The year was now 1970 and having moved into London from Berkshire, Kellie was actively looking for the songwriter who would form the basis of his next career move. In the meantime he was recording with various artists; George Harrison, Traffic, Peter Frampton among others and shared the drumming with Kenny Jones on The Jerry Lee Lewis London sessions album. He was also summoned by Pete Townsend to perform on a couple of songs for the soundtrack to Ken Russell’s film of Tommy. In 1974 he joined Johnny Hallyday, the french “Elvis” for the annual summer tour of France. Having been part of the studio band Johnny used to record his cover songs for the French market it seemed a good idea to take Kellie on the road following the departure of long time English drummer Tommy Brown. Kellie’s Spooky Tooth colleague Gary Wright along with Peter Frampton with Pat Donaldson on bass were all members of the studio band. Recordings were done at Olympic studios in Barnes & engineer Chris Kimsey called Kellie one day & asked him if he would enjoy playing with Johnny for the summer. It was 1974. Kellie remember’s the time fondly...”it really was like being on tour with Elvis & the all French band really did “cook”. We had a fantastic standard of living but I confess that I allowed my ego to become inflated and we parted company after one tour. I learned an important lesson that year !”...
When at home Kellie’s trademark Ludwig kit was stored at a rehearsal studio situated above The Furniture Cave on New King’s Road, Chelsea. The studio was run by a close acquaintance, Manolo Ventura a native of Lima, Peru.. Manno as he was known, called Kellie in one day and said there was someone he wanted him to meet. ”...he opened the door to one of the larger rooms and we entered. That is where I had my first meeting with Peter Perrett...” At the far end of the dimly lit room was a small group of musicians and a couple of ladies. On rhythm guitar was Perrett with Glen Tilbrook on lead and John Perry on bass. Initially they were all introduced and after a while Kellie was invited back to the house in Blackheath where Perrett and his wife Zena were living. During the next few hours Kellie remembers being fascinated by these folk. Perry joined them at the house and Peter’s demos were played. Kellie recalls “...I remember well the feeling I had when I first heard Peter’s demos . I knew I wanted to play in a band with him. It was a delight to hear meaningful romantic lyrics with an edge and powerful melodic musical settings. The most immediate song was “Out There in The Night” a beautifully crafted song of lost love and sweet pain. I made up my mind there and then that, whether he liked it or not, I was going to form a band with this guy...”
The year was 1976, a very hot summer and Perrett, Perry and now Kellie began rehearsing at Manno’s on a daily basis whilst looking for a bass player to complete the line-up. John Perry was now on guitar as Glenn Tilbrook was occupied with the formation of Squeeze.
At this time Kellie’s marriage had failed and he moved in with the Perretts in Blackheath. Perrett has since circulated a story of Kellie “living in the shed at the bottom of the garden” which Kellie has always denied...” there WAS a shed and in that hot summer it was used for all sorts of things but ”Mon Repose” was NOT one of them....” The routine seems to have been that they would drive in to Chelsea at around lunchtime and rehearse until early evening. Perry was already living in Chelsea..... ”there was something very naturally creative and surprisingly secure in my new found friendship with Mr & Mrs Perrett. They made me welcome and seemed to accept completely my decision to move into their life! There is no doubt that I knew Peter was a special talent. His rhythm guitar playing was another point of creative contact, and still is, on the rare occasions that we play together. Rhythm guitar is a very specific talent and there are not many good ones around...”
