• GEORGE LEE INTERVIEW - NOV. 2018 - ENGLISH

     GEORGE LEE INTERVIEW - NOV. 2018

     

    ENGLISH VERSION

     

     

     

    GEORGE : I WAS BORN IN 1946. MY BROTHER PLAYED TROMBONE IN A TRADITIONAL NEW ORLEANS STYLE JAZZ BAND. MY FATHER BOUGHT ME A CLARINET WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS AND BY THE TIME I WAS 14 MY BROTHER LET ME JOIN HIS BAND.

    WHEN I REACHED 17 I BOUGHT MY FIRST TENOR SAXOPHONE. AT THAT TIME I WAS WORKING IN A SMALL FACTORY AND MET A GUY WHO TOLD ME HE HAD SOME FRIENDS THAT HAD A BAND. HE ASKED ME HOW I FELT ABOUT PLAYING IN A BAND WAS ALL BLACK. I TOLD HIM THAT I WOULD BE HONOURED BECAUSE MOST OF MY MUSICAL IDOLS WERE BLACK PEOPLE.

    JOINING THIS BAND LEAD TO MEETING OTHER MUSICIANS AND BY THE TIME THEY HAD DISBANDED I HAD JOINED ANOTHER BAND. THIS BAND REFORMED AND BECAME THE BLUES HEALERS.

    BY THE TIME I WAS 19 I PLAYED MY FIRST PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT WITH THEM IN GERMANY. WE VISITED GERMANY TWICE AND PLAYED IN SOME BIG CLUBS THERE INCLUDING THE FAMOUS STAR CLUB IN HAMBURG. ALTHOUGH WE HAD A LOT OF FUN AND PLAYED AT SOME NICE VENUES WE WERE CHEATED A LOT AND RAN INTO A LOT OF DIFFICULTIES. ON BOTH VISITS WE ARRIVED BACK IN ENGLAND VERY DISILLUSIONED.

    THIS WAS MY FIRST TASTE OF THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF A MUSICIAN LIFE.

    WE DISBANDED FOR A WHILE BUT GOT BACK TOGETHER WITH A BETTER DRUMMER AND KEYBOARD MAN. WE ALSO ADDED A TRUMPET PLAYER. THIS BAND BECAME KNOWN AS THE Q SET AND INCLUDED ONE SINGAPOREAN TWO WHITE ENGLISH AND FIVE CARIBBEAN'S. THIS MUST HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE VERY EARLIEST MIXED RACE BANDS IN THE COUNTRY.

    OUR FIRST LUCKY BREAK WAS WHEN WE WERE OFFERED THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY ON A UK TOUR ACT AS BACKING BAND FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN SOUL SINGER MAXINE BROWN.

    MAXINE WITH HER EXPERIENCE AND PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE SOON PULLED US INTO SHAPE. RONNIE JONES ONE OF THE TOP AMERICAN SOUL SINGERS LIVING IN UK HEARD US PLAYING WITH MAXINE AND WANTED US FOR HIS NEW BAND. WE SIGNED UP WITH RONNIE'S AGENCY AND FROM THAT MOMENT ON WERE A TRULY PROFESSIONAL BAND PLAYING ALMOST EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK. THERE WERE A LOT OF VERY GOOD SOUL BANDS AROUND BUT I BELIEVE THAT WE WERE IN THE TOP THREE.

    WE WENT ON TO WORKING A LOT IN SOUTH OF FRANCE SPAIN AND ITALY. BY THE TIME THE ACCEPTED WORK IN GREECE I HAD DECIDED THAT I WANTED TO WORK MAINLY IN UK AND LEFT THE BAND.

     

     

    GEORGE LEE (FIRST AT LEFT) - 1967                                                     THE COUNTS                              

     

    ON RETURNING TO UK I JOINED A BAND CALLED THE COUNTS. THIS BAND INCLUDED THE LEGENDARY COUNT PRINCE MILLER AND GREAT JAMAICAN SINGER TONY GREGORY. THE BASSIST AND LEADER WAS THE AMAZING PHIL CHEN. AS GOOD AS THIS BAND WAS SADLY IT ONLY LASTED FOR ABOUT A YEAR.

    AFTER THAT I PLAYED WITH ANOTHER POPULAR BRITISH SOUL BAND THE AMBOY DUKES AND BY MID'69 I JOINED A NEWLY FORMED PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND AQUILA. WE TOURED FRANCE HOLLAND AND ITALY AS WELL AS UK AND PLAYED ALONGSIDE THEN UP AND COMING ARTISTS : DAVID BOWIE AND ELTON JOHN. WE ALSO RECORDED ALBUM FOR RCA WHICH WAS MODERATELY SUCCESFUL. THIS ALBUM CAN BE FOUND ON YOUTUBE.

    DUE TO BAD MANAGEMENT THIS BAND LASTED LESS THAN TWO YEARS. I GOT MARRIED AROUND THAT TIME AND WAS STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENOUGH MONEY FROM MUSIC SO I HAD TO TAKE ON A DAY JOB. AROUND'73 I GOT AN OFFER TO PLAY WITH A BAND THAT BACKER VISITING AMERICAN SOUL ARTISTS... OSCAR TONY Jr / ROBERT KNIGHT / LIMMIE & THE FAMILY COOKIN' / JJ BARNES / CARLA THOMAS...ETC.

