Updated October 2015Carl Wayne lead vocal (left 1970)
One of the most successful pop groups to come out of Birmingham in the 1960s in terms of British chart success, The Move were difficult to categorize musically as their style ranged from pop to psychedelic, blues, progressive, 1950s style rock 'n' roll and even country and western! Above all, it was Roy Wood's talent as a highly original songwriter that propelled the band on an extended chart run.
Many songs that Roy Wood composed for The Move in the first few years were considered by some to be drug inspired but in reality, a lot of his early lyrics were written while attending classes at the Moseley School of Art while he was there as a student. Despite the groups' controversial reputation and almost constant inner turmoil, The Move laid the foundations of what was to become one of the biggest and most successful rock bands of the 1970s.
The Move was formed in December of 1965 by guitarist Roy Wood from Mike Sheridan and The Nightriders, vocalist Carl Wayne, Chris 'Ace' Kefford (bass guitar), and Bev Bevan (drums) from the Vikings and guitarist Trevor Burton from the Mayfair Set. Legend has it there was a chance meeting at The Cedar Club in Birmingham with Davy Jones (later known as David Bowie) who suggested to Trevor Burton and Ace Kefford that they should form their own group.
The original plan formulated by Trevor Burton, Ace Kefford, and Roy Wood was to start a band consisting of Birmingham's supposedly best musicians and create a look and sound similar to 'The Who'. The Cedar Club on Constitution Hill hosted late night jam sessions and it was there where the line-up first got together on stage. Veteran Brum vocalist Carl Wayne was invited to be the front-man and Bev Bevan was chosen as drummer (see Carl Wayne and The Vikings) after future Led Zeppelin star John Bonham turned them down.
Bev Bevan remembers; "I knew the band had something special when Jasper Carrott came to see us. Up to that time he had always been my harshest critic, slamming the groups I'd been in as 'a load of rubbish'. After he'd seen The Move he said: That's the best of the lot so far, I think you're going to make it".
Following their debut gig at the Belfry Hotel in Stourbridge and further bookings in the Birmingham area, former Moody Blues manager Tony Secunda saw them and offered his services. Tony Secunda was one of the more controversial pop managers of the 1960s and his tactics were likely a big influence on future Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren. Material performed on stage by the Move at this time included many covers of American west coast groups such as The Byrds and Moby Grape as well as various Motown and rock 'n' roll classics. Although Carl Wayne handled most of the lead vocals, all the band members shared harmonies and each were allowed at least one lead vocal per show.
Tony Secunda secured The Move a season at London's famous Marquee Club where they became known for their wild stage act which included flash bombs, smoke, and Carl Wayne using an axe to hack at effigies of political figures and ritualistic smashing of old TV sets. The ensuing notoriety soon helped to gain The Move a recording contract with Deram, a subsidiary of Decca Records and publicity-seeking Secunda made sure that newspaper reporters were present when the band signed the contract on the back of a topless female model!
It was Tony Secunda who pushed Roy Wood into writing original songs for the band to record. Although Roy's only previously published composition was a single B-side by the Nightriders, he came up with the inventive 'Night Of Fear' for the Move's first record release. The song borrowed the catchy riff from the classical '1812 Overture' and was in the shops by the end of 1966, climbing all the way to Number Two in the U.K. charts by early 1967.
With seemingly effortless ease, Roy Wood followed up the success of Night Of Fear by composing two more great hit songs; the driving 'I Can Hear The Grass Grow' (chart position 5), and the ultimate paisley-pop anthem 'Flowers In The Rain' (chart position 2). This record also had the honour of being the first to be played on the BBC's new 'Radio One' pop station. Tony Blackburn said the memorable 'thunder storm' sound effect that opens the song was the main reason he selected it.
Now often pursued by swarms of screaming girls, the Move's new-found fame exposed them to the sort of wild fan mania that The Beatles had by then grown weary of. Along with constant requests for shows, public appearances and interviews, the group had little free time in their hectic schedule, even for recording.
