Interview with Carl Wayne
[Strange Days] Have you ever been a member of any groups before you formed Carl Wayne & the Vikings?
[Carl Wayne] No. I just played some music for fun in school. The first band in my career as a professional musician was Carl Wayne & the Vikings. It was in the 50's when I got interested in music. I was a big fan of American rock & rollers - Elvis, Chuck Berry, Eddy Cochran, Gene Vincent and so on, that was in 1956 or 57. They showed me a way to music, and I then became a member of the Vikings around 1960.
[SD] What type of a band was Carl Wayne & the Vikings?
[CW] Yeah, that was really a pleasant band, which had some success in Birmingham. In fact, they already had a vocalist. It was Keith Powell, a pretty good singer. I joined the band to fill his part while he was off on holiday. After two weeks with the band - I don't know why - I had a feeling I was doing well with the other members and was asked to stay as a singer. There was an odd period when the band had two singers and there were two sets, Carl Wayne & the Vikings and Keith Powell & the Vikings! Then Keith quit the band and I remained. In my Vikings days, we did mainly cover songs.
[SD] How did Carl Wayne & the Vikings turn into the Move?
[CW] There were several bands making a noise in Birmingham, like Carl Wayne & the Vikings, Mike Sheridan & the Nightriders, Danny King & The Mayfair Set and they were all very popular in Birmingham. The Vikings had been to Germany and returned to England to find The Beatles had got an enormous break while we were away. That was just after Love Me Do, their first single, became a huge hit and why record companies were so keen to make contracts with named bands around Liverpool. So we came up with an idea to get Midland musicians together, to form a new group with members selected from the many bands there. The new band should write their own material, find management in London and get big on the national music scene. The musicians who came together were three guys from the Vikings, Bev Bevan on drums, Ace Kefford on bass and me. Roy Wood from the Nightriders and Trevor Burton from the Mayfair Set joined us. In those days, we all went to the Cedar Club in Birmingham every night and chatted.
[SD] The Move scored a series of hits from their debut and soon became big. It is also said they performed a terribly violent stage act. There are many stories about their escapades: their manager, Tony Secunda, promoted them in such an extreme way they were sued by the-then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson - and there are many, many more. But what were The Move REALLY like?
[CW] Tony Secunda, our manager, was a very skillful businessman. He was also creative and had an artistic mind. He was the best manager I ever knew and did his job not just for the money but was the kind of guy who let the band make their dreams come true. He tried to give The Move the same sort of reputation the Rolling Stones had - not the Beatles - a band with a dangerous image. Tony was really a rebellious guy and he hated 'the Establishment' and all it stood for. It might be why he suggested promotional ideas such as demolishing TV sets on stage. He also saw in me a performer that would do the stunts and promotional gimmicks he invented.
Speaking of the lawsuit from Harold Wilson, Tony did that without telling the group beforehand. He collected all the gossip and rumour floating around London at the time to create an incredible advertisement for the band. Looking back, I think we should have continued with Tony's ideas and not cared about what the public felt about us, building our career by using the publicity from the scandal, but ultimately, we left him. If we had taken advantage of the publicity surrounding the Wilson case and continued with Tony as manager, I'm sure we would have been a worldwide success, including the States and Japan. Of course, The Move might not have passed immigration checks! I heard then that Japan was very strict in such controls. Japanese people are very kind and polite, while the British are decadent!
[SD] It is often said that Birmingham was marketed as a movement for beat groups, as Liverpool was with the Beatles. How was the Brum Rock scene back then?
[CW] Well, there were lots of beat groups throughout the U.K. But most of the major bands originated from three cities, Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. Amongst those cities, Birmingham would have provided the most successful bands. Although many bands came from Liverpool, like the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer, the Fourmost, and so on, there were more bands who were successful from Birmingham: Moody Blues; most of the members of Black Sabbath; Electric Light Orchestra; Wizzard and of course, The Move. And two of the guys from Led Zeppelin. We had so many successful bands that came out of Birmingham and those were very creative years. Elvis Presley came along in the mid-50's to completely change music in that era. Then came the Beatles to drastically change the 60's, and since then, every decade had musicians who changed the trends.
