THERE’S A BOND BETWEEN US
The mighty Graham Bond was one of the vital catalysts of
the Jazz-R&B cross-over scene that ignited the 1960s.
He lived – and died, at the extreme edge
of the changes that defined the decade…
‘Gonks Go Beat’ (1965) is an appalling film. It was ill-advised even as a tacky merchandising tie-in for the brief mid-sixties fad for spherical googly-eyed Gonk soft-toys. But alongside ‘Carry On...’ regulars Kenneth Connor, Terry Scott, Arthur Mullard and Frank ‘Are You Being Served’ Thornton – who attempt to make the best of Robert Hartford-Davis’ direction, ‘The Craziest Musical Adventure Ever On Planet Earth’ offers opportunistic cameos for the Nashville Teens, Lulu And Her Luvvers, The Long And The Short… and the Graham Bond Organisation.
They perform a Hammond-organ driven “Harmonica” – ‘kinda stormy with an R&B beat’, in an unlikely Beatland fake-jungle setting, with prancing Go-Go girls, and Reginald Beckwith as a comic-turn Teacher in mortarboard and chalkboard. For the group, cool-denoting dark glasses are in place at all times, maybe to provide face-saving disguise too. But look closely, blue-shirted Graham Bond on keyboard has skinny Zapata moustache, Dick Heckstall-Smith wears flat-cap pulled low for his tenor-solo – when he’s not sitting on a stuffed tiger, while surely that’s Ginger Baker on drums. And – held aloft by gyrating dancers, that’s Jack Bruce as the eponymous harmonica-player! Inclusion in this Pop-trifle might have seemed fun, and maybe even an astute career-move at the time. But film of the Graham Bond Organisation is rare. You gotta take what you can get.
As the era recedes further into history there’s a reductionist theory that tends to be applied to – say, the Yardbirds. That they were significant only because they produced three mighty guitar-spanking heroes, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Wrong, the Yardbirds deserve their place in the narrative because they were a fine little Blues-Rock group in their own right who left a trail of defining singles and albums. The same is true of Graham Bond. It’s easy to write the story through the retrospective lens that Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker went on to become Cream, John ‘Mahavishnu’ McLaughlin played with Miles Davis (‘In A Silent Way’, 1969 and ‘Bitches Brew’, 1970) and beyond, while Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith formed the nucleus for Prog-fusion band Colosseum (recording Bond’s “Walkin’ In The Park” for their debut LP). But the Graham Bond Organisation was more than just the sum of its parts.
Graham John Clifton Bond was born in Romford, Essex 28 October 1937. He was adopted from a Dr Barnardo’s Orphanage, and educated at the Gidea Park ‘Royal Liberty School’. Despite a troubled childhood, his flair for music – by fourteen he’d already mastered four instruments, resulted in his first jazz gigs playing Eric Dolphy-derived alto sax with the Goudie Charles Quintet by 1960. Soon he was spending his days working in a sales office, and his evenings with the New Don Rendell Quintet jazz group. This was serious jazz, ‘blowing some of the wildest jazz within our ken’ according to journalist Chris Welch, in a sophisticated small-group interplay, with ‘Melody Maker’ voting Graham one of UK jazz’s ‘brightest hope’ in an early sixties poll.
His alto can be heard to advantage on Don Rendell’s hard-bop ‘Roarin’’ (1961 Jazzland JLP51), billed as ‘A Blast Of The Finest And Rarest UK Modern Jazz’, he even contributes one original composition – “Bring Back The Burch” a punning reference to group pianist John Burch, alongside material by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Plymouth-born Rendell later formed the celebrated Rendell-Carr Quintet with Ian Carr. But by then Graham had left Rendell’s combo to join Blues Incorporated in place of the mighty Cyril Davies in November 1962.
Alexis Korner and harmonica-man Cyril Davies form a vital ignition point for UK R&B, turning ‘Skiffle’ nights at Wardour Street’s Roundhouse pub into the Thursday-night ‘London Blues and Barrelhouse Club’ as early as 1955, a venue where Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy and Otis Spann found ecstatic audiences. 17 March 1962 they took the ABC teashop basement, just down from Ealing Broadway tube, and opened a new club, with their Blues Incorporated as the houseband. Its shifting line-ups at various times include either Art Wood or Long John Baldry (vocals), Charlie Watts, Phil Seamen or Peter ‘Ginger’ Baker (drums), Jack Bruce and Ronnie Jones, while the club itself rapidly became a hang-out for embryonic Rolling Stones and Manfred Mann’s. Its notoriety became a springboard to Blue Incorporated being offered a ‘Marquee Club’ residency, at 165 Oxford Street, from May.
