Keith Bailey interview by Børge Skilbrigt


BS: Keith - you might have been quite young when John Andrews' "A Rose Growing In The Ruins"/"It's Just Love" (Parlophone R 5455) was released in 1966. Was that your debut record-wise and could you please tell us a bit about John Andrews and The Lonely Ones - I understand Noel Redding was involved as well.
KB: Ha! Well, it just goes to show how misleading things are. First of all, none of us except Andy (John Andrews) recorded on that recording session. For some reason the record company decided not to let any of us play on that recording and hired a bunch of session musicians instead. We just had to mime along with it when we were on TV, in which we all felt a bit stupid because the playing was never how we played anyway! Also the recording company came up with the "John Andrews and the Lonely Ones" title because in those days studios were still behind the times and could not compute the 'band thing' of equal members, in spite of the many name groups at that time, and so presented us with the usual so-and-so and his band. The band was actually called just "The Lonely Ones" and that was the name under which we performed gigs. Andy probably preferred that too as it gave him more latitude to just be a part of the band, being as there were occasions when we all changed around on instruments and Andy played bass. I think Andy was actually playing bass and singing when I first joined the band.

I joined the Lonely Ones early in 1966 when I was just 17-years old. I had been playing in an R&B band that I had formed with some high-school-friends since we were just kids in my local town of Swindon, (formed in our Boy's Club) where I had grown up since the age of seven after my family moved there from London for my health. We used to be the support band for visiting big name acts, and we used to perform at local regular Monday evening events hosted by Tony Burfield from Galaxy Entertainments in London (Steve Marriott, eventually of the Small Faces, etc.). He singled me out and told me that I had much potential and that I ought to be playing in a more prominent band. He kept offering me gigs with well-known bands each week when he visited and I kept turning them down. I was very particular. After several weeks of this I realised that he was beginning to get a bit frustrated with me and so I decided that I would just accept whatever next band he offered me and just get 'out there' to see what would happen. That next band he offered was a relatively unknown (nationally) but very good band called 'The Lonely Ones.' I accepted the offer and travelled up to Manchester (where they were to perform some gigs) to play with them. They gave me the job immediately after we played the first gig together.

"The Lonely Ones" had been formed in Folkstone, Kent, and I seem to remember that it was originally Noel and Andy's band. At the time I joined, Noel had already left and formed another local band. He was actually the lead guitarist. He used to hang out a lot with us and sit in when we were 'at home'. Noel and I quickly became very good friends and he just loved my drumming. Later, in the Fall or late summer of 1966, when Noel first got the gig with Jimi Hendrix he proposed me as the drummer for that newly forming group. How I played at that time can be heard on The Joint CD release which was when I was between the age of 17 - 19 years (Dinosaur Dreams when I was still 17). Chas (Chandler) repeatedly called me for the gig on account of Noel's recommendation. At that time no-one had heard of Jimi as he had just arrived in London. Chas introduced Jimi to the concept of the Cream and proposed that he could also have a band with just three musicians.

"The Lonely Ones" had been formed in Folkstone, Kent, and I seem to remember that it was originally Noel and Andy's band. At the time I joined, Noel had already left and formed another local band. He was actually the lead guitarist. He used to hang out a lot with us and sit in when we were 'at home'. Noel and I quickly became very good friends and he just loved my drumming. Later, in the Fall or late summer of 1966, when Noel first got the gig with Jimi Hendrix he proposed me as the drummer for that newly forming group. How I played at that time can be heard on The Joint CD release which was when I was between the age of 17 - 19 years (Dinosaur Dreams when I was still 17). Chas (Chandler) repeatedly called me for the gig on account of Noel's recommendation. At that time no-one had heard of Jimi as he had just arrived in London. Chas introduced Jimi to the concept of the Cream and proposed that he could also have a band with just three musicians.

However, there had recently been some personnel changes in the Lonely Ones and I had just managed to convince a friend of mine from Swindon, Rick Davis (later of Supertramp), to come and join us. This he did, and we were rehearsing in Folkstone when the calls came for Jimi Hendrix. After persuading Rick to join I felt that I could not then immediately abandon him and go off with another group and so I kept declining the offer. I was still just 17, but still maintained a sense of the Brit 'loyalty' thing.

BS: Your drumming came more to force a bit later on with The Joint. As far as I know, no records were issued at the time, but a decade ago some 1968/1969 recordings saw the light of day. A nice surprise indeed as the music is quite good. If issued at the time, a 45 by The Joint would these days no doubt be labelled freakbeat or heavy psych and cost a fortune! Were these recordings meant demo wise securing a recording contract? I'm otherwise told the band spent some time on the continent - what's the story about that - the usual "Beatles-at-the-Star-Club" one - or?
KB: The Joint was a continuation of The Lonely Ones. We were managed at that time as The Lonely Ones by Galaxy Entertainmentsin Carnaby Street. If you really want the story about our time on the Continent then here it is, as briefly as possible.

