During early 1970 and unknown at the time The Marbles career was slowly coming to an end. Robert Stigwood wanted to look to the future and turn Graham into the new Tom Jones, but this was something Graham was completely against. So the RSO who had already lost interest in Trevor, now started to loose interest in Graham. This forced both Graham and Trevor's hand in making the decision to leave the management company and go their separate ways. This was irrespective of the fact that the RSO had helped put their names on the musical map around 18 months earlier. About mid 1970 Graham and Trevor left to do their own projects, but were still the best of friends.
It was Trevor who emerged first to have a product out. He had continued to record songs and towards the end of 1970 Polydor Records issued his debut solo album titled "Alphabet". This album featured two songs that The Marbles had recorded - "Elizabeth Johnson" and "Daytime". Trevor has not recorded anything else to this day.
As for Graham, things were completely the opposite. He really found it very hard to get people interested and struggled to make any kind of impact at all. His girlfriend at the time, actress Adrienne Posta was the one bringing the money home and supported him. Eventually things started to happen in the form of TV adverts. Graham did about five and every time they were shown on television a cheque would fall through the letterbox so that helped the situation.
A very successful TV show around this time in the UK was called 'Lift Off With Aysha'. This was screened at tea-time on the ITV channel. Aysha presented the show which featured artists and bands who played their latest songs. Graham was on the show, but as a background person.
Aysha's husband was called Chris Brough and he became Graham's manager for a while. One of the first things Chris did was to get Graham a one-off deal with RCA. I expect there was an option to record another single if both parties were in agreement.
Around the spring of 1972, Roy Wood quite the band he had formed towards the end of 1971 while still in The Move, ELO. This was after one disastrous gig. His new band was to be called Wizzard and the idea at the time was for musicians from ELO to alternate between both bands and even change instruments. But they felt the need to have someone front both bands, so Graham went along for the audition. This took place at Philip Studios in London where Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne had Graham listen to a vast amount of orchestral pieces. As well as wanting someone to be lead vocalist in both outfits, they wanted that person to play bass guitar as well. Sadly Graham had to turn the offer down as he couldn't do both at the same time !! This was good news for Graham's girlfriend Adrienne as she didn't want him going on the road and getting more of the limelight than her !!
In the meantime, Roy Wood's manager sent a song to Graham called "Whisper In The Night" to see if was suitable for him to record at some point. It was, and he started to record it for the RCA deal. But during the first days recording, Graham really struggled. His confidence was shattered because he hadn't done anything for so long. Graham remembers Aysha coming into the studio and saying "Don't worry it will be all right, you'll be okay. You've got it, just have confidence in yourself." Graham tried again the following day and everything was much better. He never liked the song though, claiming it wasn't him. But it became the 'A' side of his first ever solo single and even Roy Wood liked it who had written it !!
The 'B' side was a song written by Graham called "Rare Specimen". Ex Graham Bonnet Set drummer Steve Hardy remembers The Marbles recording a version of the song during 1968. Production duties for both the songs were handled by Chris Brough. Nick Harrison was in charge of conducting and handled the arrangements. "Whisper In The Night" was released during June in the UK.
The single basically died a death. The only promotion it got was when Graham performed the song on Lulu's TV show - "It's Lulu, Not To Mention Dudley Moore" in the UK. This came about when the show's producer, Stewart Morris was at Lulu's house discussing the show when he heard The Marbles album. Lulu was married to Maurice Gibb at the time !!
So it was back to the drawing board so to speak for Graham. It was around this time that a doctor sorted his voice out. The problem being a nodule in Graham's throat which the doctor kindly removed for him. Nothing happened again until 1973 when he got involved with Maurice Gibb and Billy Lawrie (Lulu's brother) who handled Moby Productions. Graham recorded two tracks with them "Trying To Say Goodbye" written by Neil Sedaka and an unreleased Bee Gees song from their unreleased 1973 album "A Kick In The Head Is Worth Eight In The Pants" titled "Castles In The Air". The single again was issued by RCA Records, so whether there was an option on the previous single I do not know. Maurice Gibb was involved with production duties along with Billy Lawrie. While Graham was recording the songs Neil Sedaka was in London for a gig so he visited him while he was in the studio. Graham Prescott directed the accompaniment on both songs. The single was released on June 15th in the UK, but went the same way as the previous one. There was no publicity what so ever for it in the UK.
