Third World War 1970 - 1972
First off, I have to say that John Fenton came up with the band name and the concept of the name, not meaning war as we initially think of it, but a war of our own personal survival, that line of thought opened the gates for Jim Avery and myself, regarding writing songs along the lines of that concept.
On the first Third World War album the three “Rs” in red stand for “Reading, W’riting and A’rithmetic”.
When the Wimbledon Palais closed sometime in 1967, I was out of a “gig”, playing there in the resident band had been a steady money maker and of course I got to see most of the headlining groups of the early sixties.
For some reason I wrote a song called “Tobacco Ash Sunday” which found it’s way to Schroeder Music Publishing Co in London. That song was picked up by a band called “Harsh Reality” and came out on a 45 record. The band had a kinda “Procol Harem” feel, heavy organ and a good singer.
That bought me to the attention of John Fenton the manager at Schroeder Music at that time, who had a group of songwriters and musicians under his “wing” called “Writers Workshop” where the idea was to write “hit” songs for Schroeder Music, for the “pop stars” of the day to record. Of interest to some maybe that one of the musicians in Writers Workshop was Jerry Donahue who I believe went on to work with Sandy Denny.
The Writers Workshop more or less dragged along, myself seemingly supplying most of the song input until John Fenton quit working for Schroeder Music, sometime in 1968, kinda leaving me marooned there, as he had signed me to a five year songwriting contract.
Now Fenton knew Denny Cordell who was at that time working for David Platz at Essex Music, at that time located on Oxford Street and I guessed he was going to work at Essex Music. I recall him telling me before he left Schroeder Music that the idea had come up of a group with myself, Jim Avery, Joe Cocker and Chris Stainton (Jim, Joe and Chris being with Essex Music at that time) , as we were all songwriters and singer songwriters were what Essex Music specialized in (Bowie, Bolan, etc. Of course, the only problem being that John Fenton had signed me to Schroeder Music so that idea went out of the window.
Around the Spring of 1970 John Fenton called me, to come up to his place in Knightsbridge and start writing songs with Jim Avery. On meeting Jim we wrote a piece called “Holy Roller” right on the spot, this got Fenton's fuse burning and he set up a recording session at ATV in Wembly to record “Holy Roller”. Jim knew Mick Liber a lead guitar player on the Ealing Pub scene (Mick played lead guitar on Rod Stewart's "In a Broken Dream) and Fenton knew a Jamaican (I guess) drummer who was working with Jimi Hendrix called Conrad Isadore. So the recording of “Holy Roller” had myself, vocals/chopper guitar, Jim Avery, bass, Mick Liber lead guitar and Conrad Isadore, drums. We recorded live, no added vocal or lead guitar. As we had only the one song we just kept recording it over and over, as it seemed to get better with every take. Somehow Mick Liber had got hold of a bottle of brandy and was hitting it heavy between takes, eventually Mick passed out, flat on his back, with his guitar feeding back and that was the end of the session. I recall, at the time (1970) that song “Holy Roller” was one of the most violent pieces of rock music I had ever heard and I have not heard it since.
Now, I think John Fenton took a tape of “Holy Roller” to David Platz at Essex Music and on hearing it Platz put up the money to record the first TWW album - suddenly my truck driving day's were gone, Fenton had me and Jim Avery on the payroll, writing songs for the album... what a life, getting paid to write songs, I was laughing my balls off.
Sometime in late 1970 we went in to record the first TWW album at Island Studio's (located somewhere around Nottinghill Gate), the studio was in the basement of a church. The musicians were myself vocals/chopper guitar, Jim Avery bass, Mick Liber, lead guitar and Fred Smith drums. Tony Ashton (composer of Ressurection Shuffle) came in to put some piano on some of the tracks (Mick Liber joined Tony's band - Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke - a little later). Jim Price and Bobby Keyes came in and put horns on some of the tracks, Keyes and Price (Americans, worked with Delaney and Bonney) were working with the Rolling Stones at that time and John Fenton ran into them both in a Soho club called the Speakeasy and invited them to add horns). The recorded tracks were on 16 track tape, vocals, lead guitar, piano and horns were added to the basic tracks, except for “Teddy Teeth Goes Sailing” and “Get Out of Bed you Dirty Red”, which I recorded, studio live.
After the first TWW album was released things kinda went into a routine for a while, falling into a 9 to 5 “workday” for me. At that time I lived in Ashford Middlesex and would commute up to John Fenton’s flat in Knightsbridge, where Jim had rented a room. Jim and I would kick around song ideas usually till the pubs opened at 11 a.m. where we would hang out until they closed at three, I would then drift back home again, with a drink inside me, often getting on the wrong train at Waterloo or Richmond and wind up at Wimbledon or someplace. I regarded that whole year (1971) as a vacation from “real work”, no more cold mornings trying to get a truck to start, nights spent sleeping in the truck cab at Newcastle because the delivery place was closed, breaking down in Preston with two bob in my pocket, etc.
Slowly the idea of a live band came up and Jim got together musicians, the “best” live grouping being myself, vocals/chopper guitar, Jim/bass, John Hawken/piano, John Knightsbridge/lead guitar, and Craig Collinge/drums, that was also the lineup when we recorded the second TWW album.
We really did not play that many gigs. We did a tour of Finland, supposedly to get the band together and recorded a TV show there in Helsinki, live. We gigged at the Olympia in Paris and various London clubs. We were invited to play an open air festival in France, when we got there the whole thing was being washed out by a freak thunderstorm. I recall us arriving at the festival site and someone sticking their head into the car and saying Jim Morrison was dead. Years later when I watched the Doors movie, that part about a storm raging when he died is correct.
Meanwhile John Fenton was getting pressure to get a TWW hit record and the idea of putting out a single of Urban Rock, only with “nice” lyrics came up. When I heard that, I knew we were on the skids, gone was the original concept and Essex Music wanted some return on its advance that it had paid to Fenton. We recorded the “Little Bit of Urban Rock single, with supposedly new lyrics, which I made up on the spot when we were recording it. Incidently I think that the single released was not the right track - if you listen to it, it has no bass on it.
We recorded most of the second album at Olympic Studios at Barnes, when David Platz at Essex Music heard about the track “Coshing Old Lady Blues”, I heard, that he would not release it on his Fly Record label if that track was on the album. John Fenton was adamant about that track being included, and the second Third World War album was released on the Who’s record label Track Records. During the recording of the second TWW album, Fenton ran out of money and Jim and myself were off the payroll.
Incidently the second album was completed without me around, I had already put down my vocals and a guide vocal on the track “Rat Crawl” which it was released with.
I returned to my truck driving day’s, back up to the likes of Newcastle, Preston and Scotland. This may sound kinda weird but I actually enjoyed it, gone was all the madness of Stardom Road.
Looking back, a band like the Third World War was never going to “popdom” where the real money was, and as I mentioned earlier, for the Third World War to make serious money would have killed its content and impact. But of course someone must be scraping cash from the various record (and now CD) Third World War reissues during the past 35 years, but it has never been myself or Jim Avery.
Good Luck to yer all,
Terry Stamp, Los Angeles, January, 2004.