Prior to Fable you were in a few local bands. Did you write or record anything then or did none of that happen til Fable?
My first band was the System, I think I must still have been at school. We practiced in a youth club twice a week. When I left school we were offered a gig in Hamburg Germany. I had to pretend to be a roadie as I was under age to work in Germany. So I was there illegally.
After the system I was in a band that became Aarons Rod, We did some quite obscure stuff. Kevin Bray Lead guitar introduced us to some great music . I sang “All Along The Watchtower” and stuff from the band Mountain, a lot of American bands from that time.
Dave Millington was on Bass – another very good player, and my school friend who had been in the System with me – John Waterfall. John was a very loud drummer, which I loved.
I think I started writing around that time with Aarons Rod. We did not get many gigs as some of the material was a bit off the wall but we all loved it and it was all part of the school of rock I suppose LOL
Was your family always supportive of your music career? Did you get help or advice from anyone at home?
I was brought up by my grandparents. I did not get any support. Really, I think they thought it was a fad.
Do you recall the first song you ever wrote?
I can not remember . I can remember I wrote some pretty bad ones though, folky type songs .
In those earlier bands do you recall what types of songs you played ?
Anything that was around at that time. I have sung everything from “My Way” to “Blowing In The Wind”
Fable was already going with a female singer, before you joined, Do you recall how you joined the band and how the band changed then as far as what you played or your goals were?
Yes, I actually said No at first but Lynne, my then girlfriend – now my wife, said I was mad to say no as they were very good musicians. So I changed my mind. It was a great band. We played all sorts of covers of the day, ’70s songs . Great times, lots of harmonies . I was into all that.
Can you tell me about recording the Fable album – how songs were chosen, put together, recorded..? How long did recording the album take and who all was around?
I started the writing. It is funny looking back. We would be playing a gig and I would spot people in the audience. People from record companies, they were looking with a view to signing us . A guy called Peter Shelley came a good few times and would come back stage after the gig. He was very interested . I got on great with Peter . A few other record company A and R men were also looking at us . We decided to sign with Peter at Magnet Records. I think we did the album at Trident studio although I might be wrong . I do remember the engineer Mike Stone. He was doing another band in the night time sessions, He used to play us what they were recording. It was a new band called QUEEN. Freddy and the boys no less.
I think we took about 4 weeks to do our album.
While recording Fable did you ever bump in to or meet the members of Queen then?
No not at that stage but I did meet Brian May at the L A Forum when I played there with Heep. I walked into Joe Elliott’s dressing room and there was Brian sitting on a couch with Phil playing his Red Devil guitar.
What sort of gigs did Fable play – mostly local or travel much around the UK or outside?
We were very much in demand . Doing maybe 35 gigs a month. Some nights 2 gigs. Lots of clubs, universities all sorts really, all over the UK We also did the German clubs – The Star club and the top Ten club
Any stories from live shows back then?
One night Fable were playing a gig and the audience were all sitting down, it was a working men’s club . No one was dancing at all , not the best atmosphere. We used to do 2x 45minute spots. When we came on for the second spot Mac Bailey, lead guitarist, had stuck a piece of wood down the front of his leather trousers. I could not sing for laughing . The dance floor was quickly packed with girls dancing .
Any ‘big name’ bands that you shared a bill with?
We played with everyone who was big at that time. ELO, Hot Chocolate Suzie Quatro. Sweet, Mud. Manfred Mann.
When we played with Manfred they had a hit single out called “Joybringer”. As we were on first we played that song . Our version sounded better than the Manfreds , as was the case when we opened for all the chart bands of the day
Do you have any favorite songs from that album or stories pertaining to any of your lyrics on it?
I have not played the album in years. We were just learning. I had no real direction . It was a real mixture of styles musically. I was just happy to come up with any idea at that time. We all were .
What do you recall of that album cover and, in particular the band photo by that tree on the inside?
It was a great tree in Kew gardens in London . Great picture but can not really see who is in the band.
You wrote for other acts in the ’70s, in particular The Bump by Alvin Stardust. Can you tell me a bit about how that song came about, what sort of inspired it?
Yes , We used to play in Scotland a lot and at the time the kids started doing this new dance , they were Bumpin’. I had an idea to write a song called ‘The Bump’. I called Peter Shelley and told him . He said great idea . Magnet got a dance group to record it . I had to rehearse them into the song, they were loving it. It was on TV a few times. Then when Alvin did his album Peter produced it and got Alvin to do ‘The Bump’. I have a Gold disc on my wall for that song .
Do you recall any other songs you wrote that other artists recorded back then?
Yes , I wrote a song called ‘Falling Apart’. This was recorded by Smokie on one of their albums. I also got a Diamond Disc for this song . It was a huge hit in Norway , so that’s on my wall also.
You also recorded a few singles as a solo artist. Do you recall much about writing or recording these and if any received any radio play or local interest?
