Saturday, July 8, 2017

Roy Wood (Move, Wizzard and ELO)

Formed in the mid '60s and the name of the band came about because the five musicians were moving from established Birmingham groups into a new band. The original line consisted of: Roy Wood, (guitar and vocals), Ace Kefford (Bass) left the Move in 1968, Carl Wayne (vocals), and Bev Bevan (drums). Trevor Burton, (guitar and bass) replaced Ace Kefford when he left and Rick Price later replaced Burton, in 1969. Jeff Lynn (previously Idle Race) joined the band when Carl Wayne left. The Move was managed by Tony Secunda (manager of the Moody Blues) and he took the group to London to become a Mod band modeled on the Who. They picked up a residency at the Marquee Club and soon proved a crowd favourite. The Move were a solid five-part harmony group with great live performances. After their chart successes they still entertained crowds with their flamboyant antics, flower power clothes, but Secunda’s outrageous publicity stunts got the band into trouble. Tony Secunda steered The Move away from Motown songs and encouraged them into psychedelic sounds. He also encouraged Roy Wood to write more material and in 1967 they released their first single “Night Of Fear” which reached No.2 in the UK charts.

As a policy the Move tried to make their subsequent singles different and "I Can Hear The Grass Grow," (#5) "Flowers In The Rain" (#2), Fire brigade (#3) and "Blackberry Way" (#1) were all commercially successful.

To promote “Flowers in the Rain," Tony Secunda had picture postcards of Harold Wilson (UK Prime Minister) caricatured in the nude and sent out as a publicity stunt. It backfired when the band had a libel suit brought against them and lost. All the loyalties from the single’s A and B sides went to charity. Flowers in the rain was the first single played on BBC Radio 1, ironically guaranteeing the group everlasting air play. Soon after Tony Secunda and the Move parted company. Meantime internal strife over the choice of music the band were playing saw Ave Kefford leave the band. Trevor Burton felt uneasy about performing only pop songs and he too left to be replaced by Rick Price. Under new management of Peter Walsh, (Marmalade and The Tremolos), the Move were pushed into the club and cabaret circuit. In 1969 the Move did their first American tour and although they performed well the band had contractual problems which meant they had to drive themselves to the gigs. Back in the UK things were not improving and more strife within the group led to Carle Wayne leaving. Roy took over as lead singer but to have confidence as the front man put on face paint and had his hair back combed in a Wildman style. The image caught the public imagination and their heavy metal single, "Brontosaurus" got to number 7 in the charts.

The Move’s last album, "Message From The Country,” broke with their pop tradition and was influence by Jeff Lynn joining the band.

His partnership with Roy Wood as song writers counterbalanced each other’s styles with Lynne pop and Roy Wood’s darker and more ironic compositions. Two excellent singles resulted and all charted. Lynne's "Do Ya" was The Move's only American hit, and "California Man."

When the Move eventually broke up in the 70s Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and Jeff Lynne went on to form Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). In 1977, ELO re-recorded “Do Ya” which had previously been a Move single. ELO’s version went on to become a big hit.

After co-writing and co-producing the first ELO album Roy Wood decided to leave the band to pursue his solo career and a new project, Wizzard. He and Jeff Lynne had artistic differences so they parted company. Roy Wood was joined by Wood Bill Hunt (keyboards) and Hugh McDowell (cello). Wizzard line up was completed with Rick Price, drummers Charlie Grima and Keith Smart, and saxophone players Mike Burney and Nick Pentelow. Later Bob Brady rebalanced Wood Bill Hunt. Roy’s new band made their chart debut at No. 4 with "Ball Park Incident."

Wizzard then followed this up with two No. 1’s in "See My Baby Jive" and "Angel Fingers."

Later they surpassed all their previous recordings with the release of “Wish it could be Christmas Everyday.”

The end of Wizzard came in 1975 despite their success trying to sustain an income to support the big group with their dedication to studio proved too much. Roy meantime continued as a solo artist releasing several exciting albums and also enjoyed behind the scenes session work jamming with Brian Wilson during Beachboy recordings. As a producer he worked with Darts and developed Dart Attack, arguably their best recorded works.

In the eighties Roy toured with his new band the Helicopters and worked with a wide range of artists including collaborations with Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Phil Lynott, Rick Wakeman, Carl Wayne and Doctor and the Medics. In the nineties Roy was back on the road with Roy Wood Big Band which evolved into Roy Wood’s Army and they toured the UK and the US.

Worth a listen:

The Move
Night of Fear (1967)
I Can Hear the Grass Grow (1967)
Flowers in the Rain (1968)
Fire Brigade (1968)
Blackberry Way (1969)
Tonight (1971)
California Man ( 1972)

Do ya (1977)

Ball Park Incident (1973)
See My Baby Jive (1973)
Angel Fingers (1973)
Wish it could be Christmas everyday (1973)

Roy Wood
Dear Elaine (1973)

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