Galaxy sent us to many gigs at home and away on the Continent. We played in Geneva, France, etc., and returned home. Then they sent us to Rome. In Rome we got stuck there and Galaxy abandoned us. During our sojourn there I proposed to the band that we change our name to 'The Joint' (meaning that we were a 'joint' enterprise of thoroughly bonded musicians) and begin to find our own way by writing our own material. We were performing covers of standards at that time but I considered we were capable of more.

To make a long story short, we were eventually rescued by the owner of Le Griffin Club in Geneva, M. Grobiér, who brought us to Geneva, provided food, money and accommodation, and took over responsibility for our management. After one of our performances at Le Griffin Club (in 1967) we were approached by a Welsh composer by the name of David Llewellyn (who was living in Munich) plus some film producers. They invited us to make a local hippy film called "What's Happening." The film was rather negligible but it introduced us to David (with whom we found a reciprocal musical relationship) and he quickly secured for us more films in Munich, Germany, with the American director, George Moorse. I told him of our plans and he eventually introduced us to a very wealthy person from Geneva who invited us to come and live at his mansion in Versoix (near Geneva) whilst we worked at our music. This we did in early 1968 and ended up staying there for about a year or more. During this period David often came to stay and wrote pieces for us. George Moorse also came to stay with us from time to time and wrote some of the words for our pieces. We also composed pieces ourselves and rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed! We eventually played local gigs and were invited to make a feature documentary for Suisse TV, as the Swiss were somewhat amazed and honoured that a Brit band had elected to 'workshop' and 'woodshed' itself in Switzerland. As we perfected the pieces we later began to record them. A professional music engineer was hired and we recorded our pieces one after the other at our location in Switzerland over many weeks. Although the recordings were somewhat of a high quality at that time, (even on reel tape) I seem to remember that they were only intended as demos to introduce us to potential professional management and recording companies.

David's pieces were often piano pieces that he had composed under the inspiration of some of Prokofiev's more fiery piano pieces. We then had to work at rearranging them into performance pieces for a 60's band. This influence can be heard, for instance in 'Turnstile' on the Joint CD, with its very tight arrangement.

Initially, we were 'shopped around' and regarded by producers and management agencies as something 'off the fringe,' but we were eventually managed by the Robert Stigwood Agency in London. They attempted to make us more 'presentable,' (even though they had managed The Cream), but they were still rather conservative. We played many gigs under their management, i.e., the Speakeasy in London, other London and UK venues, Southern Ireland, etc., but they kept us rather low key.

The recording business at that time was very tightly controlled by recording companies, and they decided and manipulated the fate of bands and artists. Things are thankfully not the same now in terms of that earlier degree. Eventually, all the plans for The Joint were trashed in the Spring of 1969 and it was abruptly disbanded.

There are lots of other recordings of The Joint from these sessions. I know because I used to have them. I loaned them to Trevor Williams (guitarist from the group) in the late 1970's and never saw them again. But I did hear many of our other Joint recordings whilst visiting Rick several years later (1978) in LA after he had become famous through Supertramp, and I know he has them and is sitting on them. The recordings that you hear on our Joint CD., i.e., Freak Street, are the recordings I had that I loaned to Trevor! The track, Dinosaur Dreams was recorded in Munich for a film in 1967. The other tracks were recorded at our location in Switzerland. The Munich track also featured Martin Vinson on Bass, an earlier bass player with the Lonely Ones.

The music we produced was very good indeed pertaining to something unique at that time and quite original, and everyone played exceptionally well. We recorded repeatedly until we were satisfied. Every piece represents just one take with no edits, except for overdubs and later mastering. By that time, Martin had left the band and I had recruited Steve Brass on bass from my earlier high-school R&B band, and so The Joint was then composed of musicians from my earlier days in Swindon plus the remnants of The Lonely Ones. Actually, the title track of the CD issue to which you refer, "Freak Street," was my first attempt at music composition (if it can be called that) and I have no idea why it is presented under Trevor's name. Nevertheless, I am glad that 'The Joint CD' is 'out there' for all to hear.

BS: However, your breakthrough came when Graham Bond formed the Initiation autumn 1969 after returning from a period in America. From the press I understand that auditions had been held and most of the band was assembled when you arrived on the scene. How did you get in touch with Graham and had you by chance seen the GBO?
KB: I applied for the gig with Graham through an ad in the Melody Maker. At that time I was sharing a flat with Ray O'Sullivan, later to achieve fame as 'Gilbert O'Sullivan.' Ray had been a long-standing friend from Swindon (our parents knew each other) and he used to play left-handed drums with Rick's band. We were formally 'rival' bands in Swindon! At that time, Ray was working in a Post Office in London and used to come home each night, put on his peculiar Charlie Chaplin outfit, and work at his 'Gilbert' pieces. I had previously gotten him on one of our Joint TV shows in Munich (probably his first). He was reciprocally very kind to me and was deeply compassionate and comforting over the demise of The Joint. He was a devout Roman Catholic and had high ethical standards.

I showed him the ad in the Melody Maker pertaining to Graham Bond and he encouraged me to 'go for it.' I did not have enough fare for a return train journey home (because I had to go up to Cambridge for the audition) and so bought a one-way ticket – so confident was I that I would get the gig! My brother bundled me off on the train with my drums and I arrived in Cambridge. I taxied to the location I was told, went up to the loft and began to set up my drums. No-one else was there, just Graham's organ, Leslie speakers, and amps. Whilst setting up my drums Steve York arrived. I had not met him previously but he was friendly and encouraging. Eventually Graham arrived. He just greeted and looked me over with minimal comments of polite introduction (no doubt because he had auditioned so many previous drummers) sat down, and the three of us just played together for about two hours non-stop. I could see that Graham was chuffed and satisfied and it got better and better as we continued to play. After the session Graham told me that he had auditioned about 26 drummers previously, but that if I wanted the job it was mine! I was still 20-years old at the time. My 21st BD occurred whilst a member of Initiation.

Of course, I was absolutely delighted to accept and then had to confess that I did not have enough money for a return journey back to London to settle my affairs, pick up my little possessions of clothing, and return to Cambridge where Initiation was based, to which they laughed whole-heartedly at my cheekiness and kindly squared everything away for me to do so.

I did see the original GBO. When I was 15-16 we had Tuesday nights at our local club in which we had exposure to all the great visiting R&B Groups from London, among them the original GBO (complete in tuxedos), John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, Long John Baldry's Hoochie-Coochie Men, Brian Auger, Gary Farr and the T-Bones, Zoot Money, Geno Washington, etc., plus Thursday nights with big name groups such as the Rolling Stones (when they were still performing clubs), the Yardbirds, the Moody Blues, the Who, etc. I used to sit right at the front with my feet resting on the stage, getting my ears blasted. On some of those nights my little band of high-school kids were the support group, for which we had Long John and Rod Stewart as supportive 'fans,' standing out the front and encouraging us on. They just could not believe that a little bunch of high-school kids were capable of such R&B depth. Later, Long John wanted me in his own band (and I did have the honour of playing with him). I was so humbled, being that he had previously the great and incomparable drummer – Mickey Waller.

BS: Apart from Graham the original band consisted of you, Diane Stewart and the three Dave's - Usher, Howard and Sheehan. What was the three D's background before joining Initiation? As far as I know Dave Sheehan was drumming with Paul Rodgers at one point and Dave Howard had contributed to the second Fleetwood Mac album.
KB: The three D's! Well, they were all such versatile musicians and played several instruments. I cannot remember anything of their backgrounds prior to GB because we did not talk about it much. As far as I can remember, Dave Sheehan played percussion and bass and also performed the same in Initiation; Dave Howard played a variety of instruments; Dave Usher played flute, sax and guitar. The latter was such a marvelously subtle musician in that he never got in the way of things; he always played complementarily to whatever was going on. During our Initiation performances Dave Sheehan played tablas and Dave Howard played sitar and they performed a marvelous interlude as it pertained to western musicians playing Indian instruments.
BS: Later on the band was slimmed down a bit and I understand main members were you, Graham, Diane and Dave Usher. Regarding other musicians involved - bass player Nigel Taylor contributed to a "Top Gear" session and guitarist Kevin Stacey did the "John Peel´s Sunday Show". Rick Grech and Steve York played live with the band- were there others as well?
KB: True indeed, the band eventually became basically a trio of GB, myself and Dave Usher. Diane used to perform intermittently. I cannot remember how this happened or why the other members left or were dropped. But whatever, Graham retained Dave Usher and myself as the main foundation. Actually, Graham and myself provided ample power with him playing bass on the foot-pedals of the Hammond organ and my bass drum kicking things along and punctuating the beat or pulse. Dave floated beautifully over the top, and being that he was so versatile on other instruments then nothing appeared to be lost. It is only too bad that recordings of him playing other instruments are not recorded on the latest BBC release, although he does play guitar in some of the 'Top Gear' sessions on the GB BBC recent CD release. The later John Peel session was just our little basic trio of Graham, Dave and myself, with Kevin Stacey on guitar as a guest.

