The show is broadcast on the 24th, we are playing at the Tavern Club in Dorchester that night and pray that no one has watched it, of course they have. We are so pissed off that when we come out on stage and start playing, the audience all move back a few yards and stay there.
Our gigs are many, but rarely close together, Keele followed by Penzance back up to Leeds, mostly in the Transit, or if that was out of commission we'd hire something, usually a box or Luton Transit, which meant two of us would ride in the back of the vehicle cut off from the cab. One night Jackie and I were in the back, a long trip back to London lay ahead, the gear was packed so there was some floor space near the shutter. Once the van started moving we would take it in turns to ride on the trolley. This was seriously good. The trolley was planks of wood attached to four wheels and could build up some speed on cornering. This particular night we were too tired for fun and intended to sleep, Jackie was on the other side of the van, perched on a speaker cabinet with her duffel coat hood up. I was chatting about the gig and wondering why she wasn't replying. It took a while to realise she was actually sat right next to me fast asleep. All this and without the aid of pharmaceuticals.
A tour of Sweden is arranged, we leave for Harwich in our 'new to us' ancient BMC bread van which has just had an engine fitted. This was all last minute and not ready on time, we had to drive fast to make the ferry - huge error.
All went ok until the second night of the tour, on the way back to the hotel from a gig, we come to a halt on a motorway in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by snow, snow and more snow. We are on a hill, we all get out and start pushing while Mick, the roadie tries to start the engine, no success. We try again and again till we are exhausted. Later we discover that the big end has gone and no amount of pushing was ever going to get it moving again. It's about 4.00am, very cold, nothing has passed us on the road in either direction, we can't see any buildings and are beginning to think we will all be found frozen, huddled together like some stranded polar expedition. Suddenly headlights hit the mirror, we leap out, stand in the middle of the road, waving and jumping up and down. Thank god the guy stops. He is delivering newspapers, puts us in the back of his lorry and take us to our hotel. What a hero. The next day the roadie and someone from our Swedish record company drive back to the van, unload the gear and some personal belongings. Our van is towed off the road and we continue the tour in a Mercedes truck, this is a much more pleasant affair. We get regular reports from other bands on the state of our bread van in its slow deterioration, alone and abandoned.
Of our 17 shows in Scandinavia, one was in Sandviken the home town of my long time pen pal Hanne, it's great to see her at the gig and a shame we can't stay to chat after, we have to leave to catch another ferry this time to Fredrikshavn. Customs decide to search our van for drugs, good luck boys - we couldn't afford them even if we wanted them. They unload all the gear and then bring out their secret weapon, the drug dog - an overweight black Labrador, struggling for breath, looks disinterestedly at the equipment and then has to be lifted into the vehicle. We could see it rocking from side to side as the poor thing trudged up and down, breathing hard and finding nothing. They had to retire unsuccessful, leaving us to repack the van.
Our manager is now sick to death of us (the feeling was entirely mutual), what with the van debacle, phoning him in the middle of the night for help and money to get our gear back to London because we no longer have a vehicle. He is keen to get rid of us and passes us on to his pal, a Mr. Mills, who at first is thrilled (perhaps a bit too thrilled) to have us and pays out for all sorts of things, a new handmade guitar for Audrey built by Stephen Delft, a Peavey PA and a Mercedes van. Of course he expects to get paid back for some or preferably all of his purchases.
Two months later we are going to tour Finland, Mr. Mills elects to drive the Mercedes there filled with our equipment, via Hamburg, we fly to Helsinki to meet up with him. On arrival we are given roses, there is a press conference and a free haircut! We're asked to sign our names on the wall of the salon, there are many already there including Frank Zappa. I choose to get my long hair cut really short.
The gigs are spread all over Finland, several are outdoors, in the middle of nowhere, with an audience appearing magically from the surrounding woods. Sometimes travelling in our own 1920s rail carriage hitched to the back of a train. People wave to us as we go through stations, I doubt they have the first idea who we are, the week before the same carriage was being used by the Finnish prime minister. There are bunk beds, a kitchen and sitting room. The carriage is parked in sidings at night, not very comfortable but very appealing. One night we come out of a gig around midnight, get on the train to see the sun setting on side and rising on the other, the sky was a wonderfully lurid shade of pink.
