- Philamore Lincoln Interview – by Peter Markham
- Bob Downes Interview – by Peter Markham
Philamore Lincoln Interview
The name Robert Cromwell Anson might not instantly ring a bell with enthusiasts of ‘60s music, but his pseudonyms surely will. First as Phil Kinorra, drummer with the New Don Rendell Quintet and the Brian Auger Trinity. Then he cut a stunning blue eyed soul club classic as Julian Covey & the Machine, sat in for Keith Moon for one gig, played with the Graham Bond Organi-zation, released a pop psych nugget as Philamore Lincoln, became a record producer and then vanished into thin air… Here is his story and the first interview he has given in over 45 years.
“When did you change your name from Poirot to Markham?” Philamore Lincoln wrote to me when I finally managed to track him down after searching for him for about two years. I had been in contact with some of his former musical collaborators such as Brian Auger, Bob Downes, Pete Solley, Jim Cregan and Johnny Spence. But nobody had been in contact with him for many years or knew about his whereabouts…
He politely turned down the offer to be interviewed in person, but agreed to answer my questions via good old fashioned Royal Mail as he was “plumbing the depths of memory banks that have lain unmolested for decades.” To say that I was well chuffed is an understatement! He was eager to clear up some of the myths that have been written about him—which are basically rumors of what (later) famous musicians played or didn’t play on his records… and as he put it—made sure that I got “every Higgs boson particle of info” that I asked him about…
The Julian Covey & the Machine single “A Little Bit of Hurt” b/w the equally hip organ groover “Sweet Bacon” has been a favorite of mine for a number of years. To me this disc is the embodiment of the ‘60s Swinging London sound—pounding drums, groovy organ and an uptempo danceable beat—no wonder the Northern Soul and Mod DJ’s slipped this 45 in the record boxes. Produced by Jimmy Miller, famed knob twiddler of the Spencer Davis Group, the Rolling Stones etc, this hip soul nightclub act were surely destined for greatness, but this remained their only recorded output.
Soon afterwards he emerged as the mysterious Philamore Lincoln on the The North Wind Blew South album, only released Stateside by Epic in 1970. A wonderful, magical, dreamlike, folka-delic pop masterpiece, nowadays hailed a lost British pop psych classic up there with the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, Kaleidoscope’s Tangerine Dream and the End’s Introspection among others. Some of the songs nod in the direction of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman era (quite a few of the same session musicians also appeared on the Scottish troubadour’s A Gift From A Flower To A Garden), while other cuts have a harder rocking approach, with elements ranging from country blues to funk to bossa nova—a very diverse album. All the songs were penned by Philamore himself, backed by a host of literary who’s-who of the London music scene as the time.
You were born on October 20, 1940, in Sherwood, Nottingham. Both your brothers were also involved in music?
Yes, I was born and grew up in Sherwood, Nottingham. My younger brother, Mike, played bass guitar in a local band (called Mother’s Worry, under the name of Cranson – Ed.) and my older brother Peter, owned a successful TV/Hi-Fi business [Peter Anson Electronics].
Jazz music was your first love, when did first you start playing drums?
Around the age of eleven I began to start noticing the drumming on jazz records, playing on the radio. Just before midnight I used to sneak downstairs in my parents’ house, put a blanket over my head, and turn on the radio and tune in to The Voice of America Jazz Hour. It was great to hear so many excellent players every night. I began to buy records featuring drummers [that I liked], and then I found a good drum teacher and began to take lessons. When I was fifteen I joined a naff group playing middle of the road music and I remembered what the drummer Andy White had told me: “When you are learning, take every opportunity to play, every bit of experience helps you develop”. Andy was the session drummer on the Beatles’ first single (“Love Me Do”—George Martin was unhappy with both the versions of the song recorded with Pete Best and Ringo Starr and brought in Andy White, who he had used on sessions before – Ed).
You joined the Royal Air Force in your late teens, tell me a bit about that.
