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ROY WOOD

Roy Wood is one of the elite few in pop history to have written, produced and sung on No. 1 singles with three different bands. He was dubbed "an English rock legend" by Billboard Magazine's Jim Bessman in 2002 and his monumental career as one of the UK's most outstanding performers spans almost forty years and thirty hit singles.

Roy first hit the charts with The Move, who were to become one of the most legendary and notorious bands of the Sixties. Their debut single, the Wood-penned 'Night of Fear' immediately landed the band in the UK Top 5, which set a precedent for nine further Top 20 hits over the next five years, all written by Wood. 'Flowers In The Rain' was the first ever record to be played on BBC Radio 1 whilst their No. 3 hit 'Fire Brigade' was followed by the chart topping masterpiece, 'Blackberry Way.'

(Photo copyright Michael Putland, not for reproduction)







TOP: The MOVE 1967 Carl Wayne, Roy, Trevor Burton, Ace Kefford and Bev Bevan (Photo copyright Bobby Davidson, not for reproduction)

MIDDLE: ELO 1972 Roy with cellists Andy Craig, Hugh McDowell and Mike Edwards (Photo copyright Alan Johnson/EMI Records, not for reproduction)

BOTTOM: WIZZARD 1972 L-R: Bill Hunt, Hugh McDowell, Keith Smart, Roy, Charlie Grima, Rick Price, Mike Burney and Nick Pentelow (Photo copyright EMI Records, not for reproduction)

Personnel changes within The Move saw Roy recruit Jeff Lynne to help him realise his radical and ambitious plan to create an Electric Light Orchestra. After developing ideas for eighteen months, their dream became a reality when ELO's first single, '10538 Overture', entered the UK charts. After co-writing and co-producing The Move's final album, 'Message From The Country' and the debut ELO album with Lynne and taking the embryonic band on the road, Wood decided to leave for fresh challenges and a new direction. He soon found it with Wizzard, one of the most colourful and entertaining bands to gatecrash the UK pop scene. Within a few months, the band had debuted at no. 5 in the charts, scored two No.1 hit singles and released the immortal 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', a classic still played around the world to this day.

Roy was also enjoying hits and releasing singles in his own name and gave new meaning to the term "solo album" when he wrote, produced, arranged and played everything, plus painted the LP cover (!) on 'Boulders'.





By the end of 1975 he had almost single-handedly created a total of eleven band and solo hit singles, two Wizzard albums, and added a second solo album, 'Mustard.' Wizzard were also extensively touring America, headlining and supporting other bands Roy's music had influenced, such as Kiss and Cheap Trick. Unfortunately, management problems brought about by the refusal to fund what would have been a second and breakthrough American tour forced the band to split up. A further short-sighted refusal to release Wizzard's groundbreaking 1976 album 'Main Street' (finally released in 2000 but now deleted) saw Roy deliberately step back from live performances and recording and move into production for other artists. He returned to America and worked with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, created a refreshingly varied LP, 'Annie in Wonderland,' with Renaissance's Annie Haslam and produced one of the decade's liveliest albums, 'Dart Attack,' providing Darts with their most successful period.

Roy re-emerged during 1977 with the jazz-influenced Roy Wood's Wizzo Band, released an album 'Superactive Wizzo' for Warner Bros. and performed a live TV showcase recorded by the BBC for the Sight & Sound In Concert series.


Roy Wood's Wizzo Band performing live in concert for Sight & Sound
(Photo copyright Mike Ottley 1977, not for reproduction)

'On The Road Again', Roy's final album of the seventies, was only released due to the personal intervention of Warner Bros. boss Mo Ostin. He heard what the rest of his label failed to hear: brilliant, hook-laden, concise rock songs, highlighting Roy's considerable songwriting and instrumental talents. The album also featured Andy Fairweather-Low on backing vocals, Carl Wayne on backing vocals and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham on drums Despite Ostin's support, Warner's would only release the album in America and Germany and without full label backing, 'On The Road Again' was soon deleted.

Roy continued his production work with other artists, notably collaborating with Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Phil Lynott, Rick Wakeman, Carl Wayne, plus a wonderfully irreverent romp through Abba's 'Waterloo' with Doctor and the Medics.

The Eighties played host to ten solo singles, including 'Rock City' and 'O.T.T.', the first release on Roy's own Woody Records and the theme to a late-night spin-off from popular children's TV show Tiswas.

A new Christmas classic 'Sing Out The Old …Bring In The New' was enthusiastically received by the music press but suffered poor promotion. Despite being re-recorded in 1985 and released by new label Legacy on both 7" and extended 12" formats, the single bafflingly failed to chart. 'Starting Up' was Roy's final album to date and displayed all the originality and diversity for which he had become famed when released in 1986. Unfortunately, like much of the songwriter's catalogue, it is deleted.