Beneath the conformist complacency of late-1950s Britain, Jazz – both Trad and BeBop, in collusion with Beat Generation poetry, and the Angry Young Men of new-fiction were a gnawing subversion. And there was an increasing flux between art-genre’s. Richard Malden Heckstall-Smith – born 26 September 1934, had played St Martin’s Art School dances as part of innovative Scottish clarinettist Sandy Brown’s group. But he was recruited into the New Departures jazz-poetry movement too, in which Graham Bond and poet Pete Brown creatively interact with wordsmith Michael Horovitz and Jack Bruce on stand-up bass. As part of New Departures ‘desire to nurture legends and legendary events’ there was a jazzetry concert at St Pancras Town Hall celebrating ‘The Battle Of Culloden Moor’, a heady concoction of Brown and Horovitz reading with Anselm Hollo and Adrian Mitchell, backed-up by improvisational musicians Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Les Condon, Stan Tracey Jeff Clyne and Bobby Wellins. Barriers were dissolving with new freedoms in the air.
--- 0 ---
GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION
The Pop charts were full of Frank Ifield, Billy Fury, Helen Shapiro, Cliff (“I’m Looking Out The Window”) and Elvis (“Good Luck Charm”), around that same 1962 mid-summer. But all that was about to change. It had amused impresario Larry Parnes to create matching popstrels called Fame and Fortune for his stable of pretty-Pop Star pin-ups, but while Lance Fortune rapidly scored a Top Ten hit with “Be Mine”, Georgie Fame languished back-of-stage in the resident bands of Package Tours. It was only later – post-Parnes, playing ‘The Flamingo’ in Wardour Street that Georgie was drawn into the vibrant Blues scene, noting and absorbing the musical tastes of the club’s predominantly black audience. He and his Blue Flames began sharpening their distinctively jazz-based Rhythm & Blues style. Soon followed by the Hammond-organ fronted Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, Ronnie Jones and the Nightimers and Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds. Creating an incidental portal of access for Graham Bond who, with only the slightest fine-tuning, was playing that music already. The barriers between R&B and jazz were already in flux, and they were about to be accelerated into new territory via that Pop-Rock axis.
It was another strange quirk of unlikely fate that led to the recording of Graham Bond’s debut single. Raymond Leslie Howard – born in Fulham 9 September 1941, was also discovered and promptly signed by Larry Parnes, as ‘Duffy Powers’. Despite a series of cover version singles – including Bobby Darin’s teen-angst “Dream Lover” and Michael Holiday’s sweetly tuneful “Starry Eyed” both in 1959, that elusive chart hit never happened, and Duffy quit Parnes in 1961, suffering from acute depression. At a loose end he followed Georgie Fame into the R&B clubs, coincidentally in time to take advantage of the Beatles first album. Track one side one of the ‘Please Please Me’ (1963) LP is Paul McCartney’s raucous “I Saw Her Standing There”, which Duffy Powers promptly adopts as a powerful up-tempo single, with a backing credit to the Graham Bond Quartet (May, Parlophone R 5024).
The ‘quartet’ at the time consists of Bond with the Jack Bruce-Ginger Baker rhythm section, and John McLaughlin on guitar. One of the first covers of a Beatles song, it must have seemed an irresistible combination, yet again the single failed to chart, despite its many positives. Perhaps it missed out because the Beatles original was already too familiar? Yet check out the ‘B’-side, “Farewell Baby”, and it’s an original Graham Bond composition. Nevertheless, BBC Radio commissioned further editions of its ‘Pop Go The Beatles’ show, with presenter Rodney Burke introducing the Fab Four’s guests Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet for the fifth show, recorded at Maida Vale’s Studio 5, and broadcast 16 July 1963 at the family-friendly teatime 5-5:30pm slot.
Music was in free-fall all around the Bond Quartet. They’d come out of jazz and Blues, content to play extended jams and impromptu torque’d-up solos in clubs for niche audiences. And that was enough. As Pete Brown notes, ‘R&B provided a much-needed living and regular work for many non-establishment jazz musicians.’ Until the Rolling Stones broke through to major commercial success. They proved by example that there were receptive fans out there for harder music-forms, if it could be focused in minor presentational ways. By now the Bond Organisation were fixtures at all the trendy Mod scenes, the ‘100 Club’ on Oxford Street, while an October 1964 set at the legendary ‘Klooks Kleek’ was pirated, the tapes circulating privately for years before eventually seeing release. As such it forms a valuable document, catching the furious dynamics and group energy of “Big Boss Man” and “The First Time I Met The Blues”, as well as template versions of future studio material. Bond’s stage announcement credit to Ginger as ‘one of the most fabulous drummers in Europe’ leads into a startling “Early In The Morning’ drum-solo, contrasting its rough hand-clap driven official release.