I joined the RAF Music Collage at Uxbridge, Trevor Watts (later of the Amalgam and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble – Ed.) and the fine trombonist Paul Rutherford were there at the same time. I was at Uxbridge during the day and jamming in Soho jazz cellars all night. The deal with the RAF was that you could, if you wanted to, buy yourself out of the RAF within three months of joining. With just two days left to the deadline I decided that jazz was more important than anything else. I sold my Avedis Zildjian hi-hat cymbals, paid them the money and escaped from Uxbridge in the nick of time. I was playing drums with Dudley Moore every Sunday night at a cellar jazz club in Fulham Road, called Café Des Artistes and jamming in small clubs all over Soho the rest of the week.
In the beginning of 1960 you played in a R&B outfit with Heather Logan, sister of Scottish jazz singer Annie Ross. Could you tell me a bit more about that band?
At this point the bass player, Tony Archer, and I went up to Scotland to do a gig on the Isle of Bute for a few weeks. On my way back to London, when the gig finished, I spent a couple of days in Glasgow. I got a call to say that an American R&B band had just arrived for a UK tour but that just before they had left the US their drummer had been busted for possession of pot. His entry visa was revoked and they needed a drummer to do the tour. The singer was the younger sister of the jazz singer Annie Ross. I went to the audition and they offered me the job.
Around this time you started using your first stage name Phil Kinorra. Where did that come from?
The American R&B band liked my playing but they said that my name sounded very English and, as it was supposed to be the original US line-up, could I come up with a more American sounding name? I started thinking and then I remembered that a girl I had been dating on the Isle of Bute had mentioned a place called ‘Villa Kinorra’. It may have been somewhere in Mexico… I put the name ‘Phil’ in front of Kinorra and it seemed to fit and when I called the R&B band, to run it past them, they said it was much better and would I please use it for the UK tour. Every time we finished a tour date we headed back to London where the sax player and I would jam around the clubs. We were playing at the Flamingo Club in Wardour Street one night when some musicians asked the sax player what my name was. He told them ‘Phil Kinorra’. The MC at the Flamingo was a record company executive called Tony Hall. Tony also wrote articles for a music paper called Disc and when he wrote a piece about me he referred to me as Phil Kinorra. After it was published I was stuck with the name, so I thought “what the hell” and carried on with it.
ROARIN’ WITH THE JAZZ QUINTETS
You also worked with the Peter King Quintet and the Ronnie Scott Quintet around this time?
I was playing in a Soho club called the Mandrake one night when Ronnie Scott came in and jammed. He invited me to go to his club [Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club], in Gerrard Street, any time. I began jamming there regularly and, eventually, the great alto saxophonist Peter King asked me to join his quintet, which I did and several months later Ronnie Scott asked me to join his quintet which I did. That was a tough demanding gig and great experience, all the guys in the band were exceptionally fine world class players.
Then you joined the New Don Rendell Quintet in May of 1960 and recorded the LP Roarin’ in June 1961. Could you tell me about that band?
After I left Ronnie’s quintet and after months of gigging all over the place I joined the New Don Rendell Quintet. We toured and played jazz festivals and recorded for Riverside Records. Graham Bond was a well trained keyboardist, but he was only playing alto saxophone with the quintet. I wrote a blues for the band called “Blew Through.” We played it for the first time at a Sunday gig in Coventry. The audience reaction was incredible. A couple of weeks later Graham Bond told me that Alexis Korner wanted Graham and me to join his new band Blues Incorporated. Jazz, at its best, is a very seductive mistress and we said no, but some good seeds were sown.
You lived in Cleveland Square, Paddington, in a house where Larry Parnes put up aspiring musicians such as Duffy Power and yourself?
I lived at Cleveland Square for a few months, but I had no connection with Larry Parnes. I moved out to live in Fulham with a former girlfriend.
