|Louis David Cennamo|
5 March 1946|
|Genres||Rock, blues, blues rock, rock and roll, psychedelic rock, hard rock, Progressive Rock|
|Instruments||Bass, bowed bass, guitar|
|Labels||Pye Records, Parlophone Records, Elektra Records, Island Records, A&M Records|
|Associated acts||Rod Stewart, Jimmy Powell, The Herd, Peter Frampton, James Taylor, Renaissance, Colosseum, Steamhammer, Armageddon, Illusion|
Cennamo left school at 16 and undertook his earliest important musical project (1962–65) as a founding member of the popular London-based blues/rock band, Jimmy Powell And The 5 Dimensions. The band also included guitarist Gary Leport (formerly of The Moontrekkers and more recently with The Plonkers), and a young Rod Stewart was also a member for the better part of 1963. They signed a recording deal with Pye Records and released "That's Alright" (written by Powell) as a single in June 1964, and were also hired to provide backing for Jamaican singer Millie Small on her recording of "My Boy Lollipop" (which was a #2 hit in both the UK and the US, selling upwards of 6 million copies). In June 1964, The 5 Dimensions appeared on the bill at the All Night Rave at the Alexandra Palace with headlining act The Rolling Stones (as well as Alexis Korner, John Lee Hooker and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers), and they further galvanized their place in rock and roll history with performances on Granada TV (with Sonny Boy Williamson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe), Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars. In 1965, the band was asked to back up Chuck Berry on both his Chuck Berry in London LP and on his three-week tour of England - other acts on the tour included The Moody Blues, Long John Baldry, and The Graham Bond Organization (who at the time included Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Dick Heckstall-Smith).
Upon leaving the band, Cennamo spent late 1965 to late 1966 as bass guitarist for The Herd, with Peter Frampton and Andy Bown (who was later in The Status Quo), for live performances and recording. Cennamo's sole released recording with the band was a cover of a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards song, "So Much In Love" (b/w "This Boy's Always Been True") on the Parlophone Records label. (At one point, the band had been managed by Rolling Stone's bassist Bill Wyman.) Upon leaving The Herd, Cennamo played briefly with Tim Hinkley, Viv Prince and Mike Patto in the group Patto's People (nee Chicago Blue Line) - recording and releasing one single, "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop / Jump back", in late 1966.
During the late 1960s, Cennamo also played bass on several recording sessions. Some well documented projects included James Taylor's 1968 self-titled LP (produced by Peter Asher and released on The Beatles Apple Records label) and Al Stewart's Zero She Flies album.
In 1969, Cennamo co-founded the original lineup of the classically-influenced Renaissance, with former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, plus Jane Relf (Keith's sister) and Nashville Teens piano player John Hawken (later of Strawbs and Spooky Tooth). Cennamo played a key role in working up the band's classically-influenced song arrangements, and one highlight of Renaissance live performances through this era was his use of the violin bow on his bass during the final song of their set, "Bullet" (he would continue to use the violin bow on his bass with later bands, on certain numbers). This incarnation of the band recorded two LPs, but a busy touring schedule began to wear on members of the band, and they decided to go their separate ways in the spring of 1970. Cennamo then began recording and performing with legendary British progressive rock band Colosseum (with Chris Farlowe, Jon Hiseman, Clem Clempson, Dave Greenslade and Dick Heckstall-Smith) - it was during Cennamo's involvement that Colosseum recorded their landmark Daughter of Time LP (1970).
Cennamo was then recruited by progressive/blues/rock band Steamhammer (1970–72). The band subsequently toured Europe extensively, and recorded the experimental (and now highly regarded) Speech LP in 1971. Tragedy struck the band when drummer Mick Bradley died suddenly of undiagnosed leukemia shortly before the mixing of the Speech album was completed. The album is dedicated to him on the inside album cover, and the final track on the LP ("For/Against") featured an extended Bradley drum solo.
After Steamhammer folded in 1973, Cenammo co-founded Armageddon (1974–75) with American drummer Bobby Caldwell (from Captain Beyond and Johnny Winter's band), Steamhammer guitarist Martin Pugh, and "Speech" co-producer (and former Renaissance bandmate) Keith Relf. The band was based in California, but decided to record their debut album, Armageddon, at Olympic Studios in London, which was released on A&M Records in the late spring of 1975. The album received excellent reviews and sold reasonably well, but Relf's untimely death (by electrocution) in May 1976 effectively ended the band. The record has since been released on CD numerous times, and over time has become heralded as a progressive/blues/rock masterpiece.
Back in England after Armageddon's dissolution, Cennamo then co-founded Illusion with the members of the original Renaissance (minus the late Keith Relf), remaining with the band for two albums (from 1977–79).
1980s and beyond
Upon the folding of Illusion in 1979, Cennamo began to spend less time on music, and more on his "spiritual development" (although he did release a limited edition solo cassette titled Diamond Harbor in 1982).
Between 1986 and 1995, Cennamo was involved with a part-time music project called Stairway (which featured Cennamo playing guitar), with his colleague from Renaissance and Illusion, Jim McCarty. Additional Stairway participants included psychotherapist Malcolm Stern, Clifford White on keyboards and Jane Relf (their former Renaissance and Illusion bandmate) contributed some vocals. A primarily instrumental project, the intentions of McCarty and Cennamo were to release music of a "healing" and "meditative" nature, and total of four full-length tapes and CDs had been released by Stairway on the New World Music label, and one on the Canada-based Oasis Productions label.
In 2001, the four surviving members of the original Renaissance and Illusion issued the album Through the Fire under the band name Renaissance Illusion. The CD continued the keyboard-driven melodic musical style of their previous Illusion records, and opened with Cennamo's bass-led introduction to "One More Turn of the Wheel".
On 3 April 2014 he performed a one-off gig at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham with Jim McCarty's band Flip Side, which included songs from the first two Illusion albums, as well as the Renaissance Illusion Through the Fire CD.
- James Taylor, a 1968 album by James Taylor
- Renaissance, a 1969 album by Renaissance
- Daughter of Time, a 1970 album by Colosseum
- Speech, a 1972 album by Steamhammer
- Armageddon, a 1975 album by Armageddon
- https://www.discogs.com/artist/445542-Louis-Cennamo | Louis Cennamo on Discogs
- https://www.discogs.com/artist/1282281-Jimmy-Powell-And-The-5-Dimensions | Jimmy Powell And The 5 Dimensions
- Carol Hynson. "The Official Mick Underwood website - biography of the UK rock drummer". Mickunderwood.com. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- http://www.richieunterberger.com/renaissance.html | Formation of Renaissance