Not sure what this Finish article says but I always liked the title, so if anyone can translate it...hope it's not insulting.
The tour seemed to go quite well, but as so often seems to happen, turns out to be the beginning of the end. On our return from Helsinki the manager's family have a 'chat' with us, laying out their feelings regarding our lack of commercial success and threatened to take our instruments (that we owned except for Audrey's guitar) away if we didn't start writing hit singles. We were what we were, not exactly a hit single machine. Lesley decides to leave and joins an Australian band 'The Daughters of Zeuss'.
We start auditioning singers and keyboard players.
21st August 1976
Mick the roadie and I go to see the Stones at Knebworth, with 10cc, Lynryd Skynryd, Todd Rundgren and no doubt others, we stood around for ages waiting and were rather fed up. Sound was not good, but as it happened Mick (Jagger, not our roadie) had dispensed with singing any recognisable melody lines and seemed more interested in dancing. I really did not enjoy this, not any of it to be honest. We had to stay to the end because we could not get the car out.
The auditioning for Lesley's replacement is proving difficult, at last we find a keyboard player, Simon Etchell, a fine musician, but promoters expect us to be a band of females, and although skinny and very cute, there is no way he'll be mistaken for a girl. Still looking for a singer, we go to check out a girl singing with a band in a South London pub, we don't really fancy her, she looks a bit odd and has a weird voice - her name? Kate Bush. Luckily none of us are planning a career in A and R.
During this period Audrey drops her bombshell, she is leaving to join Brandy, so now we need a guitarist too. It is decided we should ask Janis if she is interested. I give her a call, luckily she's happy to do it.
Now that Audrey and Lesley have left, Mr. Mills has lost interest and takes the Mercedes which is parked outside Jackie's house with most of our gear in it. I have my bass, but no equipment. Apparently he is holding it for ransom. We have to sue him, a long and exhausting procedure
Meanwhile more auditioning for singers until we find Kate Buddeke, an American with a loud hard hitting voice. After joining she invites us over for dinner - cauliflower cheese and garlic bread. Kate and her husband live in World's End above SEX, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's shop. It is not the biggest flat, and has a revolving wall that turns if you push the mirrored section in the middle which opens into the bedroom and bathroom. How good is that?
Our agent is not happy we are no longer an all female band, but wants us to do the tour he has already booked. The day before this is to start Mr. Mills agrees to give us back the equipment, we have to hire a van and drive down to Hampshire to pick it up, what a charmer.
We add some new songs to the set at rehearsals in Greeenwich and at Simon's, The Mothers of Invention's 'King Kong', Alex Harvey's 'Midnight Moses' and Steve Miller's 'Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash'.
Around this time my brother, Bobbie is the singer with a band called 'Michigan' with Igal, Melvin, and Elliot, sometimes I join them to sing 'Love the One You're With'. It's good fun playing in a band with your brother.
|Mother Superior at the Rock Garden|
Mother Superior hit the road and have a pretty good time, it's nice to be playing again, we hired a PA, Steve a roadie with a van and I take my car - a Vauxhall Viva. The driver's door doesn't really close, it's pretty cold, we have to be wrapped in blankets for the long drives up and down the country's motorways.
|Kate on the road|
parents flat in Islington to relax, get fed, that kind of thing. My Mother was always cooking, occasionally she would get sick of it and tell us that the cafe shut at 10.30pm, but for the most part fish and chips, sandwiches, coffees etc. could be had round the clock - thanks Mum.
Depending on the time of day my Dad was usually sat in his chair sanding or sawing pieces of wood for some model he'd be making and shouting at the TV. Another regular was Russell from downstairs who had a penchant for lethal weapons, and practised his crossbow technique by firing bolts from the living room at a target in the kitchen. We had to ask him to desist a couple of times because my Mum was out there cooking my Dad's stew.
|Vivien Goldman review in Sounds|