Tomorrow, The Pretty Things, The Pink Fairies interview with John Alder (Twink)

November 24, 2012

Tomorrow, The Pretty Things, The Pink Fairies interview with John Alder (Twink)

The Pretty Things from left to right John
TWINK Alder, Phil May & Dick Taylor PARIS 1969 performing LONELIEST PERSON
from the rock opera SF SORROW on French TV. © Cameron Watson

There is not many drummers as John Alder, often called just “Twink”. He was part of many absolutely groundbreaking bands and met and played with so many amazing musicians. His carrier started with Tomorrow, that recorded a psych monster LP. Later he joined forces with The Pretty Things and with them he recorded S.F.Sorrow, that is one of the pinnacle albums in the psychedelia and an early example of conceptual albums. In July 1969, John took
the opportunity to record his own album with members of The Deviants (Paul
Randolph), The Pretty Things (Wally Allen, John Povey), Tyrannosaurus Rex
(Steve Peregrin Took) and Tomorrow (John “Junior” Wood). The album
was produced by The Deviant’s Mick Farren. Twink would later play on Mick
Farren’s solo debut, Mona the Carnivorous Circus, with Steve Peregrin Took. After this he was a big part of Pink Fairies. His carrier moved on and he experimented a lot with Nik Turner (Hawkwind). We also must mention The Rings and Plasticland among others. Here is a brand new interview with John. 

