Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rod Felton

ROD FELTON - Coventry Legend, Folk Rock Maverick and One Half of the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band.

UPDATED 2nd June 2014
Since writing this post in July 2011, Rod Felton has sadly passed away in 2014, in his 70's. The tribute have flown in. Rod touched so many people's lives with music, his humanity, his eccentricity and his sense of humour. There could only ever be one Rod Felton, he was a genre all of his own! As a result of the all the material that has emerged since writing this post and since his passing, this post has got a little untidy as I've tried to keep up with the material!  So I've revised the post and tried to reorganise it in hopefully a more coherent way.

NEW PAGE ON THROUGH WHICH TO HEAR MANY OF ROD FELTON'S SONGS 
http://coventryfolkclubs.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/rod-felton-songs-double-album.html

Also a link to Rod Felton's The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band

Revised introduction

Pete Waterman and Rod Felton - Trev Teasdel's Story.

I was introduced to Rod Felton one Tuesday evening in the summer of 1970 by Pete Waterman, who The only star Coventry has produced". Quite an accolade from the man who would, much later be judging would be pop stars on Pop Heroes! Pete and I worked in the same section at GEC Stoke in Coventry - Telecommunications. In fact Pete was my shop steward and ironically i used to be scribbling down my song lyrics while he was holding Union meetings! One day one of my work mates sawRoy Harper with his long hair and moustache. Rod played at the Walsgrave a couple of times and also with the New Modern Idiot Grunt band.  The tickets are below. On one of the nights that Rod played  (Electric!) - Tuesday September 1st 1970, Pete had got up on stage with Gypsy's Kiss, and sang a raucous R & B number  - Rock Me Baby, adding some Jethro Tull like flute. It was pretty impressive and Earlsdon Cottage, where Rod was later the guest. It was only about 7pm and Rod and everyone were sitting in the garden behind the cottage playing informally before the club began. Pete had come to collect his flute, but before we left Pete joined in on one of Rod's numbers, on flute, playing a very melodic flute this time. Sadly it was long before the days of Mobile cameras and videos, so no footage of this exists and i could myself lucky to have heard them play together. So that was my introduction to Rod! Rod of course wasn't new to the scene in 1970, his  story as we shall see began in the 60's but by 1972 Rod was running the Rude Bear Folk club at the Three Tons in the bull yard, later moving to the Hand and Heart in Gosford street until 1974. I'd learnt guitar by then, and Rod gave me my first floors spots. It meant i got in free and witnessed on many occasions Rod's performances - always original and uniquely Rod. In February 1974 I was producing Hobo - Coventry's Music and Arts Magazine, and Rod paid for and designed a full page ad for Hobo for the Rude Bear Folk club. It was then i became aware of the range of Rod's talent. He'd began as a graphic artist and it showed in his design of the ad and his own flyers, both for his solo act and for the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band. (There is a separate page on here for the Grunt Band here)  
Rod had borrowed Pete's flute. The next week when I arrived early to help the bands load their gear, Pete talk me on a walkabout - we went to his house to get some bits of disco equipment and then up to the
described him to me as "
me writing and suggested I tell Pete about my lyric writing. Pete wasn't famous outside of Coventry back then but he had been the singer and guitarist in a couple of R & B bands in the 60's and was now the top soul DJ in Coventry, based at the Locarno, as well running a couple of Progressive music venues for Friars Promotions. Pete approached me in fact and tool a lyric I was writing while the boss was out - A Lotta Rain is Fallin' and put acoustic music too. Pete also persuaded me to come down to the Walsgrave Pub each Tuesday evening and do the door for his main Progressive venue. On one of the occasions Rod came in, looking a little like
http://coventryfolkclubs.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/new-modern-idiot-grunt-band.html 
and, as Texas Dave McGarry has recently reminded me - his artistic leather work. I never met Rod's sister - Jan Felton, but I know she was studying drama at Coventry's Brookland's Annex in the late 70's, so he came from quite a talented family."

