This is part 2 of Nick Warburton’s feature on The Krew – see part 1 for the early years of this British ‘r’n’b group.
- Ernie Garrett Junior – lead vocals
- Ted Tunnicliffe – lead guitar
- Howie Casey – tenor saxophone
- Iwan Roth – tenor saxophone/flute
- Gilbert Dall’ Anese – baritone saxophone/flute
- Alan Reeves – organ
- Archie Legget – bass
- Eddie Sparrow – drums
In late August 1967, The Krew split with French singer Sylvie Vartan and landed a two-week residency at the Byblos Hotel in St. Tropez, which ran from 1-15 September.
The Krew, Geneva, late 1967. Back row, left to right: Eddie Sparrow, Howie Casey, a South African organ player standing in, Archie Legget. Middle row, left to right: Ted Tunnicliffe, Iwan Roth. Front row, left to right: Barry St John (first pic with band) and Ernie Garrett Junior. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Sparrow).
Not long after, American DJ Emperor Rosko approached the musicians and offered a recording deal with the Major Minor label. With Vartan out of the picture, Howie Casey recommended his girlfriend, Scottish singer Barry St John (real name: Elizabeth Thompson) to front the band alongside Ernie Garrett Junior.
Originally from Glasgow, St John had first come to prominence with Archie Legget’s former group, The Bobby Patrick Big Six but had dropped out during the early 1960s to embark on a solo career that saw her record a string of singles for Decca and Columbia, including the UK top 50 hit, “Come Away Melinda” in 1965.
“We started writing material for the record. Everyone was trying to write a tune or something [and] it was a band effort,” remembers Sparrow. “Then, at some point, Howie said, ‘Hey, listen, Barry St John is free’. She was doing nothing in London.
“The idea was put forward by Howie, who was very much in love with her. [However], there was a bit of contention in the band… One or two people, including Archie, weren’t keen on the idea of her coming in as a band vocalist. I remember his exact words – ‘all chicks are bad news in a band, especially that one’.”
Undeterred, the musicians cast a vote and Barry St John was in. “She’d got a terrific voice and a great little personality,” continues the drummer. “I think the vote just scraped her in. It wasn’t unanimous by any means. The final word was possibly Howie’s.”
Alan Reeves, however, had increasingly come to blows with Casey over his leadership of the band and, a few months after Barry St John’s arrival, the keyboard player was gone.
Briefly working with Nino Ferrer, Reeves appeared at the Festival of St Remo in February 1968 before returning to Paris to form the short-lived Golden Keys.
That August, however, he reunited with Archie Legget after the bass player had quit The Krew and together with drummer Rachid Houri, the trio gigged as The Clinic, most notably at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus in Paris.
Scotsman Derek Wilson took over the drum stool around December and The Clinic spent six months in Japan, holding down a residency at the Pacha Club in Tokyo where they were joined by former Koobas guitarist Roy Morris. While there, Reeves befriended future collaborator, bass player Phil Trainer.
By June 1969, Reeves, Wilson and Trainer had relocated to Rome, and the new Clinic line-up landed a residency at the famous Piper Club. They also backed a singer called Gepy and Gepy before former Bobby Patrick Big Six drummer Freddie Smith took over the drum stool.
Later that year, Reeves and Smith moved to Paris and reunited with Archie Legget and formed the band, Murray’s Portrait. During November, the trio performed at the city’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus and the Whisky a Go Go in Cannes. After landing a short residency at the Griffin Club in Geneva on 22 December, Murray’s Portrait split up in early 1970.
Reeves subsequently reunited with Phil Trainer and formed a third version of The Clinic with drummer Gerry Murphy, guitarist Philip Brigham and flute player Chris Hayward and recorded a highly collectable album. In recent years, Reeves has become a successful film soundtrack composer, contributing to notable films like Kill Bill Volume 2 and To Walk with Lions.
Around the same time, Gilbert Dall’Anese also departed and resumed playing on the French scene. The sax player later broke in to the English-speaking market, working alongside Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ian Paice in PAL and contributing to the recording of the famous Dallas TV soundtrack among others.
The Krew carried on with two sax players and briefly recruited a keyboard player from South Africa before bringing in another former Bobby Patrick Big Six player, keyboard player John E Wiggins to replace Alan Reeves full-time in January 1968.
John E Wiggins in The Bobby Patrick Big Six (photo courtesy of John Wiggins)
“Archie was playing in The Krew from The Bix Six and Barry St John was singing in The Krew from The Big Six, so The Krew was actually half of The Big Six,” says Wiggins. “I also knew [drummer] Eddie Sparrow from The Krewkats.”
