Monday, February 09, 2015

The Bo Street Runners - Never Say Goodbye





Known mostly for the brief presence of a young Mick Fleetwood as a member, the Bo Street Runners were one of many London-area R&B-based rock bands during the British Invasion. Though they didn't come close to a hit, they did manage to release about an album's worth of material between 1964-1966 on four singles for Decca and Columbia, and a rare limited-edition EP. While their sound was fairly derivative and unremarkable compared to the top R&B-leaning British Invasion bands, much of their limited output was at least respectable, with a couple above-average songs that will be of interest to British Invasion collectors.
the Bo Street Runners got on the map with a residency at the Railway Hotel, the same venue at which the early Who played numerous gigs and built their following. In spring 1964, they entered a competition of the British pop music TV show Ready Steady Go for which they had to make a demo. This ended up being a four-song, self-titled EP, pressed in a quantity of only about a hundred copies, and sold to fans at gigs. Though largely standard-issue R&B, it did include a good track, "Bo Street Runner," that was very much in the early Rolling Stones/Pretty Things style. The band actually won the competition in October 1964, the prize including, among other things, a contract with Decca Records. But they managed just one Decca single, a slightly tamer version of "Bo Street Runner," before moving on to Columbia, for whom they recorded three 45s in 1965 and 1966. Moving into a somewhat more soul-jazz-influenced sound on these, the best of the tracks by far was "Baby Never Gonna Say Goodbye," which a choked organ sound and bossa nova beat that made it sound a bit like a more tense Georgie Fame. The song was written by Tommy Moeller of Unit Four Plus Two (who shared management with the Bo Street Runners), who'd also penned that group's hit "Concrete and Clay"; drumming on the single was Mick Fleetwood, who'd previously been in the Cheynes. But the single didn't get anywhere, and after Fleetwood moved on to Peter B's Looners, the Bo Street Runners made one last stab with a soul-oriented arrangement of the Beatles' "Drive My Car," backed by the odd, minor jazzy waltz "So Very Woman" and featuring new singer Mike Patto. the Bo Street Runners broke up shortly afterward, Patto going on to a brief solo career before doing spells in the Chicago Line Blues Band, Timebox, Patto, and Spooky Tooth.


The Bo Street Runners - Never Say Goodbye
 The Complete Recordings 1964-1966




As 1965 moved along into Spring it was evident that the Bo Street Runners second release was bound for the graveyard of forgotten singles and for the three newest members of the band disillusionment was rapidly setting in. The first to quit was saxophonist Dave Quincy whose 'be bop' solos had never really fitted into the band's style. He continued to develop a distinguished career as a jazz and jazz-rock musician.
However the group continued a busy round of gigs, mainly in the provinces, playing more and more in clubs specialising in blues and soul rather than on the more lucrative dancehall circuit. London venues were a rarity but for a month or so they managed to secure a Tuesday night residency at the legendary '100 Club' jazz spot.
The most memorable aspect of this stint on home ground was the fact that in the support band, 'Bluesology', was a young bespectacled keyboard player by the name of Reg Dwight; in later years was to metamorphosis into Elton John!

During this period the overall management and publishing side of Bo Street Runners Ltd was transferred to Apollo Music, a much less significant organisation in the world of popular music than the band's previous prestigious agency and publisher.

Eventually the time came when drummer Glyn Thomas and keyboard player Roy Fry decided that enough was enough and handed in their notices. So, once again, it was necessary to find replacement musicians.

Through an ad placed in the 'Musicians Wanted' of the Melody Maker a young, unknown but talented keyboard player was uncovered. Tim Hinkley was to become the third, and last, of the Bo street Runners organists and the one who was to go on to have a long and successful life in music.
Finding a replacement drummer was not so easy but whilst in a Charing Cross Road music shop singer John Dominic spotted a card put there by someone looking to drum with a band. The drummer in question, Michael Kells Fleetwood, was auditioned and joined the group. More commonly known to the world as Mick Fleetwood was of course the sole Bo Street Runner to go to achieve international fame and recognition.
So the Mk V version of the band was born and once again the search was on for a song to record for their third single.
With the two new musicians, Mick and Tim, now in place the group's style underwent yet another change; less jazzy and back towards an R&B feel. Also now with two teenagers on board a younger image! An account of Mick's traumatic initiation into life on the road with the group can be read in Bob Brunnings book 'Blues-The British Connection' (Blandford Press, 1986).
Amongst the artistes signed to Apollo Music were two songwriters, Tommy Moeller and Gregg Parker who, with their group Unit Four +2, had had a huge hit with their song 'Concrete and Clay'. The Bo Street Runners were offered another of their songs to try out and possibly record. Although the number was totally outside the bands style of music it was just too tempting to resist with its contemporary Latin feel and catchy melody. So in late June into the studio went the new lineup to record baby 'Never Say Goodbye'; this was Mick Fleetwood's first recording experience;
This time, unlike their previous offering, the disk was given favourable reviews and even chosen by pirate radio station Radio London as one of their records to plug heavily reaching N° 36 in their Big L chart on 25th July. But again luck was running out for the Runners for just as a demand for the record was building a strike at Decca's pressing plant meant that copies were not going into the shops and the band once more failed to chart nationally

In spite of this setback the Bo Street Runners ploughed on, now performing more on the RnB/Blues club circuit rather than at the more lucrative dance hall/pop venues. However these still kept popping up and in September they played at the 'Top Twenty Club' in Bridgewater, Somerset. Like many small town provincial gigs this was held on Saturday nights at the Town Hall and hosted a string of current and past Pop acts. A fascinating and detailed history of 'The Top Twenty Club' has been compiled by local archivist Dave Edney and can be seen at [http://www.toptwentyblogspot.com] He has even unearthed the band's autographs signed after their performance!
Shortly after this, realising that Pop fame and fortune was not going to be found with the Bo Street Runners, drummer Mick Fleetwood decided to quit and return to the group led by his old friend Peter Bardens, 'The Cheynes'. From there he moved to the John Mayall band which in turn evolved into Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and the rest, as they say, is history.
He was replaced, for a brief period, by drummer Alan Turner.




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