Glyn Havard - An Autobiography, 2000

The following information is a set of excerpts from two letters written to me by Glyn Havard in the spring of 2000, and is reproduced here with his permission.

Dear Dave,

I hardly know where to begin, so I guess I'll just plunge straight in.

I must be the last original member of Jade Warrior to get in touch with you over the past few decades, and if it hadn't been for a chance phone call to Jon field, I probably wouldn't have ever been aware of your existence. I know virtually nothing of the net, web-sites, and all the other techno-stuff that so many people take for granted these days. I can remember my mother being puzzled by push-button telephones, and now I guess I'm in a similar situation regarding the Internet. Ah well, enough of this waffle - let's get on with it!

I first met Tony when his band July broke up and he auditioned successfully for a U.K. band called Unit Four Plus Two. I had already got the job as bass player, and Allan Price had joined with me on drums. This band had already had a hit a few years early with a song called "Concrete and Clay". The year was, I think, 1968, and the only original member left in the outfit was the singer, who had decided to put together a touring band to make some quick cash. As you can imagine, none of us was very committed, but it was an easy gig which paid pretty good for the time. After a quick tour of the tackier clubs in the U.K., Tony and I quit, and I wound up renting a room at Tony's apartment in Ealing. This is where I met David Duhig. He was only seventeen at the time, but he was already a more than capable guitarist - mainly interested in Hendrix. We got to be good friends. Anyway, Tony liked my voice, and we did a couple of rough sketches of songs that I liked on his Revox. I remember one of them was a King Crimson track called 'Talk to the Wind'. So Tony took these sketches to Jon Field and they decided to ask me if I wanted to put down some tracks with them. I said yes immediately. Tony had played me some of the stuff they had recorded together and I had been more then impressed by it. I don't know whether you've heard any of the stuff they recorded before the Jade Warrior albums, but some of it was absolutely majestic. They were two of the very few musicians I have ever met who knew how to use space to create size in their recordings. That's probably not the best way of putting it but, what the hell, I can't think of anything better right now. So we started laying down what was to become the first Jade Warrior album. After we had completed our first album, we looked back on the demos we had done at Jon's house and decided that they were in fact better than the finished product.

Anyway, we hooked up with a production company called Mother Mistro, run by Mike Collier and a South African guy called Dave (his last name escapes me). They were also working for another band called Assagai. Perhaps I should mention that, just before this, I had introduced Jon and Tony to King Crimson's management, two very hip young men who were very interested in the Dance/Drama music that Tony and Jon had recorded. I remember we sat in their mews townhouse and listened to half an hour of Jon and Tony's stuff, after which the King Crimson team said they would like to hang onto the tapes and listen to them again. I knew they were interested, and I had immediate visions of super-stardom. But Jon and Tony would not part with the tapes. The stuff represented months of work and they were concerned that the K.C. boys would get stoned and screw up their stuff. The Crimson management offered to pay for all the studio time needed should they harm or damage the tapes in any way. But Jon and Tony were not going to move on the matter, and they left carrying their masters. If we'd had any sense we could have made them a copy onto their cassette player. I really don't know why we didn't think of that. Maybe the cassette recorder hadn't been invented then.

Anyway, I was slightly pissed at this and, as nothing appeared to be happening anywhere else, I decided to hitch-hike around Europe. I was gone for about two months, and when I got back, Jon and Tony had begun talking to Mother Mistro. What I was beginning to understand about Messrs Field and Duhig was that they would not make a move until they were 100 percent sure that it was the right thing to do. In some ways this was laudable, but at other times it drove me fucking crazy. I always played hunches, and usually gotten away with it. If something felt right, then I'd do it. That was how I'd gotten involved with them in the first place - I just knew that what they were doing was right. So we hooked up with Mother Mistro and they got us a deal with Vertigo. I don't know whether you know how that came about exactly, but I'll tell you anyway.