How they found a bass player is best described by the bass player himself. Alan Mair has been quoted as saying that on a visit to the rehearsal studios one afternoon he spied a very attractive, leggy brunette in a mini skirt. She disappeared into one of the rooms from where the sound of loud music could be heard. As he put his head round the door he saw the trio in full flow. As he watched he remembers recognising Kellie as the drummer from Spooky Tooth and wondering what he was doing playing with these guys?....MK again. “.. my recollection is of this guy putting his head round the door briefly then disappearing. What has always amazed me is the fact that at the end of that song, whatever it was, something led me to find Manno and ask him the identity of the stranger and did he play bass?..”. Manno only knew that his name was Alan Mair and he had a boot stall in Kensington Market. He thought he played guitar too. That evening Alan Mair got a call. .... “Yes I play bass but I’m concentrating on guitar at the moment. Don’t wanna play bass anymore”...Kellie remembers the response well...”I was initially devastated, he seemed adamant that bass was not for him anymore but I did persuade him to visit the house in Blackheath and as soon as he heard Peter’s demos he was hooked. He started rehearsing with us, on bass, very soon afterwards. It was the most natural thing in the world.” The titanium rhythm section was formed and the quartet complete. As the long hot summer continued the band grew strong. Now they needed a name. Perrett woke up after a dream one night wrote something down on a piece of paper and went back to sleep. The words on that paper read The Only Ones and that was to be the name of the band. Kellie “...I remember thinking that it was a bit of an arrogant name but Peter was sure and we all gradually got used to it...”. The fact was they are The Only Ones who could make that sound !..... The whole story is well documented in Nina Antonia’s book “The One & Only Peter Perrett- Homme Fatale” The decadent times of The Only Ones.(S.A.F.publishing Ltd 1996). It packs a punch but never the less is an accurate account of the band’s formation & subsequent career until their breakup in 1981.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Rehearsals were intense hard work. The band sounded good and looked good. It was of course 1976 and a social revolution was looming. Disillusioned with having no future Britain’s youth were frustrated and angry and only a spark was necessary to light the fire of rebellion. The spark came in the form of Malcolm Maclaren. Through his King’s Road shop SEX he put together a group to be known as The Sex Pistols and the now infamous interview with Reg Grundy on an evening television news programme began the era known as Punk. There was a backlash against the comfortable musicians of the 1960’s in their ivory towers. The youth culture armed with 3 chords and lots of attitude began it’s assault on Thatcher’s Britain.
The Only Ones were going to have to deal with this if they wanted to make a mark. Having a drummer who had been part of that comfortable era of the 1960’s was the kiss of death and Kellie remembers having to keep very quiet about his previous career in order for Zena Perrett, now the band’s manager, to secure their first gig which came in the form of The Greyhound, a pub on Fulham Palace Road run by a music loving Scot named Duncan. He was a big fan of music and football and was a great supporter of new bands. Zena arranged a date for the band’s first live performance.
Meanwhile The Only Ones had started recording some tracks. They were self financed due mainly to Zena’s clothes designing and Peter’s poker playing amongst other things. They decided to put out a 12inch single on their own label something a lot of bands were doing at that time. The two tracks chosen were “Lovers of Today” and “Peter &The Pets”. The record was pressed, labels designed and printed and the whole group sat around at one of the Perrett’s south east London flats sticking labels on a run of 1000 copies in true “cottage industry” style.
That was pretty much how their whole career was handled. Peter Perrett had always been used to getting his own way or making people pay the price if they prevented him and this was reflected in the label title “Vengeance”. The singer’s boyish good looks and undeniable sharpness of mind meant that Perry, Mair & Kellie were always playing catch-up. Even Kellie’s passionate enthusiasm could only sometimes influence the songwriter to re-think something...Peter & Zena were a force to be reckoned with in many ways but history paints a picture of a couple who never quite reached the heights people expected mainly it could be argued because of their habit of “cutting off the nose to spite the face”. In the end this large world and the big players in it never really took The Only Ones seriously and eventually after some success, a devoted cult following and “Another Girl, Another Planet” in most observers’ all time greatest pop singles chart, the drug reaper got his men. Perrett and Perry both succumbed to the rampant invasion of heroin at that time...the late 1970’s & early ‘80’s ....while Kellie in typical fashion dabbled, trying to keep up, but in the end in his own words....” I always enjoyed a smoke but was getting caught up in a very ugly hard drug scene. There’s no doubting the seductive effect of heroin but in order to give in I found I had to give up all sense of self respect and vanity, two qualities which every functioning human being need to some degree. I was not prepared to sell my soul. The seeds sown by early parenting are often the ones coming to one’s aid at times like this. I had a couple of day’s discomfort and have never touched it again. That was early 1981”....Throughout these events Alan maintained his position of enjoying life for what it is and only occasionally taking a puff of a joint when offered, usually at some kind of celebration... a final mix for example or a good show when everyone had something to celebrate.
There will always be arguments for or against the recreational use of drugs as an artistic aid but this is not the platform from which to launch those arguments.
Following a disastrous end to an American tour of late 1980 both Mair & Kellie decided enough was enough....Perrett reluctantly agreed and Perry raised his hand in agreement. The Lyceum in London’s Strand was the scene of the farewell performance.
Kellie again...” It seems ironic that the band, the road crew and especially the light show, with the mirrorball coming into play for the climactic “Another Girl”, all fell into place for that event - as anyone who was there will tell you...”
The year was 1981.....it would be 2007 before The Only Ones performed together again.
Copyright Control Mike Kellie 2012