Heatwave’s first incarnation began in 1963 as The Florins, a beat band consisting of students from the Kingsdale Comprehensive school in West Dulwich, London.
The founder members were Richard Steen (lead guitar/vocals), Terry Shea (rhythm guitar/vocals), John Fellows (bass guitar/vocals), Robert Neale (vocals) and Robert Depmer (drums).
At first, they didn't have a bass guitar and all had six-strings. Terry bought a Vox Ace single pick-up bass a few weeks later for £7 from a local junk shop. When John swapped to bass, he bought a Vox Ace double pick-up and later traded it for a Hofner President which was a bit naff as, it only had an uncool single cutaway.
Their debut performance was at a school concert and the songs played were, Drive My Car, 19th Nervous Breakdown, Under The Boardwalk and A Well Respected Man. The first time playing in front of a real audience was at a Search For Sound contest with Terry on bass while John played rhythm guitar.
They changed over a couple of weeks after this. The Florins came second on the night and the group all went home on the bus meanwhile, Mud ended up winning the whole affair some time later.
The first paid gig was at Norwood Technical College in 1967. Roberts; Neale and Denny soon departed leaving the trio of remaining guitarists to take on a moddier angle and a name change to The Moving Targets.
For a brief time, they had a go-go dancing singer named Bev, the girlfriend of their then manager Keith.
Despite an unsettled line-up of successive drummers, they continued to build up a strong following in the pubs and clubs of Peckham / Dulwich through their remaining educative years. Their strong local following continued to grow, seeing them through 1967/68 without the need to return to usual employment.
In 1969 a four nights booking at The Boathouse (Richmond) brought in £40.
1969 saw, not only the introduction of Martin Samuel (previously drumming for Jackie Edwards, Pure Gold) to the cause but, another new name: Heatwave.
An audition in the winter of ’69 for the John Edward Management Agency led to a contract offer that same night. The trio of tracks played by Heatwave were Papa Genes Blues, Morning Dew and I Shall Be Released.
Initially, the embryonic Heatwave were half-tempted to walk away as more than a dozen bands were trying their luck that night. Bournemouth’s Spencer Mac were playing as they arrived and sounded immense.
Martin Samuel attended Grammar School in Bournemouth and such a tenuous connection resulted in him finding the Spencer Mac lads a flat on Telford Avenue, Streatham when they relocated to the city.
Martin didn’t have to work too hard to find them digs… it was the building next door to his own gaff! Good guys one and all, Martin recalls.
From that point on, countrywide gigs were continual and the non-stop work led them to become very tight musically.
This didn’t go down too well with John and Terry but the desire for a recording contract resulted in Peter Allatt joining the ranks after replying to an ad in Melody Maker.
Peter hailed from Mansfield and had worked the local band circuit before becoming a professional dancer appearing in troupes in Spain and several West End shows including Paint Your Wagon and Hair.
A knee injury put an end to his dancing career and Heatwave gave him a new focus in the entertainment industry.
Peter had been working as a stage manager in a West End strip club on Greek Street called Maxim’s Revue Bar and the owner let them rehearse there until they were ready to hit the road again as a 5-piece.
Constantly gigging around the country became the norm again and the never-ending one-night-stands enhanced their experience and increased their following.
Memorable times included the California Ballroom (Dunstable) and of course, Liverpool’s original Cavern Club.
A brick bearing the Heatwave name proudly sits in the new Cavern's Wall of Fame.
Rehearsals were later held at Richard's house and, on one occasion, Richard answered a knock on the front door by a man in cap and uniform who said, "Gas man", to which Richard, a Liverpudlian, replied, "Yeah, far out man!", closed the door and went back to playing.
As their reputation grew, advantageous shortcuts fell into their laps such as, appearing on the Terry Wogan Radio Show without the usual audition.
This in turn led to regular appearances on the other big shows of the day: the Dave Cash, Jimmy Young, DLT shows and Radio One Club.
Remaining minutes had to be filled with chat or news of the day.
Many stations would get around this by having 'guest' bands in to cover current hits of the day therefore putting more songs on air.
This was crucial for the likes of Radio One, which was and still is a popular music channel.
The BBC income was invested in a Marshall P.A. with a 100 watt amp and 4 speaker columns, sound effects and monitors were financially out of the question. On a strange note, quite often and at different clubs, BBC radio broadcasts were heard to emanate from Richard's Vox AC30 amplifier when on stage!
You have to wonder whether any uncredited Heatwave recordings have been slipped into the numerous gnostic BBC Radioplay albums.
The regular on-air appearances resulted in a record contract with Larry Page’s Penny Farthing label with credits going to John Edward’s Instant Sound Productions.
Maggie Stredder, Gloria George and Marian Davis of The Ladybirds and the legendary Doris Troy were drafted in as background singers.
Although Pete played Hammond organ on one BBC recording, there are memories of Rick Wakeman’s piano-playing services being used on the B-side.
It was recorded in Pye Studios off Oxford Street, as Terry remembers it on 16th October 1970.
Alas, the record never took off sales-wise in the UK and more copies were sold in Japan than at home – not that the boys were informed of such at the time.
Heatwave - Rastus Ravel
Heatwave sometimes adopted unorthodox methods to promote their debut 45. Martin recalls,
Pete and I hijacked the BBC Radio One Club when it was on the air! Pete kept the DJ busy helping him hand out autographed pictures at the front of stage whilst I dropped our record on the deck and played it out. We were ejected into the back alley where the other 3 Heatwavers were waiting in the getaway Tranny van!
One gig at Chelsea’s Pheasantry Club ended in calamity when the band had signed off with Rastus Ravel and were exiting the stage only to hear Richard’s wah-wah intro cranking up again.
Everyone turned on Richard but he was guitarless! It was Alex, the DJ, playing the record again!
The boys always had a trick up their sleeve, sometimes dangerous ones. Ever seen a fire-eating drummer? Heatwave had one and gig-goers would often bear witness to a scene of fireballs! A flair (flare?) act indeed. Comedy mime routines would also take place on occasion.
Several self-penned Samuel tracks were offered to John Edward but, as agent, manager, songwriter, arranger and producer, he always had the final say and always insisted on using his own material.
All one shilling of publishing money was wisely spent on a hot cuppa, at the M1 Blue Boar Café, one wet and windy 3am on the way home from a gig.
Other acts in Edward’s portfolio were: Katch 22, Killing Floor, Portrait, Spencer Mac, Sir Percy Quintet, Love Children, Crazy Paving, Quincy, Magic Roundabout, Delroy Williams and Greenfield Hammer; soon to become Edison Lighthouse.
Early on, it would become apparent that, the only promoting John Edward was really concentrating on was John Edward!
The ‘uniform’ stage clobber (as seen on the German sleeve photo), made by The Carnaby Cavern in Ganton Street, just off Carnaby Street, owned by Danny Benjamin and managed by a very good friend Colin Wild, was purchased out of the band kitty so as not to infringe on their meagre £7-a-week each wage.
Despite almost poverty-level living, an impecunious Martin traded in his Premier drums for a new Ludwig kit at No. 4 Denmark Street in London's West End.
In 1971, Steve Rickard replaced Martin for refusing to lie about them NOT playing on the next record, I Hear A Melody on which Pete sang but the backline were sessionists. From this time on, many session players would come in and out for the pushed A-sides to battle alongside lush orchestrations but the mainframe of the band secured complete control of the B-sides.
Ironically, it is the B-side recordings that hold their own as the superior tracks. Check out the superb Oh My Eli as a prime example.
Oh My Eli
Let’s Get A Little Sentimental is probably best known for appearing in the film Taking Off and, as a subsequence, the soundtrack and tie-in single sold well in Japan. Incidentally, this song was a huge hit in New Zealand for Craig Scott in 1970 and U.K. beat outfit The Montanas also had a pop at it.
With Martin’s departure came another name change, this time to The Sensation. Never one to miss a promotion opportunity, the backwards vocals that appear in the final third of the Sensation - Baby is John Edward himself advertising the band's availability for bookings, even supplying a contact phone number!
The Sensation - Baby
Martin didn’t mope on the situation and joined The Crew, a 6-piece band who toured with Emperor Rosko in the Rosko International Roadshow. In fact, Martin played the London Bumpers club with Heatwave on a Saturday in June and then again two days later with The Crew!
The Crew would also play the Roundhouse and regularly at the Marquee Club and perform mostly original songs, some penned by Martin.
The Crew never made it to the recording studio after 1970 when Decca released their version of Cecilia.
Eventually, Martin was sacked from The Crew for kicking his drums off the stage and into the audience at the end of a frustrating gig at Chelsea Village in Bournemouth.
When Badfinger were auditioning for a Mike Gibbins replacement, Martin managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to own up to being a songwriter.
He’d been conditioned into believing bands didn’t want song-writing drummers so, when asked by Pete Ham, he denied he was skilled in such ways not knowing that they wanted an all-writing band.
Another Heatwave recorded incarnation was Peters World (no apostrophe) and, in 1971, CBS released 'Jambo Song' b/w (finally, a band original) John's 'Two Timing Baby', arranged by Dlrow / Sretep and played by all current members of the group.
This new name-change was merely a way around their MCA contract as MCA did not wish to release the song(s). When Steve Rickard departed, due to the failure of a single record to take off, Martin was asked to rejoin the group (The Sensations) which he did on the understanding more of the band's originals would be played and hopefully recorded.
John left The Sensations after getting married and before they became The Sensation in 1972.
Dave Myers was his replacement but soon left as the continual touring was just too much and so Terry, a lefty, switched (back) from guitar to bass – the first gig, as such, was in Southend.
He hooked up with Simon Raverne (Buddy Britten) in Jersey and then Dubai with cult Kult guitarist John Melhuish and Taffy Edwards under a range of names: The Sound, Country Sunshine, The Eternal Triangle and Cigarette And Burning Boots.
Much later, when it was discovered he had perfect meter (born with it), Martin spent time in Los Angeles as a studio house-drummer then, later in Hawaii as the beatman for the Bright Eye Band.
The rest of the group continued in one form or another, Pete, Richard and Terry performed as a drummer-less cabaret act until 1978 and the last Sensation single was a hit in Holland and resulted in performances on Dutch TV's biggest music show, Top Pops.
Some of their songs have since shown up on compilation albums, such as, Oh My Eli (1971) on The Electric Asylum Volume 3 and Black Eyed Woman (1973) on Boot Power and Boobs.
John stayed in the game playing in several rock and C&W outfits including Campbell's Country who released an obscure EP via the collectable SRT label.
Terry has retired from all form of toil and trouble and now travels the world.
Martin is a successful game designer and keeps his hand in as a lyricist when not sailing the seven seas.
Richard plays the occasional gig in a group known as Spiny Norman and Pete often sings karaoke – but only in Bulgaria when on holiday there.
Early recordings of ‘Stone Free’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ were demoed but there are no known surviving copies. A 4” spool of ¼” reel-to-reel tape has recently been unearthed.
It features 21 tracks spread over live sessions at Chelsea’s Kings Road Pheasantry Club plus BBC studio work.
More news of this in the near future.
Col Wolfe / April 2012
Col would like to thank the whole band for their assistance in pulling this story together with particular gratitude to Martin Samuel for his infectious enthusiasm for the project.