Vertigo wanted Assagai, but they didn't want Jade Warrior. Nobody wanted Jade Warrior. Nobody could see a way of exploiting us commercially I guess, and looking back I suppose we were pretty different. Different enough to be a risk. So Mother Mistro looked Vertigo in the eye and said, "You can have Assagai if you take Jade Warrior as well!", and they did! They went for it!

So we were signed to a record company that had absolutely no interest in us whatsoever. When the first album came out there was little or no press coverage, advertising or radio plays. Even John Peel didn't play us, and he played just about everything. Our situationwas not helped by the fact that we had no management. Mother Mistro merely brokered the recording deal, but that was as far as they went. So we began to look at various managers. All of them wanted to see the band live, so we decided that the second album, which was about due, should be more of a band album, and that meant other musicians. Jon and Tony tried out their old drummer friend Chris from their July days, but he lacked the finesse we needed. So I called up my old mate Allan Price who had left the decaying carcass of Unit Four Plus Two and was now working for a chain of liquor stores, and asked him if he wanted to try for the gig. I knew he would really want the job. He had liked the first album and was very interested in the percussion aspect of Jade Warrior. Jon and Tony liked his playing and he joined the band, immediately learning as much about tablas, congas and talking drums as he could. At this stage, Jon and I had mutually agreed that if we needed another guitarist to flesh out the live act, the only possible man for the job was Dave Duhig. Strangely enough, Tony did not appear convinced. So Dave had to go through the strange ritual of auditioning for Jade Warrior, even though he was the only other person in London, or possibly on the planet, that could play within Tony's weird tuning system (C open tuning as you doubtless know). After the audition Jon and I were all smiles, having thought that it had gone well with David, but Tony's first comment was, "Well, I guess it didn't work out." It was left to Jon and I to convince him that David was just what we needed.

So we rehearsed the live act and started to do a few tentative gigs (we rehearsed at Allan's flat in Streatham, South London), then we recorded the second album, which also featured an Australian sax player whose name escapes me at the moment (I don't have a copy of that album), then we did some more gigs. Still no support from Vertigo, still no management, but things were about to change.

Mercury Records had decided to get behind our stuff in the states and were getting good sales on what was a totally unknown band. They decided that if we toured America, we might make it big-time, so they got hold of Billy Gaff, who managed Rod Stewart, and told him that they thought we were worth a look. Gaff got hold of us and proposed a management/publishing deal. We agreed, and within days of signing, he had upped our financial percentage with Vertigo as well as getting them to agree to several more albums. This was definitely more like it!

(end of excerpt from first letter)

Well, before I get going here, I'd just like to say a word or two about our email go between, Dave Watkins. I guess I can start by saying that, since Jade Warrior, he is one of only two musicians that I've been really happy playing with. The guy has the best feel ever, and he plays with a fluidity that is rare these days. I could go on and on, but I'll just close this paragraph by saying that he's also an exceptional artist.

O.K., so after Jade Warrior foundered, which I guess was around 72/73, I hung out with Allan and Dave. We did one demo together for Gaff Masters management called 'Here To Stay' (sadly there are no copies of this still existing, at least as far as I know). Well, suffice to say that they turned us down, so disillusioned and depressed I went off and hitch-hiked around Europe with a girl-friend. This was during the great gasoline shortage, and the miner's strike in Britain. Things had generally turned grim and unpleasant and I just wanted to distance myself from it all. I arrived back in England a month later, penniless and with no idea of what I wanted to do. One of the first things I was told when I got home was that Island was interested in signing Jade Warrior, largely on the recommendation of Steve Winwood, who had heard and liked 'Last Autumn's Dream'. I happened to be living in Chiswick, a short walk from Island's headquarters, so I dropped by to find out what was going on, having unsuccessfully tried to ring both Tony and Jon. The A. and R. guy was Muff Winwood, Steve's brother, and the vibe I got off him wasn't altogether comfortable, although he was polite and told me they were currently negotiating with Jon and Tony. That evening I got a phone call from a very irate Mr. Duhig asking me why I thought I was involved in the deal. Looking back, I suppose I had misinterpreted the situation. It transpired that the deal was to involve a set of instrumental albums, and that my services as vocalist/lyricist would not be required. What I learned later from some friends I made among the staff at Island was that, since Mike Oldfield's success with 'Tubular Bells', Island were looking for a band who could exploit that particular market for them and Jade Warrior, sans yours truly, seemed like a perfect choice.

