Art 0r Craft (D)

Ray Charsley

Ray Charles and 

Dominic Picksley

Interview

This is acopy of an interveiw I had with Dominic Picksley re. my experiences in the early pop music scene. during the 1960s. I thought some of you might like to read it,

Hi Ray

I never did manage to track down the other members, so have done the article as a Q & A session and hopefully got a magazine in the US interested. Anyway, here it is – thanks again for your help:

   

I never did manage to track down the other members, so have done the article as a Q & A session and hopefully got a magazine in the US interested. Anyway, here it is – thanks again for your help:

The Game are heralded in mod, psych and freakbeat circles for a trio of singles they released in the mid-1960s, one of which, The Addicted Man, helped gain the group some notoriety when it was banned upon release in 1967. Formed in Mitcham, London, in 1964, the original five-man line-up consisted of Tony Bird, Terry Boyes, Terry Spencer, Allan Janaway and Jim Nelson, but after the flop single But I Do/Gotta Keep On Moving Baby, Boyes was ousted in favour of then-mod Ray Charsley, who sang lead vocals on their next single Gonna Get Me Someone, which must rank as one of the finest mod tracks of its generation.
Dominic Picksley caught up with Ray, who also contributed vocals and a co-writing credit to the Gotta Wait B-side, before leaving the band after only a few months...

DP: You first got into music when in the Salvation Army and joined your first band The Erstwhile Few – what sort of music did you play? Was this the band that became The Torque?
RC: The Erstwhile Few later became The Torque and were a covers band, doing stuff by The Yardbirds, The Who, Rolling Stones to The Beatles. It was my first stab at singing and where I learned some basic guitar techniques. I met Stan Decker who introduced me to the band, whom I then considered a very talented musician. Stan later formed Lavender Grove with The Game guitarist Terry Spencer.

DP: How long were you with The Torque before Terry Spencer approached you to become lead singer with The Game? And how did this come about? Did the pair of you know each other?
RC: My brother Alan was our roadie and if my memory serves me correct, it was his idea for the name change to The Torque. It was during this time that I was approached by Terry to audition for The Game as a replacement singer for Terry Boyes, who was leaving the band. I knew Terry Boyes as we lived near to each other. He was very helpful during my transition into the band.

DP: How much did you know about The Game at the time? They'd already recorded one single – But I Do b/w Gotta Keep On Moving Baby. Had that record made much of in impact with you at the time?
RC: I have to admit that as I had just recently moved into the Mitcham area from Streatham Vale, I was a total know-nothing regarding the music scene there, so I hadn't much of a clue who The Game were. I was a cornet player out of the Salvation Army, my music training was more classical than pop. I was in The Erstwhile Few /The Torque probably only 18 months before joining The Game. This was my only, very short introduction to pop music.

DP: You had to audition before Kenny Lynch. You must have had something about you as Kenny gave you the nod – what was that experience like?
RC: I knew of Kenny because of some hits he had had with Up On The Roof and You Can Never Stop Me Loving You. The audition was at 17 Saville Row, London, just Terry Spencer on guitar, no amplification, and me trying not to sound too nervous singing to what at the time was a superstar singer. It was very daunting.

DP: You sang lead on Gonna Get Me Someone, written by Bob Wackett, which was a departure away from The Game's first single, released a year before. Whose idea was it to go down the 'mod' route?
RC: I think the whole idea of the image change came from the management because of so many near-misses in the charts. I had become a mod during my time with my previous band. Terry Spencer was prepared to change the music style to something more like The Who, although the bass player refused to mod up so he stood at the back. The Who were a big musical influence on The Game.
Bob Wackett was, ironically, a drummer who toured with Dusty Springfield and Kenny got him on board to write a couple of tunes for us. 

DP: What are you recollections at recording Gonna Get Me Someone and Gotta Wait?
RC: We recorded the single at R.G. Jones in Wimbledon. It was not a stereo recording just a four-track m/c. The instruments were recorded in cubicles formed by soundproof movable board/walls, while the vocals were recorded in a vocal booth. I met Kenny for a second time and Harry Fowler, who was a good friend of his. In those days they would make the master on an acetate and I remember watching them produce this after we'd completed the recordings. Tony Bird sang harmonies alongside Kenny and myself after the main vocal was done. Terry Spencer and I wrote the B-side Gotta Wait. I think you can hear the influence of The Who here. It was and still is the only song I have ever had published. I took the lead vocal and again we used Tony's excellent voice to overdub some harmonies. I'd never written a song before and it was Terry and I sitting in his home in Mitcham that came up with the idea of this one. I was at that time totally immersed in the mod culture of the day and one of the reasons why I was chosen to replace Terry Boyes.

