He was a well known lead guitar player, his name was Chris Dean. He asked me if I wanted to join him in setting up another rock band. I agreed almost immediately. We found a great rhythm player who had a glam spanking new 12-string Rickenbacker guitar. The guy’s name was Mick Jennings, a good looking bloke who could sing as well as Chris. We then found a solid bass player who was always experimenting. Then, Chris’s friend Tony May joined who was to be our lead vocalist. Now we were set as a five piece Rock band under the name of Ruby Spoon. We were a copy band, playing material from Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Ten Years After, that sort of thing.
On one particular rehearsal, a song that we were attempting needed 4 vocal parts to get the song perfect. Chris asked me if I could sing the 4th vocal, (using Chris’s spare microphone) – “Ok I said, lets see what happens”. Well, both the band and myself were shocked. I had no idea how my voice sounded through a PA System. It was very passable and the song was done. After a few months we were doing our own stuff, gaining fans all over the South West, Wales, Midlands, and getting a few gigs in London. We had quite a following. Chris’ Dad bought a 6-wheel red transit van and it was the bees-knees; we were recognised immediately coming into town. We had bottom-end driving sound, with 2 vocals. Soon the word went round because our agency believed we were really happening. It wasn’t long before we were backing big name bands like, Slade, If, The Move, Bad Company and Yes. Ruby Spoon backed Yes in Weymouth, Dorset and we were received well, especially since Yes remembered us.
It was later on, that we would meet again in Barnstable. We were backing The Move with Roy Wood (they had just come back on the road again due to some past problems). Ruby Spoon had the audience in their hands, with many ovations, and who should walk in to see their friend Roy Wood, but Ian Anderson, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe of Yes. They recognised us immediately. When we finished our last set, Ian and Steve came over to us, congratulating our performance. They asked where were we staying or if we were going home. “No” came the reply, we were sleeping in the van because we were booked at another gig in a place called Churchill, the following night, about 20 miles further on. “Well, you are welcome to stay at our place tonight if you wish” said Ian. “Why don’t you follow us home just outside Barnstable, where we have rented a farmhouse”. Much better.
“We are working on our next album called ‘The Yes Album’, you are welcome to stay over”. We jumped at the chance and so we were the first to hear the tracks of the new album before the whole world. They were great guys and respected our talent. Two weeks later, our agency back home were running ragged trying to track us down, waving papers in their hands.
“You’ll never believe this” they screamed, “We had a call from Yes’ Manager, Roy Flynn!”. Ian Anderson and Steve Howe had told their Manager about Ruby Spoon and he subsequently wanted to trial us for a signing. I realized this was our first big break. But then, sod’s law reared its head.
Chris Dean lead guitarist, did not want to go Professional, he was about to get married, as was lead vocalist Tony May.
Story continued in next blog post…