Thursday, 28 June 2018

Three Brothers: Eden Kane, Peter & Robin Sarstedt



THREE BROTHERS: 
 EDEN KANE, PETER 
& ROBIN SARSTEDT 

 Unique in British Top Forty history, the three Sarstedt brothers 
 had three separate careers across three distinct and different 
 eras of Pop. Andrew Darlington traces the stories of 
Eden Kane, Peter Sarstedt and Robin Sarstedt



In the statistics of British Pop history, studied and analysed by chart academics, the Sarstedt clan are unique in one distinct aspect, they’re the only sibling trio to rack up separate solo hits independent of each other. There have been dynasties, Frank and Nancy Sinatra. John and Julian Lennon. While the Osmonds and the Jacksons – two brothers and a sister each with solo hits, come close to the Sarstedt achievement, as do the Gibbs – of whom Andy and Robin have hit as soloists while Barry has charted in partnership with Barbra Streisand. But no family has yet quite matched the Sarstedt record of three separate career arcs across different periods of Pop history.

It starts with Eden Kane, possibly the last of the sultry Pop teen-mag pin-ups to slip in under the wire, before the Beat Group Wave changed all the rules. He began life on 29 March 1942 as Richard Graham Sarstedt. Like Cliff Richard and Engelbert Humperdinck, he was born in India, where parents Albert and Coral were New Delhi civil servants. When Richard was a child, the family – including younger brothers Peter and Clive, plus their three sisters (Lorraine, Pam and June) – move to Kurseong, to run a Darjeeling tea plantation on the Himalayan foothills. He attends a boarding school until, with his father's death in March 1954, the family return to Britain. They settle in Norbury, Croydon, where young Richard attends Heath Clark Grammar School. Distracted from homework by the Bill Haley backbeat on the radio, like a thousand others, he learned guitar and formed the Fabulous Five, a skiffle-group with his brothers.

He supposedly appeared in a low-budget and now-lost film called ‘Drinks All Round’ (1960) – although I can find no trace of it, but fortuitously won a talent contest held at the Chelsea ‘Classic Cinema’ on the Kings Road, which resulted in him being signed by the contest adjudicators and management duo of Michael Barclay and Philip Waddilove – Simon Cowell-style. The product of careful planning, it’s said he adopted his stage-name from Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’, well, perhaps, but there are obvious Biblical overtones intended to resonate too, after all – thrown out of Eden, Caine becomes the world’s first murderer.


The other contest prize was the opportunity to record a first record. Under the guise ‘Ricky Sears’ he wrote “Hot Chocolate Crazy” as a jingle – ‘man, she’s got it bad’, used to advertise a proprietary brand of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate, where it was heard on Radio Luxembourg almost as high-rotation as Horace Batchelor’s football pools commercial. But at a time when the BBC ruthlessly expunged all trace of advertising, long before product-placement became a vital part of funding, no brand-name could be seen or heard, excluded even from scenes in TV Soaps. As late as the Kinks “Lola” they had to rerecord the track – changing ‘Coca-Cola’ to ‘Cherry-Cola’, before Radio One would play it. During the less-innocent 1970s both the New Seekers and Bobby Goldsboro chart with cunningly re-drafted Cola adverts, while David Dundas hit no.3 in 1976 with a thinly-disguised Brutus “Jeans On” TV-ad. But meanwhile, denied air-time, even under the subterfuge as the ‘B’-side of August 1960 single “You Make Love So Well” (Pye Records), Eden Kane was pre-doomed not to chart. Yet it creates an awareness of his presence, sufficient to interest rival label, Decca.


