Origin: London (England)
|Steve Gadd - Terry Thomas - Terry Slesser - Robert Henrit - John Anderson|
st - 1983
- Although a British band CHARLIE have often been mistaken for an American group having found the majority of their success in America, where the band constantly toured in order to further promote frequent chart albums. In their home country CHARLIE merely faced indifference. CHARLIE formed during mid 1971 with an initial line-up of lead vocalist and guitarist Terry Thomas, guitarist Martin Smith, bassist John Anderson and drummer Steve Gadd. Following many London club gigs the quartet secured a deal with Decca Records, issuing the single 'I Need Your Love' in 1973. A further projected single 'Knocking down your door' was recorded but never released.
Further live work attracted the attention of Trident Studios, responsible for launching the career of QUEEN. A deal was struck and CHARLIE's first album, 'Fantasy Girls', was recorded at Trident in July of 1975 and produced by Mike Stone, who was later to find huge success for his work with JOURNEY.
The inaugural gig to promote the album came as support to THE WHO at London's Hammersmith Odeon in December of that year; shortly followed by another noteworthy support, this time to BAD COMPANY. Enjoying favourable reviews CHARLIE set out on a British tour as guests to Dutch act FOCUS.
The second album, rather aptly titled 'No Second Chance', once more recorded at Trident but produced by Thomas and Anderson, proved a departure from the band's rockier sound and CHARLIE found themselves dropped by their American company Columbia Records. Still, CHARLIE nonetheless promoted the album in Britain with headlining and support shows (including dates with FLEETWOOD MAC), but the group struggled amidst the Punk explosion and line-up changes ensued, with Smith being replaced by Eugene Organ and the band adding keyboardist Julian Colbeck.
Attempting to keep afloat, having lost both management and record deals by now, CHARLIE seemed to have run its course. However, unknown to the band, an independent American record company Janus suddenly found radio success in the States, scoring a top five radio airplay hit with the track 'Johnny Come Back'. The album eventually reached number 75 in the Billboard charts, giving CHARLIE a much needed new lease of life. CHARLIE's first American dates followed with a support slot to THE DOOBIE BROTHERS prior to club headlining shows.
By 1978 drummer Shep Lonsdale had been drafted in as second drummer to augment Gadd and CHARLIE toured promoting the 1978 album 'Lines'; initially as support to STYX. The two bands did not get on and soon CHARLIE found themselves off the bill and hooking up with the BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE tour instead. This tour was followed by headliners in clubs before more guest slots with ALICE COOPER and THE KINKS.
With the American success of singles, albums and tours, CHARLIE, bar the odd TV show in Europe, found themselves concentrating almost solely on the US market. The 'Fight Dirty' album again continued the tradition of recording at Trident Studios, but the band found themselves involved in lengthy legal wrangles with former management, thus delaying recording.
Further problems arose when rumours of Janus's impending bankruptcy loomed. Despite being offered deals by RSO, Atlantic and Chrysalis CHARLIE were held to contract by Janus, who subsequently went under. However, Arista Records bought the rights to the entire Janus catalogue and released 'Fight Dirty' in America to enthusiastic radio response. Tour dates ensued, with special guest status to FOREIGNER, but after six weeks on the road CHARLIE returned to Britain. Despite having a top 40 album and single finances were not available for continued roadwork.
Troubled times loomed. With the 1980 album 'Here Comes Trouble' unable to gain an American release, the group suffered the loss of Lonsdale. And CHARLIE once again found themselves embroiled in record company problems as both their American label Arista and British label Polydor refused to release the album. In dire straits both Colbeck and Organ quit; CHARLIE regrouping by adding ex-ARGENT and PHOENIX men John Verity and drummer Bob Henrit. Demos with the new line-up thankfully gained a deal with RCA Records.
In North America CHARLIE signed to FOREIGNER's manager Bud Prager, but the 'Good Morning America' album was surprisingly unsuccessful especially bearing in mind so many Rock fans familiar with the band cite it as one of the group's finest. RCA soon dropped the Brits from the roster, although Prager soon secured a new deal with Atlantic subsidiary Mirage Records.
Changes were afoot once more in 1983 when John Verity left to form his own band prior to the comeback 'Charlie' album, co-produced by Terry Thomas and Kevin Beamish, replaced by ex-BACKSTREET CRAWLER vocalist Terry Wilson-Slesser. In spite of another single success with the track 'Its Inevitable', the album failed to sell.
The band's swansong proved to be 1985's 'In Pursuit Of Romance', which turned out to be virtually a Terry Thomas solo production and more of a contractually obligated affair released in America, although Mirage Records folded within a fortnight of it's release.