Graham turned down the chance to join Stealers Wheel which featured Gerry Rafferty. The outfit went on to become successful just like ELO and Wizzard. But because he didn't want to over-shadow Adrienne's film career, he said no.
Graham had an old English sheepdog called Sachi and at the time Sachi was getting more publicity than him. Sachi was used in posters and on TV adverts for Dulux Paint in the UK and probably around the world too. Anyway, towards the end of the year things started to look up as Graham signed a publishing and recording deal with Dick James Music in the UK. The first song to see the light of day was about his dulux dog titled "Dog Song". The song was written by Graham and sung by his girlfriend Adrienne Posta. Graham does some backing vocals on the track, and possibly on the 'B' side too. This was released on the DJM label on November 16th. Graham Prescott did the arranging and Kaplan Kaye was in control of the production.
Come 1974 and this was a big year for Graham. He got married at Easter at Haringey Civic Centre in North London. Both Graham and Adrienne were dressed for the Easter occasion !! Adrienne having rejected a $1,000,000 contract for an American television comedy series until the producers guaranteed that she could have the time off to marry !! Graham was also writing songs for his debut solo album as well as getting involved in what was to be the debut film release by the Dick James Organisation.
Throughout the year Graham recorded an albums worth of songs and the film he was involved in was now called "Three For All", where Adrienne took the lead roll. October 4th saw the release of his third solo single, "Back Row In The Stalls". This had now become the title track of his planned album. What seems strange is, he had been with the company almost one year and it had taken virtually that length of time for them to issue a single !! Both 'A' and 'B' sides were written by Graham. The 'B' side being a song called "Ghost Writer In My Eye". As with "Dog Song", Graham Prescott did the arrangements and Kaplan Kaye the production. You can probably guess what happened to the single, no publicity at all and the single continued down the road of the previous two.
Graham had now had three singles issued in three years and nothing had happened, but there was his blossoming film career. So all was not lost just yet. "Three For All" was a comedy type 'Carry On' attempt. The story is based around a band called Billy Beethoven. Graham plays the lead singer who is called Kook and they are booked to tour Spain. They reluctantly leave their girlfriends at home, but the girls have other ideas and head for the Costa Brava and join the boys there. But things do not go to plan !! The film boasts an impressive cast, along with Graham and his wife are Robert Lindsay, Paul Nicholas, Diana Dors, Richard Beckinsdale, Arthur Mullard, John Le Mesurier, Roy Kinnear and Ian Lavender to name a few. During filming, it looks like Graham was 'the joker of the pack' so to speak, as he had the rest of the cast in stitches on numerous occasions. While shooting a certain scene in London's Leicester Square, Graham was having what he thought was a laugh, but during a break in the shooting a lady police woman thought otherwise and arrested him !! He was completely innocent, but paid the fine to get it over quickly !! The film was premiered in Brighton on May 22nd 1975.
Two singles were released prior to the premier and also to the soundtrack album. First the title track "Three For All" by The Marionettes on May 2nd and this was followed one week later by "Dreams (Out In The Forest)" by Billy Beethoven on May 9th. Billy Beethoven had four songs on the soundtrack album and one of these, "We're Free" appeared on the 'B' side of the single. Both songs were written by Graham and the production was handled by Kaplan Kaye. Other songs that made the soundtrack were "Don't Drink The Water" and "Untitled (Here Comes The Rain)". Again, these were written by Graham. The soundtrack album was released on a zoning basis to coincide with the film's release around the UK. But even with television adverts to promote the film and press coverage, the film bombed. Just for the reference a video of the film was released during November 1982.
One interesting question here is were the four songs on the soundtrack album especially written for the album, or were they taken from Graham's planned solo album ? But one thing is for certain, Graham's solo album never saw the light of day and it still hasn't.
A very short stint with Southern Comfort followed. Graham playing bass and doing the odd 'ooh' and 'ar' for backing vocals. This only lasted for about a handful of gigs in London at the most. Graham wanted to turn the laid back outfit into more of a rock 'n' roll band, but it didn't happen. In the end the bands manager thought Graham was too much of a lunatic and he parted company with the band !!
A couple more film offers came his way, but never got off the ground. One interestedly enough was to have been a James Dean documentary, in which Graham was to have played the man himself !!
