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
futureshock: Here's wishing everyone persistent health! Times are getting more optimistic! Activism is UP, and fear of getting involved in important issues, is dropping faster than the Vegas odds on Trump being elected again. Cheers!
Jun 7, 2020 23:10:01 GMT
maddogfagin: Thanks futureshock - hope you're ok likewise
Jun 8, 2020 15:01:16 GMT
stormsongs: Hi. Newbie, first time here as I have a question I can't get an answer to......I have a vivid memory of buying Lifes a Long Song in 71 and it had a gatefold sleeve....but I can't find any evidence of that or a copy with that sleeve...
Jun 12, 2020 14:25:44 GMT
maddogfagin: Welcome to the JT Forum stormsongs. Not seen a UK Life is a long song gatefold sleeve but there's no doubting they may have been some overseas releases issued this way.
Jun 13, 2020 6:14:41 GMT
futureshock: So, IF you are musical yourself, what are you doing with the CoronaCoda lockdown experience and maybe extra personal time available to find or create more music, or explore instrument playing? How has dealing with musicians changed? Gigs? Spinoff ideas?
Jun 14, 2020 23:01:49 GMT
maddogfagin: Listening to a lot of concert recordings via CD and finding some great music on youtube which I've never heard before. My days of playing guitar are behind me these days due to my damn fingers not wanting to work properly.
Jun 15, 2020 6:37:05 GMT
steelmonkey: Would you like to hear a perfectly constructed, note,rhythm,lyrical and atmosphere piece of Tull perfection? Yes? Try 'Saboteur' on 'Under Wraps'. Flawless.
Jun 22, 2020 21:05:43 GMT
maddogfagin: Under Wraps is an often maligned album by a minority but to the majority it stands amongst the finest of their eighties output. A great album.
Jun 28, 2020 6:43:28 GMT
steelmonkey: Under Wraps is sui generis. Strong everything. Something(s) about it amaze and astound with each listen.
Jun 28, 2020 19:30:42 GMT
steelmonkey: Double work shifts in surging hospital to allow 2 week vacation soon...miss my friends in the Tull treehouse but back soon. Breaks at work have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Jul 8, 2020 3:29:26 GMT
piscesguy: It looks like someone else has taken my moniker piscesguy and added the name jack prentiss to it. That's okay but I cannot locate an earlier post I had left now. Does anyone know how to resolve this? thank you
Jul 9, 2020 19:09:58 GMT
maddogfagin: Please see my PM to you.
Jul 10, 2020 6:41:59 GMT
steelmonkey: I prefer Scorpios, Leos, Taurases( Tauri?), Cancers and Capricorns but Pisces on the bubble of all right.
Jul 10, 2020 20:52:34 GMT
maddogfagin: So what's wrong with us Aquarians then. I'm gonna write to your President and complain
Jul 13, 2020 13:26:20 GMT
steelmonkey: I go on binges of long forgotten ( Jefferson Airplane, CSNY, Humble Pie), Overlooked releases ( Zappa, Prince, PIL) and just plain musical vitamins ( Traveling Wilburys, Pink Floyd) and then remember life is short and I should revert to all Tull all day.
Jul 19, 2020 22:29:08 GMT