DATE: Monday 29th
TRANSMISSION TIME: 20:30 GMT
RADIO STATION: BBC Radio2 88-91FM (UK)
PROGRAMME NAME: Chris Barbers Jazz Diaries
to Pamela - May not be exactly word for word)
CB-Chris Barber, CF-Chris Farlowe
<CB>My guest this week is a musician who I've loved and I'm very pleased to have him with us; Mr Chris Farlowe. Now Chris, it occurs to me that your name bears a similarity to mine, in a minor sort of way. Has that ever caused you any problems at all?
<CF>Yeah, a lady came up to me once, and looked at me and said "ooh, I like you, I think you're a lovely trombone playerooh, I like you, I think you're a lovely trombone player". So I said, "My name is Chris Farlowe, I'm a singer and I do not play a trombone, you have got the wrong person, it's Chris Barber". At that she was all embarrassed and said "I'm very sorry I didn't mean that !".
<CB>I had a bloke join my band once, when he came to the first rehearsal, he thought he was joining Chris Farlowe.
<CF>He must have got a shock!
<CB>He did rather, because it was Roger Hill from Birmingham, a lovely guitar player, we were just about to tour along with John Lewis and Trevor Young. So two of his idols were in the rehearsal as well. He was very shell-shocked. But still never mind. Now Chris, nice to have you on the programme. We're going to be doing some songs from various ages of man shall we say? And, I believe that you did start out in a skiffle group, is that true?
<CF>John Henry skiffle group. We did the Vipers stuff, it got me into the music business basically. Also, my Mum was a piano player, so she started it off really.
<CB>So what were you listening to at the time. Was it just Lonnie and us and the Vipers or was there more?
<CF>No, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Lane, Doris Day. Doris Day was one of my great idols in those days, I loved her. My Mum was a fan of Doris so I suppose it brushed off from that.
<CB>A lot of kids nowadays, anything their mum likes, they don't like it. It was just something you picked up.
<CF>Well, it was a bit different in those days. Just after the war really. My Mum used to play in the pubs to the soldiers when they came off leave. I used to get up on the piano and sing with her. That's how it started.
<CB>Did you, fantastic, what about blues and so on? You must of come on to that later then, presumably.
<CF>Just after the skiffles ended, Rock and Roll came along. I used to be an apprentice carpenter and joiner. When I got my wages every Friday, which wasn't a lot of money, I think about £3 for an apprentice then. I used to go across the road, to a shop called Star Records and I used to say to the lady, "What have you got in then? Anything good?" She'd reply, "I've got this singer called Sarah Vaughan, have you ever heard of her?I've got this singer called Sarah Vaughan, have you ever heard of her? "No" I'd say, so she'd play this album and I say, "I'll have that album". She got me into Dakota Staton, Jeri Southern, Anita O' Day and Chris Connor. I was really into women singers, especially of that period. Jeri Southern is my favorite, then of course, Ray Charles and then Rock and Roll started and that's what I went into then.
<CB>I see, and then you were hooked, It gets all of us in the end that way.
<CF>Yeah it does
<CB>I'm pleased to present our studio session recorded by my band with this week's guest, Chris Farlowe. Chris became famous for singing a certain song, which funnily enough, the first record of it he made, came out under a different name. This has always puzzled me somewhat. Own up Chris, what was it?
<CF>It was Little Joe Cook 'Stormy Monday Blues', on Sioux Records from Island Company with Chris Blackwell. We just did a session for them and while they were setting up the microphones and rest of the instruments, he just said to me, Albert and the band, play a song for us so we can adjust the microphones. We did 'Stormy Monday Blues', and It was released, without my knowledge. It is regarded as one of the best blues records ever made in England
<CB>I think it was written by T-Bone Walker. Although as usual with blues artist they all reckon they wrote them. Anyway they pinch them off somebody else. But it's Stormy Monday Blues and Tuesday's just as bad and here it is: Chris Farlowe.
<CB>Well that was Stormy Monday Blues, a sad tale. Now you mentioned, when you recorded that you had the band with you. Of course I didn't mention that yet, because you had a most excellent and successful rhythm and blues, if I can call it that, soul type band, the Thunderbirds In the sixties, I used to go and listen to you down at the old Flamingo. Rick used to let me in for nothing. Not bad really was it, but I owned the Marquee so he couldn't refuse because I let him in for nothing. You had Albert Lee on the guitar. Was he just one of a group of friends who met together or did you actually go out and hire a band, looking round to see who there was.
<CF>I had a band from the early days from school, all the friends of mine that were in the Thunderbirds were actual mates that were at school. One day, we needed a guitar player, and somebody said, I've got a friend who lives in Tidbrook, he's a great guitar player, do you want me to introduce you? I said, bring him up to the Flamingo, and it was Albert Lee. He came up and said he was looking for a job. He'd just been working with Rory Blackwell, I think, in Germany, and I'd never heard of him before. I said, well have you got a guitar with you? He said "Yeah" and got up on stage and played about three or four numbers. I said to him, "you can start in the band now if you want, you're in!". He is one of the great guitar players. Now of course he's famous, mainly in America for his country stuff. He does a lot with Dolly Parton and Crystal Gayle, and the Everly Brothers of course. We're still in touch with each other.
