Norman Watt-Roy

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Norman Watt-Roy
Norman Watt-Roy at Water Rats.jpg
Norman Watt-Roy at Water Rats, July 2011
Background information
Also known as Normsferatu
Born (1951-02-15) 15 February 1951 (age 64)
Bombay, India
Origin Harlow, Essex
Genres Jazz funk, Rock and roll, Blues rock, New Wave, Art Rock
Occupation(s) Bassist
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1967–present
Labels Stiff
Associated acts Ian Dury
The Blockheads
Wilko Johnson
The Clash
Roger Daltrey

Norman Joseph Watt-Roy (born 15 February 1951, Bombay, India) is the bassist for The Blockheads, previously known as Ian Dury & the Blockheads.[1]

Growing up[edit]

In November 1954, the Watt-Roy family, including Norman, his older brother Garth (born Garth Philip Watt-Roy, December 1947 in Bombay, India) and his sister, moved to England. They settled in Highbury, North London, where Norman went to St Joan of Arc Primary School, Blackstock Road. When Norman was eight, the family relocated to Harlow, Essex. At the age of ten, he had been shown some guitar chords by his father, and played in school bands with his older brother Garth, who started playing in 1961, on lead guitar. Norman Watt-Roy left school at 15 and briefly studied art at Harlow Technical College, before moving back to London.

Early band work[edit]

In early 1967, Norman Watt-Roy formed the band The Living Daylights with his brother Garth and released a single on the Philips label called "Let's Live For Today" (April 1967) and did regular gigs in venues such as The Angel Blues Rooms in Edmonton, London. In 1968, Norman and Garth Watt-Roy formed a nine-piece soul band and toured US military bases in Germany, backing American soul singers such as Sonny Burke and played a summer residency at the Maddocks Club in Spain.

By this time the band was known as The Greatest Show On Earth and by 1969 had won a recording contract with Harvest Records. This led to the release, in February 1970, of the single "Real Cool World", which was a hit in Europe, reaching #1 in Switzerland. The band's debut album Horizons was followed by a second album The Going's Easy, both issued in 1970, and another single "Tell The Story" .


In 1972, Watt-Roy joined then band Glencoe and met guitarist John Turnbull. The quartet released two albums Glencoe and The Spirit of Glencoe along with three singles and four recorded John Peel radio sessions before breaking up, and in 1974 got together with keyboardist Mick Gallagher to form the nucleus of a band which, with the addition of drummer Charlie Charles, would become Loving Awareness (managed by Radio Caroline guru Ronan O'Rahilly). It was while doing a session with Charles for a friend in 1976 that they met Chaz Jankel and Ian Dury and went on to play on the album New Boots and Panties!!, which was released on the Stiff Records label.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads[edit]

The 'Loving Awareness' quartet were later to join up with Jankel and Dury for the first Stiff Tour of UK and became known as Ian Dury and The Blockheads, releasing two more albums on Stiff and a bevy of singles, achieving a UK #1 in 1979 with "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick".

It was when Jankel was replaced for a time in 1980 by Wilko Johnson that a rapport between Watt-Roy and Johnson resulted in Watt-Roy becoming a regular member of Johnson's own band by 1985.

Other work[edit]

During the 1970s and 1980s, Watt-Roy did session work, appearing on albums such as Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool, Rachel Sweet's Fool Around and Jona Lewie's single "You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties". He also made an appearance on The Selecter's 1981 album Celebrate the Bullet and played on The Clash's Sandinista! album along with fellow Blockhead Mick Gallagher on keyboards. Watt-Roy performed on the Sandinista! tracks recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York. Tracks included The Magnificent Seven, Hitsville U.K., Ivan Meets G.I. Joe, Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice), Charlie Don't Surf and others. Watt-Roy also played bass on their Cut The Crap recordings. In a recent interview with Topper Headon he said it was Norman who played bass on Rock The Casbah which featured on the album Combat Rock.

In 1983 Watt-Roy provided the original bass lines for the Frankie Goes to Hollywood singles "Relax" and "Two Tribes" during a session which included Blockheads John Turnbull (musician), Mick Gallagher and Charlie Charles and, in 1984, teamed up with Gallagher again for Wreckless Eric's Captains of Industry album.

In 1984 he provided bass on all tracks to Roger Daltrey's solo album "Parting Should Be Painless"[2] on which had one minor hit single "Walking in My Sleep" which featured Ian Dury singing backing vocals and Watt-Roy on the music video.

In 2001 Watt-Roy completed sessions with members of Madness, with whom he sporadically joined for live work at the time, and the ex-producer of Depeche Mode, who had recorded him jamming with drummer Steve Monti with plans to sample the results. Since then he has found work with Nick Cave on Cave's solo shows, without the Bad Seeds, and continued as bassist for Wilko Johnson.

He guested on Viv Albertine's The Vermillion Border (Cadiz Music) in 2012 and in 2013 released a solo album, Faith & Grace, also on Cadiz Music, with guests including former Blockheads drummer Dylan Howe.


External links[edit]