With Wiggins on keyboards The Krew headed for Milan during March to perform at the city’s famous Bang Bang club and American soul legend Wilson Pickett joined the musicians on stage.
“He’d won some music competition and he came in with some of his band,” remembers Casey. “He got up and sang with us. He was the first man I ever heard who could sing two notes at once!”
“I remember Wilson Pickett hitting the two notes at once,” adds Sparrow. “I am not sure about a competition but I think Pickett was elated because he’d just got into the Italian charts with a song in Italian – ‘Deborah’.”
Behind the scenes, however, Barry St John’s arrival had become an issue for several band members. Eddie Sparrow explains that the group was supposed to be a co-operative, something that had started back in the days of The Krewkats, long before Howie Casey had joined.
“Barry came out and we were all writing songs and putting material down and one night we were walking across from Le Bilboquet in Paris where we were working and heading for the Hotel Crystal,” remembers the drummer.
“Iwan Roth said: ‘We ought to draw up a piece of paper [for our record] to say who’s been writing what just in case something should happen and it goes well. Then we’ll know who is going to be pulling in royalties.
“We were halfway across the road and that was the cue for Barry to say, ‘What do you mean your record? It’s my f***ing record’. Iwan Roth just started chuckling and laughing [and] this made Barry get even wilder. She got really agitated. He said, ‘I am very sorry but you’re the band singer. We voted for you to come and join it’. She was very much under the impression that it was her record and not the band’s.”
Not long afterwards, Ted Tunnicliffe decided to bail and replaced Colin Green in Bob Azzam’s international band in Geneva. The group subsequently moved to Sweden and recorded an album. After changing name to Napoleon, the guitarist played on the local scene before returning to Paris in 1970 where he resumed his music career.
Bob Azzam And His Orchestra – New Sounds album (Sweden, 1968)
The Krew recruited West London rock guitar legend, Dave Wendells whose musical CV included spells with the likes of Lord Sutch & The Savages, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, Lulu & The Luvvers and Soul Survival.
The Krew, Zurich, 1968. Left to right: Iwan Roth and Howie Casey (both sax), Dave Wendells (guitar), Eddie Sparrow (drums), John Wiggins (organ in the foreground), Barry St John, Ernie Garrett Junior and Archie Legget (bass). (Photo courtesy of Eddie Sparrow).
“I first met Howie back in the Star Club days in Hamburg when he was with Kingsize Taylor and I was with Cliff Bennett. I’m pretty sure I met Barry St John around the same period,” remembers Wendells.
Wendells brought a fresh injection of energy and for the next few months the band picked up plenty of work in Europe. However, the group’s career was about to a hit brick wall and culminated with a prestigious gig in Santa Margherita Ligure in Northern Italy on the Mediterranean coast. The musicians had recently played a gig at Cassis in the south of France where Archie Legget announced his decision to jump ship (later reuniting with Alan Reeves).
“I know Archie went off and joined Claude Francois, who had a terrific show at that time with four girl singers from Jamaica,” recalls Sparrow.
To fill the spot, Dave Wendells recommended Roger Sutton, a former member of The Brian Auger Trinity. “I would imagine since Roger was one of my best friends and lived a half mile from me on the same street in Hounslow, I would been instrumental in his coming on board,” recalls Wendells.
By this point, Barry St John’s old friend (and another ex-Bobby Patrick Big Six member) Iain Campbell had also signed up as a singer alongside Barry St John after Ernie Garrett Junior departed to resume his solo career.
Eddie Sparrow: “I went to Santa Margherita Ligure on the train with Iain Campbell and I seem to remember that it was there that Roger joined us.”
“Iain Campbell let us down badly,” adds Casey. “He was supposed to have learned all of the songs that we did and that we would do with Barry and when he came over, he had learnt hardly a thing. We had this nice contract [at this venue in Santa Margherita Ligure]. It was a really swish club. He ended up getting drunk on the very first day.”
Sparrow had vivid memories of the first evening’s show. “The stage was with its back to the sea and that’s one of the things that made it look so spectacular with the storm out to sea and Iain Campbell, drunk as a skunk, climbing up this flag pole.”
The Italian coastal gig proved to be a swansong for Eddie Sparrow, John Wiggins and Iwan Roth, who all both bailed immediately after the show.
John Wiggins returned to the UK and ended up joining The Paul Williams Set and then worked with O’Hara’s Playboys before recording with The Johnny Almond Music Machine, appearing alongside Roger Sutton on the album Patent Pending. Today he lives in Spain.
