Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The ZOOT MONEY Interview


Zoot Money was the ‘Big Time Operator’
of 1960’s Club R&B. Later he was known as a
character-face on TV. Was there never a danger
of the TV eclipsing the music...?

‘When Marvin Gaye recorded this song, he didn’t know he had a cocaine problem. When Marvin Gaye recorded this song, he didn’t know he had a Father problem. But he recorded it anyway.’ Thus spake the legendary Zoot Money, introducing his own live version of “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”. This night he neglects to mention that the song was also a 1965 Big Roll Band single! And by a neat word substitution it could be said that when Zoot himself recorded that song he didn’t know that twenty-something years later he’d write charting material with Jim Diamond, that his guitarist on that single – Andy Somers, would rack up mega-hits with Police, that his (Zoot’s) rubber-faced visage would be familiar to mass-audience TV-viewers via a comic lager-commercial, or that RSO would re-issue his long sought-after ‘Zoot: LiveAt Klook’s Kleek’ as a budget-label CD, to a gentle ripple of nostalgia cult approval.

It’s Thursday, 29th November 1984. The ‘Dortmunder Bierkeller’ slotted into the giant ‘Clockwork Orange’ ‘Merrion Centre’ complex of uptown Leeds. For the record, Zoot Money’s looking good, and he’s on fine form. He’s just delivered a hip-shakin finger-popping fifteen-number set chockfull of stone classics. A rapid re-run, in capsule form, of an amazing career. On stage he wears a head-mike for greater mobility, and a bright red Micky Mouse ‘T’-shirt for visual effect. He dances absurdly, cajoles and parties generously, with a tight-but-loose double-sax, drums & bass Roll Band behind his keyboards. Now we’re sitting backstage in the instant-party bare-brick cell that pretends to be a dressing room, indulging in the indulgencies familiar to generations of musicians. He’s still wearing the Mickey Mouse stage ‘T’-shirt, but now it’s partially occluded by black leather jacket. He’s also wearing cartoon-style lime-green socks that glow in the dark. He’s shorn of the beard and the exaggerated locks he adopted during his phase as back-up keyboardist to the likes of Kevin Coyne, Steve Ellis and Kevin Ayers. He’s leaner, slimmer and fitter, like some Thatcherite recipe for industrial efficiency.

I mention his stage announcement that runs ‘when I think of all the royalties Duran Duran make’, introducing the Ray Charles song “It Should’ve Been Me”…‘Oh, that was just a little fun.’ I realise that Zoot, but why not mention Police as examples of platinum-status Rock zillionaires, instead of the Duranies? ‘Well, I could have done. But I’ve no hard feelings towards Andy. Andy’s doing very well. Police were a good band.’ And Police completists could do a lot worse than hunt out the ‘Zoot: Live At Klook’s Kleek’ re-issue. It’s a perfect time-capsule of mid-sixties Club Jazz/&&B fusions. With a heavy dose of young Somer’s fretwork. ‘Forty-eight minutes of hip listening’ quoth ‘New Musical Express’ on its initial release, and it still stands comparison with today’s new jazzers. Less cool, more fire perhaps, including the full James Brown medley that always highlights the Big Roll Band’s volatile Club set. With the Godfather of Soul still a hip name to drop, even across the intervening decades. No Rap, Urban or Electro act can hope to compete without its JB samples.

‘That’s right. Well, he did start doing some quite…’ we get derailed by an obscure query from his current bassist – a former Nucleus sideman, and Nick Newall, original Big Roll Band tenor saxist, a man who still boasts ‘all his own hair’. ‘Brown Bag?’ answers Zoot confusingly. Nothing, apparently, to do with James Brown’s ‘Poppas Got A Brand New Bag’, no – nothing as obvious, this relates to a real lost bag. ‘It’s outside. Up behind the stage, just up the stairs.’ Then he burrows helpfully in another brown bag of ‘T’-shirts and assorted changes of underwear. A Louis Jordan cassette surfaces. ‘Yeah, well…’ It all disintegrates into ludicrous laughter before he resumes. Because, although his concerns are emphatically of the present, with a little effort he can be side-tracked…

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Own up time. First saw Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band through the sound-stunned multi-coloured twilight of the Hull Arts College, must have been 1965-ish – and the sight of George Bruno ceremoniously lowering his trousers to the stampeding Soul Classic “Haunted House” is an image that’s stayed with me intact across the intervening decades. I hoped he might do “Haunted House” this night. Zoot pulls a garish face of infinite comic resignation, shrugs a huge shrug, ‘well, you know, I try to get through as many old songs as possible. But in fact, the support band played a little longer, so we only had an hour or so.’ He hedges expertly, ‘we were gonna play for an hour and a half, and I would’ve included – not “Haunted House”, but some of the other old ones. I was gonna do ‘em, yeah, but it’s just the time thing, y’know.’ A manic gleam takes possession of his eyes, ‘HOWEVER – if people would like to come back – Folks!?!?, I’d be only too glad to play them ALL!!!’