Following the band's disappearance, Steve Gadd became drum technician for IRON MAIDEN, Henrit joined THE KINKS, and Smith formed WOODY WOODMANSEYS U-BOAT; releasing one album before joining ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA.
Terry Thomas would become by far the most successful ex-CHARLIE member as he created a fine career for himself as an extremely successful producer; his clients including high profile acts such as 3 COLOURS RED, BAD COMPANY, FOREIGNER, TESLA and GIANT. Interestingly, after the demise of his own solo band VERITY, John Verity has also dabbled in production.
CHARLIE was resurrected by Terry Thomas in 2009 for the album 'Kitchens Of Distinction', released through Voiceprint Records. Former keyboard player Julian Colbeck contributed in the studio. -
- Charlie was a British rock band that was formed in 1971 by singer/songwriter Terry Thomas. A jazz-inflected, London-based group, Charlie was as well known for the sexy babes on their album covers as they were for their close, smooth harmonies and slick, catchy singles like "Turning" and "Watching TV."
The band's core lineup consisted of vocalist / guitarist Terry Thomas (who had also been in a band with Free and Bad Company's Simon Kirke), bassist/vocalist John Anderson (formerly of Axe), and drummer Steve Gadd, and a wide array of supporting players, including keyboardist Julian Colbeck, guitarist Martin Smith, auxiliary drummer Shep Lonsdale, and former Argent members Bob Henrit and John Verity.
Their radio-friendly sound debuted in 1976 with Fantasy Girls and the group managed a steady stream of moderate FM hits in the U.S. and the U.K., including 1978's "Killer Cut" and "She Loves to Be in Love."
However, Charlie's biggest success came with the 1983 hit "It's Inevitable," which received considerable airplay from MTV and was featured on their selftitled seventh album. Despite the added prominence this single and tours with the Doobie Brothers, Styx, BTO, and the Kinks brought them, the group remained primarily a cult favorite for their nearly decade-long career. Charlie's swan song came in with 'In Pursuit of Romance', which featured Thomas as the only original member.
Charlie, to most people in Oz were virtually unknown so it was tempting to treat their selftitled album as a debut.
In many ways it was — they had a new front man in Terry Slesser (sounding very much like Daryl Braithwaite or Steve Perry, and looked like Brian Mannix from the Uncanny X-Men), a new Production Team - Kevin Beamish and Terry Thomas and a new Record Label - Mirage, headed by Jerry Greenberg (ex Atlantic Records President).
Charlie's recording career began in 76 with their debut Album "Fantasy Girls" and they followed this up with one album per year - "No Second Chance" (77); "Lines" (78); "Fight Dirty" (79); "Here Comes Trouble" ('80) and "Good Morning America" ('81)
Of the above only "No Second Chance" and "Lines" were released in Australia. Both received good critical acclaim but failed to spawn that vital ingredient - a HIT Single. They did however have two Top 40 Hits in the States with "She Loves To Be In Love" and "Killer Cut".
Charlie in '83 undertook a new direction. As Terry Thomas the Band leader/Spokesman put it - "There was a lot of re-evaluation going on in the band after "Good Morning America". We had been working for a long time to attain the kind of success we all wanted but hadn't quite achieved. The frustration level for the whole band was very high at that point. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that a major change was needed to freshen up a stagnant situation. Hence, I stepped down from the role of Lead Singer and directed my energies into the Songwriting/ Producing and Guitar work. As soon as I took this approach the material I had written for the album took on a new clarity and direction about it".
The addition of Kevin Beamish as Co-Producer/Engineer as well as help from John "Mutt" Lange (Producer of Foreigner, AC/CD, Def Leppard) has really added depth and a knife like edge to all of Thomas'songs.
"It's Inevitable" kicks it off, a song that deserved it's minor hit status. The song is an up tempo rocker with the great layered harmonies expected of the lads. The same can be said of "Tempted" which follows the same path with a superb chorus. "Spend My Life With You" is more mid tempo, but with a beautiful verse and if anything these guys were on a roll. "Never Too Late" features a highly dramatic bridge, with synth work that stabs over and over. Side one ends with another ultra melodic classic "Playing To Win". The buildup to the chorus is almost palpable in its tension, it fits perfectly. The background vocals are so rich in melody you might overdose of an AOR attack! And this is only side one! Not to worry because side two is every bit as memorable, notably "This Time" and "Can't Wait 'Til Tomorrow", undeniable AOR feasts which can be described as any of the previous songs. -
- In 1971 the band forms from the embers of Axe (Terry Thomas, John Anderson, and Nicko McBrain). New band is Terry Thomas, Martin Smith, Ray Bulloch, and Nicko, Nicko leaves (personality clashes) and Steve Gadd comes in. Ray Bulloch leaves (music not heavy enough) and John Anderson returns. First name was Charlie Cuckoo shortened to Charlie. Band play gigs in and around London. First gig was at the Lordship Tavern, Wood Green, London. A fight breaks out. In 1973 the first single – “I Need Your Love” – is released on Decca. Although the band has a contract for four singles, only one more – “Knocking Down Your Door” – is recorded but never released.