Johnny Worth (alias Les Vandyke) had written “What Do You Want?” and “Poor Me” for Adam Faith almost two years earlier. Now, he came up with his third and final chart-topping song for another newcomer with a name taken from Genesis Chapter One! Produced by Bunny Lewis with a dancing-strings Johnny Keating arrangement, Eden’s Decca release “Well I Ask You” entered the ‘Record Retailer’ chart at no.33 (8 June 1961). For ‘New Musical Express’ it climbed to no.18 from no.27 (10 June). The listings published by rival papers rarely coincide, and frequently conflict. It climbed through 16, 15, 11, 5 and 2 before dethroning the Everly Brothers “Temptation” from the top slot for the single week of 3 August in ‘Record Mirror’ – two weeks for ‘NME’, before being replaced by Helen Shapiro’s “You Don’t Know”. It was propelled by what Phil Hardy and Dave Laing term ‘the hully-gully vein’, a combination of heavy beat and growl (‘The Encyclopedia Of Rock: Volume 1’, Panther, 1976). In the lyric his faithless lover wants to return, having learned her lesson, but ‘don’t think you’re getting away with it, you’re gonna pay me somehow’ he sneers, because ‘you cruelly wrecked my life’, now ‘get down on your knees and try, I won’t break till I see you cry.’ A tough-guy stance, contrasting the regular saccharine sweetness of contemporary Pop.

Never a hard Rocker, Eden’s swarthy photogenics and slicked-back quiff, with just a hint of Bad-Boy made him the ideal Teen Idol for the fan-mags and ‘Love-Story-In-Pictures’ romance-zines that regularly feature strip-tales ‘inspired’ by current hits. In that cosy contained very-English Pop world, Eden Kane was a gift for them, alongside Billy Fury and Cliff Richard who he’s now sharing tour-bills with… alongside Helen Shapiro. Larry Parne’s ‘The Big Star Show Of 1962’ saw Eden Kane in an immaculate white suit taking equal billing with John Leyton, Billy Fury and Karl Denver, with ‘Moody Guy’ Shane Fenton (he recorded Eden’s song “Fool’s Paradise” long before he became Alvin Stardust) and Joe Brown footing the bill – all for just 8s/6d, 6s/6d or cheap seats at 4s/4d.


The next single, “Get Lost”, follows that growl-soft template, all the way into the chart to a high of no.8 (‘NME’ 30 September). ‘We had a wining formula and we stuck with it’ Eden confides to Spencer Leigh (‘Record Collector’ 1988). The snarling go-away ‘Get Lost’ is the closest you could risk to ‘F**k Off’, although it gets immediately countered by the acceptable ‘but get lost in my arms’. ‘Do I gotta get a shotgun to make you name the day’ adds a further touch a soft menace. And he’s all over the radio and the TV Pop shows, from ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ to ‘Crackerjack’. A third Vandyke song “Forget Me Not” – ‘love’s a fire when the kisses go hot’, takes him through into 1962, and back up to no.3. Until “I Don’t Know Why” – with a talking verse, makes it a suite of hits, by reaching no.7. Unlike the ones that precede it, this is on oldie from 1931, which had been a big-seller for Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Perhaps Eden’s revival was prompted by a 1961 US no.12 version by Linda Scott? ‘The only time you hold me, is when we’re dancing’ makes for an odd line in the wake of the Twist fad which for the first time liberates dancers from actually touching! Whatever, it ends the Eden Kane chart run.

It could be argued that he was ill-served by his record labels. The debut album, ‘Eden Kane’ (Ace Of Clubs ACL 1133) issued on Decca’s mid-price subsidiary, is largely a hits-so-far compilation, with ‘B’-sides such as Vandyke’s “Music For Strings” (and its c/w “I Don’t Know Why”), “Kiss Me Quick”, “I Told You’ and “A New Kind of Lovin’” under Kane’s ‘Ricky Sears’ aka, with “My Girl Sue” and “I’m Telling You” – written under the guise of his first names ‘R Graham’. 

