December 23, 2009

MAN: MARCH 1974

Deke Leonard

Man
March 10, 1974
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley

All photos by David Miller

Micky Jones

The musicians of Man first joined together in 1962 as The Bystanders, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Micky Jones was on guitar and vocals from the beginning. The Bystanders performed in a number of clubs in Wales, released eight singles, and regularly appeared on BBC Radio, but were not able to go any further. In 1968, with a fellow Welshman, Deke Leonard, joining the band on guitar and vocals, the Bystanders became Man.

Malcolm Morley

During the next year, Man recorded two albums, Revelation (released on Pye Records in January, 1969) and 2 Ozs of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle (released on Dawn Records in September, 1969), and toured Europe, playing frequent gigs in Germany. Deke Leonard, a gifted songwriter in his own right, was sometimes in and sometimes out of Man, a pattern that he would continue through the coming years. Many other musicians also passed through the band.

Terry Williams, Ken Whaley

In March of 1974, Man appeared with another British band, Hawkwind, at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. At that show, which was billed as a benefit for Timothy Leary (an American psychologist who had become famous as an advocate of LSD in the 1960s), Micky Jones and Deke Leonard were joined by Malcolm Morley on guitar and keyboards, Ken Whaley on bass, and Terry Williams on drums. This particular lineup recorded a wonderful album, Rhinos, Winos, and Lunatics, in the same year, and is rightly regarded as one of the best formations in the long history of Man.


Man was different from most other British bands of the 1970s. The musicians in Man put the quality of their performance ahead of any overt attempts at showmanship, working in harmony to maintain a musical approach that was varied, amiable, and straightforward. Their earthy songs frequently depicted characters from the seedy byways of life, telling stories of outcasts, losers, and whores. They were greatly influenced by the Californian bands of the late 1960s, particularly Quicksilver Messenger Service, and they were fond of stretching out their songs to extended lengths.


The excellent set by Man at Zellerbach Hall was a change from many of the concerts that my friends and I attended in those days. Listening carefully to the music, rather than "watching the show," was the main thing with Man. Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, and the others may have projected an air of hip casualness, but their sophisticated ability as musicians, and their honest dedication to what they were doing, could never be doubted.





David: This concert was just two days after seeing Peter Frampton. It was a strange concert in many ways. It wasn't put on by Bill Graham. It took place on the UC Berkeley campus, which rarely held rock concerts, to my knowledge. Whoever promoted it went all out with stickers, fliers, and buttons, all of which I still have today. The whole tribute thing to Timothy Leary was a joke to us. His wife was on stage at one point, trying to talk to him on a phone while he was in jail. She had a bad connection and stood there on the stage, repeating his name with little or no response. Richard Nixon had less trouble talking to Neil Armstrong on the moon.

We waited outside Zellerbach for much of the day. There were a lot of students walking around, as usual, so it was a better atmosphere than Winterland, which was a bit of a ghetto neighborhood.

We walked around the area, and to our amazement, the Man band pulled up in an old station wagon. I recall they were pretty jammed into it. Deke Leonard crawled out of the back. They looked more like roadies than a rock band. I got the feeling they had to travel cheap and haul their own equipment. This made it all the more exciting for me, to see a great rock band living this rough lifestyle, driving for miles between gigs. This was what rock'n'roll was about. No limos here.

They were very polite and spoke to us a bit while signing autographs. I regret not getting some photos of them at that point. A missed opportunity.

The concert itself was great. Man opened the show. We were at the front of the stage. The lighting was minimal, so the stage was very dark throughout the show. It made for a good atmosphere for the music, but made it difficult to get good photos.

Man was not a flashy band. They mainly stood there and delivered their brand of Welsh rock influenced by Bo Diddley and Quicksilver Messenger Service, fueled by alcohol, pot, and tobacco. Ken Whaley fueled himself by eating a pear. He stood too far back in the shadows for me to get a picture of that.

