Bobby Graham (1940-2009) is without doubt the most recorded drummer in British '60s pop, although largely uncredited. By 1960 he was the 20 year old drummer for the Joe Meek 'In House Band'. In 1962 he was drumming for Joe Brown & The Bruvvers when Brian Epstein asked him if he would like to replace Pete Best in The Beatles but Graham didn't fancy joining a group nobody had heard of. It's worth pointing out that Joe Brown was, at this time, considered an incredible guitarist on the cutting edge of the Rock 'N Roll scene.
As a session musician he played on many releases by all the major British artists of the era, however, I think it's worth pointing out that he played on Baby Let Me Take You Home in 1964 and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place in 1965 by the Animals. He also played on Baby Please Don't Go in 1964, Here Comes The Night in 1965 and Call My Name in 1966 by Them.
In early I964 Graham began production for Fontana Recording Studios.
"Jack Baverstock, head of A&R, didn't want to work with The Pretty Things. He said 'I don't want to work with these animals, I can't listen to that crap, take them if you want to'. They were extremely difficult, especially when they'd all been drinking".
During I965 Graham continued playing sessions, but began to put more effort into production work. In February Eddie Barclay, the millionaire playboy owner of Eddy Mitchell's label, asked Graham to produce an album for the French market. Credited to Le London All Stars, British Percussion was released in September I965.
Barclay offered Graham a job. "I was taken on as the Head of Barclay Records UK. I didn't speak much French, I had an interpreter with me all the time. My job was to produce English artists for the French market".
Finding English language acts for the French market was a somewhat random process.
"We put ads in the trade papers - 'artists wanted for auditions'. I produced the In-Betweens for Barclay at Pye Number 2. I also produced an EP from the singer from Billy Gray and the Stormers, he was called Le Frizzy One. That was Carter, Lewis and Jimmy Page".Ultimately, the French didn't take to the British acts:
"You could not get anything English off the ground in France. I got pretty fed up flying backwards and forwards twice a week and I decided to call it a day with Barclay".
Graham then landed a job with Dutch producer Freddie Haayan, who he'd met while producing Golden Earring. when they came to London to record.
"Freddie rang me in I967 to ask if I'd work for him. I went to Hilversum, then EMI (Bovema in Holland) headhunted me, and I started producing Dutch artists for the international market."
After four years, Graham left Holland.
'They asked me leave in I97I because my drinking had become horrendous, I disguised it until it got the point where you can't disguise falling over and throwing up in your office. I ended up on the streets in Amsterdam, full of booze, never dreamt I had a problem. Finally my parents got me home, and I never had another drink".
From I973-75 Graham produced a variety of acts for Christian labels. He then opened The Trading Post, a collectors record shop in Edmonton. He soon tired of the 9-5 and started his own band, The Jazz Experience. They played around Hertfordshire becoming very popular.
"I was thinking, 'what the bloody hell am I going to do?', and there was a drum kit advertised in the local paper. I was just going to clean it up and sell it to make a profit. I set it up in the front room and I was suddenly hooked again."
Graham is undoubtedly amongst the most significant figures of British '60s pop, yet he looks back on his vast body of work with something approaching bemusement.
"There are many things that I'm proud of, like The Kinks records, but there's not one thing that I can listen to and say, 'that's it'. I don't live in the '60s. I live for today, its history, it's gone. I find it strange that people want to talk to me about ,what I did in the '60s. How can it be interesting?"
Bobby Graham died at the Isabel Hospice in Welwyn Garden City on Monday, September 14th 2009, following a four month battle with stomach cancer. The drummer is survived by his wife, Belinda, his son, Shawn, and his younger brother, Ian.
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