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Interview: BOB DAISLEY

Rock Stars...

Bassist Bob Daisley has played with a lot of the top rock and metal artists. Relocating from his native Australia to London in the early 70s, he went through Widowmaker, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, several stints with Ozzy Osbourne and Gary Moore, then Mother's Army (with Joe Lynn Turner and Carmine Appice) and a host of other sessions, with a Black Sabbath album along the way. A reformation of Daisley's first recording band, Kahvas Jute, led to a live set by Jon Lord & The Hoochie Coochie Men, then the all star Living Loud project.

Bob was recently in London adding Jon Lord's keyboards to a Hoochie Coochie Men studio album, and this month also sees the reissue of the original Kahvas Jute album on CD, with several live cuts recorded at last year reunion gig.

You've come over to London, what have you been recording?

Just been adding finishing touches to the new album by The Hoochie Coochie Men, with Jon Lord. We worked together a couple of years ago when Jon came to Sydney, Australia. I met up with him and had dinner, and we talked about him doing some shows with us. We did one is Sydney and one in Queensland and the Sydney one was filmed, it's now a live DVD. And I just found out that, he recently told me, that that gig in The Basement in Sydney is one of the top ten of his all time favourite gigs. That's a big plus for that one, he's done a lot of gigs with a lot of people.

We've done a studio album, done all the parts, and I've brought it over to Jon to put his part. It is a blues album but not a strict blues album, there's some cross over points.

Bob Daisley

How did the reissue of the Kavhas Jute album come about?

When we signed, in 1970, we had a shitty deal. A couple of years ago we talked about putting the band back together, doing some new material, and maybe seeing if we could licence the original material and do it ourselves. So it's about to be reissued, remastered so it's a little heavier, better quality sound. This one's a bit louder as well. We recorded 6 new songs in the studio to go with a DVD of the reunion gig we did at The Basement. It was just like the original band. So many reform, we talking like 35 years later, we worked hard at it, sounds just like the original band.

So what kind of music were you playing at the time?

With Kahvas Jute? The album Wide Open, we did in 1971, was all original material, but we did do one cover at the time, a Cream song called "Politician". We did that at The Basement as well, it's come out great. Our influences were Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, most of it blues orientated. The studio tracks we've done for the DVD I'm really pleased with. The original studio album will have some bonus tracks, some live tracks from reunion show at The Basement as well.

So what brought you to London?

Kahvas Jute actually came to London in 1971. We really wanted to be a power trio. I wanted to stay in Australia and maybe try and establish the band a bit more. They left and came over here, then I got the phone call saying they couldn't find anyone to play like me, to fill the band, so why don't I get my amp and get a plane ticket and come over.

Then day before I was due to leave I got a phone call saying not to worry because they'd found someone. But my friends and family all encouraged me to go, I was only 21, just a kid. I knew someone who'd been working with Led Zeppelin from day 1, stage managing, so I went to stay with him for a bit, looked for work, and I got given a bit of paper with Stan Webb's number on it. Went to Olympic Studios, did my audition with Stan.

I phoned the producer who was there that day, and he told me he was going to keep the bass player he had for a while. Then February 13th, my birthday, in 1972, I was in a pub in Holland Park, went for a drink, and there was Stan in there. He's quite tall, he looks over everyone's heads and says "Hey you still want that gig?" I said yeah and he said "Right you're in"!

I was in Chicken Shack for about 18 months, and they had the same management as Mungo Jerry. They folded for a while, then they tried to put a rock band together, make it a bit harder, so I was talked into doing the Mungo Jerry thing. It was an experience. Musically it wasn't my cup of tea. It was an experience, doing Top Of The Pops.

One of my favourite bands at the time was The Faces, and I loved Bad Company as well, so I got into this new band Widomaker who played that kind of thing. Was enjoyable musically. But they fought a lot, squabbled, which didn't help going on the road.

So when I was in LA doing the second Widomaker album ‘Too Late To Cry'. I met up with a mate of mine, who was a mate of Ritchie Blackmore's. He told me Ritchie was looking for a bass player, was I interested, and I said yes I was. Widowmaker was pissing me off a bit, so we went out with Ritchie one night and had a few drinks and chatted and he asked me down for an audition. They'd auditioned something like 40 bass players.

Ritchie put me through the paces and he wanted someone who played with a pick, and I did, played with precision, a punch. Ritchie made the decision and someone said the gig's mine if I want it and the thing is I said I'd think about it. I felt a bit of loyalty with Widomaker, and I was a bit wary of Ritchie's reputation for chewing people up and spitting them out; people were bending my ear, saying be careful I could be out of a gig in a couple of months. But it was a career move.