Zoot Money – the legendary ‘Flamingo Club’ flasher, a mental aerobics master, flickers that famous visage through a range of expressions faster than a pickpocket through a bankroll. He knows his music every-which-way out, but hangs it all on an entertainer’s perception of pure joy. They say he tried on a serious expression once, but it didn’t fit right. So we talk through archive music. From his native Bournemouth through a stint with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, to his own chart hit “Big Time Operator”, and on… In Michael Moorcock’s apocalyptical novel ‘The Final Programme’ (1969), hermaphrodite Sci-Fi hero Jerry Cornelius plays “Zoot’s Suite” by Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band on his transistor radio. The perfectly hip soundtrack for the beautiful people of Swinging London. We talk through the devious exploits of Svengali-managed Rik Gunnell and then Zoot’s psychedelic Dantalian’s Chariot (with Andy Somers, Zoot? ‘That’s right. The main instigator’ he self-quotes). Their mesmerising single “The Madman Running Through The Field” remains a ‘Nuggets’-style collectors’ gem…

Nick Newall still calls Zoot by his real name – George. So why and how did it become Zoot? ‘It was Zoot Sims really. I saw him play a long time ago, and got nicknamed Zoot when I got home’. Home was the sedately respectable south-coast resort town of Bournemouth, where GBM was born on 17 July 1942, to an Italian immigrant family, although with paternal English roots. A ‘Melody Maker’ musicians’ file documents those early days. ‘My musical education started when I played French horn at school – but even before that, I could often be found messing about on guitar. Even while I was still at school I played guitar with local groups (the Black Hawks, and the Sands Combo – with Colin Allen) and then had a spell on bass and sometimes piano with a local palais band’. I heard that once he got to London he played with seminal UK Blues Master Cyril Davies, but ‘I only actually sat in with Cyril Davies once. No, it was Alexis Korner I worked with – not Cyril Davies’. So, in 1963 he was part of Blues Incorporated, ‘before the first Big Roll Band, yes’. Then ‘the original Big Roll Band was a semi-professional band. I still see the members of the Big Roll Band from right back then…’

The line-up that signed to Decca in 1964 consisted of four musical refugees from Bournemouth, Zoot (vocals / Hammond organ), Nick Newall (tenor sax), Andy Somers – later Summers (guitar), and Colin Allen – later of Stone the Crows, Georgie Fame, John Mayall, and Focus (drums), plus Clive Burrows (baritone sax) and Paul Williams – later of Juicy Lucy and Tempest (bass and vocals). The liaison resulted in a fistful of sides including the band’s debut 45rpm – “The Uncle Willie”. It was a ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ variant with a casual nod at the Jimmy McGriff organ style. It attracted attention and press coverage, but failed to chart. Instead they played the cult-clique club ‘The Flamingo’, taking over a residency vacated by Georgie Fame, and in-crowd credibility was assured.

In retrospect it seems a vastly fluid period. Club-bands were fusing R&B with Soul, and both of them with free-blowing high-flying jazz. ‘During the early sixties? Yes, you’re right. There was a lot of free-association between styles, a lot of ‘bridging-of-the-gap’. But of course, it didn’t happen everywhere. Some of us had to, sort of, be pioneers in that respect, to be a bit pioneering. Trying to free things, to get someone to listen to a jazz solo in the middle of “Johnny B Goode” or something. It was pretty good. But I always saw them as mixing anyway. I never saw them as being separate. Music is music, you should listen to as many forms as you can. The more you mix together, the more influences you’re open to, then the more international you are. That means the more ‘human’ you are, I suppose. The common denominator of any good music is SPIRIT! The only exception is when it sounds sort-of, slightly crass. Bad is still bad. Bad music is bad music. Good music is good.’

There was a jump to the Columbia label, and the singles cover-version of Marvin Gaye’s “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, followed by a live album ‘Zoot: Live At Klook’s Kleek’. It was recorded 31st May 1966, the first production job for Elton John’s future producer Gus Dudgeon, who also scripted the gush of sleeve-notes. The band’s personnel had by then switched Burrows for future Mayall saxist / flautist Johnny Almond, to form what Dudgeon called ‘a classic example of the showmanship, professionalism and inventive musicianship of a great big gassy band!’ Reviewers tended to compare Money’s playing with Jimmy Smith’s. But was Smith a prime keyboard influence? ‘Not prime perhaps. Not prime… but listening to him helped me get, I suppose, a reasonably good sound.’ But James Brown? The highlight of the Big Roll Band’s club set, the opening slice of the album’s second side, was the “James Brown Medley”. ‘Yeah, well, JB, the Emperor. He was quite novel, in fact, very innovative at the time. First band I ever saw with more than one drummer. First band I ever saw who used TWO drummers, at it all the time, v-e-r-y good. But, it’s like, the medley I play on “Tribute To James Brown”, is more as he was then. Not the rhythm-machine-cum-electronic funk thing he later became.’ Point taken. ‘Zoot: Live At Klook’s Kleek’ catches James Brown as it happened. Not a retrospective style-theft. ‘This can never change, this is archive music.’

