Small Faces

  • Something I Want To Tell You: Kenney Jones talks to Tootal Blog.

    When you have been drummer for the Small Faces, The Faces and The Who – three of the greatest bands this country has ever produced - kept the beat behind Paul McCartney, Paul Rodgers, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis (and played on Art Garfunkel’s ‘Bright Eyes’), had number 1 singles on both sides of the Atlantic, beaten cancer twice and survived to tell the tale then it’s undoubtedly a tale worth telling.

    Tootal Blog caught up with Kenney Jones ahead of the publication of his autobiography.

    Was there much music in your home when you were growing up?

    No. What we did have was a radio, the old sort that you had to tune in so the choice was whatever they were playing. My Dad’s favourite singer was Michael Holliday, who sang “Some day I’m going to write the story of my life…” That’s kind of appropriate, isn’t it? TV wise we had Edmundo Ross and his Orchestra, Sunday Night At The Palladium, Billy Cotton and his Band, all that kind of stuff.

    So where did the urge to become a drummer stem from?

    Without me realising it, drumming must have been in my blood. My uncle was a mace thrower, he couldn’t play any instrument whatsoever but he got the big pole, and the big hat with the feathers on it, and he was the one that lead the band round the east London processions and I used to follow them. They had a row of side-drummers at the front, and I was mesmerised by them. I used to rush back after the procession had finished, into my Dad’s shed – he was a bit of a part-time carpenter – and I used to empty all of the nails out of this round biscuit tin, turn it upside down, and play with two bits of wood. And it sounded like a snare drum, and it sounded like the band I’d just been listening to.

    How do you get to practice drums when you’re growing up on a terraced street in Stepney?

    Kenney circa 1966. Handsome fellow, dapper chap.

    In the front room of our house. Neighbours either side, neighbours opposite, but in those days every street was like a village, and we knew all the neighbours. Didn’t stop them saying, ‘Shut up, Kenney’… There were lots of young kids, the same age as me, growing up on our street, so all the mothers and fathers were friendly, so when my success happened within eighteen months, I reckon, they were so proud of me and it switched from ‘Shut up, Kenney’ to ‘Give us a tune, Kenney’. Though they might have just been pleased that I wasn’t playing the drums at home anymore; they all got a bit of peace and quiet when I left.

    I’ve read that you only started playing drums because you missed out on buying a banjo.

    Me and my mate were cleaning cars, for half a crown - a bit of pocket money on a Friday night. And he threw the sponge at me, just to get my attention, and he said, ‘I think we should form a skiffle group’. So, I threw the sponge back at him and said, ‘What’s a skiffle group?’ And he said a skiffle group is when you get a tea chest, and you get a broom handle stick it in one corner, tie a bit of string to the top and stick the end of it in the other corner, and that makes the sound of a bass. So, I said, ‘Yeah…’ Then he said, ‘You get your mum’s washboard and your nan’s thimbles, stick ‘em on your fingers, and you play with your fingers running them up and down the washboard.’ By this time I thought he was nuts but there was a TV programme, it might have been Six-Five Special, and Lonnie Donegan came on, singing the theme tune, and he did ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’ after that, and I fell in love with him playing the banjo, I loved that sound.

    I’d seen a banjo in the Pawn Shop next to Bethnal Green station, the three gold balls outside, and it had been there for months, so the next day I said to my mate, ‘Let’s go and get that’. So we went up there to buy it, no money in our pockets, just keen. But we got there and there’s no banjo – it had been there months. So, I said to the guy, ‘Where is it?’ And he said, ‘The guy’s paid for it; this is a Pawn Shop. He’s paid the money back, and it’s gone’. So, we left that shop, and I was kind of down a little bit, walking back home, and my mate said to me, ‘You’re really upset, aren’t you? A mate of mine’s got a drum kit, shall I get him to bring it round this afternoon?’

    Small Faces, Sydney Airport, 1968, with Immediate Records boss Andrew Loog Oldham (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

    Sure enough he bought the drum kit round, and it turned out to be one bass drum, a floor tom-tom and two sticks, one of which was broken in half. We spent ages trying to glue this one stick back together but gave up on that and I started playing with one-and-a-half sticks, God knows what I sounded like. My Mum worked in a glass factory, just off Cable Street, and she’d walk home underneath the railway arches. We lived halfway down the road, and she saw that all the neighbours were out, and she wondered what the commotion was. And as she got closer and closer she realised it was coming from her house, she came in the door and started screaming at me, ‘What’s happening here, what’s all this?’

    Then someone told me about a music shop in Green Lane, Manor Park, called J60. And in the shop was this one white drum kit, a cheap one called an Olympia. So the guy said, ‘It’s Sixty Four Pounds, Five Shillings and Tuppence. Have you got it on you then? And I said, no, I haven’t got it on me. So, he said, ‘How are you going to pay for it then?’ I said, ‘Well… I dunno.’ He said, ‘You’re going to have to put it on H.P. but your Mum and Dad are going to have to sign the forms.”

