The Equals

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The Equals
The Equals (1968).jpg
The Equals in 1968
{l-r): Pat Lloyd, Derv Gordon, Eddy Grant, John Hall, Lincoln Gordon
Background information
Origin North London, England
Genres Pop, R&B, rock[1]
Years active 1965–1979
Labels President Records, RCA
Members Pat Lloyd, Ronnie Telemaque, Dzal Martin, Decosta Boyce, Mark Haley
Past members Eddy Grant
Derv Gordon
Lincoln Gordon
Pat Lloyd
John Hall

The Equals are a British pop, R&B and rock group[1] formed in North London, England in 1965.[2] They are best remembered for their million-selling chart-topper, "Baby, Come Back", though they had several other chart hits in the UK and Europe. Eddy Grant founded the group with twin brothers Derv and Lincoln Gordon, John Hall and Pat Lloyd, and they were noted as being "the first major interracial rock group in the UK"[3] and "one of the few racially mixed bands of the era".[2]

History[edit]

Early career[edit]

The Equals (1967)

The group's members met on a Hornsey Rise council estate,[4] where Grant, Lloyd and Hall had attended the same school.[5] In 1965, Hall suggested that they form a band,[6] with Derv Gordon on vocals and Eddy Grant on lead guitar; and gave them their band name.[3]

At first the Equals performed in London, and gained a following "with their apparently limitless energy and a distinct style fusing pop, blues, and R&B plus elements of ska and bluebeat."[2] They often opened the bill at shows by visiting American R&B and soul artists such as Bo Diddley, Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett.[5][6] A neighbour of Grant's, singer Gene Latter,[6] put them in touch with President Records, whose boss Edward Kassner heard them and agreed to sign them.[5]

Commercial success, 1966-70[edit]

The Equals released their first single "I Won’t Be There" in 1966,[7] followed by "Hold Me Closer", with "Baby, Come Back" as the B-side.[2] It did not do well in the United Kingdom, but after DJs in Europe began playing "Baby, Come Back" it went to the number one position in Germany and the Netherlands.[2]

The year 1968 saw the release of "I Get So Excited", which reached the Top 50 of the UK Singles Chart. The subsequent re-issue of "Baby, Come Back" in early 1968 reached the top position in the UK, giving President Records their only number one hit.[8] In June 1969, the group received a gold disc for a combined one million sales of the disc.[4] A string of single releases followed, several of which charted in the UK, including two further top ten hits, "Viva Bobby Joe" (1969) and "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys" (1970).[2]

Their songs were written by band members, mainly by Grant. Though the majority were on traditional teenage pop themes, some, such as "Stand Up and Be Counted", "Police on My Back", and the funky "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys", touched on social and political issues.[5]

The band also released several albums on President in quick succession – seven in four years[5] – including Unequalled Equals (1967) and Equals Explosion (1968), both of which reached the UK albums chart.[9] Several of their albums were repackaged by President's distributors, RCA, for the American market. According to Derv Gordon, Kassner did not allow the band to tour the U.S. because of problems that might have arisen because of their multiracial line-up, though the band did tour other parts of the world, including Africa.[5][6]

They made regular TV appearances on programmes including Top of the Pops in England and Beat-Club in Germany.[3] The band also gained attention for their colourful clothes, presaging the glam rock style, and for Grant's occasional dyeing of his hair blonde, and wearing a woman's blonde wig. Writer Jason Heffer commented: "The Equals were effectively code-switching between two audiences—immigrant rude boys and white pop fans—in the same song, if not the same line."[3]

Break-up and subsequent activities[edit]

In September 1969, all five group members were injured in a motorway car accident in Germany.[10] Grant was the most severely injured and as a result left the touring version of the Equals, while initially continuing to write songs for them. In January 1971, Grant suffered a collapsed lung and heart infection, following which he returned to Guyana.[11] He soon started to pursue a solo career; in the late 1970s and early 1980s he released several Top 40 singles, including "Living on the Front Line", "Electric Avenue", "Romancing the Stone" and "Gimme Hope Jo'anna". Grant also topped the UK Singles Chart in 1982 with "I Don't Wanna Dance".

The remaining band members continued to record, increasingly influenced by funk and reggae music.[3] Although the Equals never charted again after Grant's departure, they remained a popular live act and have continued to perform, with Derv Gordon and Pat Lloyd remaining members of the band as of 2016.[5]

Influence[edit]

The Equals' music has continued to be influential. In 1980, the Clash recorded a cover version of the Equals' song "Police on My Back".[12] In 2006, Willie Nile released his cover of "Police on My Back" on his Streets of New York CD.[13] The Equals' song "Green Light" was covered by the Detroit Cobras on their 2007 album, Tied & True.[14] Pato Banton scored a UK number one with his cover of "Baby Come Back".[15] Chelsea Handler described a meeting with Pat Lloyd in chapter 6 of her book, Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.

