Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wayne Fontana, (The Mindbenders and 10cc)

Manchurian, Glyn Geoffrey Ellis (born 1945) so longed to be a pop star he borrowed the surname Fontana from Elvis Presley's drummer, DJ Fontana, and called himself Wayne Fontana. In 1961 he joined the Jets in 1961 and proved to be a popular group around Manchester. Wayne and bassist Bob Lang went to an audition for a record company but when the rest of the band failed to appear Wayne put a scratch combo together and they were given a recording contract. The group took the name The Mindbenders after a popular Dirk Bogard movie (Mind Benders) and the lineup was complete with Ric Roth well (drums) and guitarist Eric Stewart (guitar). The Mindbenders first single was a cover version of Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine," retitled "Hello Josephine," but had only modest success in the charts when it was released in 1963.

The same fate befell follow up singles, "For You, For You" and a cover of the Diamonds' "Little Darling.” A version of Ben E. King's "Stop Look and Listen" in 1964 made it to the lower end of the charts then by the end of the same year their cover of Major Lance's, "Um Um Um Um Um Um," saw them reach the UK top five. The song was originally produced by Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stones), but the version that was finally released was produced by Jack Baverstock, the Fontana Record producer. The Loog Oldham version has never been heard.

Now with chart success the Mindbenders recorded their first album which was put together in one day. The hit single "The Game of Love," (originally recorded by Clint Ballard) became a number one in the US and featured a Les Paul guitar played by Eris Stewart and borrowed from Jimmy Page. Backing vocals were supplied by Liverpool folk group, The Spinners.

A disastrous tour of America followed and follow up singles "Just a Little Bit Too Late," and "She Needs Love" failed to attract attention. Wayne left the band in 1965 to pursue a solo career but ill health followed due to exhaustion. He had one hit with "Pamela, Pamela" in 1967.

Meantime Eric Steward took over lead vocals and the Mindbenders continued as a trio with one major chart success “A groovy kind of love.” (1966). It reached number two in the US and although they had reasonable success in the US as a live act they broke up in 1968.

Bob Lang eventually joined Racing Cars and they had a one hit single with, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1977).

Eric Stewart opened a recording studio called Strawberry Studios and formed a studio band with Kevin Godley (drums, percussion, vocals), and Lol Creme (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals).

They had a hit with Neanderthal Man (1970) under the pseudonym Hot Legs and made one album entitled Thinks: School Times which featured co-owner of the studio, Graham Gouldman (bass). Gouldman had established himself as a pop song writer and had written hits for the Yardbirds (For Your Love, Evil Hearted You, Heart Full Of Soul), Hollies (Look Through Any Window, Bus Stop) and Herman's Hermits (No Milk Today, East West, Listen People).

The lads were given the opportunity to tour with The Moody Blues and signed for a label owned by Johnathan King (Everyones gone to the moon). The group took the name 10cc (a name suggested by King himself) and had an instant hit with "Donna," in 1972.

"Rubber Bullets," topped the charts in 1973, and was followed by "The Dean and I," "Wall Street Shuffle," "Silly Love" and "Life Is a Minestrone" continued 10cc's dominance in the U.K.

10cc had problems establishing themselves in the US but their 1975 single "I'm Not in Love," broke through.

In 1976 Godley and Creme left 10cc to concentrate on video production and develop a guitar modification device called the Gizmo. The Gizmo mechanically bent guitar strings in chord sequence. Graham and Eric continued on with session men and had a hit with "The Things We Do for Love" (1977).

Later Rick Fenn (guitar), Tony O’Malley (keyboards) and Stuart Tosh (drums) made up the new 10cc and they returned to the charts in 1978 with "Dreadlock Holiday."

Sadly this was to prove their last chart success and the band broke up in 1983. In 1992, the original lineup of 10cc reunited for the album Meanwhile. All four members continue to contribute to the music industry as they pursue their individual careers.

Worth a listen:

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
Um Um Um Um Um Um (1964)
The game of love

The Mindbenders
A groovy kind of love (1966)

Wayne Fontana
Pamela, Pamela (1967)

Racing Cars
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1977).

Hot Legs
Neanderthal Man (1970)

Donna (1972)
Rubber Bullets (1973)
The Dean and I (1973)
Wall Street Shuffle (1974)
Silly Love (1974)
Life Is a Minestrone (1975)
I'm Not in Love (1975)
Art for art’s sake (1975)
The Things We Do for Love" (1977)
Good morning judge (1977)
Dreadlock Holiday (1978)

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