    I didn’t know what H.P. was, I thought it was brown sauce. Then he said, ‘You also need a deposit, ten pounds, have you got that on you?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘I’ll get it though’. So I got back on the bus, went back to my house and no one was in, just my Mum’s purse on the mantelpiece. And I looked at it for ages and ages, and there was exactly ten pounds in there. So, back on the bus, gave the guy the deposit, and he said, ‘Right, what’s your address? I’ll deliver them tonight, about half past five’.

    Now, when my Dad finished work, after about five o’clock, no one knocked on our door, so when this guy delivered the drums, bang, bang, bang on the knocker it was, ‘Who’s that?’ So, my Dad opened the door and this guy walked straight past him with a great big bass drum and said, ‘Where do you want this then?” By this time my Mum and Dad are giving me evil looks, ‘What have you got up to now?’ This guy said, ‘Right, I’ll just play something; can you play drums?’ I said, ‘No, I want to learn how to play, that’s why I’ve got them’. He said, ‘Look, I’ll show you something’, and he got brushes out instead of sticks. I’d never seen brushes before, so I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ He sat behind it and he played a Jazz shuffle with the brushes. Then I sat behind the drum kit. I looked at my Mum and Dad, and I looked at this guy and I looked at the brushes, I closed my eyes and I started playing… and I kept my eyes shut but I could hear the same sound as this bloke had been playing. And I opened my eyes and my Mum and Dad said we’ve never seen you smile so much, so they decided to sign the H.P. They didn’t know about the ten pounds at this point, that came out later, when I had to pay them back. More than ten quid; best investment they ever made.

    Legend has it that the Small Faces had accounts with all the Carnaby Street clothes shops in the mid-Sixties.

    Ronnie, Kenney and Mac, buying up Carnaby Street, 1965 (Photo: Pictorial Press)

    In those days there were only about three shops down there; Lord John, John Stevens and Topper’s. Other ones came after that, they were always going in and out of business but there weren’t that many. We went on TV wearing outfits that we’d pulled together, then the shops made up what we were wearing and put them on sale. We put Carnaby Street on the map, that’s where our management offices were and where there’s a commemorative plaque now.

    We didn’t know what ‘style’ was; we had to be on TV so we were like, ‘What can we wear?’ The white Levis, I got those – no one wanted to buy the white ones but I loved them; I used to roll them up so you could see my bright socks underneath. We’d go out to find a jacket to wear, ‘Yeah, that will go with that, wear that with the white Levis, Hush Puppies and stuff like that’. Topper’s was really good at the time, I got really friendly with the guy who owned it; I love shoes. I bought these multi-coloured basket weave shoes, all sorts of stuff.

    For many years the Immediate Records (the Small Faces label) business affairs were in a mess and it seemed you were single handedly fighting to sort it out.

    I still am, I’m not giving up. Whoever bought the label owes us the money, they’re all living in denial. We had our own publishing company, and the receiver should have declared that but didn’t, slipped it under the covers. The receiver went off to Spain and retired a wealthy man, and there we were struggling; Ronnie Lane died with no money in his pocket, Mac was very similar… We must have had ‘Mug’ or ‘Screw us’ tattooed on our foreheads.

    One thing I did learn is there’s a thing called sleeping on your rights. As long as you keep asking and sending letters, and poking about, otherwise when it does come up a judge will say you’ve known about this all along, why didn’t you do anything about it? So, they can’t accuse us ever of sleeping on our rights because I keep on digging, and I can prove it.

    Both the Small Faces and The Faces had a reputation for knowing how to enjoy themselves.

    The Faces circa 1975 (L. to R. Tetsu Yamauchi, Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart, Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan)

    The Small Faces were never into drinking. More into smoking a bit of pot, and I was into the same thing as Mooney, we called them Blues. They were only to keep us awake, because Don Arden was booking us three gigs a day, one in Birmingham, one in Manchester and one in wherever, and you would find yourself falling asleep. In those days, gigs weren’t that long, you only had to play for about twenty minutes. You couldn’t play for longer anyway, because the screaming kids would drive you nuts; you couldn’t hear yourself at all. Amplifiers weren’t big or loud enough to drown out the sound of the girls.

    We were drinking by the time of The Faces, quite a lot actually. Brandy and coke or brandy and ginger was our drink. When we got to America it was Lancers wine, and – I hate to say it – Liebfraumilch, which is awful. That’s all we could afford in those days, we used to buy some bottles and throw them out to the audience so they could have a drink with us… Then we discovered better drinks.

