Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames

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Georgie Fame at Gröna Lund, Stockholm, 1968

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were a noted British rhythm and blues/soul, jazz, ska, pop group during the 1960s. They were also the backing band for Billy Fury. At the end of 1961, their piano player Georgie Fame took over as vocalist and they went on to enjoy great success without Fury. They were influenced by Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison and blues musicians such as Willie Mabon. The group found other influences in ska, which could be heard heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove frequented by the group's Jamaican born trumpeter Eddie Thornton. During the group's three year residency at the The Flamingo, Fame heard the latest jazz and blues from America and it was Booker T. & the M.G.'s "Green Onions" which inspired him to take up playing Hammond organ with the band.[1]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Colin Green and Georgie Fame (then known as Clive Powell) worked together in 'Colin Green's Beat Boys', who had backed Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran during UK tours. In 1961 piano player Fame, drummer Red Reece, bassist Tex Makins and Green were hired by Larry Parnes to back Billy Fury as the Blue Flames. Fury dismissed them in February 1962 as he felt they were "too jazzy" and replaced them with The Tornados.

1961-1963[edit]

In December 1961 Alan "Earl" Watson fronted The Blue Flames, playing tenor saxophone and singing. In May 1962 the group was augmented by Ghanaian percussionist Neeomi "Speedy" Acquaye and Green left the group. Fame took over as the lead vocalist, Green was replaced by Joe Moretti and in turn was later replaced by John McLaughlin. During that time Rod "Boots" Slade had taken over as bass player while Makins toured with Johnny Hallyday. Saxophonist Mick Eve joined the group during 1962 and eventually the line up was completed by Johnny Marshall.

McLaughlin departed in April 1963 when he joined The Graham Bond Organisation, leaving the group without a guitarist for eighteen months and during this period Rik Gunnell took over the management of the band.[2] In September 1963, they recorded their debut album Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo which was produced by Ian Samwell, engineered by Glyn Johns[3] and released on the Columbia label.

1964-1965[edit]

Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo failed to enter the UK chart, as did the single 'Do The Dog' which was taken from this album and released in 1964. Two other singles 'Do Re Mi', and 'Bend A Little' were also released during 1964, achieving no commercial success.[4]

In July 1964, Peter Coe replaced Marshall and was soon joined by bassist Glenn Hughes and trumpet player Eddie "Tan-Tan" Thornton who had previously appeared occasionally with them[5][6][7] and Green rejoined the group in October 1964.

Reece became ill in 1964 and was replaced by Tommy Frost. Jimmie Nicol spent a brief period as drummer and left to replace Ringo Starr on a The Beatles tour when. Phil Seamen and Micky Waller sat in for Nicol until Bill Eyden became the band's full time drummer in September 1964.

The song "In The Meantime" which was released on February 1965 and appeared in the top twenty UK chart but the next two releases were not chart entries. Success followed" with Fame's self penned song "Get Away" (released on 21 July 1966),[8] which climbed to the top of the UK chart for eleven weeks.The song was originally written as a jingle for a television petrol advertisement.[9] It was later used as the theme tune for a quiz show on Australian television. The two subsequent singles, "Sunny" and "Sitting in the Park" reached chart positions of #13 and #12 respectively. After the album Sweet Thing (1966) was released, Fame signed to CBS and became a solo artist,.[4]

In October 1964 the album Fame at Last reached #15 in the UK Singles Chart. Their version of the song "Yeh Yeh" was released on 14 January 1965 and reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and spent two weeks at the top of the charts, the song remained on the charts for a total of twelve weeks.

Eyden and Makins remained as the group's rhythm section until they were replaced in December 1965 by Cliff Barton and Mitch Mitchell, who left and joined The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the same month and the band disbanded[10]

Appearances[edit]

The group were resident at a number of London clubs such as The Whiskey-A-Go-Go, in Soho's Wardour Street[11] and the The Flamingo Club,.[12] In August 1963 the band took a weekly Friday night spot at "The Scene" on Great Windmill Street. They also performed at The Roaring Twenties club near Carnaby Street, run by Count Suckle. They often played several sets per night at the weekend at Klooks Kleek, The Ricky Tick in Windsor and The Scene, during week days.[10]

In 1964 Fame and the band appeared on five episodes of ITV's Ready Steady Go!.[13] Fame also appeared on television in 1965 in the "New Musical Express Poll Winners' Concert" held at the Empire Pool, Wembley on 11 April 1965, playing "Yeh Yeh" and Rufus Thomas's "Walking the Dog".[14]

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were the only act from the UK invited to perform with the first Motown Review in the UK during the mid-1960s. The 'Tamla Motown Package Show' was a 21-date UK tour featuring amongst others, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.

