SUCH A SICKLY SWEET IMAGE'
- the story of the New Seekers
'Look What They Done To My Song, Ma' I guess had an American flavour
to it, and so it just went top 40 in the UK and our manager punted
it round to every major in the States, and Elektra Records picked
it up, who had The Doors and people like that, so it was quite
And funnily enough I'd actually been signed to that label myself
as an individual, which was again incongruous because I was a
young English pop act, and they were more Jim Morrison - it was
a bit of a joke really. I had half of a chance of one hit, and
if the record had been serviced I might have had to deal with
how to follow up on that, which I was probably ill-equipped to
do at the time: I was very young for my age. When the group signed
to Elektra Records, the President said, 'I never thought I'd see
you in another incarnation.'
The record happened [in America] and we responded to that - subsequently
we did a lot of our work in the States. We lived out of Los Angeles
for a while. Basically between the UK and the States was most
of our work, our tours, and the Far East, Japan, a little bit
on the Continent - not that much though in Germany and France.
We went with Elektra in America, and that really was the making
of it. I think also the good thing about was us, it came back
to the singing again. Because the only way we could get a recording
contract was to go into a boardroom and to sing live for them.
And we went in and they were so impressed with the live thing,
then they could sell us because we could go and perform live.
There was no problem there.
We worked the Bitter End with Carole King, the Troubador in Los
Angeles, which are very much rock. Very rock venues. Funnily enough,
because they didn't know anything else about us, they accepted
it. It was terrific.
It goes alongside the image as well. We had such a sweet image,
you know, sickly sweet image: the little blonde, the little dark
one and the three boys, never did anything wrong - if only they
knew! - we were such a clean-cut group. And people never saw any
deeper than that, only the people that knew us. But if you took
a picture of five people who were really hip-looking, grungey
even, whatever, and said, 'Listen, this is their record,' and
they didn't know the New Seekers...
The Americans are more forgiving and they open their arms a lot
wider as far as music is concerned. They will give you a chance,
they really will give you a chance, whereas they do tend to put
you in a bag in England.
We recorded about thirty jingles, and 'I'd Like To Teach The World
To Sing' was just one of them. And what happened was it started
to get a unique amount of airplay in the States; radio stations
started to play the jingle for the jingle's sake, and getting
a response - people were ringing in the radio stations saying
they wanted to hear that jingle again. It was quite a unique situation
- although they've been many hit records that've come from jingles
and ads, it was the first one. It did happen sort of naturally.
Having said that, there was quite a unique story attached to that.
Somebody else got wind of it first, the idea of it, and put together
a session band who called themselves The Hillside Singers, named
after the visual aspect of the Coca-Cola advert. They actually
released this record, and when we got wind of it, we said, 'Well
God, there's somebody else having what should be our record.'
We went to Elektra and they said, 'Well, you've sort of missed
the boat, because they've already got the record released and
I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to compete unless you had the record
on my desk on Monday morning.' This was Friday evening. Needless
to say, the record was there Monday morning. Cook and Greenaway
were flown from England to turn the jingle into a full-length
song, our version of it.
The Hillside Singers sold a million records in the States, and
ours sold a million and a half. If we'd combined the two and a
half million, we'd have got to #1. It was the only territory where
we didn't have a #1. I don't remember ever hearing it, but I think
that probably it was similar but not the same as ours. We actually
recorded the single by editing together the one minute version
of the jingle three times as a backtrack, and then the song was
written on top of that. It was sort of like a round.
We were given a song, we would listen to the song, and then Keith
Potger would give us our own harmony on tape. We'd go away and
learn that. The only say that we had as far as recording was concerned
was the boys, towards the end they had a lot of the b-sides, and
they had songs on the albums. But generally it was the management
and the recording manager who told us what to do and what not
to do. We didn't kick up much of a fuss about it, I have to admit.
Especially not as girls, we just let them get on with it.
The management was a combination of Keith Potger of The Seekers
and an Australian TV producer called David Joseph. When The Seekers
broke up, because Judith Durham left, they had an idea to create
a new Seekers, almost as a backing group for Keith - Keith Potger
and the New Seekers. But as the New Seekers became their own entity,
the concept was that the group should have two girls and not be
at risk of one leaving and killing the group, which is what happened
to The Seekers.
What Judith Durham couldn't appreciate was that she was the icing
on the cake. In other words, the recordings paid off because of
the vocal harmonies behind her. She was a great lead vocalist,
very good voice and everything, but she didn't have any hit records
outside of The Seekers really. And the vocal harmonies were very
much the brainchild of Keith Potger, who had his own ideas for
arrangements of vocal harmonies and was largely instrumental in
putting our vocal harmonies together.
The only reason I was featured, or named, [on the last couple
of singles] was because we'd already decided to split. Eve
Graham wanted to pursue a solo career and our contract was written
that only one female singer could leave at any given time, and
only two boys could leave, so that there was some form of group
kept together. And Eve said she wanted to leave. In the meantime
I'd already been making arrangements to leave, to go with a gentleman
called Peter Gornley, who was actually Cliff Richard's manager
at the time, and I was organizing this whilst I was in Hollywood.
When we got back to England just before Christmas, our manager
said that Eve wanted to leave, and I immediately said, 'Well so
do I.' He said, 'Well you can't.' And it caused a bit of friction.
He then decided that he'd give me 'You Won't Find Another Fool
Like Me' to sing, so that that would entice me into staying with
the boys and keeping the group going.
