "Hoppy" Hopkins’s photos of Blues Inc.)

LJB: Ginger on the drums, there. Ginger at the piano, that’s funny. This would have to be late ’62 with Cyril and Alex still together. ‘Cos they parted company. This black fella here I don’t know. Now wait a minute there were these GIs who got up and sang gospel.

GB: Were these taken straight off the negatives?

AB: Relatively recently. Within the last 10 years.

LJB: See this guy looks a little bit like Mississippi John Hurt, I vaguely remember that night so I was there. I think these guys sang gospel. Turned us all on our heads.

DL: But there was the Alex Bradford thing that came in, Black Nativity, and some of them stayed behind. P.P Arnold was one of them, wasn’t she?

LJB: No, Pat Arnold came from Ike and Tina Turner, Madeline Bell was one, oh look! There’s Cleo there! Cleo Sylvester.

GB: Good old Cleo!

LJB: I still see her around.

GB: I've seen her a couple of times on the box, you know, bit parts. At Duncan’s. Remember Duncan your flat mate?

LJB: Yes, Duncan. Ooh, this guy, remember him? Needles, the DJ?

GB: Naaah…

LJB: Yeah Needles. And he used to sell Prestige and Blue Note albums and that kind of thing at wholesale price. I remember Hoppy. Johnny Parker took a good picture too. Shall we go out?

(repair to noisy pub)

LJB: There’s Alex’s famous Rupert bear pants. That’s Ronnie Jones. There’s that DJ, Jimmy Savile (does impersonation)

GB: I remember him from when he was just an ordinary DJ at Belle Vue, Manchester.

LJB: That’s right, I remember.

GB: On a round stage, wasn’t it? A revolving stage?

LJB: That’s right, yeah. John Mayall here. Billy Fury here.

AB: Is it? Wouldn’t he have been considered a bit passe for that kind of gig?

LJB: No they used to mix up all kinds of stuff, I can remember us doing shows with – there’s John Lee Hooker - with The Hollies and all kinds of people.

GB: Remember those riverboats?

LJB: Yeah, they were wonderful.

GB: Freddie and the Dreamers and all that? Billy J Kramer (laughs)

DL: You didn’t sit in with them did you?

GB: No, but that’s when I used to see Speckled Red, ‘cos he was downstairs in the saloon. And nobody was
down there, nobody! They were all up watching Billy J Kramer.

AB: Where was that?

GB: We used to do a boat from London to Margate, and those bands used to play on the upper deck and down below in the saloon they used to have – if they could get them – American piano players. And they’d stick ‘em downstairs, give them a bottle of gin…I remember sitting down there, and I was the only one down there, sitting there talking to Speckled Red. He was sitting there with a bottle of gin on top of the piano and a glass, and that was it. Amazing.

LJB: Cyril in black looked like a fascist, doesn’t he? (laughs)

AB: He looked like a heavy geezer.

GB: Were you with us that night in Coventry? When he used my tele as a club?

LJB: Ooh no. I never saw that, no.

GB: The most enormous punch-up. And he got hold of my telecaster and he was swinging it round his head like…and I’m saying For Christ’s sake, Cyril!

DL: I think I remember you saying there was a gig once where some of the local toughs took against the band and they were waiting when you came out to go to the bus afterwards.

GB: Cyril used to get his harps in a box, and they’d be on the front of the stage, and this guy reached up to try to get one of his harps, and he just went crunch on his hand. And when we got out, yeah, we had to come out with mic stands. (laughs) That was Sunderland.

LJB: Look at this one, he looks like Heinrich Himmler!

DL: So if you had gone with Alexis’s band, do you think your career would have been different? Kind of a silly question, I know.

LJB: I would have ended up being one of a couple of dozen singers, in and out of there. Whereas with Cyril I was the only singer in the band. I think as time went on Cyril realised that his gig really was the harp, and no-one could touch him. Whereas he wasn’t that much of a singer, I think he realised that for himself.

GB: He was good on the Leadbelly stuff, though.

LJB: Yeah, yeah, but you never saw that in public after the harp… I never saw him pick up a guitar in public again after ’62.

DL: So when he formed that band did he ever play guitar?

LJB: No. Never. Purely harp. Which I always thought was a shame and I bet you there’s all kinds of stuff that Cyril recorded on guitar that’s never seen the light of day yet. But where it would be, who knows?

