Prog - - Contents - Words: Mike Barnes Por­trait: Rob Grou­cutt

He was a mem­ber of The Move, a found­ing mem­ber of ELO and even a mem­ber of Black Sab­bath. He is drum­mer Bev Be­van and this is his re­mark­able story in his own words.

The Prog In­ter­view is just that: ev­ery month we’re go­ing to get in­side the minds of some of the big­gest names in mu­sic. This is­sue, it’s

Bev Be­van. The Birm­ing­ham-based drum­mer was an orig­i­nal mem­ber of both The Move and ELO, fol­lowed by ELO II, and has toured and recorded with Black Sab­bath, as well as nu­mer­ous oth­ers. Be­van gives us a glimpse into his long ca­reer, from his early in­flu­ences to the mu­si­cal free­dom of the 70s, play­ing with one of the big­gest-sell­ing groups in the world and beyond.

In 1965, Birm­ing­ham-based gui­tarist Trevor Burton and bass gui­tarist Ace Kef­ford were putting to­gether a group. They went to see a young David Jones – who seemed on the verge of suc­cess and was just about to change his stage name to Bowie – and af­ter the show they asked him for some ad­vice on how to crack the mu­sic busi­ness. He told them: “Find the best peo­ple in Birm­ing­ham and re­hearse like crazy. Then move to Lon­don and get your­self a man­ager.”

They re­cruited Bev Be­van on drums and Carl Wayne on

The 1979 Out Of

The Blue tour was amaz­ing and a lot of peo­ple have said it was the best show they’ve ever seen – it was spec­tac­u­lar.

vo­cals – Be­van had played in lo­cal bands since his school­days and had re­cently played with Carl Wayne And The Vik­ings on the gru­elling Ger­man club cir­cuit – and Roy Wood on gui­tar and vo­cals.

This new band, The Move, quickly es­tab­lished them­selves as one of the premier British groups of the 60s, notch­ing up 10 Top 40 hits, nine of which made the Top 20. They made four al­bums, which en­com­passed pop, psychedelia, heavy rock, ec­cen­tric cover ver­sions, clas­si­cal quo­ta­tions and the odd lengthy proto-pro­gres­sive rock ex­cur­sion.

Fol­low­ing Wayne’s de­par­ture in 1970, gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist

Jeff Lynne – who had pre­vi­ously been in The Idle Race – joined The Move for their third al­bum, Look­ing On. That same year, Lynne, Be­van and Wood be­gan work­ing to­gether for the first time as Elec­tric Light Orches­tra. They scor­ing an im­me­di­ate hit with 10538 Over­ture and recorded a self-ti­tled al­bum in 1972.

The Move folded and Lynne and Be­van car­ried on as ELO, a jour­ney that would take them from baroque oddity to string-driven pro­gres­sive rock­ers to pur­vey­ors of lav­ish or­ches­tral pop. ELO were one of the world’s big­gest-sell­ing groups, with No.1 al­bums and 20 hit sin­gles by 1980, but their pop­u­lar­ity waned and they dis­banded in 1986. Be­van then played in ELO Part II with ex-mem­bers from 1989-’99.

He has en­joyed a re­mark­able, wide-rang­ing ca­reer, most of it in­volv­ing friends from Birm­ing­ham and the Mid­lands. These have in­cluded spells as live drum­mer in Black Sab­bath and play­ing per­cus­sion on The Eter­nal Idol (1987), hook­ing up with Trevor Burton again in The Move Fea­tur­ing Bev Be­van And Trevor Burton, and tour­ing this year with a friend from his school­days, Jasper Car­rott, in the live show Stand Up & Rock.

Be­van joined Mid­lands group Quill – self-de­scribed as coun­try/folk/rock – as drum­mer and per­cus­sion­ist in 2017 and has played on and con­tributed ma­te­rial to their new EP Grey Goose Call.

You ini­tially played in beat groups, but with The Move you drummed in a more ex­pan­sive and flam­boy­ant style. Who in­flu­enced your play­ing?

Early on I didn’t know the names of my favourite drum­mers, but they turned out to be peo­ple like Hal Blaine [of the Wreck­ing

The Move were al­ways a great band to play in as you al­ways had to­tal free­dom to play ex­actly what you wanted. No one said, ‘Hey, keep it sim­ple.’ I could do what­ever

I liked.

Crew ses­sion group], and I used to love Phil Spec­tor records and the big­ness of the drums. So I was in­flu­enced by lis­ten­ing to records, rather than see­ing peo­ple.

Tony Se­cunda be­came our man­ager and got us a residency at the Mar­quee in 1966. That’s when I started see­ing drum­mers like Keith Moon and Ginger Baker, and learn­ing from them as well.