As an example of the pressure Tony Secunda placed the band under at the time, Roy Wood remembers; "We played a gig in London, went back to the hotel and Carl Wayne came up to me and said: "We've just been told that we're in the studio tomorrow and we've got to record a single. Have you got one?" I said "Well, not on me, not at the moment." He produced a bottle of Scotch, gave me the key to one of the hotel rooms and said "Get on with it". Roy stayed up all night composing 'Fire Brigade' and said; "They had to sort of hold me up to do the recording session!"
The Move's success ensured them regular radio and TV appearances. However, an ill-conceived publicity stunt meant to capitalize on a current news tabloid scandal, resulted in promotional postcards being distributed that had a cartoon of prime minister Harold Wilson shown in a compromising position with his secretary. The PM was not amused and he took the group and their manager to court, suing for libel and winning the case. This resulted in the song-writing royalties for Flowers In The Rain being confiscated and donated to charities of Wilson's choice.
The Harold Wilson episode strained and ultimately ended the relationship The Move had with Tony Secunda and the band secured Don Arden as their new management. Don Arden already had a reputation as one of the toughest managers in the music business and one whose methods were regarded as quite controversial, although he had pushed a number a groups to success such as The Nashville Teens, The Small Faces, and Amen Corner.
In November 1967, The Move went on a U.K. package tour that also included The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Pink Floyd and Amen Corner (the Move supplied backing vocals to the Jimi Hendrix Experience album 'Axis Bold As Love' on the track 'You Got Me Floatin'). The Move also had their first LP issued in 1968 and it reached Number 15 in the UK album charts. The album's psychedelic cover art was painted by 'The Fool' design group who also notably painted The Beatle's Apple boutique storefront and John Lennon's Rolls Royce amongst others. Despite the success of The Move's latest single 'Fire Brigade' (chart position 3), all was not well in the band.
Ace Kefford left The Move in early 1968, reportedly owing to nervous exhaustion and mental breakdown. Ace admitted years later: "Me and Trev did loads of acid... it screwed up my life man. Devastated me completely." He tried recording a solo album and later formed his own band called The Ace Kefford Stand (see BrumBeat Ace Kefford feature). Trevor Burton took his place on bass guitar and The Move now reduced to a four-piece line-up, continued their heavy schedule of touring and promotional commitments. (Note: a version of Fire Brigade was also recorded by the Brum group The Fortunes).
A new Move single titled 'Wild Tiger Woman', that had controversial lyrics, was released in July 1968 but did not chart so became the group's first failure. It may have been banned by the BBC thus denying the record essential airplay on Radio One. However, The Move's next single, the majestic 'Blackberry Way', issued at the end of 1968, deservedly topped the U.K. record charts to become one of the classic songs of the era.
It's interesting to note that Roy Wood made the first demo recording of Blackberry Way in Jeff Lynne's home studio at Shard End and a harpsichord heard on the final recording was played by future ELO member Richard Tandy - at that time part of The Uglys line-up. Richard also played bass guitar for The Move at several gigs while Trevor Burton recovered from a shoulder injury. Although The Move were finally enjoying chart-topping success, there was more trouble developing within the group's always volatile line-up.
Trevor Burton quit the band in February 1969 after an argument on stage with Bev Bevan during a show in Sweden. Burton was quoted as saying he "hated" Blackberry Way and was fed up with playing disposable pop songs. Trevor soon formed a Brummie 'supergroup' to include The Uglys front-man Steve Gibbons and former Moody Blues vocalist/guitarist Denny Laine with the line-up named 'Balls' and managed by ex Move manager Tony Secunda (see Balls). Trevor's place in the Move was filled by Rick Price from the Birmingham band Sight & Sound.
