September 9, 2010

SAVOY BROWN: JUNE 1974

Stan Webb, Kim Simmonds

Savoy Brown
Winterland, San Francisco
June 1, 1974

All photos by David Miller

Miller Anderson

In 1965, The Savoy Brown Blues Band (later shortened to Savoy Brown) was formed in Battersea, London, with Kim Simmonds serving as leader and main guitarist. His older brother, Harry Simmonds, served as manager for the band. After The Savoy Brown Blues Band had played gigs at a number of clubs in London, including Klooks Kleek, the Flamingo, and the Marquee, they were signed to Decca Records. Their first LP, Shake Down, which included covers of songs by Willie Dixon, Albert King, and John Lee Hooker, was released (in the UK, but not the USA) in September, 1967.

Jimmy Leverton

The second album by Savoy Bown, Getting to the Point, was released in 1968, followed by Blue Matter and A Step Further in 1969, and Raw Sienna in 1970. All four albums featured the unusual voice of Chris Youlden, a bluesy singer and gifted songwriter whose deep and distinctive tone added greatly to the unvarnished appeal of Savoy Brown's music. "Mr. Downchild" (from Getting to the Point), "Train to Nowhere" (from Blue Matter), "I'm Tired" (from A Step Further), and "A Hard Way to Go" (from Raw Sienna) offer examples of Chris Youlden at his best, and are among the strongest tracks that Savoy Brown ever recorded.


After Chris Youlden's departure from Savoy Brown in 1970, there were other changes in the general lineup, along with more albums: Looking In (1970), Street Corner Talking (1971), Hellbound Train (1972), Lion's Share (1972), and Jack the Toad (1973). When Savoy Brown appeared at Winterland in June, 1974, Kim Simmonds was joined by Stan Webb (guitar and vocals, formerly a member of Chicken Shack) and Miller Anderson (guitar and vocals, formerly a member of the Keef Hartley Band and leader of his own band, Hemlock). That particular lineup, which also included Jimmy Leverton on bass and Eric Dillon on drums (both former members of Hemlock), lasted less than a year and released only one album, Boogie Brothers.


Any band that contained the proven abilities of Kim Simmonds, Stan Webb, and Miller Anderson could not be anything other than extraordinary. The three guitarists, who collectively represented much of the history of British blues, created a powerful sound together, inspiring and challenging one another from one song to the next. Although Kim Simmonds still was seen as the leader of Savoy Brown, Stan Webb and Miller Anderson both were given plenty of musical space in which to express themselves. They all came across as keen musicians, performing with an earthy and straightforward showmanship that reflected their many years of hard experience on the road.


Although the five musicians who combined their abilities to perform under the name of Savoy Brown in 1974 did not stay together for long, they did make a lasting impression on those who were fortunate enough to hear them. With Kim Simmonds, Stan Webb, and Miller Anderson at the front of the the band, Savoy Brown's performance at Winterland provided a priceless opportunity for serious fans to see not merely one, not merely two, but three of the greatest guitarists of the period, all playing on the same stage at the same time.

















David: One week after we saw Golden Earring and Robin Trower at Winterland, we were back for another great concert: Savoy Brown with Kim Simmonds, Miller Anderson, and Stan Webb. The opening act was Kiss. I had not heard of them at the time and was an instant non-fan. I considered them to be a parody of a rock band, and I still do. Manfred Mann's Earth Band played second and put on a great performance.

I had seen Savoy Brown nearly two years earlier at the Berkeley Community Theatre, with a different lineup. I believe Dave Walker was the vocalist. He soon quit to join Fleetwood Mac. Miller Anderson's band, Hemlock, with Jimmy Leverton on bass and Eric Dillon on drums, was the opening act. All three later joined Savoy Brown for the Boogie Brothers album and tour. I always wondered if the connection was made on that earlier tour.

I was a big fan of Stan Webb's band, Chicken Shack. I owned most of their albums, but I had never seem them perform. I also was a big fan of the Keef Hartley Band, which featured Miller Anderson on vocals and guitar, and I felt that Miller Anderson was underrated and overlooked. He had a long history in British rock, and was respected by other musicians, but he was not into self-promotion.

