Updated March, 2014Carl 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 supposedly 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.
After a debut gig at the Belfry Hotel in Stourbridge and further bookings in the Birmingham area, 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 apart effigies of political figures and smashing up 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, Roy came up with the inventive Night Of Fear for the Move's first single. The song borrowed the catchy riff from the classical 1812 Overture and was released late in 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 with two more great 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 song also had the honour of being the first record played on the BBC's new 'Radio One' pop station.
The Move's success ensured them regular radio and TV appearances. However, an ill-advised 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 undertook 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 released their first album and it reached number 15 in the charts. Despite the success of their 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 later formed his own band (see The Ace Kefford Stand and Brum Beat 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 Wild Tiger Woman, which had controversial lyrics, was released in July 1968 but did not chart thus becoming the group's first failure. However, their next single, the majestic Blackberry Way, released at the end of 1968, deservedly topped the U.K. record charts to become one of the classic songs of the era. In spite of this, Trevor Burton quit the band early in 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 Burton 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, Curly, was not as strong as Blackberry Way but still made it to Number 12 in the charts and in late 1969, the band embarked on their first 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' 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 audience. Additionally, there were disagreements over who should sing lead vocal on the Move's singles.
Following increasing arguments, Carl Wayne left The Move for a solo recording career. He went on to enjoy success as a cabaret singer and TV actor, even appearing on ITV's 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 released in April of 1970. To promote Brontosaurus, The Move appeared on TV with Roy Wood featuring outrageous clothes and facial make-up and thus pre-dating the 'Glam Rock' era by a few years. The resulting publicity helped the single 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. Wood and Lynne with the financial backing of Don Arden, set about recording an album based on this concept and also discontinued playing live shows but were required by contract to continue recording and promoting records by The Move. Note: former Moody Blues vocalist Denny Laine had experimented with a similar concept in 1967 with his 'Electric String Band' (see Denny Laine).
The recording of the new 'classical' album continued at a slow pace. Bass guitarist Rick Price left the group to join Mongrel after The Move stopped touring, but new Move singles Tonight and China Town were hits and the group continued to make appearances on TV shows like Top Of The Pops. After a final Move album Message From The Country, The Move's last single California Man was released and reached Number 7 in the Charts in May of 1972. A b-side Do Ya, composed by Lynne, also became a minor hit in the USA, oddly the only Move record to have any impact on the American charts.
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, 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. He soon formed a new band called Wizzard (see Mongrel) which 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 TV and radio.
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, 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.
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 produced John Lennon's Free As A Bird for the Beatles controversial 'reunion' in 1995. He continues to be much-in-demand as a producer and songwriter of considerable talent and reputation. Jeff Lynne also finally went out on the road again in 2001 with a new ELO line-up and album. His latest CD titled 'Long Wave' features his own recordings of classic songs he first heard as a boy growing up in Birmingham.
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
The Move 1960s Record Releases (highest UK chart position in brackets)
For more information, visit the official website of The Move at: www.themoveonline.com
The Move on MySpace: www.myspace.com/themove
Trevor Burton: www.thetrevorburtonband.co.uk
Carl Wayne: www.carlwayne.co.uk
Roy Wood: www.roywood.co.uk
Ace Kefford: www.acekefford.com
Bev Bevan: www.bevbevan.com
Rick Price: www.priceandlee.org