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The Bickershaw Programme:The Flaming Groovies.

   The Flaming Groovies have been playing music since the boom of San Franscisco acid rock, free love and change the syastem conciousness , Haight Ashbury days . They met in San Francisco in 1965. Played together while still in collage for two years, made their own 10î mono record with their own funds called ' Sneakers ' which sold 4,000 copies in the SF Bay area, And then in 1969 they took over the running of the Fillmore West when Bill Graham moved to the Grateful Deadís Carousel Ballroom . 

   Lead guitarist Cyril Johnson -who came to London before the rest of the band to set up gigs, do some sessions and buy English equipment- says they took the Fillmore because they wanted a good rehearsal hall. 

The Fillmore was available , but expensive, rent was $500 a month . We decided to hold dances every two weeks to help pay the rent , it took a while , but with the help of Hot Tuna and the Grateful Dead who played there often it began to really get going . 

  Then came a story that seems all too familiar with those West Coast bands who have attempted to ride over the bumps of big business , by ignoring them. It happened much the same way to the Dead as to the Groovies. 

Our manager ripped us off and left us in debt. He gave up the lease on the Fillmore , took the last months rent and split. Otherwise we would have it still. 

A Flaming Groovie at Bickershaw

    After producing their own record , the band signed to Epic to make a full length album called Supersnazz. It was well received critically , but got no hustling from the record company and consequently very limited circulation. Disappointed by the lack on energy , Groovies moved on. 

This time they signed up with  Kama Sutra. Here they fared little better at the hands of the company publicists, but brought out two good rock and roll albums . Both ' Flamingo' and 'Teenage Head' getting good reviews from the music papers. 'Flamingo ' also had the dubious honour of getting 'Screw ' newspapers , Bird of Paradise award, readers being exhorted by Screw to buy the album at risk of paradisiacal bird shit dropping on their heads.
The Groovies lost a manager, the Fillmore and the Kama Sutra label at one swoop. The label was one thing they wanted to be free of.

They only printed up 5000 copies of Flamingo, says Jordan.  Then we went to New York ,made 'Teenage Head ' and were promised a release of countless singles. None of which  happened.

      He called them up on his birthday last summer to say good-bye. Since then the band has re-formed with a new singer, Chris Williams from Boston, taking over from Tim Lynch. The sound is hot rock and roll. You canít sit still to it unless you're very tired.  They play songs that were dreamed up and played out by many others, but play them in their own tight way . Now Cyril Jordan and Chris Williams are writing most of the music and lyrics themselves which is taking them into an original sound.
       For the last six months they have been rehearsing in San Francisco and played the Whisky and Carousel. Looking for a new record company , Cyril Jordan went to LA  and met Andrew Lauder of United Artists . Now it looks as though they may make a single here on the U.A label. Bickershaw is the first European gig , but youíll recognise an admitted strong English influence in their music. : The Stones, Who ,Yardbirds and Kinks. Not surprising the Groovies are glad to be here .
All that musical influence on one small island.  

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Updated May 2023

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