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Bass player Mo Foster's CV looks like a "who's who of rock". He's played with everyone from Jeff Beck to Cliff Richard, written a book about British rock guitar and is also a producer and arranger. Several albums have been released on Angel Air featuring Mo's work with Fancy and Affinity in the seventies. A 1988 album 'Bel Assis' has also been reissued.

1. What are you currently up to?

I’m re-mastering a lot of back catalogue albums for Angel Air Records -not only all of my solo projects, but also for artists such as Maggie Bell, Mike d’Abo, and Affinity. The excellent Simon Smart engineered alI of these projects. In addition I’ve just co-produced with guitarist Ray Russell a DVD of our concert with Gil Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1983. And I’ve even produced a comedy album for the R.J.Wagsmith Band! I haven’t toured since 1983 I’d had enough by then.

2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?

Highlights: Being onstage with Jeff Beck - on some nights it felt like I was floating in space. Early sessions: I loved the sense of humour - I felt as if I’d ‘come home’. And I was initially thrilled to be paid well for something that I would have gladly done for nothing. In the 70s/80s it was a joy to be booked to record at exotic overseas studios such as Air in Montserrat, and Caribou in Colorado. Eventually discovering my ‘voice’ on Fretless Bass Seeing my book, Seventeen Watts?, in print for the very first time. Being asked by ex-Shadow, Jet Harris, to write his biography (sadly, I had to turn down his offer as I am unable to fit it in to my schedule right now).

Low points:

Late 60s - I hurt my back badly whilst helping to carry a Hammond Organ up a spiral staircase. When travelling, the only position that didn’t hurt was kneeling. As a consequence and as thousands of miles of beautiful European scenery flashed past Affinity’s grey Ford Transit all I could see from the windowless back seat was a few rivets in the van’s central partition as they vibrated up-and-down, inches from my nose. When I realised that there is no longer a ‘session scene’ in London.

3. How did you first get into the music business? Who have been your main influences on your career to date?

Quick answer: Although I had been a bass-player at school, at university (Sussex) I changed over to drums and played in a jazz trio. Afterwards, although I had fully intended to be a physicist, I was drawn into the formation of Affinity - with me back on bass. We were managed by Ronnie Scott. I later met ex-Manfred Mike d’Abo, and through his producer I encountered sessions. End of science career. Re influential bass-players and in no particular order: Jet Harris, Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce, Carol Kaye, Steve Swallow, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Ronnie Lane, Marcus Miller, Leland Sklar, Paul McCartney, Anthony Jackson. Finally I must borrow a quote from Gil Evans: Everybody who gave me a moment of beauty, significance, excitement has been a teacher.

4. Angel Air has just released an Affinity CD. How did the band come together and what were the musical highlights for you personally?

The original band was formed by three ex-University of Sussex students on a mission to avoid ‘real’ jobs - it was the 60s, a period of great optimism. The other guys (inc singer Linda Hoyle) came via word-of-mouth.

On early tours it was interesting and informative to travel around Europe and Scandinavia at ‘ground-level’ since later tours involved flying, where you never had a feel for where you were.

It was a thrill to record our album at Trident Studios in Soho (as used by The Beatles and Elton John).

It was a buzz to play at Ronnie Scott’s Club opposite such luminaries as Stan Getz, Gary Burton, Elvin Jones, and Jack de Johnette.

I spent a big part of this year (2003) putting together an album featuring Affinity’s later singer, Vivienne McAuliffe, who sadly died a few years ago. It was a strange experience going through the tapes and re-living all of the mad conversations between the tracks.

5. You have worked with so many artists - Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, etc who did you enjoy working with the most and who else would you like to work with in the future?

Over a long period I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful artists and musicians that there is no ‘best’. OK - just a couple of examples: I loved working with Jeff - he’s such an intuitive player. Every concert was so different and emotional.

I was both thrilled and terrified to play in Gil Evans’ British Orchestra. I had been a fan of his orchestration since his work with Miles Davis in the late50s/early60s. To play with ‘the man’ was overpowering.

On tour with Phil Collins I learnt the meaning of the word ‘professional’.

It’s strange for me to realise this but, over a long period, I’ve played with almost everyone I’ve ever wanted to play with. There are very few artists I still have aspirations to play with.

I would have loved to play with Miles Davis - although I think he would have scared the shit out of me.

I have been a fan of Joni Mitchell throughout her entire career. I would love to record with her.

Arranger Vince Mendoza writes harmonies that bring tears to the eyes and make the back tingle. Just call - I’ll be there!

6. What style of playing gives you the most pleasure and how has your style of playing changed over the years?

I now love playing fretless bass - it allows me to ‘sing’ (something my normal voice doesn’t) - although it took me over twenty years to find out how to do it.

I love playing the bass guitar in all of its forms. And I have discovered that it is more satisfying to play one long note beautifully than many short notes with a duff sound. Emotion is everything.

Mo Foster


7. You set up your own label Primrose Hill. How easy/hard was it to get the label up and running? Do you think the music industry fares better with smaller, independent labels that are run by fans/artists than the majors who are forever chasing the latest fashion band/artist?

In 1999 I recorded an acoustic/instrumental album - which later became known as Time To Think - in a church in Oxford. A friend pointed out that since I’m over 18, can’t sing, can’t dance, and don’t have tits, I’m going to have a terrible problem finding a suitable record label for this album. Pragmatism reared its head and I began asking questions. I spent about six months researching all aspects of starting your own record company. It just happened that at this time I was also setting up my website,, with the help of my Webmaster chum Kurt Adkins. Out of this sprang Primrose Hill Records, with a gorgeous logo designed by Alison Eyre. It was at this point I developed the surreal idea that I - as artist – should ring the head of the record company, ie: me. But I’ll be at lunch!

I have since discovered that it very hard to run a record company. It is great in theory, but the day-to-day beauracracy stops you composing and playing – which is why you’re here in the first place. And distribution – especially overseas – can be a nightmare, and so I am happy to hand over my albums to Angel Air Records, who know what they’re doing. Although for the next few months the last few copies of Time To Think on PHR will still be available from

In spite of the above I still think that the smaller labels have an important part to play - they take more risks. The major labels seem to be be employing ‘children’ with no sense of music history in their a&r departments and, as a consequence, there is no new music of any substance appearing on the scene. The big companies - who are also now entirely accountant led - are too afraid to commit or support anything that deviates from a formula.

8. Is there anything you would still like to achieve musically?

To play better.

To co-write the music for HAKA, a film that my wife, Kay, is producing.

To be more aware of orchestration.

To produce more - my last major production (apart from solo stuff) was an album called The Old Hyde for Deborah Bonham (the younger sister of the late John Bonham).

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

I read a lot, especially biography; I walk; I go to movies; I eat too much; I go to museums; I meet friends; I intend to travel more - but there will be no gigs in the evening!

10. Message to your fans...

Hallo to both of you! I hope you enjoy all of my latest albums.


Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

All rights reserved.

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