And with the dawn of 1965, everything seemed to be dropping into place. The year opened with a major package tour promoted by Robert Stigwood, headlined by Chuck Berry and the Moody Blues. The Bond Organisation follow the Five Dimensions in the first half, before Long John Baldry takes the show into the intermission. And there was a bizarre tie-in single coupling the group’s jazzy instrumental arrangement of the traditional “Wade In The Water” – later a cool US hit for the Ramsey Lewis Trio. It showed just how strong the Organisation’s interplay worked at its very best. While the flip was the cheesy old 1957 Debbie Reynolds hit “Tammy”, a honeyed sentimental movie-song by Carrie Fisher’s mother. Graham’s vocal makes play around the melody-line, as though undecided if it’s a spoof – as in the over-the-top excesses of Gerry Monroe’s “Sally” which ludicrously reached no.4 in May 1970, or to play it straight and turn up its dramatic charm as – say, PJ Proby might have done. As it is, the song’s undeniable potential is diluted by little attempt at arrangement or pre-thought that just might have made it the breakthrough they need. Yet there were sessions across the dial on BBC Radio, taking them beyond genre, all the way from ‘Jazz Club’ to Brian Matthew’s essential Pop ‘Saturday Club’, as well as BBC2-TVs ‘Beat Room’. All the reviews were positive. All the correct connections were in place. Their visual appeal was never destined to be fanmag-shattering, but they were so hip it hurts.
The four-way group structure allows for no passengers, each a virtuoso player in his own right. Jack writes and sings “Hear Me Calling Your Name”, with its own jazzy changes. While Bond’s “Walkin’ In The Park” is one of his strongest originals. His slow late-night Blues “Baby Can It Be True” innovatively uses mellotron colouration. And there are two tracks from a Ray Charles template, with chanted ‘night and day’ back-up vocals to his filthy rasp on “The Night Time Is The Right Time”, and a playfully dirty adaptation of “What’d I Say” – ‘see the girl that’s dressed in green, put her down, you don’t know where she’s been’ and ‘see the girl with the topless dress on, she stays cool all night long’. The topless dress he was referring to was a brief and sensational sixties fashion.
There was the ‘Gonks Go Beat’ movie too. And then they play out the year with the 15 October ‘Ready Steady Go!’ (season 3, no.7), alongside Georgie Fame, Ben E King, the Fortunes and Dusty Springfield. To poet Pete Brown, ‘to my mind this was the greatest-ever British band, certainly becoming for musicians what the Beatles were to the public. I was a huge fan.’ They persist as a group’s group, appreciated and respected by other musicians and hip club goers, even when that commercial breakthrough fails to happen. The vital equation at the core of their sound takes the powerhouse Jack and Ginger chemical equilibrium, and adds an impeccable pedigree in British Blues, to equal bliss. Their superb individual technique honed by having to fight for prominence in fiercely cutting egocentric line-ups. But the Jack-Ginger axis is notoriously brittle, characterised by fiery temperament, already exacerbated by substance abuse problems. Their bickering and Ginger’s bullying led to Bond deputising the drummer to fire Bruce in order to defuse the irritation. Jack promptly joined Manfred Mann – and plays on “Pretty Flamingo”, before Baker himself quit. Yet the Graham Bond Organisation survives the departure of both, with Baker temporarily replaced in the drum-chair by roadie Pete Bailey, until Jon Hiseman takes over. He’d formerly played with pianist Mike Taylor, and in the New Jazz Orchestra.
There are extravagant stories. Of John McLaughlin passing out on stage. As he slowly collapses, his rasping guitar emits squalls of feedback. Rather than offering help, Jack Bruce stands back, notating the sounds for future reference. On another occasion, in mid-set, it’s Jack who shorts his bass against the microphone, receiving a flash electric shock that stuns him. As the gig progresses they calmly pick him up and lay him out on top of Graham’s organ until he revives. ‘Bond sat there like some pudgy mandarin (a pioneer in the distribution of facial hair he was, too), shooting his cuffs like some demented concert pianist and bringing his arms crashing down on the keyboards’ (‘New Musical Express’ 25 May 1974).
Yet Bond’s jazzy aggressive Blues would never find widespread success. Consider, apart from the obvious Ray Charles original, everyone from Elvis Presley to Brenda Lee did covers of “What’d I Say”. “Got My Mojo Working” was an onstage stormer, but Long John Baldry already did a stand-out version, as did Manfred Mann – with powerful Paul Jones vocals. So what exactly was the Organisation’s unique selling point? Some of their original songs were strong, delivered in that loose intuitively rough interplay that sparked magic live, but they’d benefit from a producer’s tidying to make them commercially viable, in the way that – say, Georgie Fame was lubricated by punching horns.
‘I went to see the band down ‘The Marquee’, playing to a sparse audience’ recalls Pete Brown. ‘Graham, keeping up with fashion, was wearing psychedelic kaftans and had attempted to persuade the others to do the same. Dick would only go as far as a Hawaiian-style shirt that looked too small on him. They had a good light show, but were still playing the same jazz and R&B songs, albeit supremely well.’ Invited to play the ‘Amazing Technicolour Dream’ Hippie-Fest at the Alexandra Palace they arrive ‘late, unrehearsed and disorganised and never went on.’
From his dingy Ladbroke Grove basement flat, a cash-strapped Graham watched his two former sidemen go global with Cream. He’d tutored Jon Lord on organ technique, and Jon went on to Deep Purple. It is the lot of pioneers, they open doors for others to pass through. With Bond already subject to physical and mental health problems, depression and manic episodes compounded by narcotics. Not the Mod purple hearts or Pep pills, not the Hippie grass or LSD, but the hard heroin of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, Chet Baker and William S Burroughs. As Pete Brown observes, the group came to an end in 1967 with ‘Dick and Jon having become disenchanted with Graham’s growing smack addiction and dodgy attitude towards the band’s finances’ (from ‘White Rooms And Imaginary Westerns’, JR Books, 2010).
