Nine Below Zero
|Nine Below Zero|
Nine Below Zero
|Origin||South London, England|
|Genres||Rhythm and blues
Pub rock, Blues rock
|Associated acts||Rory Gallagher
The Blow Monkeys
|Past members||Kenny Bradley
The band was originally formed in South London in 1977, by guitarist and lead vocalist Dennis Greaves. Taking bassist Peter Clark with him, they recruited Kenny Bradley on drums, and vocalist and harmonica player Mark Feltham. They originally called themselves 'Stan's Blues Band', and for two years built up a local following in London clubs.
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. 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. Bradley on drums was replaced by Stix Burkey. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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 2009, the band started working towards a show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Live At the Marquee.
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.
2012 saw the return of Brian Bethell who played on Third Degree and who was a natural replacement. The new line up 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’ comes 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 will be released on 24 February 2014 through Universal Music.
Don’t Point Your Finger, released in 1981, was NBZ’s second album. Recorded in 12 days at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes and produced by the legendary Glyn Johns. Dennis says, “We were walking in the footsteps of some of the all-time greats. Led Zeppelin’s first album was recorded there, along with “Who’s Next” and “Beggars Banquet” by The Stones. It was the most inspiring experience”. The double CD will also include a live performance recorded for the BBC in 1981 at The Granary Club in Bristol.
The Third Degree, released in 1982, included the single 11+11 which was performed on the first episode of cult TV show, The Young Ones. This was to be the bands final album with A&M and spent six weeks in the album chart. David Bailey, renowned photographer of The Beatles, The Stones and the Kray Twins (to name a few), took the photograph for the album front cover artwork.
NBZ originally recorded the album, again with Glyn Johns, at his studio in Sussex. However, with its raw sound, it was rejected by A&M. The band went on to re-record it with Simon Boswell. Now available for the first time, Johns’ original recording will be available on the re-release along with the more familiar version of the album. Johns is famous for his work with The Who, The Faces and The Rolling Stones
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 and there is also a nationwide month long 22-date tour in support of The Stranglers which kicks off on 27 February 2014.
- 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
- Allmusic biography of Nine Below Zero by Bruce Eder Retrieved 10 March 2009
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 395. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.