His second long-player – ‘It’s Eden’ (Fontana TL5211), boasts Les Reed arrangements, but is an unwieldy mix of standards – “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” with current hit covers “On Broadway” and “I (Who Have Nothing)” plus a touch of Motown with “Shoppin’ Around”. There were also a couple of EP Extended Play packages, ‘Well I Ask You’ (Decca DFE 6696) which is the hit plus its ‘B’-side “Before I Lose My Mind”, alongside “Get Lost” and its flip “I’m Telling You”. A second EP – ‘Hits’ (Decca DFE 8503), with Tony Barrow liner notes, simply gathers the four chart hits. But such treatment was largely the format imposed on Pop Stars by label managements who neither understood or greatly valued their ‘artists’.

Inexplicably Les Vandyke’s “House To Let” – ‘houseful of misery, houseful of pain’, replete with all his characteristic touches, and “Sounds Funny To Me” fail to register, leading to financial problems, and a change of label. “Like I Love You” became his debut single for Fontana in 1963 – accompanied by Earl Preston And The TTs, by which time seismic changes have taken place. The Merseybeat deluge had shaken Pop to its core. Yet Johnny Kidd & The Pirates had made a major chart-return under the Beat Group flag of convenience, Adam Faith acquired the Roulettes and a new run of hits, Billy Fury fronted the guitar figure on “Do You Really Love Me Too (Fool’s Errand)”, while even Cliff Richard concedes in a half-spoof way ‘you can dance, Twist and Shout’ on his “On The Beach”.


  The guitar spine of “Boys Cry” brings it into line with the Mersey boom, and as it brought him back into the charts for a one-off return – entering at no.26 (‘NME’ 15 February 1964), and climbing to no.8 (14 March). By now he was sharing a chart with the Rolling Stones, the Hollies and the Dave Clark Five. A brief renewed visibility that leads to new TV slots, and a major tour with Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and the Searchers that takes him as far as Australia. Then, with no more hits here, he continues to be popular in Australia – where “Boys Cry” was no.1, and then relocates to work in the California music industry. He married Charlene, sister of movie star Stefanie ‘Hart To Hart’ Powers.

Music changes. And seven-and-a-half years later – in 1969 younger brother Peter (Eardley Sarstedt, born 10 December 1941) is making new waves in the singer-songwriter genre. He’d played back-up bass on Eden Kane shows, and briefly masqueraded as Peter Lincoln for a Major-Minor single “In The Day Of My Youth” c/w “My Monkey Is A Junkie” in 1967. But it was his debut single for United Artists that made me first take note.

“I Am A Cathedral” is a strongly enigmatic song, vaguely in the Donovan vein. But “Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?” is the song of a lifetime, where all the elements come most perfectly together. With its French café-flavoured sway and catchy vocal hook it’s a movie or a Harold Robbins blockbuster novel about a poor little rich girl with a secret history all the way from the ‘back streets of Naples’. As with Bobby Gentry’s haunting “Ode To Billie Joe” there’s internal dialogue and hanging questions that hint at a wealth of more. There are product brand-names used as social-status signifiers in a way that was ahead of its time – even her name, Marie-Claire, is a glossy fashion-magazine, and there’s what passes for the risqué nudge-nudge humour of her ‘cleverly-designed topless swimsuit’ that gives ‘an even suntan, on your back and on your legs’. Clear through to the poignant closing verse where the two kids who have ‘shaken off their lowly-born tags’ recognize each other, and part for the last time.


The single entered the ‘New Musical Express’ chart at no.20 (8 February 1969), and climbed through no.9, and no.2 to occupy the top slot for four weeks from 1 March, before being nudged aside by Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” remains high-profile on nostalgia radio and a staple of those Fabulous 1960s CD hits compilations.

It was followed by “Frozen Orange Juice”, a playful summer record, at a time when ‘the sunny hills of Madrid’ were still considered as romantically exotic as Marrakesh would be. In the same way that Eden Kane was never a Rocker, Peter Sarstedt was never a bona fide hippie, his penchant for wide ties contrasts his luxurious Zapata moustache. Yet the record caught the mood of the time to perfection. Then there was “Take Off Your Clothes”. Where Radio One could just about live with a ‘cleverly-designed topless swimsuit’ they threw up their hands in horror at his lascivious tongue-in-cheek ‘my daddy is a priest, you know, and I am not a beast, you know’, such an invitation to immodesty – ‘stand as naked as nature intended’, deemed as sinful as advertising ‘Hot Chocolate’ on its pristine airways. Dooming a delightful single to chart failure. For Peter, there was to be no second bite of the Pop cherry, although his three albums from the period have considerable singer-songwriter merit.


