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Jade interview with Marianne Segal

Jade released only one LP back in the early 70s, which is now considered as one of the pillars of British folk music right up there with Fairport Convention. Marianne Segal explained the whole story of Jade and project that she was involved with later in her career.

Thank you for taking your time, Marianne. How did your musical path begin?

Hello, it's a pleasure to be interviewed for Psychedelic Baby Magazine.

I was very interested in music from a very young age and I listened to the songs of the 50s & 60s era and was a particular fan of the early Rolling Stones. In 1964 when I was around 16 years old, I saved up for my first guitar and was introduced to the sounds of Bob Dylan by a fellow guitarist.  On hearing Dylan's songs for the first time I was spurred on to learn to play and sing these songs and this then introduced me to some of the traditional ballads recorded by Joan Baez and then onto listening to other folk artists.

Around this time some local friends were forming their first Band and they asked me to be their singer.  It was just a fun situation, but it gave me the experience of working with a group. Our drummer was Danny Kirwan. Danny wanted to learn the guitar and so borrowed mine. It was clear that he wanted to switch from drums to guitar and he was such a natural player.  We all went our separate ways, but an excited Danny came to see me at The Nags Head folk club in Battersea when Jade was just starting out in 1970, to tell me he was joining Fleetwood Mac.

 I went on to form a duo in 1966 with a guitarist, Malcolm Laws and we played in our first folk club. That night I was signed up for management by the club organisers, Dave Jones & Colin Deacon and became a regular singer at this club – 'The Nags Head' in Battersea, London, a folk & blues club. I was fortunate to then meet and hear many fine artists play at this club over the months, such as Shirley Collins, Gerry Lockran, Dave & Toni Arthur, The Bracken, Don Shepherd and so many others.
Dave & Colin then urged me to begin songwriting and this was the push that got me writing in 1967.

After working for a while in The Nags Head Folk Club as a regular weekly singer and also doing my first concert at Battersea Town Hall, London, with Alex Campbell and Black Cat Bones, I also began to get bookings in other folk clubs, spreading my wings a little further afield and this is how I then came to meet Dave Waite.

Marianne's first photo shoot ever at Clapham Junction railway station, London

Where have you and Dave Waite met?

We met at a folk club called 'The Anglers' in Teddington in Surrey in 1967. Dave talked to me after my set, expressing an interest to work as a duo. This idea interested me, having previously worked as a duo with Malcolm Laws.  So Dave and I pretty much began rehearsals immediately, sorting out a set of songs. Dave had made records and had done radio and television, and had had a hit record with a group called, 'The Countrymen', so he had a very professional approach because of these experiences and he taught me a lot in the early days.

Dave & Marian 1968

So around 1968 you formed a folk duo. What was some of the repertoire and where and with who did you play?

Our sound was a fusion of English and American contemporary folk artists. We sang songs by Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, The Incredible String Band, Jacques Brel, Allan Sherman, Ralph Mc Tell, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Buffy Sainte Marie, Mimi & Richard Farina.  I then began to include some of my own songs in our set and from there on, over the months we did mainly original songs with a few covers. We then went with folk agent, Sandy Glennon who helped us establish ourselves in the folk clubs all over the country.
Because of Dave's previous connections from work with The Countrymen, we did a lot of television and radio spots over a period of 2 years and worked with people such as, The Settlers, The Strawberry Hill Boys ( later to become The Strawbs,) The Foggy Duo, Ian Matthew's Southern Comfort, Johnny Silvo, Alex Campbell.  Other artists we worked with were, Ralph Mc Tell, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch, Cliff Aungier, Noel Murphy, Derek Brimstone, The Strawbs, Ian Mc Cann, Jeremy Taylor.  We also did a few spots for 'Country meets Folk' for the BBC Radio.

What would you say influenced you?

