The Move: Move On
interview and introduction by Daniel Coston
Originally published in The Big Takeover Magazine, winter 2009
For many of us, the Move are the sound of everything that the 1960s had to offer. Formed in 1966 from some of Birmingham, England’s top musicians, “moving” from other top Brum bands after some late-night jam sessions, and some fabled advice with a young David Bowie. The Move boasted four singers, the eclectic writing of singer and guitarist Roy Wood, and attention-grabbing stunts that included smashing televisions, cars and whatever else was available.
But in September 1967, manager Tony Secunda distributed a drawing of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary, which he made up without the band’s knowledge to promote their new single, “Flowers In The Rain.” The british government sued the band, which would continue to cloud the band’s future. Bassist Ace Kefford would leave the band the following year, and despite their eventual return to chart success, guitarist Trevor Burton would also leave in 1969, with singer and frontman Carl Wayne doing the same in 1970. With the addition of Jeff Lynne, the band had continued hits before mutating into the orchestral-pop giants Electric Light Orchestra in 1972.
Given Wood’s reluctance to reform the Move, and Wayne’s passing in 2004, it was generally assumed that the band’s name would never appear on a marquee again. But Burton and drummer Bev Bevan have reunited under the Move name, and with a fantastic new four-disc Move boxset now available, it seems that the Move may no longer be unfairly swept to the shadows of rock’s best ever bands.
My thanks to both Bevan and Burton for answering my questions via email.
BT: You’re back together with a new version of the Move. How did this come about?
Bev: In 2004, I began working as the Bev Bevan Band. In 2006, with the blessing of Roy Wood, this became “Bev Bevan's Move.” Around that time I also began touring with the project "Brum Rocks Live", which also featured Trevor. We soon became friends again and the following year he joined "Bev Bevan's Move", and due to the fact that we now had two original members, changed to simply "The Move".
BT: It’s interesting that you two have reunited, considering that Trevor, you left the Move in early 1969 after a onstage row with Bev, while “Blackberry Way” was number one on the British charts.
Trevor: They say time is a great healer, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
Bev: We were much younger then. We've mellowed!
BT: I heard a rumor that the two of you had talked about reforming a few years ago with Carl Wayne. Is that true?
Trevor: Yes, this is true. In fact, it was Carl’s idea to reform.
Bev: About ten years ago Carl Wayne was keen to re-form the Move with Trevor and I, but nothing came of it.
BT: Describe what the current Move show sound like. What eras of the band do you focus on?
Trevor: The show sounds pretty much the same as it used to back in the old days. Its focused on the 1966-1970 time.
Unlike virtually every other "60's" band (who generally tend to be rather cabaret), we are loud and really rock out. As well as half a dozen Move hits we do some of the old stage numbers like "Somethin' Else", "So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star", "Goin' Back" etc..
BT: Roy Wood has recently posted some critical comments about this configuration of the Move, although they seem to target the band before Trevor joined. Any comments?
Bev: Just before Xmas I played drums at a big charity show at the NEC in Birmingham to 12,000 people, backing Tony Iommi, Toyah, Dave Berry and Rick Wakeman. Woody was also on the show and we shook hands and chatted.
Trevor: Is there a smell of rotting grapes in the air? Roy was asked to be a part of the reform by both Carl and Bev and me but said no both times, which I think is sad. It would have been great to have him on board.
BT: Describe the Birmingham music scene in the mid 1960s.
Trevor: Buzzing Alive Kicking. Fucking Great.
Bev: Fantastic. Hundreds of local bands and hundreds of local gigs to play at. Pubs, clubs, youth clubs, night clubs, parks, cinemas, skating rinks, parties, ballrooms, town halls, theaters, etc..
BT: Trevor, did the fabled meeting with you and David Bowie happen or after the late-night jam sessions that led to the Move? What was the actual series of events?
Trevor: This did happen at the Ceder Club in Birmingham. The club was the place all the bands played at and hung out at after gigs. We were there one night and so was Bowie, who at the time was known as Davey Jones, who had been playing in town that night.
BT: What was the intent of the original formation? Did you know what you wanted it to look and sound like?
Bev: We were about the best of the local musicians. (A shame that the name "Cream" had already been taken!) After around three years of doing okay locally, we wanted desperately to break through nationally. We were all very ambitious.
Trevor: The intention of forming the Move was to bring the best of what birmingham had together, and make it as big in the game as we could. The look and the sound came later as things came together.
BT: Looking back, it seems a shame that a lot of your set highlights (“Watch Your Step,” as a prime example) did not make it onto record. Any regrets about that?