The act captured on live vinyl was spiced with rampaging humour. Zoot came to epitomise the after-hours ‘looning’ of a hellfire Mod elite represented in the Klook’s Kleek audience that night by Eric Burden, Brian Auger, Chas Chandler, and Georgie Fame. The attitude remains. ‘My gig is, I treat it with a little bit of jollity, a little big of seriousness, as much music as possible. I don’t hold people down. What they wanna play is what they wanna play.’ And outside the ‘looning’ circuit there was inter-band poaching as well as fraternisation, fights as well as interactions. ‘Actually, there’s some great bands that broke up during that time (he guffaws) – and I helped to break two of them up! I was stealing people. NO – it was like that in those days. There was a lot of sharing of musicians, and then, well, not totally sharing. If they go – they go. If they stay they stay. You could go join someone else BUT DON’T EVER COME BACK!!!’

On such a fluid basis the lifelines of Big Roll Band membership gets complex. ‘It all gets confusing ‘cos there’s been so many’ he agrees. ‘They go on and on. There will be a book out, a brought-up-to-date book on the Big Roll Band some time next year (in 1985?). I’m working on it now. I’m not actually doing it myself, somebody’s writing it for me (ghosting it). We haven’t sorted the publisher out yet – we haven’t actually got to Chapter 3 yet to be honest! But we will, by next year some time. It’ll be an informative book with a few anecdotes thrown in. Not really a sort of ‘faction’ book, it’ll be FACT. A book to put people straight on what they all want to know. People ask who left when and why, they all want to know. So THIS WAY I don’t have to go through the motions EVERY time.’

The nominal support structures for the Band throughout this period was a promotional organisation known as the Rik Gunnell Agency (‘I’m afraid so, yes’ he admits with a grin), with Zoot Money under the personal management of Bob Hind. And some strange stories come out of that period, ‘yeah, most of them are true. If they’re anything to do with Rik Gunnell they’re true! Actually he’s still alive and well. I’m not supposed to tell the Taxman that, but yes, he had us, he had John Mayall, Alan Price at one stage, Georgie Fame, the Shevells, they go on and on. He had Chris Farlowe too. They go on and on and on…’ There was a run of highly-rated singles, benefiting from heavy-rotation on the Pirate stations, culminating in the chart-hit “Big Time Operator”. Its lyric lists Zoot’s fictionalised career-cv, as he ‘started off a newsboy on a paper, for a time I worked in an elevator’ delivered in a picaresque gravel-growl, then ‘I drove an excavator, I became a wine and brandy waiter (yes I did)’ with honking unison-horns punching out emphasis, adding ‘airline navigator, crime investigator, commentator and administrator’, but all the time there’s the lurking ambition to ‘be a big time operator’ fading out with ‘now listen to me, I’m telling the truth’. With the inference that just maybe his Big Operation will turn out to be of a fringe-legal nature.

Writers Tony Colton & Ray Smith tailor the material to match Zoot’s exuberant persona, “Nick Knack” is a raucous roughened take on the kid’s rhyme, given a ‘this old man got rolling stoned’ twist, while “The Star Of The Show” gently mocks Pop by lamenting ‘been around a long time, working with my band, playing music people just didn’t understand’, until he launches into an insanely catchy la-la-la chorus which brings instant stardom. They are Mod Club and air-play hits, I dance to them at the ‘Gondola’ and ‘Kon-Tiki’ clubs in Hull and listen to them on the Pirate radio stations. I bought them, played them on my Dansette, and follow their progress through the music press, from singles’ reviews and club dates, into chart positions and interviews in ‘Record Mirror’, ‘Melody Maker’, ‘Rave’, ‘Disc’ and ‘NME’. Never less than soulfully-charged, with fluid keyboard skills, and funk-infused horn section – best showcased through instrumental ‘B’-sides located between Ramsey Lewis and Booker T, the unique quality Zoot brings to R&B is the full not-inconsiderable force of his character. And that is irrepressible. But a scene that boisterously explosive was bound to end. Despite much fine good-timely Jazz-Blues music and a series of excellent near-chart hits Zoot’s reputation (as far as the Press was concerned) began to rely increasingly on his ebullient stage eccentricities, his extra-curricula antics as lunatic comedian. Mythologies grew spontaneously around him – stories of him ‘debagged’ by Eric Burdon on stage at the ‘Paris Olympia’, the shorts thus revealed with slogans or Union Jack across the broad seat…

And even the Mod club-scene itself began decaying. The sudden Media celebrity of its ‘Swinging’ life-style robbed the movement of its exclusiveness, and the rival attractions of the psychedelic avant garde from America’s West Coast stole its prestige. Almost overnight the place to be seen was no longer the ‘Cromwellian’, the ‘Scotch of St. James’ or the ‘Bag O Nails’ – it was the ‘Middle Earth’, the ‘U.F.O.’ or the ‘Roundhouse’. Hair was longer, clothes more gaudy. Zoot’s strategy was an effortless metamorphosis into Dantalian’s Chariot; a new line-up unveiled at the 1967 Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival.

