Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Indian Summer - Coventry band

Peter Clemons treats to the first of two articles top 70's Coventry Prog-rock band Indian Summer, published recently in the Coventry Telegraph.

Keyboard player Bob Jackson went on to play with a range of top artists and bands including John Entwhistle's Ro Ro and then Ross, Pete Brown's Piblokto, Badfinger, Dodgers and more recently The Fortunes. 

This is part 1, part two when published with focus on their 1971 album Indian Summer.


Music success dried up too quickly for Indian Summer; MUSIC historian Pete Clemons this week looks back at the career of Coventry band Indian Summer. In the first of two parts, Pete, from Keresley, charts the acclaimed group's progress to their 'classic' line-up as they prepared to release their first and only album in 1971.

Part 1 (for part two you will have to read the cutting Seasons in the Sun!).

IT is roundly acknowledged that the 1960s and 1970s produced a wealth of amazing music. It is also agreed that, as well as the obvious talent, there was a lot of luck attached to those bands that reached greatness.

Sadly though there were an awful lot of bands whose music, although just as good - if not better - simply flew under the radar.

For whatever reason lady luck was just not on their side.

One of those bands that I feel never got the recognition they deserved were Coventry's 'Indian Summer'.

The roots of Indian Summer can be traced to the mid-1960s when, as teenagers Bob Jackson and Paul Hooper were members of bands like 'This That and the Other' and 'The Rochester Beaks'.

It was all very youth club stuff but even back then both Paul and Bob knew that they were determined to put something good together musically and that they had ambitions.

The two then became involved with friends who were playing in bands like The Perfumed Garden (1966/67) and the Acme Patent Electric Band (1967/68) where Bob ended up played bass.

Both bands were more than competent and covered everything from Stax to Tamla Motown although the Acme band would become renowned for stretching themselves by playing more progressive art-house material and utilising stage props for dramatic effect.

The band was really the mastermind of one Malcolm Harker, student at the Lanchester Polytechnic and multi-instrumentalist. Indian Summer was formed during late 1968 by Bob and Paul. Bob had by now realised his main goal at the time and he had bought himself a Hammond organ. 

This was an impressive bit of kit to own and involved a lot of self sacrifice and saving hard which meant Bob walked everywhere rather than pay for bus fares.

To show support and solidarity Paul often walked with him. The day finally arrived when Bob took ownership of his Hammond. This was the point where Bob and Paul, on drums, could put together their long planned for band and set about recruiting the other members.

Completing the line-up was bass player Alan Hatton and guitarist Roy Butterfield who had effectively been head hunted mainly through his excellent abilities and partly through his image.

Initially Indian Summer played covers which included playing the music of Jimmy Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Blood Sweat and Tears, early Arthur Brown and even Frank Zappa, but more and more the band developed their own songwriting abilities.

They rehearsed hard at venues such as the Antelope club and began to start playing many local gigs which they often got for themselves or via local agencies such as Friars Promotions.

Word about the band was spreading and gigs were forthcoming including several at Hotel Leofric. To transport equipment the band managed to get a Black Mariah van which, in itself, caused issues with the police, who often stopped the van being confused as to who was using it and for what.

Then, just as it was all getting serious with things looking good and taking off, Roy Butterfield suddenly and surprisingly left.

Local blues guitarist Steve Cottrel, from the band 'South Side Loop', was drafted in to take over lead guitar duties.

It was at this point that the band began to branch out further afield and started to secure gigs in and around Birmingham. It was during this period that they came to the attention of jazz musician, promoter, manager Jim Simpson, who was gaining a reputation for getting behind Birmingham bands such as 'Bakerloo Blues Band', and a band called 'Earth'.

Jim ran a production company called 'Big Bear Records' and he was interested in getting a deal for Indian Summer who were steadily gaining a good reputation.

In fact while supporting Fleetwood Mac at the Swan at Yardley bass player John McVie was so impressed that he asked the band to send him a tape. Thinking he was only patronising them they foolishly ignored his request.

It was while playing Henry's Blues house on the corner of Hill Street and Station Street in Birmingham, a music club run by Jim Simpson, that they came to the attention of Olav Wyper who had founded the successful record label Vertigo for the Philips record company and who had signed Black Sabbath, another band from Jim Simpson's stable. 

Jim Simpson had recommended Indian Summer to Olav Wyper who, at the time, had not long been employed by RCA to head its progressive Neon Records label.

Most record labels back then had a progressive label. EMI for example famously had the Harvest label.

The interest was there and tough decisions needed to be made over commitment and ability. As a result Alan Hatton left the band as he felt he should adhere to his career as a computer programmer. At this juncture Paul and Bob left their respective 9-5 jobs to become professional musicians. Engineering student Malcolm Harker, who had been known to Bob and Paul since the days of the Acme Patent Electric Band and The Perfumed Garden, was drafted in on bass.

From when he joined though Malcolm knew that he could only commit for a limited time and would be leaving the band within 18 months in order to take over his father's engineering company in Stockton on Tees.

He was a forthright character with business acumen and used this skill to promote and get gigs for the band. No sooner had Malcolm joined when Steve Cottrel, out of sympathy for Alan's departure, also decided to go. This resulted in guitarist Colin Williams being asked to join.

Colin had come with a reputation for being a fast playing guitarist with an impressive technique and had been a member of local band 'From the Sun'.

The 'classic' line-up was now complete.

Next week: The release of Indian Summer's album and the key management decision involving Black Sabbath which hit their career. 

More on Hobo - A to Z of Coventry Bands

From Coventry Evening Telegraph 1971

Trev Teasdel "Summer 1970, Indian summer played Pete Waterman's Walsgrave pub Progressive Music venue. I was doing the door for Pete and through bass player Malc Harker (who was soon to leave the band) booked them for the Coventry Arts Umbrella club. The Umbrella was only a small venue but the Friday night band sessions went on until about 2am. We were lucky to get them, the band were in big demand at that stage and not long afterwards made their first album for RCA Neon - still a classic on the Prog-rock scene after all this time."

The early version of Indian Summer with Paul Butterfield (far left) and Al Hatton 2nd left.

More on tracks on Youtube

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