Trevor: Regrets, yes I had few, as they say. I don't think the raw power of the band was recorded, apart from the live ep Something Else, which was recorded live at the Marquee Club in London.
BT: In late 1966, the band signed a management deal with Tony Secunda, who would lead the Move into a series of attention-grabbing stunts. Tell me about some of the memorable stunts, including Carl’s axe and the automobile at the Roundhouse show in early 1967.
Trevor: The car at the Roundhouse gig was provided by the promoter Georgio Gomelski, who was a Russian immigrant. He thought it would be a great idea to extend the part of our stage show, where Carl smashed up TV sets on stage while smoke bombs were let off and thunder claps filled the air. On stage that night we also had two strippers doing there stuff. This was all done to the strains of “Watch Your Step” being belted out by the band. The car was driven to the front of the stage. Carl jumped on to its bonnet and smashed the windscreen with the axe. This seemed to act as a trigger to the crowd who proceeded to tear the car apart. A smashing night was had by all.
Bev: I remember this beautifully painted big American convertible, with two buxom young ladies doing a striptease on top of it , whilst the muscular Carl Wayne set about the car with a huge axe, with explosions and fireworks and dry ice and smoke, whilst the band thundered through "Watch Your Step". Bizarre and amazing.
BT: I’ve also seen some photos of the Move standing out in a square in Manchester, I believe, with a prop H-Bomb. What are your memories of that?
Trevor: The H Bomb was rented from Granada TV Studios who had their props department in Manchester. It was, by the way, made of cardboard. We then went to Manchester city centre and stood the Bomb in the middle Piccadilly. The idea being to grab the attention of the police and the mass media. This stunt worked on both counts and sure enough the next day the story was in all the leading newspapers.
Bev: It was cold and we were looking to get arrested as a publicity stunt, but the police were not at all interested!
BT: Soon after signing with Secunda, Roy Wood began writing more, and having more say in the band’s material. How did the band’s sound change with that?
Trevor: I think the band’s sound got to be a lot lighter and pop like.
Bev: The Move's biggest problem ( and probably biggest mistake), was that we kept changing musical directions, unlike Cream, Who, Stones, etc..
BT: How much input did you all have with the sound of the band?
Trevor: Roy had a lot to do with the recorded sound of the band, as did producer Deny Cordell. This gave the band its own sound, but for me it lost its menace and balls of the live show. The live show had much more input from all the band.
Bev: With live work it was very democratic with everyone coming up with new ideas.
13. “Night Of Fear,” released in early 1967, went top five in the UK. How quickly did your lives change with that success?
Trevor: It didn't change much at all as we were constantly on the road gigging.
Bev: We began topping the bill at shows instead of opening them. We were on all the music TV shows. The girls began screaming at us. We started earning decent money.
BT: The Move was having chart success for over a year before your debut album came out in April, 1968. Any regrets on that delay?
Trevor: No. Apart from the fact that a lot of the tracks had been used as singles and B-sides, already.
Bev: Yes, it should have come out sooner. We did not have enough original material, but that should not have mattered. It was one of several major mistakes that Secunda made.
BT: Trevor, how did you come to sing “Weekend” and “The Girl Outside” on the debut album? And Bev, how did “Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart” come about?
Trevor: I did “Weekend” as part of the stage show, and it felt like a good belting rocker to add to the mix. “The Girl Outside” was composed by Roy just for me to sing as it was thought to showcase my gritty vocal sound. It did this OK, as on the day of recording the song, I had a bad cold. [Trevor also sang on "Cherry Blossom Clinic", as well as one verse of "Night Of Fear", and several covers in the band's live set. -ed]
Bev: The old Coasters track "Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart" suited my deep voice, plus it gave me chance to get out front and check out the girls!
BT: Trevor, you also sang on “You’ve Got Me Floating,” on Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love album. Describe that experience.
Trevor: It was Roy and me that sang on Axis with Jim. We were all good mates having worked so much together on the road. I was also a good friend of Noel Reading, we shared a house in London. On the day of this recording we were all working at Olympic Studios in Barns, London. Jim in studio 1, the Move in studio 2. Roy and me had dropped in to studio 1 to say hi, and Jim was putting down the vocals for Axis and Mitch and Noel were having a go at doing backing vocals. It wasn’t working, so Jim invited Roy and me to have a go. The result is what can be heard on the final track.
BT: What was the tour like with Hendrix, Pink Floyd, the Nice and yourselves?
Trevor: Crazy times. Six bands to fit in to a show of two 45 minute sets. We closed the first half and Jimi closed the second set. I think a couple of the bands only got to play for five or six minutes. Madness.