--- 0 ---
In a sense, this had been Graham Bond’s highpoint. For the duration of these two albums he was the coming thing. Yet even without that focus there was more to come. In early 1968, newly dedicated and attempting to stay clean, Bond set off to America – via an Irish stop-over, for twenty months of new adventures, without ever bothering about Work Permit complications. From New York they move to Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, courtesy of Lou Reizner. After all, hadn’t Eric Burdon recreated his career on the west coast, with Zoot Money joining his New Animals there? And Van Morrison was discovering a whole new US audience following the crash-and-burn of Them. English Rock musicians were immediately immaculately cool. Doors opened. Graham stands in when the Buddy Miles Express organist quits. He jams with Jefferson Airplane, and works with Graham Nash on an album by the Fool. In LA, Irwin Garr had launched Pulsar Records to siphon off the new counter-culture market. He scored a distribution deal through Mercury, with Mac ‘Dr John’ Rebennack and Harold Battiste stashed on backroom production roles.
And Graham cut a solo album lifting its title – ‘Love Is The Law’, from the writings of cult ‘golden dawn’ Satanist Aleister Crowley. There’s a hippie girl dancer on the cover, and lyrics with a slanted vagueness taking advantage of that new mood, although the sound is a logical organ-led evolution of what had gone before. The title track extends his mellotron explorations into the realm of cosmic imagery, ‘love is the law of the sun and the moon and the stars.’ The churchy organ of “Crossroads Of Time” takes that same Age Of Aquarius new-era feel, that after two World Wars it was time for a renewed morality, ‘ain’t gonna fight no more, no more, gonna make love not war, not war.’ ‘This is the age of Aquarius, the age of colour and sound’ Bond explained to Chris Welch (in ‘Melody Maker’ June 1970).
The theme continues with the jazzy organ of “The World Will Soon Be Free” which is based on his new wife’s ‘dream in colour’, although he and American dancer Diane Stewart were not actually married until Spring 1970 with a wild event at London’s ‘Revolution’ club. Her dream sees ‘the whole wide world was one big family’ while adding a cautionary note that ‘it was just a dream’, yet it anticipates John Lennon’s “Imagine” in that ‘dreams can come true’ and ‘the whole world will soon be free.’ It was a strong album, but was overlooked in the psychedelic tsumami of strange new names. Lacking distribution too, it was not even initially available in the UK, beyond a promotional single combining “Love Is The Law” c/w “Naz”.
As a reaction to 1950s social conformity the counter-culture media flaunted an admirable openness to alternate belief-systems, which could also be naively gullible. As well as the Maharishi the Beatles include Aleister Crowley – the self-styled ‘Great Beast’ (1875-1947), in their ‘Sergeant Pepper’ art-collage. He was the same occultist who exerted a fascination upon Jimmy Page, as well as on Genesis P Orridge of Throbbing Gristle. Before we even get to the dark underside of the hippie idyll personified by Charles Manson. Beyond good and evil, Crowley’s ‘Law Of Thelema’ dictates ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ Which can have unfortunate consequences to a certain mindset.
It’s not clear when Bond first became intrigued by this Dark Side, but it’s already showing its influence in his lyric preoccupations. There are stories he believed himself to be Crowley’s lost love-child. One of Crowley’s scarlet women acolytes gave birth in 1937, leaving the baby at an orphanage. On the tenuous reasoning that Bond himself was born in 1937 and adopted at six months old from an orphanage, the symmetry makes a certain kind of sense-connection when he researched this. He set out his beliefs in an article for ‘IT: International Times’ (September 1969). Yet it seems Bond’s flirtation was at least positive in that he used Crowley’s Thelema system to get off smack.
Bond might have been adrift in troubled waters, but he was still capable of making waves. Following his American sojourn he returned – via a stop-over in Jamaica, with spectacular highs and lows. He was promptly arrested and confined in Pentonville for alleged contempt of court resulting from two-year-old bankruptcy charges. ‘I was treated very well in prison and was allowed to play the piano and give a talk to the prisoners on alto saxophone playing’ he told ‘Melody Maker’. Only to be released in time to launch a new band – Initiation (with drums and percussion by Keith Bailey and Dave Sheen) at Pantiles Club, then a less-than sold-out Albert Hall concert, opening the set by playing a flamboyant overture on the Albert Hall organ (17 October). The brief Initiation stay together long enough to do a session for Radio One’s ‘Top Gear’ (31 January 1970).
From that point on, he became involved in a long series of abortive groups, including recording with Ginger Baker’s Air Force as well as working as part of Jack Bruce’s ‘Harmony Row’ (1971) promotion band with Dick Heckstall-Smith. Feelings of resentment at being employed by his more-successful former-sidemen must have been compounded by Jack subsequently firing Graham from the band!