    For the 1973 ‘live’ album Coast to Coast: Overtures & Beginners you were billed as Rod Stewart & The Faces. Did it concern you that you were seen as Rod’s backing band?

    No, we didn’t realise it when we were signing to Warner Brothers – it only came out that day - that Rod had already signed a solo deal with Mercury Records, so he could have the money to buy a Marcos sports car. It just so happened, the boss at Warner Brothers, Joe Smith, and the boss at Mercury were great friends, so they worked out a deal where Rod could sing with us as the Faces, providing we gave Mercury one ‘live’ album, which was ‘Overtures & Beginners’, so that’s how that came out, no one was doing the dirty.

    You had recorded with The Who as early as the Tommy soundtrack in 1975 but it still can’t have been easy to step into Keith Moon’s shoes when you joined The Who in 1979?

    The Who at Live Aid, 13 July 1985 (Photo: Dave Hogan)

    I was forming a band with Glyn Johns, a half American, half English transatlantic thing. A great sound, great songwriting, everyone was excited about it. We rented a house over there and we were going to rehearse and record there, when I got a call from (The Who manager) Bill Curbishley to say, ‘The Who have had a meeting, they want you to join the band and they’re not going to consider anyone else’. So I said, ‘I’m terribly sorry, Bill, but I can’t. I’m forming a band, we’re just about to sign with Atlantic Records and they’re giving us loads of money’. He said, ‘Well, Pete’s coming in the office this afternoon, come and have a word with Pete’. So we talked for about two hours, the three of us, laughing and joking about all the things we’d got up to when Pete just stopped in his tracks and said, ‘You’ve got to join the band, you’re one of us; you’re a Mod’. It kind of struck a chord…

    Then it started to get serious. He said, ‘Look, in many ways Keith was holding us back a little because basically he played in his own way, and we were playing to it, but now we have a chance to do something completely different’. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll join but I’m not taking Keith Moon’s place. No one can copy Keith, I’m not even going to attempt it, he had a unique style. And not only that he was far more of a showman than I was… than anyone was. And I can’t imagine breaking up my drums, or anything like that’.

    Polo doesn’t seem an obvious pastime for a drummer from east London. How did that come about?

    Strike A Pose: Kenny at Hurtwood Park Polo Club, August 2014 (Photo: Mike Lawn)

    I blame it on Steve Marriott. We were rehearsing in the East End, Jimmy Winston’s mum and dad has this pub, The Ruskin Arms, with a small ballroom at the back, and it was a hot summer’s day. Steve arrived and said it’s far too hot to rehearse, a friend of mine’s got a stable yard in Epping, so I’ve fixed us up riding horses, get out of the place for the day. So, we went, yeah, and I thought, I’ve never been on a horse, lovely, great. So, we got out there, got on these horses and had a good laugh, and I loved it. They fell off and I fell on. And I went back the next day, and the next, and the minute we had some money in our pocket I ended up buying a horse called Pedro, a Welsh stallion, and a saddle, and stuff like that, and that was the first thing I bought with my money.

    Once I discovered Polo, I got hooked. I tried to learn to play at the Ham Polo Club in 1969, when (Cream drummer) Ginger Baker had just taken it up; he couldn’t ride at all. At least I could ride; every time I looked round Ginger was off his horse. He was wearing his suede jacket with all the tassels on the sleeve, running after his horse, polo stick in his hand; it made me laugh.

    What are you going to do between now and the next volume of your autobiography?

    When I was in my early thirties and I did interviews, people would say to me, so much has happened to you so quickly, you should write a book and I thought, yeah. So, I started but stopped almost straight away. I thought, this doesn’t feel right, I can’t write an autobiography; I’m not old enough. So I parked it until now, I had to live some life. It’s only when I got cancer for the second time that I thought I better sit down and do something about it. So here it is… and it’s nice that this book is coming out in my 70th year.






               Let The Good Times Roll by Kenney Jones is out 31st May RRP £20 (Blink Publishing)

  • Passion Play: Tootal Blog Talks To Carol Harrison 'As All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical' Prepares For A West End Run

    There are so many elements of the Small Faces story that cross over into your own life it’s difficult to know where to start. Shall we begin with your shared roots in the East End of London?

    Ronnie lived in Manor Park then Forest Gate, and Steve lived in Manor Park – he lived two streets away from my cousins. They hung out together; they were all Mods, one of my cousins was in a band with Steve, and he used to come round to our house in Upton Park as well. So, that’s how I first met him, that’s our mutual roots. I took myself off to Youth Theatre when I was eleven, and it was based in Monega Road School, which is the school Steve went to. It’s extraordinary the things I realised once I started researching the story, all these crazy coincidences.