In the seventies, Eden Kane re-emerged with brothers, Clive and Peter, as the Sarstedt Brothers, recreating the line-up of their skiffle group, the Fabulous Five, featuring tea-chest bass-player Peter’s “All Together Now” recalling those early days! For the album ‘Worlds Apart Together’ (1972) Bowie-producer Tony Visconti assembled a constellation of star session players, including his wife modestly appearing as Mary ‘Opkins. ‘We were singing about our lives and our beginnings in the business’ Eden explained, while the brothers promote the album with a joint concert at the Croydon Fairfield Halls.

For Eden Kane there were still occasional Golden Oldie and ‘Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll’ tours with Marty Wilde, Mark Wynter, John Leyton and others. And even more bizarrely he resumed his acting career, with appearances in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise series ‘The Next Generation’, ‘Deep Space Nine’ (as a Cardassian) and ‘Voyager’, as well as uncredited roles in four movies ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ (1991) as a Romulan, ‘Generations’ (1994), ‘First Contact’ (1996) and ‘Insurrection’ (1998).


While again, music changes. In one era, and out the other. 1976 is a shallow period at the end of Glam, dominated by Disco, and the lounge lizard posturing that had already become Bryan Ferry’s arch pose, with revivals of 1930s Jazz standard “You Go To My Head”. In October 1974 Australian Gary Shearston took Cole Porter’s “I Get A Kick Out Of You” – complete with its ‘some get a kick from cocaine, I’m sure that if I took just one more sniff, that would bore me terrifically too,’ up to no.7. Surely there was no greater stylist than Hoagy Carmichael? So the third Sarstedt brother Clive – who’d once recorded for Joe Meek as ‘Wes Sands’, adopted his middle name Robin Sarstedt for recording purposes. And his smooth rendition of Carmichael’s “My Resistance Is Low” enters the ‘NME’ chart at no.21 (15 May 1976), climbing to no.11, then a high of no.3 (29 May) – where it stays for three weeks. He performs it on ‘Top Of The Pops’ as Pan’s People flounce in flimsy gowns. There were to be no further hits, but this achievement enabled the Sarstedt clan to become the only trio of brothers in British chart history to rack up separate solo hits.

EDEN KANE 

1960 – ‘You Make Love So Well’ c/w ‘Hot Chocolate Crazy’ (Pye 7N 15284)

1 June 1961 – ‘Well I Ask You’ c/w ‘Before I Lose My Mind’ (Decca F 11353) no.1 for the single week of 3 August, 21 weeks on chart

14 September 1961 – ‘Get Lost’ c/w ‘I’m Telling You’ (Decca F 11381) no.10, 11 weeks

1961 – ‘Well I Ask You’ EP (Decca DFE 6696) with ‘Get Lost’, ‘I’m Telling You’, ‘Well I Ask You’, ‘Before I Lose My Mind’

18 January 1962 – ‘Forget Me Not’ c/w ‘A New Kind Of Lovin’’ (Decca F 11418) no.3, 14 weeks

10 May 1962 – ‘I Don’t Know Why’ c/w ‘Music For Strings’ (Decca F 11460) no.7, 13 weeks

1962 – ‘Eden Kane: Hits’ EP (Decca DFE 8503) with ‘Well I Ask You’, ‘Get Lost’, ‘Forget Me Not’, ‘I Don’t Know Why’

1962 – ‘House To Let’ c/w ‘I Told You’ (Decca F 11504)