GB: You’ve heard the famous Kenton Tea Room session, haven’t you? Lisa Turner, meself, Reg and…

LJB: Oh the jugband thing, yeah, yeah, (laughs)

DL: But in terms of that band recording there was a recording contract with Pye wasn’t it? Those singles…

LJB: Yeah.

GB: Pye International, red and yellow label yeah.

LJB: The World Of Blues, and it was a minor hit, "County Line Special".

GB: They’re still playing it now.

LJB: Yeah.

GB: "Preachin’ The Blues", they play.

LJB: I haven’t heard…

DL: You guys should be registered to get your royalties for that, by the way.

GB: We weren’t on royalties, we were on wages.

DL: But under the current PPL rules, anybody who played on the record gets some money when it gets airplay. I’ll get you the details from Pamra.

GB: I was on P J Proby’s "Hold Me".

DL: Well then you’ll get some money. There is money waiting.

LJB: Like on Rod’s song "Every Picture Tells A Story", all I do is groan Every Picture Tells A Story Don’t It. That’s all I do. And I get cheques coming in for that.

(discussing re-releases and royalties)

DL: Tell me about Ian Arnott, where did he come from?

LJB: He was from (?) in Scotland, which is near to Edinburgh. Just an amazing player.

DL: Would he have been around in the jazz scene?

LJB: Yeah, yeah, well he came to us from Humph Lyttleton. Well I’ll tell you what happened, we had Johnny Parker in the band and Johnny had done something to upset Sonny Boy Williamson. In fact Sonny Boy went after him with a switchblade. Sonny Boy was like a scary old man, he was ancient but very scary.

GB: Complete shit, he was.

LJB: And he went after Parker with a switchblade, and suddenly Parker was gone, and Ernie says: Don’t worry (Ernie O’Malley), we’ll get Ian Arnott in the gig, he’s got itchy feet, wants to leave Lyttleton. So the next gig, Ian was in. I don’t think we even rehearsed, I mean the guy was such a magical player… There’s only Johnny Parker and Stan Gregg have come close to Ian as all round piano players, but Ian was the king of them all I think.

DL: What’s happened to him?

LJB: He died in ’85 I think it was. No maybe a little later. Late 80s. Liver cancer.

GB: He was in a bad way then. Still playing like a dream though.

LJB: Oh fabulous. There’s Johnny Parker now has got some kind of spinal problem and Stan Gregg has got Parkinsons so they’re the last of the breed of those great all round piano players. Who were great jazz players but also could play very good blues as well. I mean there’s some classic moments on that "Long John’s Blues" where Ian, um…

GB: Oh there’s some wonderful playing. It hasn’t dated at all, I mean when you listen to some other 60s blues bands they sound so bloody laboured and creaky.

DL: You were kind of ahead of the time because you were doing that kind of jazzy blues thing whereas they were all doing Muddy Waters or Chuck Berry stuff, or Georgie Fame was doing his thing which was different.

GB: Well that was a different style again.

LJB: Well we were the band of choice for all the visiting black artists. ‘Cos they’d always say: Oh we want that band that’s with Baldry.

DL: So who were the people who came and…

LJB: Howling Wolf, Sumlin, Spoon on a few occasions, Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy – even though people talk about Sonny Boy with the Yardbirds, we were really his favourite band.

AB: Was he very hard to work with?

LJB: He was just strange. Strange and scary.

GB: D’you remember when we walked offstage at Aylesbury? He got the wrong harp out and said all the band were in the wrong key. I walked off and Cliff Buckley walked off.

LJB: And then there was the famous incident when Sonny Boy started playing guitar he got so drunk. And I’m not sure that he’d ever picked the guitar up ever. And he was trying to do all this Jimi Hendrix behind his head – or T–Bone, ‘cos he started all that off – and then he threw it down on the floor and was doing sort of like a free Pete Townshend feedback thing (laughs), and then he started writhing around on the floor with it! This is at the old Marquee. And we’re going: what’s going on here? I mean the guy was advanced in years.

AB: He stayed over didn’t he? When a lot of the American blues singers went back.

LJB: His trips here were quite lengthy.

GB: He realised he could make more money over here than over there.

DL: Let me ask you about when you had to take over the band when Cyril was ill, and then when he died, because it sounded like it was a very short illness.

