Telegraph, 1970, one of a six part series on the band.
If only I'd known in 1970 what I knew in 1978, we'd all be driving
Bentleys by now. Sorry, folks.Emerald Records was as far as I took
you. But at least I stopped Mervyn issuing any follow-up to 'Sister
cutting from Belfast Telegraph: how did you ever allow that wholesome
photo into print Colin? Thought your job was to make look like cool
dudes. Ah wait a minute - I see in the article that Anne Fry was impressed
with a tall, dark and bearded man in a reefer jacket.Your eye was
off the ball...
guilty, old chap. Don't think anything
ever developed with Anne Fry. And that photograpgh. Maybe I was grooming
you all for your big break in...CABARET!! Remember Tito's?
may be mistaken, but I believe that the Sister Nell epic was in part
due to the peripheral influence of one of Adrian Mullen's associates,
Ted somebody. This guy was the original 'used car salesman' and basically
sold the band a bill of goods, which I personally, was not in favor
of, but 'shit happens'!
8 :05 Didn't
Solomon release Sister Nell after I had severed our contract with
him? There was a bit of a row, because our solicitor, Chris Napier,
had sneaked in a 'joint negotiable option' clause in the original
contract which Mervyn never spotted.
This meant that after a year we had the option to not renew, and I
had some hardball correspondence with Mervyn when we refused to take
up the option. In the end, he had no legal ground to stand on, so,
I reckoned, in a fit of pique, released the song we never wanted to
record in the first place. But do you mean Adrian Mullen's pal was
the source of the original song?
Wasn't there some guy in the Solomon stable who was allegedly a songwriter,
and who penned the B side? Is that the Ted you mean? If only we'd
known the importance of original material at the time, and publishing
rights. It wasn't until SLF in 1978 that I realised the record company
makes more from this area than any other. So some associate of Solomon's
must have had the rights to Sister Nell and that's why it was pushed
down our throats. And why it was released after we'd severed our contract.
has recently become apparent to me (since the creation of the website)
that in the late 60's and early 70's, I was seriously impaired in
the head, either by an excess of drugs, alcohol, ego, or all of the
above. I have no recollection as to the genesis of Sister Nell, where
it was recorded or anything surrounding its arrival, so this ongoing
dialogue is very cathartic, so to speak. Almost cleansing! Yes, to
the Adrian Mullen interloper being a songwriter of sorts. His name
was Ted O'Neill and I coulda swore he was in some way (artistically
- questionable) involved in the Sister Nell debacle. I do remember
him going on at length with the varoius band members, trying to sell
them his 'bill of goods'. I would love to get a quote from Annie Ferguson
19:05 To help jog memories
- we were summoned to Mervyn Solomon's Studio in Ann Street one day
to lay down demos of a few tracks from our set with Pete Lloyd at
the desk. There was this other bloke behind the glass window that
we knew was Mr Big. So we were out to impress. At the end of the session
Mr Big came out and, in classic Larry Parnes style, rolled out a contract
that he wanted us to sign. He said he had a song he wanted us to record
but couldn't tell us until we were all signed up - it was a guaranteed
Number One and he didn't want the secret to get out.
I remember this well because this was the point at which I knew I
was going to have to choose between the band and a 'real' job. Anyway
we were not particularly impressed and said we would have to take
the contract away and have our people study it. As we herded out he
obviously felt he had to play his trump card. "OK you win - I
will tell you what the song is." He had re-captured our attention.
The song was - wait for it - yes now you remember don't you? A cover
version of a ten-year old relic from the skiffle era - "Freight
Train." The effect of this was startling - and made up my mind
for me on the spot. Fuck that - I'm outa here.
I think we all felt the same way, but somehow we were persuaded to
come back and lay down instead a cover version of that dreadful Sock
It To 'em Sister Nell. But we never signed any contract..
Epilogue: Pete Lloyd is still around and has told me he might still
have the original Chips demos in his attic. And Mr Big turned out
to be Syd Scott - cockney brother of Alf Scott, one-time owner of
the Hippodrome/Odeon and whose wealthy widow Betty - KayBee will know
this - never misses an opportunity to this day to give a forceful
rendition of "Summertime in A Minor" (as she calls it looking
for a few bars intro). I heard that Sock It To Em Sister Nell got
played once on Radio One.
Don't recall Syd Scott at all, but do remember 'Freight Train'.
We did end up signing a one-year recording contract, though. I recall
this vividly because the band were holding back about half of my
commission until various targets were met, the main one being a
recording contract. I was about to get married and badly needed
the balance of the money, and I think we had a meeting in Tito's
where I finally convinced everyone to pay me, the clinching argument
being the Emerald contract.
And I am sure that somewhere in a filing cabinet I have the correspondence
from Big Merv, where he tries to brow-beat me into signing for another
year. But, thanks to Chris Napier, who was originally Sammy Smyth's
solicitor, we had a gold-plated get-out clause.
When I got married for the second time, Helen chose her wedding
outfit from Pat Jordan at Jourdan in Queen's Arcade, and Pat seemed
so delighted with the sale (I wonder what the mark-up was?) she
arranged a lunch at an expensive restaurant where, among others,
we met the unique Betty Scott, who later asked us round for drinks
at her house, near the Culloden, where we were staying. My only
recollection of that night, apart from meeting Alf, is that Betty
had a not-very-good nude painting of herself on the staircase.
And didn't Alf and Syd own the Boom Boom Room?
EVERYTHING TO THIS ADDRESS:
Webmaster: Colin McClelland