1968. VAMP. “Floatin”. B side, “Thinking Too Much”. Atlantic Records. London.

VAMP, 1968

1968, Lon­don. This was a band called “VAMP” which stood for Viv, Andy, Mick, and Pete. Viv Prince from the “Pret­ty Things” on drums, Andy Clark on key­boards and vocal, Mick Hutchin­son on gui­tar, and me on bass. We released a sin­gle called “Float­in” through Screen Gems, who released it on Atlantic Records. “Float­in” was just re-released in 2014 on a Rhi­no Records com­pi­la­tion CD, “Dig That Under­ground Sound”.

Back in 1968 I remem­ber us sit­ting in this big-wig’s office at Screen Gems…and him brag­ging about how they’d made the “Mon­keys” band out of noth­ing.

We didn’t real­ly hit it off with their approach to pro­mot­ing music and our one sin­gle didn’t do so well. We broke up soon after that…but I start­ed my own band called “Giant” with Viv on drums…I played lead gui­tar. Viv used to get a pre­scrip­tion for “Tinc­ture of Cannabis” from a Dr. Dun­bar in Earl’s Court. I remem­ber dip­ping our cig­a­rettes in the dark green liq­uid and bak­ing them dry in the oven.

Mick and Andy start­ed a band called “Clark Hutchin­son” and end­ed up mak­ing a cou­ple of cool albums.

It was around this time that I met Lucy Daniel. We stayed togeth­er in the room she was rent­ing in a house full of stu­dents in Lon­don. I remem­ber one fun­ny night when we lay there togeth­er lis­ten­ing to her room­mate Sophie going at it all night with Al Wil­son from “Canned Heat” who were tour­ing Eng­land. They’d shown up in the ear­ly hours of the morning…stumbling around in the dark. A guy with long blonde hair…I think it was the gui­tarist Hen­ry Ves­tine crashed on the floor. They were gone when we woke up in the morn­ing.

I need­ed space to put my stuff so Lucy let me use a clos­et I could call my own. I laid down a mat­tress which didn’t quite fit, and put card­board box­es full of my world­ly pos­ses­sions around the edges. I paint­ed a mur­al of a Giant with one eye on one side…I used lumi­nous paint for the eye. The band I’d start­ed called “Giant” was man­aged by our old Sam Gopal Dream agent Alan Dale. Viv was out of the pic­ture at that point…off in Moroc­co or some­thing so I need­ed to find a drum­mer and bass play­er. I rent­ed a hall with a stage in Lad­broke Grove Lon­don and placed an ad in the “Melody Mak­er” music paper. I was aston­ished when the appoint­ed time came around and about sev­en­ty musi­cians showed up and lined up against the side of the hall…all wait­ing their turn to show me what they could do. I sat in the mid­dle front of the hall, which was full of emp­ty seats with my feet dan­gling on the chair in front of me and lis­tened to one guy after anoth­er do his thing. I felt like a cliché yelling “Next”!!!.

One guy played drums very well so I hired him on the spot…John Boswell, he was per­son­al friends with a good bass play­er Tony Sav­va who came with a Jaguar to get us to gigs…he was also a very good vocal­ist. I actu­al­ly sang a bit (well, sort of) as well as play­ing lead gui­tar and B3. John Peel gave us a nice men­tion on his BBC radio show after a Round­house gig we played. I left the band soon after though…I had a lot of oth­er things going on at that point. The man­ag­er had also dri­ven off with the group van after a show, leav­ing us strand­ed in New­cas­tle. We had argued about mon­ey of course. He’d basi­cal­ly left us broke with no way to get back to Lon­don. Tony went to stay with friends, and John and I just start­ed walk­ing south…with 300 miles ahead of us. For hours we walked through the night in a cold sleet…past dirty fac­to­ries still belch­ing out black smoke from the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion era. We were flat broke and the first half of the jour­ney was through the end­less, emp­ty wet streets of the north. The few cars that appeared in the ear­ly hours of the morn­ing just roared on by our pathet­ic ges­tures for them to stop…some sadis­ti­cal­ly gave us anoth­er kind of sign. We final­ly reached a motor­way and found a sym­pa­thet­ic lor­ry dri­ver at a ser­vice sta­tion who picked us up and dropped us off in Lon­don in the ear­ly dawn.

I also met Jack­ie McAuley from Van Morrison’s band “Them” when he vis­it­ed one of the oth­er stu­dents in Lucy’s apart­ment building…we hit it off and he intro­duced me to orig­i­nal Fair­port Con­ven­tion singer Judy Dyble. We lat­er start­ed a band called “Trad­er Horn” but I left for the States before the first album. “Clas­sic Rock Mag­a­zine” just inter­viewed me for a sto­ry they are doing on Judy. I had also been talk­ing to sev­er­al oth­er pos­si­ble bands as well. But Cal­i­for­nia was beck­on­ing with dreams of what might be.

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Hill says: | Reply

    Hi Pete, you played the Van Dike Club in Ply­mouth on Fri­day 14th Feb­ru­ary 1969 with your band Giant (Peter Sarst­edt was also on the bill) — any mem­o­ries from that gig? Any posters/photos etc. of Giant? I’m writ­ing a book about the club which has its 50th anniver­sary next year 1968–1972 (exhi­bi­tion/get-togeth­er too in Ply­mouth Guild­hall on Sept 1st 2018) — check out THE VAN DIKE CLUB PLYMOUTH face­book page. Best wish­es, Jonathan.

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