The Move was one of the finest and most contradictory groups of the sixties. A successful string of memorable hit singles were set against a brutal, dynamic and musically thrilling live act that featured heavier, West Coast-style material, usually by other writers and bands that were strong influences on the group.
The Move was formed during an impromptu
after-hours jam session at
Birmingham's legendary Cedar Club in February 1966. 'Moving' from the cream
of the city bands were: Bev Bevan, Carl Wayne, Chris "Ace" Kefford
Wayne & the Vikings); Roy Wood (The Nightriders); and Trevor Burton (Danny
King & The Mayfair Set).
Initially influenced by Motown and Soul music, their stage show was delivered with 4 and sometimes 5-part vocal harmonies, immediately setting them apart from all other live groups and establishing a fervent following amongst the Mod scene. In fact many, including Wood, felt The Move were at their greatest as a live act before any singles were released.
Carl Wayne: "We were, because it was a new, fresh energetic band in which there was no disharmony on a personal level. Before the singles we were a good, solid five-part harmony group playing a lot of West-Coast stuff. After the singles, we were then labelled as a pop band with a good image and that psychologically took its toll - but we were always a formidable live band."
An excellent reputation in Birmingham was
not a guarantee of success and the fledgling group desperately needed management and exposure to the London
scene. Enter the Sevengali-like Tony Secunda who was also managing fellow
Brummies, The Moody Blues:
CW: "Oh, he was incredible! When you think about it, The Move were created by Tony Secunda. He gave us the leadership and guidance that we needed. You can have those that will manage a successful band from a financial point of view and allow them to create what they are and their music. In our case, if you took The Move without Secunda then the creativity was from Roy Wood and we would have just been a band playing its hits. With Secunda, he dreamed up all the ideas, the stunts and the clothing - sending Blackberry pies with bottles of champagne for "Blackberry Way", doing a photo session at the fire station in Birmingham for "Fire Brigade" - and of course the Harold Wilson affair!
He also had the animals who would do what he wanted to do! In Trevor, Ace, and me, the fiery part of the stage act. I think Roy would obviously qualify this himself, but I believe he was slightly embarrassed by the image and the stunts - but the rest of us weren't!"
A true pioneer in music management and publicity, Secunda's methods were years ahead of their time. He brought the group to London and secured a weekly residency at the fashionable Marquee Club, a slot recently vacated by The Who. Seemingly able to manipulate the press at will, Secunda dressed the group as American gangsters and staged a contract signing on the back of a topless model! He also steered The Move away from Motown and towards a more psychedelic, West Coast-influenced live sound, while encouraging lead guitarist Roy Wood to write more material.
was creatively a genius. I think he saw the embers of a great
band and he was able to fire that. In many ways he was able to bring out the
best in everybody - by bringing out the worst!"
The macabre "Disturbance" was meant to be their debut single until a late switch promoted the 1812 riff-heavy "Night Of Fear" to the A-side. It reached no.2 in the chart, no doubt helped by Secunda having the group tow a fake H-bomb around Manchester in a supposed anti-Vietnam protest!
Night Of Fear" also began the contradiction of Wood writing commercial pop singles against an awesome "thugs from the provinces" live reputation that saw them play far heavier material by bands such as The Byrds and other writers who became strong influences.
CW: "We made hit records and the good thing about The Move hits was that they were individually different. If you think how different "Night Of Fear" was to "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" to "Flowers In The Rain" to "Blackberry Way" they were all very different, I don't find any of them in any way embarrassing. They are all still playable and it would have been interesting to have seen how The Move would have played those gigs had it been Trevor, Ace and myself doing them.
Certainly Trevor and Ace had more of a blues
influence and Ace and me had more of a soul influence - Ace more
soul to my "white" soul. I think it would have been interesting to see
The Move would have developed had we all stayed together and carried the
burden - and I mean that in a kind way - of those hits. Because we would
have had to compete on the same level with Hendrix, Cream, Floyd - we would
have had to done the big arenas and we couldn't have done those as a pop
band - we could have developed those songs to play them in the big arenas.