Iwan Roth meanwhile resumed work on the French rock scene. Over the past five decades, he has recorded extensively, releasing 14 LPs and CDs.
With the Major Minor Records contract still on the table, the remaining members – Barry St John, Howie Casey, Dave Wendells, Iain Campell and new recruit Roger Sutton returned to London where they rehearsed material at the Mandrake Club. Adding former Rebel Rouser Chas Hodges on piano, drummer Pete Clark and sax players Pat Marshall and Les Condon, plus session singers Sue and Sunny and Lesley Duncan, the musicians cut enough tracks for an album, which was released in late 1968 as a Barry St John solo outing – According to St John.
This author is currently working with Cherry Red Records and Barry St John to get this excellent album, plus potentially the singer’s Decca and Columbia solo singles, issued on CD for the first time. Highlights include superb covers of Penn/Oldham’s “Cry Like a Baby”, Carter’s “Tell Mama” and two Iain Campbell originals – “Long and Lonely Night” and “Turn On Your Light”.
With the album recorded and awaiting release, Howie Casey lined up a month’s work in Venice during August-September 1968, which also coincided with the annual film festival. Fronted by Barry St John and still featuring Dave Wendells, the guitarist pulled in his former band mates from Cliff Bennett’s former band, The Rebel Rousers – trumpet player John Golden, guitarist Harvey Hinsley, bass player Chas Hodges, keyboard player Roy Young and drummer Mick Burt to fulfil the engagement.
Having maintained a low profile following the album sessions, Iain Campbell later reunited with his former Bobby Patrick Big Six friend Alex Young (aka George Alexander) and ex-Easybeats songwriters George Young and Harry Vanda, singing lead vocals on Haffy’s Whisky Sour’s lone Deram single in 1971. He also provided bass for the trio on numerous sessions, including the Marcus Hook Roll Band’s UK sessions. Campbell nearly struck gold when he joined the original Stealer’s Wheel but was long gone before Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan’s band released their debut album. He died in April 2015.
Roger Sutton meanwhile returned to session work. Over the next few decades, he subsequently worked with Mark-Almond, Nucleus, Riff Raff and Dana Gillespie to name a few. He remains in touch with Eddie Sparrow but reportedly suffers from poor health.
With The Krew finally laid to rest, Howie Casey subsequently joined The Roy Young Band and later did a multitude of sessions for the likes of Marc Bolan, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend and Ringo Starr among many others. He currently lives in the Bournemouth area.
Dave Wendells meanwhile recorded with the (original) British Jo Jo Gunne before reviving his friendship with Screaming Lord Sutch and then subsequently working with Roy Young, Hurricane and Frankie Reid among others. He currently lives in the United States.
Barry St John moved into session work and is notable for providing backing vocals for such illustrious artists as John Lennon, Elton John, Pink Floyd and Roxy Music. She also continued to record solo material throughout the Seventies and currently lives in Lewisham.
As for Eddie Sparrow, the drummer signed up with Bobby Patrick’s band, which had been booked to back Stevie Wonder on his ‘For Once In My Life’ UK tour in early 1969.
“After rehearsing the large orchestra for two days, Stevie arrived with a rhythm section, a great one, so we, myself, Bobby, Joe Fagin (I forget who was on guitar but I think Bobby’s brother was on tenor sax) opened the show,” remembers Sparrow.
“I have no idea why it happened that way but Harold Davidson was involved in the booking along with Barry Marshall, who later became a big time operator under the name Marshall Arts. Maybe there was a lack of communication between them.”
Shortly afterwards, Sparrow took up a place at Trinity Music College, which he funded by taking part in recording sessions at Orange Studios with another former Bobby Patrick & Big Six member, Alex Young (aka George Alexander), his younger brother George and his song-writing partner Harry Vanda.
After appearing on Grapefruit’s single ‘Sha Sha’, Sparrow linked up with former member Archie Legget and worked in Kevin Ayers backing band for several years alongside Mike Oldfield, David Bedford and Lol Coxhill.
The drummer also remembers working with Kevin Coyne, including a broadcast from Maida Vale. Legget, who later worked with Gary Wright, among others, died in July 1994. Today Sparrow lives in his hometown Harrogate and teaches drums.
Personal thanks to Eddie Sparrow, Howie Casey, Ted Tunnicliffe, Dave Wendells, John Wiggins and Barry St John. Credit must also go to Alan Reeves, via his book and Manfred Kuhlmann.
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2017. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author. To contact the author, email: Warchive@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org