It was a great time to see Man. Deke Leonard had recently rejoined, and Malcolm Morley also had joined. They were playing songs from Rhinos, Winos, and Lunatics, one of my favorites. Many songs from that album went on to become Man standards.





Gary: As I remember, we were the only ones who went early, and we waited on the Bancroft Avenue side of Zellerbach, or at least hung out on the side that was closer to the Sproul Plaza end of Telegraph Avenue, with all the bookstores and street vendors. (I wasn't yet a student at UC Berkeley, and may not have known where the entrance to the hall was.)

When Man arrived later in the afternoon for their sound check, I remember being able to look through the roughly-chained doors. Why they used such a thick chain, I have no idea. A gap was created by the thickness of the chain and through this gap you could see straight down to the stage, and see Deke Leonard with his instantly recognizable black leather jacket and zebra black-and-white Telecaster playing a blistering version of "A Hard Way to Live." I had recently bought Deke Leonard's solo album, Iceberg, where he posed on the cover as a WWI pilot, and loved the music. Looking down through the gap in the doors to the stage would have made a classic picture, but it was probably too dark.

Man, during this tour, had a great lineup (actually forty percent of another band, Help Yourself - Malcolm Morley and Ken Whaley), and their recent albums were starting to get FM airplay on KSAN. They were developing friends in northern California and Quicksilver/John Cippolina ties were in the making. The funny/goofing off cover of Rhinos, Winos, and Lunatics was deceptive. There was tight and inventive music inside. (Man always had great album covers, like Back into the Future with nineteenth-century costumes at a railway station, and Be Good to Yourself at Least Once a Day, with a cover that folded out to a giant cartoon map of Wales and a comprehensive history of the band, "Man's Family Jungle" by Deke Leonard, who wasn't even on the album, not to mention the early album covers with touched-up photos, face painting, and topless poses.)

This particular band was one of the best Man bands, with the great Ken Whaley on bass. I remember before the set, he was tuning his bass and adjusting the equipment while eating a pear. Years later, when I told this to the guy who runs Man's newsletter, he said, "That's VERY Ken Whaley.") Malcolm Morley (described by Deke Leonard in one of his books as "the world's most depressing human being") added great musicianship and songwriting to this lineup of Man. Deke writes that they used to pick straws, and the loser had to share a room with Malcolm Morley. I really liked "The Thunder and Lightning Kid," and Help Yourself got a bit of airplay on KSAN as well. These musicians later said that they used to play with Man, or as they joked, with men.

The great thing about Man was the musicianship. Terry Williams had great stamina and set up these hypnotic, almost martial, cadences with back beats and build ups, and Ken Whaley provided a driving foundation with his bass playing. The improvisation and soloing by Micky Jones and Deke Leonard was simply amazing. It must have been "Spunk Rock" that really took the roof off, with a lot of scratch and scrape guitar rhythms building up to a fever pitch until the tune finally erupts, almost like a volcano through the gaseous, formless, ethereal clouds at the creation of the world. The band drove the melody and then the level changed, with the tune going from I to IV, then I, then V like a giant blues progression if you looked at the overall arch. It was hypnotic/repetitive, then it would really drive, then it would shift to a different level with new energy. What amazing music.

Malcolm Morley sang a bit, Deke sang most (including his shorter 3 minute songs like "A Hard Way to Live" and "7171 551" from Iceberg), and Micky Jones sang harmony and some lead, anchoring things with great rhythm guitar, trading solos with Deke Leonard and sometimes playing harmony lead guitar, the two of them creating all sorts of harmonies that rock doesn't often have. "C'mon" was a long, stretched out improvisation that had the song base at the beginning and end, and allowed for free expression in the middle. I think Clive John (not in this lineup of the band, but a founding member) really pushed the band from a popular song covering band in Swansea, to the fully expressive band they became. He was the one who got everyone to listen to Frank Zappa and jazz music.