You music carrier began in a band called
Dane Stephens and the Deep Beats. After a year, the band evolved into The
Fairies. You recorded some singles for Decca Records, right?
My musical career began with:
 a.The Airliners Skiffle Group – guitar and
The Black Zillians Skiffle Group – drums
The Angels Skiffle Group – guitar & lead vocals
The Planets  (Rock group) – drums
Eddie Lee Cooper & The Trappers (Rock group) – drums
Jimmy Pilgrim & The Strangers (Shadows group) – drums
Dane Stevens & The Deepbeats (Rock & Blues) – drums
Only one single with DECCA “Don’t Think Twice Its Allright”
Two singles with EMI 1. “Get Yourself Home” b/w “I’ll
“Don’t Mind” b/w “Baby Don’t”
Steve Howe, Keith West, John ‘Junior’
Wood and you then formed The In-Crowd. You released three singles on Parlaphone
Records. How was the group formed?
I was not part of the formation if The In
Crowd. I joined in 1966 after their drummer Ken Lawrence had left and I did not
play on any of The In Crowd singles.
You worked with legendary Mark Wirtz who
decided to work with a band that he enjoyed The In Crowd. During these time
your changed your name to Tomorrow. Why?
The In Crowd was basically a soul band and
a more exciting scene was emerging, FLOWER POWER, HAPPENINGS & FESTIVALS
which we decided that we would be a part of. We changed our music, visual image
& name. I said NOW & “Junior” said TOMORROW and that was it.
TOMORROW had arrived.
What can you say about the involvement
with Mark Wirtz?
Mark Wirtz was the EMI producer that
produced the Tomorrow album & the Aquarian Age single Ten Thousand Words In
A Cardboard Box b/w Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard.
It was great fun working and hanging out
with Mark Wirtz. He came to see The In Crowd play at a club called Blaises in
South Kensinton, London. He decided there and then to produce us for EMI
Records. He produced 2 singles for Tomorrow 
“MY WHITE BICYCLE” & REVOLUTION” (we changed our name
by the time we started recording), one LP entitled TOMORROW & a single for
The Aquarian Age “10,000  Words In A
Cardboard Box” b/w “Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard”. He also
produced a number of singles which were EXCERPTS FROM A TEENAGE OPERA. I have
many happy memories of recording with Mark at Abbey Rd Studios and also on a
personal level he was always very entertaining.
In 1968 you released an amazing self
titled LP. What do you remember of recording the LP?
What I remember about recording the
Tomorrow LP  is being excited about
recording it at Abbey Rd, St. Johns Wood, London and being there at the same
time as The Beatles were recording Sgt Pepper………! The engineers were
amazing in particular Geoff Emmerick. We had some great times at Abbey Rd. with
The Beatles, The Shadows, The Monkees popping in from time to time to see how
we were doing. We freaked the studio out with a psychedelic light show and
plants for ambiance.
Did you have any special concept in your
The only concept we had for the album to
make a psychedelic album.
What gear did you guys use?
We used our own live show equipment and the
studio equipment was the same as The Beatles used. Melletron,piano, tape
machines, mikes & percussion etc.
How about the cover artwork?
The cover was done by a friend of Mark
Wirtz and when we saw it we were all very disappointed.
I know this might be a bit weird
question, but since I ask most of the artists I would like to write down songs
from the debut and would really like if you could comment each song a bit. I
will also ask you the same for your solo album. I hope you don’t mind.
My White Bicycle   
A classic psychedelic time piece for 1967.
Inspired by the activities of the Provo Movement in Amsterdam. First pass
recording was too fast & we re-recorded it with Mark Wirtz and we worked
wonders on it!       
Colonel Brown         
A kind of Sgt. Pepper…… type character,
I can imagine Macca singing this. I always enjoyed playing this at rehersals,
recording it & live.
Real Life Permanent Dream                    
I remember when Steve bought his sitar and
he picked up playing it very quickly. He brought it to the studio and we put it
on this track.
Shy Boy      
Very commercial song covered another group.
The ultimate Tomorrow song & recording.
Great arrangements by the band & Mark Wirtz. Inspired by improvised ad-lib
& acting performance by me at the UFO Club, Tottenham Crt Rd, London.  
The Incredible Journey of Timothy Chase 
This could have been much better, the flame
was dying and we were losing heart. It is a story about Keith’s experiences with
Bryan Morrison.               
Auntie Mary’s Dress Shop                        
Quite a nice little psychedelic ditty, not
really Tomorrow but great imagery from Keith lyrics.
Strawberry Fields Forever     
Steve’s guitar work is outstanding on this
Beatles cover.                 
Three Jolly Little Dwarfs             
Children love this song and so do I.
Now Your Time Has Come                      
Another track that could have been a whole
lot better.
Very commercial song that has been covered
a few times. Very trippy.
Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and you were
among the most groundbreaking British psych bands. How do you remember playing
live. I would love if you could tell us where all did you play and how the
concerts looked like back in the days. Was it very lysergic?
Yes in 1967 we played along side Pink Floyd
& The Soft Machine to name a few. We also played with The Jimi Hendrix Experience
and many other great bands of the time. Things were changing fast and shows
were becoming more & more like events with liquid lights and joss sticks
burning and people dancing the FREAK OUT. However, there were still very
straight gigs and they always got a surprise when Tomorrow came. We played The
UFO Club, The Saville Theatre, The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, Christmas On
Earth, we also played a number of open air festivals and traveled to Europe for
gigs, mainly France & Holland. It was a very exciting time and I always
looked forward to gigs. We had a great time for the short time that the band
lasted. We appeared in a film called SMASHING TIME with Rita Tushingham, Lynn
Redgrave & Michael York & also worked on the film BLOW UP.
After Tomorrow there were The Pretty
Things for you and you recorded with them probably their best LP called “S.F.Sorrow”. “S.F.Sorrow” is the
