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Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Andy Ellison - Cornflake Zoo (1967-2005 uk, mod psych beat synth pop, 2006 release)

Born in Hammersmith, London, Andy was in the thick of things even as a boy. He was shot in the left eye with an arrow, his right eye with an airgun and since he enjoyed climbing trees and jumping out of them, he eventually knocked himself out when he landed having jumped from some incredible height.

During the early 60’s Andy had trials with Arsenal Football Club. Also back then, a lot of youngsters used to carry a harmonica in their pocket. It was an ‘in-thing’. Andy was one of these youngsters (listen to “No Russians In Russia” on Radio Stars second album) and after meeting up with his old mates Chris Townson and Louis Grooner from Box Hill Boarding School at an old boy’s re-union, he was quickly invited to meet the rest of the band his mates had formed. He joined up with them shortly afterwards. Dubbed The Clockwork Onions by guitarist Geoff McClelland, Andy joined vocalist Louis at the front of the stage for their debut gig at St. Georges Hall in Ashtead. But since Louis, who was hating the experience more and more with every passing minute – would repeatedly stop the band and start shouting through the microphone at ‘some bloke in the audience who was chatting up his bird’ left the band immediately after the gig. Andy was promoted to vocalist, doubling up on harmonica until someone else could be recruited into the line-up. Finally the search ended when Chris Townson brought along a large East End mod whom he had met at art school called Martin Sheller. Martin later went onto play in the Regents who had a hit single with “7teen” in 1979.

A change of name to The Few during 1965 soon followed and the band started to perform around three gigs every month. These were at village halls, art schools, but best of all was a small pub in Guildford called the Harvest Moon. Then Martin Sheller decided he wanted to leave and Chris Dawsett also decided that he wanted to give up playing bass and concentrate on playing keyboards. The band agreed and that was the cue Geoff McClelland had been waiting for. He brought along John Hewlett, who he had met earlier. John claiming that he knew various prominent members of the local music fraternity as well as pointing out his talents on the instrument. All this wasn’t true of course, it was just John wanting to be in a band. Shortly after John’s arrival, Chris Dawsett’s parents forced him to leave. This paid off as Chris eventually became a Professor of Art at Oxford. His departure coincided with a change of name to The Silence. After building up a good local following, acquiring Simon Napier Bell as their manager, the band changed their name again, this time to John’s Children. 

Two singles were released on Columbia Records during 1966 and 1967. Their debut release – “Smashed Blocked” became a minor hit in America and an album was recorded during 1966 for the American market only. But sadly it got shelved at the time and wasn’t released over there until 1970. Guitarist Geoff McClelland was replaced by Marc Bolan during March 1967 and the band also moved to Track Records where they released four singles. “Midsummer Night’s Scene” though was withdrawn shortly after it’s release and now sells for anything around £6,000+. During April, the band was thrown off a German tour with The Who because of their wild stage antics and Marc left the band around June. Along the way they did manage to film three promotional video’s. But after a tour of the South West the band split up.
Still managed by Simon Napier Bell, Andy studied mime and acrobatics, continuing in a solo vain and releasing three singles in six months – “It’s Been A Long Time” from the film ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush’, “Fool From Upper Eden” and The Beatles “You Can’t Do That”. Lack of publicity helped them to become collector’s items.

Having had enough of the music business for a while, Andy left the country to persue adventures in Europe. But returned during 1973 and the following year joined up with his old mate Chris Townson and ex-Sparks bassist Martin Gordon to form Jet. The band signed to CBS Records and released two singles and an album during 1975, as well as toured with Hunter-Ronson. By 1976 they had been released from their contract.

All was not lost though, as Andy got Ted Carroll at Chiswick Records interested in Jet’s final demo’s and come 1977 Radio Stars were born. Six singles, two albums, numerous gigs, a few TV appearances and a hit single – “Nervous Wreck” happened over a two year period. Andy was even insured for £250,000 in case of injury to any member of the audience. But during 1979 the band were forced into splitting up as funds had run out and they received no support from the record company. The band did reform for a short time during 1982 and released a single on Martin’s own Snat label. Andy revived the band during 1988 and a few years later during 1992 until 1996. Chiswick issued a compilation album of old songs and unreleased songs during 1992 titled “Somewhere There’s A Place For Us”.

During the early 80’s Andy wrote quite a few songs and “To The Beat Of A Different Drummer” was eventually released on a cassette album many years later during 1991. A new version of the John’s Children song “Desdemona” was recorded in 1988 with Boz Boorer and this appeared on a Marc Bolan compilation album during the same year.

1992 saw John’s Children return to the stage making their debut in Darmstadt, Germany 25 years after their last gig. The band have done quite a few gigs since playing in and around London as well as in America, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Germany again.  

Andy was involved in the ‘Nothing To Do With Us Tour’ of London, Berlin and Amsterdam during 2000 promoting the re-release of Jet’s album from 1975. The band featuring Chris Townson, Martin Gordon, Ian MacLeod and Trevor White who performed songs by Radio Stars, Jet and John’s Children. Boz Boorer was a guest on the night of the London gig and a live album was released during 2001. 

1. You Can't Do That (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:48
2. Cornflake Zoo (Marc Bolan) - 2:02
3. Hippy Gumbo (Marc Bolan) - 2:08
4. It's Been A Long Time (Chris Townson) - 3:15
5. Casbah Candy (Marc Bolan) - 2:02
6. Help (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:29
7. Fool From Upper Eden (George Alexander) - 2:52
8. Lucky Lie (Andy Ellison) - 1:57
9. Train In My Head (Andy Ellison) - 3:55
10.To The Beat Of A Different Drummer (Andy Ellison) - 3:55
11.Life's Too Short (Andy Ellison) - 5:37
12.Hurt Myself (Andy Ellison) - 4:01
13.She's So Dissatisfied (Richie Davenport) - 4:42
14.Something She Said (Andy Ellison) - 5:58
15.Heather Lane (Andy Lewis) - 3:53
16.Anyway Goodbye (Andy Ellison) - 4:59

*Andy Ellison - Vocals, Keyboards
*Marc Bolan - Guitar, Vocals
*Geoff McClelland - Guitar 
*Chris Townson - Drums
*John Hewlett - Bass
*John Paul Jones - Bass
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Trevor White - Guitar, Bass, Drums
*Rod Stewart - Backing Vocals
*Madelline Bell - Backing Vocals
*Dusty Springfield - Backing Vocals