I feel that all of my contemporaries and influential recording artists of this era had some influence on me one way or another - all for different reasons. It could be the cutting edge poetry of Bob Dylan songs, the feel the songs of Richard & Mimi Farina, the sound of the voice of Buffy Sainte Marie & her passionate, expressive, story telling songs, the intimacy created by Joni Mitchell by her words & music, the soaring voices of Joan Baez and Judy Collins and also the writing of Tim Buckley, Tom Paxton - I feel I somehow took a little something with me from everything I heard, or any live performances I saw.

There was a whole batch of tapes uncovered that contained recordings by you two, recorded while you were a duo between early summer 1968 and the summer of 1970. This came out in 2004 titled 'Paper Flowers'. Can you tell me, what's the story behind these lost recordings?

Yes, some of this material was simply recorded at home around one microphone onto a tape recorder and other tracks were recorded in demo studios or master recordings.
Richard Allen who had already contacted me in 2002 with an interest to re issue the Jade album 'Fly on Strangewings', also expressed an interest to put out the earlier tracks of Dave and myself onto an album.  So I transferred as many of the songs as I could from the reel-to-reel tapes onto digital at RMS Studios. Richard chose the songs and the album was put together and called: 'Paper Flowers'. Some of the reels had to be professionally baked before we could run them, as they were deteriorating.

I believe the reincarnation into Jade began in 1970, when you added a session musician Rod Edwards and started working on your new project called "Fly on Strangewings". What's the story behind it?

Yes, in late 1969, Dave and I were introduced by our folk agent, Sandy Glennon to Jon Miller. Jon was already quite established in management, publishing and as a booking agent and was in partnership with Dick James who had previously signed up the Beatles for publishing. Their aim was to sign up new British acts and they signed up 'Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Phillip Goodhand-Tait, Hookfoot and Edward Woodward. Jon organized a demo recording session of some of my songs and from there I was signed to Dick James Music for publishing and recording. The incarnation into a three-piece called 'Jade' was inspired by Jon Miller (who had by now become our manager.) Jon introduced us to his friend Rod Edwards who played Keyboards and bass. Rod was part of a duo called 'Piccadilly Line'. Rod, Dave & I started rehearsals of the songs that were being considered for the album and we got ready to go into the studio. The 'Jade' album, 'Fly On Strangewings' was then recorded at Trident Studios In London in March of 1970. Things did move forward pretty quickly at this stage.

Why did you decide to change your name into Jade and did you have any concept in mind while recording this LP?

Jon Miller came up with the name 'Jade' for the new trio.  Regarding the 'sound' for the album, Jon felt that Dave and I needed a heavier, more rock-based sound, moving away from the acoustic harmony folk sound that we had.  Using the original demo recordings that Dave and I had recently made as the starting place to go from, and with the addition of Rod's keyboard's and vocal harmonies things began to shape up into a new sound for us. Adding the session musicians that Jon had chosen for the recordings, we began to get the rockier sound that Jon wanted on particular tracks. The musicians were, Pete Sears (Les Fleurs de Lys, Sam Gopal's -Dream, Silver Metre, Jefferson Starship), Michael Rosen (Eclection), Pete York (Spencer Davis Group, Hardin & York), Clem Cattini (The Tornadoes, The Ivy League, Rumplestiltskin), Terry Cox (Pentangle), Mick Waller (Steampacket, Rod Stewart, Silver Metre) and James Litherland (Colosseum, Mogul Thrash). There was a lot of inspirational playing – affecting and adding to the concept as we went along.

What are perhaps some of the strongest memories from producing and recording the LP?

For me, I would say the discipline - the early mornings – getting up to travel from south London to the studio and keeping the concentration and focus to achieve as much as I possibly could each day.  I felt that expectations were high, we had a set time booked to record the album and I wanted to achieve all that we hoped for in that time and come out with a good result.

