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Gordon Giltrap Band - where are they now (written in 2001

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:21 pm
by Trevor Raggatt
The second old article I came across was a "GG Band Where Are They Now" which also appeared in the Airwaves fanzing back in 2001. Here's the article. It just shows what a great selection of musicians have passed through the ranks of Gordon's band...


The Gordon Giltrap Band – Where are they now?


Just before he started his run as the “Troubadour” in His Cliffness’ musical “Heathcliffe” Gordon cropped up in the Q magazine “Where are they now...” column. With the recent re–release of Gordon’s back catalogue on Voiceprint, beginning with the classic “Triumvirate Productions/Electric Records trilogy”, it started me asking myself the question “I wonder whatever happened to the rest of the Gordon Giltrap Band?” Well the internet is a wonderful thing and a few happy hours of surfing and a bit of rooting around soon dug up plenty of leads on the past and current whereabouts of a number of Giltrap Band alumni.

However, before we get to the real anorak stuff, I guess a short history lesson is in order...There were, of course, three different incarnations of the GG Band. First and perhaps most familiar through the recordings, there was the studio line–up (very much a Triumvirate “house band” for the era). For the first three albums this comprised Rod Edwards on keys, John G Perry on bass, Roger Hand on occasional rhythm guitar and percussion and finally, Simon Phillips on drums. For “Peacock Party” it was slightly different, but more of that later.

The live bands were quite different though. In the early days (and on the Old Grey Whistle Test album) the line–up was Graham and David Ward on guitar and drums, Phil Wallman on bass and Eddy Spence on keyboards. This first live line–up was actually a working band called “Strange Days”, featuring Spence, Wallman and the Ward brothers, before their involvement with Gordon. They were used for one tour as a backing band to promote the “Visionary” album in 1976. After this the Wards decided to go it alone – moving to the States where they had some success working with Don and Dave Was. However, they later returned home to Yorkshire and retired from the professional music business. Eddy Spence decided to throw his hand in with Gordon continuing to play live on tour and on TV recordings. Other than his wonderful “Heartsong” keyboard solo he wouldn’t appear on a band album until “Peacock Party” and “Live at the Oxford Poly” in 1979. So far however, Phil Wallman remains a mystery.

Later on , the live line–up settled down to Rod Edwards, Roger Hand, Eddy Spence, John Gustafson on bass and Ian Mosley on drums; Shirlie Roden joined later on vocals, keyboards and percussion.

Let’s start with drummers: Gordon has always had very good taste in drummers. Simon Phillips, Clive Bunker, Tony Carr, Morris Peart and Ian Mosley are all credited in one place or another. Quite a star–studded bunch. Phillips is, of course, one of the greatest session drummers this country has ever produced. He’s gone on to play with EVERYONE from Toyah and Mike Oldfield to the Pretenders and Robert Palmer and many more. Currently he is the drummer with US session player supergroup, Toto and universally accepted to be a total “drum God”. Clive Bunker has long been well known on the British rock/folk circuit, playing with Jethro Tull, Manfred Mann, Steve Hillage and is now playing in the Vikki Clayton Band. After the GG Band Ian Mosley went on to play for Genesis’ Steve Hackett and then, most famously, for Marillion. Finally, percussionist Tony Carr has continued doing session work, including the soundtrack to Roger Daltrey’s film “McVicar” and Morris Peart is still one of the best percussionists around. Not a bad crop when you look at it!

The band was a little more consistent when it came to bass players but no less distinguished. The main player on all the albums was Triumvirate regular John G Perry. An ex–member of bands like Caravan, Quantum Jump and Curved Air, and a regular session player in the late seventies he was part of the team which developed the fabulous “Wal” bass–guitar (Perry owned the first ever model, the one which is credited on “Fear of the Dark” – spookily the other GG Band bassist John Gustafson was also an early “Wal” user). These days he still writes and plays, although now he is concentrating mostly on soundtrack and library music. Co–incidentally, he recently had two of his ‘70s solo albums re–released on Voiceprint. Small world! In a recent interview he recalled his time in the GG Band.

“I had already done quite a lot of sessions for Triumvirate...and Gordon came along and we did all these wonderful albums with him and a number of other extremely capable musicians. Rod Edwards and [Hand and Miller]...were very good orchestra arrangers so again [we did] a lot of good orchestral music. With Gordon it was very much a band thing, and to play with Simon Phillips and people like that it was pretty stunning. There was another guy called Adrian Snell, who’s a wonderful keyboard player, who was also produced by Triumvirate too. And again, a lot of the same people, good music in the studio and good music playing live as well. Absolutely wonderful.”

Editorial comment (Feb 2014): Perry later left the music industry taking up a senior public-facing role in the sports organisation which governs all forms of competitive shooting in the UK. He recently retired. He's a lovely guy. I had the privelege to interview him about his involvement in Wal basses and it was the loveliest afternoon just chatting about his career, helping set op the brand and swapping a love of both music and bass guitar. That interview can be read here: http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page_17.html

The other main GG band bassist was John Gustafson, another top session player with credits including the Spencer Davis Group, Roxy Music and the Ian Gillan Band. He is also still playing and has also recently had some CDs of archive solo material released.