first rock opera, recorded and released before The Who’s “Tommy”. How
do you remember recording, producing and writing it with other members of the
Three tracks for SF Sorrow had already been
recorded and there was no need for me to re-do Skip’s drum parts as they were
perfect. I worked on all the other tracks remaining including “Lonliest
Person”. Some tracks had already been written but not recorded, and others
not yet written, & some were written together on location for WHAT’S GOOD
FOR THE GOOSE the film we did with Norman Wisdom, “Old Man Going”
& “The Journey”. Working with Norman Smith was a particular
pleasure who I found to be very open to everyones ideas. I put forward a number
of ideas which were used in the production, the link with the roll call between
“Private Sorrow” & “Balloon Burning”, the out-tro with
ad-lib vocal conversation to “She Says Good Morning” & the rising
oscilator sound leading into the solo of “Old Man Going” plus other
bits & bobs. “Well Of Destiny” was a joint ad-lib creation
recorded in studio 2 (Abbey Rd). I enjoyed, as always, working at Abbey Rd,
great engineers, electronic equipment & producers. Phil, Dick, Jon &
Wally were great to work with & their performances are outstanding.
You did a great performance in Hyde
The Pretty Things performed a show in Hyde
Park on July 27 1968. Our set  began with
The Byrds song “WHY?” and
continued with the following songs “TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES”,
“ALEXANDER”, & the into a psychedelic jam starting with “MR
EVASION” going into “I SEE YOU” & finishing with “MY
WHITE BICYCLE”. At one point I climbed on top of the PA speakers &
jumped into the audience who were amazed and they gave us a huge applause for
the excitement  we gave them. Phil, Dick,
Jon & Wally were outstanding as usual the Hyde Park audience loved us
especially when I started to throw my drums around the stage and it was after
that I jumped into the audience. We lifted the park vibe to psychedelic heights
unknown before. LONG LIVE ROCK AND ROLL.
In July 1969, you took the opportunity
to record your own album with members of The Deviants (Paul Randolph), The
Pretty Things (Wally Allen, John Povey), Tyrannosaurus Rex (Steve Peregrin Took) and Tomorrow (John “Junior” Wood). The album was produced by
The Deviant’s Mick Farren. 
So tell me what was the concept behind the
album and what do you remember from writing it and recording it?
The original concept for THINK PINK was to
create a very psychedelic series of sound portraits that would transport the
mind of the listener to other places. The original idea for the title was KEYS
that idea was dropped as the album developed.
Some of the songs had demo sketches already
recorded  and final guitar parts, vocals
parts and other instruments were worked out in the studio. 10,000 WORDS IN A
CARDBOARD BOX was originally written recorded by THE AQUARIAN AGE as was TIPTOE
ON THE HIGHEST HILL ( demo recorded at EMI, Manchester Sq, London produced by
Mark Wirtz with other titles).  THREE
LITTLE PIGGIES & THE SPARROW IS A SIGN were put together in the studio.
I spent quite a bit of time in advance with
Paul Rudolph going over his guitar parts in his flat in the West End of London.
All other musicians & friends guesting were directed by me in the studio.
As I asked before please comment each
song from your LP.
The Coming of the Other One  
This song uses a poem of Nostradamus to a
psychedelic soundscape of sounds to tell the listener about The Day Of
Judgement. Jesus (The Other One), peace be upon him, will return and all those
who have been buried shall rise again from their graves to meet their Maker.
Ten Thousand Words In a Cardboard Box                         
The title for this song was the idea of
John “Junior” Wood which described the way he was feeling about Keith
West at that time (1968) and I agreed with him then, which  also includes the part in the song “There
he goes on another voyage of his own delusion never knowing where the next
thought will take him”. Paul Rudolph’s guitar performance is outstanding
on the recording and cannot be faulted. As is John Jnr Wood’s bass guitar
Dawn of Magic     
This is a portrait of Earth just before
Adam, may peace be upon him, and Eve, peace be upon her, arrived on Earth from
Paradise closely followed by Shaitan (The Devil).
Tiptoe on the Highest Hill         
Another song written by The Aquarian Age
which also featured John Jnr Wood on bass guitar for this recording. A song
full of pychedelic & surreal imagery. The backward guitar effects during
the solo are mind-blowing.     
Very Sexy!!! Gnarles Barkley recently sampled
parts of FLUID for a new song creation called WOULD BE KILLER and this new
version was featured on their 4 times Grammy nominated album THE ODD COUPLE.
Mexican Grass War   
This was free form in the studio with all
the musicians playing ad-lib parts as the work developed. Nothing has changed
much in Mexico, then we had the GRASS WARS and now we have COCAINE WARS. This
track features my old mate Viv Prince.        
Rock an’ Roll the Joint  
A good bit of rock n roll. If you listen
carefully to one of the breaks you can hear someone saying “come baby
let’s be quick, pass the joint & suck my dick”   
The very first song that I wrote 1966. I
never contemplated suicide but it seemed an interesting subject. I enjoyed
playing acoustic guitar along with Paul Rudolph on this track, great feel !
Three Little Piggies         
Big respect for Steve Peregrin Took for
this and the next track.            
The Sparrow Is a Sign
Big guitar from Paul Rudolph & great
lyrics from TOOKY.
How was working with these guys?
It was amazing and very creative.
This followed by forming The Pink
Fairies. There were two formations of the band. Please tell us who was in what
Version 1) johnTWINKalder & Steve
Peregrin Took
Version 2) johnTWINK, Steve Pergrin Took
& Mick Farren for a disastrous gig in Manchester. I fell out with Steve & Mick
over this !
Version 3) johnTWINKalder, Paul Rudolph,
Duncan Sanderson & Russell Hunter.
Photo of THE PINK FAIRIES. © Paul Welch
You were in the band until 1971. What
did you record with them?
I recorded the single The Snake b/w Do It ,
Never Neverland LP, Glastonbury Fayre LP & John Peel radio shows.
The Pink Fairies play Bath 1970. © Terry
You also played some concerts, right?
What do you remember from standing on the stage as The Pink Fairies?
It was very exciting and all the shows very