Jade recording the album at Trident 1970

Trident Studios had a great atmosphere, I enjoyed working there. It was all new ground to me. I had only worked in small demo studios before – so I was a bit in awe of my situation at first.
Meeting and working with such great musicians on the sessions. Other people dropped by the studio to see us – I remember John Martin and Doris Henderson.

We would appreciate if you could comment each song from the LP a bit.

A1    Amongst Anemones    
This song reflects my love of the sea and my love of nature which has always been strong in my life.

A2          Raven      
A song about a relationship that could not be – sung from both of the would-be lover's perspectives; so as if a two-way conversation.     

A3          Fly on Strangewings  
Living and learning about life without the person you would wish to be with - unable to share  experiences together.

A4          Mayfly              
 The mayfly only lives for only 24 hours after leaving the water in its previous lava state. I felt I should write a song about it.

A5          Alan's Song      
A song about a dear friend who was killed on his motorbike - we grew up together.   

A6          Bad Magic        
I cannot say for sure how or why I wrote this song. I have always been interested in mystery and magic. This song was just 'a happening' at the time.

B1          Clippership        
Sitting on the tube traveling on my way to one of the Jade recording sessions, I saw a painting of a Clipper Ship on the tube adverts. I wrote the song in my head on the way to the studio and later asked Jon Miller and Rod and Dave if we might include it on the album. We did need an extra up-tempo track and so it was agreed.

B2          Five of Us         
Five of us stayed at a cottage in Norfolk in the UK. We were all around 16 years old. It turned out to be an exciting time, a lot of freedom, fresh air and fun away from the city streets of London and it also included a little spooky happening which did seriously did fill us full of fear.              

B3          Reflections on a Harbour Wall  
I wrote this song whilst visiting Hastings in Sussex UK. I sat against a wall looking overlooking the beach with my pencil and paper - Again, my love of the sea. I often think about the words to this song now, as I walk the beach were I presently live.

B4          Mrs. Adams            
This is a story about an elderly friend & neighbour who had passed away. I was young and it was a significant time for me.   

B5          Fly Me to the North  
I wrote ‘Fly Me to The North’ in the living room of my family home, one quiet Sunday. It’s a personal letter, about wanting to escape. It was written at an early point in my career. The song has since been covered by other recording artists including Rod McKuen, John and Mary from 10,000 Maniacs and the Back Alley Choir. Rod Mc Kuen acknowledged this song at The Royal Albert Hall during his concert there. This was a very special moment in time for me.

B6          Away from the Family
This is a song about the fire of youth and wanting to get out into the world to explore it.

Later you were joined by John Wetton and went on a tour…

Yes, John Wetton came out to L.A. to join us for our booking at 'The Troubadour' in L.A. It was a spur of the moment decision instigated by Jon & John Wetton. The set went well. Afterwards, Brian Wilson came back stage to see us and later, Joni Mitchell and her manager came over to say hello.

Marianne in New York 1971 playing with Jade at The Bitter End Club

What's the story about The Marianne Segal Band? You were active until 1975 and were quite unique with playing complete sets of contemporary songs and using electric instruments within the old-school traditional folk club environment.

Yes, I believe we were initially somewhat unique playing in the folk clubs with electric instruments in the early 1970s.  At first some of our audiences seemed shocked that we were bringing in amps and drums, but we did always win them over with our music and were re booked. We adjusted the sound level of our music to suit each small room, so it wasn't too loud. I think that we were one of the first folk Bands to go electric in these smaller folk clubs. I instigated this because I wanted the folk-rock feel.
Dave Waite and I formed 'The Marianne Segal Band' very quickly after Jade broke up. We decided to carry on where we left off with Jade and advertised for a bass player and found Lee Oliphant from Canada. Colin Edmonds joined us for a while, playing percussion, then Dave Morris joined us on drums and as you say, we were active until around 1975. This Band got on very well together, we were very close.

