Chatting last week – in broken French and English – with the owner of a small Italian restaurant in the Swiss town of Montreux, we explained that it was Deep Purple which had brought us there. He suddenly and unexpectedly went all misty eyed, and quietly proclaimed that Montreux was the band’s spiritual home. He may well have a point.
Work on our upcoming book about Machine Head – Fire In The Sky – is well advanced, but there remained a number of difficult to check facts surrounding the album recordings. So when Deep Purple were booked to headline the closing day of the 2016 Montreux Jazz festival, we decided to draw a number of threads together and plan a visit; to see the concert, check out all the sites associated with the album and arrange a visit to the Grand Hotel where the LP was cut.
Bassist Roger Glover was keen to see it again, and a number of people who were there at the time were invited, plus a few fans and important local worthies, and some of the residents of the building (now apartments) who had little idea of how famous the building was before the gathering.
Researcher Stephen Clare and myself met any number of interesting people and were able to nail a number of questions as well as uncover new stories and anecdotes. The trip was also to enable us to properly photograph the site, and the image above shows the exact corridor which Deep Purple sealed off and turned into their ‘studio’.
There have been a few changes; the end of the corridor is now walled off and become part of someone’s apartment, but they kindly let us in for a look as well.
One interesting outcome of all this is a plan to add a heritage plaque to the building, which has until now been hard for people to find and visit.
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The other photos show Stephen Clare (below right) discussing points with Roger Glover backstage after the show, and Simon (above right) alongside Roger Glover in the former foyer of The Grand Hotel where one of the crew there in 1971 recalls Ritchie disappearing into to record some of his solos.
Nice to see some of Brian Smith’s photographs used properly and with permission on a new Blues CD. The disc in question is a compilation put together by Wilko Johnson from the Chess label archives, and is designed to present his fans with the sort of material which inspired him as a young guitarist. Titled The First Time I Met The Blues, it is out now on Chess – SPECXX2114. Looking at the cover (below), I can see at least three of Brian’s photographs in there! If you’re not up to speed, the material is from our upcoming book “Boom Boom Boom Boom : The Photographs of Brian Smith. American Rhythm & Blues in England 1962-1966“. And there isn’t a time I type all that when I don’t wonder a] how we ended up with such a long title and b] how on earth I can fit it all on the spine…
Talking of “Boom Boom” I managed to screw up the newsletter subscription form for this title, so prior to the date of this posting, if you thought you had subscribed, the software did not capture your details. I have corrected this and retested it, so if you go the the main page about the book, and hit the new button, it will all function properly. That way we can keep you fully up to date on the project and any special editions, etc.
I am meeting up with Brian in a few days to sort out the last of the hi-res scans for the book and caption them up properly.
Vintage Rock magazine is one of those fascinating niche music monthlies which make choosing at Smiths so hard these days. They cover the 50s and 60s in detail, with plenty of emphasis on the UK scene back then and so when they heard about Brian Smith’s Blues photo book were keen to interview him and show some of his photographs. The magazine is out now, Issue 25 (April / June) and well worth a look, although it tends to be stocked only by the bigger magazine outlets (though you can buy it direct from the publishers.) Thanks to Rik and Jack at Vintage Rock for permission to reproduce a couple of pages from the article. The shot here is one of a series Brian took from the side of the stage during a Rolling Stones concert… what an experience!
Great little featurette about the Top Of The Pops albums on the Radio 2 Drive Time show on April 20th. We were contacted by one of the show’s researchers about mid-day ‘desperately seeking Tim’. I got hold of Tim (author of the upcoming book When Cover Girls Ruled The Charts) and he was feeling up to it, so put them in touch. They had apparently been talking about the albums on the show the day before, so this was by way of a follow up. The DJ played a few clips of TOTPs cover versions and Tim (on a landline, there wasn’t time to get down to the nearest BBC studio for a high-quality connection) was able to fill in some of the background.
Pushed for a release date for the book, Tim announced a pre-Xmas publication this year. Now he’s on record we can hopefully – judging from the amount of pre-interest over the last couple of years – make the best-seller chart! Mind you, someone did remind me that I had mentioned the possibility of the book way back in 2002 on the sleeve notes to a Hot Hits CD compilation (issued by RPM Records – well worth tracking down). So it has been a long time in the works.
Vintage Rock magazine are running an illustrated feature on photographer Brian Smith, which is great publicity for our upcoming Blues photo book Boom Boom Boom Boom. They have requested a batch of photographs, though as yet we are not sure what they will use. We will post more details when we know the issue date.
In the meantime here is a photograph which Brian most certainly did not take! It shows him back-stage meeting Little Richard at a show in Manchester in the early 60s. Although Brian went along to snap the musicians, he was a big fan and if the chance to be recorded for posterity with one of the stars came up, he and his friends would take turns with the camera. So we don’t know who took this, but it’s one of those magic moments a lot of people would be happy to have experienced. There are a couple more shots of Brian with the stars on the site. It just leaves one question, who knitted that jumper?
Just to let people know we have finally got to the end of the last chapter of the Graham Bonnet biography layout. We have overshot the page count by a bit, but are meeting up with the author in a couple of days to run through the pages one more time, so will hopefully be able to squeeze everything in. Inevitably new pictures are still arriving but we have to draw a line somewhere! There are a few photographs which now have to be cleared and licensed and then we can begin to prepare the artwork files for print.
For anyone who has only recently subscribed for the Graham Bonnet biography newsletters, we have added the older ones to the site in PDF format so you can read through and catch up if you wish. Keep in mind some of the links may now be out of date and some of the information might have also been updated. The latest newsletter will go out this week, so make sure you subscribe if you want to get that.