    It wasn’t as if I had always intended to write this story. I wanted to write something about the Sixties that was authentic, compared to other things that I have seen. It was important to me to be a musical because it was all about the music, and style and the changes that went on. For me the epitome of that was the Mod movement, and the epitome of Mod was the Small Faces. Plus my connection with Steve – it was extraordinary how it all came together.

    So All Or Nothing is your story as well?

    It is; it’s nice of you to recognise that. Cause people think I’ve just taken the story of the Small Faces, but whilst I am telling their story for them so much of it is also about me.

    It didn’t start out being the story of the Small Faces but the more I learnt, the more I thought their story had everything; it’s a drama, a tragedy. It’s the classic Rock ‘n’ Roll tale, rising so quickly and then the self-destruction, the exploitation and the fall-outs. Ultimately two of them died quite tragically, far too young. So, it became the story of the Small Faces, and seeing the whole Mod movement and my 1960s through it. That’s the way it evolved.

    It seems Sixties music and fashion played a large role in your formative years?

    Very much so - and they still do. I love the whole Mod movement, and to me it was like a fresh beginning. The Fifties, and even the early Sixties were pretty grim. Going to school in the East End, we had these Smog Masks; it was so bad. I can remember this big snow that we had in ’63, we loved it and then this wonderful snow all turned black.

    All Too Beautiful: The cast of All Or Nothing: The Mod Musical

    The Sixties stuff that I’d seen – even the ones that weren’t particularly Mod – they’re all fluffy, and not reflective of the Sixties I remember. There have been a few attempts that didn’t really understand the movement; they just wanted to put the clothes on. I love Quadrophenia, obviously; it’s the only thing that’s really captured anything to do with Mod. I wanted to make something authentic, dynamic, exciting but also a real play, as well as a musical. Because a lot of musicals are just another excuse for a song, a very thin story. This isn’t a jukebox musical; it’s really not that. It transports you there, that’s what our audiences say. The clothes are authentic, the sounds are authentic, and it’s all played live. I don’t see any other way you can recapture the excitement. Do it with passion… and obviously it was a passion piece for me.

    Did music play a big part in the home when you were growing up?

    Oh, yeah, very much so. I was from a single parent family but my Mum loved music - things like Patsy Cline - and she was a good singer, as well. There was always a record player, though it was a wind-up one at the beginning. We’d go round to my Aunties’, and they’d be off talking somewhere else and I’d be with the gramophone, putting the Buddy Holly’s on, Elvis… all that stuff; knowing all the words. Then obviously The Beatles came along, and the whole Mod sound; Soul, Tamla – which I was really into – and then Ska was a very big part of when I was growing up. By the time I was fourteen I was an original Skinhead Girl. Not what most people now associate with being a Skinhead because it was just a continuation of Mod.

    Can you remember the first record you bought?

    The first record I bought with my own money… I think there were two; I bought “My Boy Lollipop”, and I bought The Yardbirds “For Your Love”. I’d regularly buy records, every Saturday. I used to have a Saturday job; I’d get 12/6 and then run to the tailors to pay off my mohair suit. Then across the road to the record shop, it was called something like Top Ten. It was small but it was great because they would import American R&B and Soul. You had to order stuff. You had to wait. That was the ritual; music was such a big part of my life.

    And then, from about 13 years on I was out dancing, youth clubs most nights. And although I shouldn’t have been, from when I was about 14 or 15 going to the Marquee, places like that. Getting in lots of trouble. But I’m so glad I did.

    What about the first time you were allowed to buy your own clothes?

    West End Girls: The Ladies of All Or Nothing: The Mod Musical

    I was lucky enough to have a Mum who was a tailor, so she made me a lot of my clothes because we didn’t have much money, but she was able to look at something and make it out of a remnant, which would cost next to nothing. I was very lucky that way, and I always looked great.

    There was this particular tailors, it was the place to go. My Mum wasn’t very happy because she could have made a mohair suit but it had to be from this place otherwise it wasn’t cool enough. Like we say in the show, “It’s all about the detail”. Another of the lines is “Just because we come from bombsites and no bathrooms, doesn’t mean we can’t have style and taste.” That’s how it was; it was very heavily bombed, we used to play on those bombsites. Between where Steve Marriott lived and my cousins in Manor Park was a bombsite we used to play on, and I'm convinced that’s 'Itchycoo Park'; we used to call it that, it had the stinging nettles that would get your ankles and stuff, when you were playing there.

    And Steve Marriott began his show business career as an actor. How did your own acting career begin?

    I always wanted to be an actress from six years old; I wouldn’t have anything else. There weren’t many options at Harold Road Secondary; when the “Careers Advisors”, as they were supposed to be, would come and say, “Hands up who is going to be a typist?” or “Who is going to work in a shop? and “Who is going to work in the Tate & Lyle factory?” And I’d say, “I’m going to be an actress. I’m going to drama school”. And they’d go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…”. It’s like I was a compete fantasist. But that was me; determined. Nothing could get in my way.