Original line-up[edit]

  • Dervin "Derv" Gordon (born 29 June 1948, Jamaica) – vocals
  • Eddy Grant (born 5 March 1948, Plaisance, Guyana) – lead guitar
  • Patrick "Pat" Lloyd (born 17 March 1948, Holloway, London) – rhythm guitar
  • Lincoln Gordon (born 29 June 1948, Jamaica) – bass
  • John Hall (born 25 October 1946, Islington, London)[4] – drums

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Titles (A-side, B-side) UK US AU NO IR SA UK Album US Album
1966 "I Won't Be There"
b/w "Fire"
- - - - - - Unequalled Unequalled
1967 "Give Love A Try"
b/w "Another Sad and Lonely Night"
- - - - - - Explosion Non-album tracks
"My Life Ain't Easy"
b/w "You Got Too Many Boyfriends"
- - - - - - A: Unequalled
B: Explosion
A: Unequalled
B: Non-album track
1968 "I Get So Excited"
UK B: "The Skies Above"
US B: "Giddy Up A Ding Dong"
44 - - - - - A & UK B: Sensational
US B: Explosion
A & US B: Unequalled
UK B: Baby, Come Back
1968 "Baby, Come Back"
b/w "Hold Me Closer"
1 32 [16] 10 4 2 - Unequalled Baby, Come Back
1968 "Laurel and Hardy"
b/w "The Guy Who Made Her A Star"
35 - - - - - Sensational
1968 "Softly Softly"
b/w "Lonely Rita"
48 - - - - 8 [17] Supreme Supreme
1969 "Michael and The Slipper Tree"
b/w "Honey Gum"
24 - 68 - - - Equals Strike Again Non-album tracks
1969 "Viva Bobby Joe"
b/w "I Can't Let You Go"
6 79 3 9 A: Equals Strike Again
B: Non-album track
1969 "Rub A Dub Dub"
b/w "After The Lights Go Down Low"
34 - - - - - A: Equals At The Top
B: Equals Strike Again
1970 "Soul Brother Clifford"
b/w "Happy Birthday Girl"
- - - - - - Equals At The Top
"I Can See But You Don't Know"
b/w "Gigolo Sam"
- - - - - - A: Doin' The 45's
B: Equals At The Top
"Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys"
b/w "Ain't Got Nothing To Give You"
9 [18] - - - - - A: Doin' The 45's
B: Equals Strike Again
1971 "Help Me Simone"
b/w "Love Potion"
- - - - - - A: Equals At The Top
B: Supreme
A: Non-album track
B: Supreme
1972 "Stand Up and Be Counted"
b/w "What Would You Do To Survive"
- - - - - - Non-album tracks Non-album tracks
"Have I The Right"
b/w "Lover Let Me Go"
- - - - - - A: The Equals Greatest Hits
B: Non-album track
1973 "Honey Bee"
b/w "Put Some Rock and Roll In Your Soul"
- - - - - - Rock Around The Clock Volume 1
"Diversion"
b/w "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"
- - - - - - A: Rock Around The Clock Volume 1
B: Non-album track
1975 "Georgetown Girl"
b/w "We've Got It All Worked Out"
- - - - - - Non-album tracks
1976 "Kaywana Sunshine Girl"
b/w "Soul Mother"
- - - - - - Born Ya!
"Funky Like A Train"
b/w "If You Didn't Miss Me"
- - - - - -
1977 "Irma La Douce"
b/w "Ire Harry"
- - - - - -
"Beautiful Clown"
b/w "Daily Love"
- - - - - - Non-album tracks
1978 "Red Dog"
b/w "Something Beautiful"
- - - - - - Mystic Syster
1983 "No Place To Go"
b/w "Back Streets"
- - - - - - All The Hits Plus More
1987 "Funky Like A Train"
b/w "Born Ya!"
82 - - - - - Born Ya!

Albums[edit]

  • Unequalled Equals – (1967) (UK no. 10)
  • Equals Explosion – (1968) (UK no. 32)[9]
  • Sensational – (1968)
  • Supreme – (1968)
  • Baby, Come Back - (US compilation, 1968)[19]
  • Strike Again - (1969)[19]
  • Equals At The Top - (1970)[19]
  • Rock Around the Clock Vol.1 - (1971)
  • Born Ya! - (1976)
  • Mystic Syster - (1977)

Selected compilation albums[edit]

  • Doin' the 45's – (1975)[20]
  • First Among Equals – The Greatest Hits – (1996)[21]
  • Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys – The Anthology – (1999)[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Equals | Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f John Bush. "The Equals | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Jason Heller, "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: The Story of Pioneering Interracial Rock Band the Equals", Pitchfork.com, 18 July 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018
  4. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 238/9. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Greene, Brian (August 2016). "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys". Shindig!. London. p. 40-46. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Derv Gordon of the Equals: I've Got To Move", L.A.Record, July 10, 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2018
  7. ^ Frank Bangay, "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: Some Belated Praise for the Equals", DisabilityArtsOnline, May 25, 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2018
  8. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  9. ^ a b Gambaccini, Paul (1996). British Hit Albums (7th ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 127. ISBN 0-85112-619-7. 
  10. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 202. CN 5585. 
  11. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 224. CN 5585. 
  12. ^ Deming, Mark. "Police on My Back – The Clash : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  13. ^ Thompson, Dave (2006-02-21). "Streets of New York – Willie Nile : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  14. ^ Deming, Mark (2007-04-24). "Tied & True – The Detroit Cobras : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  15. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 42. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  16. ^ "The Equals | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  17. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (E)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  18. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 185. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  19. ^ a b c "The Equals". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  20. ^ Doin' The 45's, Discogs.com
  21. ^ Richie Unterberger. "First Among Equals: The Greatest Hits - The Equals | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  22. ^ Bruce Eder (1999-11-22). "Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys: The Anthology... - The Equals | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 

External links[edit]