With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Mayhem’s Unsung Heroes – Betty the Tea Lady at Wessex Studios March 12, 2019


 

Betty the lady that made Big Tea with the Boyz That Made Big Noize

This is the first in what I hope will be a reasonably regular feature to give some airtime to those unsung folks that played an important part in music history. Back in July 2017 I posted an article about the recording of the Queen classic “We Will Rock You” after reading a piece in Classic Rock magazine. Click here to read that post. The band and Producer Roy Thomas Baker wanted to get a full and powerful stomp to back it up. Everyone in the studio was rounded up to provide that now familiar stomping and clapping refrain, essentially everyone stamped their feet twice and clapped their hands on the offbeat. Incidentally no drums were used on the track. Now not only was everyone in the studio involved but so was Betty the Tea Lady. No one remembers much about her other than her name was Betty, she made the tea at Wessex Sound Studios in North London and that she lived next door to the studio. Well after adding a plea for information about Betty I have heard from two of her five children. Sadly, Betty passed away eleven years ago. However, I had a long and delightful telephone conversation with Betty’s daughter Rosemary. It was Rosemary that drew the short straw and was nominated to do the interview on behalf of herself and her four siblings (a.k.a. “The Other Four”). She walked me through a wonderful potted history of her mother.

Mike Batt at Wessex Studios with the Kursaal Flyers

The studio itself used to be a Sunday School and one of the main recording areas used to be a classroom. It first became a studio in the 1960s and at various times it was owned by Bill Price, songwriter Les Reed, Chrysalis Records and George Martin was a director for a time. Betty worked at Wessex Studios for 27 years after replying to an advert that was posted on a tree. Many famous and successful bands and singers recorded at Wessex including the Sex Pistols, King Crimson, the Clash, Theatre of Hate, XTC, Slade, Queen, Talk Talk, the Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend and The Damned. Betty, who in addition to carrying out the tea lady duties, also covered the reception desk and met many of them. She got on particularly well with King Crimson. There was always a picture of Queen on the serving hatch. According to her daughter Betty was one of those sadly too rare people who have an innate ability to get on with anyone. Betty and her family, she had five kids including one set of triplets, lived in a flat very close to the studio.

Never Mind The Sex Pistols Here’s the Lapsang Souchong

Rosemary said that she sometimes went to the studio to help her Mum and on one occasion Betty asked her to take a tray of tea to the Sex Pistols. Apparently, Rosemary really wasn’t impressed by the band and told her Mum. Betty’s response was that in her experience the Sex Pistols were always very polite and always behaved respectfully towards her. Betty was invited to many award ceremonies as a part of the studio team and to all the studio parties. For one fancy dress party Betty dressed as a punk in bin liners and safety pins. British comedy legend Roy Kinnear filmed some film scenes in Betty’s flat. On another occasion Mike Batt could be found watching The Wombles on the TV in Betty’s flat. Mike, a big cricket fan, bought one of Betty’s sons a cricket bat. People who worked or recorded at the studio really loved Betty. The Singing Nun of “Dominique” fame sang at Rosemary’s wedding. Many of the acts who recorded at Wessex gave Betty a thank you credit on their albums. Slade even named their 1987 album ‘You Boyz Make Big Noize’ after Betty had heard them and uttered that very phrase, albeit probably not spelled the Slade way. Betty loved music and particularly loved to dance. In her younger days she would often visit the Palais. I am sure that Wessex Studios would not have been the same without Betty, she truly is an unsung music history hero!

Public Service Announcement: If Any of the pictures are yours and you would like a credit or would like them removed please let me know

 

“I’m high on the chart, I’m a tip for the top” March 24, 2015


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Back in the olden days a.k.a when I was somewhat younger than I am now the UK chart rundown show was on a Sunday. This is where it has remained for years. However now that there will be a unified release date for all music (presumably from all the major labels at least) the UK Chart Show on BBC Radio 1 will shortly be moving to the Friday drive time slot; 4pm to 6pm.

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That’s progress I suppose and that also raises the chance that I might listen to it again. I have fond memories of chart shows in the distant past. Sitting next to the radio taping your favourite songs and hoping that the first generation Smashie and Nicey characters didn’t talk over the intro or the fadeout. But one of my favourite things was the official announcement of the new chart on Radio 1 when it was on a Tuesday lunchtime. I always made sure that I had my transistor radio with me so that me and my mates at Bishopshalt School in Hillingdon could find out whether David Cassidy and the Osmonds were still clogging up the UK charts (they were), whether Slade had gone straight in at the top (they had) or whether Bowie would get his first number one single (yes but not until 1975 with a reissue of “Space Oddity“). Johnnie Walker was the bloke who usually read out the new chart on Tuesdays and he has always been one of my favourite broadcasters. He spoke over a chart music bed of the excellent “Time Is Tight” from Booker T and the MGs. Enjoy that tune now along with my favourite song about the charts; Pete Wingfield‘s superb “Eighteen With A Bullet” and a favourite of mine by the magnificent Mael Brothers a.k.a Sparks.