‘Holy Magick’ in 1971, the name of the group and the album, arrived within a gatefold Stonehenge cover, on the prestigious Progressive Vertigo label with Graham and Diane Stewart as the nucleus around which pick-up musicians orbit, including Rick Grech, Victor Brox, Alex Dmochoski and Jon Moreshead, formerly of Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation. It’s an album of dissonance, chants, incantations, white magic, Celtic mysticism and pentagrams (‘my father’s six-pointed star’, Crowley as father?), over a jazzy improvisational flux. What writer Rob Young described as ‘steamy, rhythmic workouts heavily infused with ritual magic chants and mantric voodoo’ (in ‘Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music’, Faber, 2010).
It could be argued Bond is channelling mystical influences in the same way that Dr John uses his New Orleans juju traditions. Or as Sun Ra uses his outer space mythology. ‘I believe that an artist should prepare himself scientifically for the task of creation’ he told journalist Richard Williams. The sound of his organ swells and seethes around sharp percussion, and flaring echoing horns. Horn sections wail and stutter over pummelling rhythms. It is relentless. No compromise. No concessions. No hits! Diane’s voice adds edge and response. There are nominally eighteen tracks, but initially there’s barely a delineation as one track bleeds into the next for twenty-three minutes. There are snatches of motivational lyric – ‘seek and you’ll find, it’s all in our mind,’ and ‘there is no fear, that enters in here.’ With quasi-religious ‘thou art the kingdom and the power and the glory for aeons and aeons and aeons, amen.’ To Harry Shapiro who writes the CD reissue liner-notes it’s ‘a magical ritual done in the Ray Charles mode’… maybe, but whatever in means it’s a stunningly-conceived extended piece.
The last four tracks stand slightly apart. “The Judgement” retains a recognisable blues form, with piano and gospel voices, while the millenarian lyrics exhorts ‘the end has just begun’ and that ‘it is too late for changing, now that god has made the plan… to start the Earth’s new cycle.’ Then his appeals for King Arthur and the wizard Merlin to return utilises cutting guitar figures around ‘the twelve holy knights of the grail.’ Those seeking a more personal insight into whatever is going on inside Graham’s head can find clues in ‘my soul caught the fear’ over the slinky slithering “My Archangel Mikael”, ‘when the chaos of this wicked world brings you pain… he calls, Mikael calls.’ He seems to be stripping himself to the core with ‘I’ve been dead too long, I can’t hide myself no more,’ into the entrancing “The Magician” where he confesses ‘I was a fool to think I could make it on my own,’ with a direct reference – maybe, to him and Diane, that now ‘we work our magic together’ and ‘there aint nothing we both can’t do.’
Graham Bond’s final recording project comes in the form of a link-up with poet-lyricist Pete Brown, who’d already collaborated with Jack Bruce on “White Room” and “Theme For An Imaginary Western” – among other classic tracks. It forms the culmination of a long-term mutual respect. And the album title – ‘Two Heads Are Better Than One’, works on a number of levels. It equates to a fusion of equals, with a cover collage showing great duos Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Tom and Jerry, Tarzan and Jane, and Bonnie and Clyde as well as Brown and Bond. While ‘heads’ is a sly term for, among other slang usages, ‘a head of their time’, and a derivation of acid-head, meaning aware or turned on. The ‘Vox’ magazine reviewer says ‘if “Colonel Fright’s Dancing Terrapins” is daft, “Ig The Pig” is mad, with Bond hexing his former manager’ for disasters ‘down in Californ-i-ay’ (‘we put our voodoo on you now’). The Caribbean party sway of “Oobati” contrasts with the spaced piano and fractured experimental structure of “Amazing Grass”, and the lurching fun changes of “Scunthorpe Crabmeat Train Sideways Boogie Shuffle Stomp”. There’s free sax solos, powerful percussion, with Bond’s vocals and agile keyboards always in control. Soundtrack material added to CD reissues ‘shows Bond’s organ staying in control as the rest of his life falls apart’ (October 1992).
But more than just Bond’s final album – through a hook-up with Les Reed’s new Chapter One label, it was a band and a tour too, Graham’s Hammond C3 and saxophone, Pete’s trumpet and talking drums, drummer Ed Spevock, Lisle Harper on bass, with Diane adding vocal harmonies. Later, guitarist Derek Foley joins too, replaced by an energetic Mick Walker. Following a few try-out gigs prior to Christmas 1972, including one with Hawkwind at the Seymour Hall, the band takes to the road in a Mercedes truck.
There were college gigs, then to France and down to Marseille with Graham and Pete sharing driving duties. After a UK stop-over there were German dates, including one at Hamburg’s Stadpark. Pete Brown tells the tale of how Bond retains his mystic incantation “Freaky Beaks” for the set, which hexes enemies and hate-figures. It was surely coincidental that he includes the name of right-wing publisher Axel Springer, and that the next day Springer’s HQ is devastated by an unexplained explosion? Calling off backstage at a Gentle Giant gig Graham grabs a pass-around joint and ‘reduced it to ash in one blast’. As Phil Ryan (of Man, on the same bill) relates, ‘examining the saxophonist’s very expensive instrument’ Graham ‘blew a few things on it that the poor guy would never get close to, and handed it back, saying ‘great horn’.’ A drunk Graham Bond plays most of the Payerne Festival in Switzerland ‘from underneath the Hammond’, following it with excellent sets at Bilzen on the German-Belgium border with Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, and in Hanover with Arthur Brown and Zoot Money.