Just as Dave and I, and then Jade, had built up large audience followings, so did The Marianne Segal Band. We were always working in the folk clubs and Universities and we also did a six week television series with Sidney Carter. When Capitol Radio started out, we were booked quite often for the all night live show with Robbie Barrish and Sarah Ward. We did a small tour of clubs in Europe and also toured with Labbi Siffre & Peter Sarstedt in the UK.
 By 1975, some of the previous folk venues were closing down due to overall audiences not attending so much. There was a recession around this time and power cuts. Some clubs then began to run monthly instead of weekly and this meant that fewer artists were booked at clubs, creating less opportunity for gigs overall.  The work just wasn't there as before and it was difficult for us to carry on financially without taking other work. We did take a residency at a pub in Battersea called the Swan, to help matters, but shortly after this we amicably said our goodbyes.

What happened after that and what currently occupies your life?

This era from 1975 onwards was changeable, fragmented. It was never to be quite the same as it had been before with Dave Waite and with Jade, or with the M.S. Band. I felt I was now 'out on a limb'.  I had no plans, no management and no Band, and initially I felt vulnerable and unprotected. Punk music was beginning to filter into mainstream and folk music was slipping under the radar.
In late 1975 I began to record demos with Julian Mendelsohn in a small studio in Fulham called Milner Sound. Julian was/is such a talented engineer and producer who went on later to work with Kate Bush & The Pet Shop Boys, Level 42 and many others. Julian helped me form a new Band which we rehearsed at this studio. It was difficult to get to grips with this Band idea simply because we had such great musicians in it and they all had to go off and tour or record with other main stream artists. So it never settled into something tangible – but it was exciting. Some of the musicians that were with us for a while were, Root Cartwright, Pete York, Andy Summers, Joe Gillingham, Eddie Hardin and Paul Karus, Simon Nicol, Eric Dillon.  We also recorded 3 rock tracks with James Litherland, Billy Smith and John Dentith. They were very happy times. At a later stage after concentrating on recording new songs for a while, we finally did form a Band of musicians who were very dedicated to staying together and rehearsing. These musicians were: Root Cartwright (Principle Edwards Magic Theatre), Dennis O' Brien (keyboards), Simon Byrne (drums), Ian Fordham (bass) and Dave Waite (guitar). We couldn't get management to help us and I feel that I lost heart then and so just concentrated on writing and recording. I also wrote specifically for other singers for a while – being asked to submit songs for Suzie Quatro and also songs for Kiki Dee. I did backing vocals for other writers.
During 1976 I signed to Jeff Wayne (War of the Worlds, David Essex) for publishing and we did 3 recordings produced by Jeff. Jeff wanted to get 'The Four Tops' for backing vocals on one of my tracks. He was then told about a group who were gigging in the north of England called, 'The Real Thing'. They were not very well known at this time. He got them down to record with us and from there Jeff worked further with them – later of course they had hit records.
 During 1976/77 I did vocals on quite a few television and radio jingles and I also did a voice over on a T.V. film with David Essex.
My daughter was born in 1978 and I got a residency in a local wine bar singing, enabling me to keep live work going whilst having a young baby.  In 1979 Jonathan Rowlands (publisher, record producer and manager) arranged some master recordings at Sarm studios to record three songs of mine that he particularly liked. It was a great session with Dave Mattocks on drums, Julian Mendelsohn engineering and Neil Harrison Producing the tracks.
Jonathan Rowlands also introduced me to Eugene Moule, a song writer and producer. Eugene
and I then I did a quite a lot of recording together and some songwriting.  I sang vocals for his songs and in turn he produced some recordings of my songs. It was a keyboards - based sound as this was the early 1980's. I was fortunate to record in Abbey Round studios with Eugene and Jonathan. In 1980 I had a single deal with 'Dave Dee Records' (Dave of, Dave, Dozy, Mick and Titch.) I recorded 2 tracks with Eugene Moule for this deal.  I recorded these under the name of 'Marianne Chase'. Zabadak Magazine (Ron Cooper) has a great history of Dave Dee's productions.
Around 1986 I met Graeme Taylor (Albion Band, The Home Service). We initially worked in a local Band together and later began recording together. This has continued on to date – work seems to bring us together every so often. We did some folk festivals and also worked with 'The Strawbs'. We got together with Laurie Harper from Pywackett and started some rehearsals with a view to doing some gigs. I did a one-off gig with The Home Service at The Half Moon in Putney in 1994.

