Thursday, 9 August 2012

1980s La Rocca, Midge Ure, Chris Spedding, New York, Bonny Street Studios,

Jackie, PA and Transit
1980 and am still doing sound for bands with my friend Pete, it's hard work lifting all the gear about, often gigs are upstairs, like the Moonlight in West Hampstead and we have to carry the humungous JBL bass bins between us. Some of the music is good like the Skank Orchestra and the seriously top class Dudu Pukwana - but it's not often enough.

Back in the studio in February, this time Audio International with Midge Ure to record 'Baby'.

Next month, 5th March, we (Snips, me, Midge Ure, drummer Steve Young and guitarist Gary) are on In Concert at the BBC's Paris Theatre. Sharing the bill are The Tourists (Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Eddie Chin, Pete Coombes and Jim Toomey). I heard a recording of it years later - it sounded great and we were genuinely live, no stopping or rerecording!

Snips is doing some more producing, this time a guy called Mike Jaye, another MAM artist who has written a good, commercial (we thought) song 'Automatic Life', apparently turns out to be the 'b' side of something called 'Romance'. Mike has been working on this track (Automatic Life) for a while and Snips has been brought in to get it finished. I do some backing vocals and now Mike needs to do his vocal, there are quite a few takes before he is satisfied and now the tape is starting to shred because it's been across the tape heads too many times.  The race to achieve a final mix before the tape disintegrates is a tight one. I don't think I've ever seen that happen before. Sadly for us all - 'Romance' and therefore 'Automatic Life' is not a hit.

Steve Young, Snips, Jackie Badger at The Venue June 1980
Me and Snips are going to play The Venue on June 17th with Huw Gower (guitar), Graeme Douglas guitarist from Eddie and the Hot Rods, Chris Mercer (sax), Simon Etchell (keyboards), Steve Young (drums). We have a a scaffold build set with an upper floor for me, Steve Young and Simon Etchell, leaving the ground floor for Graeme, Huw and Chris. There is a staircase so Snips can move between both floors. MC is Alexei Sayle. We do a few days rehearsal at Jumbo Studios and then one day with the scaffold set up at John Henry's.

Spedding and Snips at Riverside
Spedding, Clem, Jackie and Snips
Later this year, due to the strength of 'Nine O'clock', MAM records ask Snips to make an album. In October we record mostly at Riverside in Chiswick and Music Works in Holloway, but finish it at 39th St Music in New York. 'La Rocca!' as it is called has some fabulous idiosyncratic songs written by Snips, including 'Skies of England' which is about my teenage fascination with the Rolling Stone, Brian Jones, plus David Elliot's (Lloyd) 'Happy Sometimes' and 'Police Car' by Larry Wallis. I get to play with two fantastic drummers - Clem Cattini and Dave Mattacks. Bill Nelson plays some synth, Chris Spedding who of course plays guitar and also is the producer.

8th December 1980 John Lennon is shot dead outside his home, the Dakota, after returning from the recording studio, I won't name the perpetrator here as I have no interest in giving any further publicity to the waste of space who murdered this supremely talented musician, singer and composer. What a dreadfully sad loss.

Later this month Snips and I fly to a snowy New York to play some gigs with Chris Spedding and drummer David Van Tieghem. We check into the Gramercy Park hotel and get straight into rehearsing at Spedding's girlfriend Jody's loft.  Spedding is so good at giving helpful and useful musical information I have reached saturation point and have to beg him not to offer me any more! My head is holding a whole new album and Spedding's set, one wrong move and I feel like I could forget everything.

The gigs begin on Boxing Day, Christmas Day we have been invited to Jody's mother's place in Queens. It is a fascinating drive out there, it's the first time I have seen front garden's decorated with lights and Christmas scenes. Back then it was mind blowingly hilarious. We arrive around lunchtime but there has been a timing confusion and dinner is a whole lot later than we imagined. We - Spedding, John Cale (who married Jody's sister), Snips, me and Spedding's manager Nina - passed the time down in the den watching TV. John Cale drops the most unbelievably dreadful fart and we all run out, leaving him there laughing. When we are called into the kitchen for dinner it is clear there is not a whole lot to eat except meat. It has to go down as the hungriest Christmas I can remember.

The Left Bank performance is slightly tentative, but OK and then we fly to Toronto for a short tour. On arrival and as our bags are being searched, the Rizlas that 'someone' has in their luggage are spotted and we are all taken away to be thoroughly searched and I do mean thoroughly.

Eventually we are allowed on to the sacred Canadian turf where we are met by two of Martha and the Muffins' road crew who are booked to do the tour with us. One of them bails and Mikki a young Japanese woman is left to do the job on her own, which she does impeccably, driving the minibus, carrying some of the gear and tuning guitars.

Sometimes the set begins with Spedding, Van Tieghem and myself as a three piece performing songs from some of the Spedding catalogue, like 'Silver Bullet' and 'Guitar Jamboree', and then Snips comes on and we do songs from the new La Rocca album. We finish or encore with two Sharks numbers 'Snakes and Swallowtails' and 'Sophistication'. And other times it's the other way round.

Spedding on tour in London Ontario 1980
Playing with these guys is unquestionably fabulous, but it is kind of tense for various personality and pharmaceutical reasons. Although having said that, here is a nice smiley pic of Spedding in the van.

The London, Ontario gig at The Cedar Lounge was lively - one of those clubs where you have to play behind a grill. The rooms above the club seem to be a doss house except for the one given to us to use as a dressing room - ah the glamour.

The electrics in the club in Windsor are deemed lethal by Mikki who refuses to allow us to appear until the promoter has called in an electrician to earth the place, which he does very reluctantly do (thanks Mikki!).

