December 31, 2009

Blackhill Enterprises manager and producer Andrew King talks about the Third Ear Band.

Andrew King, founder of Blackhill Enterprises with Peter Jenner and producer of "Third Ear Band" (1970) and "Music from Macbeth" (1972) talked to me about the TEB in 1996. I did interview him by letter for my forthcoming book on the TEB and he did answer me just some quick, but very interesting, things...
How did you meet TEB?
"Third Ear Band played at one of the early London Free School gigs at All Saints Church Hall, Powis Square. I think the sax player Lyn Dobson was playing with them. That's how we met".
What do you remember about the first Hyde park TEB concerts?
"On the morning of the Rolling Stones show in Hyde Park, Paul Buckmaster phoned me to ask if he should wear a suit and tie! These shows were hard for TEB, but they just about survived!"
What about the Stanley Kubrick proposal for a soundtrack?
"What Stanley Kubrick proposal?"

Which was the Blackhill approach to the music biz? And which was TEB's?
"Blackhill was only interested in Art, TEB were only interested in Money (and sex and drugs). EMI didn't know what they were interested in, but felt that should be money involved. There wasn't really anyone at EMI (except perhaps Malcolm Jones) capable of having a conversation with them. So Blackhill was always the go-between; and really Blackhill had no clear plans as to what we were trying to achieve. 
 The TEB were so divorced from the normal sort of "act", that it was always difficult to see them as anything more than a sort of strange hobby; despite the fact that they sold a lot more records than more conventional bands (e.g. Kevin Ayers).
EMI went along with what we asked of them not because they supported us, but because they were frightened of   missing out on something good and thought that we had our fingers on the ???.".

What do you remember about your experience as producer with TEB?
"I did two albums, "Air Earth Fire Water" and Polanski's "Macbeth". During AEFW the band were taking acid fairly regularly. I did not realize this and could not understand what they were laughing at all the time. I think it's a fine album. I saw Peter Mew, the EMI engineer, a few weeks ago, and he still remembers it as some of the weirdest sessions he ever worked on in 30 years at Abbey Road!"
"Macbeth" was very different, and actually technically very innovative. They improvised live to the film, reel by reel, as it came up from Shepperton Studios. There was a time-code to synchronize it to the film. I would imagine this had never been done before: we did it in Air Studios above Oxford Circus; Abbey Road could not handle it.
I well remember the trips down to Shepperton in Polanski's very large and old Rolls Royce, with Paul Buckmaster and Glen amd Paul Minns. Also a very lively meal with Polanski where he danced on the tables in a Mexican resturant near Sloane Square. All good stuff!".

no©2009 Luca Ferrari


  1. Wonderful witnessing. The interesting part is when King put his finger on the "money", that explain also your previous words. So it seems that all the their paranormal aura came from acid-induced efforts, but if the music is deranged and destructured, the same cannot be said about the plot/project of Alchemy and TEB.
    There was a external driving "force" that pushed outside the envelope, otherwise can't be explained the sick atmosphere that permeates the project.
    I suggest to talk with Peter Mew for more infos about. Have you a new TEB book in mind?
    Any idea in which language you think to put it out?


  2. Thanks for your considerations and sorry again for my very bad English... No new books on TEB in mind at the moment... it was just a reference to that interview made just during the writing of "Necromancers of the drifting West", in 1996...
    Anyway, in the future there will be some good surprises here, with brand new interviews with Simon House, Denim Bridges, Clive Kingsley (really surprising!), Richard Coff (maybe), Peter Mew (maybe) and Pete Drummond. A deep examination about a still obscure period... Recently I've read again Chris Blackford notes on "Alchemy"/"TEB" CD booklet and one has to admit that pratically the period 1965-1968 in TEB history is never been investigated!
    So, keep in touch. Have a great new year!

  3. To my point of view that's what I refer to a fascinating blog article! Do you run this website for private joy solely or you still exploit it as a source of income?

  4. I run this archive for a 'private joy' and for a sort of mission I've got when Glen Sweeney and Paul Minns, founders of the band, died some years ago: my only intention was/is to commemorate their memories (and the memory of all the other musicians involved that died...)and make a correct information about the group and his music...