The albums’ horn sections were also crammed full of top sessioners who have cropped up on far too many albums to mention. Most notable were Stan Sultzman, a stalwart of British jazz and sound–track projects, and Martin Drover who is a regular in Gary Moore’s Midnight Blues Band. Ex–Soft Machine member, Ric Sanders who played violin on “Peacock Party” and “Midnight Clear” is, of course, well known to GG fans and still treading the boards with Fairport Convention.

Perhaps a little less glamorous sounding was keyboard player, Eddy Spence’s, recent job. After regular stints playing in the Glitter Band in the ‘80s he turned to now music teaching in a secondary school in York. However, recently he has returned to the stage in a Queen tribute band – “Kings of Queen”.

The fate of the Triumvirate team – Rod Edwards, Roger Hand and Jon Miller – responsible for producing all four of the GG Band albums was a bit more tricky to track down. Roger Hand is no longer involved in the music business, now running a company called “Fast Forward” in North London. However both Miller and Edwards are still active. The net turned up projects like the international cast recording of Willy Russell’s “Blood Brothers” – a project with string arrangements by Del Newman (arranger on Gordon’s “Troubadour” album). Small world! Edwards is currently MD for the London production of the musical. Miller now runs “The Sound Company” in West London. He has produced a series of original cast recording albums of Bill Kenwright musicals and recently developed a musical based on the songs of the Beatles called “All you need is love” which ran for six months in the West End.

At the beginning of the ‘90s Jon Miller also co–wrote a musical, “Only the Lonely – The Roy Orbison Story” with GG Band vocalist Shirlie Roden. Of all the members she’s, perhaps had one of the most interesting and varied career paths. After the GG Band she too did various sessions, Dave Gilmour, Ultravox, the Kinks, Mike Oldfield, Adrian Snell and others. She featured as Mary in Adrian Snell’s rock opera, “The Passion” (the Easter story) which featured Gordon, the entire GG band and Kevin Peek of Sky – it’s almost a de facto Gordon Giltrap album. Later she sang the title role on his album, “The Virgin” which was a BBC commissioned rock opera based on the Christmas story and featured many of the live/”Peacock Party” era band. For the version broadcast on Radio 1, however, the “name” attached to the show was Una Stubbs who added narration and some dramatic sections where she played the Virgin Mary. Fortunately, for the music the BBC used the album recordings, retaining Shirlie’s vocals. I have particularly fond memories of turning up, on spec, to a performance by Adrian Snell at the Greenbelt festival in 1984 only to find Shirlie being introduced as a guest vocalist for the evening. What an absolute treat.

Around that time Shirlie was largely concentrating on theatre work – writing, touring and producing several successful shows (this is still an important part of her activities and she has a musical production of ‘How Green was my Valley’ due to debut next year). Then in the late–’80s she suddenly popped up on TV–AM with “Mad Lizzie” Webb one morning promoting “Paddington’s Bear–obics” (presumably in conjunction with her children’s operetta “Paddington Bear’s Magical Musical”). I nearly dropped my cornflakes in surprise! However, more recently, as well as singing and theatre work both here and abroad, Shirlie has been working closely with ‘70s rock–goddess Suzi Quatro but not wearing leathers and banging out covers of “Devilgate Drive”. They’re working together using music and movement as a healing therapy. This project includes the double CD recorded with Suzi, “Free the Butterfly”, Shirlie’s book “Sound Healing” and presenting sessions at Mind, Body & Spirit festivals.

So, now you know the answer to my initial rhetorical question and as Brucie would probably say, “Didn’t they do well!”



Trevor Raggatt © 2001

Particular thanks go to Shirlie Roden for her help in researching this article and to Eddy Spence for information on the Ward brothers.
Quote from John G Perry © 1997 Calyx – The Canterbury Web–page (http:\\perso.club–internet.fr/calyx).

Re: Gordon Giltrap Band - where are they now (written in 200

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:15 pm
by Roger
Excellent article Trevor! :D

As a Roxy Music fan I'm familiar with the bass playing of John Gustafson both live and on record. I've never seen Simon Phillips live, but again he has played on albums by Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music guitarist), including the highly acclaimed 801 Live album, which also featured Francis Monkman. Phillips was also the drummer for most of the Guitar Legends event in Seville back in the 1990s.

As the article says Gordon has always been associated with top drummers and I think Johanne James is no exception - can't wait to see him playing later this year :D

Roger

Re: Gordon Giltrap Band - where are they now (written in 200

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:01 am
by Trevor Raggatt
Yeah, Johanne is an amazing drummer. Incredibly muscular but subtle at the same time when needed. I know Rich and Karl, the keyboard player and lead guitarist in Threshold and toured with them a couple of times doing merch/filming as a favour. The chance to see Johanne and Steve playing together night after night was great. I was beyond excited when Karl recommended them to Oliver as the rhythm section for the R&L gigs.

PS if you get a chance to listen to Threshold to. Prog metal with taste and melodies.

Re: Gordon Giltrap Band - where are they now (written in 200

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:09 pm
by GORDON
Thanks so much for this Trev,almost brought a tear buddy.

Be well all.

G&H.