    Always a fight, everything was a struggle but, you know, “All Or Nothing”. Why take less? Let’s try for the “All”.

    All Or Nothing started at a small London theatre, you’ve had three sell-out UK tours and now you are back in London for a West End theatre run.

    We started at a place underneath Waterloo Station called The Vaults, which was brilliant because it was like being in a Sixties club, the UFO, places like that. It was a riot. I don’t think the people at the theatre were ready for us; they had no idea that they would get hundreds of scooters turning up, people suited and booted – they’d never taken so much at their bar! It was wonderful; we were sold out all the time, we had to turn people away.

    And those scenes were repeated up and down the country. People would travel just to see us; they don’t just come once, they come three, four, five times. One guy come up to me after, and he said, “The government should give everyone over the age of 60 a pass to come and see this show, because you come out rejuvenated. They’d save a fortune on the NHS”. We actually wrote to Jeremy Hunt to tell him; didn’t get any reply, mind…

    And it’s bought new people into the theatre, people that don’t usually go, which is really important. Not just people of my age, the youngsters come as well. I call it a trans-generational musical, ‘cause it cuts through the ages. Seventeen to Seventy; in together, sharing the experience, which is great.

    Has it always been plain sailing?

    No, it’s been hell. Eight years trying to get it to the theatre. First of all, it’s not conventional; it’s not a typical musical, it’s not “jazz hands”, which is exactly what I didn’t want it to be. But for the theatre establishment that’s a “No”. “It needs to be more fluffy.” “It’s not the Sixties I remember.” “Who’d be interested in Mods?’ “Who’d be interested in Small Faces?” All those things; complete ignorance. “If you can get someone from The X Factor in it, if you’re lucky enough, then you might sell some tickets”. Obviously I said, “Over my dead body”.

    I knew there were people out there like me. I want to bring music and theatre together, and it can be a cool experience; it doesn’t have to be naff, it doesn’t have to be fluffy. The Sixties weren’t; they were revolution.

    The Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Laundrette: From All Or Nothing: The Mod Musical, September 2017

    I tried to explain to people that this is like a really well kept secret; there are people of a certain age who go out all the time. They don’t sit in front of the telly watching TV. They go out every weekend; they are out doing all-nighters. There’s a whole Mod movement that’s going on; it’s about dancing, and meeting with people. It’s out there, and they are all over the world.

    I put lots of my own time and money into it. Time when I could have been acting; doing the easy option. But I had to produce it myself, and direct it, make sure everything’s authentic, and oversee it all. I eventually found some investors who believed in me, and believed in what I was saying, and who loved it. For the budgets that other people have we’ve done it on virtually nothing. I’ve got sixteen cast and fourteen crew, to create that live experience. But I did it eventually, out of sheer tenacity, and to spite all those people saying, “It’s never going to work. You will never get it off the ground”. The more they said that, the more I thought, ”Fuck you”.

    Before you even started writing All Or Nothing did you spend a considerable amount of time in research?

    It wasn’t too long really. Obviously I had a personal involvement; a lot of the people who were around the band I knew anyway. I spent time with Kay, Stevie’s mum, and his sister, and with Stan Lane, who is Ronnie’s brother, and P.P. Arnold, who has become a great, great friend. So, it didn’t take that long to write the initial script. Once I’d decided how I could present it, how I could look at it in hindsight a little bit as well, then it kind of flowed and the actual writing of it was only about six months. Obviously it’s gone through lots of different draughts, even now I’ll make changes for the West End; polish it and polish it. I think I’m on Draught Sixteen now… Then it was more about getting the finance behind it, getting people to believe that it could be done.

    You have taken on the formidable task of writing, directing, producing and starring in All Or Nothing – that must be a challenge?

    I don’t know how I’ve done it. Tenacity and passion, I think. I wouldn’t say I’m the star, my two Steve Marriott’s are the stars, and the young band. I play Steve’s Mum, Kay, and some other parts in it as well but they’re kind of cameos, you know… I don’t know how I did it actually, and if I think about it, I wouldn’t do it again, I don’t think I’ve got enough years left.

    I’m still amazed that it’s in the West End, and I really want it to be a success. The Arts Theatre is a great venue for it, and we’ve got an option to come back here in the autumn, so fingers crossed we can do that. I just hope that the audience will keep supporting us, and someone will come up with some money… that would be helpful. And it should be there in the West End now; we’ve built up our audience, and people have seen it time and time and time again. There are lots of American musicals in the West End but this is home grown, this is our chance to reach people that don’t know about the Mod movement, or Britain in the Sixties.

    You’ve had support and involvement from Steve’s daughters – Mollie and Tonya – and from P.P. Arnold, who is, of course, a “character” in the play. Did that add any pressure or make it any easier?