With nothing being successful since The Marbles it was no wonder that Graham was getting depressed. His marriage to Adrienne was also at an all time low and towards the end of 1975 Graham became very ill and suffered a bad breakdown. He went back home to Skegness for about one year and with the help of his parents he pulled through.
When he became fully fit he started to look for work again and got involved in Paul Gallico's" The Snow Goose". The album was narrated by Spike Milligan and was released in late 1976 on RCA Records. The recording of the album took place at C.T.S. studios and Advision studios in London during August. Graham and Victy Silva were the only two singers used on the album. Graham became good friends with Victy. "The Snow Goose" was re-issued on the RCA label during 1982.
During the early part of 1977 Graham received a phone call from David Oddie. David used to work for the Robert Stigwood Organisation and he knew Graham from his Marbles days. He persuaded Graham to go back down to London and then became his manager.
A deal was signed with Ring O'Records in the UK who were a subsidiary of the Polydor label. This was Ringo Starr's own label which he had started in 1975. Shortly afterwards, a deal for Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand was completed with Mercury Records.
So Graham got together with producer Pip Williams and between them they came up with a selection of songs for an album. Most of the recording took place at Oxford's Manor studios with additional recording and mixing done at London's Marquee studios. Musicians used here were - Micky Moody - acoustic, electric & slide guitars. Mike Giles - drums. Dave Marquee - bass guitar. Pip Williams - acoustic, electric & slide guitars, mandolin and synthesisers. Frank Riccotti - percussion and Peter Zorn - alto sax. A couple more studios were used along the way, Abbey Road and Morgan studios. Musicians used there were - Micky Moody, along with Terry Popple - drums. Colin Gibson - bass guitar. Kenny Craddock - piano and Graham Preskett - acoustic guitar.
The first single to be released was the old Bob Dylan song "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" on May 27th in the UK. The 'B' side had a song on it that wasn't to appear on the forthcoming album. This song being "Heroes On My Picture Wall". The single had a reasonable amount of publicity and was very well received in the press. 'Record Mirror' saying it was a competent version and that it deserved to be a hit. 'Melody Maker' saying that if you bought it, you wouldn't be disappointed. It got a lot of air play and became a turntable hit. In 'Music Week' for the week dated June 14th - 21st it went from No. 93 to the No. 1 position. Sadly, the song failed to make an impact on the national chart in the UK.
"It's All Over Now Baby Blue" originally came out in Holland on Ring O'Records. This release having a red label against the silver label in the UK. Mercury Records re-issued it shortly afterwards with a picture sleeve. This was as well as other European releases which also had nice colour picture sleeves. Mercury in Japan also issued the single which had a quality colour picture sleeve but this was later on in the year.
Ring O'Records had done a reasonable publicity job on "It's All Over Now Baby Blue", but it just hadn't come off. They had an even bigger campaign planned for Graham's second single, "Danny" and also his debut solo album. Two videos were also made, one for "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and the other for "Danny".
August 12th saw the release of "Danny" in the UK. Some very early copies had a promotion picture/information sleeve which talked about Graham and his forthcoming album. I am not too sure if this saw a European release or not. I haven't seen one and it certainly didn't get a Japanese release. Both the 'A' side and the 'B' side, "Rock Island Line" were from the forthcoming album. Adverts in 'Record Mirror' and 'Music Week' happened on August 17th and on August 26th. Fly-posting took place around the UK in five major cities. Sadly this didn't help matters as the single did even worse than its predecessor.
"It's All Over Now Baby Blue" was released in Australia and New Zealand during September. It was the ABC-TV show 'Countdown' that originally screened Graham's video that lead to the radio stations throughout the country picking up on the single. From there, there was no stopping it and five weeks later it was at No. 3 in the national charts. The song also reached No. 3 in New Zealand.
Graham's debut solo album saw the light of day on September 5th in the UK. It was simply titled "Graham Bonnet". The packaging was excellent. The inner sleeve having all the lyrics on one side and a photograph on the reverse. Even the record label had a photograph of Graham on it !! Adverts for the album appeared in most of the music press over a two week spell and again five major cities were fly-posted. But it was the same old story for this country, nothing happened at all. I think it suffered from what was happening at the time with the punk explosion. The album was a classic then and still is today as far as I am concerned. There isn't a bad song on the album. It features ten tracks of which one is Graham's own composition, "Wino Song". This is about the wines from behind a bar in a hotel in Skegness !! His version of Carole King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is just mind blowing.
