Interviews

Eddie Baird talks about his career
interviewd by Mike Finney of The Minstrel Newsletter

      Eddie Baird's career in music has not been solely with Amazing Blondel, he has worked as a solo artist, been a rock session guitarist, appeared on albums by Paul Kossoff and even auditioned for Dire Straits. Music, and in particular the guitar, has always been important to Eddie.

      I got my first guitar when I was 9 and was influenced by Hank Marvin and the Shadows and the rock and roll that was coming from the States, the Everly Brothers that kind of thing. I plonked around on the guitar a bit but 1 didn't real/v take it seriously until I was 18 or 19.

      Ed went to Crosby Infant School, Crosby Junior School and then onto Foxhills Second-ary School but he was not al-ways a model pupil.

      It was not so much school as a containment factor really! It was at school that I first started to play in bands. I got thrown out of music for actually being able to recognise a chord that the teacher was playing but he thought I was trying to be clever and so I spent the rest of the lesson in the corridor. We had a lovely English teacher at Foxhills, Mr Scott, he made everyone feel very relaxed. I was in various bands while at school and we used to get gigs playing in pubs around the town. We used to get paid 2.10 shillings a time and then had to share it out between five of us.

      Despite his eagerness to leave school, Ed soon found that work was not what it was cracked up to be.

      When I first left school I worked as a flat roofer then I got a job as a painter and deco-rator and worked on a building site. My first real break came when. I was then offered a job as a trainee photographer with the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph where I spent five years. The head of the photographic de-partment, Norman Reader, was a great guy. He gave me more education in the five years I was at the Telegraph than lever got in all my time at school.

      It was around this time that Ed started to take music seriously and began to consider becoming a professional musician.

      I started playing guitar with my mate Shab, John Darbyshire that is - he came to see us when we played at Brigg in July. We started to sit down and look seriously at music and began to write our own stuff and work out harmonies.

      Ed remembers that he and Shab spent more time writing and practising than gigging but it was enough to attract the attention of two local professional musicians, John Gladwin and Terry Wincott.

      I knew John and Terry when they were playing in Dimpies and Methuselah and then one night Shab and I were at the Scunthorpe Folk Club at the Crosby Hotel when Terry came in looking for a gig. He stopped to say hello and then asked me to come round to their house in Column Gardens. A few days later, Shab and I went around to see John and Terry at their place and played them a couple of our own songs and some Simon and Garfunkel stuff. We had a great time, John and Terry played us 'Love Sonnet' and 'Minstrel Song', they were working on the first album at the time. We met up a few times and then later on John got in touch and asked me to join Amazing Blondel. Terry said "We had better have you on our side rather than against us". I then had to tell Shab that our partnership was over and I was becoming a full time musician. He didn't really mind because he was busy working for British Rail. By this time John and Terry had finished recording and so I joined Blondel within weeks of them finishing the first album.

      John left Amazing Blondel immediately after the 1973 tour of America. They had supported Genesis in Germany, toured America for three weeks and then, on returning home, were told that Spooky Tooth had split up and they were going to support Traffic in Europe. They had worked constantly either in the studio or on the road for four years and for John, this was enough.

      I thought it was all over after the States, and then Terry rang and said that Chris Blackwell wanted another album. I remember saying something like, 'Great, but who's going to write it?' and Terry replied, 'You can'. I had six weeks to write the a/bum and then, as it turned out, I got it finished in five.

      Manager John Glover arranged for other 'Island Artists' to work on the album. Simon Kirke on drums, Stevie Winwood on bass and Paul Rodgers joined the sessions on 'Weavers Market' along with top session singers, Sue and Sunny.

      With all this moral support we started to feel more confident about producing the album. Obviously it was very different from the previous albums, it would have been too contrived to make it sound like the earlier ones.

      The 'Purple Album' was to be the last for Island. John Glover secured a deal with D.J.M. and they went on to record three more studio albums before releasing 'Live In Tokyo' in 1977.

      "ach album was a 'bonus' to us. We experimented with musical styles and tried different things. I think we lost a lot of old Blonde/ fans but we a/so made a lot of new ones. Life on the road as a duo was hard work, Glam Rock had come in and we didn't get the same push from the record company as we had from Island. Terry and I had been on the road a long time and we eventually decided to call it a day.

      After Terry and I finished with Blondel, I did some session work in Cornwall and decided to move down there. Noel Skelton, Micky Feat, A/an Eden and I met Tony Cox to make an a/bum for Island. Martin Humphries, the A&R man at Island, had been a big fan and put the deal together but he got the sack before the a/bum came out. Lionel Conway, the head of publishing at Is/and, didn't like what was on the tape and wanted to do it again in L.A. I didn't hear anything for nearly a year and then Billy Laurie, the head of A & R issued an ultimatum and I got out of the contract. Tony Cox then gave me a contract at the Sawmills Studios. I worked with Lesley Duncan, The Mechanics, Gayle Cunningham and Bunk Dogger and the Dogs. It was a lovely set up.

      It was at the Sawmills studios that Ed recorded his solo album 'Hard Graft' for DJM Records during the hot summer of 1976. This is very much a solo effort and besides writing all the tracks, Ed plays all the instruments as well. The songs on 'Hard Graft' are in a more mainstream soft rock style, very different from the original Blondel albums. The album was deleted many years ago and is now becoming difficult to find. Record dealers who make the connection between Eddie Baird and Amazing Blondel often hike up the price.

      Phil Brown, who had worked on Blondel's Island albums, recommended Ed to Paul Cummings, manager of Dire Straits.

      I was asked if I wanted to audition for a band. At the time I had no idea who the band was - it turned out to he Dire Straits who were auditioning to replace David Knopfler. I spent two days auditioning with them, I remember playing 'Blue Moon' for what seemed like two and a half hours!

      Despite not becoming a member of Dire Straits, Ed continued to write and do session work but the next few years were not always easy for him.

      It was marriage break-up time and general doomsday for God knows how long. I did sessions for various people, often not getting paid. They were wilderness years really, I carried on writing and finding out who my real friends were.

      In 1993 Demon Records started to show interest in Blondel's Island albums.

      John telephoned to say that Demon wanted to release the Island albums on CD on their Edsel label. Soon after he rang me again to say that H.T.D. were interested in doing another album - was I interested? Six months later we met up to discuss a possible deal and got on like a house on fire again.

      Ed is back in Scunthorpe, not far from Mulgrave Street, and currently working on a new project.

      H.T.D. have offered me a solo album deal and I'm currently working on the new material with a fantastic bass player, Tony Ilkuw. It's vocals with mainly acoustic guitar and bass. We've been in the studio and put down most of the tracks. I want to add some keyboard in places and then it just needs the final mix.

      Thanks for a great interview Ed.


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