With three lead guitarists and two lead vocalists, I wondered how they would balance it. Kim Simmonds was the foundation that held the house up, while Stan and Miller took turns being up front. Stan Webb seemed to be more of a showman than the others, and took the spotlight quite often. I had heard about how he would climb down from the stage and continue playing, as he made his way through the crowd with a very long cord on his guitar. When he did this at Winterland, disappearing into the mass of cheering fans, I desperately wanted to get a photo, but I was not close enough. All I could see of him was his head, bobbing up and down in the crowd. I regret now that I didn't get a photo of the looks on the faces of the fans.

Miller Anderson gave a strong performance with his vocals and his guitar. He seemed to be enjoying himself, and even gave me a bit of a smile when I clicked off a picture. Kim Simmonds stood still in front of a wall of Fender amps that blasted out a powerful sound from his guitar. He seemed oblivious to the loudness, concentrating on every note that he played. Jimmy Leverton came out from behind with his bass and took the front of the stage for one song. It was great to see the spotlight being shared by everyone.

This was one of my favorite shows to photograph. With so much action on the stage, it was easy to get great shots. These photos are some of my best and I feel lucky to have been able to get them.

I remember that during our wait in front of Winterland before the show, Stan Webb pulled up in a rented car and unloaded some equipment from the trunk. We briefly talked to him and got his autograph. He was very polite. After the concert we also got to meet Kim Simmonds and Miller Anderson. I had to run after Miller Anderson as he was walking down the street. He stopped and gave me his autograph. When I told him that I loved his music, he replied, "I wish more people felt that way." Knowing what a great artist he was, it was a bit sad to hear that. Not being able to think of anything more to say, I thanked him, and then got Kim Simmonds to sign an autograph. He seemed very happy, and on the piece of paper he wrote, "Boogie!"

It was disappointing that they only did one album and one tour. I would like to have seen and heard more, but with three leaders, it was no surprise that they split.

















Gary: I remember that Kiss played before Savoy Brown, and that we risked our lives being close to the stage, with all their fake blood and fire displays. Kiss was in outrageously bad taste, but Savoy Brown was amazing.

The opportunity to see three of the great British blues guitarists at the same time was unbelievable. Stan Webb was very entertaining. We all liked Chicken Shack. David had a lot of their albums, even the ones with Christine Perfect, before she joined Fleetwood Mac. Miller Anderson, who I had loved hearing on the classic Keef Hartley Band albums and on Two Weeks Last Summer, the first solo album by Dave Cousins of The Strawbs, gave a solid instrumental and vocal performance.

Kim Simmonds, a brilliant blues musician, played piercing blues licks... piercing all the more because he had what looked like four Fender pre-CBS Twin Reverb amps, all wired together in a two on two stack, with all amps turned to 9 or 10. I had one of those amps myself, and I knew from experience that just ONE of them turned up that loud could damage a person's hearing. Kim Simmonds having four of them, and having them turned up to that volume and being so close to them, must have been painful for him. (I know it was painful for me that night, because I had to put my fingers in my ears many times, to protect myself.) Great playing, though.

The thing that stands out in my memory was when Stan Webb walked to the edge of the stage, and the roadies cleared out the audience in that area. Stan Webb jumped down into the audience, followed by a roadie holding an enormously long guitar cord. As the band churned out funk/blues patterns, he played as he walked the length of the Winterland floor, or at least until the cord ran out. I thought he might try to go upstairs into the balcony! He was scraping out blues patterns with deadened strings all the way. We could just barely see where he was by the commotion in that part of the audience. We couldn't actually see him or the roadie. He eventually made his way back to the stage, with the crowd parting and people cheering him on. What a performance!

Miller Anderson, a vastly underrated guitarist and songwriter, was great that night. It confirmed what we all thought, that he was a true gem of a performer. He wrote much of the music on the Boogie Brothers LP, and his songwriting is a treasure.

We stayed by the stage door afterward and got their autographs. They all were nice and thoughtful people, very different from the raw blues music that they had been blasting out.

















Michael: I always had been a fan of Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown, so seeing the band at Winterland was exciting enough, but having a chance to also see Stan Webb and Miller Anderson made it even better. I could hardly believe it when I heard that all three of them had joined together. For any fan of British blues, it was something not to be missed.