On 26 December 1966 Fame, backed by the Blue Flames, opened the "Fame in '67' Show" alongside Cat Stevens and the show ran for two weeks at London's Saville Theatre.[15]

In later years Fame was billed again with the Blue Flames and in the early 2000s he led a new line-up which included his son.[16]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Do The Dog" / "Shop Around" (Columbia DB 7193, January 1964)
  • "Do-Re-Mi" / "Green Onions" (Columbia DB 7255, April 1964)
  • "Yeh, Yeh" / "Preach And Teach" (Columbia DB 7428, December 1964)
  • "In The Meantime" / "Telegram" (Columbia DB 7494, February 1965)
  • "Like We Used To Be" / "It Ain't Right" Columbia DB 7633, July 1965)
  • "Something" / "Outrage" (Columbia DB 7727, 15 October 1965)
  • "Get Away" / "El Bandido" (Columbia DB 7946, 17 June 1966)
  • "Sunny" / "Don't Make Promises" (Columbia DB8015, 1966)
  • "Sitting in the Park" / "Many Happy Returns" (Columbia DB 8096, 16 December 1966)

EPs[edit]

  • Rhythm And Bluebeat – "Madness" / "Tom Hark Goes Blue Beat" / "Humpty Dumpty" / "One Whole Year, Baby" (Columbia SEG8334, 1964)
  • Rhythm & Blues at The Flamingo – "Night Train" / "Parchman Farm" / "Work Song" / "Baby Please Don't Go" (Columbia SEG 8382, November 1964)
  • Fame at Last – "Get on the Right Track Baby" / "Point of No Return" / "I Love The Life I Live" / "Gimme That Wine" (Columbia SEG 8393, February 1965)
  • Fats For Fame – "No No" / "Blue Monday" / "So Long" / "Sick And Tired" (Columbia SEG 8406, 1965)
  • Move It on Over – "Move It on Over" / "Walking The Dog" / "High Heel Sneakers" / "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" (Columbia SEG 8454, October 1965)
  • Getaway – "Getaway" / "See-Saw" / "Ride Your Pony" / Sitting in the Park" (Columbia SEG8518, 1966)[17][18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "It was a great place to play, a midnight to 6am thing on Fridays and Saturdays and it was full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and one of them gave me "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's. I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day."Rik Gunnell, Club owner and impresario: obituary by Spencer Leigh at independent.co.uk
  2. ^ "Georgie Fame reminisces with Jamie Cullum about his Flamingo Club days". youtube.com. Retrieved 2014-12-11. 
  3. ^ Johnny Gunnell. Cover liner notes for Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo, Polydor RSO, SPELP80.
  4. ^ a b "Georgie Fame | Music Biography, Credits and Discography". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  5. ^ "Neemoi 'Speedy' Acquaye info (The Musicians' Olympus)". Reocities.com. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Story. Your 60s site since 1998". Billy Fury. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Memories". Colingreen.co.uk. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Georgie Fame Biography". IMDb.com. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "UKMIX - Articles - Chart Of All Time - 1966". ukmix.org. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  10. ^ a b James Maycock (16 January 1998). "Pop music: Fame at the Flamingo: golden years in Soho – Life and Style". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  11. ^ Rudland, D. (2010), CD booklet notes to Georgie Fame: Mod Classics 1964–1966, Ace Records, CDBGPD 206
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "THE BALLAD OF BONNIE AND CLYDE – GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES - Major Performers in Rock And Pop Music - Epinions.com". 9.epinions.com. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "Cat Stevens – Year To Year Time Line". Majicat. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Georgie Fame". Making Time. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames Discography – UK". 45cat. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Georgie Fame". 45-rpm.org.uk. 26 June 1943. Retrieved 30 July 2014.