Psychedelic London 1967. Eric Burdon, embracing Love ‘n’ Peace, marries in full hippie regalia, while Zoot Money – larger than life – is his Best Man in contrasting top hat and tails. He’s changing horses in mid-stream, with Dantalian’s Chariot on full frontal assault, a band now slimmed down to Zoot, Allen, and Somers, with in-comer folk-rock bassist Pat Donaldson. ‘New Musical Express’ records that they ‘specialised in all-white costumes and instruments, had what was for a while regarded as the best light-show in town – and lost a small fortune’. They entered the vinyl zone almost immediately with a stone-classic of English psychedelia that still stands comparison with anything from early Pink Floyd, Tomorrow, or Soft Machine. “The Madman Running Through The Fields” employs all the studio devices and electronic trickery associated with the genre – reverse tapes, tempo-changes, surreal schizoid Laing-ian lyrics, and a mid-point dream-sequence, all ignited by a contagious melody-line and liquid harmonies. ‘Strong guitar, and a bit of messiness in other places’ says ‘Record Mirror’, while making it a Top 50 tip (a status it was never destined to achieve!), ‘a psychedelic pot pourri of monstrous proportions’ says ‘Record Collector’. As Zoot had earlier spoofed – ‘too far way out, working on a limb’, inevitably “Madman…” remains a much sought-after collectors item, a quintessential slice of vintage English weirdness at its most breathtakingly pure.

Zoot remembers the time ‘with great affection. It was good. We had a great, good time, for as long as it lasted. For as long as the money lasted, it was good’. It offered ‘a chance to be more creative, to move on to writing our own material and try out new things’. An album – ‘Transition’, was recorded over a twelve-month period, and as such it documents the stylistic transformation from Big Roll Soul (“Stop The Wedding” and “River’s Invitation”) to the new phase, best epitomised by Somers long Eastern-flavoured instrumental “Soma”, composed with his sitar-tutor Narzir Jarazbhoy. ‘They were all our own songs, folks! We wrote them all’. Previously there’d been self-penned ‘B’-sides, often instrumental cuts like “The Mound Moves”, but with the Chariot ‘we got into writing, so no real complaints about that’. With Andy Somers as an integral part of the process.

But looking back, it couldn’t last. In retrospect psychedelia and the style-progressions of the sixties takes on a certain inevitability. Through repetition and over-zealous journalism the whole period assumes an inflexible logic that now seems obvious, predetermined. But at the time there were no guidelines, things were wide open. ‘I was just, sort of, basically inexperienced about presenting any kind of image or anything. I was just DOING it, y’know. We got a little bit too… introspective, I feel. We lost some of the extrovert-expecting audience that was about at the time’. Dantalian’s Chariot split. Zoot and (by a different route) Somers flew out to join Eric Burdon’s New Animals in San Francisco. They arrived in time to contribute to the July 1968 ‘Every One Of Us’ album (MGM). Although never issued in the UK at the time, it remains an intriguing set, in some ways continuing the ‘Transition’ theme of meshing Blues (“St James Infirmary”) with the ‘new thang’ (“Year of the Guru”). Six months after its release came ‘Love Is’, a varied double-set packaging “River Deep Mountain High” and “Ring Of Fire” alongside a seventeen-minute re-run of Zoot’s “Madman…”, before the Animals too disintegrated in multi-coloured dayglo fragments. Zoot briefly formed a pick-up band with Jim Gordon and Lee Underwood, and cut an album called ‘Welcome To My Head’ with ex-Animal Vic Briggs (‘It was deleted within a year!’) It was a hectic period, one I have a lot of affection for. ‘It WAS great’ he concurs, because – or in spite of its wild unplanned momentum. ‘I was just doing it. Like I am now – but now, I hope, with a little bit more experience.’

Writing in ‘New Musical Express’ (January 1971) Roy Carr points out that ‘when having the now rare pleasure of seeing Zoot Money perform, one is inclined to try and separate the artist from the enigma which has grown up around this most loveable of original hirsute looners. Only to realise that it is this near legendary aura that makes him the incomparable entertainer.’ Elsewhere Chris Salewitz wrote of Zoot’s ‘perpetual eighteen-year-old’s smile’ even in a later band in which everyone ‘is over thirty’. And – although it’s true that Zoot’s wide-screen reputation was built up through his sixties bands (reinforced by often unacknowledged sessions jaunts, such as adding keyboards to Jackie Lynton’s 1967 single “I Never Loved A Girl Like You”, for example), he went on to several more careers-worth of adventures that deserve an article apiece to do them justice. Adjustment to the cold realities of the seventies after the heady optimisms of the counter-culture was traumatic for many – terminal for some. But Zoot had his musicianship to fall back on, and that was never in question. Associations with a number of names followed, largely in a support capacity.

