Category Archives: Biographies

Ian Dury And The Blockheads 1977-2000

Formed in 1977 to promote Ian Durys’ album ‘New Boots and Panties’ on the first Stiff Records tour of the U.K. Chaz Jankel, Norman Watt-Roy, Charlie Charles, John Turnbull and Mick Gallagher became known as ‘The Blockheads’ (a reference to a song on Ian’s album). As ‘Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ they went back out on tour, this time without Chaz Jankel, and in 1978 released ‘What a Waste’ a single that reached number five in the U.K. charts. They were then joined by saxophonist Davey Payne and toured the U.S.A supporting Lou Reed across North America ending with their own dates in California (with backline roadie Pete Rush)

In late 1978 Chaz returned to the fold and composed ‘Hit me with your Rhythm Stick’ with Ian. The band recorded it in The Workhouse Studios, Old Kent Road, London and in 1979 had a number one hit record with it in the U.K. Ian Dury & The Blockheads went on to record the ‘Do it Yourself’ album and toured Europe and the U.K. recording ‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3’ in Rome. Released as a single in late 1979 it reached number three in the U.K. charts.

In 1980 Chaz, once again, left the band to pursue solo projects in California and Wilko Johnson joined Ian, Norman, Johnny, Charlie, Mickey and Davey to record and release a third album for Stiff Records called ‘Laughter’ and released ‘I Want to be Straight’ and ‘Supermans Big Sister’ as singles. They toured throughout 1981 in the U.K and Europe, sometimes augmented by Don Cherry on trumpet, ending the year with a tour of Australia.

In 1982 Ian Dury & The Blockheads disbanded and were not to play together again until 1987 when they went out to Japan in June to play three shows in four days, disbanding again until 1990 when the death of Charlie Charles in September of that year re-united them to play two Benefit gigs at The Forum, Camden Town in aid of Charlies’ family. Chaz returned from America and Steven Monti picked up the drumsticks for the hottest ticket in town. The band, now augmented by Merlin Rhys-Jones on guitar and Will Parnell on percussion, recorded a live album ‘Warts & Audience’ at the Brixton Academy in December 1990.

Chaz returned to California and the band toured Spain in January 1991. Once again the band stopped working until August 1994 when, with the return to England of Chaz, the band were invited to play the Madstock Festival in Finsbury Park in August which led to a series of hit and run gigs in Europe, Ireland, the U.K.and Japan throughout the rest of 1994 and 1995. In March 1996 Ian was diagnosed with cancer and, after recovering from an operation, was determined to write another album.

Ian Dury
Ian Dury 1942 – 2000 Photo: Jill Furmanovsky

To this end The Blockheads went into rehearsal in August 1996 and began recording at Air Studios, London in October. The album ‘Mr. Lovepants’ was released in 1998 and in May, Ian & The Blockheads hit the road again. This time with Dylan Howe replacing Steve Monti on drums. In August Davey Payne left and was replaced by Gilad Atzmon. This line up continued to play gigs throughout 1999. The last performance by Ian Dury & The Blockheads was February 6th 2000 at The London Palladium. Ian died at 9am on 27th March 2000.

Norman Watt-Roy

Bass Guitar

Norman
Born in Bombay, India on 15th February 1951

When Norman was a four year old his family moved to England and settled in Highbury, North London and at eight years of age relocated to Essex where he remained until he left school and moved back to London.

In 1967 he formed ‘The Living Daylights’ with his brother Garth and released a single on the Philips label called ‘Lets Live For Today’ and did regular gigs in venues such as The Angel Blues Rooms in Edmonton, London. In 1968 Norman and Garth formed a nine piece soul band and toured U.S. bases in Germany backing American soul singers such as Sonny Burke and played a summer residency at the Maddocks Club in Spain. By this time the band were known as ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ and by 1969 had procured a recording deal with Harvest Records leading to the release in February 1970 of a single ‘Real Cool World’ which was a hit in Europe and reached No.1 in Switzerland. A debut album was to follow entitled ‘Horizons’ and by 1971 they had put out another single ‘Tell The Story’ and a second album ‘The Goings Easy’.

72 / 73 Norman joined Glencoe and met guitarist John Turnbull. This funky quartet released two albums ‘Glencoe’ and ‘The Spirit of Glencoe’ along with three singles and four recorded John Peel radio sessions before breaking up, and in 1974 got together with keyboardist Mick Gallagher to form the nucleus of a band which ,with the addition of drummer Charlie Charles, was to be called ‘Loving Awareness’ (managed by Radio Caroline guru Ronan O’ Reilly) .It was while doing a session with Charlie for a friend in 1976 that they met Chaz Jankel and Ian Dury and went on to play on the album ‘New Boots and Panties’.

The ‘Loving Awareness’ quartet were later to join up with Chaz and Ian for the first Stiff Tour of U.K. and became known as ‘Ian Dury and The Blockheads’ releasing two more albums on Stiff and a bevy of singles, achieving No1 status in the U.K. in 1979 with ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ (featuring a dazzling bass line by Norman which can be heard jammed in music shops around the world by aspiring bassists everywhere).It was when Chaz Jankel was replaced for a time in 1980 by Wilko Johnson that a rapport between Norman and Wilko resulted in Norman becoming a regular member of Wilkos’ own band by 1985.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s Norman did session work, appearing on albums such as Nick Lowe’s ‘Jesus of Cool’, Rachel Sweet’s ‘Fool Around’ and Jona Lewie’s ‘No.1 single ‘You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties’. He also made an appearance on Selectors 1981 album ‘Celebrate the Bullet’ and played on The Clash ‘Sandanista’ album along with fellow Blockhead Mick Gallagher on keyboards. Norman also put his bass on their ‘Cut The Crap’ recordings.

In 1983 he provided the original bass line for the ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ single ‘Relax’ and in 1984 teammed up with Mickey again for Eric Goulden(Wreckless Eric)s’ ‘Captains Of Industry’ album.

In 2001 Norman completed sessions with members of ‘Madness’ (with whom he sporadically joined for live work at the time) and the ex producer of Depeche Mode who had recorded him jamming with drummer Steve Monti with plans to sample the results. Since then he has been busy working with Nick Cave on Nick’s solo shows (without the Bad Seeds) and continuing to be Wilko Johnson’s secret weapon. Which brings us up to date… Where’s The Party Norm?

John Turnbull

The Big Session at De Montford Hall, Leicester Picture date: 13 June, 2008
The Big Session at De Montford Hall, Leicester
Picture date: 13 June, 2008
Taken by Jason Sheldon

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England on 27th August 1950 (Virgo/Tiger)

Motto: I am always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

Some of the bands I have enjoyed working with are: Skip Bifferty, The Chosen Few, Loving Awareness, Glencoe, Nick Lowe, Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys, Eurythmics, Talk Talk, London Beat, Paul Young, Bob Geldof, World Party, Kaos Band, but most of all ‘The Blockheads’.

I have also sung and played on film soundtracks since 1960’s, most famous film being ‘Get Carter’ starring Michael Caine.

Pastimes and hobbies:- Yodelling / Skodelling / Whistling.

Other pastimes:- Transmuting all poisons and pollutants into harmless particles, listen it’s my imagination and I’m gonna use it.

I write poems and songs, I like sex and rock and roll but I keep all my drugs on the soft side.

I distribute cruelty free scientifically advanced self care products from U.S.A. called Neways.

They are working for me I feel fine!. Thank you.

