FreeWheelin' Music Safari

Today in Music – Oct 28, 1937 – A Founder of the British Blues Movement – Graham Bond was born!!

Graham BondSo on this date in 1937 another one of those musicians whose name sounded familiar, but I was unsure why, Graham Bond was born. After reading the following at Wikipedia, I was even more unsure of why I didn’t recognize the name!! He certainly influenced the career paths of several musicians who I listened to and admired over the years, not the least of which, are Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. From Wikipedia:

Graham John Clifton Bond (28 October 1937 – 8 May 1974) was an English musician, considered a founding father of the English rhythm and blues boom of the 1960s. Bond was an innovator, described as “an important, under-appreciated figure of early British R&B”,[1] along with Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner. Jack Bruce, John McLaughlin and Ginger Baker first achieved prominence in his group, the Graham Bond Organisation. Bond was voted Britain’s New Jazz Star in 1961.[2][3]   He was an early user of the Hammond organ/Leslie speaker combination in British rhythm and blues[4] – he “split” the Hammond for portability – and was the first rock artist to record using a Mellotron,[4] on his There’s A Bond Between Us LP. As such he was a major influence upon later rock keyboardists: Deep Purple’s Jon Lord said “He taught me, hands on, most of what I know about the Hammond organ”.[5]

A little more about Graham Bond from AllMusic…

An important, underappreciated figure of early British R&B, Graham Bond is known in the U.S., if at all, for heading the group that Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker played in before they joined Cream. Originally an alto sax jazz player — in fact, he was voted Britain’s New Jazz Star in 1961 — he met Bruce and Baker in 1962 after joining Alexis Koerner’s Blues Incorporated, the finishing school for numerous British rock and blues musicians. By the time he, Bruce, and Bakersplit to form their own band in 1963, Bond was mostly playing the Hammond organ, as well as handling the lion’s share of the vocals. John McLaughlin was a member of the Graham Bond Organization in the early days for a few months, and some live material that he recorded with the group was eventually issued after most of their members had achieved stardom in other contexts. Saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith completed Bond’s most stable lineup, who cut a couple of decent albums and a few singles in the mid-’60s.

Graham Bond OrganisationAnd some more about the Graham Bond Organisation from Wikipedia. I particularly like the part about how Ginger Baker was chosen to FIRE Jack Bruce, makes one wonder how Cream stayed together as long as they did!!

The group was plagued with problems because of substance abuse and Baker’s ongoing feud with Bruce. Retrospectives of Cream indicate that Bond deputised Baker to fire Bruce, who joined Manfred Mann for a short time until, in July 1966, Baker and Bruce were both asked by Eric Clapton to re-unite in Cream. The group recorded “St James’ Infirmary” without Bruce on 10 January 1966, which was released in the United States on the Ascot label and received indifferently. Another sideman was Mike Falana on trumpet.[4] Bond reformed the Organisation with Jon Hiseman on drums. As a trio, Bond, Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman recorded the single “You’ve Gotta Have Love Babe” / “I Love You” (both by Graham Bond) on 18 January 1967 for Page One records.[4] Bond left for the USA, releasing two albums there in 1969 with well-known session players.[4] Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith would leave to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for Bare Wires (recorded April 1968) [5] before forming Colosseum in the summer of 1968, with Tony Reeves on bass and Dave Greenslade keyboards. The Graham Bond Organisation’s lack of commercial success, internal struggles and drug problems brought the band to an end in 1967, but its importance was soon recognised with the vogue for blues and progressive rock and the increased sales of albums. The double album Solid Bond, released by Warner Bros. Records in 1970, compiled live tracks recorded in 1963 by the Graham Bond Quartet (Bond, McLaughlin, Bruce and Baker) and a studio session from 1966 by the final trio version of the Graham Bond Organisation (Bond, Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman).

And finally the sad part of the story and maybe a main reason that I don’t remember that much about Graham Bond was that he died in 1974…. again from Wikipedia….

 Throughout his career he had been hampered with severe bouts of drug addiction, and spent January 1973 in hospital after a nervous breakdown.[citation needed] On 8 May 1974, Bond died under the wheels of a Piccadilly line train at Finsbury Park station, London, at the age of 36. Most sources list the death as a suicide. Friends agree that he was off drugs, although becoming increasingly obsessed with the occult (he believed he was Aleister Crowley’s son).

Here’s “Person to Person Blues” from the album Live at Klooks Kleek which I just put on the iPhone for some afternoon listening on Graham’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Graham!!”