Michael Vernon Greenwood was born under the sign of Aquarius in the front room of the family home in Potters Bar, England. His father was a Yorkshire engineer and the son of a textile baron, and his mother a Cumbrian farmer’s daughter.
His parents were restless souls, and much of Mick’s early childhood was spent on the move. A month before his 12th birthday, he emigrated with his family from the leafy London suburb of Thames Ditton to the small rural town of Halifax, Pennsylvania, situated twenty miles up the Susquehannah River from Harrisburg.
He found the transition from his regimented life at a boys English prep school to American high school liberating in more ways than one. “The culture shock was my saving grace at the time,” he says. “I remember a junior asking me to a high school dance, and making the discovery that girls had these wonderful entities called breasts, and that put a whole new tangible perspective on things.”
Predominately self-taught, Mick found an affinity with the piano at around 4 years old, and at 14 got what he wanted for his birthday, a Kent electric guitar with a Sears Roebuck amp. After an initial disappointing cacophony, the guitar stayed in its case until Mick broke his right wrist on the wrestling mat at school. Wearing a cast, but still able to hold a pick between his thumb and index finger, he decided it was time to pick up the guitar and teach himself a few basics, and with practice he then started writing songs, and later formed his first high school band, The DearSirs.
After graduating from Halifax High, Mick went to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, ostensibly to pursue a career in law. Approaching 18, he was now becoming more prolific as a songwriter, and playing with several bands including Charlotte’s Web. His solo performances took him further afield to clubs like New York’s Bitter End, where he was to meet the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records who became instrumental in launching Mick’s recording career.
Greenwood returned to England in 1970 and made his first highly-acclaimed album, Living Game, which became Cashbox’s import of the week and was released throughout the world. Recorded at CBS London and Sound Techniques, Chelsea, this was the first time Mick had entered a recording studio. The sessions went so well that the musicians involved became his backing band on the road. The album features ex-Fotheringay’s Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway, along with keyboards/arranger Tony Cox, and Fairport’s Dave Pegg. Plus contributions by top jazz musicians–Lynn Dobson, Karl Jenkins, Bud Parkes, Derek Wadsworth and Dudu Pakwana.
After appearing with the band on programs like The Old Grey Whistle Test, and performing solo at venues such as the Cambridge Festival, there were some personnel changes, and The Cockington All-Stars emerged. Named after the farmhouse in Devon where Mick wrote new material and the band rehearsed, the lineup included Barry de Souza, Dave Peacock, Jerry Donahue and Tony Cox. With this collection, he returned to Sound Techniques to make his second album, To Friends, which was again highly-acclaimed and acknowledged Mick’s change in direction. The record also features excellent backing vocals by Barrie St. John, Doris Troy and Jimmy Helms.
Mick and the band toured the States, playing Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Palladium with Hot Tuna, and Atlanta’s Coliseum with The Byrds, as well as clubs like The Earl Of Old Town in Chicago. His recollections of a crazy life on the road, “I drove this old black Lincoln down from New York City to Carlisle, Pa. Running late, we all poured out of the limo and went straight on stage, following a set by John McLaughlin. I was returning with my band to play my graduating class at Dickinson, and the reception was blinding.”
1. To Friends - 3:53
2. Spooked - 4:06
3. See Yourself - 4:42
4. Mother Earth - 3:35
5. All Aboard The Train - 4:57
6. Share The Load - 3:07
7. Show Your Colours - 3:27
8. Charlie - 4:18
9. Berzerk - 4:20
10.Space Captain - 3:45
11.How Do You Feel In Your Bones - 2:45
Words and Music by Mick Greenwood except song #10 written by Mathew Moore
*Mick Greenwood - Guitars, Harmony, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Tony Cox - Accordion, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Barry DeSouza - Drums, Fiddle, Percussion, Trumpet
*Jerry Donahue - Electric, Spanish Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Helms - Vocals
*Dave Peacock - Banjo, Bass, Fiddle, Violin, Vocals)
*Barry St. John - Vocals
*Doris Troy - Vocals
1971 Mick Greenwood - Living Game
the Free Text