Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The One That Got Away number 1 - Arthur Brown

Nearly everybody who has hired talent has let a successful act slip through their fingers. Dick Rowe at Decca famously turned down The Beatles. Here's the first of an occasional series about the one that got away:

Mike Hurst: This tall gangly guy came in, with long hair and a beard. He’d written this song and would I listen to it. He had a piano player with him so the guy sat down at the keyboard and the guy with the long hair and the beard said, “I’ve just got to put my gear on”. So I thought he was going to change clothes. He went out and came back in about two minutes later with a metal cup strapped to his head. So I said, ok, off you go then. And the piano starts the first bars of Fire, and as he does, Arthur Brown strikes a match, lights the cup on the top of his head and it bursts into flames. Arthur is singing “Fire, ba ba ba” and his hair started smouldering and smoking and I was dying! I had tears running down my face. When he finishes the song, Arthur says, “So. What do you think?” and I said, “Arthur, It’s the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life”. He said, “Do you want to sign me?” and I said, sorry Arthur, I can’t. It’s just not for me. Three months later, it’s number one. What can you say?

Fire, by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, spent 14 weeks in the charts, reaching number one in August 1968.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Saw them several times in the late 60s. He was a one off, and his theatrical approach to his art must have influenced many young bands. Did Peter Gabriel watch Arthur Brown with his flaming helmet and make up and get an idea to incorporate masks in his act?
Arthur Brown's band (all two of them) were brilliant musicians. Vince Crane and Carl Palmer went on to form Atomic Rooster (I saw them once- great band)
having said all that- they were only a one song band- and how do you follow "Fire"?