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                                                                   THE POETS


The Poets' lead vocalist George Gallacher died suddenly on Saturday 25 August 2012, aged 68.  Poets' guitarist Fraser Watson (also George's brother in law) said he went off to watch his beloved Partick Thistle FC play on Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately he died in the car on his way back home. Thistle won the match, so he would've been a happy man.  George had had undergone serious heart surgery some years before.

Just before George's death there had been a resurgence of interest in the Poets.  George and Fraser were being backed up by the group the Thanes, and it was no lie to say their star was once more on the ascendant.  In the last six months or so the Poets had  played successful shows in Glasgow, London and at the end of June2012, at the Festival Beat event in Italy.  

George leaves behind his wife Anne and two sons, Craig and Fraser.  He was a true one off with an intensely self-deprecating manner and an electrifyingly powerhouse vocal presence. Needless to say he will be sadly missed by all who knew him - Lenny Helsing - Thane and latter-day Poet.

On Saturday April 30 in Grenada, Hume Paton, original lead guitarist of The Poets, died from a heart attack. Born October 6 1945, Paton, alongside vocalist George Gallacher and rhythm guitarist Tony Myles, formed part of the Glasgow group’s songwriting team. As their sound began to coalesce through the early dawning of the beat boom, their originality soon became apparent. Shimmering acoustic twelve-string and short inventive runs became the guitarist’s speciality, heavily informing a brace of exceptional discs made between 1964-66. The best of these, including the breathtaking That’s The Way It’s Got To Be, from February ’65, involved producer / manager Andrew ‘Loog’ Oldham. Signing them first to Decca in 1964, Oldham then asked them to be part of his Immediate label the following year.

That distinctive twelve-string approach lent The Poets records a disquieting edge, sufficiently different from many other groups operating on the beat scene. Some of Paton’s most effective fingerwork was displayed on I’ll Cry With The Moon, I Love Her Still and Some Things I Can’t Forget, imaginative B sides that themselves should’ve been realised as potential hits. Yet apart from a late ‘64 Top Thirty placing with the baroque-beat, atmospheric debut Now We’re Thru’, chart success eluded them. However, with the passing of time they have become revered.

Hume Paton, the last original Poet to leave, during 1967, swapped gigs for the retail business his father owned, then launched the successful Bespoke Kitchens design and supply company. “Whilst I was sad when John died (Dawson – bass player) and more so when I lost Alan (Weir – original drummer who died last year) who was a close personal friend, it’s a deeper loss I feel due to Hume dying,” reveals Tony Myles. “Hume was a true one off indeed”, adds George Gallacher, “a highly intelligent and creative individual, always full of energy and always with a smile on his face. He will be greatly missed.”

Lenny Helsing

Okay so who are this lot?. Well they came into being around 1962 and went through innumerable line-up changes before finally giving up the ghost some ten years later. Their story is told pretty well by Brian Hogg in Record Collector number 78. We may expand upon the early line-ups at a later stage but for now its just a quick canter through the 60s to get to the later stages of the band and their relationship to Blue - see Blue.A five piece, R&B band from Glasgow, they adopted their clothes image of high-necked jackets and ruffled fronted shirts (see pic above.

Can't recall who sent us this shot but thanks and we'll namecheck you if we find it in the e-mail attachment archieve eventually) from a portrait of the eighteenth century Scots poet Rabbie Burns. Hence, also, the name. The band were hugely popular in Scotland and were signed by Andrew Loog-Oldham on a visit up there to get married. Between October '64 and January '66 they released three singles on Decca and two on Immediate. By the time, Wooden Spoon/In your Tower came out on Decca in February 1967 there were no original members left and Frazer Watson (above and not an original himself) was about to jump ship to the Pathfinders/Jason's Flock. That single also featured Ian McMillan (see above and Blue) on bass apparently. None of the bands releases apart from the first (a No.30) saw any chart action which is a shame since a couple are well worth a listen. Wooden Spoon has a descending phrase later used on 'Paper Sun' by Traffic though we hesitate to suggest that Stevie Winwood listened out for Poets singles despite the similarity between the bass on 'Thats the way its got to be' and 'Keep on running' as well.

Dougie Hendrson, Hugh Nicholson, Iam McMillan, Johnny Martin- in the top clobber of the day. - pic courtesy of Alex Scott

From 1968 the band continued to be immaculately suited and booted (See Stubbs advert in Marmalade section and pic above) but their repertoire now consisted of spot-on covers of chart numbers, pop classics and some originals by guitarist, Hughie Nicholson. The band were now a four piece with Johnny Martin (keyboard) and Dougie Henderson (drums) completing the line-up. See the 1967 newspaper article on the Trash web page detailing a bewildering series of band changes within the Poets and other Glasgow bands.  All the '68-'70 Poets with the possible exception of Henderson were great vocalists. Martin and Henderson had/have East Kilbride roots. The band remained Scotland's top act till the end of the decade as the cutting below from an October 1970 edition of Transplant, 'Scotland's teenage magazine' shows. Note the other names on that list!

Pic courtesy of Alex Scott
Another snippet (below) repeats a rumour that was current that the band couldn't release records because of contractual difficulties but perhaps they just couldn't get a deal and didn't record very much. Certainly there is little from this era on the Poets CD reviewed below. But what there is is great! Note the mention of the wonderfully named 'Pram' in the clipping below. Recall seeing them at Ayr's Caledonian Hotel ballroom back in the day.  There was a powercut but the show must go on as they say so the drummer knocked out a solo until the leckky was restored. 5 stars that man!

What they did release was a single (Heyla Hola/Fun Buggy) to promote Strike Cola made by Barrs of Irn-Bru fame. Hogg reckons that the line-up which made this disc was led by Dougie Henderson and isn't sure who else is on the tracks. Well we've seen the prints from the photo shoot for the promo and it was Dougie Henderson, Hugh Nicholson, Martin & Davie Nicholson (Hugh's brother from the Mob) who replaced Ian McMillan when he joined Cody.  We also remember seeing the TV advert lots of times on STV. It showed the band recording in the studio (leading to much speculation that an LP might be on the way but they were probably actually just recording this single). There were also clips of the band larking about in a dune-buggy in a reference to the B-side. if Henderson was on it then the line-up is 

David Nicholson, Hugh Nicholson, Johnny Martin, Dougie Hendeson. - pic courtesy of Alex Scott

Hugh Nicholson then went off to replace Junior Cambell in the Marmalade and the band brought in Hugh Burns (now a noted session player). Charlie Smith from the Dream Police replaced Dougie Henderson when he joined his mate in the Marmalade (Hugh having instigated the outing of Alan Whitehead according to info on the Marmalade's Decca Years CD notes). Then Davie Nicholson left to lead his own band, imaginatively called 'Nicholson' - or 'Nickelson' on the label of the single below.  Joe Breen came in from the disbanded Dream Police to take on bass duties. The only mention of Johnny Martin that we have spotted from thereafter is a thank you to someone of that name on the 1975 Nazareth album, 'Hair of the Dog', but not in a playing capacity apparently. However, Matt Nicholson tells us that Johnny later worked with Yes then Vangelis and was still with him (2001) he believed. Good luck to you anyway Johnny. He was great when they did the Clapping Song - 3,6,9, the goose drank wine etc.. Perhaps, later on, we'll look a bit more at the changes of personnel from '71 to when the band, by then called Chapter 22, wound up a few years later. Thanks to Matt for the time and info.

Pics of a 'Nickelson' demo single by David 'icholson's post Poet's band..  Thanks to Kev Head for this find.
No idea if it was ever generally released.

Poets' Singles Discography.

Thanks to RC78. Now we're thru/There are some - Decca F11995 - (10/64)
That's the way its got to be/I'll cry with the moon - Decca F12074 - (2/65)
I am so blue/I love her still - Decca F F12195 - (7/65)

Call again/Some things I can't forget - Immediate IM006 - (10/65)

Baby don't do it/I'll come home - ImmediateIM024 - (1/66)

Wooden spoon/In your tower - Decca F12569 - (2/67)
Heyla Hola/Fun Buggy - Strike Cola - (1970/71)


{short description of image}The Poets - Immediate Records Inc. but probably a bootleg - (1995)
Track list : Now we're thru / There are some / That's the way its got to be / I'll cry with the moon / I am so blue / I love her still / *I'll keep my pride / *It's so different now / Call again / Some things I can't forget / Baby don't you do it / I'll come home / Wooden spoon / In your tower

This altruistic bootleg saw the light of day mainly thanks to Lenny Helsing - a major contributor to Rockingscots.. Big thick US style cardboard sleeve and heavyweight vinyl. Great sleevenotes and lots of previously unseen (to us) pictures. A bit darkly photocopied and why give the band purple fleshtones?? Still it would be curmugeonly to complain seeing as it puts together all the major label singles plus two (*) previously unreleased acetates. The 'Baby don't you do it' track is a slightly longer and different titled version of the released single.

{short description of image}In your Tower CD - Strike 901 - (1996)
All the titles on the LP above plus the 'Baby don't you do it' A-side, The Strike Cola pairing, an early version of Blue's 'Someone' and 'Dawn' which is the Pathfinders with the original Poets vocalist George Gallagher singing.

The gem on this CD though is "Never thought she would" which is a gorgeously slow melancholy ballad with a basic piano/drums/vocal arrangement that would have graced Blue's first album. We reckon then, though there are no clues in the sleeve notes, that the Nicholson/MacMillan line up knocked out this little beauty of a song.  This CD was at most only semi official though it was/is widely available through specialist shops.

Excellent sleeve notes by Miss Lucy Nation, an obvious nom-de-plume, and more previously unseen pics including one (see black and white pic far above) of a very young Macmillan (far left) Dig those sideboards on Frazer Watson (third from left) - to compensate for prematurely thinning on top? Front cover shows the group outside Burn's Cottage in Ayrshire where the great poet and sartorial style guru was born. Terrific stuff  and well worth your £15.

A 2011 CD collection you can pick up from Amazon etc.  Only 12 tracks but great sleeve notes by David Wells - even a namecheck for

{short description of image}Poets on the Radio

We recall the Poets doing one Radio One Club show. A lunchtime programme from a club in different towns featuring a local band doing perhaps three numbers each time. We only recall them doing a version of Nicholson's 'Bad Weather, which resurfaced on Marmalade's 'Songs' album. What else did they do and did anyone tape the show?

Oh, just one more pic of a Poets single - I am so BLUE!!!! Clairvoyant these boys or what???

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