There was ex-Love Affair star Steve Ellis re-launching his career as ‘Ellis’. ‘Ellis – the little chap. Yes, that was good stuff. Steve had all these songs in his head and he wanted to get them out. So I said ‘let’s get a band and do them’. CBS went with it for as long as they could – two albums worth, and then that was it really. Ellis was a good Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Nice and loud. Lots of hair’. Of the two Ellis albums I prefer the brilliantly-titled ‘Riding On The Crest Of A Slump’. ‘Yeah, we tried to have a little poke. We didn’t really get into politics as such, they were just songs that HAD to be done. Ellis – yes, it was great stuff. And Steve, he’s living in Brighton somewhere now.’

Ellis did a BBC ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ TV-session. ‘Yes, ‘Whistle Test’’, he smiles. ‘They keep replaying old ‘Whistle Test’ things don’t they? Did they ever regurgitate any of that? Did they bring that back?’ They didn’t. ‘They should use the Kevin Coyne stuff they have in the vaults as well.’ Zoot played with the legendary eccentric Coyne. He nods, ‘Mmm, Kevin Ayers too’, played ‘six countries in three weeks!’ There was the epic Centipede project inaugurated by jazzer Keith Tippett, and the occasional Grimms jazz / poetry review made up of former Scaffold and Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band members. ‘I’m seeing John Gorman tomorrow. I don’t know what he’s up to now. He’s in Tyne-Tees television – maybe we’ll get something together there, I don’t know.’

We talk some more about Eric Burdon, and how Zoot co-wrote (and performed on) eight of the ten tracks on Burdon’s come-back album ‘Survivor’. Clear through to the 1990 ‘Blues Relics’ tour with Chris Farlowe… and then with the ‘Alan Price & Friends’ revue… interspersed by occasional Big Roll Band re-unions – like this one, now, in Leeds. A self-indulgent, effortlessly enjoyable journey back through the ‘Flamingo’ / ‘Klooks Kleek’ repertoire. For strictly train-spotterish reasons, the set-listing consisted of “Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, “Out Of Sight” and “I Got You” – forming the James Brown medley, then “It Should’ve Been Me”, “Hide Nor Hair”, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”, “Big Time Operator”, the moving slow “Please Stay”, “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller”, “Smack Dab In The Middle”, “Nothin Shakin”, Robert Parker’s “Barefootin”, Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “Uncle Willie” and Phil Upchurch’s “You Can’t Sit Down”…

And how does your new Roland Juno 60 compare with the old Hammond organ used on the ‘Klook’s Kleek’ album? ‘It compares very well. I like it a lot.’ Much more portable. Although his concerns are emphatically of the present, with a little effort he can be side-tracked… And the future? ‘I’m open to all suggestions. I don’t say no to ANYTHING…!’

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By the late 1970’s Zoot was extending his career, moving sideways into TV and Movies. There was a role in the cinema spin-off from Ronnie Barker’s comedy series ‘Porridge’ (1979), shot entirely at Chelmsford Prison in Essex. Zoot plays ‘Lotterby, the thickest bloke in the nick’. The Hazel O’Conner Punk movie-vehicle ‘Breaking Glass’ (1980) followed, with Zoot as her sinister promo-manager figure, then a walk-on part in the movie of Colin McInnes novel ‘Absolute Beginners’ (1986). His parts in TV crime dramas ‘The Professionals’ – as an over-the-hill Pop star, and ‘Shoestring’ – as a DJ, got spliced in with legit stage-work – a National Theatre role as a picket in ‘Line ‘Em’. He was musical director for BBC1’s retro ‘Tutti Frutti’ series (1987). With character parts for telly commercials – a Teddy Boy for Knorr’s Knoodles, and a tourist jetting home from Benidorm for Carlesberg.

Pity you can’t get Carlsberg to sponsor the Big Roll Band, like Coca Cola did for the Jacksons, eh, Zoot? ‘Carlsberg wouldn’t go down to that level.’ He erupts in a fit of laughter that’s a joy to behold. ‘No, no, I’m just employed as an actor on those things. It’s a different life. It’s just who I am for that day – what they want. If they want a silly face…’ He pulls a silly face by way of illustration, and it’s a classic.

In fact, for the audiences who watched him doing an infectiously absurd parody-spoof of Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” in a Spanish Bar sequence in the ITV series ‘El C.I.D.’, it’s possible that Zoot Money was becoming known more as a face, than a musician. So, isn’t there a danger of the TV eclipsing the music? ‘Well, yes, some people might see it as that’ he concedes. ‘But with a bit of luck they just see the character I’m playing. They don’t see me as me.’ Another deep volcanic laugh. ‘Me – as me, appears on the stage, live! As you’ve just seen. I’m a conglomeration of all those things, I suppose. Music is a very big part of my life, and it’ll never go away. So I keep playing. I’ve got to sing and play. I’ve got to do that. I do the odd straight acting parts, as you’ll have seen. It depends on what I’m doing how I treat it. But I don’t neglect music even when I’m into a part for – say, an advert. I sing and play, and film the thing during the day!’