My feeling is that we probably could - but who knows?!
We liked the Byrds - "So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star?" and "Eight Miles High" we used to do all those. Not only was it the harmonies that attracted us, because we were adept at doing 4-part harmonies, there were things that were of great interest to Roy, because he was an experimentalist with his instruments - as all guitarists are - so he loved the twelve-strings which gave him another avenue to explore.
We were competing in a very difficult forum.We used to do Zurich where we worked with Hendrix, Cream, Traffic and the Animals, and there we were, fighting our corner with "Flowers In The Rain" and "Fire Brigade"! Perhaps the way we should have gone was to have developed the songs more as longer tracks and edited them for the singles - which ultimately The Move did much later."
Audiences drawn to both the musicianship and
violence now saw lead singer
Carl Wayne smashing television sets with an axe, showering the packed crowds
with glass. Their next single "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" was written
Wood under duress, locked in a hotel room with a bottle of scotch and
ordered to come up with a hit by morning. The scotch worked and the track
CW: "Roy was restricted by what the radio stations at the time would play -if it was over 2.59 you'd be off and the next record on! In some of the other songs that we did, like Fields Of People and Cherry Blossom Clinic, you can see how Roy was trying to move away from just the singles sound. It was probably indicative of his insecurity about where he stood as a writer at the time and maybe he was trying to develop more of a different style.
I couldn't write. I never wanted to write purely because I had the pleasure of working with Roy Wood, who was an outstanding writer. It's great to have confidence in someone and with Roy it was always 'Roy, write a hit song' - and out it came! Roy also had previous writing experience with the Nightriders, so he wasn't new to it and it was the obvious area to develop. You weren't going to develop a great songwriter out of me, and what you would have developed out of Ace and Trevor wouldn't have been as commercial. The songs would have been more blues-based, so it was quite clear to us that Roy Wood was the writer."
The Move's most famous song is notable for being the first single played on BBC Radio 1 and for Tony Secunda's promotional postcard that caricatured and subsequently enraged the UK Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. The group were not privy to Secunda's latest stunt and he only told the group after the postcards had been sent out - by which time it was too late to stop.
court case was the beginning of the end. We were suddenly thrown
into the High Court of Justice and we were defenceless. We had no one to
represent us or listen to whether we were involved. Had we been sensible, we
'd have taken council and listened to what we should have said. Instead, we
admitted to something that we didn't actually do - all because we thought it
was good fun to do. When you think about it, it was completely and utterly
f**king stupid because we hooked ourselves onto something that we would
later regret. It was really Secunda's bag and we should have quickly stepped
away from it. It was a stunt too far, but by then of course, we couldn't."
Whilst succeeding in gaining The Move worldwide notoriety, publicity and a no.2 hit, the ensuing libel case saw them lose all their royalties, including those for b-side, "(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree", to charities of Wilson's choice, a ruling still in place today.
CW: "We were always willing to be Secunda puppets. I think he was able to recognise the personalities within each of us. Therefore he could see that under my skin there was this animal with enormous aggression, that when stirred would want to go and fight somebody. 'Go and fight them Charlie' and I'd say, 'OK, I'll go' and if I got smacked up, I got smacked up! He used that for his own ends. It was no use Secunda managing a mainstream act, there was nothing for him to do. But with us it was, 'stick an axe through that window, Charlie'!"
Tempted to bait controversy further with "Cherry Blossom Clinic", a
about the delights of a mental institution, it was felt the b-side, "Vote
For Me", was one dig at Wilson and the political establishment too far, and
the planned single was cancelled, together with The Move's contract with
CW: "I do believe that when Tony Secunda went - and we got rid of Secunda because we got scared- that was the end of it. We dug our own graves because I think ultimately, Secunda could have got us through."
