Keith Law Interview
1. I would like to thank you for agreeing to this interview. I’m really honored to have you on my magazine! My first question is about your childhood and early teen years; please tell us what were some of your early influences and how did you start you first band?
My childhood was initially spent in Thomas Street, and Harvills Hawthorn, West Bromwich before the family moved to Great Barr.
I attended Harvills Hawthorn, and Hamstead Primary Schools, and eventually Churchfields Comprehensive School. When I was about 10 years old, my brother came home with a Spanish guitar. Many hours, weeks, months and years later and with the help of numerous tuition books, I finally learned a few chords and solo pieces. I had always been singing songs he had composed and now, with this new found skill, his composing took on a new dimension.
My parents were always supportive and once spent the whole week’s budget to buy me my first guitar and amplifier. It was a solid body Watkins Rapier electric guitar, and a small Selmer Amp. Thanks to this gift, my song writing became more serious. My first catalogued song was in 1965. Many of my published songs were composed in my bedroom at my parents house in Great Barr, Birmingham.
My early influences to begin with were Duane Eddy, who influenced many a budding guitarist at the time, and Bob Dylan, who’s song writing I so admired.
The release of The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper album being one of the most significant records of all time, and the main reason for me being interested in Psychedelic music. During this time I was studying for a Degree in Marketing at Aston University. However I became involved with local Great Barr musicians such as Mickey Cox, and Paul Lockey and their band the Shooting Stars. I would work with them both through the years.
In 1964, myself and school friend Alan Blunt used to visit the Casa Bambu in West Bromwich.
It is here where they first met Bill Spilsbury, and it was here where my first band, The Williamsons, was formed.
2. The Williamsons were formed around 1965 and were highly respected blues band. You supported the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson when he appeared at the Whiskey Go Go, in Birmingham, in the late 60’s. How do you remember that gig? Did the band release anything?
We were booked to play at the Whiskey, knowing that Sonny Boy would be appearing and naturally we thought he would have his own band. It wasn’t long before but we realised he hadn’t. We played out first set, and he then asked us to accompany him. of course were very honoured, and went on to support him through the whole gig. He paid us the compliment of saying “We were a great young blues band”
The band made a demo recording at Zellah Records in Birmingham, but nothing was ever released.
3. Love and Understanding were formed around 1966. What can you tell me about this project? You started writing your own songs…would you like to share an experience you had with the band? Was anything released by the band or unreleased perhaps?
I formed Love and Understanding in 1967, I had attended a talent spotting event in Walsall,
and turned up with hundreds of my songs, and left the with Chas Peate the organizer
and then left. I heard from him later and he was subsequently to become my manager and publisher. He suggested I formed a band as a vehicle for my songs and introduced me to other musicians that he managed. The band only performed original material that I had written. We performed at colleges, schools and and toured the university circuit. Love and Understanding never recorded.
4. After this the band Paint was formed. From this band slowly Jardine and later Velvett Fogg was born. Would you like to share first history of The Paint and how did you later started Jardine?
Along with Mickey Cox (former member) and Harold Barber (former roadie) of Robert Plant’s band ‘The Band of Joy I formed Paint, when Robert left to join Led Zeppelin.
The band originally included Dave Richards on bass, then later John Jevons, ex. Hush
Harold Barber completed the line-up, on drums. PAINT performed original songs, including the songs. I wrote for Velvett Fogg
These original songs were mixed with well known, R&B, and Blues. The band appeared at Schools, colleges, US and RAF bases, often as the main band, and also, as support to bands, at that time, such as Slade
PAINT were regulars at well known local venues, such as The Golden Eagle, Birmingham, Ship and Rainbow, Hen and Chickens, Woolpack, and Catacombs, Wolverhampton, The Plazas, and The George Hotel, Walsall.
The band at one time continued as a trio.
5. With Jardine you started to sound a lot more psychedelic. Would you like to share what are some of the strongest memories from recording and producing and why was the album never released back then?
I disbanded Paint my previous band and once again with Mickey Cox formed Jardine,
in the Winter of 1968/69 I wanted a more earthy psychedelic sound.
I wrote all the band’s original songs and shared the vocals, and also played second guitar, and flute.
Mickey Cox was the vocalist and lead guitar and was previously with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant’s, Band of Joy. Colin Hawkins was on drums, and Brian Urquart on Bass.
Jardine recorded and album in London and due to bad management decisions, was never released, until 2008.
During the recording sessions many musicians, some famous, would come and join in.
They were, Peter Frampton singer, ex’ The Herd and then an international pop star Andrew Bown ex The Herd who formed the Andrew Bown Set, and is now keyboard player with Status Quo, Michael Berg, keyboard player and engineer. Brian Appleyard, Drummer ex East of Eden.
With the recent resurgence of Psychedelic music and in particular the ever growing
popularity of Velvett Fogg Demand for my songs had increased enormously!
5. Anazitisi Records did a great job releasing this lost album on vinyl.Where was this master archived for all this years?
Nick at Anazitisi Records did a wonderful job, and I am very grateful to him and for his support I found the ‘lost’ tape, in my garage attic! Still in perfect condition, and still to tell the story!
6. Where did Jardine played and if you have some interesting stories to share, that would be fantastic!
The band’s show was a mix of blues classics and original songs, penned by me. They were written about the same time as those on the well known Velvett Fogg album so possess the same air of psych mystery!
The band played Universities, Colleges and schools and the occasional open-air concert In June 1969, It was so exciting having those famous musicians popping in and out. We had a great time and lots of fun. Sometimes we just couldn’t stop laughing, and during recordings we would often burst into giggles, and the producer Tony Chapman, would shout at us, make us all stop and go out to the pub for a drink so that we could all calm down. We also stayed at the producers’ flat in Bromley, Kent, and travelled into London everyday in our van.