The last gig in Canada is the Masonic Temple Toronto, which I think is recorded or broadcast live on radio or something of that nature. Here's a couple of tracks from the show- 'Work' and 'Mama Coca'. For this run of gigs me and Steve have bought various items from the Vivienne Westwood Pirates collection and here's some pics of us wearing it...
Jackie B Toronto Photo: Wayne Eardley

Spedding + Snips Toronto Photo: Wayne Eardley

Back in NY we play at Trax club and as we are waiting to go on, a guy in the audience asks me if I'm the Jackie Badger. At this point I have no idea.

Just before we are to return to the UK, I find my fee has been spent on an end of tour banquet arranged by Nina, that none of the band are invited to! Really? The tour was an experience I wouldn't have missed for sure, but it would have been good to have been paid!

Snips at The Venue 22.4.81 Simon Etchell, Steve Young, Jackie B + Kirby
We tour the album in March '81 playing various gigs up and down the country with Simon Etchell (keybds), Steve Young (drums) Kirby Gregory from Curved Air and Stretch (guitar) and me and Snips. I also made the skull back drop - Brighton University, Croydon Fairfields Hall,  Leeds Warehouse - Bill Nelson came to see us. Manchester University, Glasgow University, The Venue London, Liverpool Warehouse.

More recording and gigging - London clubs - 101 Club, Rock Garden and the Greyhound in May. And in October we're back in Music Works recording - Preston Heyman on drums.
Pete Chapman Jackie B+Jackie B's dad. Bonny Street 

Snips at The Clarendon 1983 Dom de Sousa, Jackie B + Chris Pye

Changes are ahead: in 1982 Pete and I find premises in Camden Town to open a rehearsal studio and are extremely happy to put the PA into Bonny Street Studios instead of the endless loading and unloading of the van. Although it's always busy, there is only enough space for one studio. There's a couple of small rooms, one is the office (my brother shares this space to fix electrical equipment). We branch out into tape copying and  equipment hire, but do not find anything that increases the takings to any useful degree. Plus the equipment we hire out gets stolen too often. We find one of our keyboards, a DX7 on a boat bound for Africa!

September William S Burroughs is at the Ritzy in Brixton to promote his book Cities of the Red Night - so good to hear him speak, that voice is incredible, it cuts through you like a knife! Dr Benway! Hysterical

I join a band put together for a singer called Behira, Mark Sidgwick is playing guitar. We play one gig - the Moonlight in West Hampstead. We have known Mark for a while - plays both bass and guitar - was with The Boyfriends and Holly and the Italians.

1983 sees me and Snips playing with Dom Bon De Sousa (sax) previously with Goldie and Chris Pye (guitar) previously with The Books. We play at the Manor House (the same space that was the Harringay blues club where I first saw John Lee Hooker) and even more weird it was promoted by Gary Schombert who I fist met in 1967 standing in line for the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival, with his friend Pete Chapman, who became my boyfriend and whose bass I used when I first started playing...aghh!!! It truly is tiny world. This pic is taken at The Clarendon, a pub in the middle of a roundabout in Hammersmith.

Defeat is finally admitted at Bonny Street Studios and new premises are found in Hornsey - a bigger building, which has space for recording too. Pete runs this and names it La Rocka. I quit to have a baby.

Stephen has also moved sideways and got into the music for film business, working on TV ads and films. We incorporate a studio into our flat - I continue to play bass and sometimes do vocals, but although this is a good move for Steve, I'm not sure it works for me.


  1. Hello, great post.

    I have recently published a book about Sixties Fashion and am looking for people to possibly review it.

    Do you have an email address where I can contact with more details?

    Many thanks,

    Bett Norris, Pandora Publications

    1. Apologies for not replying only just found the message! Hope book has done well.
      All the best

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Jackie,

    Re-posted because I forgot to tick the 'notify me' box first time around :)

    Interesting post, and fascinating info here for me. I'm presently writing an article (for re:VOX, my Ultravox-themed print magazine) on the early days of the new Ultravox line-up when Midge Ure joined (something special as it's the bands 40th birthday, and a lot of this period, amazingly, hasn't been looked at in detail before now), and trying to slot in all the other things they did to bring extra money to sort out their legal problems at that time.

    Any idea whenabouts exactly in February Midge helped with the recording of the track Baby?

    I gather Midge also helped with production on one or both sides of the 9 O'Clock single and on the b-side (Mr. Dillinger) to the follow-up single You're a Wonderful One - any idea when this was?

    Any extra information you can provide would be wonderful - thanks!

    Rob (

  4. Hi Rob
    Sorry didn't see your message - do you still need the info you asked for?
    All the best

  5. Hi Jackie,

    Yes please - every extra scrap of info helps. I've not published the issue that will include that feature yet - very irregular schedule :)


  6. We rehearsed Baby and Lolita with Midge in Hammersmith on 26th Feb 1980, recorded at Audio International on 27th Feb, 2nd March (Midge's brother came down). On 3rd and 4th we rehearsed for the BBC In Concert radio show which we recorded on the 5th with the Tourists. Not too much info on the recording of 9 O/C, we got a copy on 6th Jan'80 so I guess the period leading up to that. Hope this is useful. Jackie

  7. Extremely useful, Jackie! It only confirms, yet again, just what a busy boy Midge was during the period that Ultravox were rebooting themselves :)

    Thanks for trawling the archives for me.

  8. Hello,
    This is Bongsoo Lee of Beatball Music from South Korea. Beatball is an independent lable based in Seoul, since 2002.

    We're very interesting in re-release of Mother Superior album as CD & vinyl edition. Is it possible to release under license from you directly?

    Please advise about that.

    Bong soo

    82-(0)10-5337-0574 (under renovation)