During this period you also deputised for Tony Mann during a London run of Jack Gelber’s play The Connection. Could tell me a bit about that?
In the early ‘60s I appeared in a play called The Connection at the Duke of York’s Theatre in St Martin’s Lane, London. Four of the characters were real jazz musicians and 30 minutes of original jazz music was played live at every performance. The music was written by the jazz pianist Freddy Redd, and Freddy and the great alto saxophonist Jackie McLean came to the UK to appear in the London production. Both of them were previous members of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The drummer Tony Mann was doing the play, but he was a member of a regular band and could not do all the performances. We shared it and it was a privilege to play with the brilliant Freddy Redd and the late, great Jackie McLean.
What other bands did you play with in London during the period you played with Ronnie Scott—I have heard mention of the Bootleggers and the Paramounts and also American jazz musician Johnny Griffin?
I played with a band called the Bootleggers for a short period. Brian Auger and Glen Hughes were in the band, but we changed the line-up and the name after a few weeks (the line-up of the Bootleggers also featured guitarist Frank Bowen, later of the Pete Best Four and bassist Harry Scully of the Trends – Ed.). I was never in a band called the Paramounts. I met Johnny Griffin at the Blue Note Club in Berlin, where he was playing with the drummer Art Taylor. Brian Auger and myself were playing at another club in the city at the time.
THE HOLY TRINITY
In July of 1963 you joined the Brian Auger Trinity with Brian Auger on hammond organ and Rick Laird upright bass. Tell me a bit about that.
Over a period of two or three years I had played a lot of gigs with the hard swinging jazz pianist Brian Auger and we decided to form a new jazz trio. At this time Brian was playing jazz piano and had not started to play the Hammond organ yet. We needed a bass player and everything pointed to Rick Laird being the best player around. So we asked him if he would like to join us and he accepted. We rehearsed every day at Brian’s house in Shepherd’s Bush. A lot of the stuff we were playing was gospel influenced funk, so it seemed appropriate to call ourselves the Brian Auger Trinity. We started playing around London jazz clubs and were soon doing regular gigs at Ronnie Scott’s club.
The band then became the Brian Auger Group in February 1964?
After about a year or so we were contacted by a large nightclub in Piccadilly, London [the Pigalle]. They asked us to add two more musicians to the group and take up a residency to play jazz at the club. We were jointed by the guitarist John McLaughlin and the baritone sax player Glen Hughes. Glen had been playing with Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. A few months later we played in Germany for a month and, after returning to London, Brian and I went to Berlin where we played with Leo Wright, from Dizzy Gillespie’s band, and the saxophonist Herb Gellar. I think the club may have been called the Tangent.
Did you ever record anything with the Brian Auger Trinity?
The Brian Auger Trinity never recorded, but we did a live BBC radio broadcast opposite the Tubby Hayes Big Band for the series Jazz Club. If the BBC still have the tape, that would be the only recording in existence.
JULIAN COVEY & THE MACHINE
When did you move away from jazz and became more soul and R&B influenced?
At a point when jazz was becoming more experimental, with less emphasis on intense grooves, I started to look for other outlets. I was doing a gig with a pick-up band at a US base in the UK when an agent told me that he had lots of work available if I could put a band together. So I did.
You then gave up playing the drums for some months to concentrate on a solo night club act that would eventually become JC & the Machine?
After three months of non stop gigs I got a call from some managers to go to a meeting at the Radio Caroline offices at 6 Chesterfield Gardens, off Curzon Street in London. The manager was Tony Secunda, the producer Denny Cordell and several others were all based at this large building. The managers offered me a deal. They wanted to call the band Julian Covey & the Machine and, if I agreed, they would pay for the van, a sound system, stage gear and everything else. I considered the offer for a full quarter of a minute and agreed.
How did you meet the producer Jimmy Miller?
