The cast

Oral histories



- the story of the New Seekers

Paul Layton:
'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 inappropriate.
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.

Lyn Paul:
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.

Paul Layton:
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.
Paul LaytonHaving 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.

Lyn Paul:
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.

Paul Layton:
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.

Lyn Paul:
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 was manipulation.

Paul Layton:
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.

Lyn Paul:
Lyn Paul 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.

Paul Layton:
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 clothing.

Lyn Paul:
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.

Paul Layton:
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 a single.

Alwyn Turner:
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.

Paul Layton:
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.

Lyn Paul:
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.

New Seekers

Paul Layton:
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.

Lyn Paul:
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.

Paul Layton:
I've got no regrets - I had a splendid time.

Lyn Paul:
We had wonderful management. We didn't get any money, but we had wonderful management.

New Seekers

these words were brought to you by
Paul Layton
Lyn Paul
Alwyn Turner

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