LJB: I don’t think any of us realised how ill he was because he’d taken some time off and then came back, like in November. Suddenly he was back there, that’s fine. But then one of the last gigs we ever did was on Eel Pie Island which involved that footbridge.

GB: Oh yeah.

LJB: And he said to me then, you know I think this is the last time I’m ever gonna walk across this bridge. Never referred to his illness, never referred to anything. Next thing we knew was, I guess after Christmas that year, yeah, after Christmas ’63, Cyril’s had to go into hospital, you know, just carry on as normal folks, and then blow me down if by the 8th or 9th of January, I got a call from John Martin who was our agent at that time: Cyril died at 7 this morning. I mean we had no idea that it was life threatening.

AB: Was it pleurisy?

LJB: Yeah.

GB: The bar manager said, That man’s got death on his shoulders, to me. The one in Eel Pie Island. Irish barman. I couldn’t believe it. Shook me up.

LJB: It was just so sudden.

DL: The band had been doing gigs without him from time to time before, and you had to front it?

LJB: Yeah.

GB: And Mad Harry died too.

LJB: Well Mad Harry came along after, after Cyril had died.

GB: It was when Cyril had died, wasn’t it?

LJB: Well he sort of came in.

GB: He was driving when Cyril died. So Matt (?) drove round there. It was John’s place as well, Johnny Parker’s place, he lived with Johnny Parker, Mad Harry, he used to wear this leather flying helmet, 1st world war flying helmet.

DL: So he was your tour manager, was he?

LJB: Yeah, so weird. Because he’d got the dashboard of this ex-Bovril truck I’d bought, and had windows cut in it for £40 – this huge massive thing – and he’d had the dashboard done up with altimeters and whatnot. And his favourite trick was to scare the life out of all of us by hurtling down that sideroad off Twickenham High St down to the river, at full speed, and then turning right at the last minute, so the whole thing would spin like that, and we’re thinking: Oh no, we’re going to end up in the river! Mad Harry. And then he’d change into evening dress to announce us on the stage, with all these medals and everything, tails and everything, the whole lot: “And now ladies and gentlemen at great expense blah blah blah….”

DL: My idea of Cyril Davies is that Cyril wouldn’t want to be announced like that.

GB: Well he had this really foxy lady with him, didn’t he? Remember her? She stayed in the background quite a bit. What a weird couple.

DL: Obviously the band finished at a certain point but was that because the crowds were going down because the trend had changed?

LJB: Well it was just like our timing, or my timing, or the agents timing was a bit out. Because if we’d stuck with it just a month or two or three longer, the world could have been ours. Instead John Mayall walked in there and took it all. John Mayall became the big deal. Which is a shame because he’s not. These days it’s all John Mayall John Mayall John Mayall…

GB: I was off sick then, and he called me.

DL: Mayall did?

GB: And I refused him (laughs). And I don’t know who went with him then whether it was Clapton or whoever.

LJB: Well in the early days when we used to bump into him at the Bodega in Manchester, for awhile he actually didn’t have a band he was just working as a duo.

GB: Or the one-man-band thing.

LJB: Yeah. He had that and Davy Graham at first, and then when Geoff joined the Cyril Davies All Stars, he was using Bernie Marsden wasn’t he? I think it was. But, you know, strange man, Mayall. He just lucked in upon the whole fuckin’ scene. He suddenly became the big deal. All hail John Mayall! (laughs)

GB: Basically because he didn’t have any competition that’s why.

LJB: Yeah.

AB: What about Alexis? Was he not in the picture at this point?

GB: He was into his Mingus thing. There was only John Mayall, the only one around at that point. Square. To me they were.

DL: When you say square, do you mean the way they played, or as opposed to being hip?

GB: They didn’t swing.

LJB: Not a great band. I can’t think of anyone in the country who came anywhere close to the Hoochie Coochie Men at its peak.

GB: Yeah.

LJB: At its peak.

AB: Which would have been ’64?

LJB: ’64, just entering into ’65. Plus we had the ace up the sleeve with the young Rod Stewart. Which helped as a selling point.

GB: D’you remember Rudi and Pete? Tenor and trumpet? He thought he was Dizzy Gillespie.