Nigel appeared with us from time to time. I cannot remember where he came from or how he came to be playing with us. But he was an exceptional bass player and was always right on the beat wherever he was needed. I cannot also remember where Kevin came from and how he came to be playing with us, except that he became a good friend and I always enjoyed playing with him. He was a subtle guitarist, never getting in the way, although I am sure that in hindsight he realises that he could have gone further out and extended his reaches.

Rick Grech used to sit in with us. Steve York had been an old friend of Graham's and was welcome at any time. From time to time many great musicians used to 'sit in' with us. I remember one concert at the Roundhouse in London when there was Jack Bruce on bass, Rick Grech on bass, Graham on sax, Brian Auger on organ and myself on drums. Ginger Johnson's African Drummers also 'sat in' with us from time to time, during which they amped up the power and rhythm. Mitch (Mitchell) often showed up and wanted to sit in, and being as we had been good friends from the Jimi Hendrix days then it was no problem. Many other musicians of note often attended our performances at places like the Speakeasy in London but I do not remember any of them 'sitting in' on those sessions, although many of them 'sat in' on other sessions, including some amazing guitarists. Nevertheless, many musicians would speak to me after various performances and try to recruit me for their bands, once they got the word that GB was about to disband Initiation.

After GB, although I had been offered many drum chairs in newly forming reshuffling name bands (in the early 1970s), my whole attitude to performance had changed in that whatever I was to do next had to continue the spiritual purpose I had learned from Graham. The only reciprocity I found in this direction was with performing with the original Brian Auger Oblivion Express (after our Roundhouse gig) – which I was very happy to accept after many other rather bland solicitations. Unfortunately this rather brief period all came to an abrupt head during a studio recording when the engineers started sticking tape all over my drums and cymbals to deaden the sound into what they considered they needed for a 'funk sound' – which I had no idea about! My drum sound was part of my identity as a drummer and I thought that that was the reason Brian had commissioned me. I was so sad for I loved playing with Brian. Our live performances were simply marvelous with Brian, Jim on guitar and Barry on bass; but for recordings, little did I know it, I had sadly to learn that Brian had other ideas about which I was never informed. Had I known then I could have prepared.

BS: In my opinion the Initiation was Graham's finest hour post America. Though their recorded legacy was rather brief, the band sounded great on the BBC sessions mixing old favorites and new tunes in a progressive style. (Both sessions are now to be found on the 4CD set "Live At The BBC & Other Stories"). Keith - I must say it's pretty extraordinary to deliver drum solos on both sessions!
KB: I am so grateful to Pete (Brown) for overseeing and releasing these latest BBC recordings. I had forgotten all about them and had no idea that the BBC even retained them in their vaults. Thank goodness they did! Indeed, Initiation was Graham's 'finest hour' upon his return from the USA. I agree with you that these recordings capture GB at his peak. His organ sound was unique and so full that it sounded like an orchestra. I am so glad that listeners can hear GB at his peak so that they can understand what a marvelous musician he was and also why he still enjoys the loyal support of those of us who knew him, as well as those who heard him at that time. He was indeed a 'milestone,' to mention one of the pieces quoted of Miles Davis on those recordings.

It is very kind of Pete to include both recordings of "Wade in the Water" (including my drum solos) from those BBC sessions. Actually, Graham and I never rehearsed this duo piece. It was all put together in live performance on stage night by night in an evolutionary manner. Our duo performance was one of the highlights of our regular performances each night. It was all rather a matter of eye contact and nods for punctuation. We just made it up as it went along. It has so many elements of Graham – R&B, jazz, Bach, Miles Davis, etc. Graham played bass on the foot pedals of the Hammond organ. After a while he gravitated to sax (right hand), organ (left hand) and bass pedals (feet).

As far as my drum solos go, then in hindsight, of course I am more critical of my performances many years later and there are so many things that I now realise I could have done better. But back then, I was just a 21-year old kid playing with one of my idealized mentors and did not know any other. I was just so happy to be playing with GB and that was the only thing that I wanted to do at that time.

Graham and I 'fed' each other musically. We inspired each other at that time. We had a remarkable but understandable intuitive connection. This was all reinforced through a reciprocal spiritual understanding of each other. It was never so much the sources from which GB quoted, but rather the wisdom conveyed that appealed to me.

