Python Lee Jackson
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|Python Lee Jackson|
Python Lee Jackson, early 1967
|Genres||Rock, hard rock|
|Years active||1965-1968, 1968-1969, 1972|
|Past members||David Montgomery
Python Lee Jackson were an Australian rock band active from 1965 to 1968, before a brief sojourn in the United Kingdom. The group's most famous hit was "In a Broken Dream", featuring Rod Stewart as guest vocalist.
The original Python Lee Jackson was formed in December 1965, in Sydney by two British men – singer Frank Kennington and guitarist Mick Liber (born in Peebles, Scotland, on 1 March 1944) – after meeting drummer David Montgomery (born September 1945 in Melbourne). Together with bass player Roy James they played the underground circuit. In early 1966 Kennington deported back to the UK, and former Missing Links singer Bob Brady filled in for several months before Liber and Montgomery struck on the idea of putting a new version together.
A new Python Lee Jackson line-up came together around March 1966 when keyboard player and singer David Bentley (born in 1943, in Brisbane) left Sydney group Jeff St John & The Id to join Liber and Montgomery alongside former Unit 4 bass player Lloyd Hardy (aka Cadillac Lloyd Hudson).
In June the quartet added former Wild Cherries singer Malcolm McGee (born in Melbourne on 1 November 1945) and opened Rhubarb's club in Sydney's Liverpool Street. In September Bentley left (and rejoined the band in 1968) and was replaced by Bob Welsh. The band's first single, "Emergency Ward" c/w their version of the Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love?", was actually a Ward Austin single featuring Python Lee Jackson as backing group.
Python Lee Jackson released a cover of Major Lance’s "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" c/w "Big City Lights" in December 1966 before Hardy was replaced by Duncan McGuire from Doug Parkinson's The Questions for three weeks. McGuire appeared on the band's cover of Sam and Dave’s "Hold On, I’m Coming" c/w "Your Mother Should Have Warned You" before Hardy (now going by the name Virgil East) returned for the band's first trip to Melbourne in early/mid March. While there the group performed at the Catcher from 17 to 19 March with various local bands each night. Python Lee Jackson returned to the city for an extended stay from 30 March to 16 April. Like its predecessor, the new single was a minor hit.
In April 1967, Dave MacTaggart from Adelaide band The Black Pearls replaced Virgil East. On 11 June the group appeared on Opus TV with The Loved Ones and Ray Hoff and The Offbeats. The new line-up released the band's final Australian single, "It’s a Wonder" c/w "I Keep Forgetting", in August before Welsh left to be replaced by saxophone player Bernie McGann.
A few months later Mick Liber left and worked with Billy Thorpe and Gulliver Smith’s band, The Noyes, while former member Virgil East joined Jeff St John’s next project, Yama. Liber's replacement was Laurie Arthur from The Strangers. The band continued to play gigs, appearing at Melbourne clubs, Sebastians, and Berties. However Python Lee Jackson broke up in January 1968.
Malcolm McGee then joined vocal trio The Virgil Brothers with Rob Lovett (formerly of The Loved Ones) and Mick Hadley (formerly of Purple Hearts). McGee recorded two singles with the Virgil Brothers, including their Australian hit "Temptation 'Bout To Get Me", but he left the group just after they moved to the UK in late 1969 and was replaced by Danny Robinson (ex The Wild Cherries. McGee later played with McGuire in Rush. MacTaggart reunited with Liber briefly in Billy Thorpe's band.
Montgomery reunited with David Bentley in The David Bentley Trio. Around October 1968, they joined forces with Mick Liber and travelled to the UK where they revived the Python Lee Jackson name.
Arriving in the UK in October 1968 Bentley, Liber and Montgomery (joined by former Levi Smith Clefs' bass player John Helman) played at the Vesuvio club on Tottenham Court Road. In early 1969 they performed at the Arts Lab on Drury Lane for several months where they were spotted by DJ John Peel. In April 1969 Bentley, Liber and Montgomery, joined by Jamie Byrne from The Groove, recorded three tracks in the studio with British singer Rod Stewart.
Stewart was brought in to sing a few songs and one in particular, since Bentley had informed his bandmates that he didn't think his own voice was right for it. Recorded by John Peel, "In a Broken Dream" and two other songs sung by Stewart, "Doin' Fine" (a version of "Cloud Nine") and "The Blues", remained unreleased until 1970 when Miki Dallon re-produced the track for his Youngblood label and released it, having bought the masters from John Peel. Rod Stewart was paid a set of seat covers for his car for doing the session. The single was not a success on its release but Dallon re-released it in August 1972 to coincide with Rod Stewart's release of "You Wear It Well", his second big solo single. With Rod being more famous by then, "In A Broken Dream" rose to number three in the UK Singles Chart and #56 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Following the recording of the songs with Stewart the group continued to make sporadic live appearances and Time Out magazine advertised one show at the Bottleneck Club in the Railway Tavern, Stratford in East London on 28 June 1969. The band went into hiatus in the years from 1969 to 1972, during which period the band members explored separate projects.
In 1972, David Bentley, Mick Liber, and David Montgomery made some recordings with new members Gary Boyle (guitar) and former The Easybeats' member Tony Cahill (bass). These tracks subsequently appeared on the band's only album (also titled "In A Broken Dream") alongside the earlier Rod Stewart recordings from 1969 resulting in the release of the song and the subsequent charting. The song was popular in Europe and appeared on the soundtrack of films and documentaries (including the art house movie Breaking the Waves) and became the subject of many cover versions. Rod Stewart included the song on two anthologies of previously recorded work and, in 1996, an English band, Thunder, delivered a high-octane rendering that propelled it into the UK chart for the second time. In 2004 a cover of the song on Relations recorded by British singer Kathryn Williams. In 2009, Half A Cow released Sweet Consolation, a 24 track anthology of their work. Meant to be a definitive collection, it does not however, contain "In A Broken Dream" as the producers were unable to obtain the required licences needed to include their most famous song. Cahill was replaced on bass by Chris Belshaw shortly before the band dissolved.
Following the dissolution of the band, Montgomery would go on to briefly play drums for the American band King Harvest. He had been due to meet with Brian Jones on the day of Jones's death to discuss a collaboration.
- David Montgomery – drums (1965-1968, 1968-1969, 1972)
- Mick Liber – guitar (1965-1967, 1968-1969, 1972)
- Roy James – bass (1965-1966)
- Frank Kennington – vocals (1965-1966)
- Bob Brady – vocals (1966)
- Lloyd Hardy (aka Virgil East) – bass (1966, 1967)
- David Bentley – keyboards, vocals (1966, 1968-1969, 1972)
- Malcolm McGee – vocals (1966-1968)
- Bob Welsh – keyboards (1966-1967)
- Duncan McGuire – bass (1966-1967)
- Dave MacTaggart – bass (1967-1968)
- Bernie McGann – saxophone (1967-1968)
- Laurie Arthur – guitar (1967-1968)
- John Helman – bass (1968-1969)
- Jamie Byrne – bass (1969)
- Gary Boyle – guitar (1972)
- Tony Cahill – bass (1972)
- Chris Belshaw – bass (1972)