Its place was taken by "Fire Brigade", one of The Move's finest pop moments. A no. 3 hit and saw Wood singing lead for the first time on a single.
CW: "Roy was the architect. He knew the kind of voice he wanted. I could have sung "Fire Brigade" - there is an early demo of me singing it - and it would have still been a hit, but I think Roy's voice suited it. Roy and I had the best voices for what we were doing because our voices have always been commercial. Ace's was more soul, Trevor's more bluesy. Roy's and mine were the commercial voices and the marriage of those voices was excellent. Ace and Trevor were good singers, but the right people sang the hits."
"Useless Information" and
"The Girl Outside" are taken from The Move's self-titled debut album,
though the latter presented on this CD is a rare version sung by Trevor Burton.
Prior to the release of The Move's debut album, bass guitarist Ace Kefford left
the group. An amazing presence on stage and great audience favourite the
departure of "Ace The Face" signalled for many the beginning of the
end of The Move.
With Burton switching to bass guitar and the group becoming a four-piece, the next Move single was "Wild Tiger Woman". Featuring Nicky Hopkins on piano, its failure to chart shocked everyone. With hindsight, the group should have insisted on their original choice of "Omnibus" as the single, which was just as innuendo-laden as the a-side but more commercial.
After that disappointment, both Wayne and Wood threatened The Move splitting if the next single did not reach no.1. "Blackberry Way" duly achieved that feat and became their sole chart-topper during November 1968 but at the expense of Burton. Dissatisfied with Wood's domination of the band and hating what he saw as a slide into more commercial pop, he quit to pursue a more blues-orientated career.
leaving was the start of our decline. Ace's departure didn't
necessarily mean the end of The Move but it was the beginning because it
left Trevor in a vulnerable position whereby we were singing only hits. I
think he felt there was far more to playing than standing up and doing
Brigade" as basically a trio. You have to understand Trevor's frustration
because we were working with trio's such as Cream and Hendrix - two of the
most formidable! When you stacked Cream, Hendrix and then The Move together,
and Jimi was doing "Hey Joe" and Cream were doing what they were
we came along and did "Fire Brigade", Trevor got pissed off very
The Move could have survived had we replaced Ace with another member, maybe
a keyboard player, but once Trevor went, it removed the last vestige of
anarchy in the group."
Rick Price joined on bass but as if to underline Burton's point, the next single was the lightweight "Curly", followed by a credibility-straining move into cabaret.
CW: "We were put into cabaret because we choose to move from one management to another, and that manager was Peter Walsh, who handled Marmalade and The Tremolos, bands in a more lightweight style. He put his bands into the variety clubs and he only knew those sort of venues so that's where we were put. People have said it was my fault and that I wanted us to go into cabaret. That is complete and utter cobblers! I probably sat easier in cabaret than the others because that's where I - and Roy - came from - and that's ultimately where we went. I've performed for many years in cabaret in addition to the theatre, musicals and session work and Roy in many ways is back in theatre, on the so-called 'cabaret' circuit. Without being disparaging, that's what many call the Flying Music circuit - it's not exactly a heavy scene. It's got commercial theatres and civic centres and that's where Roy is. So we've both gone round full circle."
Despite "Curly" reaching no.12, The Move did not rediscover itself as a live force until their first (and only) American tour in August 1969. Abandoned by their Stateside record company and having to drive themselves vast distances to fulfil concert obligations, the group tore into the American "underground" audiences, notably at San Francisco's Fillmore West (from where live tapes have just been discovered)
CW: "No one knew who The Move were in America. We were early, following the likes of The Beatles and Joe Cocker, but it was really just another English band to them - 'oh, these must be good because they've come to America'. If The Move in its original form had gone over, we would have blown America apart, purely on the stage act!"
The Move's second album "Shazam" was
described by Rolling Stone magazine as
a masterpiece but the songs (one side written by Wood, the other featuring
very inspired covers) were also a true representation of their live set.