1974 found Charlie with a new manager – Richard Dale – and continue gigging round the London Pub Rock scene. They play the Roundhouse as the backing band for Tim Rose and are seen by Trident Audio Productions (TAP), the company that discovered Queen. TAP express an interest but don’t yet commit. In 1975 they go into Trident Studios to record Fantasy Girls. Roy Thomas Baker was to be the producer but at the last minute Mike Stone, then only 19, was drafted in. Charlie turn professional and their first gig is supporting The Who for three nights at the Hammersmith Odeon December 1975.
The band debuted as a recording act in 1976, with the album Fantasy Girls. They toured the UK in the spring of 1976 as support act to the Dutch progressive rock band Focus to promote the album. Their second album, No Second Chance, began the practice of featuring a photograph of a female model as the album’s cover. “Turning To You”, off that album, became Charlie’s first chart hit, peaking at US #96.
In 1977 No Second Chance is released. Charlie support a squabbling, stoned, but nonetheless spectacular Fleetwood Mac on their Rumours tour but the album meets with mediocre response in the UK now in the grip of punk. The band consider calling it a day. Unbeknown to the band, the album had been released in the US on the Janus label. The song Johnny Hold Back was getting massive radio play, the album is zipping up the Billboard charts, and suddenly everybody is a lifelong friend. The band go to the US as opening act for a Doobie Brothers ‘sheds’ tour on the back of Minute By Minute. This heady experience was marred only by Steve Gadd getting his hand broken by a security guard (!) in Lousiville, KY. Doobies drum tech and Charlie admirer Shep Lonsdale steps in to save the day. After 6 weeks it was back to the UK to write and record Lines, at Trident Studios, in the Autumn of ’76.
In 1978 the band recruit Shep as second drummer and the band fly off to promote the album in New York. However, in an event worthy of Spinal Tap, the album is not ready for release. They thus start touring opening for Styx without a record in the shops. After a handful of gigs Charlie are kicked off the bill and fly to LA where Janus records was based. The band stay there a month creating havoc in all the famous places (Rainbow, Roxy etc) before finally the record is released and a tour is fixed.
Lines enjoys both critical and commercial success. Opening for Bachman Turner Overdrive was hardly cutting edge but they were out there. Notable gigs included opening for Alice Cooper in St Louis (30000 crowd) and Robert Palmer in Wheeling West Virginia (124 crowd / capacity 5000, with a weeping Palmer backstage). Finally Charlie picked up the Kinks tour finishing with 3 nights at the LA Amphitheatre – a 5-month tour. Back to London to write and record Fight Dirty. Band starts recording their epic album. Orchestra on one song, high quality brass arrangements with top US players on others.
1979 the band finish album early 1979 to find that Janus has, somewhat thoughtlessly, gone bankrupt and the album is now property of the receiver. There had been rumours of this happening and in fact Thomas and Colbeck had met with Atlantic and RSO in LA to discuss deals but Janus had refused, saying they were OK. So, an album is in the can but there’s no record company. June/July Arista records bought the Janus catalogue agree to release Fight Dirty but specifically state No Touring. But then Killer Cut is released and becomes a # 1 radio song. Arista is suddenly all about touring and Charlie duly set out on a 6-week tour with Foreigner. Everything is going well – the album is selling – the tour is good – Arista then pull the plug… So, back to the UK for the next album.
Julian Colbeck, who had replaced Martin Smith after the first album, departed four albums later in 1980 amid some turmoil. He writes, “Finally, the touring band line-up of Terry Thomas, John Anderson, Eugene Organ, Steve Gadd, and myself ceased operations once Arista refused to release Here Comes Trouble, and our caring, sharing management company immediately cut off all our money in 1980. That’s a whole other story but, for the record, our final gig was in 1979 at the Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday 29 October, alongside Foreigner.” Thomas commented “Arista our new label in the U.S. wanted more songs – our company in the UK – Trident Audio Productions – refused to put us in the studio or spend any more money. The UK record company – Polydor – wouldn’t release it until it had a U.S. release. Effectively Charlie had no record label and no money to live on. Eugene and Julian decided to leave.”
In 1983 mixing commences but is quickly abandoned and Terry Thomas flies to New York to mix with David Thoener. Album released – first track It’s Inevitable is a huge radio hit (#2 most played song on all formats) but doesn’t translate into sales. Album falters, fades, then dies. The period 1984/85 Charlie is now Terry Thomas and Terry Slessor. A contractual album is ‘required.’ Summer ’85 Terry Thomas goes into Terminal studios (appropriately named, as it turns out) with session guys to record In Pursuit Of Romance. It puts him in hospital. When he gets out, his UK manager has disappeared with all the recording equipment (are you spotting a trend yet?).
