They found each other as pub rock waned. Then tun­nel vi­sion forced a sud­den wedge.

Mojo (UK) - - Contents -

It was love when their eyes met through the Play­ers No.6 smoke in pub-rock­ing 1975 Lon­don. But then? Gra­ham Parker re­mem­bers The Ru­mour.


I’d been trav­el­ling down from my par­ents’ place [in Deep­cut, Sur­rey] to Lon­don. I wanted to find mu­si­cians who un­der­stood what I was do­ing. In the sub­urbs they did not – because it didn’t sound like Uriah Heep. I’d put an ad in Melody Maker, and I was in­tro­duced to Dave Robin­son by Paul ‘Bass­man’ Ri­ley, who’d been in Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Pep­pers – I’d seen that name in the pa­pers and thought, Wow, some­body fa­mous! – and Dave was very ex­cited about what I was do­ing, and he knew I needed a band. He had an 8-track stu­dio at the Hope & An­chor in Is­ling­ton, and we started record­ing my songs straight away, do­ing demos, just me on gui­tar. Dave was ob­vi­ously a mover and a shaker and he seemed to know peo­ple – Char­lie Gil­lett was one, he played Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart [on his Honky Tonk Ra­dio Lon­don show], which Nigel Grainge from Phono­gram heard. In no time I had a ma­jor record deal. Dave, who knew the whole Lon­don scene that I knew noth­ing about, put The Ru­mour around me. These guys had been in Ducks Deluxe and Brins­ley Sch­warz, bands that had split up. They were al­ready formed but didn’t have a name. I found them all OK. We re­hearsed at the New­lands Tav­ern in Peck­ham – I think they knew the land­lord. I re­mem­ber there was beer, which ap­peared to be free, the ubiq­ui­tous cig­a­rettes, un­der­arm sweat… the songs were dis­jointed, I didn’t have ar­range­ments. So The Ru­mour were fig­ur­ing out how to play them. I’d never played with peo­ple play­ing licks and stuff, and Bob An­drews [keys] re­ally helped knock the songs into shape. It was a learn­ing curve, but they seemed to in­trin­si­cally un­der­stand the mu­sic. One day [gui­tarist] Martin Bel­mont took me aside and said, “Sorry we weren’t very good to­day.” I said, “No this is gonna be fine.” The band just fell in around me. It was very nat­u­ral. No prob­lem, you know. And it came to­gether at speed – from the sum­mer of ’75 to the first al­bum [Howlin’ Wind] in April ’76. Boom! We were off pretty quickly. Dave was like, “Woah, what hap­pened?” But I was like, I ex­pected this.


The fi­nal gig was Rock­palast in Essen, Ger­many. The Police were on and The Jack Bruce Band, and we stormed it. I’m sure I’d al­ready said we were part­ing ways. In those four years of being with The Ru­mour, we did three-, four-month tours, in Bri­tain, Amer­ica, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia… it seemed like a very long time. I thought it was a bit cre­atively re­dun­dant of me to con­tinue. There wasn’t any grum­bling or ar­gu­ments. It was very sim­ple – I wanted to hear some­thing else be­hind the songs, for bet­ter or for worse. So, I brought the ham­mer down, I sup­pose un­ex­pect­edly. It was in an of­fice some­where in Lon­don. I just said, “Look guys, I want to try some­thing else so I’m go­ing to move on and get dif­fer­ent mu­si­cians.” There was a bit of a stunned si­lence, now I look back on it. They didn’t see it com­ing. But my mind was made up. At the time I felt, Ah, they’re all big boys, they can take care of them­selves. Come on, you know? When you’re writ­ing songs and you want to keep go­ing it’s hard to think of other peo­ple’s feel­ings. I just walked away and con­tin­ued. I don’t re­mem­ber feel­ing any nerves. I prob­a­bly thought it was ex­cit­ing. In those days, re­mem­ber, there was tremen­dous amounts of money in this game. Their feel­ings came up on the doc­u­men­tary [Don’t Ask Me Ques­tions, 2013]. I think Steve [Gould­ing, drums] put it as, “He didn’t say, ‘I want to see other peo­ple’, it was just… gone.” It was tough. That’s what made me think, Oh, I was a bit cold in those days. Tun­nel vi­sion, I guess, which is bru­tal, but use­ful. Any act will tell you that their first band, the band that clicked, is a very spe­cial thing. Re­form­ing [in 2011] was as nat­u­ral as can be. It’s ba­si­cally through friend­ship. I’ve al­ways been what I call a lone wolf, but I love those guys very much. We got along. We could com­mu­ni­cate. And we had a blast, in my opin­ion. Will we do it again? Tour­ing is bru­tal­ity on a stick and we’ve done that. But I haven’t dis­counted an al­bum. When the songs tell me what to do, I obey. As told to Ian Har­ri­son

Gra­ham Parker’s Cloud Sym­bols is out on 100% Records on Septem­ber 21. He tours the UK in Oc­to­ber.

“I brought the ham­mer down, I sup­pose un­ex­pect­edly.” GRA­HAM PARKER

Don’t ask them ques­tions: Gra­ham Parker And The Ru­mour (back row, from left) Steve Gould­ing, Brins­ley Sch­warz, Bob An­drews, Martin Bel­mont; (front, from left) Parker, An­drew Bod­nar; (be­low) Gra­ham to­day.

“Tour­ing is bru­tal­ity on a stick”: towards the end in Aberdeen, 1979.

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