7. From Jardine you went to Velvett Fogg. I would like if you could tell us about the start, how did you guys come together and what do you remember from some of the early sessions you had together?
First of all I was the songwriter for the band, but was not in the band.
This is how it happened:-
I was in the Rum Runner one night, when someone told me that Velvett Fogg were looking for new material, and they introduced me to them. I arranged to meet them at their rehearsal place, Langley Baths. I went along the next day, and went through the following songs with them: Yellow Cave Woman, Once Among The Trees and Within’ The Night and that was it!
The next couple of days, they were in London recording
8. What can you tell me about touring with Velvett Fogg?
I was the songwriter for the band, but was not in the band, So therefore did not tour with them, I was often a guest at some of their local shows.
9. In 1969 you released album on Pye Records. What are some of the strongest memories from recording and producing this great LP?
I was there for the rehearsals’ but not the recording,
Velvett Fogg recorded the tracks for their debut album under direction of Pye producer
Jack Dorsey. Apparently, Dorsey aimed to get the band onto the then-popular “progressive” band wagon. “I was a classically trained pianist but we all had to play way below our capabilities” says Frank Wilson. The band were also allowed to record covers of a few songs they liked and these included psychedelic-sounding versions of New York Mining Disaster 1941 by The Bee Gees, and Tim Rose’s Come Away Melinda.
10. Would you like to comment some of your songs from LP?
A1 Yellow Cave Woman
I wrote this song and it’s guitar riff back in 1967. It was about a girl who was an artist, with long yellow blond hair. My mother thought she looked like a cave woman.
There had to be a song there somewhere!! It was ideal for The Fogg, and with Paul Eastment’s guitar playing on my riff and Frank’s vocal’s making it the great recording it is.
A2 New York Mining Disaster 1941
One of the best ever copies of this Bee Gees song, I love the Psych feel to it
A3 Wizard of Gobsolod
One of Paul’s songs
A4 Once Among the Trees
Once again I wrote this song back in 1967, at around the same time as Yellow Cave Woman. The idea came from a novel I was reading, where an escaped prisoner, knew he would be safe, Once Among The Trees!
A5 Lady Caroline
Another of Paul’s songs
B1 Come Away Melinda
Apart from my own songs of course, this is my favourite on this album. I just love the way Frank had the the psych sound on his Hammond organ.
The shared and eerie vocals of Frank Wilson and bassist Mick Pollard, were just genius and magic. This must be one of the best covers of this song
B2 Owed to the Dip
Frank’s version of one of his favourite jazz themes
B3 Within the Night
I wanted an Indian sounding riff, and played the guitar with a sitar sound. Influenced by The Beatle’s ‘Within You, Without You’ this was my tribute to them. Frank Wilson, mentioned to me, this was his favourite song on the album. John Peel, the late great English DJ and broadcaster, also commented on this an the other songs on the album.
B4 Plastic Man
One of Paul’s songs
11. What can you tell me about the cover artwork?
By far the most controversial feature of the Velvett Fogg album was the record cover. It displayed the pre-Paul Eastment line-up of the band wearing garish make-up/body-paint and costume but also included two well-endowed young women wearing nothing but strategically applied body paint! This politically-incorrect package was accompanied by a typically obscure sleeve note by John Peel the influential U.K. disc jockey.
The girls were two models, and at the time it was groundbreaking, no one had attempted such a thing on an album before.
From 1970 I continued as a solo musician, toured and played in Germany, Denmark and Sweden with bands including Bob Catley’s , “pre-Magnum” band Life, who performed Keith’s songs.
I was based in Stockholm, for some time, where he worked with many Swedish musos.
On my return to the UK, I was soon involved once again in the Birmingham group scene.
I continued writing and recording songs, with friend such Paul Lockey ,ex-The Foundations, Bronco and Robert plant’s Band Of Joy and was produced by such prolific producers as Tony Visconti. and many of my songs have been published by Acuff-Rose,Schroeder Music,
(The Beatles)Apple Music, Belsize Music.
One of my songs “Harpsichord” was released as a single on the United Artists label, by the band Stampede.
Between 1994-2000, I recorded and released eight CD’s of cover versions of many of the hits of the 50’s & 60’s
13. In 2009 Anazitisi Records did an amazing job releasing unreleased recordings from 1966-1981 on vinyl. What can you tell me about the album its self? I really like it a lot! Your songs really touched me..
Thank you, so glad you like my songs. I was so pleased and grateful that Nick at Anazitisi Records decided to release a solo album. I had always been my dream to have such an album, and Nick made to some true.
Over the many years, I had recorded many songs in my home Studio One. The tapes were stored for years, until 2009 and thanks to Anazitisi Records a solo album, of 12 of these songs has been released.
14. What are you doing these days and what are some future plans for you, Keith?
Frank Wilson founder member, vocalist and keyboard player, and myself are back together writing and recording as Velvett Fogg Reloaded and are currently working on their new album “Velvett Fogg Reloaded”
I am still writing and recording and also entertain in the South West and can be seen, in shows around Torbay, every week throughout 2011
Although supposed to be retired, I am still very active in the music business, still very much involved in the past Birmingham music scene.
Often have interviews on radio shows and magazines etc. I am pleased to say my songs are constantly played on radio shows.
My future plans are to hopefully release a second solo album, called ‘Visions’ and I have already discussed this with Anazitisi Records.
I plan to enjoy the rest of my life with my family , my girlfriend and my very good friends.
15. I would like to thank you again! Would you like to add something else, perhaps??
Thank you also, and if I have missed anything please ask. Thank you so much for your interest in me and my music.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011