History Part 1
During late 1969 members of several prominent Portsmouth bands joined forces to form “AUBREY SMALL”. The new era of progressive rock provided an ideal platform for creative writing & performing which the band identified with immediately.
They performed for the first time on Valentine’s Day 1970 at South Parade Pier, Southsea however within a few weeks, guitarist Marc Tuddenham had decided to leave. As the band was generating much interest they embarked on an immediate search for a replacement and by the end of March Peter Pinckney joined fresh from winning an NME national band contest. The song-writing became instantly prolific with members writing individually & collectively.
With his NME success Pete had made a connection with renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and on the 8th June the band auditioned for Ronnie and his partner Pete King. This lead to an immediate offer of management under the personal supervision and guidance of Peter “Chips” Chipperfield, who later moved on to produce the Beatles “Anthology” album for which he was awarded a Grammy in 1996. He also worked with Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Pet Shop Boys and Elizabeth Taylor.
Under such respected management life for Aubrey Small quickly became exciting and fast-moving in exalted musical circles. Ronnie Scott’s Club became a second home with the band performing there regularly every few weeks as well as revered venues such as London’s Marquee, Flamingo, Thatched Barn at Chalk Farm and the Roundhouse.
By mid July the band had attracted the attentions of record companies with Muff Winwood of Island, CBS, Phillips, Polydor and others all coming to look them over. It was not unusual for executives of two or three record companies to be in the audience on the same night! On 21st July contracts were signed with Alan Keen for publishing.
The band’s reputation had also reached the BBC and after one July performance at Ronnie’s a certain Bob Harris introduced himself. He had just been recommended by John Peel to take over his “Sound of the Seventies” show on Radio 1 during a month long holiday. A mixture of live sessions together with some from the archives had already been allocated with exalted names such as Elton John (with Hookfoot), Tyrannosaurus Rex, Free, Argent, Wishbone Ash and Graham Bond Organisation (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker), however there was still one band required which was to be Bob’s choice. The two bands that he went to see that night were Lindisfarne and Aubrey Small and he chose A.S. to be the first band he took onto Radio 1. The band always regarded this as a great privilege and compliment and it became the start of a long and cherished relationship with a truly esteemed giant of the music world.
Throughout that July, August and September, the band performed at Ronnie’s most weeks and during this fertile period there were many memorable experiences. One such night was 16th September when Eric Burdon & War were headlining and during the evening Jimi Hendrix sat in and jammed with them, which was itself a unique occasion! The band arrived home at about 6 am on the 17th and the next day the sad news of Jimi’s death was announced and they had performed at the same venue on the same night as his last ever appearance!
Only two weeks later on the 2nd October they performed at a great music venue called “Mothers at Erdington” in the West Midlands. After they had finished their set compere, Radio 1 DJ David Symonds, came into the dressing room and said that John Bonham of Led Zeppelin had been in for the evening and would like to do a few numbers with the band!!! Drummer Graham Hunt eventually gave his approval for Bonham to use his kit following assurances that it would be treated kindly, which turned out to be misplaced! The band enjoyed yet another unforgettable experience that very few musicians will have had, by playing with one of the greatest rock drummers of all time.
Another bizarre gig came along on 6th November when the band played the Flamingo in Wardour Street. It was an “all-nighter” with Hawkwind and Pink Fairies and they were due to play at about 3 am. When they arrived at the venue they had to wait around for several hours and then eventually were told that due to the venue being packed to capacity they had to pass the equipment over the heads of the crowded audience to the stage, set up and play! No sound check, no frills but a terrific gig!