So I went off nursing a certain amount of wounded pride and, desperate for cash, joined a band called 'Chicory Tip' (Aaaaargh!) who, like Unit Four Plus Two before them, had had a number one hit a few years previously with an appalling song called 'Son Of My Father'. Anyway, I ended up doing a month long tour of Ireland with them. There followed some sporadic attempts at writing new material but it was basically crap. I was in a kind of limbo - I'd lost my direction and didn't know what to do about it. So I answered an ad in 'Melody Maker' and auditioned for the job of vocalist with a band led by a drummer called Cliff Davies. The guys in the band were all really first-rate musicians, and Cliff wrote most of the songs, so I didn't have to do much except sing and contribute the odd lyric. We rehearsed for two months then recorded about four tracks at Manfred Mann's studios in the Old Kent Road. The band was managed by an American called Lou Futterman. The plan was that Futterman would get us a deal in America, and we would eventually be based there. Cliff had previously played in reasonably successful British jazz/rock outfit called 'If', and he was a very dynamic, positive character, so i figured there might be some chance of success. Still, my heart wasn't really in it. We had just completed the recordings when Futterman rang Cliff and told him that he had an urgent gig for him in the States, playing drums for one of Futterman's other signings, Ted Nugent. This put Cliff in an embarrassing situation regarding the rest of us, but we knew what we had to do, so we urged Cliff to take the gig, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now the guitarist in this band was a Canadian called Paul Butler. Paul went home and, over the next two years got himself a deal with Rush's management company, S.R.O. During this time I had been gigging sporadically with Gavin Povey, a young keyboard player I had met in the Cliff Davies band. Suddenly, Paul the Canadian rings me up and asks me to sing in his band in Canada. They were called, unbelievably, 'Butler'. So I ended up going to Canada in January 1977. The music was much the same as we had been doing with Cliff Davies, but by now it was beginning to sound seriously dated. At this time I had already seen the Sex Pistols, Stranglers, and the Clash in the company of Gavin, and the anger and energy they were dealing out triggered a few circuits in me that I didn't know were there. So I did the Canadian gig more for the holiday value than anything else. Some holiday! Canada had a huge gigging circuit and we toured non-stop, supporting bands ike Rush and Max Webster in some big ice-hockey venues. I didn't have a work permit however, and the authorities had only allowed me three months in the country. Needless to say, they didn't extend my time there, and I came home. This was O.K. by me as the New Wave/Punk Rock scene appeared infinitely more interesting in that the adrenalin and energy manifested was apparently real, and was showing no signs of dissipating.

Also, while I was in Canada, Gavin Pavey had rung me to say that he was putting a band together with two ex members of 'The Damned' - Robert Edmonds, known as 'Lu', and Jon Moss, who played guitar and drums respectively. He wanted to know if I would be interested in playing bass with them. I said yes, and when I got back, I auditioned with them in a squat in Totteridge, North London. I don't know if you're familiar with the term 'squat', but in Britain it means an empty house that has been occupied by people with nowhere to live called 'squatters'. Now this place was a mansion with an oak-panelled dining room and about ten or twelve bedrooms. Gavin lived there, along with four or five bikers and other assorted dropouts. The band rehearsed in the dining room. They knocked me out. They were clever, inventive and possessed an amphetamine approach to their music and life in general that was quite at odds with the relative staleness of what I'd been doing since Jade Warrior. I desperately wanted in. For some reason though, I got off on the wrong foot with Jon Moss, who was not anxious for me to join. But Lu and Gavin thought differently, and after much heated discussion in a greasy cafe in Finchley, I got the gig. The band was called 'The Edge'.