BS: Initiation was otherwise briefly seen in The Breaking of Bumbo movie. It would be quite interesting to know how the Initiation got involved and how the band ended up miming to a GBO tune(!).
KB: This is a peculiar episode. This film was made at Madam Tussaud's wax museum in London. We were actually performing what we all thought was a regular gig. We often used to perform for Uni graduation events and so we thought that this was simply another graduation gig, although in a peculiar venue. We had arrived early and were told to set up between many of the waxwork models. We performed as if it were a 'normal' gig, only in a bizarre location. It is quite possible that none of us even knew that we were being filmed for an actual 60's type of film. I do not remember being told that we were making a film, only that it appeared as another Uni graduation gig. Cameras were rolling, but we were used to all kinds of cameras rolling on us at various gigs and I personally never used to pay any attention to them. It was all a part of the regular attention paid to us of being in the GB Initiation.

If the producers later decided to simply use us and overlay a previous recording of the GBO over what we actually played (because they did not record us), then it was probably a cheap way of having musicians perform without having to pay them for performing actual live music on a film! We were not miming. We were actually performing. But for the brief couple of seconds that we are shown then no-one would know anything different!

BS: Regarding the homecoming concert at the Royal Albert Hall - a fellow who attended said "Graham and his new band came on and were very much in the Organisation mode. The main memory of this gig was that the drummer was every bit as good as Ginger! He didn't copy Ginger, he was as good as him". Similar statements also turned up in the press and I've noticed the great interplay between you and Graham. It sounds quite like a little big band with added solos from Usher or Stacey!
KB: The concert at the Albert Hall! Well, Jack (Bruce) was supposed to perform with us, only that he was strong-armed by the Robert Stigwood Agency that if he did then he would face crippling circumstances. I am not permitted to say more.

As for the kind comments about my drumming, I had really no idea that people were saying this about me at that time, let alone the press. I had stepped into the drum-chair of two previous illustrious drummers, i.e., Ginger and Jon, and it was inevitable that all eyes of the press were upon me and comparing me to them. I was the 'third' in succession. I had a lot to live up to but at that time I was not seeking to copy or be compared to them. I just played as my heart dictated.

When I was performing with GB we were in the music press all the time and I simply did not read all of it and had no idea what was being said about me. I did not keep any of the music press clips and took it all with a grain of salt. At that time both Richard Williams and Chris Welch of the Melody Maker were very kind and complimentary and I did keep some of their remarks, but not all of them. I was not interested in being compared with Ginger or Jon at that time. I was part of a new generation of young musicians coming into being – those of us who would transfer from the late 60's into the 70's. Of course, G.B.'s earlier drummers had been exceptionally brilliant but I was so naïve that I did not fully compute this and neither was I interested; and so perhaps this innocent naiveté protected me to perform just as my innocent, honest and young self.

I eventually did not participate much in the 1970's migration even though I had been offered many drum chairs with many (what became) prominent and famous groups, for I ventured into performing jazz, and had to begin all over again.

As previously mentioned, Graham and I were very close and formed an intimate 'bond.' We used to sit up all hours of the night in hotels on tour and Graham would just talk to me about the spiritual significance of music. I was 'all ears.' What he was saying at that time was exactly what I had been yearning and searching to hear. He clarified for me the relationship between music and spirituality. What he said gave me a renewed sense of purpose pertaining to music performance and the spiritual significance of music in general, which I had always suspected and aspired to, yet which needed articulating to my conscious awareness. It has since inspired me in all that I have musically performed and composed, as well as in the attempt to live a life imbued with spiritual purpose.

Graham's organ sound, with his stacks of Leslie speakers, gave him an orchestral sound to blast things wide open. In my drumming performances with him I sought to complement his amazing blast and just filled in breaks. I provided a powerful beat or rhythm upon which he could fly. I allotted space in the music so that others could hear what a marvelous musician he was; I filled in with drum-breaks where it would not interfere with his incredible cascades and arpeggios, rhythmic complementaries, punctuationsand explode on drum blasts. Between us we managed to sound like a 'big band' with only the two of us. No-one even noticed the omission of a bass instrument because with Graham on the bass pedals and myself kicking the punctuations on bass drum we compensated.

Like I said previously, Graham and I punctuated everything with eye contact and a wink or nod. We were the main foundation of Initiation. Dave Usher was also very much a part of our intimate association. Eventually we were simply a trio.