After a few months of touring we were booked in, for a week’s residency, at a the Bag O’ Nails club in Kingly Street, Soho, London. The Beatles came in every night and so did the producer Jimmy Miller. Jimmy kept coming up to the side of the stage and putting his ear to the PA speakers, checking out my vocals. The following week he called my manager and said that he wanted to produce the band.
Jimmy and I got together and wrote “A Little Bit Hurt.” We recorded it in Studio A at Olympic Studios in Barnes, West London. Eddie Kramer engineered the session and Glyn Johns engineered the mix. At the mix session there were no spare tracks left on the Ampex four-track to take the backing vocals. We wanted to avoid going another tape generation onto the other four-track machine, so we sang the backing vocals live onto the quarter inch stereo master as the final mix was done.
Jimmy Cliff of “The Harder They Come” fame, was recording next door in Studio 2 and, during a break, he had come into Studio A
to hear what we were doing. When Jimmy Miller and I did a run through of the backing vocals, Jimmy joined us and it’s the three of us singing backing vocals on the single. The single did well in clubs along the South of France and was re-released a couple of times. Out of The Northern Soul Top 500 Kev Roberts put together the “100 Greatest Northern Soul Songs” and “A Little But Hurt” came in at number 49. I’m very happy with that.
The single had a big drum sound, something that Jimmy Miller—who was drummer himself—was known for. What was it like working with him being a drummer yourself?
Working with Jimmy Miller was absolutely great. In addition to all the other attributes, needed by a good producer, Jimmy had a special gift for getting each member of a band to tighten up the intensity of the groove. As far as the big drum sound was concerned, Jimmy picked a recording engineer who could give him what he wanted. He used Glyn Johns, who is renowned for the John Bonham drum sounds he created for Led Zeppelin. Keith Webb was a hard hitter, so the combination worked very well.
The organ sound on the single is quite similar to Wynder K Frog a.k.a. Mick Weaver. Who was behind the keys?
The Hammond organ on “A Little Bit Hurt” was played by Pete Solley. He used a boosted Leslie amp plus a bit of direct injection.
Quite a few prominent musicians started out in playing in the Machine, what was your favorite line-up?
I would say that the recording line-up from 1967 was the best line-up (Julian Covey & the Machine #5 1967, see page 67 – Ed.).
You were managed by Tony Secunda who was known to be quite controversial, and also managed the Move. Did you do a lot of gigging with them?
I got on very well with Tony Secunda. He was fun to be around and was always full of unpredictable ideas. [I don’t think] we ever did any gigs with the Move. Tony was called upstairs— I hope it was upstairs — far too early…
The Machine’s booking agent was Austrian brothers Johnny and Rik Gunnell, who allegedly had connections to the London underworld at the time? Are there any stories you would care to share?
I can’t tell you anything about Rik Gunnell because I hardly knew him. His booking agency was at the far end of Gerrard Street, Soho, but he had a separate office, in another building, so he was never around.
You seemed to play quite a lot with the Spencer Davis Group around this time, were you friendly with them?
We never played with the Spencer Davis Group, I met Steve Winwood a couple of times with Jim Capaldi, but I did not know the others. Jim Capaldi was never in the Machine [as some people think], he was always with Steve Winwood or other bands but I was pleased, at a later date, to be able to use Jim on my album.
The Machine backed up visiting US artists like John Lee Hooker while they toured the UK?
We backed John Lee Hooker for a UK tour. He was mighty! His sense of time was cast in GRANITE! I know his work very well from all the albums I had had for years. The drummer with the Machine was backing John, but when a gig on the tour came up, at a large club in Oxford Street, London called Tiles, my drummer had a blister on his hand that was bad enough to prevent him from playing. I stepped in and had one of the best playing experiences of my life. John liked a simple groove with lots of drive, so that’s what I gave him. At the end of the set, in the dressing room, he said, “Who was playing drums?” I said, “I was, John”. He had a big grin on his face and he said, “You drivin’ me along.” I had just had the privilege of locking onto, and sharing, some great grooves with this truly great artist. I treasure the memory.
