Sad news that former Birmingham pop star Rick Price who was well-known as a member of The Move and Wizzard, passed away on May 17, 2022 at age 77. Rick was an active participant in the local music scene during the 1960s having played in a number of bands before finding fame as a member of The Move.
Richard Price was born June 10, 1944 and grew up in Rednal, Birmingham. Rick was a teenager when he joined his first band as guitarist for Lee Zenith and The Cimarrons. They recorded a track called 'Pretend' for the legendary DIAL Brum Beat album in 1964. Not long after, Rick got a much coveted American made "Fender Stratocaster" guitar along with an equally coveted Vox AC30 amplifier and was invited to join King's Heath group "The Sombreros" who were managed by the much loved local music promoter Mike Carroll.
In 1966, The Sombreros were sent over to Dortmund in Germany where they performed for a month. Rick said; "We would work fifty minutes every hour from seven in the evening until two in the morning. We could only finish early if the club was empty. Even one punter meant that you had to keep going. Because we weren't paid until the end of the second week, we had to live on tinned food that we had taken out with us from the UK."
By 1967, The Sombreros changed their name to Sight and Sound with Rick Price and his friend Mike Sheridan of The Nightriders writing songs for the group. Their catchy composition 'Ebenezer' was recorded and issued as a single on the Fontana Records label in 1968. Despite a few more singles, the band were unable to break into the record charts. However, Rick and Mike would continue to write songs and record together.
Rick Price recalled; "By 1969, Sight and Sound had become a harmony/comedy band. This seems like a strange mixture now, but at the time there were lots of groups doing the same sort of thing. It got us loads of work in social clubs all around the country. My part of the act included an uncanny impersonation of Wayne Fontana followed by a very unflattering impression of Roy Wood."
For Rick Price, his big chance came in 1969 when Roy Wood invited him to join Brum's hit group The Move. Trevor Burton had just left the band and they urgently needed a replacement to play bass guitar and sing. Rick; "Roy came to see us at a club one dark January night in 1969. He swept in wearing a long black cloak - looking all mysterious and offered me a job with The Move. Presumably, he had missed my impression of him! I was taken completely by surprise and, of course, said yes. There had been rumours for a while that The Move were looking for a new bass player, but most people expected it to be offered to Richard Tandy or Jeff Lynne"
So began Rick's new whirlwind life as a "pop star" in The Move, making hit records, appearing on TV and radio, photo shoots for fan magazines, touring up and down the country and abroad (including the USA) while rubbing shoulders with many famous names. The Move's one and only American tour was cut short following an incident when Rick's drink was 'spiked' with acid during their second night performing at San Francisco's famous "Fillmore West".
Rick Price recorded two albums in The Move ("Shazam" and "Looking On") and played on their hits 'Curly' (Rick sings lead vocal on the single's B-side 'This Time Tomorrow'), and 'Brontosaurus'. During this time, vocalist Carl Wayne left the band to be replaced by Jeff Lynne with whom Roy Wood made plans to form a new group - eventually to become "The Electric Light Orchestra" (ELO).
By the end of 1970, The Move had stopped touring and that left Rick Price with time for other musical projects that included an album with Mike Sheridan and another album with a line-up called "Mongrel" who had initially formed to back Carl Wayne in his new solo performing career. Despite more recording with The Move and appearances on TV shows like "Top of The Pops", the group came to an end following the launch of ELO and Rick Price was edged out in favour of Richard Tandy. Almost as suddenly as it started, Rick's place in the spotlight seemed over.
Rick recalled; "My change of financial circumstances when I joined The Move allowed me to put a deposit on a house and get married. Two and a half years later despite further hits, it was all over and we were struggling to pay the mortgage. I was doing the occasional gig, not taking a proper job in case the phone should ring! Our families chipped in and helped us out from time to time and somehow, we managed to hold on to the house. At one point the TV shop even tried to repossess our telly!"