    When you portray anyone who is real, the pressure is to do him or her justice. Luckily, well not just “luckily”, but by design I have done them justice. Most specifically for Ronnie, Steve and Mac who are no longer with us. All their families, other musicians that worked with them, they have loved what I’ve done for them, what we have done with their story. That’s why it is so important that it is authentic, that it is real. What is great is that it’s giving people their history back, like Mollie, Steve’s daughter, who is our vocal coach and who lost her Dad when she was six, and the Lane boys, who have lost their Dad. That’s something that I’m very proud of.

    Have you had to make many changes to the cast for this West End run?

    There are but, er, five Small Faces: Stefan Edwards (Kenney Jones), Stanton Wright (Ronnie Lane), Chris Simmons (older Steve Marriott), Carol Harrison (Kay Marriott), Sam Pope (younger Steve Marriott) and Alexander Gold (Ian McLagan)

    No, the band is the same. We’ve still got Chris Simmons, who plays the older Steve Marriott, and Russell Floyd who plays Don Arden, and who I was in EastEnders with. It’s mostly the same people; there are a few changes but they’re just minor.

    The band is really tight now, and Sam Pope, our young Steve Marriott, is unbelievable. He wasn’t at the beginning but I’ve kind of nurtured him, as has Pat Davey, our musical supervisor, who has made that band so amazing. It’s uncanny for me, because knowing Steve… sometimes it gives me goose bumps. I look at Sam and he is Steve, and other people have said that too.

    Does you ever look at the size of this show, or how far it has come and wonder “what have I created?”

    Yes, it is enormous. There have been times when we had to change some of the band because they started to think they were Rock Stars. So you have to deal with that. You have to deal with the fact that, at the beginning, people were suspicious; people who thought they were “The Guardians of Mod”, and then realised that I totally knew what I was talking about; much more about it than they did because I actually knew the band, the people involved, I was there at the time. We’ve had a few issues with people trying to screw money out of us, who have suddenly come out of the woodwork, when they didn’t want to know before we got some success.

    All Or Nothing has occupied the last seven or eight years of you life. Dare we ask “What’s next for you?”

    Carol Harrison: A rare picture of Carol when not writing, directing, producing or acting.

    Well, I’m talking about a film now; it won’t be based on the stage play... but I’m going to be writing that. I would like to think that one day the show can live a life without me, but because I’ve created it – and it is my baby – it’s still got so far to go. In some ways I’m scared to let it go. We still need to get established in the West End, and we still need to go out on tour around the world. There’s so much more… so much further that it can go. And I want to make sure for those people who believed in it, those people who have been there since the beginning, and the investors, that they get just rewards.

    There are other projects I want to do, as well. I did manage to do a couple of episodes of Doctors last year; I did a bit of acting, didn’t have to think about All Or Nothing for a couple of days. I’d like to do a great sitcom again. I had this great series I did with Ray Winstone, Get Back… I’d love to do something like that again but then I’m so much older. The passion’s still there, and the enthusiasm but I’m not sure I like how I see myself on the screen anymore.

    And there’s lots more writing for the stage and screen in me; people keep saying, “Why don’t you write The Jam musical?” but who knows what the future holds, I’m just taking each day as it comes.


    All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical opens at The Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JB on Tuesday 6th February and runs to Sunday 11th March 2018. Details and tickets at

    Find out more at

    Twitter: @AONTheMusical

    Facebook: @AllOrNothingTheMusical

  • Soul Legend P. P. Arnold Tells Tootal Blog About Her New Album, 50 Years In The Making

    P. P. Arnold arrived in England as an Ikette with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and was spotted by Mick Jagger who convinced Andrew Loog Oldham to sign her to his Immediate record label. Several hits followed, the best-known being  'The First Cut Is The Deepest', ‘Angel Of The Morning’ and ‘(If You Think You're) Groovy’. P. P. was one of the iconic faces of London's Swinging 60's.

    She has collaborated, recorded and toured alongside such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Small Faces, with her own band, The Nice led by Keith Emerson, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton, Humble Pie, Nick Drake, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Ocean Colour Scene, Primal Scream, The KLF, Dr. Robert, Oasis, Paul Weller… the list goes on and on.

    In 2017 P. P. Arnold finally gets to release an album started almost 50 years ago. Largely written and produced by the Bee Gees Barry Gibb, it also includes contributions from Eric Clapton, Jagger and Richards, Steve Winwood and Van Morrison.

    Tootal Blog spoke to her as she prepares to set out on a U.K. tour in October.

    Tell us something about your life in London in 1968?

    50 Years In The Making: The Turning Tide on glorious red vinyl.

    Well, in 1968 it was actually great. I was living in Clarendon Road in one of the brand new townhouses, in Holland Park. Everybody used to come and visit me there. Ronnie Wood and his girlfriend, Chrissie, lived there for a while; it was just a great, great time.