When The Move was formed

I’d de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for cer­tainly be­ing the loud­est drum­mer in the Birm­ing­ham area un­til John Bon­ham came along. He used to come and watch me when he was in a band called Terry Webb And The Spi­ders, from Red­ditch.

He did learn stuff from me but, of course, within a year I was watch­ing him and he be­came prob­a­bly the best rock drum­mer in the world. We were re­ally good friends. [Later on] I used to go to his house in Hadley, where he had a cou­ple of kits set up, and this tiny lit­tle kit made by Lud­wig for his son Ja­son, and the three of us would play to­gether.

The Move’s records are so ex­cit­ing be­cause one can feel that things were chang­ing quickly and lots of ideas were com­ing through. How did it feel to you at the time?

The Move were al­ways a great band to play in as you al­ways had to­tal free­dom to play ex­actly what you wanted. No one said, “Hey, keep it sim­ple.” I could do what­ever I liked.

The al­bum I like most is Shazam [1969]. It’s an eclec­tic mix al­right, and by the time you get to Mes­sage From The Coun­try [1970], you’ve even got some coun­try and west­ern in there.

You had some pretty heavy­weight man­age­ment in Tony Se­cunda and Don Ar­den. What did they add to the group?

Don Ar­den never re­ally man­aged The Move. He was in­volved but he was more of an agent. Tony Se­cunda was a good man­ager, but he made mis­takes and the big­gest was not send­ing us to Amer­ica in 1967–1968 as I think we would have done well. We only did one tour there in 1969.

The other one was is­su­ing that li­bel­lous post­card [a cartoon of PM Harold Wil­son in bed with his sec­re­tary Mar­cia Wil­liams] with Flow­ers In The Rain, which gave us front page cov­er­age but lost us the roy­al­ties, in­clud­ing Roy’s song­writ­ing roy­al­ties [which Wil­son was awarded in the li­bel case], which he’s still fight­ing to this day to get back.

So Tony did make mis­takes, but he was a great ideas man. We’d turn up in Lon­don look­ing like The Who, re­ally, with mod gear, and he turned that round com­pletely, and put us in gang­ster suits and re­ally cool-look­ing clothes, and hired a great pho­tog­ra­pher called Bobby David­son. He gave us an im­age. And the smash­ing of the TVs [on­stage], that was an­other idea of Tony Se­cunda’s – de­stroy­ing the one-eyed monster in the liv­ing room.

The Move played on the fa­mous 1967 pack­age tour with Jimi Hen­drix, Pink

Floyd, Amen Cor­ner, The Nice and Eire Ap­par­ent. Do you have any par­tic­u­lar mem­o­ries of that?

It was two shows a night, in the­atres. The open­ing act were Pink Floyd and they got to play two songs – their two hits, See Emily Play and Arnold Layne.

Pink Floyd were dif­fi­cult; they kept them­selves to them­selves. Nick Ma­son was fine, but drum­mers al­ways speak to each other. I re­mem­ber Syd Bar­rett be­ing a bit weird. He seemed out of it most of the time. I don’t think he was even speak­ing to the oth­ers much.

But ev­ery­one else was re­ally friendly. Amen Cor­ner asked

Roy Wood to write them a song, which he did, Hello Susie, and it be­came a big hit. Hen­drix, and Noel [Red­ding, bass] and Mitch [Mitchell, drums] were great guys and we got on very well. The Move closed the first half – we played about half an hour – and Hen­drix closed the sec­ond half, as there was no way you would want to fol­low Hen­drix on­stage.

What was it like see­ing Roy Wood be­come one of the best UK song­writ­ers of the 60s?

We were play­ing the Mar­quee to sell-out crowds ev­ery Thurs­day night and it was a great show, and they were queu­ing around the block to see it, but it was all cov­ers. We had record com­pa­nies want­ing to sign us, but Tony Se­cunda said, “It’s all very well, but if we get a record deal, you guys have got to write some orig­i­nal songs.”

None of us were song­writ­ers, in­clud­ing Roy, but he was the clos­est thing we’d got to one so Tony said, “Here’s a reel-to-reel tape recorder and a mic – get writ­ing.” And he would come up with these ex­tra­or­di­nary songs. He couldn’t churn them out, but he could write a good song in a cou­ple of weeks.

Roy wasn’t that pro­lific, so when he came up with a new song, ev­ery­one wanted to sing it, in­clud­ing Roy. Trevor and Ace would also say they’d like to sing it and Carl said, “I’m the lead singer – I should sing it.”

So that’s why when you lis­ten to I Can Hear The Grass Grow, you can hear three dif­fer­ent lead singers. Some­one would sing the verse, some­one would sing the cho­rus, some­one else would sing the mid­dle eight. I did bass vo­cals on a lot of the records as well.

Elec­tric Light Orches­tra formed while The Move were still go­ing. Was it al­ways the plan to run the two groups si­mul­ta­ne­ously?

