Archive for the ‘Silverhead’ Category

Wizzard live 1972 & 1973

Wizzard live 1972 and 1972
imageI’ve always been a big Roy Wood fan. “Fire Brigade” and “Blackberry Way” are two of my favourite songs; I remember sitting as a kid, in front of the TV with my parents, watching Top of the Pops totally transfixed by Roy and the late great Carl Wayne. By the time I got to see Roy live the Move had split, Roy had formed ELO with Jeff Lyne, and then left to form his own ultimate rock’n’roll band Wizzard. I first saw Wizzard when the made their second live appearance at the Reading Festival in August 1972. They had just released “Ball Park Incident”. I recall being surprised how different to the Move Wizzard were, complete with horns and that great full big band sound. I saw Wizzard twice more; at Sunderland Locarno on 19th January 1973, with the Jook support and again at the Locarno on 13th July 1973 with Silverhead support (thanks to Mitch for confirming the dates and support acts). Roy Wood was a marvel to behold in those days, with his distinctive warpaint make-up, long backcombed dyed locks and colourful costumes. And Wizzard were a big crazy band, complete with piano, cello and horns. They completely filled the small Mecca stage, and the ballroom was packed for those two shows. Wizzard were flying high in the UK single charts with two Number 1 singles “See my Baby Jive” and “Angel Fingers” during 1973, and of course that Christmas song later in the year. Roy Wood understood rock’n’roll and managed to create the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” both on record and live in concert. Wizzard was, however, a big and expensive band to maintain, because of the large line-up, and in terms of recording costs. Bassist Rick Price: “When we finished recording “Angel Fingers” it was rumoured that we had spent more time in the studio than Paul McCartney had with the whole of the Band on the Run album. Whether it was true or not, this meant that most of the record company’s money was spent in studio time and that the members of the band had to rely on live touring work for their income. A couple of tours in the U.K. and one tour of the U.S. were not enough to ensure regular wages for the band.” By autumn 1975 they had split.
Wkzzard line-up: Roy Wood (vocals, guitars, saxophone, percussion); Mike Burney (saxophone, clarinet, flute); Charlie Grima (drums, percussion, vocals); Nick Pentelow (saxophone, clarinet, flute); Rick Price (bass); Keith Smart (drums); Bill Hunt (keyboards, French horn); Hugh McDowell (cello, synthesisers).

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Silverhead live 1973 and 1974

Silverhead live 1973 and 1974
SilverheadlpActually….there a couple of more bands who deserve a day’s blogging before I move on to letter “T” (thanks Mitch and Neil). The first is Silverhead. Looking at singer Michael Des Barres gigography site, I reckon that I saw Silverhead three times, once supporting Wizzard at Sunderland Locarno on 13th July 1973, then supporting Nazareth at Newcastle City Hall on 19th October 1973, and then back, this time headlining, at Sunderland Locarno on 7th June 1974. I certainly remember seeing them at the Mecca (aka Locarno) and have my ticket stub for the Nazareth gig. These gigs blur into a glam rock’n’roll mist….
Silverhead were a British rock’n’roll proto-glam-metal band, with a style, sassiness and attitude, that made them stand apart, way out there from other bands of the time. Fronted by the singer and mime artist/actor, Michael Des Barres; the other members of Silverhead were: Robbie Blunt (guitar; went on to play with Robert Plant), Rod Rook Davies (guitar), Nigel Harrison (bass guitar; went on to play with Blondie) and Pete Thompson (drums). Silverhead only existed for two short years, during which period they recorded two albums, “Silverhead” and “16 and Savaged”, and played some crazy gigs which left a mark on anyone who saw them.
Looking back, Silverhead were way ahead of their time. The guys were the model for many sleaze/trash rock who followed. They all wore make-up, and Des Barres was a crazy, OTT frontman. There were hints of glam-rock in their stage show, but Silverhead were one hot rock’n’roll trash band, and Des Barres had a great screeching, raucous rock voice. These guys were fore-runners of punk, and role models for many sleaze/heavy metal rock bands of the 70s and 80s. I’ve just watched some video on YouTube of Silverhead live, and you can see exactly where Ratt, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and even the New York Dolls (this was 1973 and Silverhead did tour the USA) got some of their ideas. Dave Thompson, in a review of their first album on AllMusic, calls Silverhead “the first and positively the greatest metal band ever to dress up like a bunch of weird-looking hookers.” And who influenced Silverhead? Well, you can certainly imagine that they listened to T Rex, and some of their music and attitude is not a million miles away from “BlockBuster” or “HellRaiser”; but they took the glamrock of Sweet and Bolan, coupled it with the loud rock of Slade and a hint of the Stones, and twisted it into something much seedier, rauchier and rockier. Live these guys were explosive with a high energy set which contained rock’n’sass classics, a couple of deep ballads, and the crazy adrenaline-charged screaming mania of Des Barres, posing bare-chested and wearing silver lurex trousers. They may have been playing to small clubs, or supporting more established acts, but you could tell, that in his head, Des Barres was already a big rock star.”Subtle as a flying handbag” (Dave Thompson, AllMusic).
Richard Cromelin reviewed a 1973 concert at the Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles for Phonograph Record magazine: “Des Barres…loves to pose for the cameras, and like the best rock ‘n’ rollers he feeds off the energy that comes from the crowd in front of the stage…..He has a marvelous face as well, with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks that he uses to project a demonic, stylized sexuality…they make you feel their love of performing, their total involvement in and enthusiasm for what they’re doing.”