Born Alan James Bown on 21 July 1942 in Slough, Alan Bown was a trumpet player. When he finished serving with the RAF he joined the Embers in 1963. The group played rhythm’n’blues and jazz. They became quite successful playing at similar venues as The Beatles at that time.
Bown left the group to tour and record with the John Barry Seven who were backing Brenda Lee. Barry, of Bond theme fame, made Bown the lead member of the Seven so as to give himself more time for composing. The band broke up in 1965.
The 1966 album London Swings on the Pye label. Shared with Jimmy James & the Vagabonds side 1; The Alan Bown Set side 2. Released as a CD in 1994 on Castle, the Alan Bown playlist was:
Printed By – Garrod & Lofthouse
Distributed By – Pye Records (Sales) Ltd.
Copyright – Pye Records Ltd.
Circa May 1965, Bown formed The Alan Bown Set with three former members of The John Barry Seven: Jeff Banister (lead vocals); Dave Green (saxophone, clarinet and flute) and Stan Haldane (bass). They were joined by Pete Burgess (guitar) and Vic Sweeney (Drums). They played American R&B and soul on the same tour circuit as Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers and Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.
Later Tony Hatch signed the Band to Pye Records. Their first single Can’t let her go/I’m the one did not. Dave Green was replaced by John Helliwell. Jess Roden joined the band as lead vocals so that Jeff Bannister could concentrate on keyboards.
In 1967, the Pye Records contract expired and Bown reformed the band as ‘The Alan Bown!’ on Verve Records. Their style changed to psychedelic rock and their first album was Outward Bown released in 1967. In 1968 they appeared on BBC TVs Top of the Pops performing We can help you which had reached No26 in the UK charts.
The 1969 album Outward Bown released on the Music Factory label.
In 1969, The Alan Bown! signed with Deram Records and released the single Still as Stone. The next album was The Alan Bown! and was recorded when Jess Roden left the band. The album was released in the US with his vocals. Robert Palmer replaced him and the vocals were re-recorded by him before the UK release.
History repeated itself in 1970 when The Alan Bown! signed with Island Records. They recorded the album Listen and, as before Palmer left. He was replaced by Gordon Neville and the vocals were re-recorded by him before the album was released.
After the single Pyramid was released in 1971, Andy Brown replaced Stan Haldane, and Mel Collins joined playing saxophone.
During 1971, still with Island records, The Andy Bown! recorded the album Stretching out but in February 1972 there were changes in the line-up. Jeff Bannister (keyboards) left but not replaced. Dougie Thomson (bass) replaced Andy Brown and Derek Griffiths (guitar) replaced Tony Catchpole.
Band members and their destinies
Alan Bown – Trumpet. Joined Jonesy and later still, worked as talent scout/developer for CBS
Jeff Bannister – Keyboards/vocals. Joined Bronco and later A Band Called O
Stan Haldane – Bass/vocals
John Helliwell – saxophone, occasionally keyboards and woodwind. Joined Supertramp
Jess Roden – Vocals. Formed own band Bronco
Tony Catchpole – guitar.
Robert Palmer – Vocals. Joined band after Roden left. Vocals on remake of Gypsy Girl. Joined Dada which soon after became Vinegar Joe
Gordon Neville – Vocals. Joined Elton John Band as backing vocals and worked t=with Rick Wakeman
Andy Brown – Bass.
Mel Collins – Saxophone and Flute. Worked with King Crimson and Alexis Korner amongst other acts
Dougie Thomson – Bass guitar, laterj Joined Supertramp
Derek Griffiths – Guitar
Nick Payn – Joined Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Pete Goodall – worked with Percy Sledge, Viola Wills, Carl Douglas and others
Discography – Singles
1966 Can’t let her go / I’m the one (Pye)
1966 Baby don’t push me / Everything’s gonna be alright (Pye)
1966 Headline News / Mister Pleasure (Pye)
1966 Emergency 999 / Settle Down (Pye)
1967 Gonna fix you oood (Everytime you're bad) / I really, really care (Pye)
1967 Jeu De Massacre (Disques Vogue)
1967 We Can Help You / Magic Handkerchief (Music Factory)
1967 Toyland / Technicolour Dream (MGM)
1968 Story Book / Little Lesley (MGM)
1969 Still as Stone / Wrong Idea (Deram)
1969 Gypsy Girl / All I Can (Deram)
1971 Pyramid / Crash Landing (Island)
1975 Rockford Files / I Don’t Know (CBS)
Discography – Albums
1969 London Swings: Live at the Marquee Club (Castle) shared with Jimmy James & the Vagabonds (Castle CD released 1994)
1968 Second Album (MGM)
1969 Outward Bown (Music Factory)
1969 The Alan Bown (Deram)
1970 Listen (Island)
1971 Stretching Out (Island)
Discography – Compilations
1985 Kick me out (See for Miles)
2002 Emergency 999 (Sequel)
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