On 10 April 1970, Paul McCartney declared that he was no longer a member of the Beatles. For some fans this was the original catastrophe of rock music, and the real day when the music died.
For us, this day is the occasion to put together some cross connections from Steve Gibbons to the Beatles.
The Beatles as an idol
The first is relatively obvious and applies to millions of musicians: The Beatles had a huge influence on Steve. Even more: Steve is still a Beatles fan through and through. When he talks about the fact that without the Fab Four’s stay in Hamburg, rock music would not be what it is today, or when he tells that he is reading a book about John Lennon (who is a genius for him), you can still feel youthful enthusiasm and respect.
Common fellow musicians
In addition, Gibbons played with musicians who, in turn, had a close relationship with individual members of the Beatles or were to have one later. For example, Alan White, drummer of the John Lennons Plastic Ono Band, was one of the „Balls“ as well as Denny Laine, who later was to become number two in The Wings alongside Paul McCartney.
Replacement for a Beatle
Gibbons also got to know Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded most of their legendary works, during the recording of the tribute for Elvis guitarist Scooty Moore (Scooty More & Friends – A Tribute to the King). A Beatle was not involved in the recordings. Dave Pegg, Steve’s comrade-in-arms in The Uglys and later a member of Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention, tells in his autobiography that Paul McCartney had already agreed but then couldn’t make it.
Which is why song „Heartbreak Hotel“ which would have been McCartney`s part, was sung by Steve Gibbons.
Replacement for a Beatle: Not a bad thing! And that with two Rolling Stones (Bill Wyman, Ronny Wood) and the former guitarist of by Elvis in the backing group, who must have enjoyed the performance. Dave Pegg writes (page 201):
„When he finishes everyone in the room, all these legendary rock players burst into sponanous applause
On stage with a Beatle
But Gibbons had been even closer to a Beatle at the 1986 charity concert „Heart Beat86“ in Birmingham, where George Harrison joined the musicians as a surprise guest at the finale of the concert with the song „Johnny B. Goode“.
But: Hardly any Beatles cover songs
With so many cross-connections, it’s amazing how little direct reference to the Beatles there are in the music of Steve Gibbons and his band. His idols Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis and Bob Dylan each had their own songs dedicated to them (Hey Buddy, Chuck in My Car, Tupelo Mississippi Flash and Colours to the Mast, the latter recorded with the Dylan Project) and there is hardly a concert of his band where Gibbons would not play a Dylan song, with the Dylan Project even the whole repertoire consisted of songs by His Bobness.
In contrast, only one Beatles cover version made it onto a Steve Gibbons Band record, namely „Day Tripper“, on the live album „Caught in the Act„. Visitors of the „British Blues Explosion“ concerts in Germany and Slovenia in autumn 2019 could also hear a cover version of „With A Little Help From My Friends“ with the participation of Steve Gibbons.
Gibbons an undercover beatle?
Rather bizarre is another anecdote connected with the unsuccessful attempt to create a supergroup with the participation of Steve Gibbons und the name „THe Balls“. The only tangible result of this high flying project was the single „Fight For My Country“, which a radio station in the USA claimed was recorded by a band consisting of members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The website Beatlessource.com writes
Back in 1971, WMMS-FM Cleveland, began playing this song. It was credited to a band named Balls (OK, so far). However, according to the radio station, Balls members were John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Richard and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones along with Ginger Baker from Cream. Now THAT would be a supergroup.
Well, I finally learned who the personnel actually were…
Balls (the REAL story):
- Trevor Burton vocal & guitar
- Steve Gibbons vocal, harmonica
- Denny Laine bass guitar, vocal
- Mike Kellie drums
- Richard Tandy keyboards
- Alan White drums
- Dave Morgan bass guitar
- Keith Smart drums
- Jackie Lomax guitar, vocal
Did Gibbons and the Uglys inspire the Beatles?
In 1965, Gibbons played in the band The Uglys, which recorded the single „Wake Up My Mind“, which went down in England but was a big hit in Australia.
It featured a socially critical lyric, showing influences from Bob Dylan, in psychedelic musical garb.
Even in 2011, almost half a century after this single, the New Zealand internet portal Elsewhere – The Magazine for curious people is measuring that this single might have inspired even the Beatles:
But there was something more about Wake Up My Mind.
In October of the same year the Beatles recorded We Can Work it Out, a song with folk-references and also not dissimilar time changes.
Could the Beatles (somewhat stoned in this clip) have been among the few to have heard the Ugly’s song which had been released in June?
All we are saying is:
The answer is blowing in the wind.
In any case, the Uglys seem to have been at „ear level“ with the Fab Four, despite their lesser commercial success.