And ‘a recent Jim Diamond single had a song of mine on the ‘B’-side. A song we wrote together. It’s on his album too…’ his voice switching to heavy-promotional falsetto, ‘it made no.1 ON THE ALBUM CHARTS TOO FOLKS!!! Yes, I’ve worked with him. He produced my last album actually, Jim Diamond did.’

I fumble for something polite to say about a figure of such stunning banality as Jim Diamond. Wasn’t he in, er, Sad Café? ‘PhD’ Zoot corrects me. Then stabs a finger at my cassette recorder, ‘I’m sorry, freeze that a minute, business is business.’ And he rips a ring-pull off a can of (the opposition’s) lager. Smiling genially as the spray erupts…


1964 ‘R&B’ (Blues Roots 6, re-issue Nov 1978) a compilation including two Big Roll Band tracks alongside John Mayall, Alexis Korner, Graham Bond and others

August 1964 As ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND “The Uncle Willie” c/w “Zoot’s Suit” (Decca F 11954) produced by Noel Walker under the musical direction of Mike Leander. Later included on multi-artist LP ‘Hard-Up Heroes ’63-‘68’ (Decca DPA 3009, 1974)

1965 “Bring It On Home To Me” c/w “Good” (Columbia DB 7518)

June 1965 “Please Stay” c/w “You Know You’ll Cry” (Columbia DB 7600) vocals by the English Paul Williams

Sept 1965 “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” c/w “Something Is Worrying Me” (Columbia DB 7697)

‘IT SHOULD’VE BEEN ME’ (Columbia 33SX 1734, October1965) debut LP, produced by Rik Gunnell, with “I’ll Go Crazy”, “Jump Back” (Rufus Thomas song), “Along Came John”, “Back Door Blues” (Eddie ‘Cleanhead Vinson song), “It Should’ve Been Me” (Ray Charles hit), “Sweet Little Rock And Roller”, “My Wife Can’t Cook”, “Rags And Old Iron”, “The Cat” (an instrumental written by Lalo Schifrin), “Feelin’ Sad”, “Bright Lights, Big City”, “Fina”. Reissued in July 2005 by Repertoire, with bonus tracks “Uncle Willie”, “Good”, “Bring It Home To Me”, “Please Stay”, “You Know I’ll Cry”, “Something Is Worrying Me”, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”, “Big Time Operator”, “Zoot’s Sermon” and “It Should’ve Been Me (alternate take)”. Original sleeve notes by Alexis Korner. CD liner-notes by Chris Welch

Nov 1965 “The Many Faces Of Love” c/w “Jump Back” (Columbia DB 7768)

March 1966 “Let’s Run For Cover” c/w “Self-Discipline” (Columbia DB 7876) enters ‘Melody Maker’ chart 16 April at no.43, moves up to no.40, then gets a final placing at no.50. ‘B’-side, written by Ray Smith, comments on boozy indulgences by rhyming ‘better get a lesson in, self-discipline’

July 1966 “Big Time Operator”/ “Zoot’s Sermon” (Columbia DB 7975) a Tony Colton & Ray Smith-penned ‘A’-side backed by a Zoot Money & Andy Somers-penned instrumental flip, produced by John Harris, it entered the ‘Melody Maker’ chart 13 August at no.42, rises to no.37, then no.32, it peaks at no.25. It reaches no.22 on the rival ‘Disc’ charts on 24 September, and no.7 on ‘Radio 270’ Pirate Radio chart. It stayed on the charts for eight weeks according to the ‘Guiness Book Of Hit Singles’

1966 ‘Big Time Operator’ EP (Columbia SEG 8519) with “Florence Of Arabia”, “It Should’ve Been Me”, “Chauffeur” and the title track

‘ZOOT! LIVE AT KLOOK’S KLEEK, LONDON’ (Columbia SX 6075, October 1966, reissued on RSA SPELP79, then December 2003 on Repertoire CD) recorded live at Dick Jordan’s legendary Hampstead club, with “Chauffeur”, “One And Only Man”, “I've Been Trying”, “Florence Of Arabia”, “Let The Good Times Roll”, “James Brown Medley: I’ll Go Crazy, Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag, Out Of Sight, & I Feel Good”, “Mashed Potato USA” (with strong Andy Somers guitar solo), “Nothing Can Change This Love”, Barefootin’”. Sleeve-notes by studio-engineer Gus Dudgeon. ‘Record Mirror’ review says ‘this is one of those few live LPs where the artiste or group has succeeded in putting across a variety of atmosphere, instead of just the usual frantic heat and muzzy vocals’