    I had two kids already so I didn’t party as much as everybody else. I was working, if anything. And 1968 is when I met Barry Gibb, as well. All the recordings with Barry started during that period.

    And Jim Morris and I got married in 1968. That was the end of ’68, ‘cause I moved to Surrey. Very stupidly, we rented this Georgian manor house in Tilford, between Guildford and Farnham. Eighteen rooms… crazy. We paid 30 Guineas a week for it and it cost about 100 Quid a week to heat. It was a very stupid thing to do but it was great while it lasted.

    We had to move out; we only lived there for about 8 months, then we came back to London and lived in Pimlico. I was doing all the pre-production and recordings of The Turning Tide. That was the beginning of my artistic struggle really; of finding where I was going

    How does an album like The Turning Tide, with such an array of talent, stay buried for so long?

    The music industry is a weird business. Once you get put on the shelf, you stay on the shelf, unless you fight to get off. I never gave up on that work because it documents a part of my life, and my development when I was actually searching for my own identity, of who I was as an artist.

    Nobody knew what to do with me. Robert Stigwood was my manager; he didn’t like the recording. I was this “Pop Girl” from the Immediate days, and they weren’t supporting my development.

    The song ‘Bury Me Down By The River’ was released as a single in 1969. Did it do anything at the time?

    P. P. Arnold: A small sample of an enormous musical legacy.

    It didn’t get the attention it probably could have got if my management had been behind it. And ‘Bury Me Down By The River’ is a funny song for me; as beautiful as it is, I always felt that the lyric for me wasn’t positive. I got buried for a long time after that. As a singer you have to be careful about what we sing, words are powerful things. I didn’t have another record out for years.

    You’ve appeared on hundreds of recordings yet this will only be the fourth album bearing your name. Is that a source of frustration?

    Yes it is frustrating but black artists always have a struggle, don’t they? I think if I was a British artist or a white artist with all the credibility I have behind my name, it would be a different story. And I’m just saying it; I don’t like to hide behind any of that, it’s just a fact.

    Were you tempted to go to America and try signing to a label over there?

    I went to America in 1975 and it was the worst thing that I did. America is not a place to go to find a record deal. It’s very difficult to have records out if you don’t have management, if you don’t have a record label, if you don’t have a support system behind you. Today it’s easier. I manage to survive as an independent artist because of the internet. Having my own Facebook page, and my own website. Marketing and promoting and letting people know what you do. Back in those pre-internet days if you didn’t have a record out people just thought you were dead.

    This is a crazy business, you know, but it is the music BUSINESS. I’ve learnt how to survive and I just keep singing. And I have a lot of fans; they have been so loyal, so supportive, you know, so I’m one of the lucky ones. Whether you like it or not, you have to get involved in “The Business”. And the record industry is male dominated; they’re not too keen on doing business with women.

    You’re best known for your performances of other people’s songs but you have written your own material. Is that something you would like to have done more of?

    Well I have written a lot, I’ve got bags full of songs. When I was with Ten Records (mid-Eighties) I was encouraged not to write. They did not want me to write. Steve Lewis, who was head of Virgin Music, told me they were signing me so their writers could have me singing their songs. They weren’t promoting me as a writer. He actually said to me, “Why do you want to write songs? You’ve got a great voice”. I thought I want to write songs ‘cause that’s where the money is, in publishing. As a singer you’re on an artist royalty, it’s WAY not as much money as owning the song. It’s the writers who get paid.

    Did you work with Barry Gibb again in the ‘70s on an Andy Gibb record?

    P. P. Arnold (Centre) with the Small Faces (L to R): Ian McLagen, Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones

    Yes, I worked with Barry again. I hoped Barry and I were going to be able to finish my album but he was busy, he had a lot going on. It didn’t happen but we did the duet with Andy; that was the only thing.

    I’m sure you know that you are revered by Mods, and not just for your own work. You are the only living person who can claim to have played with both the Small Faces and Paul Weller.

    That’s my audience. I always say Paul is the Modfather and I’m the Modmother. I am so humbled by the love I get from the fans. I’m just loved up.

    What were your musical influences growing up?

    I’ve been singing Gospel from the time I was four years old. Then, of course, as a teenager; Motown, Stax, Atlantic, you know… all that music of the Sixties, all that West Coast stuff; The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Blossoms…

    And how did your career in music start?

    Ike Turner (L) with Ikette P. P. Arnold and Tina Turner

    It wasn’t an ambition of mine to be a professional singer. Never, never thought about it. It called me. It came from a prayer. I asked God to show me a way out of an abusive marriage that I was in and I ended up being an Ikette. Without ever having a desire to be, it wasn’t an ambition of mine to be an Ikette.