Before we move on to Pete Willow's article on Rod Felton, here are a couple of  press cuttings from the mid 1960's via Ian Green's Broadgate Gnome site.


This article from the Coventry Standard  gives a good outline of his early career.
The cutting, from 1965, announces him as a 'newcomer in the tradition of Bob Dylan'. Rod was 22
and had become a professional singer songwriter, after being made redundant from Whitworth-Gloster Aircraft at Baginton (just outside Coventry) where he had been a Commercial artist. He had been on the folk circuit  for a good two years before that gaining  valuable performing experience". and Rod had clearly become a popular artist on the Midlands folk circuit, even playing in Birmingham and London. Rod even shaved his beard off to avoid being recognised in the street according the Coventry Standard! In between Rod had kept himself going with a number of jobs in between, as a warehouseman, Bread Salesman and Painter.


In the second cutting we see Rod taking off to Germany to perform -

"Rod took off to Germany for a tour with Geoff Smedley of the Coventry Mummers and Rob Armstrong, performing solo and as The Idiot Grunt Band (Rod and Rob) and as the The Gentle Idea (all three of them)."


Rod Felton's drawing of Diz Disley




PETE WILLOW''S PIECE ON ROD FELTON FROM FOLKS MAGAZINE C 1979
" A brief rundown of Rod’s career up to the age of 25 appears in the programme of the concert at the Playhouse, Harlow, one of the venues where he appeared with Julie Felix;

“He has played guitar since the age of twelve and started playing in clubs at the age of 15. He teamed up with Beverley Kutner who later married and partnered John Martyn.

He then formed the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band which was a great success in Northern England and Germany. When they disbanded, Rod decided to build a solo career and recently signed management and recording contracts with Barry Murray and Harry Simmonds – managers and producers of Mungo Jerry, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack etc. who in turn signed him with the newly formed British Talent International Agency who handle Mungo Jerry. Savoy. Prelude, Peter Skellern, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock. Rod is currently working on his first Album and single.”

So somewhere there must be some recordings. I also seem to remember Rod telling me he was recording in America c 1974 but I saw no evidence.

Pete willow tells us " extracts from the Felton scrapbooks are included (here), although there isn't space to include everything in them. Suffice it to say they are packed with letters, cuttings, photos and posters relating to people involved in the local and national folk scene from the mid sixties to the early seventies. They also contain many details of Rod’s own career as a folk singer, including tickets, ads, posters and other publicity of concerts he has performed along with Savoy Brown, 10cc, Bronx Cheer and Julie Felix. "

Pete willow quotes from another cutting entitled " “Folk Wave Hits City Scene” The Heart of England F.C. Chairman Pete Fairley “…One of our most popular resident singers is a Coventrian. He is Rod Felton, the blues artist, who has shown interest in the club since our formation 18 months ago.” The article makes reference to a club Roddy ran at the Market Tavern in Coventry on Wednesday evenings.

Rod Felton is one of top solo performers from Coventry - a powerhouse of a performer who, apart from following his own career, has encourage local acts through a number of folk clubs he has hosted over the years including the Rude Bear Folk Club at the three tons and later the Boatyard in the early 70's.







In spite of playing all over the country and abroad, Rod has never stopped gigging oR doing numerous floor spots in Coventry folk clubs and events."
At one stage, a year or two after the break up of Dando Shaft, the band reformed briefly c 1974 with the
addition of Baz Andruszko on bass and Rod Felton on guitar. Dando reformed and performed in tent outside the Belgrade Theatre.
At the time I reported this in Hobo - Coventry's Music and Arts Magazine 1974


" DANDO - NEW PHASE......
"Dando Shaft - may be reformed in the near future with some of the original members - Martin Jenkins on
fiddle, flute and mandola and vocals; Ted Kaye on Congas and percussion, Polly Boulton on vocals, Rod Felton on Guitar and Baz Andruszko (of a Band Called George) on bass and accordion.