    SINCE THEN I HAVE BEEN DRIFTING BETWEEN DAY JOBS AND PLAYING AS A PRO AND SEMI PRO MUSICIAN.

    LORD : AND WHEN DID YOU MEET REGGAE..?

    GEORGE : SHORTLY AFTER THE COUNTS SPLIT UP PHIL CHEN BASSIST-LEADER OF THAT BAND ASKED ME IF I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY ON SOME REGGAE SESSIONS. PHIL WAS GOOD AT ALL GENRES OF MUSIC INCLUDING REGGAE AND ALSO HAD A LOT OF CONTACTS. HE WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF ROBBIE THOMSON WHOM YOU MAY KNOW AS DANDY LIVINGSTONE.

    PHIL TOOK ME ALONG TO MEET DANDY WHO WAS A VERY NICE GUY AND EASY TO WORK WITH, SO FOR A WHILE WHENEVER HE NEEDED A SAX I BECAME HIS REGULAR STUDIO SESSION PLAYER.

    MOSTLY THE RHYTHM TRACKS WERE ALREADY LAID DOWN WHEN I GET IN TO RECORD. HE USUALLY GAVE ME A ROUGH IDEA OF WHAT HE WANTED ME TO PLAY AND LET ME PLAY IT MY WAY WHICH HE WAS USUALLY PRETTY HAPPY WITH AS I WAS FAMILIAR WITH SKA AND REGGAE AND KNEW HOW TO PLAY THAT STYLE.

    MOST OF THE INSTRUMENTALS WERE RELEASED UNDER THE MUSIC DOCTORS. THERE ARE QUITE A LOT OF TRACKS WITH ME PLAYING ON ON YOUTUBE. EITHER AS GEORGE LEE OR GEORGE LEE WITH THE MUSIC DOCTORS.

    LORD : DID YOU PLAYED ONLY FOR DANDY?

    GEORGE : AMONG THE ARTISTS THAT I PLAYED WITH ON DANDY'S PRODUCTIONS ARE : AUDREY HALL / TONY TRIBE / GENE RONDO AND OTHERS THAT I DON'T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES.

    I ALSO PLAYED WITH PYRAMIDS-SYMARIP (aka FAMILY CIRCLE) ON ONE TRACK CALLED PHOENIX REGGAE ON TROJAN-ATTACK - ATT 8001... A REMAKE OF THE OLD CLASSIC TUNE BY ROLAND ALPHONSO. I PLAY BARITONE SAX AND THE TENOR SOLO IS BY CARL GRIFFITHS AT THIS TIME FROM THE VAGABONDS. AND ONE ANOTHER TRACK CALLED REGGAE GROOVE UNDER MY NAME WITH RON CARTHY ON TRUMPET WITH PYRAMIDS FOR DOCTOR BIRD - DB 1300

    I ALSO PLAYED ON SOME TRACKS ON AN ALBUM BY RICO RODRIGUEZ : BLOW YOUR HORN.

    LORD : DID YOU REMEMBER THOSE DAYS WITH THE PYRAMIDS-SYMARIP..?

    GEORGE : I DON'T THINK THAT I ACTUALLY MET UP WITH THE PYRAMIDS-SYMARIP. THE RHYTHM TRACKS WERE ALREADY LAID DOWN ON MOST OF THE TRACKS I PLAYED ON AND SOMETIMES I DIDN'T KNOW WHO THE BAND WAS TILL AFTER THE TRACK WAS RELEASED.

    LORD : DID YOU REMEMBER THE CHALK FARM STUDIO..?

    GEORGE : SOME TRACKS WERE RECORDED AT CHALK FARM AND SOME IN ANOTHER STUDIO BUT I CAN'T REMEMBER WHERE IT WAS. THE CHALK FARM STUDIO WAS OWNED AND ENGINEERED BY VIC KEARY A WHITE GUY THAT WASN'T USED TO RECORDING REGGAE. HE WAS NOT FAMILIAR WITH USING THE HEAVY BASS REQUIRED FOR REGGAE AND WAS WORRIED THAT DANDY WOULD BLOW HIS SPEAKERS UP. SO FUNNY..!

    LORD : DURING THIS PERIOD... 1969/1972 WHAT WAS FOR YOU : REGGAE / TROJAN RECORDS / SKINHEAD

    GEORGE :

    REGGAE MEANS BEING HAPPY AND HAVING FUN.

    TROJAN... ONE OF THE GREATEST REGGAE LABELS EVER.

    SKINHEADS... AVID REGGAE SUPPORTERS BUT COULD BE TROUBLESOME... NOT LIKED BY THE POLICE.

     

    TODAY

    LORD : DID YOU STILL ACTIVE MUSICALLY TODAY..?

    GEORGE : I AM STILL ACTIVE MUSICALLY AND PRACTISE MOST DAYS. I WAS WITH A SOUL BAND WORKING AT WEEKENDS FOR OVER 20 YEARS BUT I LEFT THE BAND TWO YEARS AGO BECAUSE I WAS BORED WITH PLAYING THE SAME OLD SONGS.

    I'M NOT WITH A REGULAR WORKING BAND RIGHT NOW BUT I HOPE TO FIND SOMETHING SOON. I SIT IN WITH BANDS REGULARLY AND ATTEND OPEN MIC/JAM NIGHTS TOO.

     

     

     

     

    « TROJAN ADVERTS : SEPT. to DEC. 1974GEORGE LEE INTERVIEW - NOV. 2018 - FRANCAIS »
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