Here's Pt 2
of an interview Jeff did with Beatleg Magazine, Japan's
leading magazine devoted to music from the 50s-70s.
Q: The Outer
Limits' first single, Just
One More Chance, came out on the Deram label and it
did ok and the second, called The
Great Train Robbery, was banned by the BBC because of
its connotation to the actual great train robbery that happened
in 1963. That came out on Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate
JC: Andrew produced it.
Q: Yes, and the arranger was
Tony Meehan, who was an ex-member of The Shadows and was
working at Decca, so how did that combination of label/arranger/producer
JC: I don't know how Andrew
got Tony but he pulled Tony in to do the string arrangements.
I met Tony a few years before he died (28 November, 2005).
There was a big TV show in either 2001 or 2002, a New Year's
party for a lot of people that had been number 1 in the
UK and they televised it on BBC on New Year's Day. They
took me down there - I think it was Dale Winton that did
it - and there was Nancy Sinatra, Roy Wood, who I toured
with when he was in The Move, and they were just fantastic.
Anyway, after the show, there was
this big party and there were loads of people there I hadn't
seen for a long time and it was lovely. Mike Sarne (Come
Outside, No 1 in UK 1962), was there and I met him
and what a lovely bloke he was; he was having a whale of
a time! Arthur Brown was also there. I knew Arthur because
he went to Roundhay Grammar School in Leeds so I spent a
large part of the evening hanging out with him but I also
met Tony Meehan and Jet Harris there and I had a lovely
chat with Tony.
Jet looked a bit sad for some reason
but I told them that as a kid I idolised them as The Shadows
as they were, for me, much more important than Cliff Richard.
They were fabulous. Jet Harris was so cool but he looked
so sad at this gig; his whole demeanour was down. He didn't
have much to say for himself either but as I said, I had
a great chat with Tony. When we talked about The
Great Train Robbery, he said "You know, that
was a really good record but unfortunately the BBC just
wouldn't play it." It was crazy though. If you listen
to the lyrics, it talks about a train robbery in 1899, a
fictitious thing that I made up from the title. I knew there
had been a great train robbery in the 1960's but the BBC
wouldn't play it. The first record we did though was a small
hit and I'm very proud of it.
One of the problems that I've had
is that Yellow River was such
a monster. It is now in its 43rd year and it is still played
all over the world, people are still recording it in different
languages but it has dwarfed everything else I recorded.
Just One More Chance was bubbling
under the top 50 which in today's terms means it would be
sitting between 50 and 60 in the charts and a respectable
hit. It was a turntable hit which meant that all the pirate
radio stations played it; it got great reviews and was covered
by The Patrick Bradley and The Hondells in America; the
Patrick Bradley version was a 'double' 45 disc with a vocal
version on one side and an instrumental version on the other
side which became a big hit in the New York dance halls.
The Hondells were a bit like The Beach Boys. If you go onto
my website and search out The
Hondells, you'll hear this fantastic five piece harmonies
version of it and you know who was in the Hondells
Q: I didn't know that.
JC: Yeah. I don't know if he
was in the group at that time but if he was, it is really
ironic. I would love to think that he was in the group or
in on that session that did Just One
More Chance because when Glen Campbell came out with
Galveston -which is a Jimmy
Webb song in 1969 that was the song that inspired me to
write Yellow River.
Jimmy Webb was another idol of mine
and I met him a few years ago when I went to see him in
York. I did all the usual obligatory grovelling that you
do when you meet your idols and said to him, "I have
to tell you that your song, Galveston,
inspired me so much that I wrote a song that set the world
charts on fire and paid my mortgage ever since." And
he said "Is that so?". He was a lovely guy, really
cool but that's the circle you see. The Glen Campbell song
which is really a Jimmy Webb song with Glen's genius arrangement
inspired me to write Yellow River.
Glen's arrangements are just another genius of Glen Campbell
along with his brilliant voice.
Q: He was also a member of
Phil Spector's Wall of Sound back in the sixties.
JC: Phil Spector was another
genius. He influenced us all with stuff like River
Deep Mountain High. Us English kids used to listen
to those American records and wonder how they got that guitar
sound. Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue
was another and Scotty Moore. I loved Scotty Moore who was
of course Elvis' guitarist and those early rock and roll
records were just phenomenal. I still play them. Jackie
Wilson I really loved as well, and he asked me to write
a song for him when I met him. I also met The Platters and
Ben E. King
do you know what the 'E' stands for?
JC: Earl. Isn't that perfect?
Ben Earl King.
Going back to The Outer Limits, you did that amazing tour
in 1967 with Jimi Hendrix, The Move, the Pink Floyd, The
Nice and Amen Corner. What memories do you have of the tour?
JC: It was unbelievable. It
was pretty well that last of the great package tours. I
used Amen Corner's Blue Weaver's Hammond for the tour and
we opened the show and did three or four numbers. Jimi was
amazing and painfully shy and there was a bit of a jam session
that went on one day in the dressing room with Trevor Burton
from The Move - this was before Jeff Lynne joined them -
and a few were trying to play along with him. I was standing
in the doorway thinking 'Dare I?' but I didn't join in.
Hendrix filmed all of the bands
from the wings on the tour and at the end of the tour, everyone
was invited back to his flat which I think was in Edgware
for an after-tour party and he was going to show these films
but we couldn't go because we had a gig and I was absolutely
gutted. Hendrix pretty much kept himself to himself and
travelled separately but he would mingle a little bit backstage
before he went on.