BS: You contributed to most of Graham's "Holy Magick" album - something he praised in the sleevenotes. Especially the suite on the first side was quite loose compared to the Initiation recordings. Was the music at some stage done live by the Initiation or did it take it's form in the studio?
KB: Graham was very kind in his remarks pertaining to myself on the sleeve-notes of that recording for he was attempting to give me recommendations and trying to push me forward, knowing that his word counted for much to other musicians. All the recordings of "Holy Magick" on the suite of the primary side were put together in the studio - none of us had ever played any of the music before. Initiation had fizzled out by the time of this recording and I was called up from other posts to record this album with GB It was 'loose' because it was no longer the tight essential band of Initiation. Also, the engineers simply did not capture the amazing full organ sound of GB (if one compares it to the BBC recordings). With engineers, then one has to realise that they do not always know how to record the musicians when it is a 'one-off' thing. GB's organ sound on that recording was very weak and feeble; it should really have been the same at least as the BBC recordings of Initiation. Also, the sound of my drums was weak and did not capture the cymbal sound in balance with the drums, let alone the sound of the cascading and explosive drums. Later mastering and mixing can address such things but the actual recording did not permit it for such. This album first came out on vinyl and – much to my amazement – received great reviews.

The BBC engineers were always the best because they were so flexible and very quick to capture the sound of the musicians. Regular studio engineers, unless completely familiar with the sound of the band and the various musicians, apparently do not always respond so quickly to a 'one-off' recording.

Even so, in the recordings of the BBC, much was missing from my cymbal work, which balances the sound and interplay between drums and cymbals. Many of my drum recordings are too 'drum heavy' for my liking, and do not capture the interplay between drums and cymbals. In recording, the studio engineer is as important as all the musicians combined. He has to have the musical ability to tune-in to the sound and intention of each musician and seek to capture their unique sound. Hence, many hours are spent in studios trying to attain a right balance. But once one experiences a receptive musical engineer then of course, one always wants to work with him. The BBC engineers were always the best. Studio engineers in Germany were also excellent, as well as our engineer with The joint, but he was from the Suisse Radio and so very quick and flexible to capture our various sounds. Things are, of course, very different now with home recordings and the 'drummer' appears to have been largely eliminated altogether in favour of 'midi drummers.' But nothing is better than a live drummer!

As an anecdote pertaining to that 'Holy Magick' session, Graham performed a 'ritual' to begin the recording. He lit candles and inadvertently set fire to the studio, at which we all had to rapidly scramble and put the fire out before any music was performed. Graham arranged for all of us to be positioned according to our astrological sun-sign in a large circle in the studio. This did not sit particularly well with the engineers in terms of their recording techniques, but they obliged nevertheless.

Graham had it all figured out before the recording and we just rehearsed several times before recording anything. The session is quite vivid in my memory pertaining to certain things. I remember Alex, because he was an exceptional bass player. I had not met the reed players previously. Perhaps they were performing with whoever was performing at Ronnie Scotts at that time and just sight-read what was put before them and listened. We rehearsed and then played everything through in about one take and that was it. Therefore it was very loose but the whole session took hours. We never performed those pieces live with Initiation. It was simply a one-off thing.

Graham complimented me with his gracious remarks for the work I had performed during our period in Initiation on that album. He told me that I had made a name for myself and that I had everything going from this point forth and that it was now up to me to make the most of it. I subsequently performed with Brian Auger, as previously mentioned and which I absolutely loved because Brian was such a marvelous musician; but after that I lost interest in performing in R&B or rock situations and found myself more and more attracted to jazz performance because it suited my aspirations to perfect the art of drumming and also because the musicians in British jazz at that time tended towards a more reciprocal spiritual aesthetic. Alexis Korner had introduced me to other young musicians that he considered that I might have affinity with in the jazz mode, including a young sax player, and he was right. Alexis was always so insightful and such a kind person.

BS: Late in 1969 Graham got involved with Ginger Baker's new band Airforce and what originally was planned to be a two concert gig ended up lasting about a year. For a while Graham had two bands going, but in the spring of 1970 Initiation faded away. It came gradually?
KB: Actually, the fading of Initiation was more in the first half of the 1970's. The fading out of Initiation came slowly and gradually. I was so sad. The more that Graham was taken up with Ginger, then the more he began to lose the edge of his acuity, precision and accuracy. GB moved back down to London, only sadly to become prey to his former demons – and they eventually took over. The last time I saw Graham I was so sad in that I realised that there was absolutely nothing that I could do or say to get through to him. We had previously experienced many months of freedom and beauty from his prior demons whilst in Cambridge, but with GB's move back down to London they were closing in again. With Initiation we had been based in Cambridge; purposely so that GB would not become prey to his former enticements and those who would try to wave the finger of incitement. Alas, alas!