At the moment they are fulfilling other commitments. Martin, who recently wrote and played the music for the Belgrade's production Little Red Riding Hood, has another production in London. Rod Felton, meanwhile, is due for another tour of Germany I believe."

Rod Felton designed and paid for the advert in Hobo for the Rude Bear Folk club, utilising the skills that he used as a commercial artist for his new purposes.








ROD FELTON'S SONGS
Some more pieces by Rod Felton that came from Pete Willow's Folks magazine c1979 - the lyrics to one of his songs.




There is a limited amount of material on Rod Felton's My Space http://www.myspace.com/roddyfelton

AND I LOVE YOU by Rod Felton
One of his most popular songs of the early 70's was "And I Love You" and was played in open D tuning. He'd sing the verses soft as if singing to his lover and then for the chorus would bring in his considerable vocal power. Pete Willow tells me that several Coventry singers covered this popular Coventry song. First published in Folks - Pete Willow's Coventry folk magazine 1979.

Here is the tablature from Folks Magazine -



And the youtube of the song And I Love You and My Lady - recorded live at the Three Tuns c 1972 by MARKO KRNJULAC

  




THE MARQUEE CLUB WITH BRONX CHEER 1974
On the 6th Jan 1974 Rod Felton played the Marquee Club with Bronx Cheer.
See programme below.

Rod also worked with Barry Kingstone who produced recordings of Rod on Spark records
and Pye Records.
Rod Felton at the Marquee London in 1974


One of his most popular songs of the early 70's - "And I Love You" ( played in open D tuning. He'd sing the verses soft as if singing to his lover and then for the chorus would bring in his considerable vocal power. Pete Willow tells me that several Coventry singers covered this popular Coventry song. First published in Folks - Pete Willow's Coventry folk magazine 1979.
MARKO KRNJULAC recorded another Rod Felton song at the Three Tuns c 1972 - the lively Desert Rock
 

and some recent floor spots can be found on You Tube.


There's more of Rod if you follow through to You tube.

From Folks Magazine 1979


Dave Cooper (of Dando Shaft) "Writing down my observations tell them this and that Think i'll walk to Riddy's Army Surplice Stores and buy me a hat" Rod Felton "My Day Story" 68?



Norman Wheatley recently played Rod Felton's brilliant song Curley on his Gentle Folk radio show. It's the second track if you follow the link. It's a podcast so you can listen to it at any time.


PETE CLEMONS - THE COVENTRY TELEGRAPH ARTICLES ON ROD FELTON 2014
Shortly before Rod felton passed away, I assisted Pete Clemons with information and contacts for a two part article on Rod for Coventry Telegraph. Pete had been intended to do the article for a while having grown up near where Rod lived and luckily Rod got to see the article before he passed from what we've been told  Here are the two recent articles. I've broken them up a bit for ease of reading.








Dave Cooper of  Dando Shaft has recently uploaded some further tracks by Rod on Sound Cloud.

These are unfinished songs - the first is the excellent Folkin' Superstar Dave Cooper says  I have copies of 9 tracks. I spoke to Rod he was happy to put them on Raremusez. I just never got round to it.






There's another track on there called - It Takes Some Time - click back to Dave's Soundcloud to hear it. https://soundcloud.com/dave-cooper-32


ROD FELTON'S LOST ALBUMS AND AUDIO
The hunt has been on to trace the 'lost Album' tracks of Rod Felton and 'live audio'. Some live recordings have already surfaced and are linked on here. Steve Ashwell has a longstanding thread on Rod Felton on which there has been much discussion about his lost recordings from such as Ian Green, Geoff Thompson and many others the link to the facebook thread is HERE

