After taking music at University I taught music in three south London schools before becoming so jealous of the creativity shown in such records as 'Lost That Loving Feeling' and 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' that I resigned, spent the summer writing some music that mixed classical music with rock, avoided the overused lead guitar, used the full dynamic range, and sounded a bit like a Rock Coronation! Amongst my longer, more overblown ideas was a little sad song called 'Sympathy'... inspired by a tramp who cleaned my car by mistake. I then advertised for fellow musical nutters, and met first Dave K, whose electric piano playing wowed me, and then some time later Steve G, whose voice I thought was amazing, and finally Mark, whose free drumming style seemed halfway between Rock and Zappa therefore just right. Breaking up after two years, a hit single that went to number one in France, Italy and all over the place, (and with 300 cover versions - and was World Publishing Hit 1970), and two progressive albums, was absolutely heartbreaking and was forced on us by contracts that would have kept us poor all our professional lives however big we had become.
I founded a new band, FIELDS, and secured a hefty advance from CBS. Musically the new band was very satisfying and continued the classical rock mix with a vegeance, but we never found a really good manager and a year after our first record almost everyone at CBS moved on..and the new faces didn't want to know us.. yesterday's news! However two of FIELDS tracks, "A Friend Of Mine" and "Over And Over Again", refused to lie down and die and have been featured on countless 70's compilations in Europe by such companies as BRMusic with such titles as 'Rock Giants' which is very flattering if not somewhat exaggerated!
Just after I got the big advance Steve and Dave approached me to let them use the name RARE BIRD which I owned. To be honest I knew there musical direction would be more "groove based" and therefore not at all what I had intended RARE BIRD to be..but I had just struck lucky with CBS and they were still looking and anyway were such great guys that I couldn't say anything but OK....go ahead.
I then wrote some TV themes ("Agony" Maureen Lipman's first series and a few other things), and arranged and produced a great early music folk album for Bob Pegg..and I am still proud of the sort of Early Music big band sound of that album. Then out of the blue I got offered the job of Music Officer for what was then the UK's leading Arts Centre South Hill Park in Berkshire. After 5 years there I was made Arts Officer for Epsom and got Epsom Playhouse built by the developers doing the new shopping mall there. I ran the Playhouse for a few years, and then went down to Dorset so that my kids (I've got 3 girls and 2 boys) could grow up in beautiful Dorset not dirty Battersea. I got the job of programming all the classical music and jazz and poetry at Poole Arts Centre and have been doing that for 20 years now. It takes up half the week, and I get to work regularly with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinal, Chick Corea plus contemporary classical groups like the Composers Ensemble and all the best Early Music groups. To fill the other half of the week I run a small agency for classical musicians, jazz musicians, and poets.
What I do not do is write enough music... and this has got to change.
What I have done is write a book about the RARE BIRD years, and I'm running around trying to find someone crazy enough to publish it at the moment. RARE BIRD was such a creative thing and the way the business which helped create it, destroyed it out of sheer greed seems to me to need telling.
Just after RARE BIRD broke up I consoled myself by finding an old edwardian river launch which had sunk in a Berkshire canal. I've restored it over the years until it feels "like riding in a bloody cello" as a musician friend remarked recently. Now it's finished there is absolutely no excuse for not writing some more music!!Thanks for your interest folks, Graham Field