Things take shape
With 'Technical Adviser' Eno onboard, the search continues for other suitable musicians. Meanwhile, Brian Eno is learning where to put the pins in a VCS3 as well as adding noises and repeat echo through his Revox.
Early Spring 1971 - ads are placed in the 'Musicians wanted' pages of the Melody Maker. Roger Bunn, previously guitarist with the terminally unknown 'Enjin', beings a brief stint as the band's 'axeman'. And, to continue the trend of apparently square pegs in round musical holes, classically trained, American orchestral tympanist Dexter Lloyd is invited to bash the skins.
June 1971 - This latter arrangement does not last. Dexter disappears - but not before some demos have been recorded. Bryan hawks his wares around Tin Pan Alley to blank incomprehension and a chorus of "too weird" from the money-no-taste-and-less-vision men.
In late summer, things teeter on the brink of disaster. Roger Bunn leaves. Small ads are placed in the 'Musicians Wanted' columns of the Melody Maker. Somewhere out there are two musicians on the look out for something new.
Drummer Paul Thompson is another Geordie. A Jarrow lad just turned twenty. A failed apprentice at the now closed Vickers shipyard, Paul has been in a variety of bands, first in the Newcastle area and then in London. Although they paid, they were gigs without a future and it is a matter of luck that Paul is in London when he spies the advert. Borrowing a friend's drum kit, and trading a little on his shared Geordie heritage with Bryan, Paul impresses. A rhythm section is re-established.
Filling the other role, though, is more problematic. The advert ("Wanted: Tricky Dick lead guitarist") draws in a few likely lads but Bryan has his heart set one man in particular. David O'List is a man with a reputation. The guitarist of British rock trio The Nice he has been there and done it. Hit singles, hit albums, tours... even US tours. O'List is a man with a profile, with a track record... and a suitably strange sound. Hardly the classic blues man, O'List has a sound and a technique that sets him apart from the crowd. What could be better for a band marching in the same direction? Things look good. Bryan sits down and designs a logo for the band. They are going to need one.
October 1971 - O'List is found and hired. But not everyone is overjoyed at Bryan's coup. One young hopeful has auditioned and impressed, but only to be told that the position is filled. He returns to his day job at Clarkson's Travel Agency and broods about the future. His previous band, Quiet Sun, has just broken up after a singular lack of success. For two years they had struggled to make some headway in the music business but, like Bryan's experience with record executives the length and breadth of London, they had failed to secure a contract. But the guitarist has heard something in the songs he was played at the audition which convinces him that this is a band worth following.
Philip Targett-Adams settles back down to selling package holidays and practising his scales on his Gibson 335.
December 1971 - Bryan decides the band is now ready for an adoring public. After an outing at a private party, the bands plays two gigs. Both exploit previous contacts. The first performance is at a 'Friends of the Tate Christmas Show' and another at Reading University's Christmas Student Union Ball. A few days before the Tate gig, another team member ups and leaves. There is suddenly a vacancy behind the Roxy mixing desk. Bryan opens his little black book and makes a call. A short time later, a tall, dark and bespectacled figure turns up at the house in Notting Hill where they are rehearsing. Phil Targett-Adams may not have got the guitarist's gig, but being a sound engineer will do for the time being. Anything is better than selling air tickets at a travel agents!
Paul Thompson. Born 13th May 1951, Jarrow, Co. Durham. Started drumming aged 15 after a few lessons from a local professional nightclub drummer. Left school at 16 to become an apprentice at Vickers Shipyard. Played with a number of local bands, The Influence, the Urge and with Billy Fury's backing band. 1969 joined Smokestack and in early 1971 moved to London with the band. During this year he left Smokestack and returned briefly to Tyneside. He happened to be in London when he saw the Melody Maker small ad looking for "a wonder drummer".
|David O'List made his name with 60's pomp rock
progenitors The Nice. This band, featuring organ player Keith Emerson later of
ELP fame, had briefly wowed audiences with their, then, technically proficient,
instrumentally orientated rock. The first album, the bizarrely title 'Dreams of
Emerlist Davjack'* was a success but, during the making of
the follow-up, 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis', O'List left, complaining musical
differences. After Roxy, he flitted about the fringes of the musical scene
until, along with Peter Oxendale and Andy Ellison he formed Jet, a band which
recorded an eponymous and unsuccessful album. He was last heard of some years
ago on the ELP discussion forum, trying to raise money for the release of an
* The band members were Emerson (kybrds), O'List (gtr), Davison (drms) and Jackson (bass). Thus the title.
"Making the breakthrough"