Diary of a Musician
Once again, what a BRILLIANT BOOK to read.
Once again, what a BRILLIANT BOOK to read.
Andy Smart Nottingham Evening Post. Monday, September 29, 2008, 12:10
In the diary he kept throughout those years – now reproduced in full, fascinating detail – Griggs recalled the moment he got the job... after lopping four years off his age to get an audition. "I put the phone down horrified, how was I going to tell all my 'heavy' friends that I was in a group called Guys 'n' Dolls."
Griggs' story began like so many from the early rock and roll era, inspired by Lonnie Donegan. With brother Nigel – later to become part of Split Enz – he formed a skiffle group in 1958 which eventually evolved into Beatles-inspired The Cortinas in '63. Their first single, in 1967, was Pheobe's Flower Shop. On its first weekend in the shops it sold... 315 copies.
They were regular commuters up the A1 for Notts gigs. One entry for Wednesday July 10, 1968, recalls a show at Rampton Hospital. "... when the curtains opened... the men were one side and the women the other with warders separating them. To say it was the oddest audience we had played to is an understatement."
Then came a show at Nottingham University. "We were given the kitchen as a dressing room and we indulged in a little bit of rock and roll by taking a giant tin of baked beans with us when we left. My father discovered this a few days later and was horrified. He dug a hole in the garden and buried the tin of beans and to my knowledge they are still there."
Later that year The Cortinas became Octopus, but the story of grafting around the country was much the same. One night in Mansfield, they got a ticket for parking their van with no lights, resulting in a swingeing £5 fine. Another setback was when Nigel was beaten to the Fabulous 208 magazine title of The Face of 1969 by Steve Greenfield, lead singer with Nottingham's own Sons and Lovers.
The chance of a hit record promised to ease their financial woes but a couple of singles, Laugh At The Poor Man and The River, brought ripples rather than a wave of attention and by 1972, the band had folded, their final gig played at the Storthfield in South Normanton.Griggs then almost joined Sons and Lovers but instead, he answered a Melody Maker ad that would change his life. With his distinctive long, curly hair trimmed back, Griggs became part of clean-cut Guys 'n' Dolls.
Their first single There's A Whole Lot Of Loving soon charted... which was fine, except for the fact that it had been pre-recorded by session musicians before Guys n Dolls had actually been formed. Griggs' change of direction had finally brought the success he craved but at a price. As he enjoyed spots on Top of the Pops, the truth behind the recording was exposed, sparking all sorts of legal recriminations. Today, the silver disc he received for sales of that single hangs in his toilet.
Interpreting entries in his diary, it was clearly not a happy time, artistically, despite sudden stardom. He describes an appearance on TOTP to plug second single Here I Go Again as "embarrassing" and then writes: "Our next record was to be a song called Let's All Get Together and guess what? I hated it." Despite his misgivings, the Guys 'n' Dolls story rolled on: hits, albums, huge concerts, encounters with the rich and famous, hilarious times with Freddie Starr; even an appearance with Frank Sinatra.
Then in 1977, two members, David van Day and Thereze Bazar, were summarily sacked ... they would have their revenge by returning as hit duo Dollar. As a four-piece, the group carried on and although their star eventually waned in the UK, they became internationally popular, especially in Holland until, in 1985 in front of 40,000 people at the Feyenoord football stadium in Rotterdam, they played their last gig.
Believing the past was past, Paul stayed in the business, as an agent and performer, until earlier this year he had the chance to step back in time. "Some people said it would never happen, some people said it never should, but the original line-up of Guys 'n' Dolls, Dominic Grant, Julie Forsyth, Paul David Griggs, Martine Howard, David Van Day and Thereze Bazar reunited for the first time in 31 years for a major television show in Holland."
It was broadcast in March and there has been talk of more reunion concerts.
Lovers of '70s fluff, watch this space.
Copies of Diary of a Musician are only available through the website www.diaryofamusician.com priced at £10.99.