EARLY YEARS

Note from Malcolm: these biography pages are very much in a state of flux as I turn back the years and try to remember what happened… and in which order! Please do get in touch if you notice any errors… I’m sure you’ll be right, and I’ll be wrong. It all seemed to happen in a flash… and yet only seems like yesterday. What I’m certain of, is that is was all (mostly!) great fun… some great music played by some great people!

 

Malcolm first came to public attention with the London-based Hoodoo Blues Band in 1966.  Malcolm tells the story that he came to join the band after bumping into drummer Dave Charles – a childhood friend – when walking down Chingford Road near his home in Walthamstow, East London, sometime in late 1965. Dave Charles not only recruited Malcolm into The Hoodoo Blues Band, he also promised that Malcolm would get a girlfriend once he was in a band! The band played frequently in the local area until Dave Charles left to join Sam Apple Pie. And incidentally Malcolm did get a girlfriend during his time playing Farfisa organ with the Hoodoo Blues Band. Her name was Deanna Call (listen to the Help Yourself track from ‘Strange Affair’ entitled ‘Deanna Call and Scotty’).

After Dave Charles left the Hoodoo Blues Band, Malcolm left home in Walthamstow, for a time sleeping on various people’s front room couches in Barnes, south-west London. He also began to explore the possibility of becoming a full time musician. His friend John Eichler managed to get him a job in a cosmetic factory, where John was the floor manager. Around the same time, Linconshire guitarist Richard Treece, trying his luck in London, was also recruited to work in the factory.

Richard takes up the story: “I remember John Eichler coming in one day after being on holiday, saying that Eire Apparent needed a guitarist. It turned out that John was living in a house with Dave Robinson, who was an ex-roadie for Hendrix and also the manager of Eire Apparent. They’d just returned from a Hendrix tour in the States and were in a state of disarray, living in a big house in Blackheath. I went for a jam but nothing much happened. I also had a few unsuccessful attempts to play with Malcolm through my trusty old Vox that I carted around with me everywhere. There were some more visits to Eire Apparent’s house, and sessions with Malcolm and the guys from Sam Apple Pie ~ who Dave Charles played drums for. Hendrix had given the last Eire Apparent guitar player a Gibson Flying V – which the band still had. It was a joy to jam on it! Dave Robinson came up with a suggestion that Malcolm and I should form a duo. He reckoned we’d go down a treat in the States”.

Malcolm remembers, “Just before meeting Richard Treece, Dave Robinson had organised some recording sessions with a string quartet to augment the first two songs I ever composed ~ ‘Goodnight Jane’ and ‘Goodbye’. When they were mixed, Robinson sat in front of the console scratching his head, looking vexed. “Well that’s a load of crap, can’t do anything with that Malc… why dont you go away and form a band?”

“And so after the initial ‘well it’s all over for me’ reaction, that’s exactly what I did!”

One thing led to another, and together with both Dave Charles (who decided to move on from Sam Apple Pie) and Richard Treece, they decided to form a band – Help Yourself. John Eichler became their manager, and via his connection with Dave Robinson, and another friend of John’s, an editor of the early James Bond movies, named Stephen Warwick, the band had financial backing… of sorts. Robinson and Warwick had formed Famepushers Ltd with Eddie Moulton – an organisation that would soon gain infamy in the music business via the hyping of Brinsley Schwartz. But that’s another story!

Malcolm continues: “One day we bumped into this long haired guy in the Portobello Road. Paul Burton, who was acting as our roadie, knew him from somewhere, and said hello as we passed by. We asked who he was, and Paul replied that he was Ken Whaley, a bass player he knew. After about 10 minutes I said ‘er… aren’t we looking for a bass player?’. So we went to see him and that was that… Ken joined the band”.

Thus by the beginning of 1970, Help Yourself had became a four piece, complete with manager, a roadie and a distinct lack of gear… oh, and money!

Footnote: There is a rumour that Malcolm appeared onstage with Frank Zappa during his time with Sam Apple Pie. Malcolm  shakes his head at this story – although he claims he would have loved to have jammed with the great man! “I never even played in Sam Apple Pie, let alone with Frank Zappa… though John Eichler once met Captain Beefheart in Los Angeles, who said he really liked the Help Yourself albums! That is about as close as I ever got to Frank Zappa!”. The Zappa story arises from the time Sam Apple Pie shared a bill with Zappa at the Amougies Festival in Belgium during late 1969. Bootleg recordings (and allegedly  a video!) exist of Zappa jamming not only with Sam Apple Pie but also with Caravan, Blossom Toes, Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation… oh and Pink Floyd!

The Helps story continues…

RICHARD TREECE’S MEMORIAL GIG

For those that couldn't make it to the memorial gig for Richard Treece – and indeed, for those that wish to re-live what was a tremendous occasion – some soundfiles have been uploaded of the (fantastic) performances of Son of Man, The Jack Bentley Blues Band and The Green Ray.

DEKE LEONARD RIP

"We have lost somebody who was the real deal. A man with the true Bardic gift. He was funny, with a savage wit which he practiced freely. He was great company and a fine musician too – even if he would not admit it. Deke supported and encouraged my early life in the music world, pressed the other lads to get me into Man, and stood in for me in the Help when I was sick with depression. Richard Treece's memorial gig in Walthamstow was the last time I saw the old devil and we talked about this and that... and cricket, which we both love. Deke's passing is a sad loss to the world at large – and heaven knows we need every spark we can get these days."

Malcolm Morley

THE ULTIMATE MALCOLM MORLEY GIG?

If you could create a song list for your ultimate Malcolm Morley gig, what would it be? Let Malc know by sending your suggestions via the contact page on this website.