December 1966 “Star Of The Show”/ “Mound Moves” (Columbia DB 8090) another Colton & Smith song, produced by Bob Hind. ‘Record Mirror’ review says ‘a novelty in some ways, but bluesily and gustily sung. Must be a sizable hit’

April 1967 “Nick Knack” c/w “I Really Learn How To Cry” (Columbia DB 8172) ‘Record Mirror’ Top 50 Tip, ‘Zoot invests it with his own hardly-shy sort of personality – with modern lyrics and a wonderful sense of power and fun. Instrumentally it’s darned good, too’

1967 Jackie Lynton single “I Never Loved A Girl Like You” c/w “Answer Me” (Columbia DB8224) with Zoot on keyboards

September 1967 As DANTALIAN’S CHARIOT “The Madman Running Through The Fields” c/w “Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud” (Columbia DB 8260) Zoot Money & Andy Somers ‘A’-side, Colton & Smith ‘B’-side, credited as ‘A Rik Gunnell Production’. ‘Record Mirror’ review says ‘strong guitar and a bit of messiness in other places, but it builds well and with ingenuity’. Both tracks later featured on 1996 fix-up LP ‘CHARIOT RISING’ (Wooden Hill WH CD005) with Money & Somers songs “World War III”, “This Island”, “Fourpenny Bus Ride”, “Four Firemen” & “High Flying Bird”, plus Colton & Smith songs “Recapture The Thrill Of Yesterday” and “Coffee Song” plus Colton & Somers “Soma”

May 1968 As ZOOT MONEY ‘TRANSITION’ (CBS Direction 8-63231, reissued in October 2009 as Righteous Psalm PSALM2319) produced by Bob Hind, with “Stop The Wedding” & “Let Music Make You Happy” (both by Money & Somers), “Soma” (Colton & Somers song with druggy drift and sitar), “Problem Child”, plus “River’s Invitation” & “Deadline” (both by Curtis Mayfield), “Watcha Gonna Do ‘Bout It” (Carroll, Garvin & Payne), and three by Colton & Smith “Recapture The Thrill Of Yesterday” ” & “Just A Passing Phase” & “Coffee Song”


October 1968 ‘LOVE IS’ is as a single album (MGM CS8104), then as the full US double-set in 1971 (MGM 2619-002) includes extended reworking of “The Madman Running Through The Fields” plus another from the live Dantalian’s Chariot set, “Gemini”

1969 ZOOT MONEY ‘WELCOME TO MY HEAD’ (US only, Capitol ST318) arranged by Vic Briggs (guitarist with the New Animals), with “ The Man Who Rides the Wind”, “Eight Is the Colour”, “Heavy Load”, “You Got to Believe It”, “Landscape”, “Her”, “The Music Shop”, “The Door”, “Hideaway” and “The Decision Hour”. The liner-notes by Debbi Smith (of ‘Strobe’ magazine) announces ‘all hope abandon, ye who enter the head of Money…’

May 1970 “No-One But You” (Polydor 2058-020) a solo Zoot Money single written by Philip Goodhand-Tait, from October 1970 ‘ZOOT MONEY’ (Polydor 2482-019) solo album produced by ex-Animal Alan Price, with Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” plus songs by Leonard Cohen (“Story Of Isaac”) & Philip Goodhand-Tait (“When Tomorrow Comes”). Other tracks are “When Will You Know”, “Leaving It All Behind” (by Julie Driscoll), “Listen To Me”, “The Prisoner” and “I Need Your Inspiration”. Musicians are Micky Moody (guitar), Lem Lubin (bass), Bernie Berns (drums), John Beauchamp (trombone) and Mike Cottom (trumpet). Has the same sleeve-notes as the US-only ‘Welcome To My Head’

July 1973 ‘SNAPE: FEATURING ALEXIS KORNER & PETER THORUP (ACCIDENTALLY BORNM IN NEW ORLEANS’ (Transatlantic) Zoot plays piano on track “Gospel Ship”


1973 ‘ELLIS: WHY NOT?’ (Epic EPC 65650)

1974 ‘SECOND HAND DEALER’ (Dawn DNLS3054) album by Scots singer-songwriter BRIAN FRIEL, with Zoot & BJ Cole playing back-up

February 1974 ‘ATLANTIC JAZZ EXPRESS’ (Atlantic ATS20082) compilation LP with Zoot and Albert Lee contributing to one Eddie Harris track. Recorded in London

June 1975 ‘ARRIVEDERCI ARDROSSAN’ (Dawn DNLS) second BRIAN FRIEL album, with Zoot & Paul Vigrass playing back-up

1976 ‘HEARTBURN’ (Virgin) by KEVIN COYNE, with Zoot Money as group member

January 1977 ‘IN LIVING BLACK & WHITE’ (Virgin) by KEVIN COYNE

March 1978 ‘DYNAMITE DAZE’ (Virgin V2096) by KEVIN COYNE

February 1978 ‘SURVIVOR’ (Polydor) by ERIC BURDON. Produced by Chas Chandler, with Zoot Money instrumental and song-writing contributions