DP: What sort of following did you have at the time? What gigs stand out and who else did you share a stage with? 
RC: The gigs were all very different. We played The Marquee on the same bill as Jimmy James and The Vagabonds. Jimmy was a great inspiration and helped us young hopefuls. It was our one and only time there. We had quite an extensive repertoire of mainly other peoples' songs; I remember playing Gloria by Them and For Your Love by The Yardbirds, in particular. The kids were great to us as far as I remember (one young girl stole one of my shoes too!). We also played Tiles of Oxford Street – this was amazing as the dancing girls were in cages hung from the ceiling – Manchester Corn Exchange and somewhere in Kings Lynn (don't remember the venue), village halls and pubs (one of which is still firmly lodged in my memory because the floor was littered with empty beer bottles once the audience had left). We were featured on Ready Steady Go (unfortunately no film survives) and Jukebox Jury, which were very popular television programmes at the time.



 DP: What can you remember about the Ready Steady Go appearance, which also included The Fourmost, The Alan Price Set and Julie Felix?
RC: I was petrified. As we were the underdogs, we never got a run through. The big names took up all the time and we went straight on to the live broadcast, with no sound check or anything. I'd only been with the band for a couple of months at the most and done a couple of gigs with them, although I had done lots of rehearsals at Terry's house. It was really scary.

DP: You once played on the same bill as John Mayall's Blues Breakers at the Rutlishian Jubilee Fair. What was that like?
RC: I don't remember much about it. I think we were all overawed at seeing the great Eric Clapton, then a young up-and-coming guitarist well before the days of Cream.

DP: The single, Gonna Get Me Someone, was voted a hit on Jukebox Jury – did you think what with that, and the TV appearances, that stardom was only a short step away?
RC: Even after all of this hype the band were running out of money. We drove a van with no windscreen for months without the hope of repair and we slept in the van after gigs as we couldn't afford digs. This was the reality of the pop music world. It hit us all hard and I believe was one of the reasons we drifted apart.

DP: You left the band not long after this release – what happened? Was there a clash of personalities with other band members?
RC: The guys were all very nice to each other, even though there were differences in musical taste. I'm not sure how they felt about me, I was a Johnny-come-lately, who promised change. Perhaps to them I ruined the band as it was and left nothing in return. We have never spoken since those days, but that's not unusual. I've travelled around the UK and lost contact with most people of that time.

DP: After your departure, the band moved to a more heavier, psychedelic style and their next single gave them some notoriety thanks to The Addicted Man being banned. On the flip side was a brilliant slab of freakbeat, with Help Me Mummy's Gone. Were you surprised the band moved in a heavier direction?
RC: I think heavy was where the band really lived and as for The Addicted Man, well, all publicity is good publicity so they say.

 

DP: It has often been said that The Game were not helped, and lost followers, by chopping and changing styles. What is your opinion?
RC: Some members sought out fame and fortune, others wanted to play the music they lived for. The need for fame seemed to outshine the love of music, hence the flitting from one style to another, chasing the rainbow. There's no pot of gold at the end of it.

DP: You then formed a trio with Paul Washington and Mike O'Hare called Morning Haze, performing three-part harmonies. How much of a world away from The Game's mod style was this? Did you record anything?
RC: Morning Haze was a million miles away from The Game, musically. It was acoustic guitars, percussion, and very gentle music, like Simon and Garfunkel covers, Everly Brothers, that sort of thing.

DP: With some line-up changes, you then became Sweet Illusion and played country music and became a cabaret act, taking another

step away from the mod/freakbeat music you were associated with in the 60s. You even recorded a couple of albums – what sort of success did you have? Was making an album something you had dreamt about when with The Game?
RC: I'm a reluctant performer, I've always really wanted to be just a back line musician, never really had any urge to record anything much, if I did it was to sell at gigs for a little extra cash. I have never done anything to be proud of recording wise.

DP: You left the band in 1978; tell me what you have been doing since then.
RC: I met my wife Sandie and we worked in the Yorkshire clubs as a duo for a while, before heading to the Algarve where we still play the odd hotel restaurant gig. I also play trumpet in a local trad band.

DP: Finally, some of the original members of The Game – Tony Bird, Terry Brown, Terry Spencer and Allan Janaway – reformed in the 1990s. Why didn't you get the call?
RC: Never got a call but why should I? The original band were together for years before I joined them. I think I was viewed as an interruption more than a band member.

Cheers


Art 0r Craft (D)

Powered by GroupSpaces · Terms · Privacy Policy · Cookie Use · Create Your Own Group