"Hello Susie" and "Beautiful Daughter", arguably Roy Wood's
finest song for
The Move, contained a stellar vocal performance by Carl Wayne and made a
fitting farewell to the group for the lead singer in January 1970.
CW: "The truth of me leaving was that Roy tired of cabaret - and I don't blame him. He was tired of doing all those variety clubs and similar places. I do think it was rather unfair of the group to blame me for that because it was they who wanted to be away from Don Arden and to go with Peter Walsh, the ultimate cabaret specialist. So it wasn't me that decided to play those cabaret venues, it was the management and the agency who put us in there.
The final blow was when Roy threw a glass at somebody in the audience, in Sheffield I think, and almost took his eye out. I said, 'I'm sorry but that' s the end of it. I can't be doing with that. I'll go and smack someone but I ain't going to throw glasses at somebody!
The split started before the glass throwing, when we were coming down the motorway one day. Roy and the others told me that they were going to finish with The Move and do ELO. I said 'let me keep The Move and you go on into ELO. If you've decided that's where you're all going to go, go now, but let me keep The Move.' My plan was to bring Ace and Trevor back, let Roy write the records, and we would have taken it to another area, which may have been more interesting. But they said 'no, we're gonna keep it going till it suits us to drop it' and I remember saying that I felt that was f**king selfish, despicable. So I said, 'f**k you! I sack you all!' Well I knew I couldn't! That was the last throw of the dice - so I walked."
With Wood forced to take over the lead role, the heavy metal
saw the shy guitarist adopt tribal face paint, wild back-combed hair,
delivering a manic, possessed performance. The ensuing publicity during
April 1970 over Wood's radical new image ensured a chart place bludgeoned
into submission at no.7. "Looking On" was the first album to feature
all-Move compositions, including "Feel Too Good" (with Lynne on drums)
the single, "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm". Despite hinting at
ELO glories with multi-tracked cello, the single failed to chart.
CW: "I set a time period to go and that cabaret gig was it. They brought Jeff in and they made records, but effectively The Move days as a band then were over."
Rick Price left as The Move became a contractual obligation and a method of financing ELO. "Message From The Country" was their final album, together with three excellent singles for new label EMI, all of which charted. Lynne's "Do Ya" was The Move's only American hit, but in the UK it was relegated to the b-side of their final single "California Man". Relinquishing its no.7 spot for ELO's debut single "10538 Overture", it made a fitting finale for one of the most entertaining, creative and turbulent groups in British rock music.
CW: "I enjoyed my time with The Move. I would have liked to have seen it develop further but it didn't. It gave me something to be proud of, we had many hit records, but it didn't go the way we wanted it to. I think the ultimate, fundamental reason why, was that none of us were intelligent enough - except Jeff Lynne - to see the potential of the group - and I really mean that. I think that if you see those that are still around in the business - the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, The Floyd - they're very bright people. I don't think we had that intelligence to work at the level required for longevity. They're shrewd people - we were just a bunch of tossers from Birmingham!"
And all said with a huge, broad smile! Carl's humorous and often candid views on the group he successfully fronted for 4 years then turned to something he had not thought about for a long time - and raised an interesting theory as to why The Move were so radical and successful.
CW: "From whence we came - none of us really had any fathers. Trevor's father had died, Roy's father was a nice chap but wouldn't say boo to a goose. My father was my father but not married to my mother. Bev's father had died and Ace's was a lunatic. So why we went to Secunda, then to Arden, was because they became the surrogate fathers, they were the sevengali's to which we completely and utterly capitulated! The first discipline any of us had was introduced to us in The Move by these figures.
No wonder we were f**ked!!!"
Interview copyright: Rob Caiger for Face the Music.
An edited version appears as sleeve notes for Crimson Records "The Move - The Complete Singles Collection & More" released in the UK on 1st January 2000.
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