The next Move single titled 'Curly', was not as strong as Blackberry Way but still made it to Number 12 in the charts and in October 1969, the band embarked on their first and only tour of the U.S.A. The tour was not a big success, mainly due to lack of planning and promotion, for although The Move had a more serious 'underground' following in America, record sales there were small with the only airplay on alternative or college FM stations (see the BrumBeat review of the excellent 'The Move Live At The Fillmore 1969' CD by clicking HERE).
On their return to the UK, The Move went, like many West Midlands bands before them, on the lucrative 'cabaret' circuit. By this time the band was again under new management from pop manager Peter Walsh who specialized in cabaret acts and had bought the group's contract from Don Arden. This caused friction between Carl Wayne and Roy Wood whose increasingly wild appearance would often draw ridicule from the generally older audience. Additionally, there were disagreements over who should sing lead vocal on the Move's singles.
In the winter of 1970 following a nasty incident involving an audience member during one of the Move's cabaret performances, Carl Wayne quit the group to go solo. He went on to enjoy success as a cabaret singer and TV actor, even appearing on ITV's popular 'Crossroads' series and in various theatrical productions - a far cry from smashing televisions on stage with The Move. In 1999 Carl Wayne became lead vocalist for Manchester's world-famous band 'The Hollies' as replacement for Allan Clarke in that group. Carl Wayne passed away on August 31, 2004 after a battle with cancer (see Brum Beat Carl Wayne feature).
The Move once again came under Don Arden's management and Roy Wood, now firmly in artistic control of the band, asked his friend Jeff Lynne from The Idle Race to join as Carl Wayne's replacement (see The Idle Race). Lynne had previously been asked after Trevor Burton's departure but had declined although this time he accepted the offer and the first Move single recorded with him entitled 'Brontosaurus', was issued in April of 1970. To promote it, The Move appeared on TV with Roy Wood wearing outrageous clothes and facial make-up, thus pre-dating the 'Glam Rock' era by a few years. The resulting publicity helped the record gain a Number 7 chart position.
Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne had an idea to form a new band that would incorporate classical instruments and create a sound similar to what the Beatles had achieved on their innovative recording of 'I Am The Walrus'. Former Moody Blues vocalist Denny Laine had experimented with a similar concept in 1967 with his 'Electric String Band' (see Denny Laine). Wood and Lynne with the financial backing of Don Arden, set about recording an album based on this concept and also discontinued touring but were required by contract to continue recording and promoting records by The Move.
The recording of the new 'classical' album progressed at a slow pace. Bass guitarist Rick Price left the group to join Mongrel after The Move stopped touring and was replaced by Uglys member Richard Tandy for their live appearances. However, two new Move singles titled 'Tonight' and 'China Town' were moderate hits and the group continued to make appearances on TV shows like Top Of The Pops.
After completing another Move LP titled Message From The Country, The Move's final single, the rock 'n' roll/Jerry Lee Lewis styled 'California Man' was released and reached Number 7 in the UK charts in May of 1972. The much heavier guitar-driven B-side titled 'Do Ya' and composed by Jeff Lynne, also became a minor hit in the USA - oddly the only Move record to have an impact on the American charts. This song was re-recorded and re-issued by ELO in 1976 as a track on their hugely successful album A New World Record.
Finally, the new Roy Wood/Jeff Lynne/Bev Bevan album was completed and released under the name of 'The Electric Light Orchestra' (name derived from the Midland Light Orchestra). A single from the album, '10538 Overture' composed by Jeff Lynne, made the top ten in the British charts and a national tour along with radio and TV appearances to promote the new band followed. The group by this time also included Richard Tandy (previously with The Uglys) on bass guitar, Bill Hunt (from Breakthru) on piano and french horn, cellists Andy Craig and Hugh McDowell, and Wilf Gibson on violin.
The album was a critical success, but sold poorly due to the experimental nature of most of the songs. Jeff Lynne would later remark that much of it sounded like "a load of old dustbins falling down the stairs" though he has since acknowledged it as ground-breaking and innovative for that time.