The very next day I got my hair cut really short and got stuck in to changing my appearance into something that approximated radical New Wave fashion.

We built up a tremendous following in London, breaking the attendance record at one club, 'The Nashville', that had previously been set by the Stranglers. We toured extensively and got ourselves signed to a small indie label (whose name escapes me at the moment!), on which we released three singles - 'Macho Man', 'Downhill' and 'Watching You'; and an album called 'Square One'. None of these were particularly successful, but they brought us to the attention of a couple of producers who were making headway in the current climate. Chrysalis Music sent us one of their new signings to work with called Kirsty McColl, the daughter of a pretty famous songwriter called Ewan McColl. Kirsty was a streetwise kid with a talent for melody and lyrics, but she had no idea of arranging or editing material. We knocked into shape a song she had called 'They Don't Know About Us' and it was released as a single. Unfortunately this occurred in the middle of a strike at Chrysalis' pressing plant, and although the single got lots of airplay, hardly any copies made it into the shops. However, a year later Tracy Ullman re-recorded the vocal track and the song went all the way to number one in our charts. Gavin, Lu and I also backed Kirsty on a second song, a kind of country rock work-out called 'There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis'. This one made it to number ten in the charts and became her first hit. We also played on her first album (can't remember the title!), which didn't really do a lot.

During this time, we were also approached by an American producer from Akron, Ohio, called Liam Sternberg, who had another girl singer called Jane Aire. We recorded an album with her under the name of Jane Aire and the Belvederes, and toured Britain under that name supporting an act called Lene Lovitch. All this time, Jon Moss was stlill making sporadic attempts to get me out of the band. It was beginning to annoy me, and a general bad feeling was beginning to manifest itself. What we did realise, however, was that we were having more success as session players than we were in our own right, so gradually the Edge wound down and called it a day. I have to say that, despite the occasional hassle with Jon Moss, being in that band was the most fun I've ever had. I became very good friends with Lu the guitarist, who went on to play in Public Image Ltd., John Lydon's band, the Mekons (darlings of the New York intellectual scene) and a load of other acts too numerous to mention. He is now something of a musicoligist (!!), and travels the world with a portable DAT recorder seeking out new and strange forms of music. He recently organised a tour of Siberian throat-singers (don't even ask!) in Germany. We still keep in touch, and I must say that, if ever there was another Jade Warrior project, he'd be my first choice to fill Tony's shoes. The guy's a wizard.

Anyway, I went from [Jane Aire and the Belvederes] to a band called the Yachts, and appeared on an album with them called 'Yachts Without Radar', a single which was a cover of a song called 'Ghost in My House'. These guys were good fun also, but lacked the bite of what I'd been doing with the Edge. During my stint with the Yachts, my mother became terminally ill, and I returned to Wales to care for her. This happened just as I was about to join the Liverpool band, 'The Teardrop Explodes'.

After she died, I tried going back to London, but things had changed radically, and the music scene was riddled with the pseudo intellectual disco trash of the early eighties. Jon Moss did O.K. though. He teamed up with Boy George and formed Culture Club. C'est la vie. The keyboard player from the Yachts went on to form a band called 'The Christians' who had a string of hits over here. His name is Henry Priestman and we still keep in touch. I don't know why I mentioned that, I guess I'm starting to meander now.

You asked about the chemistry between me, Tony and Jon? Well, I've not really gone into it that deeply. Loosely speaking, I began our relationship as their pet hippy. Jon and Tony did no drugs whatsoever, and were heavily into things like Zen (I prefer Taoism myself), Bartok, Japanese and African culture, whereas I at the time was frequently dropping acid and smoking dope, as were Allan and David, so I had a better idea of what was currently cool because of the circles I moved in socially. Apart from that the only other contact point between us that springs to mind was that they seemed happy with the way I interpreted their music lyrically. I don't recall them ever once questioning anything I wrote. The final cementing fact was their sense of humour. I was a willing audience for their constant exchanges, which would more often than not leave me in hysterics. Dave, they were so good together - what more can I say?