For a while during 1971, Rick Price and Carl Wayne toured with the West Midlands group Light Fantastic who had an exciting and theatrical live act. While Carl and Rick's performance of various ballads together were well received by the cabaret audience, it was always support band Light Fantastic who stole the show in Rick's opinion, making headliner Carl Wayne's set something of an anti-climax.
For Rick, fate again played a part when Roy Wood abruptly left ELO in 1972 after enlisting Rick Price and most of the Mongrel line-up to form his own backing band to be called "Wizzard". So began a new chapter in Rick's life that made him a "Glam Rock" star and playing on two UK Number One hit records 'See My Baby Jive' and 'Angel Fingers' plus the holiday classic 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday'. Wizzard's memorable and colourful appearances on Top of The Pops saw Rick wearing a variety of glittery and outrageous outfits that included angel wings, roller skates, and Monty Python's Mr Gumby!
Rick Price; "Almost from the day Wizzard was formed we were never off the television. We had outrageous costumes, we had road managers dressed as gorillas and even Mike Sheridan made an appearance as a second Roy Wood. Every time we got a 'Top of The Pops' we felt obliged to come up with even more outrageous outfits. Well we did have 'Sweet' and 'Mud' to contend with."
Wizzard had half a dozen UK hit singles with a total of 76 weeks in the record charts. They recorded two albums; "Wizzard Brew", plus the underrated "Introducing Eddy and The Falcons". However, while Wizzard's success in Britain was initially greater than that of ELO, they were unable to break into the more lucrative North American market.
Rick said; "A second tour of the USA had fallen through because the band members, including myself, wanted more money. We felt we'd done the first tour on the cheap and that, along with the big spending on recordings, made us believe that someone was taking advantage. I'd say we could have negotiated a deal, but tempers were frayed and it all got a bit silly".
Wizzard continued into the mid 1970s before disbanding, mainly due to disagreements with record company management over financing and promotion. Rick Price needed work and so through connections he became tour manager for the famous UK pop duo "Peters & Lee". When Lennie Peters and Dianne Lee parted ways in 1980, Rick continued with vocalist Dianne in helping to establish her solo career. Rick and Dianne eventually married and have performed on-stage together as a duo around the UK club circuit.
Rick Price also worked for vocalist and comedian Jim Davidson as his sound engineer and driver. He has since worked with Jim managing his sound company called "Alpha Audio". Similar work followed with personalities like Cannon and Ball, Laurie Mansfield for the "Buddy" Holly stage production, and other West End musicals such as "Jolson", "Summer Holiday", "Oh What A Night!", "Dusty", and "Great Balls Of Fire"
Rick said; "In 1999 I decided that I'd had enough of full time work. Dianne and I had started our own studio back in 1985 and had produced the last ever Peters & Lee album and most of Jim Davidson's comedy albums. I was recording backing tracks for other artists and making daft one-offs like the 'Buddy' Karaoke album (you may laugh, but we sold five thousand). We've also produced a solo album for Dianne, an instrumental ballads CD by me, and a live Dianne and Rick album."
In more recent years, Rick Price went back to performing on-stage along with his wife Dianne and his long-time friend and collaborator Mike Sheridan. One of Rick's last regular gigs was with Birmingham's own Rockin' Berries with whom he performed as vocalist and bass guitarist during their final shows with original members Chuck Botfield and Geoff Turton on the group's 50th Anniversary Tour of the UK in 2015. The line-up is shown here, left to right; Rick, Geoff Turton, Chuck Botfield, and drummer Simon Ryland.
Years ago when interviewed by Roy Wood superfan Martin Kinch of the Cherry Blossom Clinic website, Rick Price summed up his music career. With somewhat typical Brummie modesty he said; "We are just people who write or perform for money. It seems glamorous to the general public but we know it's not. It's just a job like any other, except it's harder than most. In the end, we're buskers. We play the tunes, people give us money!"
My condolences go out to the family and friends of Rick Price. For more information, go to the official Rockin' Berries facebook page. Some selected quotes are from Martin Kinch of the Cherry Blossom Clinic web site.
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