There were a couple of songs that were done in demo form that didn't make the album. These being versions of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and "Do What You Gotta Do".
"Graham Bonnet" was released at the beginning of October in Australia and New Zealand. It was looking as if Australia and New Zealand were welcoming Graham with open arms as the album reached No. 7 in Australia earning Graham a gold disc. In New Zealand it went to No. 11 and Graham received a silver disc for it. The album was released in Europe around this time.
Graham arrived in Sydney, Australia on November 1st for a two week promotional tour to promote his debut solo album. From there he visited Melbourne for 3 days, Adelaide for 2 days and Perth for the remainder of his stay. He also compared ABC-TV's 'Countdown'. This was a nerve racking experience for him and he said at the time "I was scared to death. I'd never done anything like it before and as I didn't know the groups I had to read their names from a script." Newspaper reports said there was a possibility of Graham touring Australia and New Zealand during the early part of 1978 or even during May. But this never happened. "Danny" was released to co-inside with his visit and it went to No.79 on the Australian charts. New Zealand was the next stop and things must have got quite exhausting as Graham was taken to hospital suffering from fatigue. A trip to Los Angeles and Canada followed for radio, before retiring back to the UK.
A third single was released in November in the UK. This was Graham's version of "Goodnight And Goodmorning" written by Daryl Hall and John Oates. It was a shorter version to the one that appeared on the album. With the album version lasting over 5 minutes and Graham having no UK success to date I guess a 12" long version to accompany the 7" shorter version would have been completely out of the question !! The 'B' side featured Graham's song "Wino Song". Personally I would have had the songs reversed. The song sunk without trace and no video was done for it.
Also during the year, Graham did some promotion work in the form of television and personal appearances in Germany. Nothing was done in the UK.
Work on a new album started on December 5th and one of the first songs to have been in contention for it must have been "10/12 Observation". With Graham being interested in mysteries and things in the sky, he wrote down lyrics to do with what he had looked at and thought about. The producer, again Pip Williams, suggested from what Graham had written, it was an observation and so the title "10/12 Observation" came about because that was the date, the 10th of December !!
January saw the "Graham Bonnet" album released in Japan. This was on the Mercury label through Nippon Phonogram. Sadly though it only sold around a mere 700 copies. Early on in the new year saw a new single released in Australia and New Zealand, this was "Goodnight And Goodmorning"/"Wino Song". But it didn't achieve chart success.
"10/12 Observation" became the 'B' side to the first single release from the new batch of songs recorded. "Warm Ride", written by the Gibb Brothers was the 'A' side. Released in March 1978 in the UK and in Europe, the song had an accompanying video. In the UK the record was released in 7" and 12" formats. The song once again completely failed to make any impact in the UK whatsoever. Ring O'Records issued some promotional copies in both 7" and 12" form. The 7" featured both the long version and the short version of "Warm Ride". The long version having a guitar solo in it. Promotional copies of the 12" were one sided and featured the long version only. "Warm Ride" was Graham's final release of any kind on Ring O'Records. Europe saw "Warm Ride" released with a glorious colour picture sleeve. It is strange that none of the Ring O releases had colour picture sleeves. Yet all the European offerings did !! As far as I know, none of Graham's Australian and New Zealand releases had picture sleeves !!
"Warm Ride" was released during June in Australia and New Zealand. Once again this is where all Graham's success came from. The Gibb Brothers penned song reached No. 2 in Australia and No. 6 in New Zealand. Graham still did visits to Europe for promotional work. This was mainly to Germany.
As success was still being achieved in Australia and New Zealand, it was only common sense to release the new album titled "No Bad Habits" there first. It was released during October. In Australia it went gold reaching no. 6 and one month later in New Zealand where again it was also very successful.
The album featured 11 songs, but once again Graham only had one writing credit. This time he co-wrote a ballad called "High School Angel". Another Bob Dylan song called "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" opened up the 'A' side. The more heavier songs on the album were written by producer Pip Williams - "Stand Still Stella" and "Cold Lady". John Kongas has three writing credits, "Won't You Join Me", "Pyramid" and "Only You Can Lift Me", just to name a few from the album.
As well as being recorded at Marquee studios in London, the mixing was also done there. Additional recording was done at Startling studios in Ascot. Once again some excellent musicians were used to record the album, these were :- Mick Underwood - drums. Lance Dixon - keyboards. Les Davison - rhythm guitar. Dave Markee - bass guitar. Frank Ricotti - percussion. Pip Williams - lead guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin and electric sitar. Cliff Hardie - tambourine and Jim Cuomo who played alto and tenor saxophone solos.