When I left Fable I had a solo deal still with Magnet. We did 2 singles , ‘Ain’t It Funny’ and ‘You Are Day You Are Night’. I did not write the latter, although I did really like the song. It was very much like a Walker Brothers tune.
You obviously were familiar with Trapeze. How did the offer to join the band come about? Or did you audition?
Yes I knew Glen. We used to play golf together. When he got the job with Purple Mel took over lead vocals for a while but kept losing his voice. So I was asked to audition. It was really great stuff from the off. I had 3 new songs – ‘Livin on Love, ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know’ and ‘When You Get To Heaven’. We rehearsed them and – Wow, it was great!
What do you recall of recording the studio album with Trapeze? Any recall on putting together songs, working with Jimmy Miller, etc…?
All 3 made side one on the Hold On album, I was so chuffed . Jimmy Miller was great. He did not add a lot he just let us play and he recorded it. He did have great feel, nice man. There were no co-writes, I had my songs and Mel had his which he wrote with his brother Tom Galley. Tom did the lyrics for Mel.
What do you recall of the tours and shows you did with Trapeze– as far as who you toured with, biggest venues and crowds, countries you played….?
America was the place for Trapeze, in fact Texas. They were huge in Texas. I could not believe it. They loved Trapeze. I remember doing the Texas Jam . One night in Dallas one night in Houston. Both stadiums. A year later I did the very same 2 gigs with Uriah Heep.
How was response from radio or press to the Hold On album? And what were your favorites on it?
My songs of course but I loved ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ . I sang it really well I hope . I Love that song
Not much radio, really . I had to fill the boots belonging to Glen which was quite a task.
Was a 2nd Trapeze album planned or started? And was there a break prior the band playing that final tour?
Mel was being chased by Coverdale. Dave Holland was offered the Judas Priest job Pete Wright wanted to go and live in America. We were hanging on for another record deal.as long as we could. We went to America but before we went I was offered the Heep job . The rest is well written.
Regarding Live In Texas – was there more tracks played and recorded that didn’t make the album?
I think that was the whole show, I think so
Any tales from your very early days or a road tale from Trapeze. . (Re Glenn — did you ever read his book? )
I remember coming back from Hamburg before Trapeze days I was friends with Glenn even then. I had bought a suede coat with tassels like Wild Bill Hickock style. Glenn went crazy over that coat, he loved it. I think he would have killed to own it. I did sell it to him so he let me live. He later wore it on stage with moccasins to match. He looked great.. He looked like an apache Indian with his long hair.
I did not know he wrote a book. Am I in it? I should be. Even when he joined Purple he never changed, not with me anyway. He picked me up to play golf one day. I heard this loud music coming around the corner, yes it was him driving a Bentley open top!
Aside from the Texas Jam gigs with Trapeze, do you have any particular favorite memory of that band [and members] ?
A guy that does not get much of a mention is my dear friend Pete Wright, great player to work with. He is nearly as funny as John Sinclair. Pete was always reliable, great bass player, great person to be in a band with. If we were down Pete would cheer everyone up. Very happy all the time. Nothing seemed to upset him apart from when Mel kept changing the radio station in the car. It drove us all mad. For Christ sake Mel!
Prior to joining Heep, what did you know about the band, (aside from all the line up changes)?
I knew of them of course they were a huge band worldwide. I do remember Mel saying to me that my musical career was going backwards by joining Heep . I did prove him very wrong on that one.
Had you ever seen Heep live in the ’70s with David Byron? or know any of the actual songs that you would later sing?
Never saw Heep before I joined . I had heard ‘Easy Livin’ , ‘Gypsy’. ‘The Wizard’. That’s all I think.
Ashley Howe was key to you joining Heep and was great for you and the band as producer. Can you talk a bit about your connection to Ashley and how he got the best out of you and his importance to the band at the time (81-83)?
Ashley I love you . Ashley found my big voice. He was the greatest. Abominog would not have happened without him. Simple. He brings out the best in everyone he works with. I learnt so much from him on that record. Why we did not use him on Equator – God only knows. History may well have been re-written had he produced Equator
Were you happy with Heep’s take on ‘Blood Red Roses’, and do you think (or how) you would’ve done it any differently?
I wrote that song for Mick Box ’cause he asked me for a song for Raging Silence. I think they did a great job and I am glad it was a success for them. They got it nearly spot on . I would have been more laid back and moody in the verses. But I might have been wrong . Bernie did a great job, thank you Bernie.
Obviously you are happy with the response to Easy With The Heartaches. Has the experience (so far), inspired you to want to clean out your vaults of more recordings from your past?
I have been asked for another record , we will have to wait and see.
AND – has it inspired you (at all) to want to pick up a guitar and play – even if for yourself or family members?
*You can order Pete’s debut solo album Easy With The Heartaches, as well as Leavin’ The Hard Times Behind : The Best Of Trapeze – check out http://www.cherryred.co.uk
*If anyone out there happens to have any photos or stories of the band Fable, please let me know. Would like to revisit this album in the future.
*thanks to Lynn Everett for the photos [including the top pic]