1979 ‘ALEXIS KORNER & FRIENDS: THE PARTY ALBUM’ (Castle Classics CLA CD290, reissued 1992) with Dick Morrissey, Duffy Power, Paul Jones, Eric Clapton, John Surman, Dick Heckstall-Smith alongside Zoot

September 1980 “Your Feet’s Too Big” c/w “Ain’t Nothing Shaking But The Bacon” (Zoot Money solo composition) (Magic Moon Records) ZOOT MONEY solo update of Jazz novelty number, both lifted from LP ‘MR MONEY’ (Magic Moon LUNE 1 through Paul McCartney’s MPL Communications), produced by Jim Diamond, with musicians Jim Mullen, Nick South, Les Davidson, Paul Robinson, Dick Morrisey, Martin Drover, and Francis Monkman. Other tracks are “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” (by Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen), “Two Of Us” & “Can I Get Closer To You” (both written by Zoot with Colin E Allen), plus “Hello”, “Riders In The Sky”, “It’s Too Soon To Know”, “Careless Hands” and “Sentimental Journey”. Album ‘cover concept’ by Zoot Money & Paul McCartney

1988 ‘FARLOWE, DAVIS, YORK, HODGKINSON, MONEY, ANDERSON; EXTREMELY LIVE’ (Inakoustik insak 8905CD) – Chris, Spencer, Pete, Zoot, Colin & Miller

1998 RUBY TURNER ‘CALL ME BY MY NAME’ (Indigo Records IGOX CD511) Zoot Money produces, plays keyboards and sings, with Bobby Tench (guitar) and Boz Burrell (bass)

September 2000 ZOOT MONEY ‘FULLY CLOTHED & NAKED’ (Indigo) with “Let The Good Times Roll”, “The Rock”, “Let’s Run For Cover”, “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever”, “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, “Bare Footin’”, “People Gonna Talk”, “Smack Dab In The Middle”, “Nothing’s Gonna Change This Love”, “Florence Of Arabia”, “Your One And Only Man”, “Look At You Now”, “Arkansas”, “Good To Be Alive”, “Following You”, “It Ain’t Easy” and “Six Days On The Road”

April 2003 ‘ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND: SINGLES A’s & B’s SCRAPBOOK’ (Repertoire) 24 digitally remastered tracks including “No-One But You”, “Prisoner”, “Stop The Wedding”, “My Sly Sadie”, “I Really Learnt How To Cry”, “You Know You’ll Try”, “Gin House”, “Rocking Chair”, Jump Back” plus singles

September 2005 THUNDERCLAP FEATURING ZOOT MONEY ‘PICK ‘N’ TELL’ (Speakeasy, then Thunderclap OMP, January 2011) with Pete Goodall (guitarist with original Thunderclap Newman), co-writing with Pete Brown, and Zoot Money (keyboards & vocals), Nick Payn (saxes), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Noel Norris (trumpet), Richard Bailey (drums), a new version of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In The Air”, plus “Own Way Home” (with Pete Brown vocals), “Sunshine In My Life”, “Thunder”, “Don’t Come Down”, “Waiting Here For You”, “Love Is Only You”, “Along Again”, “Tear In My Heart”, “The Mask”, “The Old Soul Singer” and “No Shape No Form”

November 2005 ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND ‘BIG TIME OPERATOR’ (Castle 2CD) compilation of 39 vintage 1960’s tracks

June 2007 ‘BEST OF ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND’ (Repertoire) 19 original recordings remastered

July 2007 ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND ‘FULL CIRCLE’ (Universal RC001, Wrasse Records) with “Captain America” (also on 1995 ‘Alexis Korner Memorial Concert Vol.2’), plus sessions from 2003 and 2004 with Gary Foot (sax), Ronnie Johnson (guitar), Steve Laffy (drums), Paul MacCallum (bass), “Roll With My Baby”, “Heaven & Earth & The Stars”, “Born To Live The Blues”, “Hide Nor Hair”, “Watcha Gonna Do?”, “Fog On The Highway”, “May The Circle Be Unbroken”, “It Never Rains But It Pours”, “Medley: Barefootin’ & Walking The Dog”, “It Should’ve Been Me”, “Wild Women & Desperate Men”, “Promised Men”

February 2008 ZOOT MONEY’S BIG ROLL BAND ‘WERE YOU THERE: LIVE 1966’ (Indigo) a kind of bootleg companion to the original ‘Klook’s Kleek’ album, these archive live sessions recorded at the ‘Flamingo’ include “James Brown Medley” and “Big Time Operator”. Soul Star Herbie Goins guests

January 2010 ‘HAMMOND HEROES: 1960’s R&B’ (Bear Family) compilation with Brian Auger, Graham Bond, Georgie Fame, and Zoot’s “Zoot’s Sermon”

This Discography makes no pretence of being complete!

This is an amended version of an original
interview published in translation in:


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