Mick Gallagher

mick
Mick Gallagher – Born in Newcastle-upon Tyne, England on 29th October 1945

Recorded, played and toured with Rock bands since 1963 including…

1963/64  The Chosen Few
1965  The Animals
1966-68  Skip Bifferty
1969  Arc
1970-71  Bell & Arc
1972-73  Frampton’s Camel
1974-76  Loving Awareness
1977-00  Ian Dury & The Blockheads
1979-80  The Clash
1983  Eurythmics
1984  The Music Students
1986/87  Kiyoshiro Imawano
2003-present  Animals and Friends

Composed music for Theatre Productions

1987  Royal Court Theatre ‘Serious Money’
1989  Royal Court Theatre ‘Apples’
1992  Royal Shakespeare Co. ‘The Jovial Crew’
1993  Royal Shakespeare Co. ‘The Country Wife’
1994  Royal Court Theatre ‘The Queen and I’
1994  Royal Court Theatre ‘The Libertine’

Derek the Draw

derek

Derek has been a poet for many years and after joining the band in 2000 has become the main lyricist and Blockhead storyteller.  A man of sartorial distinction and a playful wit, Derek is driving the Blockheads forward into a new era.

Gilad Atzmon

The Big Session at De Montford Hall, Leicester Picture date: 13 June, 2008
The Big Session at De Montford Hall, Leicester
Picture date: 13 June, 2008
Photo taken by Jason Sheldon

Born in Israel on 9th June 1963

Until 1994 acted as producer-arranger for various Israeli Dance & Rock Projects, performing in Europe and the U.S.A. playing ethnic music. Highly involved in the Israeli musical scene.

Toured with Memphis Slim and supported many international jazz names such as Jack De Johnette, Michel Petrucciani, Richie Byrach and others.

In 1996 through to 1998 awarded HMV Top Dog Award at the ‘Birmingham Int’ Jazz Festival’. Wrote Dance material with DJ Face and toured Japan with Simon Turner. Toured with ‘Jazz Africa’ ( Gail Thompson). Kenwood Dennard in the Middle East and recorded with Simon Turner.

1998-9 Toured and recorded with Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Mike Scott ( Water Boys), Little Mothers (‘The Worry’) and Simon Fisher Turner. Released a Solo Trio album ‘Take It Or Leave It’ (‘Face Jazz’) and a dance EP ‘Juizz Music’ (‘Fruit Beard).

In 2000 performed and recorded with ‘The Blockheads’ and SFT. Released a new solo album ‘Gilad Atzmon & the Orient House ensemble'(ENJA Records) and performed with the ensemble on prestigious U.K.festivals and stages as well as in Europe and the Middle East. Played with Bill Le Sage’s ‘The Be-Bop Preservation Society’.

Gilad’s solo albums:

1993  Spiel
1995  Spiel Acid Jazz Band
1995  Spiel- Both Sides
1999  Take it or Leave it
1999  Juizz Muzic
2000  Gilad Atzmon &The Orient House Ensemble
2001  Nostalgico
2003  Exile
2004  Musik

Why not visit Gilad’s site?

John Roberts

j_r

Born on 1st April 1976

John started playing the drums at the age of 12 after joining various bands he started playing pro gigs when he was just 14 which took him all over the world. In 1995 John studied at the Musicians Institute London which was run by Denise Roudette. There he received tuition from drummers such as Bernard Purdie and Thomas Lang.

In 1997 John landed his first proper gig being the house drummer on the Channel 5 ‘The Mag’ (in the UK).

In 2001 he was invited to play a few shows for the Blockheads and he has remained a regular player for them ever since.
John has been in demand as a session drummer and perfomer he has appeared with acts such as Wilko Johnson, Wreckless Eric, Suggs, Cathy Denis, Dr and The Medics, 911, North and South, John Otway and Bryn Howarth.

John also teaches drums in a couple of prestigious independent Schools including Bedales in Hampshire as well as privately tutoring many pro drummers.