The Move were signed to EMI Har­vest and had what turned out to be the last ever sin­gle Cal­i­for­nia Man [in 1972], which was a mas­sive hit. So EMI were say­ing, “We want The Move. We’ve got this hit band and you want to do this thing called Elec­tric Light Orches­tra?”

They weren’t very keen on the idea. So what­ever record­ing costs were in­volved in the first ELO al­bum were made from an ad­vance that we got for The Move. So they did co­ex­ist for a lit­tle while.

Is it true that ELO were thought of as a con­cep­tual group in which you would ex­pand on the ar­range­ment ideas of Bea­tles songs like I Am The Wal­rus?

Jeff, my­self and Roy were huge Bea­tles fans and we loved Straw­berry Fields… and I Am The Wal­rus, and we were at­tempt­ing to do some­thing like that, but on­stage. The first al­bum, The Elec­tric Light Orches­tra, took for­ever to record. Roy played all the cello parts and it was just over­dub­bing and over­dub­bing!

We did one British tour with ELO and then went abroad to Italy, and it was a bit of a mess as we were try­ing to am­plify vi­o­lins and cel­los and we didn’t re­ally know how to do it.

Then we came back and for a cou­ple of weeks nei­ther Jeff nor my­self had heard from Roy Wood. Don Ar­den, who was man­ag­ing us by then, said, “He’s left and taken some of the guys with him. He’s formed this band called Wiz­zard, so do you want to carry on with this Elec­tric Light Orches­tra idea or go back to be­ing The Move?” Jeff said, “We’ll carry on as ELO.” We got a cou­ple of proper cel­lists in, so that made a hell of a dif­fer­ence.

Like The Move, early ELO were dif­fi­cult to cat­e­gorise. The first al­bum was a baroque oddity and ELO 2 was ba­si­cally pro­gres­sive rock, but with more melodic songs than most.

It was to­tally ex­per­i­men­tal. We didn’t know which di­rec­tion we were go­ing in to be­gin with. I like ELO 2, but the tracks go on and on. Kuiama is about 11 min­utes long. But you could do it back then in ’73. And you would get [FM] ra­dio sta­tions in Amer­ica that would play long tracks.

The turn­ing point was prob­a­bly El­do­rado in ’74, which was a con­cept al­bum and I think it re­ally worked. That’s when

Jeff re­ally be­gan to blos­som as a song­writer, and he be­came a lot more con­fi­dent in his singing abil­ity and his pro­duc­tion abil­ity. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head is a beau­ti­ful song and was a Top 10 sin­gle in Amer­ica. The al­bum was our first gold in Amer­ica, which was an in­cred­i­ble thrill, but it didn’t sell in Bri­tain.

Once we started us­ing or­ches­tras, we didn’t use the cello play­ers in the stu­dio, al­though [vi­olin­ist] Mik Kaminski got fea­tured on a cou­ple of so­los. Lou Clark was a great ar­ranger and con­ducted the orches­tra, and some­times there was a choir. It was a mas­sive pro­duc­tion and

Jeff was hav­ing a ball.

With ELO we used to dou­ble track the drums, which gave it a unique sound. I had to keep the drum­ming solid and pretty sim­ple be­cause there was so much else to be put on af­ter me – Kelly Grou­cutt’s bass, Jeff’s gui­tars and Richard Tandy’s key­boards, and an 80-piece orches­tra.

What was it like play­ing in the space­ship on the 1978 Out Of The Blue tour?

It was an amaz­ing tour and a lot of peo­ple have said it was the best show they’ve ever seen. It was ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar, the space­ship open­ing, and you knew it was the end of the show when the space­ship closed. It was fly­ing off to an­other planet!

But it wasn’t a com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence at all be­cause what­ever it was made of – kind of Per­spex-y stuff – the sound wasn’t very good in there. You’d get an aw­ful bounce­back.

And we had these elec­tronic lifts, risers, for the drum kit, for the key­boards, for every­body. Some nights they didn’t work, so the show would start with Standin’ In The Rain and one night the drum kit didn’t come up. The risers all came up even­tu­ally as they could be hand-cranked by the crew. On an­other oc­ca­sion the kit had come up and Jeff’s riser hadn’t come up. You could see him clam­ber­ing out of a hole to get on­stage.

You made a solo sin­gle in 1976, a cover of Sandy Nel­son’s Let

There Be Drums.

It wasn’t a hit, but it was fun to do. I’ve been tour­ing this year with Jasper Car­rott’s Stand Up & Rock and I’ve brought that back. I’ve been do­ing it on­stage.

How did you end up play­ing with Black Sab­bath on the Born Again tour in 1983-’84?

