George Melly & John Chilton's Feetwarmers, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry - March 27th 1977 004
Page 4 and the rear inside cover of a programme for a performance by George Melly and John Chilton's Feetwarmers, at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, 1977. Page 4 continues to profile John Chilton, George Melly, and the Feetwarmers. An advert for George Melly and his releases features on the rear inside cover.
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Flook and as one of the world's leading experts on Surrealist Art he lectured extensively. He had written two big-selling books Owning Up", the story of the rip-roaring one-night stands he played in the 1950s and "Revolt into Style", a scholarly analysis of the pop explosion of the 1960s. He also wrote film scripts and appeared frequently on TV and radio.
But singing jazz and blues has always been the great love of his life, and while he enjoyed the success he had in other fields, when the chance came to resume full-time singing he felt no hesitation Good Time George was back where he belonged.
His regular support band, John Chilton's Feetwarmers, all of them family men in their forties, showed no hesitation in joining him. The subsequent success has proved to them all that the gamble has more than paid off. In America, throughout Europe and all over Britain, George's originality and personality have made him one of the true stars of the 1970s.
His act. like his personality, is unique. He first came to jazz through the sounds that emerged from his boyhood wind-up gramophoneâthe hot music of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, and the blues of Bessie Smith. While Bessie was the first influence on George's vocal style, today he combines her intensity with the exuberance of Fats Waller and the rich, warm approach of Jimmy Rushing; there too in his presentation is the sophistication of an off-beat Noel Coward. George's rich baritone voice, whether singing or talking, holds any audience with the authority of an international entertainerâthere's no one else in the world like him.
George Melly was born in Liverpool in 1926, the son of comfortable middle-class parents, he went to boarding school, was an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, came to London to work in a gallery specialising in modern art. The jazz revival of the late 1940s found him singing after work with a band led by a young wine merchant called Mick Mulligan, when Mick decided to play the trumpet for a living George joined him on the road. Their riotous activities spanned the fifties, but by the beginning of the 1960s the party was over. George and Mick went their separate ways.
For almost ten years George was a respected writer who occasionally sung. He divorced, remarried inheriting two children and since then has added a child of his own. George s wife Diana is herself an author, her first novel "The Girl in the Picture" is shortly to be published. Nor has the return to the road stopped George's writing activities, he contributes frequently to many magazines, and a new book
Rum. Bum, and Concertina" (a memoir of his Naval days) has recently been completed.
George Melly's first album for Warner Brothers, "NUTS" was released in 1973 (at the suggestion of W.B.s' Derek Taylor who heard George and the band in concert at the Institute of Contemporary Arts). Nine months after "NUTS" came "SON OF NUTSâ, then a third album "IT'S GEORGE" pushed the sales graph higher. His latest album "MELLY IS AT IT AGAIN"âa late 1976 release makes his fourth on the Warner label, all of which feature John Chilton's Feetwarmers.
JOHN CHILTON'S FEETWARMERS
JOHN CHILTONâTRUMPET AND FLUEGEL HORN
Born in London in 1932, turned on to jazz by catching Jelly Roll Morton on the radio in 1944. By then he had already begun to play cornet in the Northants village where he was a war-time evacuee.
Back in London after the war he soon became a professional musician. This allowed him both the time and opportunity to follow his other passion: research into jazz history.
Raising a family meant that John left full-time playing to run the Bloomsbury Bookshop; owned by John's wife, and specialising in the surprising combination of jazz literature and books by Virginia Woolf's ' circle".
The decline of interest in jazz meant that for a period in 1960s John acted as publicist and musical director for a number of pop groups from Liverpool, among them "The Swinging Blue Jeans". After this unlikely interlude he formed his own band "The Swing Kings", they toured Britain, and
had the pleasure of backing several famous American jazzmen including Buck Clayton, Ben Webster, Bill Coleman and Charlie Shavers.
The birth of a third child took John off the road again; with the nucleus of the Swing Kings he teamed up with clarinettist and cartoonist Wally "Trog" Fawkes to form a band called "The Fawkes-Chilton Feetwarmers". They played on Sunday mornings at the "New Merlin's Cave", a pub in London's Islington area. The band were frequently joined by George Melly, the audience began to jam-pack the place.
Offers of work began to flow in from all over Britain, George Melly and the band recorded for Warner Brothers; John and the rhythm section jumped at the chance to return to full-time jazz, and since January 1974 have been George's permanent backing band. George has recorded several of John's compositions, including "Good Time George", "The Food of Love", "Punch Drunk Mamma", "Give Her A Little Drop More", "Inflation Bluesâ and "Punch and Judy".
John's lifelong dedication to jazz research has resulted in three books to date: "Who's Who of Jazz" (Chilton Book Company, U.S.A.), "Louis" (a biography of Louis Armstrong, co-written with Max Jones), and "Billie's Blues" (a survey of Billie Holiday's career), published in Britain by Quartet Books and in America by Stein and Day.
A critic recently described John's fierce but sensitive trumpet playing as "exploring the bones of the music". He is also a most original humourist.
Unquestionably the finest jazz pianist to come out of Australia, Collin has spent twenty of his forty-three years playing jazz for choice but during leaner times he utilised his interest in Edwardian music-hall songs by playing in restaurants and bars. He left his native Sydney twenty-one years ago, and within days of arriving in London he was being sought-after by several jazz groups. His versatility covers all stylesâragtime, boogie-woogie, stride-piano, but his forte is the hard-driving music of the swing era.
The sensitivity in his playing is echoed in his wide and deep understanding of literature and the arts in general. He has played with many name-bands and recorded solo albums under his own name. His consistency inspires the Feetwarmers.
BARRY DILLONâDOUBLE BASS
Like Collin Bates, Barry Dillon was born in Australia, the two men have worked and recorded together both in their home country and here in Britain.
Unlike the rest of the Feetwarmers, Barry is a trained classical musician, and has composed the music for several television films, as well as chamber works, but he has always loved listening to, and playing, jazz. After studying at the New South Wales Conservatorium he played with the Australian National Youth Orchestra, and dove-tailed this with gigs with every sort of jazz group. He came to England in the early 1960s, to do further studies at the Guildhall School of Music, since then he has featured on many sessions and broadcasts, on string-bass and bass guitar. He joined John Chilton's Feetwarmers in March 1975, replacing Steve Fagg.
Barry's bass-playing reflects not only his sound musical foundations, but also his complete understanding of the idiom; his formidable and inventive approach never fails to swing.
A big bold buccaneer of a man who plays the drums with the same zest and panache that he brings to all his enterprises.
His forceful drumming has been the driving force behind many fine bands both large and small, his considerable showmanship never interferes with his magnificent time-keeping. Chuck began playing a bugle in a boys' band, but soon realised that the drums were the love of his musical lifeâ few people in the world spend more money and time on their drum kits, tip-top equipment in tip-top condition.
His musical interests are not confined to any narrow category, his knowledge of rock personnels exists alongside a deep understanding of all types of jazz. Chuck was an active figure in the early days of British bop, and later played with many of the famous names of the Rhythm and Blues movement. He has worked with John Chilton on-and-off for twenty years.
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