Bev: It was just amazing. Sell-outs every night and what a bill. Hendrix, Move, Amen Corner, Nice, Pink Floyd, Eire Apparent, Tomorrow. Two shows a night. We got to play for 25 minutes. Pink Floyd just did their two 1967 hits, about 8 minutes!
BT: When did you both first find out about Secunda’s drawing of Prime Minister Wilson? What did that do to the band?
Bev: When it was headline news on the front pages of every British newspaper!
Trevor: We found out the night before it hit the papers. We came out of a gig to be confronted by the worlds press, wanting to know what we thought about being sued by the prime minister of England. This was the first we knew about any of the things Tony had been up to. It came as a bit of a shock to say the least. I would say that the events following all of this was the start of the end of the Move.
Bev: It spelt the end of Secunda. As well as that mistake, he should have sent us off on tours of the USA in 1967 and 1968, a huge error in judgment.
BT: How important was it after that to rebound with the success of “Fire Brigade?”
Trevor: It was great to put all the Wilson stuff behind us and get back to doing what we did best. Getting out on the road and doing live gigs, and to have a new record “Fire Brigade” to take with us.
BT: Did you both feel like you had lost an ally in the band when Ace left?
A. Ace was a good guy and we had a lot of good times together. Life on the road the constant touring and LSD, which we both took a lot of at this time, sent Ace over the top, as I know he would tell you himself.
Bev: The band was at it's best as a five piece. Ace had a fantastic on stage image and was extremely photogenic, with that blond hair and high cheekbones. But he was difficult to get along with. He had depression problems, but got little sympathy from the rest of the band.
BT: How is Ace doing these days?
Trevor: Ace is fine. I saw him not long ago, and he looked good and said he was feeling great.
BT: Trevor, how did you feel about the Move to bass guitar?
Trevor: The move to bass guitar was a chance for us to change the grooves and the sound. I loved the new format. It gave us the chance to get loose and jam more than we did before.
BT: Trevor, on the Move's late '68 appearance on Colour Me Pop, you covered "The Christian Life," which I assume that you heard through the Byrds' version. How did you come to cover that? And talk about the influence that the West Coast rock sound (Byrds, Love, Moby Grape, etc.) had on the Move.
Trevor: The West Coast sound that came to The Move, was from my influence. I got a hold of a lot of albums from a local record store called The Discary. This shop had a lot of rare albums which I would get and take home and check out. If a song grabbed me, I would take it along and play it to the band. If they liked it we would put it in the show. Working so much on the road we were always on the look out for new material. The Byrds’ “The Christian Life,” was just one of there songs The Move performed. It had nothing to do with us being Christians, we just liked the song.
BT: Trevor, what were your circumstances for leaving the band in early ‘69? What did you do after you left the Move?
Trevor: I left the band so that could take a more bluesy road and expand my music. By his time I had had enough of the pop world and I wanted to explore other places and spaces, and see where the would take me.
BT: Bev, how did the band change after Trevor left? First with Rick Price, then with Jeff Lynne?
Bev: As always the Move changed and changed. I loved the Shazam album, really heavy rock, and we finally got to America promoting that album (albeit for only 3 weeks!). Next thing we were doing cabaret shows in England, which lead to Carl leaving, as he loved those shows and Woody and I hated them. After that it never seemed like the Move.
BT: Bev, my friend Peter Holsapple says hello, and wants to know what you thought of playing with Black Sabbath from 1983 to 1984?
Bev: I really enjoyed my 2 American tours and 1 European tour with the Sabs. I have always enjoyed hitting those drums hard! Tony Iommi is still one of my closest and dearest friends.
BT: Peter also wanted to know from the both of you, what are your favorite Move songs, or recordings?
Trevor: “I Can Hear The Grass Grow,” the Something Else live EP.
Bev: "I Can Hear The Grass Grow", "Blackberry Way", the Something Else EP and the Shazam album.
BT: What would you both like people to know about Carl Wayne?
Bev: He was a really excellent singer. He had amazing energy, never enough hours in the day for him. He was very fit, had not smoked in years, did not do drugs and rarely drank, yet he died of cancer aged 61, Very unfair. I still miss him.
Trevor: He was a lovely guy and like a brother to me. I love him and miss him.
BT: Lastly, what do you think is the legacy of the Move?
Bev: In 1966 and 1967, when the five piece Move were at their peak, there was not a better live band anywhere. I truly believe we were the most underrated band ever.
Trevor: I don't feel that it is for me to say. I would like to let others say the legacy of it all is. Thank You And Goodnight.