Consequently the name went on the next single, which was 'Sentimental
Over You' and on the last one - I can't remember what that one
was called now, it was a singalong thing. But in actual fact I
was more of a backing singer, featured more on the live performances
than I was on the albums or on the singles. It was only when I
said I was leaving that he decided to use me. So in itself that
What we tended to do outside of our normal singles format, particularly for albums, was take songs from contemporary song-writers, particularly solo artists, and do a harmony version of it, rather than take a harmony band and cover it. So we did Elton John songs, we did Cat Stevens songs, stuff like that. In the case of 'Pinball Wizard', the idea of our American record producers was to do like the Fifth Dimension had done with a medley of songs from Hair - so they figured it was a good idea we should try a medley from Tommy. It was something that certainly the boys in the band were proudest of, in terms of it being a bit gutsier than most of the other stuff we were doing. And we got a telegram from Pete Townsend, saying he was knocked out by the record, and that was a thrill.
We did the Albert Hall - and I often think back and think, God
did we did we manage that - with no drummer. We just sang all
our songs with no drummer, because we didn't have a drummer in
the group, did we? And it was one of those things, we didn't bring
a drummer with us and that was it. It was just us. Many many gigs
we did initially was just us: electric bass and two acoustic guitars,
a washboard that I played and a tambourine that Eve played. Of
course that changed, it had to with the songs we were doing; we
needed some back-up of some sort, but we never had any vocal back-up.
In the early 70s, the one thing we feel proud about, was we went
out completely on our own - so it was two acoustic guitars, a
bass and the girls with a tambourine basically. We did the college
circuit in the States, and we did a two-hour concert. And that's
how the group was known.
At that time the boys wore suits, then it became a bit more contemporary
in the States. We came back to England with a new contemporary
image, which was leather waistcoats and flares and leather trousers
and stuff like that - trying to create new trends and ideas for
We were a good harmony group, the harmonies were excellent. But
we had good coaching. They still stand up, which is terrific.
And the nice thing about it was we could recreate it on stage.
We were lucky that we were all decent singers - thank God - and
we could back up what we put on vinyl, which was terrific.
To be fair, most of things we recorded in those early days were
a little bit manufactured, if you like, put together and managed
and choreographed. The records were mostly a result of the record
producer. A lot of songs were submitted to him, and he sifted
through various original songs and compositions. ['Come Softly
To Me'] was a one-off, it was a 50s record by The Fleetwoods -
I can't honestly say any of us got that excited by it, it was
a track to be made and it came out okay and it was released as
In 1972 The New Seekers were given what was then the ultimate
accolade in the world of British light entertainment: they were
invited to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song
Contest. Their entry - 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' - came in second
behind Vicky Leandros' 'Come What May', but their participation
in the Contest introduced the band to a new audience.
It was a fantastic experience, and tremendous exposure for our
group. At that time it was very much a song contest, as opposed
to an act contest. As compared to now, the BBC chose an act to
represent the UK, and that act sang all the songs on the Song
for Europe, the British sort of heat, so the songs were on
an equal footing - it really was a question of voting for the
best song, rather than voting for the best act because the act
was already chosen.
It was an honour and a great benefit to us to be chosen by Bill
Cotton at the time, and what it did was give us incredible exposure,
particularly on the Cliff Richard series, which is where the Song
for Europe feature ran that year. Our participation on that
show was fantastic - apart from doing the Eurovision items, we
did a song of our own, we did a song with Cliff, the boys did
a song with Cliff for the finale, comedy sketches, we were really
on the show for thirteen weeks. It wasn't until we went on the
road following that exposure that we realized the power of television.
We did the Cliff Richard series when we did the Eurovision. I
think it was thirteen weeks, and we had twelve songs and the thirteenth
week was when they chose the song. And we were amazed. Although
we'd had 'Teach The World To Sing' and 'Never Ending Song Of Love',
the adulation hadn't really arrived, we didn't really notice it.
It was only with the coverage of the Cliff Richard thing that
when we came out of the studios, after thirteen weeks, we went
on tour, and they were climbing all over the cars. There was thousands
and thousands of girls all screaming, and the thing that amazed
us was that there were two girls in the group. It was so often
in the papers, saying it's a long time since we've seen this happen,
if ever, when there's been females.
I mean, they broke doors down in hotels ... it was unbelievable.
If you think back, there weren't really females where they were
screaming and running at the stage - and they would grab at us
as well. It was amazing. And it was unheard of. So we broke barriers
in that respect, I think.
Like most bands in the 70s we were exploited by the management.
To coin a term, we got ripped off. The problem was having a contract
with the company that's representing you, which is a conflict
of interests. I'm not saying that our management were bad as individuals,
not in that sense, it was just something that'd be regarded as
mismanagement in terms of how they handled financial affairs.
They chose to make certain decisions that if we'd handled the
money ourselves we might have done differently. A lot of the money
was perhaps wasted, ploughed back into enhancing the image of
the group, which is a commercial decision, but at the end of the
day we enjoyed enormous success and got very modest rewards for
It was dominated very much by the writers and by management. We
were very manipulated initially and put together purely for them
to use, if you like, to make money. But we didn't mind. I mean,
we were all young, and David Joseph, who was our manager, promised
to make us all known as individuals, as our own names, as well
as being known as the New Seekers. And in my case, I was very
lucky: it worked. It actually worked for all of us, if they'd
carried on, but they didn't choose to do too much with it afterwards.
But he did his job, he did exactly as he said he'd do. In my case
he did a particularly good job because, thank God, although I've
not been recording, it's managed to keep me working for twenty-five
years since the group split up, so he did a great job with me.
It was constructed very much to be manipulated. Which, as I say,
was fine. It's happened, it's no use even worrying about it. The
one good thing that came of it was the name, and I thank God every
day when I think: at least I'm in work still. And people remember,
which is rather nice.
I've got no regrets - I had a splendid time.
We had wonderful management. We didn't get any money, but we had
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