LJB: Rudi used to do this playing of the saxophone behind his back, and handstands and all kinds of weird stuff. He actually was a great showman. People would be astounded. If they saw something like that today they’d go: Wow!! Seeing this Jamaican guy in a suit that was made of about 50 yards of silk (laughs) big suit! Coming in doing handstands, playing the sax behind his back, standing on his head and playing it…

GB: Where did they come from?

LJB: Notting Hill Gate, I think.

DL: But who hired them?

LJB: D’you know I’m not sure! I’m not sure how they came to be there.

GB: (laughing) I couldn’t believe it. The first gig, we didn’t have any rehearsal, at all, I wouldn’t know who was playing that night.

AB: Sounds like rehearsing wasn’t very popular.

GB: No,no.

AB: Either you did it or you didn’t.

LJB: Yeah. We were too busy gigging.

GB: I didn’t have a guitar, I had a hired guitar.

LJB: Back in those days weekends consisted of at least three gigs a night, sometimes four. You’d drive from one place to another.

GB: Manchester to, was it Buxton or Birken?

LJB: Hanley, Hanley, Hanley…

GB: We’d work Manchester then straight over the bridge to Hanley. It was a good gig.

LJB: Oh yeah. The one person who I felt sorry for all the time was Ian because he’d always end up with the short end of the stick because all the pianos were always terrible in all these places and it was before the days of any kind of digital thing or anything like that.

AB: He was at the mercy of the house piano?

LJB: Yeah, the house piano was always dreadful. Nevertheless Ian Arnott came through with magic.

GB: He gave up on a couple.

LJB: Yeah, like Eel Pie Island, oh!

GB: Once in the Norfolk Broads, d’you remember that?, He says Where’s the piano? And the guy says, Oh it’s round the back here. And there was a stack of deck chairs. We had to get all these deck chairs off and there was this green thing. And Ian said, I’ve got to own up, y’know. I can’t. He stayed in the hotel. Did it without a piano player.

LJB: The only amplification was usually a Reszlo microphone on a stand and you’d poke that in the back of the piano and hope that it’d work. Take all the front and the lid off, so at least the player could hear.

GB: Then there were those rubber things, you could put it on the soundboard of a piano with a bit of elastic.

LJB: It’s amazing when you think about today, all the stuff that’s available at very little cost these days compared to… I mean, for us, trying to get anything done or acquired back in those days was a fortune. Now you can go anywhere and pick digital pianos up for next to nothing and be perfectly in tune.

AB: Everybody can hear you and you can go through the PA and it’s not a problem.

LJB: Yeah. Well you know I never saw a monitor system, for instance, until I went to America for the first time in 1971. I’d never heard of such things. I thought, what’s this? When it was on the stage, what are these for? And I was frightened of them because I thought that it might be some kind of delay system. Now even the littlest gig has got totally fancy equipment compared to what we were ever used to.

AB: Is there anywhere that we want to pick up the trail of the story, or have we given up on that a long time ago?

DL: Do you mean during this interview? (laughs) It’s really intriguing that it seems like from the Soho crowd of that time you kind of came in and you were quite exotic.

LJB: Yeah.

DL: Cliff Aungier said that he remembered you at the Soho Square place really wowing the crowd, that you would get up on stage and even do accapella things maybe. Maybe it was out in S W London on your own that you had imbibed this stuff.

LJB: Well, when I discovered all the crowd around, the Gyre and Gimble, and all the other places, you sort of start grabbing this from that person and you know the influences start moving at a greater pace.

(drinks ordering)

AB: Were you aware of people like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters? Right from the beginning?

LJB: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AB: You mentioned Big Bill Broonzy. Would you have been too young to have seen him when he first came over?

LJB: When Bill first came over it was 1951 so, yeah. I think he spent more time in England than anywhere else between ’51 and when he died in ’58, didn’t he? ‘Cos he knew he was on to a good thing.

AB: And you’d be sitting at the front, checking his guitar playing.

LJB: Yeah. I mean he was the first real live blues person we ever saw.

AB: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee came over, didn’t they?

LJB: They were fairly soon after Bill, yeah.

GB: They were coming over, on and off, for years.

LJB: Well I think they came over with Chris first of all, didn’t they, in maybe ’59?

AB : But when you first started to play guitar you weren’t aware of any other English people doing it?

LJB: Ooh no. No. It wasn’t until I started going into Soho and met Davy Graham. In fact there are a couple of the Soho fairs, when they used to have that, you’d see people playing on the streets.

AB: And Davy Graham, would you say he was further down the road of guitar playing, even then?

LJB: Oh yeah, yeah. Yes.

AB: How did he learn d’you think?

LJB: From Big Bill Broonzy records. I think for all of us, Bill was – and Leadbelly – Britain’s own personal blues singer. ‘Cos he was the first one here.

GB: He was also accessible because the kind of blues he did, you could hear what he was doing.

LJB: Yeah, yeah.

GB: Whereas someone like John Lee Hooker, he was way out on the fringe.

AB: Open tunings, more difficult to penetrate.

LJB: Yeah.

GB: Bill you could understand and copy, which everybody did.

AB: So, moving forward a little bit, I think it would have been ’62 or ’63, was that big tour of people like Hooker, Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim…

LJB: Yes. Lippmann/Rau, yeah. Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, they were all on there.

AB: By the time they came over, there would have been a ready-made audience of people such as yourselves…

LJB: Ooh yeah! Those package shows were being booked into the Fairfield Halls Croydon, Festival Hall, venues like that all round the country, and jam-packed weren’t they, Geoff? And these German promoters, Horst Lippmann and whatever Rau’s name was, they recognised that this was something that could be… In fact Willie was their link man in the states in Chicago, to book all these acts, Willie Dixon. So I think a doff of the hat to Lippmann and Rau for bringing those people over without which we may not have had the opportunity.

AB: It must have had an incredible effect.

LJB: Oh yeah.

AB: Seeing all those guys one after another. So there must have been a lot of bands, a lot of performers who got started as a result of things like that happening?

LJB: Oh yeah, yeah.

AB: Also records, when did they start to become more easily available would you say?

LJB: It was probably when Lp’s started out, not necessarily stereo lp’s.

GB: You could get some of the piano stuff on 78’s. Like Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, you could get them on Parlophone I think.

AB: I was thinking of the Pye R’n’B 45s, you know the yellow and red?

LJB: That would be about ’62 onwards.

AB: Was it that Pye managed to acquire the rights to a lot of the Chess catalog?

LJB: Exactly so.

AB: And that they realised there was a homegrown audience for it ?

LJB: Oh yeah. And some of those things actually did make No.1

GB: "Smokestack Lightning".

LJB: "Smokestack Lightning", "Help Me" from Sonny Boy, on that "World Of Blues"…

(tape runs out)

AB: So would you say that the audience weren’t so much mods as what used to be called the beatniks?

LJB: Probably yeah. Art school students.

AB: CND pot smokers.

LJB: Yeah. It was very much that. Although there was a crossover, I mean people say that people who went to the Marquee never went to the Flamingo and vice-versa but there was a crossover situation there.

AB: I’ve heard that the Flamingo was more frequented by black musicians and visiting Americans.

LJB: Er, to an extent yeah, but I wouldn’t have said exclusively. Would you, Geoff?

GB: A lot of bases, Americans on leave would gravitate to the Flamingo. There would be black guys singing.

LJB: Bobby Jones, and later Herbie Goins, yeah.

AB: Was it a more adult atmosphere than the Marquee? In the sense of older.

LJB: Probably, because it was a later crowd, yeah. And you see the Marquee never got an alcohol license until way, way down the line. When we played there it was purely coca-cola and coffee. If you wanted a drink you either had to go to The Ship or The Intrepid Fox. And then much later down the line, when a lot of the players did not want to go to pubs – I don’t know what they had against pubs – we opened up this nightclub above the Marquee called La Chaisse. And it had one of those grandfathered licenses – you know, there was a license that’d been there since 1925 or something. The thing was we had to form a committee, and have it run as a private members club with a committee of directors, of which I was one. But here was another thing, members of that committee had to serve on the bar at least once a week. So once a week you’d find me on the bar doling out the drinks there. Jack Berry was a committee member, Harold Pendleton was, John Gee, Simon White, the list goes on. But the rest of them used to shake with fear every time I was let loose behind the bar because I was pouring drinks like… Ooh, it’s Baldry night, great! They’d be losing money hand over fist. So it wasn’t until the actual alcoholic drinks bar came into the Marquee that it was an older crowd in there. ‘Cos I can remember a lot of our audience were 16, 17, 18 – that age, weren’t they?

GB: And a lot of tourists as well. Foreign tourists.

LJB: But I mean we were only young guys but a lot of the audience made us feel tremendously old. I mean they were all about Rod’s age, kind of thing. Rod came in as an 18 year old into the band.

DL: And Rod came in in your era, not in Cyril’s era.

LJB: That’s right, yeah.

DL: Had you met him before Cyril died?

LJB: Two or three days, yeah.

DL: Because the famous story which may be a myth is that you met him on a railway station at Twickenham. Is
that more or less true?

LJB: Absolutely true. It was after one of our nights – ‘cos we had the Sunday night residency at Eel Pie Island, which originally was Cyril’s residency – and then I carried it on after.

DL: (to GB) What was he (Baldry) like as a boss?

GB: Oh great! We had a very relaxed band.

DL: Different from Cyril?

GB: Well I never had any trouble with Cyril.

DL: Sounds like you two were the only ones who didn’t. ‘Cos he seemed to sack everyone else in the band.

GB: That may be so. I was pretty close to Cyril. He knew where I was coming from and I knew where he was coming from.

DL: You were both from the same background.

GB: I suppose so.

DL: I can’t remember what your original job was, but he was a panel beater, wasn’t he?

GB: I was a sign writer but I hadn’t been out of the navy that long.

AB: National service?

GB: No, I was a 12 year man, I bought myself out.

AB: Did you have to sign on for 12 years?

GB: You could sign on for 7, and have 5 in reserve.

AB: That’s a long time.

GB: I didn’t do 12, I did about 5 and a half, 6.

DL: One of the things that comes up when we’ve been talking to people about this idea is, how could it be that in the mid to late 1950s there were these English, almost all men, in London and other places who suddenly - instead of latching onto Donald Pear, as someone always talks about – found their way to Broonzy and stuff like that. What was it?

LJB: I think it has to be the strength of the artists. That’s the only way you can explain it.

GB: That formative tune, or something you might hear, you hear something on a juke box and thing: My Christ, what is that? That’s definitely not Denis Lotus. I must get to the source, where did he get this from? You just go back, looking for sources, until you get to the source. In my case it was Lonnie Donegan, where did he get that from? And looking for the source of Lonnie Donegan.

DL: But why wasn’t Ruby Murray and Denis Lotus enough?

GB: Well it’s something you take no notice of until you hear the definitive sound that you like.

DL: But all the other kids at school with you didn’t want to gravitate to the blues?

GB: It’s their loss.

LJB: Well actually I started a fairly successful jazz and blues appreciation society at school. Which would mean in the lunchtimes once a week, Thursday I think it was, and everyone put 6d into a fund to buy a record to play and analyse the next lunchtime.

GB: When I was at school I was listening to Lionel Hampton - there was one or two kids that had Lionel Hampton records – we would listen to those. And that was when the mouldy fig thing was about. Traddies versus beboppers.

DL: I suppose there were a lot of people around but you didn’t know who they were, it’s like your neighbour, you said, down the road.

LJB: That’s right. It’s odd, you know like a lot of people immediately put the blues alongside Chris Barber and in that convenient pigeon-hole but I was listening to a lot of other stuff as well. My favourite band of all time from the 50s was the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker Quintet. I mean, that drove me nuts, that was fabulous. And also a favourite album was Jazz At Massey Hall – with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Gillespie, Mingus, Max Roach on drums – to me that was like, this is what jazz is all about. So I was aware but it wasn’t the be all and end all for me that whole dunk-dunk-dunk-dunk (trad noises), banjo, clarinet, trombone, trumpet line-up, although that all had its place of course.

AB: Did you get some resentment from the trad guys?

LJB: No, I don’t think I did. I can’t say I did.

GB: A lot of those bands carried skiffle bands within the band anyway.

LJB: That’s right, yeah.

GB: And they looked up to Leadbelly. Like Ken Colyer.

LJB: Ken Colyer, I got on with Ken like a house on fire. We were tremendously friendly. And Chris, of course, over the years. Chris is coming up to 50 years as a bandleader. If he’s not already crossed that.

AB: What about girls? Were there any girls playing this music at that time?

LJB: Well at school there was this girl called Jennifer Goodall who did a passable imitation of Bessie Smith slash Ottilie Patterson. There was her but I can’t remember too many other…

DL: Well you noticed one or two in the photos, Lisa Turner who’s been mentioned.

LJB: Yeah.

GB: Yeah.

DL: But not too many others.

AB: Shirley Collins?

LJB: Shirley Collins was really more folkie, although she went out with Alan Lomax on one of those field trips,
she was Lomax’s girlfriend.

DL: And she worked with Davy Graham obviously. But there were some singers with the trad bands?

LJB: Yeah, there was Beryl Bryden, Niba (?) Rafello (?), but actually we didn’t start hearing female singers apart from Bessie until much later with people like KoKo Taylor, Big Mama Thornton.

DL: Jo-Ann Kelly’s was Memphis Minnie. But she was a later generation.

LJB: Yeah. I can’t remember there being any women around, were there?

GB: I can’t remember any.

LJB: I guess old Beryl was probably the first of them all really, she started out singing in Norwich before the war. Sadly Beryl’s gone, but old George Webb is still there – how old must he be now, about 90 or something? Still playing away, George. ‘Cos George was our agent for a long time, of course.

GB: I couldn’t stand him. He couldn’t stand me either.

AB: So you never went to America with the Hoochie Coochie Men?

LJB: No. I was always scared of flying anyway. And I used to say: My American audience is not ready for me yet! It was all bullshit, I was just terrified of getting on planes.

AB: There wasn’t a question of taking it back to the source and seeing how it would sound?

LJB: Well at that time I don’t think we ever thought we’d even get there. Well of course now it’s just like a ride across the duck pond isn’t it.

DL: Your career has kind of come full circle now that you’re doing your acousticy folk-blues…

LJB: Well I do that some of the time, and sometimes I work with a band, and sometimes I get with other people’s bands like with this Manfreds thing. I thought it was the tour that was never going to end, two months, and going on British Railways too! It’s amazing I ever made it on time to a gig.

AB: You weren’t travelling together?

LJB: Eh? No no no. They don’t believe in that, they don’t get on you see. So they don’t get like a van or a bus and so it’s like everyone make their own way and I don’t drive so I was constantly getting on trains. And I bought a whole bunch of passes before I left Canada, but I ran out of those long ago.

AB: It’s expensive.

LJB: Oh it is. Mind you I got my senior’s discount! Takes a third off the price, lessens the blow a little bit. But it’s so expensive.

AB: Were the gigs good?

LJB: Most of them. There were a couple of dire moments like Llandudno which they did back in early May so – that’s before anyone even goes there, y’know – and Sheffield has not been kind to anyone in recent times.

GB: Sheffield always used to be a good gig.

LJB: It used to be, yeah. A lot of people are cancelling there now because nobody goes out.

GB: It’s not what it was though, John, there’s no clubs, no decent acoustic outlets anywhere.

DL: Well you’ve done a few. Pete was saying you did one at Bridgenorth.

LJB: Yeah. That was not bad, except we had to go all the way down these bloody steps down this hill, I said: I don’t DO steps, for Christ’s sake. And then, all the way up again. And, er, a couple of other dates but the rest of it was all with Manfreds and Jonesy trying to prove how gymnastic he is.

DL: He’s not a very popular person in the London community. But Tom McGuiness is a decent fella.

LJB: He’s alright yeah.

DL: And is Dave Kelly on those gigs?

LJB: No. Mike D'Abo on keyboards, Mike Hugg on keyboards, Marcus Trent on bass, I’ve forgotten who the drummer is, Simon Currie sax, and Paul Jones on extremely highly amplified harmonica. He has to be louder than everyone else. Mind you, Cyril was a bit like that, once he'd turn up that bloody Fender. He was one of the first persons who ever got one of those big Fender rigs with tweed covering on it. Crank that up!

DL: So for a Leadbelly fan he got quite into the amplification world.

GB: Once he got into the electrics.

AB: Who would have been his major inspiration? Would it have been Little Walter?

LJB: Yeah.

GB: Yeah. And he never could quite find that sound, could he? Nowadays they seem to be able to get it so easily.

AB: Well they have special microphones now.
(Discussing harmonicas, players, etc)


Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:11 pm
by AndyM
More fascinating stuff!

