Looking back through the programme for the 1992 UK Convention, I realised that it has been remiss of me not to post anything up to now about Rose Among Thorns featuring Elaine Morgan. They were recommended to us by Ian Burgess, who used to publish the Fairport fanzine “The Ledge”, and he sent me a 1988 cassette of Masquerade which was their name before Rose Among Thorns. Subsequently I went to see them perform at The Half Moon in Putney and was convinced that they would make a good support band for the early evening slot on the bill. I got to meet Elaine before the show and interviewed her for a radio programme I was involved with at the time and, as things turned out, found that she and the band were more than happy to play at the Convention as they were Tull fans and, more importantly, were a very good celtic influenced band and a good contrast to the Summer Band who were playing in the evening.
Following on from my piece about Elaine Morgan and Rose Among Thorns, I contacted Chris Groom last night with some questions about his involvement with her and also with Fairport Convention. This is his reply to my questions:
MD: You've done some artwork for Fairport Convention - how did that come about ?
Chris Groom: The Fairport work came as a direct result of my friendship with Pete Fyfe. I’d known Pete for a while and followed the progress of his band Eavesdropper at the Cartoon. Pete, of course, knows just about everyone in the folk world and had started to work as right hand man to Johnny Jones when Jonah set up a booking agency called Stage 1 in the offices above Wimbledon Theatre. Pete knew I was a Fairport fan and had done a bit of sleeve design and artwork for Joe Stead’s Greenwich Village record label, so he set up a meeting at Wimbledon. Jonah said OK, show me some designs for a tour programme cover – this was November 1987 and was for the ‘In Real Time’ tour. I took over a few layouts and one caught his eye and that was it, I was in.
These were pre-Apple Mac days, so I was pasting up artwork on a drawing board, no computer wizardry or photoshop to smooth out the wrinkles! I often wish I had got the call a few years later and I might have become more of a permanent fixture. My two programme covers aren’t the best work I’ve ever done – I’m not keen on the ‘Red & Gold’ illustration at all now – but I quite like the cartoon on the back of the Real Time programme.
MD: How did you get the commission to produce the Rose Among Thorns album artwork?
CG: The Rose Among Thorns job also came through Jonah, so I imagine she had signed up to Stage 1. As I remember, I was asked to come up with a logo for a new band, with Elaine as the lead singer. I sent over a couple of layouts and Jonah asked me to work one up to a slightly better standard for his meeting with Elaine. After that I didn’t hear anything more, until I saw an adapted version of my logo on, I think, a cassette sleeve. With a credit, but I certainly don’t remember artworking the whole sleeve. I think it has subsequently appeared on CD, adapted yet again! With the Jonah connection, it was no coincidence that a couple of years later, I saw Elaine supporting Ralph McTell.
MD: Time to plug your book, Rock in and Around Croydon. This reads as a labour of love and you dug out some fascinating facts about many artists and groups who played in Croydon over the years including many things about the Star Club in Croydon and the artist who played there along with facts about many other worthy venues in the town. Are there things that you were unable to find details of and have subsequently unearthed or have these items disappeared into the vacuum of space!
CG: Since the book came out, many people have contacted me with extra information and occasionally I come across local stories that I would have included had I known – I found a piece only recently about the John Cale ‘chicken’ incident at the Greyhound. All my research for the book was done pre-internet, at least I wasn’t online at the time and it certainly wasn’t the vast archive that it is now. I would have liked a couple more interviews – Kirsty MacColl was on my list, but sadly that can’t happen now. I’ve since spoken to Bill Wyman and Andy Bown for the local paper and they would both have been included had I managed to track them down earlier.
My thanks to Chris for these answers. Seems we have a mutual friend in Pete Fyfe.
One word of warning - Chris used some of the content of my scrapbooks for source material for his book and he used, amongst other things, a rare Beatle’s flyer from the Fairfield Halls in Croydon from 1963 that I had kept safely hidden away and also an article on The Croydon Folk Club which I was involved with at the time.
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention” ― Kahlil Gibran
maddogfagin: May 7 is the 127th day of the year (128th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 238 days remain until the end of the year.
May 7, 2019 6:59:01 GMT
rabey: Hi John/bunkerfan and Steelmonkey.
May 7, 2019 23:08:40 GMT
rabey: Thanks for the interest. Unfortunately because Ian/Tull is doing his own book when I sent a request to find John I got stonewalled, even though I have a signed contract by Ian from 2013 stating I was doing a DVD version of The book. I also have had trouble
May 7, 2019 23:11:47 GMT
rabey: I guess after 5 years Ian forgot this even existed. Imean, he never even listed my book with all the other books that have been out of print for decades, yet mine and Tim S still have books in print and we're not mentioned.
May 7, 2019 23:13:11 GMT
rabey: I just get the impression that this AND having just dealt with Tull are all they care about really and it peeves me when the truth is when I first got my original contract with a US publisher to write the book with quotes on 3 other books on ELP,Crimson,
May 7, 2019 23:21:53 GMT
rabey: and YES, I contacted both Martin and Dave from AND and offered involvement in writing and photography. but Dave said no interest and martin was happy to get his photos printed just for credit. Later Daves book arrived and martin wanted 100 bucks a shot.
May 7, 2019 23:25:00 GMT
rabey: Anyway, The publisher refused the cost of photos, Martin wrote the only negative review of the book in print except for Amazon where a few stinkers stalled it's movement, but basically there was nothing advertising the book outside the UK.
May 7, 2019 23:29:01 GMT
rabey: I have to find a better way to post.
May 7, 2019 23:29:21 GMT
steelmonkey: Fights about history, public knowledge and more personally researched knowledge are pretty hard to untangle...but nothing takes away your contributions to total Tull information.
May 8, 2019 21:35:56 GMT
rabey: Very Kind, Steelmonkey!
May 9, 2019 1:33:24 GMT