1962 – ‘Eden Kane’ LP (Ace Of Clubs ACL 1133) with ‘House To Let’, ‘Kiss Me Quick’, ‘Well I Ask You’, ‘Before I Lose My Mind’, ‘I’m Telling You’, ‘Music For Strings’, ‘Forget Me Not’, ‘My Little Sue’, ‘Get Lost’, ‘I Told You’, ‘A New Kind Of Lovin’’, ‘I Don’t Know Why’

1963 – ‘Sounds Funny To Me’ c/w ‘Someone Wants To Know’ (Decca F 11568)

1963 – ‘Tomorrow Night’ (Geoff Stephens, Les Reed) c/w ‘I Won’t Believe Them’ (R Graham) (Fontana TF 398)

1963 – ‘Like I Love You’ (R Graham) c/w ‘Come Back’ (Fontana TF 413) with Earl Preston And The TTs

10 May 1964 – ‘Boys Cry’ c/w ‘Don’t Come Crying To Me’ (Fontana TF 438) no.8, 14 weeks

1964 – ‘Rain Rain Go Away’ (Les Reed, Tommy Scott) c/w ‘Guess Who It Is’ (Fontana TF 462)

1964 – ‘It’s Eden’ LP (Fontana TL 5211) with ‘Gonna Send You Back To Georgia’, ‘I Know A Man’, ‘Sticks And Stones’, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’, ‘Shoppin’ Around’, ‘Rain Rain Go Away’, ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’, ‘On Broadway’, ‘I Should Care’, ‘Charade’, ‘Guess Who It Is’, ‘The Last Leaf’

1964 – ‘Hangin’ Around’ c/w ‘Gonna Do Something About You’ (Fontana TF 508)

1965 – ‘If You Want This Love’ c/w ‘Have I Done Something Wrong?’ (Fontana TF 582)

1966 – ‘Magic Town’ c/w ‘The Whole World Was Crying’ (Decca F 12342)


PETER SARSTEDT 

1967 – ‘In The Day Of My Youth’ c/w ‘My Monkey Is A Junkie’ (Major-Minor) as by ‘Peter Lincoln’

January 1968 – ‘I Must Go On’ c/w ‘Mary Jane’ (Island WIP 6028)

September 1968 – ‘I Am A Cathedral’ c/w ‘Blagged’ (United Artists UP 2228) arranger Ian Green, producer Ray Singer

5 February 1969 – ‘Where Do You Go To, My Lovely’ c/w ‘Morning Mountain’ (United Artists UP 2262) no.1 for four weeks from 26 February, 16 weeks on chart

1969 – ‘Peter Sarstedt’ LP (United Artists SULP 1219) with ‘I Am A Cathedral’, ‘Sons Of Cain Are Abel’, ‘No More Lollipops’, ‘Stay Within Myself’, ‘You Are My Life’, ‘Sayonara’, ‘Where Do You Go To, My Lovely’, ‘Blagged’, ‘My Daddy Is A Millionaire’, ‘Once Upon An Everyday’, ‘Mary Jane’, ‘Time Was Leading Us Home’, ‘Many Coloured Semi-Precious Easter Eggs’, ‘Time Love Hope Life’

4 June 1969 – ‘Frozen Orange Juice’ c/w ‘Aretusa Loser’ (United Artists UP 35021) no.10, 9 weeks

1969 – ‘As Though It Were A Movie’ c/w ‘Take Off Your Clothes’ (United Artists UP 35041)

1969 – ‘As Though It Were A Movie’ LP (United Artists UAS 29037) with ‘Overture’, ‘As Though It Were A Movie’, ‘Open A Tin’, ‘Step Into The Candlelight’, ‘Take Off Your Clothes’, ‘Letter To A Friend And Intermission’, ‘Overture’, ‘Boulevard’, ‘The Sunshine Is Expensive’, ‘The Artist’, ‘The Friendship Song (Hey Nena)’, ‘Juan’, ‘I’m A Good Boy’, ‘The National Anthem X Doors Close At 10:45pm’

