The Story of a Five Star Rock ‘n’ Roll Star - part one
Mott the Hoople
Boy, born in ’46,
Evesham Boy, he learned all the licks.
He left home to search for fame,
Turned out to be the biggest game”.
These are the opening lines to the song ‘Evesham Boy’,
the opening song on Luther Grosvenor’s solo album released in August 1996.
Sadly, not much has been heard from this talented musician since. He retired
from the music industry, disillusioned with the business side of it all for the
second time in his career.
Luther Grosvenor was born in Evesham, Worcester, just before
Christmas in 1946. By the time he was eleven years old he got his first
acoustic guitar, and at fifteen he formed his own group, the Wavelength.
By the mid-sixties Luther Grosvenor felt he had outgrown his
own band and wanted to turn into a fulltime professional musician. So when Dave
Mason left Worcester’s premier rock group, the Hellions, Luther applied for
the job and with a change of name Deep Feelings were created, making a name for
themselves on the college dance scene. While Luther was honing his skills as
lead guitarist with Deep Feelings, other members were Jim Capaldi, later to
reach fame and fortune with a solo career and as one of the major driving
forces in Traffic, and Poli Palmer, who was rattling the keyboards and later
went on to record five albums with Family. Deep Feelings was the band Luther
made his studio recording debut. The two singles were the wonderful ‘Pretty
Colours’, and ‘Poltergeist of Alice’.
When Steve Winwood put out the call for Jim Capaldi to leave
Deep Feelings and rejoin Dave Mason in the fledgling Traffic, Deep Feelings
fell apart. Shame. Great band. Steve Winwood saw the raw talent of the young
guitarist and let him gig as lead guitarist with the local band the V.I.P.’s,
who had just had a minor hit with ‘I Wanna Be Free’ (1966). The V.I.P.’s
briefly had Keith Emerson on keyboards while Luther was in the band along with
Greg Ridley on bass, Mike Kellie on drums, and Mike Harrison on vocals and
With Emerson gone and Guy Stevens as producer and mentor,
the V.I.P.’s were signed to the Island Record label. They released one more
single ‘Straight Down To The Bottom’, which was a bit of a shame really as
that was exactly where they went in the singles charts. Undaunted the band
plugged on, but a change of name was deemed necessary. Consequently Guy Stevens
renamed them Art and hustled them back into the studio to record a new single
along with a whole new album.
The single, which was a minor hit, was a reworking of the
Buffalo Springfield song ‘For What It’s Worth’, re-titled ‘What’s
That Sound’, the prominent chorus line from the song.
The album came out in a blaze of publicity in the year of
the summer of love - 1967. The album was wrapped in a stunning full-blown
psychedelic sleeve designed by Haphash and the multi colored coat. The album
made little impression on the charts, though, and another re-think was in
Chris Blackwell, head of Island Records, had just brought
across the young American singer/songwriter/keyboard player Gary Wright to kick
start his career on the east side of the Atlantic. It was he who suggested that
Wright joining the four piece Art. At first the boys were not keen on the idea
as they already had a singer/songwriter/keyboard player in the band in Mike
Harrison, but agreed to a meeting. In one afternoon of rehearsals minds molded
and the band became a five piece and were renamed for the second time by Guy
Stevens to the magical Spooky Tooth.
The debut album recorded in 1968 was called ‘It’s All
About’ (Jimmy Miller held down production duties as Guy Stevens was proving a
little too erratic; there is a fine line between genius and insanity), with its
blistering version of John D. Louder’s ‘Tobacco Road’. This cemented
Spooky Tooth’s obvious heavy keyboard laden sound and showed off the dual
lead vocals of Harrison and Wright. However, more importantly to our story,
gave also full reign to the talents of young Mr. Luther Grosvenor’s lead axe
work. ‘Tobacco Road’ was always a fan favorite in Spooky Tooth’s live
shows throughout their career. The single lifted off the album became also a
hit, ‘Sunshine Help Me’, perhaps the first self written Spooky Tooth
After a year of heavy road work, including two promising
trips to the United States, the band returned to the studio again with Jimmy
Miller at the helm to record their classic album, and one of the highlights of
Luther Grosvenor’s career, ‘Spooky Two’. But more of this in part two...
Luther Grosvenor - Lead Guitar
Gary Wright - Keyboards, and Vocals
Mike Harrison - Keyboards, and Vocals
Greg Ridley - Bass
Mike Kellie - Drums
Albums so far
featuring Luther Grosvenor
Super Natural Fairy Tales - Art (1967)
It’s All About - Spooky Tooth (1968)
Spooky Two - Spooky Tooth (1969)
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]