I always remember once when he walked
past me as he was about to go on, his hair looked like he
had just been electrocuted and gave me that shy smile and
said, 'Gee I hope my hair's not too messed up, man.' He'd
give you a little wink and a smile. Just watching him was
amazing. I never bought any Hendrix stuff until a few years
ago because nothing ever seemed to capture his essence because
he was so amazing live.
One particular thing I remember
was pretty close to the end of the tour at Newcastle City
Hall. We all used to stand and watch the other bands and
I didn't really dig Floyd that much at that time because
they were a light show with music. I liked Arnold Layne
and See Emily Play and later
when they started getting into writing great songs but I
wasn't a big fan of their light shows. I preferred The Move
with Blackberry Way, Fire Brigade,
etc because Roy Wood is another genius and they had to keep
The Move and Floyd apart because they didn't like each other.
The reason being that Move were working class lads from
Birmingham and Pink Floyd were all artsy-fartsy students.
There was lots of this stuff going
on and I also remember Keith Emerson experimenting by throwing
knives into his Hammond. I remember them talking about how
they could get more attention and be more visually exciting
and that was the start of the knife-throwing stuff.
One day, Hendrix said to Keith "Come
on, throw the knife at me" or something equally provocative.
As to the exact when and where of the tour that's a little
bit of a blurred memory though. Anyway, Newcastle City Hall
and I'm standing with Carl Wayne from the Move in the wings,
watching Hendrix do his set. It gets to the end of the set
and he was playing Wild Thing and in that song, he used
to play a really bizarre solo of the song Strangers
In The Night. He would play it completely out of
key to Wild Thing but it worked.
Now, in those days there were always problems with guitars
going out of tune because of the heat. You used to go onstage
and if it went out of tune you just toughed it out as best
you could until you had the chance to tune it up as there
were no guitar techies changing and retuning guitars like
there are these days: Stratocasters were a nightmare particularly
with the tremolo arm.
Back to Jimi and during this performance
his guitar is going way out of tune and we could see him
getting more and more angry and more and more pissed off
and it was really buggering up his number. Of course the
audience didn't know. Very few members of an audience realise
if a guitar is out of tune or a there is a bum note unless
they happen to be musicians themselves but Jimi, as an artist,
wanted to get it right. On this particular night, he was
playing a Gibson Flying V and he's standing about eight
or nine metres from the Marshall stack. One of the roadies
was Lemmy (yes, from Motorhead) - although I don't really
remember him from then - and in those days the roadies always
used to stand behind the stacks because they never knew
what Jimi was going to do. Anyway, Jimi took off his guitar
and threw it like a spear and it stuck right into the middle
of the Marshall stack. It went right through the speaker,
seemed to explode, smoke was coming out of it and the whole
thing started moving and making bizarre noises. The audience
went ballistic and all of us watching in the wings, our
jaws were on the floor (gobsmacked!). The chances of it
happening were almost nil but he threw it almost perfectly
and it hit the middle of the stack and quivered and it didn't
fall out. If somebody had that on film it would be worth
millions; it was just one of those spontaneous things. A
once in a lifetime moment that was a highlight of the tour.
It's also the tour that Syd Barrett went mad on of course.
Q: Syd went mad, Hendrix threw
guitars into Marshall stacks, Keith started to lay the foundations
for progressive rock and The Move pumped out hit after hit.
What a tour!
JC: ELO graduated from it as
well. I loved The Move, they were great. They had these
great rock and pop songs and I think Roy Wood is very underrated.
Ray Davies is another one. Someone like him should be Sir
You know when all that Blur/Oasis
stuff went on? I kind of sided with Oasis because they were
northern lads and doing stuff similar to The Beatles but
as time has gone on I have a lot more respect for Damon
Albarn, who is trying to push frontiers - like Peter Gabriel
- trying to push the boundaries but all the Gallaghers are
doing is re-writing The Beatles songbook but I guess for
a whole new generation that doesn't really know what The
Beatles were like
Q: I couldn't have put it better
myself. Whenever I hear Blur, I think they are far better
than Oasis because they don't seem to deliberately go out
and plagiarise their heroes. I think that their song-writing
in the 1980s and 90s is on a par with Ray and Dave Davies
in the 60s and 70s.
JC: I like Graham Coxson -
I bought a couple of his albums and I think he's got something.
I was listening to James Morrison the other day and bloody
hell he's good! I loved Amy Winehouse - God she was a talent!
She was a one-off
a big, big tragedy that and a terrible
waste. There's a lot of great stuff around but my most comfortable
era is the music of the era that I grew up with in the 60s
and 70s, it was an exciting time. I'll tell you another
great songwriter, Nick Kershaw.
Q: Yes! Now why wasn't he more
it's a funny
old business isn't it? (laughs) He's very well respected
in the song writing circles, very well respected amongst
his peers. I just bought his new album and he's still making
great music. You know in England that we build people up
and throw them away after a few years
America and a lot of other places, older artists are still
revered. I go to places like Germany and other European
countries and my contemporaries and I are treated with affection
Q: Japan as well, I am glad
JC: Nice to hear. This was
a sad thing. I have a gold disc from Japan and we were supposed
to go there but it was a complete balls-up with the visas.
Two places I really regret not getting to are Japan and
the States. Yellow River was
a massive seller in the States and was in the charts for
six months on the National Cashbox chart where it got to
number 16. At that time it was on par with Billboard which
gave it a lower chart position of 23, I think. It was number
1 in lots of individual States including Arizona and California
and has spawned loads of covers. You know, with REM recording
it, you can't get more of an accolade than that.