<CB>About that time, it seemed that Mick Jagger got interested in your singing, or was it just a matter of a publishing company coming to you?
<CF>We knew the Stones before they were the Stones. We used to play the very early clubs like Ricky Chick and the Reading Town Hall and the Stones used to come along and listen to us, like Jimmy Page did before he ever thought of being in Led Zeppelin. He used to come along and watch our guitarist and say "I love your guitar player, he's great". They just said one day, we're forming a band, called the Rolling Stones. I wished them success and all the best. Owing to all these people meeting up like that in these different clubs in London, you became friends. When they started to become successful they turned round and said, you're my mate, I'll write a song for you. Fortunately for me, it was one of the classic songs, 'Out of Time'.
<CB>So having had 'Out of Time' as a hit did your professional life change drastically, or just a bit
<CF>Just a bit I think. I've never been a person to be headstrong by fame. It didn't come to me, 'I never thought I'm a big ego fan, I'm it!I never thought I'm a big ego fan, I'm it!'. I was a carpenter and joiner at the time, I stopped being a carpenter and joiner after a number one record of course, but I still do carpentry and joinery and I've still got a shop, an antique shop. I still like making furniture. I learnt that trade and I still like doing it. I'm one of those people that likes fame, I mean, I love going out. When we go abroad, we are very well known in Europe, and I go out, I might be going to the antique shops to have a look around, and I'm walking down the street or I'll fancy a coffee outside on the pavement, especially in places like Czechoslovakia or East Germany as it was then. You get people coming, standing around you, pointing and saying "that's Chris Farlowe". I'll say 'Hello' and ask if they want to come and join me for a cup of coffee. They're all amazed at that, I've never been one to put myself above these people and never will.
<CB>Well now, we've got a nice song here which was Sam Cooke's song originally and Eric Burdon and the Animals of course did it, which became rather well known. We didn't do the Yeah, Yeah bit that they put in which I think a good idea myself. 'Bring it on Home to Me', Chris.
<CB>We have been listening to my very good friend Chris Farlowe singing 'Bring it on home to me'. Chris I remember going down to the Flamingo to see you. It was like a rendezvous for anyone that was about down there . What was it like? You were there week after week, if not day after day at the Flamingo for years, weren't you?
<CF>I used go down there for the early set and be there all night, 'an all nighter', right until five 'o' clock in the morning. First, the Count Basie's Orchestra would come in, sit around, have a drink and look at all the bands, listen and have a talk to their girlfriends. Then you'd get Nina Simone coming in and saying hello. In my case, I was singing for about an hour and a half when someone said to me, did I notice that black guy sitting in the front row of the cinema seats. I said, they're all black, they're all GI's from the bases. He said, that was Otis Reading, I said "no, go away!" . So I went back in the dressing room and five minutes later he walked in and said "Hello, my name's Otis Reading" . I said, "jeepers creepers". He said, "I think you're a fabulous singer. I'm doing a TV show on Friday called 'Ready Steady Go' and I want you to be my guest on my show". That really put the icing on the cake. It was great in those days. My mate used to call me and say "Are you going down the Flam tonight?Are you going down the Flam tonight?", and I'd say, "I don't know, who's on?" He'd reply, "Larry Williams and Johnny guitar Watson are on tonight" I'd say "Yeah, come on lets go down there!". You could go down there every night and see these people, with such a great feel for the music and for us to learn, and to also see people like: Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, everybody. Little Stevie Wonder. Jimi Hendrix came down the first night he ever arrived in England. It was fantastic and it will never happen again.
<CB>Its quite a big transition from theThunderbirds which is a straight forward rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul combo, and a very good one at that, to play with Colosseum with Jon Hiseman and because its quite a quantum leap in a different direction or do you just sing the same anyway?
<CF>I sing the same anyway. It's just that I was never tested to sing that sort of stuff, when Dave Greenslade rang me up and said we're looking for a singer for Colosseum, I'd never even heard of Colosseum!, I didn't even know what they were. So I went along to the rehearsals and I listened to what they were doing and I started singing along. I think, what with my ability to be able to learn, like when I was younger, from Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett and Dakota Staton and mix all these styles up in my head and start doing skat, the stuff, that Colosseum were doing, I thought, well, 'that's easy'. I'd never found singing hard. Whatever I've had to sing, it's just been like rolling off a log for me. It's like Opera, I'd love to try opera. I never have, but I'd love to do it. I've had people come up to me from an Israeli Philamonic Orchestra. The guy said to me, "Have you ever sung opera?" He was the lead violinist. I said, "No, never". "You should do it, you are good". I said, "Well I don't know". I can sing Palliachi and people say, that's good.
<CB>I thought we might do a number by the late Walter Jacobs, Little Walter. Wonderful harmonica player, he's the only one of the blues harmonica players who really plays the instrument as a jazz musician would, like Johnny Hodges would. It's called 'My Babe'. If we can get together, a bit of our kind of stuff and a bit of your kind of stuff, what the hell, we'll have a go. Chris Farlowe, thank you very much indeed for joining me on this occasion, I know you're on the way between rehearsals and a gig somewhere else, so thank you so much. And 'My Babe', here we go.
<CF>It's a pleasure, thank you.