The Babys

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The Babys
The Babys.jpg
L-R: John Waite, Wally Stocker, Tony Brock, and Mike Corby.
Background information
Origin London, United Kingdom
Genres Pop rock, hard rock, power pop
Years active 1974–1981
2013-present
Labels Chrysalis
Associated acts Bad English, Journey
Members Wally Stocker
Tony Brock
John Bisaha
Joey Sykes
Past members Michael Corby
John Waite
Jonathan Cain
Ricky Phillips
JP Cervoni

The Babys are a British rock group best known for their songs "Isn't It Time" and "Every Time I Think of You". Both songs were composed by Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy, and each reached #13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #8 on the Cashbox chart in the late 1970s. The 1976–1978 Babys line-up consisted of keyboardist/guitarist Michael Corby, vocalist/bassist John Waite, drummer Tony Brock and guitarist Wally Stocker.

The brainchild of Corby and Millar, the group signed a contract that was the highest ever for a new music act at the time. Two studio albums, Broken Heart and The Babys went without incident and were well received. However trouble emerged with Head First and Brock, Waite and Stocker remained with Chrysalis but continued to record as The Babys. Corby has always denied their right to do so and has publicly produced documents to prove his title to the business name used by his employees Waite, Brock and Stocker.

In August 1978, a replacement for Michael Corby was sought and the The Babys added two musicians: Jonathan Cain as keyboardist and Ricky Phillips to take over as bassist. From 1979 until the breakup in 1981, The Babys line-up consisted of vocalist Waite, drummer Brock, bassist Phillips, guitarist Stocker, and keyboardist Cain.

John Waite went on to produce a major solo hit, "Missing You", in 1984. Stocker and Brock worked with Rod Stewart and other mainstream artists including Elton John and Air Supply. Cain left to join Journey. Waite, Cain and Phillips joined Bad English in the late 1980s. Phillips currently plays for Styx.

In 2013 it was announced that Brock and Stocker had reformed the band, alongside vocalist/bassist John Bisaha and guitarist Joey Sykes.

Origin[edit]

Founding member Mike Corby places the origin of the idea for the band at Smalls Café on the Fulham Road in London in 1973, during a chance meeting with manager the late Adrian Millar. An agreement was signed between Corby and Millar on 4 September 1974, and auditions were held to fill out the remaining members.[1]

Their eventual drummer was the third member of the group to join after Waite. Brock was playing with a group called Strider.[2] Brock was already an established rock drummer, but some financial difficulties with Strider, and the opportunity to join a group with sound financial backing like Corby and Millar's project, made him decide to take a chance with this group instead.[2] The last member to join the line-up was Walt Stocker.[2]

In 1977 they purchased a 24 track mobile unit with which to record their music. They went to a ranch house in the Malibu mountains and put down the tracks in six weeks.[2] The influences of the songs came about from their first year in Los Angeles and the culture shock of their relocation there.[2]

The names "Cry Babys" and "Big Babys" were also proposed with Millar ultimately deciding on "The Babys."

In a 1979 Hit Parader magazine interview, Waite stated,

"The name was meant to be a joke. We took the name simply because the record companies wouldn't listen to any bands they thought were rock & roll. I mean, they wanted sure-fire teen bands, pre-teen bands. We couldn't get anybody down to hear us to get a record deal, so we called ourselves The Babys. We thought we'd keep the name just for two weeks. Then, the word got around in London that there was a band playing rock & roll called The Babys and it seemed so off the wall, so completely crazy, that it was worth taking a shot with. It really appealed to everyone's sense of humor."[3]

Music videos were produced by Mike Mansfield for Supersonic, and Chrysalis Records signed the band in 1976.[4]

Career[edit]

The Babys eponymous first album (highlighted by the single "If You've Got The Time"), was recorded in Toronto, Canada with producers Brian Christian and Bob Ezrin and released in January 1977, although it appears that Millar and Corby were unhappy with the production.[5]

Some critics felt the teen-friendly packaging on their second album, Broken Heart, may have affected the group's appeal to wider audiences, although it is claimed that it was part of an experiment by Corby with group members looking like characters from the film A Clockwork Orange. As far as record sales were concerned, The Babys seemed to live in the shadow of other Chrysalis artists Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Leo Sayer. The Babys second album, Broken Heart, (released in September 1977) produced a Top 20 U.S. hit, "Isn't It Time" (written by Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy), that peaked at #13 on the Billboard chart. They continued to tour the U.S. successfully with The Babettes, which included singers from Andrae Crouch and the Disciples: Lisa Freeman Roberts, Myrna Matthews and Pat Henderson. The album spent two weeks at #1 in Australia, but did not produce another Top 40 single.