We did a gig at the Whiskey A-Go Go, Ritchie came to the gig, and as usual after the gig there was the bitching and punching and I thought Oh fuck this. Ritchie had gone off to The Rainbow Bar & Grill, so I said to the band I'm off to The Rainbow. Got in there, and there was Ritchie, and he started clapping as I went in. I had made up my mind, well the decision was made for me. Joined Rainbow, started rehearsing, and that was it.

Hadn't a lot of the album been completed by the time you joined?

Yes. Mark Clarke had gone, and Ritchie had done most of the bass parts. I think the ones I didn't play on were all Ritchie. I played on "Gates Of Babylon", "Kill The King" and "Sensitive To Light".

How did the tour go?

There were a lot of shows. I remember checking into a hotel somewhere, we did all of Europe, all of Scandinavia, we were in Japan for a month. We did 3 nights at the Budokan in Tokyo. Went all round America and Canada for months. Well we were checking into this hotel and Ritchie sat down next to me and said "Do you ever feel like Marco Polo?" (laughs). Another gig, another town, another hotel. All went well

Have you seen the recent DVD, the Munich gig?

Yeah, it's been floating around for a while now, as a bootleg. It was shown in German TV, and there were lots of copies of that. Quite often bad copies, you know 6th generation stuff. It's nice to see it done properly and actually see it released. The version here has a replica of the tour programme, well it's my programme they used.

How evident was Ritchie's more commercial direction back then?

Very evident. They were good pop singles and they did well, but we were a hard hitting band with balls and then all of a sudden there's radio pop tunes. For me it lost a bit of respect and credibility. I think there was a bit of a cross over tide and Long Live Rock'n'Roll, I think he was aiming to do something along the lines of what Bad Company did.

I think Ronnie and Ritchie were getting to a point where they weren't comfortable, there was something going on there. Certainly a vibe towards the end of the American tour.

I remember Ronnie pulling me to one side and saying would I be interested in putting a band together, there's a possibility the band may fold, would you be interested in putting a band together with me and I said yeah I would.

Later I heard it was just Ronnie and Ritchie to part company, and Cozy would stay with Ritchie, and Ritchie would need another writing partner because Ronnie and Ritchie had written all the songs. So that's why he got in Roger Glover, his old writing partner, and I can understand that. I hadn't written much stuff at that stage.

Rainbow didn't suddenly fall apart, it kind of petered out, I got the phone call from Ronnie saying he's trying to sort out some stuff, so hang in there. So I waited round, and a few months later the music papers, Melody Maker and NME, announce that Ronnie's joining Black Sabbath so I thought thank you very much!

Anyway I'd been looking for stuff, so I went up to the Music Machine in Camden, to see Girl, you know the band with Phil Collen from Def Leppard? Well they'd been on Jet Records, and Widowmaker had been on Jet Records, so I went up there to see if I saw anyone I know. I got introduced to Ozzy who said he was trying to put a band together.

So I went up and saw Ozzy at his house. We really got on, Ozzy and I, and he had these other guys up there, a drummer, nice enough guys, but I took him to one side and said look, if you really want to get serious, I don't think it's gonna work out, so Ozzy walked out of the kitchen and into the rehearsal room at his place and said "Hey Fellas I don't think it's gonna work out so pack up" and off they went and he came back in.

He says there's this guitarist in LA he's seen play called Randy Rhodes who's a guitar teacher and when I thought of guitar teacher I thought of slippers and a pipe and a dressing gown, and young and fiery was not what I envisaged (laughs).

Those first two Ozzy albums are considered pretty classic now...

Oh yes very classic, especially in America. They always get mentioned in top ten rock albums or albums you should have in your collection

What about the second album crediting different musicians? Was it Aldridge and Sarzo?

Yeah, who hadn't played a note on it. When that second album came out there was a review in Melody Maker or NME or something that said you can really hear the difference with the American rhythm section on it, rather than Kerslake and me. Fucking idiot, go and learn your job. Ha Ha Ha

It was exactly the same band. It was Blizzard Of Oz, it wasn't the Ozzy Osbourne Band and it wasn't Ozzy solo, it was Blizzard Of Oz.

So after we did the first album, Sharon came along with Ozzy, got her claws in and hooked him, she wanted to promote him, make it more of a solo thing, you know, the Ozzy Osbourne Show.

So why did they get of you and (drummer) Lee Kerslake?