Roy Rocks out front of Wizzard 1975 (Photo copyright Gary Merrin, not for reproduction)

Roy spent the early years of the Nineties creating his new studio, Woody Recordings U.K. and working on new but as yet unreleased material. However, live work called again and Roy launched his twelve-piece Roy Wood Big Band. Though a live re-recording of 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' was released in 1995 on Roy's own label, a proposed live album entitled 'Alive' was shelved. Following personal changes, the Big Band evolved into Roy Wood's Army which toured until recently. In addition to live concerts, Roy's recent ventures have included performing with Cheap Trick (who have recorded three excellent covers of his Move and Wizzard songs) and accepting invitations to play live with the cream of artistes from a new generation: Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller, Dodgy and Reeves & Mortimer. Mark Lamarr and Sean Hughes unreservedly acclaimed Roy as an "all-time hero" when he appeared with them on 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks'. BBC Radio 4, Granada and Central TV have devoted documentary programmes to his life, whilst a further example of the wide reaching respect commanded by Roy is his inclusion in the exclusive 'Society Of Distinguished Songwriters' along with all-time greats such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, Mike Batt and Graham Gouldman.


(Photo copyright Gill @ Magic Arts, not for reproduction)



An extensive and highly successful tour of the UK with Roy Wood's Army culminated in a headlining performance at Birmingham's Millennium Celebrations, which was relayed worldwide by the BBC. In May 2001, Roy achieved one of the music business's highest accolades when he was honoured with an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.

March 2002 saw Roy's return to the U.S. With Army in tow, four nights at the Village Underground marked his first official New York appearance in 28 years! Mojo's David Fricke wrote:


(Photo copyright Doug Mackenzie, not for reproduction)

"Confronted with three decades of pent-up Yankee love in this basement room, he proved there's no substitute for hearing 10 of British pop's biggest and brightest hits played and sung by the composer, in a youthful tenor that betrayed few of his 55 years."

LEFT: Roy performing at the Village Underground (Photo copyright Richard Cervone, not for reproduction)



Despite this critical acclaim and admiration from his fellow musicians, songwriters and fans, Roy Wood's recordings have not been treated so well. Many of his original albums with The Move, Wizzard and as a solo artist have never appeared on CD or are deleted. Even Roy's master tapes were not safe, unbelievably lost or stolen as a result of management and label squabbles during the seventies. Quite simply, Roy Wood's recorded legacy had been neglected by the very industry that celebrated his songs.

This could all change. Inspired by Roy's Ivor Novello Award and continued popularity with his legion of fans worldwide, EMI, Sanctuary and Warner Bros., (the three major labels that own his catalogue from The Move's 'Message From The Country' onwards) have collaborated in recovering and restoring the songwriters' surviving master tapes. (A similar, separate exercise has been in progress since 1999 for The Move's catalogue).

As a result of this cross-company collaboration, 'Roy Wood - Outstanding Performer' appeared in November 2003 on Sanctuary Records. Endorsed by Roy himself, the CD collects 19 outstanding hits, rare cuts, b-sides and classic album tracks from the songwriters' years with the Jet, Warner Bros., Cheapskate, Speed and Legacy record labels. It is also the first time this material has been remastered from the original master tapes.

RIGHT: Roy Wood back in the spotlight (Photo copyright Gary Merrin, not for reproduction)




Carl and Roy (Photo copyright Martin Kinch, not for reproduction)
Forthcoming releases for 2005 will include an expanded and remastered edition of The Move's 'Message From The Country', 'Harvest Showdown', a Harvest Records rarities and best of set featuring The Move, ELO and Roy's work as a solo artist and with Wizzard, a 2-CD set from Sanctuary collecting further material and rare tracks from Wood's Jet and Warner Bros. years and most poignantly and in memory of Carl Wayne, an anthology of The Move lead singer's collaborations with Wood, for which Roy has remastered and acted as executive producer.

These CD's will be the first in a series of remastered releases and surprises that will continue into 2006 and will reinstate Roy Wood's catalogue and rightful position in music as "…the mastermind behind some of the most beguiling tunes of our time…" (Scott Schinder, Time Out New York, 2002).

For further information and news, please visit RoyZone, Roy Wood's official website.

 

ROY WOOD IN THE FTM SHOP
Electric Light Orchestra (1971) ELO 2 (1973)
Early Years (1970-1973)
Hits, rarities & unreleased material from ELO
Hits & Rarities (1970-1973)
Hits, rarities & unreleased material from Roy Wood, The Move, Wizzard & ELO
Roy Wood - The Wizzard!
Remastered collection featuring Move, ELO, Wizzard & Solo material
Wizzard Brew (1973)
Remastered & expanded edition
Songs From The Wood & Beyond 1973-2003
Rare & unreleased tracks, newly remastered by Roy Wood
   

 

All material copyright Face The Music & not for reproduction elsewhere without permission. Website designed by Ken Greenwell.