Disputes with Chrysalis management resulted in the firing of original manager Millar in 1978.

The Americans: Cain and Phillips[edit]

Equipment Manager Ray Sheriff states:

"Almost immediately after the Michael's leaving, the remainder of the band went into auditions for a replacement. In fact, two other musicians were hired with the idea, I believe, of promoting John Waite. Jonathan Cain, in fact, became Mike’s successor, but I am sure he had not been selected until after Mike left. The other musician was Ricky Phillips, who played bass. I think from what John, Wally and Tony said that it was they, and not Chrysalis, who selected these two successors, and I think that at about this same time Lookout Management ceased to be the band’s managers." [6]

Two American musicians became a part of the lineup the following year; keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Cain replaced Corby, and bassist Ricky Phillips (of "Nasty Habit") joined in 1979, making it a five-piece band. Because Corby and Millar had the original documents for the band, Cain and Phillips were never contracted. The band's fourth album, Union Jacks, (released in January 1980) had a more punchy sound similar to fellow label-mate Pat Benatar, with the single, "Back On My Feet Again," spending a very short time in the Top 40. During an extensive tour in 1980, The Babys opened for supergroup Journey, a band that Jonathan Cain would soon join. The band's fifth and final album, On the Edge, was made during the 1980 tour, and released in October 1980. The single, "Turn and Walk Away," only reached the Top 100.

Breakup[edit]

During a performance in Cincinnati on 9 December 1980 (the day after John Lennon had been murdered), John Waite was pulled from the stage by an overzealous fan during an encore and seriously injured his knee. Following a subsequent final performance by the group in Akron, Ohio, the remainder of the tour was cancelled, and the group disbanded following the tour. Although different members of the group have given various reasons for the band's demise, the general issue seems to have been disillusionment that the group never really achieved the success they felt they deserved given the quality of their albums and live shows. Waite later mused, "We were better than people thought we were."[7]

John Waite, Ricky Phillips and Jonathan Cain later played together in the hard rock/glam rock-infused supergroup Bad English. By this time, Cain had already gone on to enjoy great success with Journey. Tony Brock spent many years drumming for Rod Stewart, as well as drumming and co-producing for Jimmy Barnes and producing for Keith Urban. Wally Stocker went on to play guitar for Rod Stewart and Air Supply, as well as a reformed version of Humble Pie in the 1990s. Wally Stocker and Tony Brock have not worked with John Waite since the breakup and there have been no rumors of any kind of reunion for the 1979 lineup. And given the persistent acrimony surrounding Corby's departure from the group, there is also little chance of the original 1976 lineup ever getting together again.

Reforming The Babys[edit]

In 2013, The Babys reformed with originals Tony Brock and Wally Stocker, and two new members - American John Bisaha (The Nameless, Azure Blue, Hall of Souls, BISAHA) on Vocals and Bass, along with American guitarist Joey Sykes (Boystown, Coward, Meredith Brooks). The debut of the new look Babys happened in the summer of 2013, at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California. Live, the band features keyboardist Francesco Saglietti and 'The Babettes' - Holly and Elisa. New songs are being recorded for a new album to be released. Tour dates to follow.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album US Record Label
1977 The Babys 133 Chrysalis
Broken Heart 34
1979 Head First 22
1980 Union Jacks 42
On the Edge 71
1981 Anthology (compilation album) 138
2006 The Official Unofficial BABYS Album - ORK
2007 Live in America (live album) - Store for Music
2013 I'll Have Some of That! - Store for Music

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US UK
[8]
1977 "If You've Got the Time" 88 The Babys
"Isn't It Time" 13 45 Broken Heart
1978 "Silver Dreams" 53
"Every Time I Think of You" 13 Head First
1979 "Head First" 77
"True Love True Confessions" Union Jacks
"Back On My Feet Again" 33
1980 "Midnight Rendezvous" 72
"Turn and Walk Away" 42 On the Edge
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or not released to that country

Band members[edit]

  • Wally Stocker - lead guitar (1975-81, 2013–present)
  • Tony Brock - drums, backing vocals (1975-81, 2013–present)
  • John Bisaha - lead vocals, bass guitar (2013–present)
  • Joey Sykes - guitars (2013–present)

Former members[edit]

  • John Waite - lead vocals (1975-81), bass guitar (1975-79)
  • Michael Corby - keyboards, rhythm guitar (1975-79)
  • Jonathan Cain - keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing & lead vocals (1979-81)
  • Ricky Phillips - bass guitar (1979-81)
  • JP Cervoni - guitars (2013)

References[edit]

External links[edit]