Ronnie Harwood performing in 1971Out On His Own

Towards the end of 1966, Ronnie decided it was time to focus his talent on singing and on fronting a band. Trini Lopez was popular at the time. Ronnie liked his style and recruited Ron Wolstenholme on drums and Al Jarman on bass guitar. The trio played pub gigs and working men's clubs.

Ronnie's singing was complimented by his venture into songwriting. The trio was musically tight. Ronnie's rhythm guitar, with bass and drum accompaniment, complimented his vocals well, with that musical intuition tight trios often have.

paul nicholas1964 wcaption

Ronnie's first serious composition was 'A Day Gone By', recorded in 1966 by Paul Dean, better known as actor Paul Nicholas and pictured here with Ronnie in 1964.

"Paul and I were good friends since the early band days," Ronnie explained. "We lived close by each other in Burnt Oak, Edgware, North London. He was with the Dreamers, and me in the Premiers. Paul was Paul Dean and I was Jess Hunter. We first worked together with the Savages in 1964, but before then I was in a band called The Wicked, backing Winston G. That was 1963. Paul was working with David Sutch. We got to know Robert Stigwood through Winston G. Robert was a nice guy. He took Paul and I away for a weekend in Paris once... a great time we had," Ronnie remembers with a smile.

Paul was to go on to find considerable success, particularly as an actor. Having taken the stage name Paul Dean (his birth name is Paul Beuselinck), he formed 'Paul Dean and The Dreamers' and later became keyboard player and singer with The Savages alongside Ronnie. As Paul Dean he released two solo singles in 1965-66. His new stage name of Paul Nicholas is perhaps the one best known to most people, as it was under Nicholas that he performed the leading role of Claude in Hair, the title role in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and later, in the early eighties, the part of Vince Pinner in the BBC TV sitcom 'Just Good Friends'.

From the theatre, Paul entered a career in movies at the start of the seventies, with acting roles in several films including the parts of Cousin Kevin in 'Tommy' and Dougie Shears in 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (1978). He returned to music in the mid-seventies and had three Top 20 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including 'Dancing With The Captain' which reached the Top 10. Paul returned to acting with great success in the theatre.

From the Family Man and Aerials, to The London Rock 'n' Roll Show

For Ronnie the gigs continued but failed to provide enough income. Life in the music business was too unpredictable and so, to achieve some financial stability, Ronnie started working for musical instrument supplier Boosey & Hawkes. Ronnie met his future wife, Janet, while gigging at the New Edgware British Legion Club in 1966. They married in the August of 1968 and remain happily married.

rh-band green-dragon-wcaptionAt this point Ronnie decided that he needed to earn more than the pub gigs and building instruments for Boosey & Hawkes could offer. He left the mainstream music business behind and during 1968 began working for aerial companies as a television aerial installer.

Stuart was born in 1969, followed by Martyn in 1970. As if to break the 'hat trick', Joanne came along in 1972. During this period Ronnie formed his own aerial business, 'Colourbrite Aerials' (yes, spelt that way - the contemporary mix of Brit and American spelling) and started to invest time in the studios, using some of the money earned from the aerial installation business to make demos of his songs.

David Sutch called Ronnie and asked if he would reform The Savages with Pete Phillips for 'The London Rock and Roll Show', the first music show to be staged at the Wembley Empire Stadium. The show featured some of the truly great artists including Bill Haley and the Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley. Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages brought the house down, along with Jack the Ripper, Joe Brown, Billy Fury and the House Shakers.

It was the 5th August 1972. A South Stand seat ticket cost just £2.80. The show, watched by a sell-out audience of 87,000 (the authorities restricted attendance for safety reasons), lasted 11 hours. It was the concert of the year and was captured on film and the highlights later released as a video DVD.

Baby I Love You by Ronnie Harwood, on RCA RecordsWorking The Circuit

After the success of the Wembley show, Ronnie carried on performing in working men's clubs and pubs. Drummer Mike Wells, or Mick as Ronnie still calls him, an old mate and former Twilight from the 60's, joined Ronnie and they went out on the circuit for a year together as a duo. Al Jarman, another of the Twilights, joined them on bass guitar.

During the next few years, the trio played the circuit under the name of Harvest and worked on studio demos of Ronnie's latest songs. Ronnie, famous for his ten minute medleys, always kept Al and Mike on their toes. Very sadly, Alan Jarman passed away some years ago. Mike continues to gig, 'fronting' The Mike Wells Band from behind his drum kit.

baby-i-love-you-promo-shot 1978In 1975 Ronnie made the move that signalled the start of his comeback as a professional songwriter as he was signed by Quarry Productions in Wardour Street, West London, managers to Status Quo and, at the time, Rory Gallagher and Graham Bonnet. Then in 1977 Ronnie signed a publishing deal with Terry Oates at Eaton Music. The single 'Baby I Love You' was subsequently released in 1978, with B side 'Rolling On'. These were recorded at CTS studios in Wembley, produced by Kenny Denton and Stuart Taylor for Exaggeration Music, and released on RCA. Ronnie performed 'Baby I Love You' on the British TV show 'Get It Together'.

God Bless Rock 'n' Roll

Publisher: Campbell Connelly & Co. Ltd
Written by R Harwood & N Jenkins

Lookin' thru' my window,
My memory serves me well,
I go back to the places,
And all those happy faces,
Under your spell.

I remember my first guitar,
That made me a Rock 'n' Roll star,
I traveled the whole world over,
With fame and fortune in my hands.

I want to thank you Rock 'n' Roll,
From the body, from the soul,
God bless Rock 'n' Roll,
Thank you Rock 'n' Roll,
God bless Rock 'n' Roll.

"After 'Baby I Love You'," Ronnie recalled, "Kenny Denton, my producer, wanted a follow up. It was a toss up between a Rocky Burnette song, 'Towing The Line', or Neil Diamond's 'For Ever in Blue Jeans'." It was agreed that the follow up would be 'For Ever In Blue Jeans' and it was recorded at the same studios, CTS in Wembley, North West London, with Nigel Jenkins on guitar, Mo Foster on bass, drummer Peter Vanhook, and with Lou Clerk taking care of the string arrangements. "Lou later joined ELO," remembers Ronnie, "and went on to record 'Hooked On Classics'. Oh, and Nigel Jenkins played on Gerry Raferty's big hit, 'Baker Street'.

"The session went really well. We made a great version of the song and it was about to be released, but then, sadly, CBS released Neil Diamond's own version of it from his album. I still think our recording was more suited to chart success than his own, which had been taken straight off the album, but the plug was pulled and that was that. As far as I know that recording is long gone, I don't have a copy of it."

And that really was that. There never was a follow up to 'Baby I Love You'.

Haley's Last Single Became a Favourite

Kenny Denton, Ronnie's producer, heard a demo of Ronnie's God Bless Rock 'n' Roll. Kenny was also producing Bill Haley and asked Ronnie to rewrite some of the lyrics for Haley.

In 1979, Bill Haley's album 'Everyone Can Rock 'n' Roll' featured God Bless Rock 'n' Roll', co-written by Ronnie and Nigel Jenkins, which is said to have become Haley's favourite for the way in which it captured his story like no other song he had ever known (source: Sound and Glory - The incredible story of Bill Haley, by John W Haley & John Von Hoelle).

'God Bless Rock 'n' Roll' was released as a single in late 1980. This was to be Haley's last single. Bill Haley died in 1981.more

Copyright 2016 Ronnie Harwood | No reproduction without consent | Biography and web page text origination by Kevin O'Byrne
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