Having three guitarists on stage meant that the performance was quite loud, even by the extreme standards of rock'n'roll. Three electric guitars being played together makes a lot of noise! The music itself was down-to-earth, played with plenty of raw feeling, in keeping with the unaffected characters of the musicians.

Kim Simmonds was the primary figure in Savoy Brown, and Miller Anderson also was a strong musician, but at Winterland it seemed that Stan Webb was the star. He had a bit more flair than the others, and he played directly to the audience. The highlight of the evening came when Stan Webb stepped down from the stage and wandered through the crowd, while still playing his guitar, which was connected to his amplifier by an unusually long lead. A roadie followed behind him, holding the lead and making certain it did not get into a tangle.

When we met the band after the show, someone mentioned to Miller Anderson that Robin Trower's band had played at Winterland the week before, and he quickly brightened up, saying, "Jimmy Dewar was here?" (James Dewar was the bassist and vocalist with Robin Trower.) Miller Anderson and James Dewar both were musicians who had started out in Scotland, and probably knew each other from the old days.

At the time, the performance by Savoy Brown at Winterland appeared to be merely one of the many shows that we attended in those days. Looking back, however, I can see that with Kim Simmonds, Stan Webb, and Miller Anderson all sharing the stage, it actually was quite a special happening.

Thirty-three years later, in 2007, I saw a performance by Kim Simmonds and the current lineup of Savoy Brown, at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland. He was in fine form, opening the set with "I'm Tired" and never letting up.


More about Savoy Brown at David's Rock Scrapbook

Next: Humble Pie

9 comments:

  1. Thank you all for this wonderful web site, the photos and the stories. I eagerly wait for each installment. I see that Humble Pie is up next. I don't think I can stand the wait this time!

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  2. Thank-you - great story and pictures. I saw the Boogie Brothers in Winnipeg and my memory isn't nearly as good as yours but I do remember Stan Webb going into the crowd and the enormous energy of the band. I was always a Savoy Brown fan but the show really turned me on to Stan Webb & Chicken Shack.
    Mel
    I'm not sure but I think the opening band was either Rare Earth or Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids. (kinda blurry - I've seen them both open for Savoy Brown but can't remember when - aging a wonderful thing)

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  3. It was Flash Cadallac and the Conmtinental kids.I remember wanting to go to that show back in 1974 but my parrents wouldnt let me because I was too young(11).Got to see both Savoy brown and chicken Shack later in life and they are both awesome live and Chicken shack will be playing in Beausejour,manitoba in August.I already got my tickets and am eager as hell.I have met both Simmonds and Webb,both very nice people

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  4. Stan Webb n Chicken Shack treated us lucky people to an intimate emotional gig on Thurs oct 20 -2011 fully loaded, total flashback to those golden daze of youth,,what a trip down memory lane. 10 min video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW-3De7d6oY still that amazing voice, still that boogie blues, still that same guitar, like fine wine just keeps getting better with age.

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  5. yes agree with last comment on Stan Webb, his voice is extraordinary and his tone is magical, and on his night he's right up there with the best of them
    Pete

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  6. what a wonderful review! thank you all so much for taking the time to make this web site. the pictures and narrative are wonderful.. I share your observations about what a great band this was. wish more 1974 shows were floating about, I have seen a short one from Madison Square Garden. I still see Kim whenever I can and he is a real gentleman.

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  7. Ah yes, some of the true giants of an incredible era. What is really telling is not just their talent, or their courage to pursue their work, but the fact that Simmonds and Webb at least, are still pursuing it. So many great musicians are lost to us now, either thru death or drugs (or both). These veterans are still entertaining, as is Trower, etc. and at a very high level. These pictures and rememberances are priceless; as are each of them.

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  8. WOW! what a blast from the past. This was my first concert. I was 16 and I will never forget it. It was mindblowing. I cant believe I found these pictures and commentaries. This show was an awakening for me and I went to so many concerts at winterland after that I can't count them. But, this is the one that stands out as the greatest because it was my first.

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  9. Fantastic blog, I wish there was sort of official live recording from this lineup.

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