Graham Bradshaw "It's time for a dig through all the old tapes. I have some cassette recordings from the Freemasons, which definitely contain some by Rod. I also have all the tapes from the Come Together concert in 1983 in memory of Hazel Lester. There is a complete set of Grunt Band recordings there, but I don't think Rod did a solo set. We'll see. - People have talked about Rod's legendary album from the 70s. It definitely DID exist. I can remember Rod telling me all about it at the time, although you always had to take Rod's stories with a certain pinch of salt. The story goes that he recorded it in London for Pye Records, and it was pressed up ready for release, and then the A&R man at Pye left and the new regime weren't interested, so it got cancelled. There were apparently boxes of them in the Pye vaults never issued. However, a few pre-release copies did escape, and I remember seeing one in Coventry in the 70s, so I know it existed. Somebody somewhere must have one. Maybe Rod had one, but I doubt it. There was a galaxy of star musicians (of the day) on it, one of which was Bruce Rowlands (then of the Grease band and later drummer with Fairport)....More recently, I believe Malc Gurnham recorded some stuff with him for a CD release. Roddy showed me the artwork for the sleeve, but I never got to hear the results. No doubt, Malc still has these tapes, unless in true Rody fashion, they never got finished!!" 


TRIBUTES TO ROD FELTON
Sadly Rod Felton passed away March 29th 2014. So many tributes on Facebook - he touched so many people's lives - so many affectionate memories and laughs left behind alongside the songs and many many performances.

Geoff Veasey of Black Parrot Seaside has done a terrific tribute to Rod Felton on his Bold Parrot blogspot - worth a read - 
" That cheeky grin, that trademark long hair, the ponytail, the tie-backs and headscarves. Those biceps, the earrings, the onstage (and offstage) outbreaks of cussing. The funny voices, the timbre, the way he would drop a vocal down and then rasp it across a big room without any amplification. The infectious laugh-the mix of sad, sweet, funny and downright brilliant songs-we've lost them all." READ MORE HERE http://blackparrotseaside.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/rod-felton-rip-personal-tribute.html

Tributes from Facebook
Rod Felton still up to tricks in his old age!

Texas Dave McGarry (Dave used to work in Virgin records Coventry in the 70's - now promotes Texas music in Australia) " Just found out my old friend Rod Felton passed away. This guy was the original midnight cowboy that walked the streets of Coventry, England, back in the 1960's/70's. Guitar in hand, he'd play a song for anyone, anytime. He made great leather work too, and wore his craft for all the world to see. He was crazee, and beautiful. Cops shook their heads as he walked by. A true legend. RIP Amigo."

I had forgotten Rod's leather work - pouches etc. Another of his many talents.

And Pete Willow's tribute in Coventry Telegraph




Among the many artists and friends / relatives at Rod's funeral, was the clawpicking folk raconteur Derek Brimstone, now in his 80's and according to reports, still looking good.

Christopher Sidwell I spoke to Roger Lomas who reckons that he still has the 2 songs that he recorded of Rod in London and 'Curley' sounded wonderful when it was played at the funeral today. The funeral was as lovely as a funeral could be and there were masses of people and love.

This another excellent tribute and review of Rod Felton's Funeral by Geoff Vasey of Black Parrot Seaside. http://blackparrotseaside.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/close-those-big-eyes-lay-your-head-on.html A must read...


Comments from the Hobo site on Vox blogs from 2007 /8 (site now closed)
Hey, my old friend Rod Felton, we used to go to a lot of parties together, and get right out of our heads. He
use to come with me down to Banbury to a place called the Lampet Arms in Tad Martin, and the landlady give us beds for the night. A lot of weekends we spent down there, because the pub never closed.
I could tell you some stories, but i don't think i should.......Peace...Mojo.
mojomorgan | 03/02/2007 at 01:30 PM


[this is good]
Got an e mail from John Silver - of Coventry who now runs the Falcon Hotel in BromYard -
"Early January 1968, or 1969 the dates merge, Rod Felton on the busy stairs at the Umbrella Club doing
full justice to 'My Name aint Tarzan'. Watching on Roy & Colin Potter, Sylvia Baines and many others including I think Maurice Deacon and Margaret nee? now in Somerset.

