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Australia Special
Yawn Oct 2010
 

Copyright Creature Music Ltd 2013

 

 

Not Quite Overnight Sensations - Part 1

 

Dear Platform End. A while ago Andy and I worked on a 'Where are they now' feature. Although this is still a proposed intention for future use in this publication, I have instead opted to write a feature based around some very interesting and useful MMEB facts, connections and personal recollections, many of which have never before been documented, not even in Greg Russo's encycolpaedic, 'Mannerism's' extravaganza.

I would firstly like to take this review back to Chapter III when a young Phil Collins, fresh from a stint with the Progsters Flaming Youth, unsuccessfully auditioned for the vacant drum stool position. This vacancy was eventually filled by the hugely underrated Andrew McCullough, who later found favourable critical acclaim with King Crimson and Greenslade, (played on 'It's Good To Be Alive', on their second album), who is today one of Britain's leading yacht instructors. Chris Slade was drafted in as a session musician to help out on the proposed, abandoned and lost (or so we thought at the time, Ed) third Chapter III album, but was wisely maintained by Manfred for the formation of his next group. Chris was a seasoned player, having bashed the skins with a fellow Welshman from Pontypridd, Tom Jones, for seven years as part of the Squires.

A period of heavy session work followed guesting on albums by Tony Hazzard who penned "Ha Ha Said The Clown", and bottle neck guitarist Stefan Grossman. Chris was also invited to join Olivia Newton John's Toomorrow for a proposed film and album. Although this musical project materialised, Slade was musically unfulfilled so it was a blessing in disguise when Manfred called him up and offered him a session.

Bassist Colin Pattenden joined MMEB through a mutual friendship with the aforementioned Chris Slade. This new rhythm section must surely rank live as one of the most powerful and tragically underrated partnerships in rock history. I saw Colin and Chris perform together a total of 43 times, the sheer energy level was absolutely stunning. Pattenden, the youngest member of MMEB Mark 1, was another session musician who was born in Beckenham, Kent. He was self-taught, an avid Free fan and had served his early apprenticeship playing on recordings by (wait for it) Leapy Lee, Englebert Humperdink and Solaman King, (She Wears My Ring), and his first cousin guitarist Graham White, himself quite a name in the world of record collecting circles having played on the 200+ rated Fuzzy Duck album, as well as the respectable early 70's circuit band Caperbility Brown.

Although Pattenden and Slade quit MMEB respectively in the mid to late 70's, they briefly teamed up together again in the short lived Terra Nova (see Yawn June 2003) (New Earth in Latin), along with vocalist Peter Cox, who was later destined to become a heart throb to scores of adoring female fans as half of one of the 80's most successful chart acts Go West. Although this operation was short lived they did however secure a Monday night residency at London's marquee Club, issued a lone single (and album) and furthermore bore the distinction of having supported The Scorpions on a UK tour.

Colin and Chris continued their musical business interests by co-managing Rock City studios in Shepperton. In 1979 Slade was lured back into the limelight having been sponsored by Staccato drums (the loudest and strangest shaped drum kit in the world) to give drum clinics.

Bronze label mates Uriah Heep were looking for a replacement for the recently departed Lee Kerslake. One quick audition was all it took and he was beating some would be 50 other hopefuls, in the process. Although I briefly detailed Slade's post MMEB work in issue No. 15 following his short lived spell with the mighty Heep. In 1982 he re-emerged with new romantic sensation Gary Numan and can be heard on the 'I Assassin' album. The following year, thank goodness, Jimmy page and Paul Rodgers sharply snapped him up.

Colin Pattenden today runs a lucrative P.A. company and has recorded with a revamped line up of Beggars Opera in 1980 and has toured the live circuit with Mungo Jerry and The Nashville Teens.

Contrary to public opinion that Mick Rogers is from the land down under he is in fact an Essex born boy and bred from Dovercourt, Essex, near Harwich docks. Mick is another self-taught musician, though having had the distinction of being born into a musical family (like Chris Slade). His dad was a drummer, whilst his Uncle Ernie was a double bassist. His schoolboy obsession with rock'n'roll, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and in particular Elvis Presley made the young Michael ever more determined to fulfil his teenage ambitions. Purchasing his first guitar at the age of 14, his adolescent ambitions soon turned to a reality, as within a year he was a fully accomplished player. Upon leaving school he was briefly employed as a shoe salesman, followed by a 6 month period as an apprentice engineer. However the ever restless Mick decided to make music his full time occupation. He jacked in his day job and turned pro soon afterwards, securing live work as a backing musician for Adam Faith and Gene Pitney before the eternal search for new pastures prompted him to travel further afield to Australia to seek his fame and fortune. It was here for the first time that he was recognised as a major talent for the group he joined, Normie Rowe and The Playboys, who were quite a sensation, securing a rather sizeable female following. Next up were Procession, whose eponymous album secured a UK release on Mercury in 1968 with the quartet of musicians posing for the front cover holding a banner, with Mick looking remarkably like a young David Essex.

Sadly their lone studio album doesn't stand the test of time particularly well though it has since gone on to become something of a minor collector's album. However the album does bear significant Manfred connections as it was produced by our old friend Mike Hugg (Manfred's former partner). Upon the group's break up in early 1969, Mick's credentials were jotted into Manfred's little red book, whilst the Procession drummer Craig Collinge jumped the gun and joined Manfred Mann Chapter III. he stayed long enough to complete work on both their albums for the Philip's Corporation's new progressive orientated Vertigo label. Craig later played with 'Shoot' and 'Third World War'.

Mick returned to Australia somewhat disillusioned. Out of the blue Manfred called him up to inform him that he was planning to put a new band together and whether or not he would be interested in flying back to the UK for an audition. The Mann in question was more than impressed with Mick's ability as a songwriter, singer and guitarist and promptly asked him to join with the new line up intact by the 31st January 1971.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band were born.

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