Jeff wanted to make records and didn’t want to tour, but as a drum­mer I just wanted to work. I had an of­fer from Tony Iommi, who is my best friend in the rock’n’roll busi­ness, be­cause Bill Ward wasn’t fit enough to do a Black Sab­bath set. We did a Euro­pean tour, we head­lined at Read­ing Fes­ti­val, we did two Amer­i­can tours. This was with Ian Gillan, who was some­one I ad­mired as a singer. I had a great time. It was a bit like be­ing back in The Move where I was al­lowed to do what­ever I liked, re­ally – play as loudly as I wanted to.

Why did you leave ELO in 1986?

We were con­tracted to make one more al­bum, which was Bal­ance Of Power. The sin­gle, Call­ing Amer­ica, was a mi­nor hit, but the al­bum didn’t sell well and Jeff wanted to work with other artists and pro­duce other peo­ple. So that was the end, re­ally, of ELO. There were no plans, as far as I know, to record any more al­bums or to tour. So I didn’t ex­actly leave, it just ceased to be.

Then you played and recorded as ELO Part II for nearly 10 years. What was that like?

I had a num­ber of former mem­bers of ELO in­volved – Lou Clark, Mik Kaminski and Kelly Grou­cutt. And again I en­joyed it. We went all over the world to places that ELO had never been be­fore. We played just about ev­ery coun­try in South Amer­ica, for ex­am­ple, and we got to play with a lot of sym­phony or­ches­tras, which was an­other thing that ELO them­selves had never done live on stage.

But I had a le­gal agree­ment with

Jeff Lynne and the le­gal­i­ties got bro­ken sev­eral times. You’d turn up in some­where like Brazil and the strict rules were that we were called ELO Part II and you’d get to some venue some­where and it would just say ELO. That was the cause of the prob­lems and

Jeff ob­jected. It was go­ing to carry on hap­pen­ing be­cause it was dif­fi­cult to con­trol those sit­u­a­tions, so I left in 1999. They car­ried on and as far as I know they still ex­ist as The Orches­tra.

You reac­quainted your­self with Trevor Burton in Bev Be­van’s Move. What was it like re­vis­it­ing that ma­te­rial?

The Bev Be­van Band was formed in 2005. That was a good lit­tle band. We were asked to do some shows as Bev Be­van’s Move and Trevor Burton was in­ter­ested. We only did one tour and it was fun to play the old Move songs again. Roy Wood wasn’t very happy, al­though I did ask him if he wanted to join us, but he didn’t. Peo­ple wanted us to carry on, but I wouldn’t want to do it again as it was a back­ward step.

Have you switched to be­ing a per­cus­sion­ist in Quill?

There’s a drum­mer in the band called Andy Ed­wards and I play drums too, and I’ve got a mas­sive per­cus­sion set. It’s a new lease of life for me now to be play­ing orig­i­nal songs. I’m writ­ing lyrics, and [vo­cal­ist] Joy Stra­chan-Brain and my­self write most of the songs. It’s re­ally eclec­tic stuff and I haven’t been as ex­cited about mu­sic for a long time.

We did Cro­predy last year to 20-odd thou­sand peo­ple, which was great. Robert Plant, who is a good pal, got us that gig, and we’re hop­ing to do some more fes­ti­vals next year and to put a new al­bum to­gether as well.

What about the Emer­ald Sab­bath project of re­arrange­ments of Black Sab­bath songs put to­gether by Mad Mike 666?

Some of it is beau­ti­ful – there are some or­ches­tral ar­range­ments, brass sec­tions, string quar­tets, and on ev­ery track there are at least two or three peo­ple who played with Black Sab­bath, in­clud­ing Adam Wakeman, who played on the farewell tour on key­boards. I think Sab­bath fans will love it.

I play per­cus­sion on two ver­sions of Em­bryo and drums on Changes and Trashed. They’re mix­ing it now. At first I thought it might be non­sense – now I’m proud to be on the al­bum.

You also played with Paul Weller in 2010 on his al­bum Wake Up The Na­tion.

That was a funny phone call. I don’t know how he got my num­ber. He said, “There are a cou­ple of tracks I’d like you to play drums on. Ac­tu­ally, you’re my sec­ond choice. I re­ally wanted Keith Moon, but he’s been dead about 30 years and you’re the near­est thing.”

Had you thought about do­ing more ses­sions with other peo­ple?

I think some peo­ple think I’ve re­tired, but I would love to do stuff with other peo­ple. Yeah, please get in touch!

Bev Be­van is play­ing with Jasper Car­rott on his Stand Up & Rock tour. See www.jasper­car­ and www.face­­van­news for more in­for­ma­tion.

Jeff, my­self and Roy were huge Bea­tles fans and we loved


Fields… and I Am

The Wal­rus, and we were at­tempt­ing to do some­thing

like that, but on­stage.









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