Anyway, I think they did "Many Are Called, But Few Get Up," and I remember "Romain," their song about the policeman in Holland who was following them around, trying to bust them. Deke Leonard introduced the song by explaining that the song was written about this policeman... "He's a BAHSTID." The words of the song are really an argument in life philosophy with this man. Deke Leonard was more the aggressive front man, and Micky Jones the quieter back up guitarist, I thought, though we saw Man two more times in later years, and at the Keystone in 1976, Micky Jones played into the stratosphere and was the more aggressive. The two of them were the main forces, Deke with his black jacket and Telecaster, and Micky, a slight and quiet man, always wearing the same type of worn Celtic plaid shirt with the coattails out, playing a reddish Gibson SG.

In between the Man set and the Hawkwind set, some people tried to set up a phone call to Timothy Leary (I think he might have been in jail), but the connection didn't go through. I remember hearing them call out "Timothy... Timothy?" Unfortunately, it was to no avail.

A great concert. Man thanked Hawkwind on an album cover, saying thanks to Hawkwind for achieving the impossible.





Michael: I regret to say that I do not actually have a distinct memory of Man's performance at Zellerbach Hall, but I do remember meeting the musicians when they came to do a quick rehearsal in the afternoon. They arrived in a station wagon that had seen better days, with Micky Jones, who was small and light on his feet, tumbling out of the back door. They were all quite friendly when we spoke to them, and Deke Leonard, in particular, proved to be extremely diverting, sharing a handful of funny tales concerning his life as a hard-bitten rocker.

As David said, Man was not a flashy band. They preferred to play their songs without any overt showiness or unnecessary rigmarole. Although I tended to be drawn to more active performers, I knew that Man, whose style was easy and direct, represented a true and authentic experience of rock'n'roll. Their music was straightforward and without any degree of pretense, reflecting the unassuming personalities of the musicians. They seemed happy to be on the road, playing to anyone who would listen, with no thought of becoming "stars."


Next: Hawkwind

11 comments:

  1. Absolutely fabulous stuff, fellas - many thanks. Micky is sadly under 24 hour nursing care and will not play again but the other Men are still around and, with the exception of Terry Williams, playing.

    Michael Heatley

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  2. Abolutely fantastic stuff thanks you just made my day with these photos I hope you dont mind but ive forwared them on to George Jones Mickys son thanks again
    cheers
    tony

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  3. Thanks for the Christmas present - thoroughly enjoyed reading all your memories of 'Man' - my all time favourite band and Micky Jones, my all time favourite guitarist. Great to see new photos of them and would love it if you could scan the stickers/flyers mentioned, for us all to see. By the way, Ken Whaley can still be seen eating pears with his band 'The Green Ray'. If you're very lucky he's sometimes also joined by his 'old mucker' Malcolm Morley.

    Be good to yourselves - Pete M

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  4. This is really great, like finding a really important part of your favoueite jigsaw

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  5. Micky Jones R.I.P.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/micky-jones-lead-guitarist-and-mainstay-of-the-welsh-band-man-1922895.html

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  6. I was there. Incredible gig. They only played five songs: Spunk Rock, Hard Way To Live, Blown Away (a Help Yourself song) Romain, and C'mon. At the sound check they played a bit of Scotch Corner, from the Rhinos album.

    The show was promoted by a friend, Scott Piering. Phil Charles, a DJ at KOME, in San Jose suggested I tell Scott about Man, cause he might be able to book a gig. A couple of weeks later he came back around and said he'd got the gig.

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  7. Further to the message from Anonymous - or is it Pete M ? I am seeing Green Ray tomorrow, and will particularly look out for Ken Whaley eating a pear.....

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  8. R.I.P. Micky It was great to have known you.
    Very sad.Stacia

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  9. I saw MAN about 20 times. No 2 shows were the same and the lineup changed regularly - but their playing was exceptional. If you can find the Utd Artists album Greasy Truckers Party ('72), or the Man Alive compilation, SPUNK ROCK will keep you warm for years. It's a 20 min. monster.
    Andy in Holland.

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  10. Deke's just published his third book, The Twang Dynasty, all about guitarists he has known and loved.

    Go to Amazon UK or his website www.dekeleonard.com to order!

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