There was Magus, a line-up involving Folkie Carolanne Pegg (aka Carole Pegg of Mr Fox), with bass-player Pete MacBeth, guitarist Brian Holloway and funky Paul Olsen on drums. But Bond’s unpredictable behaviour, his dependence on drug and occult lore, was leading them into increasingly bizarre involvements. Always a large man of voracious appetites, excessive in most things, his life and career were fractured by frequent depression resulting from substance abuse and his psychic obsessions. Stories proliferate. After Long John Baldry had been sent voodoo dolls at his Muswell Hill home, Graham visits to carry out an exorcism – with Ginger Baker in tow (Ginger called him ‘Gipsy Rose Bond’). ‘Graham told me that he felt he had taken something quite terrible and very heavy out of the house on his shoulders’ Baldry told ‘Melody Maker’. Bond returns home to find a live chicken nailed to his door – the ultimate occult curse.
Pete Brown called off while Graham was staying in Holloway, north London with roadie-friend John Hunt. ‘He said he’d sworn off all the magic stuff and drugs and was now just going to play jazz and blues.’ In a weird limbo, Bond phoned ‘New Musical Express’ to line up an interview, ‘he sounded purposeful, optimistic, enthusiastic, and full of energy’, with plans for tomorrow. Then he went out for the walk from which he never returns. He died Wednesday, 8 May 1974 under the wheels of a speeding tube-train at Finsbury Park station in mysterious circumstances. An eyewitness claims he jumped. It takes the police days to even identify the body, using fingerprints. Only the silver pendant talisman star he wore around his neck escaped unscratched. The news shocked its way around the music community. Always unpredictable, Graham was never less than respected. There’s no clear verdict of suicide, accident, or victim of black-magic foul play.
There’s potential, and then there’s lost potential. Georgie Fame and Zoot Money also endure slumps and troughs but come out the other side into renewed respect and cultdom. While re-evaluations of the Graham Bond legacy continue as his work finds new audiences through re-mastered CD editions and YouTube uploads. There’s even a clip in an appalling film called ‘Gonks Go Beat’. It’s tough that he’s no longer around to enjoy it.
THE MIGHTY GRAHAM BOND
1961 – ‘ROARIN’’ by the New Don Rendell Quintet (1961 Jazzland JLP51, reissued on CD by BGP, 2005), recorded 17 June and 29 August 1961 at Star Sound Studios, with Don Rendell (tenor sax), John Burch (piano), Tony Archer (bass), Phil Kinorra (drums), and Graham Bond who plays alto sax and contributes one original composition – ‘Bring Back The Burch’
May 1963 – ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ c/w ‘Farewell Baby’ (Bond original) by Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet (Parlophone R 5024)
June 1964 – ‘Long Tall Shorty’ (Don Covay-Abramson) c/w ‘Long Legged Baby’ (Bond) (Decca F11909) A-side collected onto compilation LP ‘The Sixties Explosion 1962-1969’ (See For Miles SEE CD 223) and ‘Pop Inside The Sixties Vol.2’ (SEECD399)
1964 – ‘THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION’ EP (Decca DFE 4616) with ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘High Heeled Sneakers’, ‘Little Girl’, ‘Long Legged Baby’, ‘Strut Around’. First two tracks collected onto compilation ‘Blues Roots’ (Decca ROOTS6), while an early version of ‘Wade In The Water’ is on ‘Blues Now’ (Decca LK4681)
October 1964 – ‘GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION: LIVE AT KLOOKS KLEEK’ bootleg recorded live 15 October 1964 (admission 3s6d), with ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Big Boss Man’, ‘Early In The Morning’ (with Ginger Baker drum solo), ‘Person To Person Blues’ (with Heckstall-Smith tenor solo), ‘Spanish Blues’, ‘Introduction By Dick Jordan’ (stage banter), ‘The First Time I Met The Blues’ (Buddy Guy), ‘Stormy Monday’ (Willie Dixon), ‘Train Time’, ‘What’d I Say’. Produced by Giogio Gomelsky, liner notes by Chris Welch. First released in the UK as ‘The Beginning Of Jazz-Rock’ in 1977 as Charly CR300-17, then under various titles, by Decal LIK-47 in 1988 as ‘Live At Klooks Kleek’ and as ‘Person To Person Blues’ by Metrodome METRO431 in 2000, also Charly CD214
January 1965 – ‘Wade In The Water’ c/w ‘Tammy’ (Columbia DB7471)
March 1965 – ‘Tell Me (I’m Gonna Love Again)’ (‘John Group’ aka Bond-Baker-Bruce-Heckstall-Smith) c/w ‘Love Come Shining Through’ (John Group) (Columbia DB7528)
