UNDER-APPRECIATED ROCK BAND OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH 2014: THE SONS OF FRED
This month’s last-minute replacement as the Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month is THE SONS OF FRED. Bandmembers in the Sons of Fred were Ray Redway (lead vocals), Alan “Boh” Bohling (rhythm guitar and vocals), Mick Hutchinson (lead guitar), Pete Sears (bass guitar), and Tim Boyle (drums). Alan Bohling wrote 5 of the 6 songs on their three singles; “Baby What You Want Me To Do” is the Jimmy Reed blues standard. Pete Sears was just 16 when he joined the band. The Sons of Fred are described by Allmusic as an “obscure but intense British beat band”.
The Sons of Fred released their first single, “Sweet Love” b/w “I’ll Be There” in 1964 on Columbia Records – not the same as our Columbia Records (outside the U.S. and Canada, their releases are on CBS Records due to the name conflict) but rather a subsidiary of EMI Records. This was an R&B record.
For their second single, they moved to another EMI label, Parlophone Records (the Beatles’ record company in Britain) and adopted a more pop-oriented sound reminiscent of another Parlophone band, the Hollies, releasing “I, I, I Want Your Lovin’” b/w “She Only Wants a Friend”. For the final single by the Sons of Fred for Parlophone in 1966, they went back to R&B for “Baby What You Want Me To Do” b/w “You Told Me”.
The Sons of Fred performed “Sweet Love” on the pioneering British rock/pop program, Ready Steady Go! (probably in June 1965) and also lip-synched “Baby What You Want Me To Do” on another TV show, Thank Your Lucky Stars on March 5, 1966.
* * *
There is some misinfomation out there about the Sons of Fred – such as the caption on the above photograph – and I found a letter from Pete Sears that was reprinted on the Radio London website at:
www.radiolondon.co.uk/rl/scrap60/fabforty/65fabs/jun65/fab130665/fab130665.html . Much of what I am presenting in this post is based on this letter. Contrary to what Allmusic says, the Sons of Fred are not from the coastal town of Great Yarmouth. The band was actually based in Dulwich and Beckenham, where Ray Redway and Alan Bohling were from. Mick Hutchinson and Tim Boyle were from Chislehurst, while Pete Sears grew up in Hayes, near Bromley. However, Sears does not know where the band name the Sons of Fred came from. Also, the Sons of Fred are not at all related to another band called Odyssey, despite what is shown on Allmusic, along with plenty of other Internet sites.
* * *
I have the Sons of Fred singles on two albums in the English Freakbeat Series; both sides of their 1965 single, “I, I, I Want Your Lovin’” and “She Only Wants a Friend” are the opening tracks on the English Freakbeat, Volume 3 CD (and are also included on the English Freakbeat, Volume 3 LP); and three more of their songs are on the English Freakbeat, Volume 4 CD (but not on the English Freakbeat, Volume 4 LP) – all but “You Told Me”. “You Told Me” is included on the Rare 60’s Beat Treasures, Volume 5 CD and also a later compilation album called Magic Spectacles.
While “I, I, I Want Your Lovin’” and “She Only Wants a Friend” feature the harmony vocals and intricate guitar that are hallmarks of the Hollies’ sound, the band’s R&B roots are still evident on both songs. The liner notes on the English Freakbeat, Volume 3 CD (probably by Greg Shaw) says that “their three releases are consistently intense, brilliant R&B ravers”. The Sons of Fred broke up after Mick Hutchinson and Pete Sears left the band.
With its fierce vocals and fine organ solo, “Sweet Love” is my favorite song by the Sons of Fred; despite its early recording date, it is probably also closest to the psychedelic-tinged freakbeat sound. “I’ll Be There” reminds me of the band that was originally slotted as the UARB for this month, the Fairies.
* * *
In 1966, two of the bandmembers in the Sons of Fred joined an underground psychedelic rock band called Sam Gopal’s Dream. Sam Gopal is from Malaysia and plays the tabla, a type of drum that often accompanies the sitar in Indian music. Bandmembers initially were Sam Gopal (tabla), Mick Hutchinson (guitar), and Pete Sears (bass guitar); a little later, Andy Clark was added on organ.
Sam Gopal’s Dream performed at The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, the benefit concert mentioned earlier for the International Times underground newspaper, and also at the UFO Club. To date, the recordings made by Sam Gopal’s Dream for Screen Gems Records in 1967 remain unreleased.
Sam Gopal formed a new line-up known simply as Sam Gopal that included as vocalist and guitarist Ian Willis, better known as Lemmy; this reorganized band released one album, Escalator in 1968. Lemmy later played bass guitar for Hawkwind and, in 1975, founded the pounding British heavy metal band called Motörhead.
After Sam Gopal broke up in 1968, Mick Hutchinson and Andy Clark recorded three albums under the name Clark-Hutchinson. Hutchinson also played guitar and bass guitar on the 1980 album Tennis by English singer-songwriter Chris Rea, who is best known in America for his 1978 hit “Fool (If You Think it’s Over)”. Along with Magic Dragon, Mick Hutchinson was later involved in the creation of the four-CD box set, The Woody Guthrie Story that was released in 2000.
* * *
Pete Sears briefly played keyboards for the British freakbeat band Les Fleur de Lys; according to Wikipedia, his sole recording with the band was the “A” side of their second single, “Circles” (written by Pete Townshend).
Pete Sears moved to San Francisco after he was asked to be a founding member of Jefferson Starship as bass guitarist and keyboardist. Sears played with the band from 1974 to 1984 and was also on the debut album by Starship, Knee Deep in the Hoopla (1985). As of 2014, Sears sometimes appears as a guest musician at Jefferson Starship concerts. Pete Sears also played with Hot Tuna from 1992 to 2001.
Additionally, Pete Sears has been a prominent session bass guitarist and keyboard player for more than four decades. He played on four early Rod Stewart solo albums, including the classic Every Picture Tells a Story (the album that includes Rod’s mega-hit “Maggie May”), plus Gasoline Alley, Never a Dull Moment, and Smiler. Pete Sears has also worked with Steamhammer, Stoneground, Long John Baldry, Los Lobos, and three of the founding members of the Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Phil Lesh.
* * *
Alan Bohling is currently playing with a 1960’s cover band called On the Rocks, which is based in Hampshire, U.K. A man named Alan Bohling is credited with writing and performing several Christian contemporary songs, but he is evidently not the former bandmember in the Sons of Fred. Recent photographs of Pete Sears (L) and Alan Bohling (R) are given above.
* * *
Items: The Sons of Fred
December 2013 – LES HELL ON HEELS, 1990’s-2000’s punk rock band
January 2014 – BOYSKOUT, 2000’s punk rock band
February 2014 – LIQUID FAERIES, 1980’s alternative/world music rock band
March 2014 – THE SONS OF FRED, 1960’s British R&B band
April 2014 – HOMER, 1970’s progressive rock band
May 2014 – THE SOUL AGENTS, 1960’s British R&B band
June 2014 – THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT, 2000’s garage revival rock bands
July 2014 – MIKKI, 1970’s R&B/soul singer
August 2014 – THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9, 1960’s psychedelic rock band
September 2014 – NICK FREUND, 1960’s psychedelic rock artist
October 2014 – MÖTOCHRIST, 1990’s-2000’s punk rock band
November 2014 – WENDY BAGWELL AND THE SUNLITERS, 1960’s-1990’s gospel/comedy group
(Year 5 Review)