 

“It’s the time that every Santa has a ball” Blog Advent Calendar Day 19 December 19, 2014


Slade2

How excited are you now? Less than a week to the big day. Obviously if you are a turkey and you are reading this I do appreciate your lack of excitement. However if you are an excited turkey then there is no easy way to tell you, but you’re stupid! it is December 19th and day 19 of this years advent calendar blog posts. We have now reached the letter ‘S’ in the ABC of British bands. If I were to tell you that you’ll even get a Christmas song included today would it help you guess who the band is? Well it’s Slade!

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The band all hail from the Black Country in the UK’s West Midlands coming from Wolverhampton and Walsall. In the 60s drummer Don Powell and guitarist Dave Hill were in a band called the ‘N Betweens. They met Noddy Holder while travelling to gigs and invited him to join as guitarist and vocalist. He agreed at the second time of asking and eventually joined around the same time as bass player Jim Lea. That was in 1966 and the band became Ambrose Slade in 1969. It wasn’t long after that (later in 1969) that they became Slade. their massive success followed soon after.

Slade (1)

“Get Down And Get With It” was their first UK top 20 hit reaching number 14 in 1971. Shortly after that they had the first of their six UK number one singles with “Coz I Luv You“. That song started a run of 12 consecutive UK top 5 hits running from 1971 to 1974. They also reached the top of the Irish charts six times. Their 1983 song “My Oh My” might only have hit number 2 in the UK but it went all the way to the top in Norway and Sweden. sadly they never really made it big in the USA. Whilst many people may have seen Slade as a singles band they also climbed to the top of the UK album charts twice; with ‘Slayed’ in 1972 and the with ‘Old, New, Borrowed And Blue‘ in 1974. ‘Sladest’ a compilation album of their biggest hits to date also went to number one in the UK in 1973.

Slade

Most of Slade’s biggest hits were written by Jim Lea and Noddy Holder. Usually Jim provided the melody with Noddy contributing the lyrics. Dave Hill’s Super Yob guitar is now owned by Marco Pirroni off of Adams and the Ants. Perhaps because of his early days as a keen amateur boxer it was Don Powell who took the hat round after early Slade gigs. In December 2000 Noddy Holder made a brief appearance in long-running UK soap opera Coronation Street. He played a character called Stan who was there to replace the cobbles in the street. OK that’s enough trivia and stuff now it’s time to enjoy a pile of Slade smashes!

 

“So you think my singing’s out of time, well it makes me money” March 7, 2014

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

acdc-bonscott

After Bon Scott‘s death in 1980 AC/DC allegedly offered the lead singer role to Slade’s Noddy Holder. He turned it down and the band turned to Slade soundalikes Geordie for their lead singer Brian Johnson. I wonder how things would have progressed had Noddy accepted the job? Would have led to song mash-ups? How about “Cum On Feel A Whole Lotta Rosie”?

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“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! You’re wearing out your shoes” September 6, 2012


Is this the first time I have sent any kind of begging letter on my blog? Probably not. But here it is anyway. I will be running the great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields on Sunday September 16th this year, barely a week and a half away! Why am I doing this? Firstly because my boss and good friend, Mr Nick Cooper ‘press ganged’ me and three others (Stuart O’Hara, Simon Downs and David Carline) into taking part. So the St John’s Ambulance volunteers along the route could have a busy day! Secondly we will be raising money for the Save The Children charity which I’m sure you will agree is an excellent cause!

So onto the begging part now. we have a target of £1,500 to raise and so far we are at £969 or 64% of target. So any donation that you can make, whatever size, would be very much appreciated. As is usual for these things we do have a ‘Just Giving’ page to make it easier to support us. Click here to get access to it.

Of course this is a music blog so I can’t end with no music can I? So here are thirteen (one for each mile of the run) running related songs for you to listen to while you donate!

1 “Running Away” – Sly and the Family Stone

2 “Run Runaway” – Slade

3 “Keep On Runnin'” – Spencer Davis Group

4 “Run For Home” – Lindisfarne

5 “Runaway” – Del Shannon

6 “Run Run Run” – Jo Jo Gunne

7 “I’m Gonna Run Away From You” – Tami Lynn

8 “Running Away” – Roy Ayers

9 “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush

10 “Run To The Hills” – Iron Maiden

11 “If You See My Rooster (Please Run Him Home)” – Memphis Minnie and Black Bob

12 “Run To Him” – Bobby Vee

13 “Band On The Run” – Paul McCartney and Wings

 

“Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best” December 25, 2010


Happy Christmas everyone and thank you so very much for reading my blog, especially for those of you who have hung in their for all of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar posts. With today being December 25th that as they say is that. But I am signing off the Advent Calendar with a real Christmas classic. It still gets played regularly these days as well. It’s from 1973 and it’s Slade with “Merry Xmas Everybody”. It was number one for 5 weeks in 1973/1974.