Well, like Ritchie, we'd auditioned about 40 drummers until Kerslake came along, and we finally gotg the right guy. They would have preferred Tommy Aldridge, who wasn't available at the time. When we got Lee, I thought he was perfect. After we've don't the first album and Sharon, well she's on the scene, Sharon starting pulling me aside and saying "Let's get rid of Lee" and said no, it's not broken, don't try and fix it. Tommy's a nice bloke and a great drummer but he's not as suitable for this band as Lee is. And the kept on and on and on and I kept saying no so in the end they got rid of us both.

And the kept on asking me back, obviously.

Must have seemed weird being fired and re-hired?

Well it didn't surprise me, because I heard they never really wanted to get rid of me anyway, they just did because they wanted to get rid of Lee.

Then you joined Uriah Heep with Lee.

Yes, well they reformed Uriah Heep, because they'd broken up. Lee got back in touch with Mick Box and I was with Lee and it happened from there.

Two good albums though.

Yes, it was an enjoyable band. Really lovely blokes, Lee was like a brother and Mick was, everyone got on well. Nobody bustling anybody around, a democracy, it was like a family.

How much did you do on Black Sabbath's Eternal Idol LP?

I played on the whole album, even though they credited Dave Spitz, Dave didn't play a note on it, another one of those, you know, and I wrote a lot of the lyrics. Some of those got changed when, you see Ray Gillan was in the band, he did all the vocals, then he left and they replaced his vocals with Tony Martin and they changed a few of the lyrics but I wrote a lot of the lyrics on that album. Ray had some lyrics but he wasn't a strong lyricist. And they asked me to join the band but I was with Gary Moore at the time.

You spent a lot of time in the 80s between Gary and Ozzy.

Gary was great to work with. A lot of great rock stuff. That After The War was good. I did some tracks on Victims Of The Future, some tracks on Run For Cover, all of Wild Frontier, all of After The War, then some tracks on Still Got The Blues and After Hours.

How come the After The War tour didn't work out with Cozy?

There was no bust up personality wise. When Cozy played on the album and we came to rehearse the album, Gary is very very particular about making it sound like the record, so if Cozy jumped around a bit or hadn't learned a fill that was in the recorded version, he would get looks from Gary. I think Cozy wanted to play a bit looser than Gary, and also Cozy would sometimes speed up or pull back and Gary was getting pissed off with that.

I remember at the end of the first week, I got home and phoned Gary and said "Are you sure about this? I don't know if it's going to work out" and Gary said sure it was OK, it'll be ok, and by the end of the second week, Gary was phoning me, saying "I think you're right"(laughs) and so it just didn't work out. There was no animosity, no bad feeling, it just didn't feel right. We got Chris Slade in, postponed some shows and did the whole set in a couple of days. It was a lot of extra work.

And of course the album featured Ozzy on Led Clones

Yeah that was just a piss take of all the bands that sounded exactly like Led Zeppelin, like Kingdom Come.

You were with Gary when he then moved to the blues.

Yes that was my idea. Gary would play odd little bits from the Bluesbreakers and stuff and I said Hey Gary why don't you do a blues album. He chewed it over in his head and said that's not a bad idea. It was supposed to just be a one off. I think I played on four tracks, I thought I was going to do the whole album, you know having been in the band and coming up with the idea, but I just played on four tracks. I remember saying Gary this will be the biggest album you've done and it was. End of that year he phoned me to say Happy New Year and yes you were right, it's done 3 million and it's still going.

After that, how did Mother's Army come about?

I got a phone call from Carmine Appice, asked me what I was doing, and I was just about to leave, go back to Australia to produce a band, and Carmine said that he and Jeff Watson (Nightranger) were putting a band together and was I interested? So he says come via LA and spend a couple of days together. We all seemed to hit it off. We needed a singer, and we had a singer from Sacremento for a little while, who wasn't quite right. So I started pestering Joe Lynn Turner, who at first didn't want to do it.

So I said "Come on Joe, you got to do it, get your arse out here" and eventually he gave in. Sounded great with Joe in it. That was about 1992 and every record company was flying into Seattle to sign any and every grunge band there was because there'd been some successful grunge band out of Seattle. And most of it's shite. Crap.

We did three albums, the second was Planet Earth and the third was Fire On The Moon, a nice rocky album.

Then you got back with Gary for Power Of The Blues?

It was funny you know, in 2003, I'd done the Jon Lord thing in Australia, the DVD and all that (Jon Lord & The Hoochie Coochie Men), then Living Loud with Steve Morse, Jimmy Barnes, Don Airey and Lee Kerslake, and it was getting towards the end of the year, I think it was November, and I was sitting watching television. It was some documentary about air disasters, and a day or two later the phone rang and it was Gary. He said "I'm doing an album, you want to play on it?" and "Can you be in London next week?" (laughs) so over I came. I was really pleased to do it because it was a good blues album and it had some rough edges, Gary playing like a demon. Not so polished, that's when he's at his best. Takes me back to the first blues album, raw, the spontaneity.