The Machine was a heavy gigging band, and besides a lot of club dates you also played the 6th National Jazz & Blues Festival at the Royal Windsor Racecourse, Berkshire. Could you tell me a bit about that?
The only thing I remember about the 6th National Jazz and Blues Festival is that we were onstage, in a tent, and the acoustics were terrible… (in the festival programme the Machine are described as having “an exciting Afro-Cuban influnce” – Ed.).
“A Little Bit Hurt” was covered by the Spanish beat combo Los Albas. Would you say that at the time of its release, the record was more popular in places like Germany and France than in the UK?
I have not heard any cover versions of “A Little Bit Hurt” so I can’t comment. At the time of its release “A Little Bit Hurt” got very little promotion in the UK, but it did well in Europe and it finally got noticed, in the UK, when the Northern Soul phenomenon took off.
“A Little Bit Hurt” was a club hit but didn’t chart. It is said that you were then offered a five album deal with Island Records. Why did the deal fall through?
This is a myth and the first time I have heard it. Island Records never offered us a five album deal, so there was never anything to fall through.
“A Little Bit Hurt” was re-released by Island in 1978. Have you been aware of the popularity of the song?
Some time after its re-release, in 1978, Chris Blackwell called me to say that Island Records had lost the quarter inch stereo master of “A Little Bit Hurt.” I call that careless! I was finally made aware that audiences like the track when it became embedded in the Northern Soul clubs.
What songs were in the live repertoire?
In addition to some songs by the late, great, Solomon Burke we also used to do several songs by Don Covay—no relation!
Why did the Machine initially break up?
The Machine broke up because it was time for me to explore a different musical direction.
STEPPIN’ IN FOR KEITH MOON
On the 29th of May 1967 you were drafted by the Who to take Keith Moon’s place at a gig at the Glasgow Locarno Ballroom. Were you originally going to do more dates?
In May 1967 my manager got a panic call from the manager of the Who [Kit Lambert] to say that Keith had collapsed with a rupture and was in St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner. The band had a gig in Glasgow and they did not want to let the fans down by cancelling, so could I go up to Scotland and fill in for Keith. I had a night off and they were stuck, so I said yes. I knew their singles, but none of their album stuff, which made up a lot of their set. In that kind of situation the best course of action is to keep it simple and solid, which is what I did. After that I had gigs booked with the Machine, so other people had to help out until Keith had recovered from surgery (Chris Townson of John’s Children did the remaining dates before Moon returned to the Who – Ed.).
GROOVIN’ WITH THE ORGANIZATION
From September 1967 until March 1968 you took over the drum stool in the Graham Bond Organization from Jon Hiseman. Could you tell me a little about that period?
I did not follow Jon Hiseman into the Graham Bond Organization. Hiseman had left the band many months earlier. I joined Graham by accident. I was driving around Putney, where I used to live, when I saw a poster saying “Graham Bond Live Tonight At Roehampton.” Roehampton was just around the corner so, of course, I went. As I walked into the back of the hall Graham was already playing. After hearing about four bars of the music it was clear that Graham was in great form. There was a big fat groove to be grabbed hold of and kicked. I hate to put anyone down, but the drummer with Graham, on that night, was missing it all. When the set was over I went round to the dressing room to see Graham. It could have been a year or so since I last saw him but, as soon as we met, he said, “We’re on tour, why don’t you join us starting tomorrow?” So I did.
Graham Bond comes off as a very complex person as well as a fantastic musician. How was it like working with him again in his own band?
I knew Graham from just before he became a professional musician, when we were both members of the New Don Rendell Quintet. Graham had a day job, but the prospect of playing jazz for a living soon put paid to that. Underneath his later excesses he was, actually, a sweet guy. Great enthusiasm and a wicked sense of humor. His problem was that he did not seem to understand that his fine talent meant that all he had to do was play. He became overweight, which caused health problems, and had the misfortune, entirely beyond his control, to have an addiction prone personality. All this disappeared once the music started. That’s why so many outstanding musicians wanted to work with him.