Marianne, Graeme Taylor, Laurie Harper

Around 1987 I did a one-off wine bar gig with Root Cartwright (lead guitar) and Josh Kirby (bass) – I played piano and we did rock numbers. Root and Josh enjoyed the gig and they suggested that we formed a Band. We had various drummers over the year we rehearsed, including Robbie France. It was a very, very exciting Band, but we couldn't get management and all of our equipment was stolen from the van. I think we just gave up. We lost the momentum. It happens!
In 1989 I was also introduced by Graeme Taylor to an English folk dance Band (The Aldbrickham Band, based in Reading I the UK.) I did lead vocals for them for a musical which was based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh and to follow they then asked me to join them as their rhythm guitarist and singer at some of their bigger gigs. Twenty years later, I still play a few gigs each year with them – we are all a close bunch really.

In 2003, I approached Richard Allen to help me get some bookings. The Aldbrickham Band was prepared to do live work with me on a new project which would be the Jade material. 

Marianne with The Aldbrickham Band circa 2000

Richard felt that Jade should reform! With the help of Richard Allen and Jon Miller, there was a Jade reunion in 2004 of the original Jade line-up and we did a one-off gig in London. James Litherland (who had played on the original Jade album) joined us, with Mick Paul on bass, Michael Sanderson (Aldbrickham Band) on violin & vocals and Dave Morgan on drums.  We had many, new young fans in the audience who knew the songs on the album, which really surprised me, as well as some of our older fans. In the audience was Derek Love, the very person who had introduced me to Bob Dylan recordings in 1964.
Also at this time, 2004, Richard Allen had introduced me to Michael Tyack from the Band, 'Circulus'. Michael had been inspired by some of the songs on the Jade album and he asked me to do a track with them on their new album, 'The Lick on the Tip of an Envelope yet to be Sent' and chose one of my songs called, 'Swallow'.

Jade reunion 2004

In 2006 Michael Tyack and I began looking at some of my material in preparation for a new solo album that I felt I wanted to make. So in 2007 we went ahead and recorded it. The album featured Circulus and some other great musicians including Root Cartwright, Bill Steer, Amy May, Lo Polidoro & Mike Porter. I called the album, 'The Gathering' we recorded at RMS Studios in Norwood with Andy Le Vien and at Catt Studio in Surrey with Ian Catt. (Studios I've worked in over the last 20 years). We ran some instruments through valve amps to get the 70s sound. This album was critically acclaimed by 'Mojo magazine'.
There was some live work with Graeme Taylor in 2006 and also some recordings together.
In 2010 I put out an album of archive tracks called, 'Gypsy Girl'.
In 2011, I was contacted by Judy Dyble (early Fairport) to let me know that she was putting one of my songs on her new album. It had been recorded in the 70s. It was a great surprise and a nice happening.
Currently, I continue to write and am in touch with various musician friends.

Any future plans?

Yes, I'll be meeting with Graeme Taylor with a view to putting out an album of tracks we recorded over the years together. We may well do a couple of new recordings for this album.
I will also be recording a track on The Aldbrickham Band's new album - a version of the traditional song, 'The Water is Wide'.
I believe that there will be a re issue of the Jade album this year and I plan to look into the archives tapes to find a bonus track for this.

Thanks again for taking your time. Would you like to send a message to our readers?

Yes, thank you for reading this article. Writing it gave me the opportunity to look back again in detail and I've enjoyed the journey – thank you.

Best wishes, Marianne Segal

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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