In Gloucestershire, England, 1970, five musicians got together to rehearse and produce one of the most innovative and under rated rock bands of the seventies. The original idea for this band was first conceived in a hotel room in New York City, by Pete Solley and Keith Webb. Pete was a classicly trained pianist and Keith Webb was a jazz drummer. At the time, they were the opening act for The Rollingstones, with the Terry Reid Band. Deciding to break away from the creative restrictions imposed on them as backing musicians, they returned to England to form their own band called Paladin.
Many months were spent finding the right blend of musicians, writing and rehearsing. The band consisted of Lou Stonebridge on vocals, piano and harmonica, Derek Foley on guitar and vocals, Pete Solley on organ, piano, violin and vocals, Keith Webb on drums and percussion, and Peter Beckett on bass and vocals. Peter had never played bass before but needed the job and learned quickly. Stonebridge and Foley had been playing with the band Grisby Dyke, and Peter was formerly of the bandWinston G and The Wicked. When rehearsals began, it was clear that Paladin was going to be a dynamic live band. Instead of recording a demo, they invited people from the music industry to attend the rehearsals that took place in a farmhouse at Slowwe House in Arlingham, Gloucstershire. This was a huge old house that the entire band stayed at. Their sound was a mix of rock, blues, soul, jazz, and latin, creating a rich blend of world beat, long before it existed. Paladin's use of dual keyboards also created a unique sounds.
By the end of 1970, they hit the road to play live gigs. Their first appearance took place at the Revolution in London. After some negogiations, Paladin signed with the newly formed Bronze Records. They began recording their self-titled, debut album on January 8, 1971 produced by Philamore Lincoln, at Olympus Studios in West London. They also recorded portions of the album at Island Studios, also in London. They recorded almost everything live in the studio, with a few overdubs. This decison produced some outstanding pieces of music. They toured England and Europe, playing all the great clubs there at the time. Paladin vocalist Lou Stonebridge was injured when a table that was being used as a stage extension collapsed during a gig. He sufferd a dislocated shoulder but continued on as the band begin cutting their second album.
A year later, it was time for their second album, which was produced by Geogg Emerick(who engineered Sgt. Pepper) and recorded at the famous Apple Studios in London. EntitledPaladin Charge!, the second album was pegged by critics to be the absolute classic masterpiece of the 70's. This diverse album, which at times mixed folk with rock and roll, made it difficult to pinpoint influences. The lead vocals were shared by the band members on select songs. Famous album cover artist Roger Dean, designed The Paladin, a rider on a horse, for Paladin Charge!, claiming it to be one of his most difficult sketches. Unfortunately, Paladin's lack of success led to frustration, with Stonebridge and Foley deciding to leave the band in April of 1972. Both were replaced by Joe Jammer on vocals and guitar. Paladin then toured such places as Norway and all around Europe and England. However, the revised lineup didn't last long and by the end of 1973, Paladin disbanded.
The career of Paladin produced two of the finest hard/prog albums of the 70's. They also recorded early versions of tracks leaning more toward jazz. These were later reworked and the tapes were forgotten for almost 25 years until their release in 2002 by Rock Symphony under the name of JazzAttack. Paladin recorded live for the BBC but the tapes are believed to be still collecting dust in the vaults of old Beeb in London.
...and Joe Jammer
JOE JAMMER: "When I joined Paladin, it was the first time an up-and-coming band asked me to join them. Our debut gig 'with Joe Jammer' was at my home away from home, the greatest night club in rock and roll history: The Speakeasy. The night of my debut with Paladin, the Speakeasy was packed. It was the kind of club where The Beatles would be at one table, The Stones the next, Peter Sellers over there, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix over here, etc. Imagine! I was so proud. And then tragedy befell me...
In the middle of this well-attended debut, my upper left-side molar exploded in super pain, which impeded my singing and playing to no end. My performance was undercut, and everybody knew it!
The band was understanding, and the public sympathetic. Because of my Paladin debut that night, I met Alexis Kohrner, The Father of British Blues, and the man who introduced Mick Jagger to Keith Richards. He took me under his wing as my surrogate father, and brought me to his dentist and had my tooth pulled at no cost to me. God bless him and may he rest in glory...To this day , the hole is still there to remind me of my debut as the replacement guitarist for Derek Foley of Paladin!!!"
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