As I sit down to write these thoughts, it occurs to me that its now over thirty years since I embarked on a career in the 'biz', in fact its 33% years or an albums worth! Over the course of the years I've been a roadie, drummer, D.J., radio presenter, band manager, recording artist and pop columnist.
A fulsome list and a happy life. I outline this potted biog only because none of this would have happened had it not been for one band, one group of people whose generosity of spirit towards a callow 15 year old, "oh so long ago", made it all possible. 1967 'the summer of love' and this 15 year old heard two records on Radio Caroline that crystallised a lurking desire to 'get into the music biz'. They were Denny Laines' 'Say You Don't Mind' and Rupert's People's 'Reflections of Charles Brawn'. Something in these two songs communicated itself to me in some way inexplainable but lit the fire.
In those days I lived in Hastings and the centre of the pop world there was the Pier Ballroom on a Saturday night. This tatty hall perched on the end of a Victorian edifice transformed itself on a Saturday into a magical place that played host to, amongst others, The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Move, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd (with Syd Barrett) and... Rupert's People. Having acquired a Saturday job lugging Marshall amps, Hammond organs et al from the roadies' vans to the ballroom for most of the afternoon, I was rewarded with free entrance and backstage privileges at the gigs.
One sultry summer afternoon a van arrived and disgorged Rod, Ray, Steve, John and Dai. The equipment was then duly pushed and lifted into place and the important business of having a drink got under way! In those days the retinue of PRs, managers, press agents etc. that encircle today's artists was happily absent. Rather it was a case of 'we're all in this adventure together', no big time egos, just camaraderie. In this atmosphere I listened to stories from the boys of their life on the road and their hopes for the future. Later that night, on stage and to a packed hall, Ruperts delivered an electrifying set.
Whether it was the musical talent, their good looks or indeed their splendid stage clothes or more likely all of these, they were... special. The gig ended, the gear was reloaded and the van set off back to London. A year passed, a new promoter in the shape of one Jon Scofield leased the pier for the '68 summer season. Jon had turned up at the pier one afternoon in July to find me plugging in some lights backstage and after some discussion offered me a job as stage manager and office boy in his London office. I gratefully accepted! Some weeks later sitting in Jon's office off the Strand he asked me for suggestions for bands to play the pier.
Thus it was at my suggestion that Rupert's People returned for their second gig. By now their second single for Columbia, and may I add my own personal favourite, had been released, 'A Prologue to a Magic World'. The boys once again arrived at the Pier and now living in London, I took up the invitation to 'hang out1 with them. So it was that I 'hung out' at legendary clubs like Middle Earth, UFO, The Marquee and memorably the Cafe des Artistes in Fulham. It was at the latter where for reasons lost in the mists of time I took to the drums (a skill I had acquired along the way) to cover one night for an absent Steve. That was one of my proudest nights, to play with such a great band.
Time moved on,.. Ruperts' third single, 'I Can Show You' was released and I waited for them to explode. It didn't happen. Why? I don't know, but this is a personal story, lets move on. I moved on to work for a record company and gradually lost touch with the guys, but I never forgot them. Its 1995 and disaster! My beloved vinyl record collection is stolen and with it my three priceless Ruperts' singles. Imagine my surprise if you will when glancing through a copy of Record Collector, I find to replace said copies will cost me a small fortune! Rupert's People had over the years assumed icon status. I should not have been surprised, it was only what they deserved.
So why in this age of re-issues of every 'collectable' band known to man was there no Ruperts 'retrospective'? A mission was born. Space does not permit the ensuing four years that passed in vain attempts to locate my old friends. Then in 1999 whilst I was in Amsterdam I received a call from a friend to tell me I might be interested to know that Rupert's People were playing a gig in... Hastings!! Flying back and hurrying down to The Marina Pavilion on Hastings seafront with a sense of bewilderment I was sure he had his facts wrong. So it was on yet another Saturday afternoon I came face to face with Rod, Ray and Steve (sadly no John).
A whole new bunch of fans of the new 'Mod' scene had persuaded the band to re-form for a gig at their 'Mod' rally. To say it was an emotional moment would be a gross understatement. Much later that night the plans were hatched to give life to the record you now hold in your hands. Again space negates all the tales of how much work has gone into this album, suffice to say that Ray's breakfast table in deepest Essex has been the scene of much discussion, planning and not a little reminiscence.
As I stated earlier why Ruperts missed out on the big time is an enigma, 0K they would be the first to agree The Beatles they ain't but Rod, Ray, Steve and John created something that has stood the test of time and anyone who attended that gig two years ago would tell you the story is far from over. They also, through their generosity of spirit and love started a 15 year old boy on a journey that was to fulfil a 'dream in my mind' and for that I love and thank them. Now it just remains for me to invite you to "step inside and join us, in our magic world".
by Colin Bell, Sussex 2001
1. All So Long Again (Rod Brosse) - 3:15
2. Charles Brown (Rod Brosse) - 2:18
3. Reflections Of Charles Brown (Conder, Lynton) - 4:18
4. Hold On (Haskell, Conder, Lynton) - 3:33
5. Dream In My Mind (Lynton) - 3:22
6. I Can Show You (Lynton) - 2:58
7. A Prologue To A Magic World (Conder, Lynton) - 4:20
8. I've Got The Love (Beverly, Lynton) - 4:09
9. Water To A Stone (Beverly, Lynton) - 3:56
10. I See You've Changed (Lynton) - 4:34
11. Reflecting (Lynton, Poole) - 6:12
12. You Can't Always Get What You Want (Jagger, Richards) - 5:37
13. My Mind's Eye (Lane, Marriott) - 3:24
14. Rain (Lennon, McCartney) - 3:55
15. I See You've Changed (Version 2) (Lynton) - 5:30
16. Hold On (Version 2) (Haskell, Conder, Lynton) - 5:40
Song #1 perfomed as The Sweet Feeling
*Ray Beverly - Bass Guitar (1, 2, 5 to 9, 13 to 16)
*Terry Poole - Bass, Vocals (10 to 12)
*Steve Brendell - Drums (1, 2, 4 to 16)
*Dai Jenkins - Guitar (4 to 12)
*Rod Lynton - Guitar, Vocals (1, 2, 4 to 16)
*John Tout - Organ (4 to 12)
*Gordon Haskell - Bass
*Keith Guster - Drums
*Bryn Haworth - Guitar
*Peter Solley - Keyboards
*Chris Andrews - Vocals
the Free Text