Archive for the ‘Musicians of the Midlands’ Category

Musicians of the Midlands – Steve Gibbons

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

While at the Fairport Convention gig in the Birmingham Town Hall, I met another of the musicians that have kindly agreed to take part in our charity exhibit, Steve Gibbons. Steve was backstage chatting to Simon Nichol, and I was able to introduce myself. It’s really great to meet people that have made music you know. It’s an adventure too, wondering if your image of them from hearing their music will be what greets you. Steve was very nice and helpful as well, offering his advice on a benefit show we are planning to stage during the exhibit. I’m arranging to do a filmed interview with him which I am sure will be really interesting as Steve’s career has spanned a number of decades.

Growing up in the USA, I was made aware of Steve by a friend of mine who knew The Steve Gibbons Band primarily as the opening act for bands like The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The J Geils Band; and for the albums, ‘Any Road Up’ and ‘Rollin’ On.’ But there’s lots more to know about Steve’s career than just those things.

Steve was born in Harborne, Birmingham, and reportedly was all set to become a plumber. Instead, he joined a group called The Dominettes in 1960 and began playing in the pubs and clubs around Birmingham. The group changed its name to The Uglys, and recorded a single called ‘Wake Up My Mind.’ This song was unlike most of the songs of the period with lyrics like:

Somewhere there’s hunger, somewhere there’s war
But I can do nothing so I’ll just ignore
The cruelty around me, pretending I’m blind
In case I start thinking and Wake Up My Mind.

And the days break and the nights fall and drift into time

I read in the papers, a policeman shot down
Two negros in cold blood in some racial town
And I’m having a new car but I don’t know what kind
But one of these days I will Wake Up My Mind.

Quite heavy-duty for the mid 60s. The next band Steve became a member of was Balls, along with Trevor Burton, Denny Laine, and drummer Keith Smart. Steve left the band after a short period, and moved to Idle Race, which eventually became The Steve Gibbons Band. Spotted by the manager of The Who, this is what led to Steve recording his album ‘Any Road Up,’ and to his work touring with the The Who and other bands.

Steve has recorded nine albums, and still tours with his band. He also plays in the Brum Rocks Live shows along with Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan, two other artists who are taking part in our Midlands exhibit. Be sure to check out the music of this inspiring Midlands artist! His gigs are listed on his website here:

Musicians of the Midlands – Bev Bevan

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

One of the musicians taking part in our charity exhibit this September is Bev Bevan, drummer for ELO, The Move, and even for a time with Black Sabbath (replacing Bill Ward when he became ill) on tour and playing on their Eternal Idol album.

Bev was born in an inner city area of Birmingham called Spark Hill. Deciding to leave a glittering career as a department store buyer, he picked up his drumsticks and played with Denny Laine in a group called Denny Laine and the Diplomats, moving on to The Vikings before finding a place in one of the most influential bands of the 60s called The Move. The Move had nine Top 20 UK singles, and it was Bev and two other members of this group, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, who formed The Electric Light Orchestra. Unlike The Move who never enjoyed success in the USA, ELO found fame there first. The band had 27 Top 40 singles on both sides of the Atlantic, and has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.

ELO ended in 1986, and since then Bev has continued to play, in ELO Part II and a reformed version of The Move, Bev Bevan’s Move. He has also written a book about his life as a star in ELO called, ‘The Story of The Electric Light Orchestra.’ He has organised and taken part in several charity gigs to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Barnardos. He now has a weekly radio show on BBC West Midlands and writes a column for The Sunday Mercury:

Bev has kindly agreed to loan Memories in Music items from his personal collection for our charity display at St Pauls Gallery. Among these is a tour jacket from his ELO days. Check out some of Bev’s columns, and of course, his music. Bev Bevan has made a huge contribution to music history.

Are you a fan of ELO? Have you seen them in concert, have memorabilia to loan or share on the website? Met Bev? We’re looking for fans to share their memories. Get in touch and your memories will become part of our exhibit in the Gallery and part of the website.

Musicians of the Midlands: Joan Armatrading

Monday, November 9th, 2009

The Midlands has a rich musical history with many influential musicians coming from the area. A lot of the musicians will be well known to everyone, but you may not be familiar with some. Rather than focus on one type of music, the Memories in Music exhibit will try and represent as many of the musical styles as possible. It is always a good thing to stretch your musical horizons! I learned that a long time ago from my music hero, the awesome Jimmy Page. There’s so much to hear in his music, and I remember carefully noting every time he mentioned a musical influence of his and him saying that he wasn’t just locked into one thing. I do notice fans getting locked into one style of music, sometimes even one musician or band, and I think it is a shame as you miss so much. My music library has a lot of different stuff in it, as I do try and give everything a go at least once. I may not like it, but I have a go because I just might!

Hopefully the fans who contribute to Memories in Music, and our exhibits, will encourage people to stretch their musical tastes. You may find a lot of joy in something you might never have discovered on your own!

The first musician I would like to profile from the Midlands is Joan Armatrading. Joan was born in St Kitts, but was raised in Birmingham. Like a lot of musicians you read about, she spent a lot of time playing her guitar and lost a job because she insisted on playing during her breaks.

Joan is considered to be the first black female artist to achieve success in the industry performing her own material. While performing in the musical Hair in London, she met Pam Nestor, with whom she started to compose songs which featured on two albums in 1972 and 1975. Then in 1976, Joan released a solo album simply titled ‘Joan Armatrading.’ This album entered the UK top twenty and the song ‘Love and Affection’ from the album was in the top ten. She went on to make 16 albums, her latest, 2007’s ‘Into the Blues’ debuted at #1 in the US Blues chart and was nominated for a Grammy in the Blues Category. Those two honours were the first to be achieved by a UK female artist.

Joan plays guitar and piano. Her musical style is a mixture of pop, blues, folk, and even reggae. Her songs are very moving and her fans often credit her with warm and soulful vocals that reach out to them. I’d love to hear from any fans of Joan that have seen her in concert and want to share the memory with us, or add to the little bio here. The music of the Midlands is certainly richer thanks to her.