would later play on Mick Farren’s solo debut, Mona the Carnivorous
Circus, with Steve Peregrin Took. I’m currently also working with Mick. I’m
really glad both of interviews will be on It’s Psychedelic Baby. Would you like
to comment Mona the Carnivorous Circus?
Mick Farren was unwell at that time & I
would rather not comment. However I would like to say it was a pleasure to meet
all the session musicians who worked on the album.
Out of this The Stars were born and you
started working with Syd Barrett among others. What can you tell me about this
projects. You also played with Fred Firth?
STARS was born on my return from Maroc and
my move from London to Cambridge. I played with The Last Minute Put Together
Boogie Band and Roger SYD Barrett came to jam with us a couple of times as did
Fred Frith. Syd, Jack & me decided to put a band together & we called
the band STARS.
What happened after that? I know you
formed ‘The Fallen Angels’ in August 1976 with former ‘Steve Marriott Allstars’
Greg Ridley and Mickey Finn. On the way to your first gig, an injury sustained
in a car accident left you hospitalized, following this line-up disintegrated –
The Fallen Angels eventually wound up backing Phil May on a solo album. You
then worked as a vocalist with ‘The Rings’ in early 1977, releasing one of the
first Punk rock singles, “I Wanna Be Free”, produced by former Sparks member
Martin Gordon. This single is highly important and an influence for the scene
later. How do you see it now? I mean you were an amazing drummer and decided to
play punk music. I would love if you could share more about this recording?
I was rehearsing with The Fallen Angels at
Steve Marriott’s cottage in Essex and the night of the first day there we all
went to Steve’s local pub. I got very drunk and so did my driver. On the way
back into London the car went off the road and ended upside down in a ditch and
I sustained a fractured mandible which kept me hospitalised for about 2 weeks
& out patient visits for a few months. Alan Lee Shaw & Rod Latter from
Cambridge visited me in hospital a few times and we had played together in
Cambridge therefore we talked about putting a band together when I got out of
hospital. Eventually THE RINGS emerged and we recorded a single for Chiswick
Records entitled I WANNA BE FREE b/w AUTOMOBILE. Next week a live CD by THE
1977 is being released on Whiplash Records USA.

