The Symbols

The 70s continued

In 1971 Danny O’Donovan had decided to move to the USA to work as Vice President (later to become President) for the American Program Bureau in Boston. Mick Clarke also played bass for ‘The Four Seasons’ who had been brought to the UK by Danny O’Donovan. ‘The Symbols’ by now had no stable management and in 1972 they joined Gale Management which was run by ‘The Tremeloes’. A recording session produced by Len (Chip) Hawkes and Alan Blakely produced two singles “National Gas”, a Micky Jupp composition and “No No No”. Although the R’n’B influenced “National Gas” was more suited to ‘The Symbols’ style, Gale Management decided to release the more ‘Tremeloes’ influenced song “No No No” on CBS. The single received favourable reviews but it failed to chart and the band decided to separate and two splinter groups emerged, ‘John Milton and Mick Clarke’ and ‘Shaun Corrigan and me. However, Mick Clarke was to join ‘The Rubettes’ and have a monster success with them. John Milton joined a Group called ‘Sparrow’ and recorded “Oh Doctor”. Other members included Brian Hudson (‘Harmony Grass’), Tony Harding (‘Harmony Grass’), John Perry (‘Grapefruit’ and later with Cliff Richard), Stu Calver (Cliff Richard) and Tom Marshall (‘Harmony Grass’ and later with ‘Bucks Fizz’). Sparrow went on to win New Faces but later disbanded.

Shaun Corrigan and me were to continue with ‘The Symbols’ recruiting Dave Watts on keyboards (ex ‘Jackson Heights’ and ‘Tornadoes’); incidentally, Dave had previously performed on some of ‘The Symbols’ recordings. Tony Philips joined on lead vocals but was later replaced by Colin White. In 1972 we recorded a Rock ‘n’ Roll album for Les Read’s ‘Chapter 1’ label, it was recorded at studios in Tooting Bec. I played drums and produced the album. The group were called ‘The Boot Hill Preservation Society’ and featured Tony Phillips on vocals, Shaun Corrigan lead guitar, Dave Watts keyboards, Lionel Baron piano and on bass, lead guitar and sax was session musician Dev Douglas. This group held a 6 night residency at the ‘Brockley Jack’ in South London. It was a club atmosphere and Saturday night attracted a full house. Monday night became a musicians workshop attracting many musicians. Guests on other nights include musician producer Biddu and guitarist Micky Green (from Johnny Kidd and the Pirates). We left the Brockley Jack to take up a residency at a club promoted by Bert Wilcox called ‘Bardots’ on Canvey Island Essex.

Peter Walters, session player (ex ‘Titanic’) joined The Symbols on bass in 1973. Paul Bennett (ex ‘Candy Choir’) was to join later on guitar and a re-recording of “See you in September” was made and released on Creole Records under the name of ‘Sky’ so as not to be confused with the President Records version. Although receiving favourable reviews, particularly from Tony Blackburn on Radio 1, it failed to chart. In 1974 Mick Fitzpatrick joined ‘The Symbols’ on bass guitar. This was now a 5 piece group with the twin guitars of Shaun Corrigan and Paul Bennett and featuring Paul’s amazing falsetto voice. Although still vocally orientated the Group had a far more powerful approach and in 1977 they teamed-up with Tommy Scott to record “I saw her standing there” (Lennon & McCartney). This was released on the Galaxy label under the name of ‘SKID’, but poor distribution followed. Mick Fitzpatrick left and was replaced by George Ford (ex ‘Emile Ford and the Checkmates’ and ‘Cockney Rebel’). The Group continued to work in pubs and clubs with a more soul orientated sound with Paul Bennett’s amazing version of “Lonely Girl” (Eddie Holman). They also supported ‘The Stylistics’ at the Hammersmith Odeon (now the Apollo).

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