The album was eventually released in Europe where "Warm Ride" had wet their lips a little earlier. But in Japan no singles saw the light of day let alone the album !! Graham's last releases there were "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" released towards the end of 1977 and his self titled offering at the beginning of 1978.
Another visit to Australia and New Zealand happened during October and November where there was talk of Graham having a South Pacific tour planned for May 1979. But this didn't happen.
After Australia he arrived in New Zealand on October 26th at midnight. Graham was completely shattered the following day when he started to get through some of the eight TV programmes he was scheduled to appear on. One being SPTV's "Good Time Sounds" where he performed "Warm Ride". Graham stayed in New Zealand until November 3rd. During this period he visited Aukland, Wellington, Christchuch, Dunedin and possibly Hamilton. He also managed a visit Phonogram's pressing plant in Wellington and watched his album being packaged. Radio work was also taken in.
Tour organiser Darryl Sambell claimed at the time that Graham will return to New Zealand in March for a full four centre concert tour. But this never happened. Recording work was also due to start on a new album in England during the new year.
"Only You Can Lift Me" was released during November in Australia and New Zealand. This was an edited version compared to the one on the album. The song was fairly successful and it also had an accompanying video. The 'B' side was a non album track called "Such A Shame" which was written by Victy Silva who Graham had got to know through his association with the Paul Gallico's Snow Goose project back in 1976.
"Can't Complain" written by John Otway was released throughout Europe before the year was through. The 'B' side was "High School Angel". Whatever promotion there was and this included a video, it failed to do anything.
I have never seen a European release of "Only You Can Lift Me" or an Australian/New Zealand release of "Can't Complain". But with European and Australasian releases both being on the Mercury label, I would have thought that when the songs were released they would have been released throughout both continents, unless one was just released in Australia & New Zealand and the other throughout Europe ?
During the year Graham met a nice young lady called Jo Eime at Jules in Adelaide at a promotion party and unknown to him at the time she would change his life !!
Three compilation albums surfaced on the strength of "Graham Bonnet" and "No Bad Habits". These being a best of in West Germany titled "Graham Bonnet - Can't Complain", "Graham Bonnet - Rock Legends" which was part of the 'Rock Legends' series that came out in Australia and "The Best Of Graham Bonnet" in New Zealand.
August 1982 saw Mercury Records in Japan through Nippon Phonogram re-issue the "Graham Bonnet" album and issue "No Bad Habits" for the first time. The strange thing was on "No Bad Habits" they replaced "Warm Ride" with "Bad Days Are Gone". This song is the 'B' side of one of Graham's 1981 solo singles "Liar" everywhere in the world except Japan where it was an 'A' side. What is even funnier it opens side 1 of the album !! Seriously though, Graham had already had another stab at a solo career during 1981 and with the song being in a more rockier vain, I guess the record company thought they would try and beef up the album a little and increase sales. I don't know if it worked or not, but his time with MSG had also come and gone let alone his 1981 solo career !!
Neither of Graham's solo albums from 1977 or 1978 have ever been fully officially released on CD. The nearest was when nine of the "Graham Bonnet" tracks were added to the full "Line Up" album (Graham's 1981 solo album) in Japan during 1987. This twenty track CD came out on the Vertigo label. The song which was dropped was "Sunday 16".
Other songs that have made it on to CD are "Warm Ride", "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", "Won't You Join Me" and "Is There A Way To Sing The Blues?". These are included with four songs from "Graham Bonnet" - "It's All Over Now Baby Blue", "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "It Ain't Easy" and "Goodnight And Goodmorning". These appeared on "Graham Bonnet - The Rock Singers Anthology". This CD originally came out in Australia during 1990. Shortly afterwards it was released throughout Europe during the same year. Other songs on the CD are from The Marbles, Rainbow and from Graham's 1981 solo career.
It would be nice to see "Graham Bonnet" and "No Bad Habits" officially released on CD and re-mastered along with their respective 'B' sides. Plus if luck would have it, Graham's early 70's solo singles as well as the "Three For All" tracks plus any material that is still around from his unreleased album from 1974, "Back Row In The Stalls".
Steve Wright (c) 2004.
From "Under The Bonnet" Fanzines