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with Jonny Fun

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Shepperton Studios

Tour poster

Read about Nuneaton in 'Etc'.

The first band was made of old friends and new blood. It learned its trade on tours backing Tim Rose, Nils Lofgren, Joan Armatrading, and Supertramp, until it was ready to release its own first album for A&M Records.

Well, there was Jon in Dublin. Nearly blown up in the bombs of 1974, and it rained every day. Dismal. Saw the film O Lucky Man with a romantic dawn shot of the M40 going into London. Wonder what my old mates are up to, he thinks. This and that, is the reply. If I were to come back to London, any chance of seeing if we could put a band together?

It begins seriously in late 1974 and early 1975. Jon and Jools came from Thunderbox; Greg, Dag, and Jamie from Public Foot the Roman; and Durban from Venezuela. Rehearsals and the recording of the first serious demo tape took place in a shed in Jamie's garden outside Crawley. Word of mouth got them gigs in the clubs of South London, the Nashville Rooms, the Greyhound, Dingwall's.

The primitive tape was good enough to keep up the interest of the John Sherry Agency. But are they serious, thinks he in Sherry Ents off Oxford Street. Jumped-up students, slumming it. Let's make them Tim Rose's backing band on a tour of the clubs, and see how they like it. Ho ho. Bet that orange Transit doesn't make it to Derby.

Batley Variety Club. Shirley Bassey, no problem. Corby Working Men's Club, changing with the crowd and electrocution by microphone, slight problem. Coom on lads, sing oop. Tim Rose took them around the national club circuit, and though this was not daily fun, it was a test and they passed. And Tim, well, he was a gruff, American ex-pilot who had Hendrix in his band before, and who was known for one song above all - Hey Joe, though Morning Dew came a good second. He was a gentleman and a real star, and he had his own heroes: he would have killed to have written If I were a carpenter.

And then the relationship with A&M Records grew, in the form of their Firefly label, and Star Artistes Management, the legendary Mike 'Flying Sofa' Willis and his associates.

A&M needed a backing band for Joan Armatrading. Enter The Movies, who got their own album deal out of it. Lover woo hoo, night after night, but you do see the world. Not much reading matter except second-hand copies of Bunty. But progress to smarter venues like the Usher Hall, Liverpool Empire, the bigger in-town gigs like the Hammersmith Odeon, and a nice coach. And a comfortable trip to the US for New York, Washington, and Boston.

The Nuneaton train crash happened in June 1975. It was a disaster, and it meant that Durban was no longer with us.

Then a tour in support of Nils Lofgren, an A&M act. Jumped off a trampoline onto stage, brilliant. Zak, what a drummer, matched only by Springsteen's. But then, the combined Joan/Movies and Supertramp tour of late '75 brought the band under Supertramp's wing, because they all got on. Joan went off on her way to stardom, and Supertramp and The Movies went on to tour together around Europe, with big fun. And Zappa's girlfriend. And the Plaza Hotel, and enough material for a lifetime.

In a smart coach driven by the unflappable Len, let loose the dogs of war around the UK and then Europe. Crew, trucks, lights, gantries, o God another two hour soundcheck at an ungodly time, bump bump bump, testing 123. Can you hear me Jools? What you bought yourself a necklace? Dougie, kindly pass me that elephant.

Meanwhile, The Movies managed to make the first album, which sold some. Pete Gage produced it, and it was OK if a bit quiet. Improves with age.

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