1970 – ‘Without Darkness (There’s No Light)’ c/w ‘Step Into The Candlelight’ (United Artists UP 35075)

1971 – ‘Every Word You Say Is Written Down’ LP (United Artists UAS 29247) with ‘Every Word You Say’, ‘Down On The Flesh’, ‘You’re A Lady’, ‘Lay Down My Alibi’, ‘Let The Music Flow’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Nexus’, ‘Mind Of Man’, ‘What Makes One Man Feel’, ‘Slow’, ‘Stand Outside Ourselves’, ‘Politics Is Showbusiness’, ‘Rain’, musicians include BJ Cole (steel guitar), Clive Sarstedt (slide guitar), Max Middleton (piano), Cozy Powell (drums)

May 1972 – ‘Every Word You Say’ c/w ‘What Makes One Man Feel’ (United Artists UP 35369) produced by Vic Smith, Clive and Peter Sarstedt

Peter Sarstedt died 8 January 2017 

SARSTEDT BROTHERS 

1973 – ‘Worlds Apart Together’ LP (Regal Zonophone SRZA 8516) with ‘A Way Leading Out’, ‘Kurseong’, ‘Mohammedan Girl’, ‘Here We Are In London Town’, ‘All Together Now’, ‘The Genuine Romanoff’, ‘You’re Just An Image’, ‘Searching For The Truth – Love Love Love’, ‘Sea Wall’, ‘Glory Glory’, ‘Catch The Next Train’, ‘World Apart Together’ with Eden Kane, Peter and Clive Sarstedt, produced by Tony Visconti with Dave Mattacks (drums), Roy Babbington (bass), Danny Thompson (double bass), Ray Cooper (percussion), Blue Weaver (piano), Mary ‘Opkins



ROBIN SARSTEDT 

1963 – ‘There’s Lots More Where This Came From’ (Hal David, P Hampton) c/w ‘Three Cups’ (Meek) (Columbia DB 4996) As ‘Wes Sands’, produced by Joe Meek

1969 – ‘Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero (The More I Love You)’ c/w ‘Picture On The Wall’ (SNB/ CBS 3965) as ‘Clive Sands’

March 1969 – ‘Hooked On A Feeling’ c/w ‘Marie’ (Clive Sands) (SNB 55-4058) as ‘Clive Sands’

July 1969 – ‘Witchi Tai To’ c/w ‘In A Dream’ (C Sarstedt) (SNB 55-4431) as ‘Clive Sands’

December 1969 – ‘A Very Lonely Man’ c/w ‘You Made Me What I Am’ (Clive Sands) (CBS 4672) as ‘Clive Sands’

8 May 1976 – ‘My Resistance Is Low’ c/w ‘Love While The Music Plays’ (Decca F 13624) no.3, 9 weeks. Arranger Ian Green, producer Ray Singer

1976 – ‘Let’s Fall In Love’ c/w ‘So Long Lonely Nights’ (Decca F 13662)

November 1976 –‘Sitting In Limbo’ c/w ‘Love Is All I Need’ (Decca F 13677)

1977 – ‘Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello’ c/w ‘All Said And Done’ (Decca F 13705)

1978 – ‘Something For The Weekend’ LP (Decca TXS 130) with ‘My Resistance Is Low’, ‘Something’s Goin’ On’, ‘Written On The Wind’, ‘Down The Disco’, ‘Manhattan’, ‘Slip Away’, ‘Keepin’ My Head Above Water’, ‘French Waltz’, ‘Sitting In Limbo’, ‘Blackjack’, ‘Jewellery Store’, ‘Let’s Fall In Love’

PETER AND CLIVE SARSTEDT 

1997 – ‘Asia Minor’ LP (Disky BX 880242) with ‘Dream Pilot’, ‘Teradactyl Walk’, ‘Glider’, ‘India’, ‘The River’, ‘Corigador’, ‘Vaguely Connected’


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