It was the bands 6th and final UK number one, following “Coz I Luv You” (1971), “Take Me Bak ‘Ome” (1972), “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (1972), “Cum On Feel The Noize” (1973) and “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” (1973). The song was the third of Slade’s UK number ones to enter the charts at the top. Noddy Holder expressed amused surprise when the song remained at number one until mid January asking “who is still buying a Christmas single after Christmas?”

All very amusing indeed, but Rudolph would like his nose back!

Unlike contemporaries like Mud and the Sweet Noddy and the boys wrote their own songs and this one was written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea. In 2007 “Merry Xmas Everybody” was voted the UKs favourite Christmas song. The song was recorded at the Record Plant in New York during a small summer US tour for the band. Apparently it was a very hot day in an August heat wave. The echo sound you can hear on the chorus was achieved by recording it in the studio corridor.

So that’s it for this years Advent Calendar, any ideas or suggestions for next years advent calendar theme would be welcomed. In the meantime I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year.

 

“Could it be the devil in me or is this the way love’s supposed to be?” August 10, 2010


This option would have been one hell of a lot safer

There is every possibility that some of you may see this as a sick choice of subject, so for that let me apologise up front. But as my good friend Fraser Matthews once said to me “Billy Boy, you are one sick puppy!” Anyway the story concerns this years 12th (and almost certainly last) annual Sauna World Championship. Basically it’s about who can stay in the sauna for the longest at temperatures of 110C. The two men who got through the heats (pardon the pun) this year were the reigning champion and five time winner Timo Kaukonen from Finland and Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy of Russia. After six minutes in the final officials noticed that there was something wrong. Ladyzhenskiy was dead and Kaukonen had suffered severe burns. Are people so bored that they have to see this as a sport? It’s bloody mental in my opinion. But here’s the sick part, it got me thinking about heat songs, so after you’ve read the story on the Beeb and the Guardian I hope you enjoy my heat selection!

Click here to read the story on the BBC

Click here to read the story on the Guardian

Some Like It Hot” – Power Station. Featuring one of the best white soul voices ever in my opinion, Robert Palmer and some random dudes off of Duran Duran (John Taylor and Andy Taylor) and some more randomers from Chic (Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards)

The Heat Is On” – Glenn Frey. Frey co wrote many of the Eagles greatest songs with Don Henley and also sang lead vocals on plenty of them. He once fronted a duo with J D Souther (in 1969) who were known as Longbranch Pennywhistle. “The Heat Is On” is taken from Beverly Hills Cop which starred Eddie Murphy

Hot, Hot, Hot” – Arrow.  An excellent party song which was written and produced by Montserrat musician, Arrow (aka Alphonsus Cassell). It has been covered by many people including David Johansen off of the New York Dolls using his Buster Poindexter alter ego

(Love Is Like A) Heatwave” – Martha & The Vandellas. A classic Motown track and one of the many hits penned by the Holland Dozier Holland writing team. The song was well covered by Linda Ronstadt. It was also used to great effect in the blood collection scene in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ which starred John Travolta.

Drop It Like It’s Hot” – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell. Snoop was known as Calvin Broadus although his parents did give him the nickname Snoopy because they felt there was a resemblance to the Charles Schultz creation.

Melt” – Siouxse & The Banshees. Her parents named her Susan Janet Ballion (although I have seen it noted as Dallion). Her Mum was a bilingual Secretary but her Dad had what must have been quite a unique job, he was a laboratory technician who milked serum from venomous snakes in the Belgian Congo!

Burning Love” – Elvis Presley. The song was written by Dennis Linde and first recorded by Arthur Alexander. Presley’s version came out in 1972. It is one of my favourite Elvis songs from his later years

Canned Heat” – Jamiroquai. Taken from the album ‘Synkronized’ the song reached number four in the UK Chart and made it to the top of the US Dance Chart. It was also used prominently in the film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’

Hot In Herre” – Nelly. Also known as Cornell Haynes Jr, Nelly had quite a prolific output in the noughties. This song title was somewhat deliberately misspelled a little like most of Slade’s early 70s output. The song uses the hook from Chuck Brown’s 1979 hit “Bustin’ Loose”

Disco Inferno” – Trammps. A classic disco song which was also featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I remember once talking to my Dad about having this song played at your funeral if you were being cremated. Well we never played it at my Dad’s funeral, but who knows? There might be room for it at mine! 😉

 

 
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