THE NORTH WIND BLEW SOUTH
How did the Philamore Lincoln project come about?
After JC & the Machine I wanted to go in a completely new direction. Many aspects of music were changing and I thought that a new name would help me to make a break with the past. An executive from Epic Records in New York called Chesley Millican came to London to sign new artists. I had been writing some new songs and Chelsey heard a couple of demos. He signed me to the label and asked me to write enough songs for an album. I had complete freedom, to do anything I liked, so no complaints. I spent several weeks writing, every day, and when the songs were finished I started to book studio time. The main studio I used was Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, West London and Morgan Studios in North London.
Where does the inspiration to the name Philamore Lincoln come from?
The name Philamore just arrived in my head in the same way things do when you are writing songs. Coming from Sherwood, Nottingham, there is a certain subconscious awareness of Lincoln Green, so that part could have come from there.
You were signed to Brian Epstein’s NEMS label and issued one single “You’re The One” b/w “Running By the River.”
The NEMS single did not include “You’re The One,” it was “Running By The River” and I think “Rainy Day” (NEMS folded in 1969, and their roster was transferred to CBS who were NEMS’ distributor – Ed.).
Mary Hopkin had a hit with her version of “Temma Harbour” on Apple Records, produced by Mickie Most. How did that come about?
The Mary Hopkin version of “Temma Harbour” happened because Chesley Millican, who signed me to Epic Records, took my original recording to Mickie Most and played it to him. Mickie thought it was a hit song and produced a single with Mary.
The album has a beautiful sound and production, what was it like working with producer James Wilder?
The producer James Wilder does not exist. I was concerned, at the time I made the album, about being perceived as a smart-arse so I thought it would be better to have a fictitious producer’s name on the album. I produced the album myself and I had the pleasure of using the great engineer Glyn Johns and his highly talented, late brother Andy as engineers on the album.
What were the initial reactions to the album when it was released?
When my album was released Epic Records did nothing to promote it so, consequently, there was nothing for anyone to react to.
Are there any unreleased JC & the Machine or Philamore Lincoln tracks?
No, there are no other JC & the Machine or Philamore Lincoln recordings hidden away anywhere.
THE PRODUCING YEARS
In January of ’71 you produced Paladin’s debut album with former Machine members Keith Webb and Pete Solley at Olympic Studios and Island Studios. Almost the whole album was recorded live in the studio, please tell me about that?
I produced the first Paladin album at Olympic Studios and Island Studios. Paladin were very much a live band who had their stuff down nice and tight. It’s true that we recorded most of the tracks more or less live. For the second Paladin album I booked the Beatles’ Apple Studios in Savile Row where I had the pleasure of working with the Beatles’ legendary engineer Geoff Emerick.
What have you been up to since the early ’70s? Philamore Lincoln fans have been speculating if you continued under a different alias?
Well, I could not find anyone who appeared to understand what I was doing musically, and then glam rock and punk arrived, so I got married, left London and moved to deepest Dorset. I found my original artist contract, with CBS Records, dated 24th February 1969. In addition to my signature the other signature is that of Clive Davis (former president of Columbia/CBS/Epic Records – Ed). Many artists have had bad experiences with terrible recording contracts but my own experience is very extreme and detrimentally career affecting. I am going to write a full expose of my dealings with what is now Sony Music Entertainment as a follow up to this interview. Part of it will include publishing my CBS Records contract, in full, online.
Five years ago, when my wife Nina and I came up to Oxford to visit our son, who was at university, we fell for the city and moved here. I have just built a studio in my garden and as soon as the sound insulation is installed I will be putting some new songs down!
THANKS to: Mike Anson, Bob Downes, Harry Shapiro and Alex Cooper
for the scans.
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