Graham had previously told me that he would die at a certain age. He was eventually so accurate in that his 'predictions' would sadly come true. I was so sad when I learned what happened to him. I was informed by a friend of mine whilst in Munich. A friend of mine in the UK later put it: the tracks of Initiation, and particularly "Wade in the Water" alone highlight the tragedy of Graham. If only he could have stayed with and fostered Initiation! Silly really, for everyone wanted to play with us anyway and we could have had a marvelous 'super-group.' Nevertheless, his music lives on and perhaps he is now already reincarnated for a fresh opportunity!

BS: You mentioned jazz and I suppose going in that direction could be a natural step after playing with Graham. Anyway, after your brief spell with the Brian Auger Oblivion Express you joined Warm Dust for their second album. Later on you contributed to Keith Tippett's "Blueprint" and did live recordings with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath as well. An archive release with the Command All Stars also turned up. One review said that "particularly impressive throughout is Keith Bailey's boisterous drumming, often catapulting the mood into different directions and generally egging his colleagues on from unproductive musing into fiery invention". Great praise indeed! That said - it would be interesting to know more about the years post Graham and what you're currently up to these days - I understand you're now living in America.
KB: After Graham I played with several groups, including Brian Auger, which I thoroughly loved and enjoyed.

In-between GB and Brian I played and recorded with Warm Dust for a brief period. They were a wonderful group of musicians. We played many gigs mainly on the continent and recorded the album of which you speak. I still have not yet heard it, except that my nephews all love it and are apparently 'proud' of their uncle. It is one of their favourite bands and they are all into collector vinyls.

After Brian and Long John, I ventured into the Brit. jazz world. I quickly became established and formed an association with the group around Keith Tippett. All being of the same generation we became good friends and performed in each other's bands. The band names were changed for each gig but it was basically all the same musicians playing in each other's bands as a way of generating gigs. Basically it was a rotary of Keith Tippett, Marc Charig on trumpet, Nic Evans on trombone, and Elton Dean on saxes, and often myself on drums, with various bass players.

I played in a trio with Keith Tippett for a year or so and we were managed by the Ronnie Scott Agency. We were often the opening group for many visiting big name US jazz musicians at Ronnie Scotts and so I was able to hear and experience many wonderful and legendary jazz artists. It was such an educational period. Also, being managed by the Ronnie Scott Agency I virtually had a free pass to the club to hear any visiting group of my choice, and so I delighted in seeing and witnessing all the many visiting US big name jazz groups at that time. They were all in a reshuffle as we were – Herbie Hancocks's Headhunters, the original Chick Chorea's "Return to Forever," the original "Weather Report," Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Cecil Taylor, Tony Williams Lifetime, etc.

The 'Command All Stars' album was an idea of Robert Fripp of King Crimson, who produced that album. Actually he was a good friend of mine and we used to play for hours together at my house in London. He wanted me to play in King Crimson at the turn of the decade in the early 1970's reshuffle, but by then I had lost interest in such things. At the 'All Stars' session, the tape was continuously rolled and we just played spontaneously for two days. It was later edited. The original album was intended to be called "Guilty But Insane," but apparently it turned out to be too freaky for anyone to release. At least some of it was later released by the Canadian record company. However, the drums are not edited very well and so one cannot hear everything that was going on. The original mastering was better.Thank you for including a review of that album pertaining to my drumming. I would never had otherwise known anything about it.

There was also another recording with a Turkish pianist called Arman Ratip with Marc Charig, Harry Miller and myself called "The Spy from Instabul."

Pertaining to Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath, I had often seen their performances in London and had memorized all of their music. Whilst performing with Keith Tippett's Centipede in Holland we also performed break-out groups in various clubs and other flexible and spontaneous situations. On various such occasions many of us just spontaneously performed a "Brotherhood of Breath" performance in Dutch clubs. Virtually all the B.o.B. musicians were in Centipede and so we performed a gig one night as such in a club in Holland. The musicians were amazed that I knew all of their pieces and told Chris about it. Louis Moholo (the brilliant drummer of the B.o.B.) had just gone off for a few years back to South Africa. On the recommendations of the B.o.B. musicians with whom I had performed in Holland, Chris called me and offered me the gig whilst Louis was away. We never really rehearsed and so everything was put together in live performances. This was all still when I was just 22-24 years old. Subsequently I played all the gigs that Louis would normally have played and in all the different bands and ensembles. Of course, I was no match or substitute for Louis, but all the musicians were very kind, encouraging and supportive. It was a great honour to play with them all. On his return to the UK, Louis and I were always very good friends and he was always very kind, encouraging and supportive.

