Magna Carta interview with Chris Simpson

July 7, 2011

Magna Carta interview with Chris Simpson


Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’m really happy you will answer few questions for my Magazine. First, I would like to ask you how did you first come in contact with music as a young boy and what are some artists  you liked?

I grew up in an old house on a hilltop in the Yorkshire Dales. No electricity. Just loved the natural world and this permeates much of my work. Picked up on Sun recods on a crystal set, Elvis-‘Mystery Train’; Chuck Berry; Everlys; Buddy Holly and so on. These were the early influences.

Where did you start your carrier? Were you or other band members in any bands before forming Magna Carta? Any releases with that, perhaps?

I made several singles in the 60’s. Two under the name Chris and Forbes; two under the pseudonym Paul Stewart.

Magna Carta was formed around 1969. What do you remember from early sessions you had together? Where did you meet?

I was living in London at the time playing in rock n’ roll bands. We supported Cream at one gig. Saw the Rolling Stones start, and picked up on everything happening then. Gradually followed my real forte which was the acoustic guitar. Watched the Pentangle ( who became friends later) Ralph McTell etc etc and started writing my own thing with a strong spiritual context. Started to do floor spots in the folk clubs with an Australian guitarist I had met called Lyell Tranter. Glen Stuart joined later.

Your first album was released by Mercury in 1969. The vocal harmonies are so wonderful…you really can bring some great atmosphere with your playing. I would like to know if you can share a few words about producing and recording your first LP. I would also be glad if you want to share a few words about songwriting on the first LP.

The first LP was in fact braking Glen in on already established tracks. I think the harmonies are rough compared to ‘Season’s the next album, produced by Gus Dudgeon and containing the hit single’Airport Song.’ The first album was not produced. Just allowed to happen. Had it been, ‘Spinning Wheels of Time’ would have been a smash.It still ahd good songs though and we had a fiar few to choose from.

How was touring going at that time? 
Folk Clubs to start with, in a transit van doing the miles. Then the Cambridge Festival and bigger and bigger concerts.

In 1970 you released one of the best LP’s! This is the finest acoustic  progressive folk you can hear…I would like to know what can you tell me about producing this masterpiece. I heard, that also Rick Wakeman appeared on the album. If you can share a story about it, that would be fantastic! I also would like to add, I really like the cover artwork.

I assume you mean ‘Seasons.’ Gus was the producer and he was great. Sadly dead now. Lyell left for many reasons and in came the great Davey Johnstone. We made two LP’s with him before he joined Elton John.. His best acoustic work is still, in  my opinion, with us.But the album that really did it after Davey left and Stan Gordon joined was ‘Lord of the Ages.’ Rick was and is still a dear friend. He was on three MC albums.

Next year you released a bit different album called Songs from Wasties Orchard and In Concert live album. In 1973 you released an absolute masterpiece. Amazing combination of Folk and Prog. What did inspire you to wrote such an amazing piece of music? If you can share a story behind releasing this, I would really appreciate it. I also have to commend on your fantastic cover artwork!

‘Lord of the Ages’was originally a poem written for Glen to recite at the end of an album. I demo’d it at a friend’s house who at the time lived next door to John Lennon. I go him to recite the words ( my friend that is) and as he did, the tune came to me. I had it done in half an hour.I don’t know where it came from all I know is that it was given to me.It’s power is incredible, and I received an e-mail from Kosovo which touched me very much. As their people were being killed they hid underground and the only thing that kept them going was ‘Lord.’ I felt very humbled.

Would you like to tell me what are some future plans for you? 

‘A couple more albums’!!!!! There are 28 altogether!!

What are you doing these days, Chris? 

These days I am supposed to be retired. This means I am working my ass off! Canada on Friday; straight back to a Dutch Festival then the Dutch tour in the Autumn.If you can, give that as much promotion as you can.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *