are best known for their worldwide number 1 single from
1972, "Son Of My Father," but they also had two other
British Top 20 hits - "What's Your Name" and "Good Grief
Christina." Although they charted just three times
their recording career spanned five years from 1970 from
the first single, "Monday After Sunday," to the final
45, one of their best ever tracks, "Survivor."
recording 12 singles in the UK they only ever made one
album, "Son Of My Father," which came out in 1972, but
depending on what version you bought back then, you had
either "Excuse Me Baby" (on earlier versions) or "What's Your Name" as the
final cut on Side One.
back to the beginning though. As infants Rick Foster and
Barry Mayger were chums - they went to the same school
and as they grew up, in the early 1960s, they decided to
start a band called The Sonics, named after the guitars
they both had which were Burns Tri-sonic guitars.
Rick were joined by Geoff Baker on Drums and Derek Nye
(Rhythm Guitar) to form the original Sonics. Two years
later Rick left with Geoff to form The Blue Beats. In
came Robin Huckstep on Bass and Jock Law on Drums. The
Sonics fizzled out in 1965 but after a two year gap they
band now included lead singer Peter Hewson and drummer Mick
Russell along with Barry Mayger and Rick Foster and in 1967 the change of name to Chicory Tip
gave them a change of fortune.
to get away from names which started with the word 'The'
as there were so many around like 'The' Shadows and
'The' Beatles," explained Rick in a recent interview
which you can hear on the Audio page of this website.
"We were in
an army barrack just outside Maidstone and on with
another band called The Mannish Boys featuring David
Bowie," he recalls.
"We came off
stage and Barry saw a brand of coffee (probably Camp Coffee)
which had Chicory in it and featured that fact on the
label. He said 'What about Chicory
Tip for a name?' and I agreed, so we
went with it."
became lead singer after an audition. Rick and Barry
wanted to concentrate on playing guitar and the then
rhythm guitar player suggested Peter. He was a year
above the two of them at the same school, South Borough
School in Maidstone in Kent. Not only are Chicory Tip
the only band from that school to have made it into the
charts, they were the only band from Maidstone to have
any musical success!
the lads embarked on their successful recording career
Mick decided to leave the band in pursuit of love, got
married and moved to Wales. In came Brian Shearer; and
this was the line-up in place for the first seven
So how did
the record deal with CBS, one of the biggest record
companies in the world, come about? The girlfriend
of a friend of Rick's knew a record producer and record plugger called Roger Easterby,
who managed chart act Vanity Fare. She recommended Chicory
Tip to him and he went to see them. He liked what he saw
and when he came across a song called "Monday After
Sunday" he knew he had found the perfect track for
Chicory Tip to record. The deal was done in 1970 and the
first single came out on 19th June that year.
After Sunday" got airplay, as did the follow-up, "My
Girl Sunday", but neither single troubled the chart
compilers. The third single, "Excuse Me Baby," got them a lot more
airplay, including from Radio 1 DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman
who made a jingle out of the song, and played it
frequently on his show. The band made the very low
reaches of the charts and attracted "Top of the Pops"
coverage. It was a re-make of the old Magic Lanterns hit
featured on one edition of the world famous programme -
sadly the clip has been long wiped by the BBC and
unless any pirate copies were made back then it is
unlikely we will ever see that performance.
But it got
them noticed and the fourth single, "I Love Onions", was
expected to do better. The song had just been
released on November 5th 1971 when all promotion was
stopped because producer Roger Easterby, who was in
charge of their productions with Des Champ for their
whole career, was given a copy of Giorgio Moroder's version
of a song called "Son Of My Father." Giorgio was a
German singer-producer who had written the music to the
song and his partner Pete Bellotte wrote English lyrics
to it. It was a German hit record by
Michael Holm (who wrote the German lyrics for the song called "Nachts Scheint Die Sonne."
Easterby was a record plugger at the time and decided
that he wanted his band to record the song and get it
out as a single before Giorgio's version got up a head
Back then anyone could cover a song as long as it had
already been played on the radio in the UK, so he
took it along to his local station, got it played,
and then set to work getting Chicory Tip in the studio
to record it. It was such a secretive operation that he daren't even get a copy of the proper lyrics. Instead
they jotted down what they thought were the words - they were ALMOST right! - and away they went. The
big gimmick though was the use of the moog synthesizer
which was claimed to have been played by engineer Chris
Thomas, but this was disputed by Rick Foster when
interviewed on the subject. He said that while Chris
programmed the moog it was actually someone else who
played on the record. He couldn't recall the name of the
musician but it was the same guy who performed the song
on "Top of the Pops" on the most viewed Chicory Tip clip
of all time. If anyone can throw some light on who it
actually was we will be delighted to name him here!
was recorded in George Martin's own studio, Air Studios.
George was probably the most famous producer in the
world having worked with The Beatles and produced some
of the best work ever to come out of a studio in the
1960s, so when he arrived at the session to give his
verdict on "Son Of My Father" his actual words were "It
smells like a hit to me!"
The song was
recorded on Christmas Eve, rush released by CBS, and
within three weeks it was ready to be issued - quite
an achievement when most of the record industry were
still on their Christmas vacation! The song was
released on January 14th 1972. It came in at number 30
the next week in the charts, followed that up with a
huge 19 place leap to land at number 11. It then shot to
number 2 on its third week, nestled behind T.Rex's
"Telegram Sam", and after a month on the charts it
made it to number 1, staying there for three weeks
before losing its crown to Nilsson's "Without You" in
early March. But the song hung around for another
seven weeks in the Top 40 before eventually dipping out
of the charts.
went on to become a multi million seller and a hit in
many countries including the USA where it made number 91. They were known over there as just
"Chicory" without the Tip! It is hard to check exact figures but it
is claimed that in Spain the song stayed at number 1 for
follow-up single was "What's Your Name" also written by
Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Roger had made his
peace with Giorgio after stealing his thunder on "Son Of
My Father" and it worked out well for the songwriting
pair as they penned the next five singles for Chicory
Tip and of course enjoyed the royalties from the number
Name" was also recorded at George Martin's Air Studios
and was released on April 28th 1972 in the UK - even
though the previous hit was still being promoted and in
the charts in other countries throughout the
world. That meant the band couldn't do as much promotion
as they would have liked on the new record.
Nonetheless it charted in mid-May at a lowly number 39
position before climbing to 26 then 23 before creeping
up to 21. It then shot up to 13 where it looked set to
become another Top 10 for the boys. However, in an
incredible about-turn, the song crashed 14 spots to
number 27 for no apparent reason, and then slid out a
few weeks later. It was a major disappointment and a
real rollercoaster chart ride.
It was just
after this release that Rick Foster decided to leave
Chicory Tip. He was concerned that the band were losing their
pop sound in favour of a more progressive rock style,
and he was to spend the next 25 years playing with
Edison Lighthouse. In came Rod Cloutt and the
single, "The Future Is Past" was issued. It was a lot
heavier than anything they had done and the moog was
right back in the mix for this one. The B side, "Big
Wheels Rolling," which was written by the band,
certainly showed off this new heavier sound which Rick
had referred to. The song didn't dent the charts
and a decision was made to return to the winning formula
featuring the synthesizer. Rick later admitted that had
"The Future Is Past" not been chosen as the next single,
he would probably have stayed in the band, particularly
as the next single was a return to the hit sound.
"Good Grief Christina" which did the trick and this saw Chicory Tip back in
the charts. It was another rollercoaster as far as
chart positions were concerned. It was released on
2nd March 1973 and charted in April at number 32. It
climbed a healthy eight notches to 24 before slipping
back a place the following week. It rebounded to 23,
then up to 21 before sliding again to 23. It then took
off again to land at 19, but the next week would see it
drop down to 21 before going up again to its peak
position of number 17. It then dropped down the Top 40
for three weeks before disappearing for good. It would
turn out to be their final chart action in the UK.
Women And Wine" was released at the end of July and
immediately got off to a flyer on Radio Luxembourg. It
was Fab 208's Power Play and received unprecedented
airplay from the station. Meanwhile back in Britain the
BBC banned the record because of the title and lyrics of the
song. They felt it would corrupt the nation's teenagers
and airplay was not available for one of the best
records, and certainly one of the most iconic singles, in
their career with CBS Records.
writing team were still employed for the next single, "I.O.U."
which was a thumping anthem complete with
powerful drums and hand claps, but while the Chicory Tip
sound from the past couple of releases was endearing to
the Glam Rock brigade (and the band's costumes became
more and more outrageous to fit in to that genre!) this single would also fail
to deliver a chart record for them.
record companies don't give acts many chances if they
have a couple of flops. Back then CBS in particular
stayed faithful to the band even after the first four
singles failed to chart, but the label's faith in
Chicory Tip paid off when "Son Of My Father" did the
business in spectacular fashion.
But with two
records missing the charts a new direction was
needed, and in 1974 out went the songwriting team which
had brought them their three hits, and in came Ken
Howard and Alan Blaikely who had written for Dave Dee,
Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. "Take Your Time Caroline"
was released but would end up being the last single by Chicory Tip on CBS.
Incidentally on "The Singles" album released on the 7T's
label the writers were wrongly credited as Alan Howard
and Alan Blakely of The Tremeloes. The key here is the
different spelling of Alan Blaikley (Dave Dee) and Alan
Blaikley had penned "Have I The Right" for The
Honeycombs and "The Legend Of Xanadu" for Dave
Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, but there was
to be no chart success for this fresh sounding and
catchy piece of pop music. The song itself was
excellent, with a stripped back sound to showcase Peter Hewson's
vocals. He had never sounded better, but despite airplay
the song would fail to give the band that much-needed
Shearer left Chicory Tip in 1974 to be replaced by John
Longley while Barry Mayger moved on a year later,
leaving Peter Hewson as the only original member left.
Chicory Tip parted company but there was to be one final
single release. Roger Easterby started a new label,
Route Records, and his first release was a sensational
record called "Survivor" which ticked all the boxes. It had all the hallmarks of the
Chicory Tip sound we all knew and loved. It was two and a half
minutes of perfect pop complete with the moog
synthesizer well and truly up front as lead
instrument. It was a certain hit to all who heard
it but it
just didn't take off. Lack of airplay and much less
promotional and financial clout than a major label the
size of CBS didn't help.
was not written by Moroder and Bellotte, although it was
very much in the style of those two. It was in fact
penned by Zack Laurence and J Weston. Zack played piano
on the 1970 No.2 hit "Groovin' With Mr Bloe" by Mr Bloe
and actually replaced the original piano work recorded
by Elton John. He would go on to perform it on "Top Of
There was an
extraordinary connection between Zack and the two
writers, Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard, who wrote Chicory
Tip's penultimate single, "Take Your Time Caroline." In
1981 Laurence, Blaikley and Howard would get together to
produce the music for the Hayley Mills film "The Flame
Trees Of Thika." We have no information on J Weston, the
co-writer on "Survivor" so if anyone can help please get
cards had been played and even returning to the sound
that gave them their success wasn't working. Music had
moved on and the punk era was just around the corner. The disco scene
was booming and getting bigger and
bigger. In short, the Chicory Tip sound, along with the
glam acts of the early to mid 70s, failed to become
relevant anymore, and the game was up.
brief tour of Scandinavia Chicory Tip broke up. It would
be 20 years before they would work together again. There
had been several "Chicory Tip" bands in that 20 years
including Peter Hewson with musicians John Wilson and Trevor Price.
There were others too but none involving the original
members and certainly none which delivered the sound the
way the original line-up had done in their purple period
between 1972 and 1975.
had three hits in the British Charts, in Sweden (where
the chart was put together using votes rather than
sales) they did even better. "Son Of My Father" went to
number 1 for 2 weeks, enjoying 12 weeks on the chart.
"What's Your Name" hit number 8 with three weeks on the
survey. "Good Grief Christina" got to number 1, spending
two weeks at the summit and 12 on the chart. "Cigarettes
Women And Wine" made number 2 with 7 weeks inside the
list, while their last hit, "IOU" peaked at 3, with six
weeks inside the chart.
however, for Rick Foster's 50th birthday, a surprise
party saw Rick, Brian Shearer and Barry Mayger re-unite
for a one-off special show. Peter Hewson couldn't
make it as he had work commitments and was also
suffering from throat problems. They had such a
good time they decided to get back together again.
Peter attended rehearsals but with his throat causing
him grief (if you pardon the pun) he decided to opt out
but gave the rest of the boys his blessing.
In 2000 the
first new Chicory Tip music came out for 25 years.
The "Chicory Tip In 2000" CD album featured new versions of
the three hits along with cover versions. There were
also a couple of Christmas songs used on various
compilation CDs but beware of three online digital
albums - "Barbara Ann", "Son Of My Father" and "The Best
Of" which contain some songs recorded by Edison
Lighthouse featuring Rick Foster of Chicory Tip and
other tracks which have nothing at all to do with the
original Chicory Tip. If you are looking to invest in
one Chicory Tip album on iTunes, the best one to get
hold of is the 27 track all-original collection called
"Greatest Hits" which features all but three of the 30
original songs recorded on CBS. It's retailing at just
£4.99 so you cannot go wrong. The three not included
(but which are available only on the Japanese "Son Of My
Father" CD are "Marianne," "Arizona" and "I Couldn't
Spend Another Day Without You."
three hits were played at gigs their shows featured cover
versions of hits from the 1960s and 1970s, but it was
good to see the band's hits at least being played again
by the original artists. The three of them enjoyed over
10 years of playing together until recently when Barry Mayger moved to Portugal to live, leaving Brian and Rick
to continue. They have now been joined by Peter Giles,
and in a lovely little twist, Peter was also at the same
school as Peter, Rick and Barry!
Peter, Barry, Rick and Brian ever get together again?
The encouraging news is that this has "certainly not
been ruled out" by Rick Foster. Peter went back into
architecture and hasn't been involved with music since
recording a single with Yazoo's Vince Clark in the
1980s although he did join them for appearances on TV
show "Unforgettable" (see video) in 1983 and in 1999
performed with the boys on the Clive James TV Show to
close the show in a shortened version.
there's a will there's a way, and if it does happen I,
for one, along with many others, will want to be there!
record we all know what happened to Giorgio Moroder! He
eventually went on to get chart success in the UK but it
was as a producer with Donna Summer where he had his
Easterby went into the Horse Racing business where he
became The Tote's director of Parliamentary Affairs. Sadly
co-producer Des Champ died of cancer aged 77 in 2006.
Rod Cloutt emigrated to Australia.
of the key members of Chicory Tip:
Peter Hewson (1.9.45 in Gillingham)
Guitarist Rick Foster (7.7.46 in Maidstone)
Bass Guitarist Barry Mayger (1.6.46 in Maidstone)
Drummer Brian Shearer (4.5.51 in Lewisham)
Guitarist/Keyboards Rod Cloutt (26.1.49 in
Biography by Stuart Cameron, April 2015