1965 – ‘GONKS GO BEAT’ Soundtrack (Decca LK4673) includes the Graham Bond Organisation’s ‘Harmonica’, alongside Lulu And The Luvvers, The Long And The Short, Nashville Teens
July 1965 – ‘Lease On Love’ c/w ‘My Heart’s In Little Pieces’ (Graham Bond) (Columbia DB7647). Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117
1966 – ‘Saint James Infirmary’ (arr: Ginger Baker) c/w ‘Soul Tango’ (Graham Bond) (Columbia DB7838). Features Neil Hubbard on guitar, replacing Jack Bruce. ‘It was a true group performance with each musician concentrating on playing together rather than saving their efforts for their own solos’ according to Brian Hogg. Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117
1966 – ‘Substitute’ c/w ‘Waltz For A Pig’ (Reaction 591001) by The Who, although the B-side, credited to ‘The Who Orchestra’ actually features label-boss Robert Stigwood’s other clients the Graham Bond Organisation, writer-credited to Harry Butcher, a Ginger Baker alias
February 1967 – ‘You’ve Gotta Have Love Baby’ (Graham Bond) c/w ‘I Love You’ (Graham Bond) (Page One POF014) Produced by Larry Page. Jon Hiseman on drums. ‘This was a strange single, with its peculiar mid-Eastern rhythm, frantic sax and pounding ogan.’ Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117
1968 – ‘THE CROSSROADS OF TIME’ (Mercury 20134SMCL) by Eyes Of Blue, with Graham Bond liner notes, includes two songs ‘Love Is The Law’ and the title-track written by Bond through his wife Diane Stewart’s name
1968 – ‘LOVE IS THE LAW’ as by Grahame Bond (US Pulsar Records AR10604, UK 2011 CD Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2239) with ‘Love Is The Law’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’, ‘Our Love Will Come Shining Through’, ‘I Couldn’t Stand It Anymore’, ‘Sun Dance’, ‘Crossroads Of Time’, ‘Bad News Blues’, ‘Strange Times, Sad Times’, ‘The Naz’, ‘The World Will Soon Be Free’. Titles credited to ‘Billy Gamble’ (Graham Bond), with Harvey Mandel (guitar), Eddie Hoh (drums), Harvey Brooks (bass)
1969 – ‘THE MIGHTY GRAHAME BOND’ (US Pulsar AR 10606) with ‘Water, Water’, ‘Oh Shining One’, ‘Pictures In The Fire’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Sisters And Brothers’. Side two ‘Stiffnecked Chicken’, ‘Freaky Beaky’, ‘Walk Onto Me’, ‘Magic Mojo’, ‘Brothers And Sisters’ with strong Bond Hammond organ as well as Mellotron and alto sax, Harvey Mandel (guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Eddie Hoh (drums), Drachen Theaker (drums), Frank Mayes (sax). All original songs credited to ‘Billy Gamble’. Liner notes by Troy Randle
January 1970 – ‘Walking In The Park’ c/w ‘Springtime In The City’ (Warner Bros WB 8004) Both sides written by Graham Bond
March 1970 – ‘GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE’ (Polydor 2662-001) Ginger’s ten-piece big-band recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, 15 January 1970, features Bond sax solo on Harold McNair’s ‘DaDa Man’, Bond vocals on ‘Aiko Biaye’, also Baker’s ‘Early In The Morning’ as on ‘The Sound Of 65’. Bond also takes lead vocals on the studio LP ‘GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE 2’ (December 1970, Polydor 2383-029) and writes ‘Twelve Gates Of The City’
1971 – ‘THIS IS: BOND IN AMERICA’ LP (Mercury 6499200/1, Philips International 6382010) with ‘Stiffnecked Chicken’, ‘Walk Onto Me’, ‘I Couldn’t Stand It Anymore’, ‘Oh Shining One’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’. Side two ‘Crossroads Of Time’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Freaky Beak’, ‘Strange Times, Sad Times’, ‘Love Is The Law’. Made up of tracks from his two US-recorded albums
1971 – ‘HOLY MAGICK’ LP as by Holy Magick (Vertigo 6360021, reissued as BGO BGOLP35) with ‘Meditation Aumgn’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross: The World Of The Aeon’, ‘Invocation To The Light’, ‘The Pentagram Ritual’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross: Hymn Of Praise’, ‘Twelve Gates To The City’, ‘The Holy Words Iao Saluao’, ‘Aquarius Mantra’, ‘Enochian’, ‘Abrahadabra The Word Of The Aeon’, ‘Praise City Of Light’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross Aumgn: Return Of Arthur’, ‘The Magician’ with Ric Grech, Diane Stewart, John Moreshead, Steve York, Keith Bailey, Victor and Jenny Brox. Debut Vertigo single April ‘Twelve Gates To the City’ c/w a new version on ‘Water, Water’