Another recording from that time is Do
It ’77. If I may say so…you invented the 
word acid punk…
“Psychedelic Punkeroo” was
originally called ACID PUNK but then I met and old friend Peter Meaden R.I.P.
one day and I told him about the song I was working on in the studio. He
suggested Pychedelic Punkeroo instead of Acid Punk. That evening I went to a
rehearsal studiow Kid Rogers R.I.P. and ran through the song with the new
title, Paul Cook on drums,
Steve Jones on guitar & Kid Rogers on
bass guitar; me vocals. It sounded kool, better than the recorded version
!  DO IT 77 was a one take recording with
me on vocals & drums, Little John Hodge R.I.P. on lead guitar, Duncan
Sanderson on bass guitar & Kid Rogers 2nd guitar.
Later in the ’80s you were a part of
Plasticland and later you joined with another musician I interviewed; Nik
Turnen on PinkWind.

In 1988 I went to the States and recorded a
single and a live album with Plasticland. 
The single was “Seize The Time” b/w
“Iris Of The Waterfall” (with an extra track Hey Momma Keep You Big Mouth Shut” for a german label  & the album was called “You Need A
Fairy Godmother” for Midnight Records. We did some shows in Milwaukee,
Chicago & ?. A real good time!
I toured with Nik Turner & recorded 2
live CD’s in PINKWIND during the 90’s. “Festival Of The Sun” &
“Purple Haze” both released on my label Twink Records.
What are you currently up to?
I am living in Marrakech with my Maroccan
wife & our 3 month old daughter Sara.
I am writing my autobiography which is a
lot of work but it is coming together nicely.
I have finished writing the words &
music to what is the follow up to THINK PINK. The working title is “THANK
TWANK”. I am currently looking for a record company &/or finance to
record the album in LA & NY with some really kool musicians.
Here in Marrakech I am recording with
Sheikh Mohammed some songs I have written for voice & drums only, any
instruments required will be imitated by voice. We are also working on
translations of the Quran & Hadith & we are in the studio 3 times a
In January I am going to Rome, Italy to
record and album with Technicolour Dream. The album opens with a new version of
“You Reached For The Stars” & closes with a new  “The Dream I Just Beginning”. I
have written 5 new songs for this project with joint composition of the music.
I am arranging to do some shows in 2013
If we go back again a bit. In Joe
Boyd’s book White Bicycles – Making Music in the 1960s he asserts that the
band’s performance of the song “Revolution” one night at the UFO Club as the
apotheosis of the 60s UK underground. What is your opinion on this and do you perhaps
remember that night?
Joe Boyd is entitled to his opinion and I
am very honoured that he should feel that way as the performance that night,
which I remember very well, was completely free-form and ad-lib, also very
What is the story behind Twink
When I was with THE FAIRIES in 1964/65 our
Scottish fans used to send me TWINK HOME PERM (Eric Clapton’s favourite)
because I had very curly hair. It was a little funny joke. My mates in the band
started to call me TWINK & it stuck !
Oh well what can I do now ?
Before we end this interview I’d just
like to ask you if you have any regrets when you look back?
None! What has gone before has led me to
who I am to-day.
Thank you very much for your time and
effort. I’m very grateful to have you on It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine. Would
you like to send a message to our readers?
Love Peace & Happiness to you all :)))
& if you have any questions please contact Psychedelic Baby Magazine.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2012
© Copyright
  1. Keith

    Very interesting interview. Twink has done so much. Respect to the man!

  2. Anonymous

    Twink.. Milky here.. would love to hesr from you.. e mail me ...subjectsoflove@aol.co.uk. much love brother... milky ☆☆☆

  3. TAG Webby

    Great interview with Twink.

    Nice to see Twink giving Steve Peregrin Took the credit he deserves for the collaborative word they did together ... although it should be noted that Took worked with a number of people.

    The only glitch is the spelling of Steve Peregrin Took. The correct spelling is always from the Tolkien spelling in Lord of the rings - Peregrin.

    For more information on Steve Peregrin Took please visit http://www.Steve-Took.co.uk

    This site is currently being redesigned to be HTML5 compliant, although the new version won't be launched until the information transfer has been completed and will include some wonderful new information including an audio review from a 1972 gig where Steve Peregrin Took supported The MC5 and he received a 4 star review compared to 2 stars for the MC5! Brilliant.

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