You were back in Australia, how did the Hoochie Coochie Men come about?

I just hooked up with an old pal of mine I'd been in Kahvas Jute with, and he had a blues band that were called... (thinks) something else, and I did a couple of gigs with them. They asked me to join the band and I did, and he said we have to find a name. I was looking through my records and saw the old Willie Dixon song Hoochie Coochie Man, and I though what a name for a blues band, The Hoochie Coochie Men.

I didn't know it at the time but back in the 60s Long John Baldry had a band called the Hoochie Coochie Men, I only found that out recently. We just did some gigs around. Very enjoyable, you know, and when Jon Lord came into town I hooked up with him, and the live show sold well, so I thought let's do a studio album! And Jimmy Barnes got up and did a few songs with us, and Jimmy's got a guest with us on this new studio album, along with another very good singer from Australia called Jeff Duff, and it looks like Ian Gillan's going to do a couple as well. That'll be nice because we'll have Jon and Ian together on a couple of tracks. Excellent!

How about Living Loud?

The Living Loud album came about, my manager in Australia who represents me, gave me a phone call, said Jon was in town, and said why don't I, Jon and Jimmy do an album together? I think Jon was still in Deep Purple or just come out, and I knew Lee Kerslake so there was the band. You see Lee and myself talked about redoing some of the Ozzy songs many years ago.

We didn't do those songs in retaliation for what the Osbournes did, we had wanted to do that for quite some time. The initial idea was just to do an album of those songs, and use guests on it, like Gary Moore, Brian May, Ronnie James Dio, different singers, different guitarists, couple of keyboard players, but when the opportunity came along with Steve Morse and Jimmy Barnes; Lee Kerslake and myself flew out to Steve's place in Florida, we just started playing together and thought there's some magic here. Do we need any other guitarists? No I don't think so.

Jimmy came in a couple of days later and sung, rearranged some of the Ozzy songs and writing new stuff. It was pretty much like a band. Don Airey had agreed to do some keyboards, and as Jon wasn't available so when it came to do the keyboards Don just did it. Probably better, just one of everything instead of lots of guests. I've played with Don before, with Ozzy and Gary, so it felt like a band.

I was really pleased with it and there will be another one, when we get the opportunity. We're spread around the world and in different bands doing different things.

When Steve was over with Purple we went over to Jimmy Barnes' place, ‘cause he's in Sydney as well, knocked up some song ideas, so there's movement there already.

Any bad feelings about what happened with Ozzy?

I think it's sad. I don't really feel bitter, but we were treated unfairly, we put so much into those albums, and they wouldn't have had those albums if it wasn't for us. Those albums he still lives on. Trademark songs, then he takes us off them because we were suing him for unpaid royalties. We expected to be insulted by them because they were bitter against us. But it was an insult to Randy Rhodes, it could have been someone else. It was an insult to Randy's mum because he died in the line of duty. I spoke to her, she thought it was terrible. But the biggest insult was to the record buying public. People were so disappointed. I get letters on the website all the time.

Someone copied them for me, and I actually burst out laughing. It doesn't sound real, or natural, it sounds like a tribute band.

Any other current projects?

Apart from the Hoochie Coochie Men, there's the Kahvas Jute thing, which we recorded and filmed last year. Just putting the finishing touches to that. Six new studio songs, the old album has been remastered and about to be re-released. All that's about to happen. I've just done the keyboards on the Hoochie Coochie Men album with Jon Lord so I'll take that back. We can mix songs that don't need any more doing, there's two songs that Jimmy Barnes hasn't sung on yet, a couple that Ian Gillan's going to sing on, I'm really looking forward to that album being released.

And the name Kahvas Jute?

This was 1970, we wanted a name, and there was a lot of hippies and pot smoking around, and heavy bands. And we wanted a weird sounding name, so we opened a Pears Encyclopedia. We opened it up and pointed and the first word that came up was Jute, which we looked up and it was a form of hemp, which in 1970 was cool, and the next word we looked up was Kavass, which was a Turkish law officer, so we thought Jute Kavass, which didn't sound quite right. Kavass Jute, then we thought we'd spell it a different way, so Kahvas Jute, a pot smoking Turkish law officer (Laughs)

I remember as my daughters were growing up, in their teens, they were in the thick of it, the Ozzy albums, the Gary Moore albums, and they always said the Kahvas Jute stuff, that's the coolest. It's got a special energy about it. From the heart.

Interview © August 2006 Joe Geesin

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