February 1971 – ‘WE PUT OUR MAGICK ON YOU’ LP as by Holy Magick (Vertigo 6360042, reissued as BGO BGOLP73) with ‘Forbidden Fruit Part 1’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’, ‘Ajama’ (written by Gaspar Lawall), ‘Druid’, ‘I Put My Magick On You’, ‘Time To Die’, ‘Hail Ra Harakhite’, ‘Forbidden Fruit Part 2’. With Graham Bond and Diane, Terry Poole (bass), John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers (drums), Graham ‘Hedley’ Williams (guitar), Gaspar Lawall (percussion), Steve Gregory (saxophone). A 2008 double-pack as BGO483 combines both albums
1972 – ‘Lost Tribe’ c/w Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes’ + ‘Macumba’ (Harvest 2C 006-93828) Pete Brown and Graham Bond. There’s also a ‘Lost Tribe’ EP done in France for Pathe-Marconi
1972 – ‘A STORY ENDED’ by DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH (Bronze ILPS 9196) solo album recorded after collapse of Colosseum Mark One, with Bond’s organ, piano and synthesiser guesting on ‘Moses In The Bullrushhourses’, ‘What The Morning Was After’ (both Pete Brown lyrics) and ‘The Pirate’s Dream’. Features Jon Hiseman, Caleb Quaye, Chris Spedding, Chris Farlowe, Dave Greenslade. Graham Bond also plays alto on ‘Male Chauvinist Pig Song’ and other tracks on Steve York’s Camelo Pardalis ‘Manor Live’ LP (Virgin, 1973), and he appears as ‘sax-player’ in the 1973 ‘That’ll Be The Day’ David Essex movie
April 1992 – ‘THE R ‘N’ B SCENE VOLUME II’ (See For Miles LP SEE73, CD SEE4) includes Bond’s ‘Harmonica’ and ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’
2008 – ‘LOST 1973 ALBUM’ by the John Dummer Band (Angel Air Records SJPCD276). Recorded in 1973, but shelved until 2008, featuring John Dummer (drums and vocals), Graham Bond (sax), Ian ‘Thump’ Thompson (bass), Pick Withers (drums), Pete Emery (guitar), Colin ‘Foghat’ Earl (keyboards)
2015 – ‘GRAHAM BOND: LIVE AT THE BBC AND OTHER STORIES’ (Repertoire Records REPUK 1279) vastly significant 4CD covering all phases of his career from 25 April 1963 ‘BBC Jazz Club’ recorded at Paris Cinema by The Graham Bond Quartet with Bobby Breen, ‘Bluesology’, ‘I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town’, ‘Hello Little Girl’, ‘Spanish Blues’, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’, ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’. Then Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Got A Woman’. ‘Summertime’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’. The Don Rendell Quintet with guest Dick Heckstall-Smith from 9 September 1962 ‘Jazz Session’ at Paris Cinema, ‘Things Are Getting Better’, ‘Elsie And Ena aka Bring Back The Burch’, ‘Richmond Festival’, ‘Kelly Blue’, ‘Troika’, ‘Kazeef’, ‘Persian Party’. Graham Bond Organisation 22 January 1966 from ‘Jazz Beat’ 22 January 1966 at Playhouse Theatre, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Only Sixteen’, ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’. Graham Bond And Pete Brown from ‘Sounds Of The Seventies’ 23 March 1972 at Maida Vale, ‘Macumbe’, ‘Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes’, ‘Beak Suite’. Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith 1963 Home Tape, ‘Improvisation’. Dick Heckstall-Smith Band demo ‘Moses In The Bullrushourses’. Graham Bond Organisation Live 1966/1967 ‘What’d I Say?’. Graham Bond Initiation Live 1969/1970 ‘Wade In The Water’. Graham Bond Quartet 16 July 1963 from ‘Pop Goes The Beatles’ at Aeolian Hall, ‘I Got A Woman’, ‘Cabbage Greens’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Spanish Blues’. Graham Bond Initiation 31 January 1970 from ‘Top Gear’ at Maida Vale, ‘Walkin’ In The Park/ I Want You’, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Love Is The Law’ and 22 March 1970 from ‘John Peel Show’ at Paris Cinema, ‘Love Is The Law’, ‘Magic Mojo’, ‘The World Will Still Be Free’, ‘Wade In The Water’. The Brian Dee Trio featuring Graham Bond from the 1962 EP ‘Jazz And Twist’ (Vaux VA8), ‘Things Are Getting Better’. The Philamore Lincoln featuring Graham Bond from 1970 LP ‘The North Wind Blew South’ (Epic BN26497), ‘Blew Through’. Graham Bond with Ken Wray And The Joe Palin Trio, a 1962 rehearsal session at ‘Club 43’ in Manchester, ‘Sack O’ Woe’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘Work Song’, ‘Oleo’, ‘Things Are Getting Better’
June 1992 book – ‘GRAHAM BOND: THE MIGHTY SHADOW’ by Harry Shapiro (Guinness Publishing, Square One) well-researched biography with interviews, includes allegations of Bond’s improprieties with his step-daughter, reprinted in 2004 by Crossroads Press ISBN 10-1872747078