    Ike and Tina had two sets of Ikettes. One went on the road with the Dick Clark tours and the other set worked with the Revue. The girls that went with the Revue, Robbie (Montgomery), Jessie (Smith) and Venetta Fields, who also later worked with Humble Pie, they were leaving ‘cause they had their own record out and Ike Turner wouldn’t let them be independent. So they changed their name to The Mirettes, and they had their own hits on the Mirwood label.

    I had a phone call, from a girl named Maxine Smith and a girl named Gloria Scott – they called me and said they were going to this audition to be Ikettes. They need a girl to go with them to help them get the gig. “Come with us”. BAM! Put the phone down, didn’t give me a chance to say “No”, showed up at the door. I lied and told my husband I was going shopping. Next thing I know I’m at Ike and Tina’s house singing background on ‘Dancing In The Street’. Tina goes, “Right, girls, you’ve got the gig”. And I go, like, “No, not me. I can’t go. I’m in big trouble. My husband’s gonna beat me when I get back. I should have been home two hours ago”. So, Tina said, “Well, if you’re going to get beat for nothing you might as well go up to Fresno with us and at least see the gig”.

    I just went along because my life was miserable. I never did anything. I was still just a young girl but I had two kids already. So, I went to the gig, saw the gig, came home, my husband’s waiting for me, punched me in the head, “knocked some sense into me”. I had asked God to show me a way out and suddenly I have a way out. So, that’s how I came to get into show business. I never planned it. At all.

    You’re best known as a Soul singer but you’ve sung Folk music – you did the Sandy Denny tribute shows - and on stage for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Do you change your style when you do other types of music?

    Well, of course you do. You change to the music; the song’s about melody. I love doing different styles of music; I love being challenged. The thing that doesn’t change is my sound; I have a very distinctive sound. I’m known for Gospel or as a Soul singer but I can sing Hardcore Rhythm & Blues, like on the tracks that Eric Clapton produced. I sing a lot of Rock stuff; I do Musical theatre. The voice is an instrument so whatever it needs to be adapted to, that’s what you do. I like being flexible and I like fusing different styles of music together. I think that’s going to help my longevity in the industry as well. It’s the element of surprise, isn’t it? When they hear you, they think that you’re one thing then suddenly, “Oh, wow, she can do that too”. That’s an asset.

    Has clothing style always gone hand in hand with the music for you?

    That (Turning Tide) front cover photo, it’s of the times. That’s Granny Takes A Trip there. In those days you didn’t have stylists, you just bought things that you liked and you wore them. All the velvet, and gold braiding and stuff. Then you had all the Mod, Carnaby Street kind of stuff, all the real Dolly Bird looks, with Biba and all the different styles. But now, I hate shopping. My God, I never have time to shop; my life is always hectic. I like colour, old, new; I like vintage stuff but it’s a matter of budget too. You’ve got to have a good eye to find affordable things, ‘cause I’m not in the money yet. I’m not in the chips at the moment.

    It seems the next 12 months are going to be very busy for you.

    P. P. Arnold with Steve Cradock. A brand new album is due in 2018 (Photo © Karen Allen, 2017)

    Yes, I think the next five years, the next ten years. I’m trying to stay healthy and fit so that I can deal with it. It’s demanding, you know. When things start moving, they’re moving fast. I have a lot of experience in the industry, like being able to do all these interviews, I got a lot to talk about. It’s great, I enjoy it but now the main thing on my mind is I can’t wait to get to rehearsal on Monday. It’s all about the music to me.

    We’ve only got five days before the first gig. I’m doing six songs from the new album. These songs, I recorded them but I’ve never performed them live. And I’m doing ‘First Cut’, ‘Angel’, ‘Speak To Me’… I’m doing ‘(If You Think You’re) Groovy’, ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright’, ‘Natural Woman’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Uptight’. And ‘Tin Soldier’ – I think I’ll put that at the end of the set. It’s a pretty demanding set. Even though I’ve been preparing my voice for two months, until you’re with the band you don’t really know what’s happening. I’ll just have to not think about it and know everything’s going to be alright.

    I’m using Steve Cradock’s band. I’ve got Tony Coote on drums, Andy Flynn on guitar, Jake Fletcher on bass, a guy named Fred Ansell on keyboards and a lovely girl named Coco Malone is going to be singing backing vocals with Jake.

    There’s going to be some limited edition red vinyl available at the gigs, some on the website too but at the gigs I can sign them. Vinyl’s back. I’m back. Full circle.


    P. P. Arnold’s new album The Turning Tide is released by Kundalini Music on Friday 6th October 2017. You can order it here

    Details of the P. P. Arnold U.K. Tour in October 2017 with The Steve Cradock Band can be found here


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