The cast

Oral histories




When you're a kid first listening to music, you don't really notice the existence of session-players, let alone remember their names. In the 70s, however, Chris Spedding was the exception: he may have been a hired gun, but he was cool, mostly because he always seemed so damn perverse in his career decisions.

He first became known - to readers of the then very dull Melody Maker, at least - as the guitarist with jazz-rock favourites Nucleus, before jacking that in form a much more rocking band Sharks with Andy Fraser. Sharks were a critical success but never caught the public interest, and Spedding drifted off into session-work, where he covered every base going. He was a key member of the hip avant-garde world inhabited by the likes of Brian Eno and John Cale, but he also played on records by The Drifters and The Fortunes and, most famously, played lead on all the Wombles hits - he even, on one occasion at least, dressed up in the Wombles suit for a Top of the Pops performance. Meanwhile Mick Jagger was sounding him out about joining the Stones to replace Mick Taylor as a rival candidate to Keith Richards' preferred choice, Ron Wood; Spedding turned him down.

None of this made much sense in a world that was almost entirely dominated by the split between critically praised rock and supposedly disposable pop. Spedding had no truck with the snobbery of the rock elite - as far as he was concerned, the single not the album was the most vital medium for rock & roll, and having a hit was a cause for celebration not embarrassment.

So when he came up with a neat little idea for a hit single, he went round to Mickie Most's office to play it to the king of pop. (This was back in the days when you could just turn up with an acoustic guitar and try out a song for a producer; don't try it today, kids - you'll need a finished master, the artwork and probably the TV series before they'll let you through the door.) The resulting record, 'Motor Biking', became Spedding's only solo hit in 1975, though subsequent singles from his eponymous album - 'Jump In My Pagoda' and 'Guitar Jamboree' - came pretty close.

'Motor Biking' is a classic bit of bubblegum rock, promoted by Spedding in full biker gear with greased hair, and the abiding image - for those who saw it - is of the performance on Supersonic. Backing him on that appearance were The Vibrators, with whom he also released an early punk single, 'Pogo Dancing'. His involvement with the nascent punk scene reached its peak with his headlining appearance at the 100 Club Punk Festival, again in the company of The Vibrators. Rumours that he played on early Sex Pistols demos, however, are probably without foundation.

Chris's solo releases and his session-work have continued uninterrupted since, but there's simply too much to get into at this stage. You're advised to check out the web-site listed on the Links page here, which details just about every record he's played on. Or at least, those he can remember.

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Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams