Babe Ruth 1973

Babe Ruth 1973
Babe Ruth are often forgotten, memories of them lost over time. I’m getting towards the end of posting on bands beginning with the letter B, and wanted to make sure that I covered every band of note that I have ever seen, and Babe Ruth came to mind. Babe Ruth only existed for a short period between 1972 and 1976, but made a big impression at the time, although their biggest success came in Canada rather than the UK. The original band consisted of Jenny (Janita) Haan on vocals, Alan Shacklock on guitars, and Dave Hewitt on bass. They were a classic rock band; Jenny Haan was a raucous singer in the Janis Joplin mould, and totally wild on stage. Alan Shacklock was a tremendous guitarist and wrote a lot of the material. I recall seeing them performing Wells Fargo from their first album First Base on TV on the Old Grey Whistle Test and then saw them live a few times in local ballrooms. I remember in particular seeing them at Sunderland Top Rank on the Harvestmobile tour (see flyer) which was a package tour featuring bands from the Harvest stable, including Spontaneous Combustion, ELO, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Kevin Ayres, Roy Harper & The Edgar Broughton Band. The Sunderland gig featured Babe Ruth, ELO, and Spontaneous Combustion. Spontaneous Combustion were a largely instrumental power rock trio, with a great guitarist. ELO were just great in those days (will post about them separately one day), but for me the best band that night was Babe Ruth. Their first album (see left) is excellent. Go to Youtube and listen to Wells Fargo, Black Dog” (not the Zepellin track), The Mexican, and Joker. They also did a great version of Zappa’s King Kong which was a favourite of mine at the time. By 1976 Jenny Haan had left the band to form her own band Jenny Haan’s Lion. She was replaced by Ellie Hope, and by this point the band contained no original members. I remember setting off with Marie to see Jenny Haan’s Lion at a college gig somewhere near Darlington one night, driving around and never finding the gig (no satnavs in those days) and giving up in the end. I think I did get to see them in the end, possibly at Bede College in Durham. I also have vague memories of seeing the new line up of Babe Ruth with new vocalist Ellie Hope, and being disappointed as the magic had gone. That final lineup changed their name to Liquid Gold, found Disco and hit the charts in 1980 with Dance Yourself Dizzy. Enough said. I’ve done some searching for Babe Ruth material on the internet, and discovered that they reformed a couple of years ago and played a reunion tour in Canada. More recently, in May 2012, Janita Jenny Haan and Dave Punshon from the original band played “a relaxed evening of musical storytelling and piano jazz like you’ve never heard before’ in Swindon. I’m going to keep an eye on their site (http://www.baberuthband.net/news.html) and watch for further opportunities to see them.

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