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From Luther Grosvenor to Ariel Bender & Beyond
The Story of a 5* Rock 'n' Roll Star
(Part 1 of 5)

Review: 213
Date: 4 Feb 05

 


Rating: n/a

Musicians:
Luther Grosvenor - Lead Guitar
Gary Wright - Keyboards, and Vocals
Mike Harrison - Keyboards, and Vocals
Greg Ridley - Bass
Mike Kellie – Drums

Albums so far featuring Luther Grosvenor:
> Super Natural Fairy Tales - Art
(1967)
> It's All About - Spooky Tooth (1968)
> Spooky Two - Spooky Tooth (1969)

 


"Evesham Boy, born in '46,
Evesham Boy, he learned all the licks.
He left home to search for fame,
Turned out to be the biggest game".

These are the opening lines to the song ‘Evesham Boy’, the opening song on Luther Grosvenor's solo album released in August 1996. Sadly, not much has been heard from this talented musician since. He retired from the music industry, disillusioned with the business side of it all for the second time in his career.

Luther Grosvenor was born in Evesham, Worcester, just before Christmas in 1946. By the time he was eleven years old he got his first acoustic guitar, and at fifteen he formed his own group, the Wavelength.

By the mid-sixties Luther Grosvenor felt he had outgrown his own band and wanted to turn into a fulltime professional musician. So when Dave Mason left Worcester's premier rock group, the Hellions, Luther applied for the job and with a change of name Deep Feelings were created, making a name for themselves on the college dance scene. While Luther was honing his skills as lead guitarist with Deep Feelings, other members were Jim Capaldi, later to reach fame and fortune with a solo career and as one of the major driving forces in Traffic, and Poli Palmer, who was rattling the keyboards and later went on to record five albums with Family. Deep Feelings was the band Luther made his studio recording debut. The two singles were the wonderful ‘Pretty Colours’, and ‘Poltergeist of Alice’.

When Steve Winwood put out the call for Jim Capaldi to leave Deep Feelings and rejoin Dave Mason in the fledgling Traffic, Deep Feeling fell apart. Shame. Great band. Steve Winwood saw the raw talent of the young guitarist and let him gig as lead guitarist with the local band the V.I.P's, who had just had a minor hit with 'I Wanna Be Free' (1966). The V.I.P's briefly had Keith Emerson on keyboards while Luther was in the band along with Greg Ridley on bass, Mike Kellie on drums, and Mike Harrison on vocals and keyboards.

With Emerson gone and Guy Stevens as producer and mentor, the V.I.P's were signed to the Island Record label. They released one more single ‘Straight Down To The Bottom’, which was a bit of a shame really as that was exactly where they went in the singles charts. Undaunted the band plugged on, but a change of name was deemed necessary. Consequently Guy Stevens renamed them Art and hustled them back into the studio to record a new single along with a whole new album.
The single, which was a minor hit, was a reworking of the Buffalo Springfield song 'For What It's Worth', re-titled 'What's That Sound', the prominent chorus line from the song.

The album came out in a blaze of publicity in the year of the summer of love – 1967. The album was wrapped in a stunning full-blown psychedelic sleeve designed by Haphash and the multi colored coat. The album made little impression on the charts though and another re-think was in order.

Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records, had just brought across the young American singer/songwriter/keyboard player Gary Wright to kick start his career on the east side of the Atlantic. It was he who suggested that Wright joining the four piece Art. At first the boys were not keen on the idea as they already had a singer/songwriter/keyboard player in the band in Mike Harrison, but agreed to a meeting. In one afternoon of rehearsals minds molded and the band became a five piece and were renamed for the second time by Guy Stevens to the magical Spooky Tooth.

The debut album recorded in 1968 was called ‘It's All About’ (Jimmy Miller held down production duties as Guy Stevens was proving a little too erratic; there is a fine line between genius and insanity), with its blistering version of John D. Louder’s 'Tobacco Road'. This cemented the Spooky Tooth’s obvious heavy keyboard laden sound and showing off the dual lead vocals of Harrison and Wright. However, more importantly to our story, gave also full reign to the talents of young Mr. Luther Grosvenor's lead axe work. ‘Tobacco Road’ was always a fan favorite in Spooky Tooth’s live shows throughout their career. The single lifted off the album became also a hit, ‘Sunshine Help Me’, perhaps the first self written Spooky Tooth classic.

After a year of heavy road work, including two promising trips to the United States, the band returned to the studio again with Jimmy Miller at the helm to record their classic album, and one of the highlights of Luther Grosvenor's career, 'Spooky Two'. But more of this in part two…


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com

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