There were other recordings from various ensembles. I am inclined to remark that on none of them were the drums recorded very well. They were all live amateur recordings. On the Bremen to Bridgewater Brotherhood of Breath album, for example, the cymbal sound balance simply does not complement the drums, and so it is all misrepresentative of what was actually going on. The balance is all off. It is only on the earlier recordings of the Joint and GB BBC Live (particularly the John Peel session) that there is any approximate balance, and even on the latter it could have been better.

I eventually formed my own band called Prana later in the 1970s, around 1978. There are some reasonable BBC recordings of this band, plus some duo recordings of Harrison Smith and myself which I will eventually release and which capture a better drum recording balance if the BBC do not release them first. It is always the same: one has to record with engineers that are either familiar with or quick and receptive to capture one's drum sound, otherwise in those days, the drums were too muffled and not really resonant. The BBC engineers were always the best and the quickest to understand and spontaneously oblige the sound that one wanted. Other engineers in commercial studios at that time always wanted to insert themselves into the process. With Prana, I received a composer bursary from the Arts Council of GB to put the band together and wrote music for the musicians and the Temple Percussion. Since musicians did not know how to play with such instruments I wrote scores with twelve-tone atonal motifs in order to help them get beyond their tendency for diatonic 'scaling.' I had a stellar band, hand-picked from musicians I had known from France and the UK, including Chris McGregor, friends of mine in the UK, plus J.J. Avenel from France and Kent Carter from the US on basses and cello.

I emigrated to the USA in 1980 for other reasons than just music. The 'other' (which is spiritually based) has been successful. I was also hoping to advance Prana in the US, but it never worked. Paul Bley was a good friend and told me that if ever I proposed to advance Prana in the US then he wanted to be the pianist; but he also told me that if ever I was to advance myself as a drummer then I had better have something that no-one else had, i.e, I was 'white.' This I found only to be unfortunately true, in that the NY scene was particularly racist at that time, much to my amazement! In the UK we had held in high esteem many musicians from the US, not realizing that in their home ground they were basically ignored. The US is amazingly conservative, even though it projects itself upon the world as very liberal. This projection is just a façade.

In NYC I was completely unknown and a newcomer. I played with many musicians but after many rounds at the clubs I figured that I had 'done this all before,' and was in no mood to go through it all again. I studied drums with Andrew Cyrille, who was an amazing teacher. However, the experience with 'The Joint,' GB, Brian, KT, the BoB, and our music band of brothers in the UK had been so flexible and spontaneous compared to the music scene in NYC that nothing I found in the glamourous 'city of lights' compared to it. In the capitalistic environment of the USA it was all sadly about money, to which I did not relate! In the UK we had always rehearsed for the sake of the music, but in the US everyone wanted to be paid for rehearsals, and the music itself took a second place. The musicians here in the US could never get beyond the 'box.' In 1986 I was playing with a band and decided that I would be the 'something different' that Paul Bley had suggested; and so I decided to be the quietest drummer in NYC. This I did and during my last gig with them I faded out into complete nothingness, got off the drums and that was it! I have never played drums with any other band since. I thenceforth decided that I would just perform solo percussion and do without the moody US musicians. I thereafter travelled all over the US performing solo percussion concerts on a vast array of percussion instruments that I had collected which I called "Temple Percussion," and also complemented the performances with talks on the spiritual dimensions of the music that I was performing. I had begun collecting these rather unusual percussion instruments whilst in London and with Prana, and so just took off in performing on them without the hassle of having to deal with moody American musicians and their miserable and amazing lack of humour.

Earlier in the mid-1970s, whilst still in London, I had gone 'back to school' to study music composition. I studied music composition with Hugh Wood at Morley College, from whom I learned so much. In NYC I studied with Nils Vigeland at the Manhattan School of Music in private sessions. He procured a Fellowship for me in 1986 at SUNY Buffalo with, among others, Morton Feldman on the faculty. I learned so much from the latter and it changed my whole approach to music composition. Unfortunately, Morty died a year after I had studied with him, and so I consider myself so fortunate to have been a recipient of his unique teaching discourses.

In the USA, in terms of music, I have mainly been preoccupied with music composition. I have written lots of pieces for choral and orchestral performances. No doubt, some of these pieces will eventually show up in various films, TV serials, etc. Music-wise, I still continue to give solo performances on Temple Percussion, whilst having some of my compositions performed by orchestras here in the US and in Canada. Conductors and orchestras in Europe and the South Pacific have also expressed an interest in performing and recording my pieces. I look forward now to a period of having my compositions performed and recorded by prominent orchestras and conductors.

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By Borge Skilbrigt
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