Jazz fan then and now following Dud Clews (Mercers Arms), Tieano?(Sp) Bueno(Cottage Earlsdon, Monday) put well off Folk by Ian Cambell gig in Coventry which I found very boring and with Ross Patterson and Ray Fiddler? were thrown out by the heavies for not showing respect.

Interesting times long gone. Now live in Bromyard www.falconhotelbromyard.co.uk and find there is good Folk music after all having done the best ever Bromyard Folk Festival 2007. Don't think Rod ever got here.
John Silver, Freeman of Coventry."

The only recording of the incredible Grunt Band. Live at The Three Crowns at Barwell. Download the whole01/19/2008 at 05:43 PM
collection at www.raremusez.co.uk from Coopz Posted by: coopz |

[this is good] Memories, memories, of young drunken, but always beautifully enjoyed, times in the Coventry/Nuneaton/Warwickshire area in 1965 to 1978.....so many lovely,sometimes unrepeatable,good times, love to all involved
Posted by: michael scott | 01/12/2010 at 07:28 PM

[this is good]
Hi Rod, I just discovered this site via Google. It is wonderful to see you are still active!
I have been telling my wife about the times I would go to the pub in Earlsdon and hear, even record, your
act. That club was my awakening musically.

I started learning guitar, inspired by you, and the recording I did there started me learning the skills etc of recording music and producing tapes and so on. Never in Pete's league it is amazing to read here that I rubbed shoulders with him, maybe, one of those Sunday nights? I just want to add that I respect and admire your work and that I still have those recordings, somewhere.

I need to dig them out to list the artists I recorded but if you remember those you featured, I might have a copy of their early work? I remember June Tabor at least and have dim recollection of others. All the best Rod, many happy years of music may you enjoy.
John Posted by: John | 02/25/2010 at 09:31 AM

Comments from Facebook 2013
Geoff Veasey "Curly" - Felton writing honestly and movingly about fatherhood will always be my favourite.

There was another one that is mentioned on a BBC Radio site
"Lady, baby, gypsy queen
muffins on the ground.
Lady, baby, gypsy queen
Now you're not around." based on a Cherry stones counting rhyme. It rings a bell.

Dave Cooper "Lady Baby Gypsy Queen my feet on the ground Lady Baby Gypsy Queen Now you're not around." I think as i recall the lyric. So many fond memories and great songs of His Rodnes.

Jon Freeman Sunbathing was a "Tongue in cheek" favorite of the regulars, Chorus was "Sunbathing, sunbathing that's what the sun is for, out you go as white as snow 'till you turn like a lobster thermador, out in the sun like a hot cross bun, "this is the life" you say, 'till you burn you're arse on a promenade rail that's been in the sun all day!! Recent live version here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esG0OW69BMQ


6 comments:

  1. I am trying to get in touch with rod, I have some of his early recordings. Does anyone know here i can get in touch with him?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Marilyn, I am the site admin. Can you e mail me on hobozine@googlemail.com and i will try to get you in contact with Rod. Reason being, i don't want to put his details on line. Sounds brill if you have some early recordings. Trev

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  2. So very sad to announce I have heard of Rods passing he will be missed so much the didn't break the mould when they made him, he had one of his own

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  3. Playing the bass drum for Earlsdon morris, he always claimed to be the best banger in the business. I remember many a happy time sharing his bacon and lime-pickle sandwiches. And, of course, the occasional rendition of Curly or Lobster. He will be missed by many friends. RIP Roddy.

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  4. Thanks for your comments guys. A huge amount of people are remembering him with affection and humourous stories and for his talent and encouragement of others.

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  5. He introduced me to bacon and lime pickle sandwiches - which I still eat today, 40 years later and think of him. The visit to Germany with Earlsdon Morrismen, Roddy in charge of the beer barrel, the Customs men seeing him and the barrel, thinking of the paperwork and getting off the coach! He was a one off, who touched the lives of many, many people and left his mark on all of them. Wonderful musician, great friend and storyteller. You will be missed by so many mate. I would say rest in peace, but I know you won't. You will be head of the naughty boys, have a good one! John Clegg

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