Davey Payne

Slapstick Silent Comedy Fundraiser, Colston Hall, Bristol Picture date: 24 October, 2008
Slapstick Silent Comedy Fundraiser, Colston Hall, Bristol
Picture date: 24 October, 2008

Born 11 August 1944, in Willesden, North West London)

Davey grew up in Clacton, UK, and started playing the clarinet because of his enjoyment of Dixieland jazz.
On hearing swing, bebop and Dexter Gordon in the 1960s he moved to London, and began taking lessons and going to jazz clubs. He also took up the soprano saxophone, and began playing in mixed media events.

He was drawn into The People Band, and moved with them to Holland.

He met Ian Dury when he visited London in late 1970 – “He thought I was a junkie, I thought he was an idiot” – and returned to Holland. After the People Band played a gig in London with Kilburn and the High Roads in 1971, he was coerced into joining them for a jam at their home, and ended up staying with the band until it broke up in June 1975. He thereafter returned to Clacton; he played 2 gigs with Ronnie Lane, and a few with The Fabulous Poodles.

In the meantime Ian Dury managed to launch a solo career, and Davey contributed to New Boots and Panties!!, in 1977. Davey however joined Wreckless Eric’s band.

After the completion of his album and its success, Ian badgered Davey into rejoining his band, now called the Blockheads, full-time and he did! Davey is credited as a co-composer of numerous songs in the catalogue. Not to mention one of the most famous recorded Saxophone solos in popular music and certainly the most famous with two saxes played at the same time… Hit Me!

Davey left the band in August 1998 for the West Country of England. We are very happy and proud to welcome Davey back whenever time and location permit!

Terry Edwards

terry

Born on 10th August 1960 in Hornchurch, Essex

Terry Edwards has been a mainstay of the British Indie scene since the early 80s, having first made a name for himself with John Peel favourites The Higsons (alongside The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson).
After several top-ten indie singles, a contract with Two-Tone Records and tours of the UK, Europe & America the band split & Edwards concentrated on the twin career paths of solo artist & session brass-player to the great & the good. His credits include work with Madness, Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Cave, Siouxsie Sioux, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols/Rich Kids), Spiritualized, Julian Cope, PJ Harvey, Tindersticks & many others. More recently he’s been playing with Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA, The Blockheads, Faust, Paul Weller and ‘Allo Darling.
Every Indie label worth it’s salt has at least one act that Edwards has recorded with – Factory, Rough Trade, Mute, Damaged Goods, Creation, Wiiija, Go! Discs, Cherry Red & Perfecto.

Terry regularly plays with Gallon Drunk (he’s been a member since 1993) and Lydia Lunch whom he has worked with for over 12 years & currently collaborates with as Big Sexy Noise (Lunch, Edwards, James Johnston & Ian White).
The diversity of the session work is mirrored in Terry’s solo career – an early flirtation with 50s sax-led Rhythm & Blues in his outfit New York New York, the culmination of which is his soundtrack-style recordings with BUtterfield 8, co-founded with Madness bassist Mark Bedford.

Terry Edwards & the Scapegoats introduced the world to what has become known as ‘jazz-punk’ with their mid-nineties albums My Wife Doesn’t Understand Me and I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today. These were precursed by a series of inventive cover version EPs – The Jesus & Mary Chain (trumpet-led instrumentals), The Fall (in ska style with a few members of Madness giving it authenticity), Miles Davis (speed-metal!) and The Cure (hi-life and dance-floor beats).

The untimely death of John Peel inspired an eponymous CD of improvised music which is echoed in recent performances by The Near Jazz Experience (Edwards, Bedford & Simon Charterton). There’s more – commissions by choreographer Charles Linehan, recordings for the BBC’s Psychoville and the stage-piece The Black Rider created by Tom Waits, William Burroughs & Robert Wilson where Terry got to work with the great Mr Waits (2004-6)

2010’s solo album Cliches sees another departure. Inspired by the Alex Chilton covers album of the same name, Terry pays homage to the Big Star frontman in the same way that Chilton’s record paid homage to his hero Chet Baker.

To paraphrase John Peel’s appraisal of The Fall – Terry Edwards, in a nutshell, is “always different – always the same”.