Minor tweaks needed on some names - Denis Lotis (not Lotus), Donald Peers (not Pear), Cleo Sylvestre (not Sylvester). She did more than just bit parts & was in fact one of the first black actresses to work regularly on British TV -- she did Till Death Us Do Part' (as Kenny Lynch's girlfriend!!), Crossroads (first regular black character in one of the main British soaps), Callan, Z Cars & later on The Bill and Grange Hill. She was even in last year's film of Paddington Bear. Oops, bit of a tangent here.......

Oh and Gyre and Gimble comes from Carroll's poem Jabberwocky.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:37 pm
by Adam Blake
AndyM wrote:Oh and Gyre and Gimble comes from Carroll's poem Jabberwocky.

How dare you! I knew that!

Thank you, Andy. That's great. Very helpful. I have been in touch with Dave Laing and, who knows? the project might not be completely moribund. At the very least, it's nice to be able to put it up on the net for those who are interested. I will put it up on Cyril Davies's memorial website as John has suggested.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:49 am
by AndyM
Adam Blake wrote:
AndyM wrote:Oh and Gyre and Gimble comes from Carroll's poem Jabberwocky.

How dare you! I knew that!

I thought you must do, but putting something like "as I'm sure you know......" might have come across as patronising -- oh my, the minefield of tonal details online!!

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:47 am
by will vine
Just catching up on this and Oh, what a marvellous diversion on a sunday morning. It's like somebody popped The Melody Maker through my door.It was stuff like this that stopped me doing my homework way back when. Reading stuff where every name and every reference used to seem exotic. Formative, influential gigs that had been just out of reach in terms of time and place were always that.

Thanks Adam.

Which among us wouldn't have wanted to be on a riverboat shuffle with the option Upstairs for Billy J. downstairs for Speckled Red?

(typo early on in pt1. John Pilgrim was on Three Counties Radio. (Herts, Beds, Bucks local BBC)

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:13 am
by john poole
LJB really didn't like John Mayall it would appear....

Another excellent read, many thanks Adam.

Just one name to mention, I think LJB was referring to Ronnie (rather than Bobby) Jones as Herbie Goins' predecessor. I've looked for, but have come up with nothing about anyone with a similar name to "Niba Rafello".

Here's the single Cleo recorded for Andrew Oldham

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:29 am
by AndyM
john poole wrote:
Here's the single Cleo recorded for Andrew Oldham

Fascinating! But you can see why she stuck with the acting.........

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:43 am
by Adam Blake
Hah! Please tell me that isn't Charlie on drums. Thanks, John. Never heard THAT before! Jagger's bv's are appalling! Sounds like it was recorded at the same sessions that produced The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra album.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:07 pm
by Adam Blake
john poole wrote:LJB really didn't like John Mayall it would appear....

He did not. As you can see it was the only time he used the F word in the interview and his face darkened like a thunderstorm when he spoke of him.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:11 pm
by Adam Blake
will vine wrote:It was stuff like this that stopped me doing my homework

Me too, Will! Glad you enjoyed it.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:57 pm
by john poole
john poole wrote:I've looked for, but have come up with nothing about anyone with a similar name to "Niba Rafello".
Found her now - Neva Raphaello

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:17 pm
by Rob Hall
Thanks for posting these Adam, fascinating stuff. LJB mentions gigging in Hanley, which is part of Stoke on Trent. It would have been before my time, and I can't think which venue he would have played at, unless it was the Victoria Hall, but by coincidence I did catch Alexis Korner in Hanley some years later.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:26 pm
by Adam Blake
john poole wrote:
john poole wrote:I've looked for, but have come up with nothing about anyone with a similar name to "Niba Rafello".
Found her now - Neva Raphaello

Thanks, John.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:48 pm
by alister prince
The last time I saw CD live, was at the Royal Albert Hall in 1963. The Velvelettes were with him. I remember being really impressed how he and the band really went for it and rocked. I last saw LJB at the 'folk club' at the Half Moon in Herne Hill, Sarf Lonun. He was back to his earlier self, singing the blues and enjoying rapping with the audience. He said how much more he loved that, rather than the more lucrative showbiz stuff. He was certainly very relaxed and seemed to be having a really good time. We in the audience certainly were.
Thanks again Adam, an excellent read.

Re: Baldry/ Bradford Interview - Part 2

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:17 pm
by uiwangmike
A name mentioned in passing - Cliff Aungier. He'd slipped out of my memory, but seeing his name here recalls some enjoyable performances of his that I attended. ... ngier.html