[SD] After you left the Move, why did you go solo instead of forming a group?
[CW] I didn't hate being in a band - I had been in the Vikings before The Move - but when The Move split, I was asked to join various bands. Status Quo was one of them. But at that time, I wanted to be a solo singer - basically I had the taste for it. I also needed to find a way to earn a living because I couldn't depend on the money from The Move - I wasn't the songwriter. Thinking about what kind of career would suit me, I realized I'd be better solo than in a group. It was also true that The Move was so precious to me - a very special band. I didn't want it to be where a member of a 'special' band would move to just "another" band and then wander from band to band. In cases like the Stones or the Beatles, those guys do not easily join other bands. It is also rare for them to quit and join another band. To tell you the truth, I am now the lead singer for The Hollies. I joined them two years ago so maybe what I've done is fairly rare, moving from one famous sixties band to another.
[SD] Do you socialise with other 60's groups in Birmingham?
[CW] Of course! We used to meet other musicians at clubs, we had so many in Birmingham.
[SD] What was the club that played a main role in Birmingham music scene in those days?
[CW] Amongst all of them, it was the Cedar Club that was the most important.
[SD] Was the Move the most popular in Cedar Club?
[CW] No. It was the Moody Blues that were big. As a matter of fact, I had something to do with the very first days of the Moody Blues. Mike Pinder and I were once asked to form a band named the Mitchell & Butler Five, which was the name of famous beer brewery in Birmingham. They suggested Mike and I to form the band but I turned the offer down. I didn't want to do advertisements for the brewery. Instead, we formed a band named the M&B Five after its initials. That was the origin of the Moody Blues name but the Moody Blues turned out to be successful much earlier than the Move did.
[SD] You made a solo album. What are your thoughts about that album?
[CW] I have released only one album so far. The second one was a collaboration with Heads, Hands & Feet. Though they were a fairly well respected band in the UK, I am sorry that the album was never released. That is why that album you now have in hand is the only one I have released. How do I feel? It's not easy to be objective about my own material, you know. What can I say about something I made thirty years ago? I might find a word for an album finished a month ago by comparing it to something current, but anyway, I am very proud of it. The players were great. I had Dusty Springfield on there and she dueted with me on four songs. The other musicians were all wonderful. I thought the remastered sound for the Japanese release was very good. I was really impressed and it is a very nice album!
[SD] Do you associate with 60's musicians? How have you been doing recently? Are there any thoughts of a reunion live show as The Move with Roy Wood, Bev Bevan, and other members?
[CW] No. Haha. No. In fact, Roy and his band happened to come to a concert I was in two weeks ago. Bev was also there. But, I think it unlikely that The Move will be reunited. The Move was such a special group, a band with real passion. Even if a reunion should come off, it would break up during rehearsals! Roy and I are very close, and Bev is a good friend of mine. I often talk with Trevor, and have a good relationship with Ace. But they don't talk to each other! That is why such a reunion would end in a big explosion very soon. In a way, it's a pity, because I sometimes imagine how good we might be if we were to reunite.
[SD] How do you feel about the city of Birmingham?
[CW] Another coincidental question! I was there only yesterday. My mother still lives in Birmingham. Visiting Birmingham and other cities in the UK, I cannot help feeling they have come to resemble American big cities. You know, typical landscape with chains of skyscrapers. Anyway, Birmingham is quite a nice city. As they had no job for me there, I reluctantly left my hometown to live in London. Birmingham is now so good and has become very accessible. The people there are kind.
[SD] Is there any chance to have live shows in Japan?
[CW] I am eager to visit Japan. I have been to the United States and some other countries, but it would be pleasant if I could do a concert in Japan. It would be a solo show, or maybe with Roy.
Interview by Quoichiro Iwamoto
English translation by Toshiki Komeda with O.H for Useless Information, The Move Internet Mailing List.
Edited by Rob Caiger