Magician – The Amazing Tale of Peter Waddington – Part 2- The Amazing Friendly Apple
Although a very successful live act, chart success was elusive so The Dawnbreakers finally split up amicably in early 1968. Peter took a job as assistant manager of a large record store in Leeds which only lasted a few months before he took on a job as route compiler for the AA in Leeds. However, the music bug never really left him: “we formed another band just for our own entertainment, rehearsing twice a week in the Upstairs Downstairs club.” The new band, rechristened “The Amazing Friendly Apple” had a more Jazz/Blues orientated sound as they did not have a guitarist.
Amazing Friendly Apple Promo Sheet – 1968
While having his honeymoon in London he took the opportunity to purchase three imported albums:
- The Band – Music From The Big Pink
- Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again
- Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxters
They changed his whole approach to music and the Apple experimented with covers of Broken Arrow by the Buffalo Springfield and Water Woman by Spirit plus new self written material.
Barry got the band a gig at the Star and Garter pub in Kirkstall, Leeds on a Sunday night which was usually empty so the landlord to agreed to give the band a cut of any additional takings. They took adverts for the first few weeks and grew the audience so that after the first four weeks it was sell out every week.
Around this time, Peter finished writing a song called ‘Magician’ and the band were convinced that this was the ‘biggie’! He wrote the words first and noted the melody on paper from his chromatic harmonica. The song was going down a storm live and as they were still contracted to Decca they sent up a scout to find out what the fuss was all about.
Decca asked the band to record a single and choose their in-house producer – Tony Meehan of the Shadows. When meeting him Peter explained that they wanted the record to have “a big introduction, then cast a spell, explode and then go to nonsense and cacophony”. They went back Dea Lea Studios in London to record and as they could not afford session musicians for brass and strings they loaned a mellotron from David Nixon the TV magician – the only man to have the rights. It still cost about £700 to hire for two days and took six men to move it into the studio. The mellotron was used extensively and can be heard for the guitar and harpsichord parts throughout.
The band knew that Magician was going to a massive. Donovan told Tony Meehan that he was playing Magician a lot and after playing the acetate at home to Roger Chapman of Family, Roger jokingly lifted Peter up by the throat and shouted “You Bastard!” confirming the track was a smash.
Plans were prepared for a debut album in anticipation, followed by global stardom. However, the band made a pact that, if the single failed, they would quit for good.
Decca Records following advice from DJs promoted their cover of Water Woman, originally written and recorded by Spirit, to the A-side. In February 1969, it became the second fastest selling single in Leeds but Water Woman, for an act who had never had a big hit, was not strong enough to break through. As they could get not get into the charts with a song as mesmerising as Magician they packed up their instruments can called it a day.
Peter went on to be manage the first HMV Superstore in Manchester and more recently came to become a world renowned Koi Carp expert: “In the same way as I enjoyed every minute of being on stage, the experience of running a record store was almost as enjoyable and the music, combined with the magic of the ‘70’s made every day a new experience.”
Despite not enjoying chart success, Magician’s status has only grown over the years. In 1976 Sounds Magazine voted the single 3rd in its all-time psychedelic chart. It features prominently on the pivotal Great British Psychedelic Trip LP and classic Acid Drops and Flying Saucers box set alongside the likes of The Who, Donovan, The Kinks, The Hollies and The Move.
He looks back on those days with great fondness: “we didn’t get rich – but that was not the driving force anyway, we didn’t even take drugs and, for that matter, didn’t really know any other bands who were really into them. However, I probably learned more about life and ladies than any school could have ever taught me. And all the memories are still here with me today.”
The opening day at the Manchester store:
(Picture taken with HMV M.D. Bob Boast.)