Nine Below Zero

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For the song, see Sonny Boy Williamson II.
Nine Below Zero
NineBelowZero.jpg
Background information
Origin South London, England
Genres Pub rock, R&B, blues rock
Years active 1977–1983
1990–present
Labels Pangea Recordings
I.R.S. Records
M&L Records
A&M Records
Associated acts Rory Gallagher
The Blow Monkeys
The Truth
Website ninebelowzero.com
Members Dennis Greaves
Brendan O'Neill
Mark Feltham
Brian Bethell
Past members Kenny Bradley
Peter Clark
Alan Glen
Stix Burkey
Gerry McAvoy

Nine Below Zero are an English blues band, who have a cult following throughout Europe, and were most popular during the period 1980–1982.

Career[edit]

The band was originally formed in South London in 1977, by guitarist and lead vocalist Dennis Greaves.[1] Taking bassist Peter Clark with him, they recruited Kenny Bradley on drums, and vocalist and harmonica player Mark Feltham.[1] They originally called themselves 'Stan's Blues Band', and for two years built up a local following in London clubs.[1]

In 1979, while playing at The Thomas A'Beckett pub in the Old Kent Road they accepted an offer from former musician Mickey Modern to manage them, and it was he who persuaded them to change the band's name to something sharper. Greaves chose Nine Below Zero after the Sonny Boy Williamson II penned song.[1] At that time Modern was a musician signed to A&M Records, after producing the band's demos he persuaded A&M to give him a record label with which to launch this band's career. Modern named the label M&L Records.

Under Modern's creative direction and production, the band went full-time, and in 1980 released their first album, Live At The Marquee, which was recorded on 16 June 1980.[1] Bradley on drums was replaced by Stix Burkey.[1] By the end of that year they were one of the most popular club attractions in London, pulling in audiences from other genres, particularly the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, attracted by their high-energy fast tempo sound. They headlined at the Hammersmith Odeon and featured respected bluesman Alexis Korner, a long-time champion of new electric blues talent.

In 1981, they released second album, Don't Point Your Finger, produced by Glyn Johns.[1] Johns complained the bass was too basic for the new songs, so taking his advice the band subsequently replaced bass player Clark with Brian Bethell.[1] There was a period when Nine Below Zero were on TV almost weekly. They appeared on The Chris Tarrant Show, South Bank Show, O.T.T., the Old Grey Whistle Test, and The Young Ones as well as supporting The Kinks and The Who on tour. Nine Below Zero performed "11+11" on the first episode ("Demolition") of the BBC Television comedy series, The Young Ones. Don't Point Your Finger climbed to number 56 on the UK Albums Chart.[1][2] Their third album, Third Degree, contained "11+11" written by Greaves and Modern. The album was their highest placing appearance on the UK Albums Chart, spending six weeks in the chart and reaching number 38.[2] Nevertheless, the band decided to split, although Bethell later had some success with The Blow Monkeys whilst Feltham went into session work, most notably for Rory Gallagher. Modern often put the idea to reform Nine Below Zero to Arnold but the latter was managing The Truth and considered Nine Below Zero as a move backward. However, with IRS Records interest in The Truth waivering in 1990 Modern persuaded Feltham and Greaves to reunite for a tenth anniversary gig.

Modern also persuaded Arnold who now worked at Harvey Goldsmith Ents to promote the band at the Town and Country Club, which they did to a sell-out success.[1] Suitably encouraged, they decided to stay together, with Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O'Neill (ex-Rory Gallagher's band) added on bass and drums. In 1992, Feltham left due to musical differences and was replaced by the session harp-player, Alan Glen. Feltham subsequently returned in 2001 and the band have continued to tour and record, still popular in part, due to having developed a cult following.[1] In 1995 Billy Boy Miskimmin was recruited on Harmonica.

In 2005, their track, "Go Girl" was included in the Of Hands and Hearts: Music for the Tsunami Disaster Fund compilation album.

In 2007, Nine Below Zero performed two acoustic concerts, producing the DVD Bring It On Home, including a live CD. Legendary blues guitarist Gary Moore joined the band on stage to promote the DVD.

In August 2008, Nine Below Zero appeared at the Rhythm Festival in Bedfordshire and later opened for Chuck Berry at The 100 Club.

In 2009, the band started working towards a show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Live at the Marquee.

McAvoy and Feltham on stage in 2009

A chance meeting with Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze resulted in an offer to record a new album that Greaves and Feltham had been writing all year. The offer was gladly accepted and the band went into 45 RPM studios in London to record the highly acclaimed and self-penned It's Never Too Late - their first collection of new songs since Refrigerator. European tours followed and Jools Holland and Paul Jones asked the band to guest on their shows.

With the critical acclaim of It's Never Too Late, they were approached by Glenn Tillbrook again in 2011, this time to make a new record together under the name of The Co-operative. All was finished in July of 2011 and one track, the Lennon & McCartney song "You Never Gave Me Your Money" was used on a Mojo magazine special celebrating the 40-year anniversary of the release of the Beatles album Abbey Road. The band played a few dates with Tilbrook as a rehearsal for a mini tour in 2012.

The end of 2011 saw Gerry McAvoy play his last show for Nine Below Zero and pursue a new solo career.

Recent work[edit]

2012 saw the return of Brian Bethell who played on Third Degree and who was a natural replacement. The new lineup started performing in January with shows in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as the band enter their 35th year.

Following on from 2013's remastered re-release of Nine Below Zero’s live debut Live at the Marquee came a double installment; remastered editions of the first two studio albums Don't Point Your Finger and Third Degree, each with a separate disc of bonus material, was released on 24 February 2014 through Universal Music.

With links to Squeeze and the Rolling Stones, Nine Below Zero have recently been name-checked as influences by popular rock ‘n’ roll upstarts The Strypes. A nationwide month-long 22-date tour in support of The Stranglers kicked off on 27 February 2014.[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Live at the Marquee - 1980 - A&M
  • Don't Point Your Finger - 1981 - A&M
  • Third Degree - 1982 - A&M
  • Live at the Venue - 1989 - Receiver
  • On The Road Again - 1991 - China Records
  • Off The Hook - 1992 - China Records
  • Special Tour Album 93 - 1993 - China Records (LP only)
  • Hot Music For A Cold Night - 1994 - Pangea Records
  • Ice Station Zebro - 1995 - Pangea Records
  • Live in London - 1997 - Indigo
  • Refrigerator - 2000 - Zed Records
  • Give Me No Lip Child - 2000 - Indigo
  • Chilled - 2002 - Zed Records
  • Hat's Off - 2005 - Zed Records
  • Both Sides of Nine Below Zero - 2008 - Angel Air
  • It's Never Too Late! - 2009 - Zed Records
  • The Co-Operative (with Glenn Tilbrook) - 2011 - Quixotic Records
  • Live At The Marquee [CD/DVD] - 2012 - UMC/Mercury
  • A to Zed - The Very Best of - 2013 - Zed Records
  • Don't Point Your Finger [2CD Expanded Edition] - 2014 - UMC
  • Third Degree [2CD Expanded Edition] - 2014 - UMC

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Allmusic biography of Nine Below Zero by Bruce Eder Retrieved 10 March 2009
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 395. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]