After reportedly falling-out with Jeff Lynne from differences in opinion over musical direction and coupled with the difficulties in reproducing the Electric Light Orchestra sound live on stage, Roy Wood left the group in early 1973 during recording sessions for the second album. He soon formed a new band called 'Wizzard' (see Mongrel). The line-up included former Move member Rick Price, drummers Charlie Grima (see The Ghost) and Keith Smart (see The Uglys), saxophonists Mike Burney and Nick Pentelow, and fellow ELO defectors Bill Hunt on piano and Hugh McDowell on cello.
After a successful debut at London's Wembley Stadium, Wizzard shot to the forefront of the 'Glam Rock' movement with memorable appearances on 'Top Of The Pops' and the release of several top selling singles including two Number One hits in 1973; 'See My Baby Jive' and 'Angel Fingers' as well as the seasonal favourite 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday'. Roy Wood's chart success continued until the late 1970s and after several years of writing and producing for other artists, continues to perform today with his own 'Roy Wood Big Band' as well as making regular appearances on local radio and TV.
Meanwhile, the Electric Light Orchestra (or E.L.O.) now under Jeff Lynne's artistic control, along with remaining original Move member Bev Bevan, went on to become one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, achieving hit records and multi-million selling albums worldwide. Managed by Don Arden (who also managed fellow Brummies Black Sabbath), ELO's spectacular success - particularly in the USA where they toured consistently and played to packed stadiums - continued well into the 1980s. The group produced many classic recordings, all composed by Jeff Lynne, such as; Evil Woman, Telephone Line, Mr Blue Sky and Don't Bring Me Down amongst many others. Their British number one titled 'Xanadu' was recorded with Olivia Newton John.
ELO disbanded in 1985 but Jeff Lynne continued to have behind-the-scenes success as songwriter and producer, helping to revive the recording careers of George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. He also formed the highly-acclaimed 'Traveling Wilburys' with Harrison, Orbison, Petty and Bob Dylan and realized many a producer's greatest ambition when he brilliantly produced John Lennon's 'Free As A Bird' for the Beatles controversial 'reunion' in 1995.
Jeff Lynne continues to be much-in-demand as a producer and songwriter of considerable talent and reputation. He also finally went out on the road again in 2001 with a new ELO line-up and album. His latest CD titled 'Long Wave' (see review) features his own recordings of classic songs he first heard as a boy growing up in Birmingham. Although awarded a star on Birmingham's own 'Walk of Fame', Jeff Lynne and/or ELO have yet to be inducted into the 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'.
After a brief stint in the legendary Brum heavy metal band Black Sabbath, drummer Bev Bevan formed the Electric Light Orchestra Part II in the late 1980s which included some former ELO members and featuring songs on stage made famous by the 1970s version of ELO. The group toured worldwide for about 10 years until Bev Bevan's departure to become a part-time radio DJ and session player. Still based in Birmingham, he has since performed with his own band and is currently touring with a new line-up of The Move that also includes original member Trevor Burton.
Copyright © John R Woodhouse
(highest UK chart position in brackets)
To see the exclusive BrumBeat review of The Move Live At The Fillmore 1969 CDs click HERE
To see the exclusive BrumBeat review of the Move's 40th Anniversary Remaster CDs click HERE
The Move Anthology 1966-1972 (containing four incredible CDs and book) Box Set is now available! For more information, visit the Face The Music web site at: www.ftmusic.com
Other official Move related websites are listed below:
Trevor Burton: www.thetrevorburtonband.co.uk
Carl Wayne: www.carlwayne.co.uk
Roy Wood: www.roywood.co.uk
Bev Bevan: www.bevbevan.com
Rick Price: www.priceandlee.org
FACE THE MUSIC - the official E.L.O. & related information service: www.ftmusic.com
You can join the Official Move Mailing List at: www.eskimo.com/~noanswer/movelist.html