In 1986, Thomas resurrected the band with a new crew and released In Pursuit of Romance. Thomas writes, “This was basically a contractual album – Steve had gone off to work with Iron Maiden as a drum tech and John had a job in the telecommunications industry. I ended up making the whole album by myself – it put me in the hospital!” After a long layoff, in 2009 Charlie released their first album of new material in 23 years, Kitchens Of Distinction. The album began life as a Terry Thomas solo project, but as the finished product included contributions from Martin Smith and Julian Colbeck, the decision was made to credit the CD to Charlie. -
- The band was briefly called "Charlie Cuckoo" (after a racehorse), but soon became known simply as "Charlie". Original members included:
Terry Thomas, Lead vocals & guitar
John Anderson, Backing vocals & bass
Steve Gadd, Drums (not the American session drummer of the same name)
Martin Smith, Backing vocals & guitar
The band debuted as a recording act in 1973, issuing the non-charting single "I Need Your Love" on Decca in their native UK. Although the band had a contract for four singles with Decca, only one more ("Knocking Down Your Door") was recorded, and it was never released.
Three years later, Charlie returned to record stores with their debut album Fantasy Girls. Thomas was Charlie's primary songwriter for this and all future albums, although he would also collaborate with other band members from time to time. Charlie toured the UK in the spring of 1976 as support act to the Dutch progressive rock band Focus to promote the album. Smith left after the first album and was replaced by keyboard player Julian Colbeck.
The group's second album, No Second Chance, began the practice of featuring a photograph of a female model as the album's cover. "Turning To You", off that album, became Charlie's first chart hit, peaking at US #96. Terry Thomas also took the reins as producer for this album, along with John Anderson; all future Charlie releases would be produced by Thomas, usually in association with one or more band members.
Eugene Organ was added as a fifth member on guitar for the following two albums, 1978's Lines and 1979's Fight Dirty. The band had their biggest hit to date in 1978 with "She Loves to Be In Love," which peaked at #54 in the United States. The following year, the band again had a minor hit with "Killer Cut", which rose to US #60. By this time, Shep Lonsdale had been added as an official sixth member, playing drums and percussion alongside Gadd on all of Fight Dirty.
Colbeck and Organ departed in 1980 amid some turmoil, after having completed recording the group's planned fifth album, Here Comes Trouble. Colbeck writes, "Finally, the touring band line-up of Terry Thomas, John Anderson, Eugene Organ, Steve Gadd, and myself ceased operations once Arista refused to release Here Comes Trouble, and our caring, sharing management company immediately cut off all our money in 1980. That's a whole other story but, for the record, our final gig was in 1979 at the Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday 29 October, alongside Foreigner." Thomas commented, "Arista our new label in the U.S. wanted more songs - our company in the UK - Trident Audio Productions - refused to put us in the studio or spend any more money. The UK record company - Polydor - wouldn't release it until it had a U.S. release. Effectively Charlie had no record label and no money to live on. Eugene and Julian decided to leave."
In 1981, a reorganized Charlie issued the album Good Morning America for RCA Records. The band now consisted of Thomas, Anderson, Gadd, John Verity (keyboards, guitar), and second drummer Bob Henrit. (Lonsdale had moved on to work for the band Toto as a sound engineer, mixing their live shows.) The previously unissued Here Comes Trouble, recorded in 1980, was finally released in 1982, albeit only in continental Europe.
In 1982, Verity left and Terry Slesser joined the group as new lead singer, while Thomas, still a member of the band, began concentrating more on the instrumentation. In 1983, the group had their most successful hit single, "It's Inevitable", which peaked just inside the US Top 40 at #38. The MTV music video featured a rousing pie fight. The accompanying self-titled album was a flop, however, and the band folded.
In 1986, Thomas resurrected the band identity, while essentially working as a solo artist. For the 1986 Charlie album In Pursuit of Romance, Thomas is the only credited band member, though there are some contributions made by session musicians. Thomas writes, "This was basically a contractual album - Steve had gone off to work with Iron Maiden as a drum tech and John had a job in the telecommunications industry. I ended up making the whole album by myself - it put me in the hospital!"
After a long lay off, in 2009 Charlie released their first album of new material in 23 years, Kitchens Of Distinction. The album began life as a Terry Thomas solo project, but as the finished product included contributions from Martin Smith and Julian Colbeck (amongst others), the decision was made to credit the CD to Charlie.
Drummer Steve Gadd died on 27 March 2013, after a year-long battle with cancer. -