Most people remember Tim Mycroft as a fixture of the Dorset music scene, playing in some of the best loved and much missed bands that the area has produced. Who can forget Everyman with Tim on piano, guitarist Jo Shaw in his pre Doll by Doll guise as John Culshaw and bassist Yani Flood-Page holding down a residency at the Halfway Hotel in Parkstone? The gig became a mecca for a hard core of fans and friends alike and on occasions John St Field, a.k.a. Jackie Leven, also of Doll by Doll, would get up and play a short set in the break. Later in the seventies Tim could be found entertaining holidaymakers in the OK Band with former Room drummer Pete Redfearn at the Anchor Bar on the west cliff (formerly the Ritz / Hive) before the band, sans Pete, embarked on a tour of Russia. On his return he moved to the village of Sturminster Marshall and over the next forty years leant his considerable keyboard chops and vocals to The Accused, The Impossible Extras, Rhythm Method, Matron’s Finger and White Spirit. In later life he became an integral part, along with the late guitarist Paul Hart, of the Barrelhouse Blues Band and Rex and the Recliners with guitarist Mark Lane, bassist Graham Bowman and his brother John on drums. But before all that came to pass, Tim had a recording career that took him into the top twenty and onto Top of the Pops.
It all began at his parent’s pub, the Salisbury Arms in Purewell, Christchurch in 1949 when Tim was born in the living quarters upstairs. He went to Clayesmore School in Irwine Minster and Ringwood Grammar, which until 1976 was located in West Hill Road, Bournemouth (it is now a language school). From 1963 onwards he cut his teeth on the local music scene playing organ in The Freewheelers with John Langdon, Roger Bethell and Pat Mynchin, pumping out electric versions of Bob Dylan songs long before Bob strapped on a Stratocaster and pissed off the folk establishment at Newport. Talking of Dylan, Tim made a fleeting appearance in D. A. Pennebaker’s film Don’t Look Back as he chatted to Bob in a Nottingham hotel room.
By the age of seventeen Tim was playing with Thursday’s Child at the Star Club, The Beatles old stomping ground on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, where he met his first wife Krystle. The band recorded a German only single “Hey, Hey”, a raw slab of sixties freakbeat with wailing harmonica and written by Tim. Another band doing the rounds of German clubs was The Knack, not the American “My Sharona” mob from the seventies, but a Mod band from Ilford, London, who had recorded half a dozen singles for the Decca and Piccadilly labels. In 1967 The Knack changed their name to The Gun and recruited Tim, who joined bassist Paul ‘Curtis’ Gurvitz, drummer Brian ‘Louie’ Farrell and guitarist Adrian ‘Curtis’ Gurvitz. Tim moved to London where the band established regular gigs at UFO in Tottenham Court Road and the Speakeasy becoming part of the underground scene along with Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The noted producer Denny Cordell, of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” fame, liked the band and invited them to a tryout at Olympic Studios. Only one song was taped, the overtly psychedelic “Light on the Wall” which remained unreleased for thirty years until it was unearthed by the specialist label Dig the Fuzz Records. The song appeared on the “Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume Ten – A Hidden Secret Garden Found” compilation and was credited to the Happy Vegetable, a name that was dreamt up by Dig the Fuzz. In November The Gun recorded a four song session for John Peel’s Top Gear Radio Show that included “Light on the Wall”, a souped-up version of The Supremes “Stop in the Name of Love”, the Fleur De Lys chestnut “Hold On” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Most Peculiar Man”. After the release of Sgt. Pepper, “A Day in the Life” became a highlight in the band’s repertoire and John Lennon, impressed that they could pull it off live, bought them a round of drinks after a performance at the Speakeasy. In early 1968 Gun briefly expanded to a quintet with the addition of The Warrior’s vocalist Jon Anderson however, his singing style was at odds with theirs and he left to join Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, forerunners of Yes. Shortly after, Tim also jumped ship as the band wasn’t making enough money to support his wife and child. Down to a trio, The Gun went on to have a top ten hit with “Race With the Devil” in October 1968.
Decca Records A&R man, Tony Hall, first heard Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s masterclass in heavy breathing, “Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus”, at a song festival in France. Recognising a sure-fire hit when he heard one, Hall couldn’t believe his luck when the BBC banned the record for its erotic content. He quickly assembled Tim, Paul Buckmaster, a classically trained cellist and music arranger who worked with David Bowie on “Space Oddity” and top producer Gus Dudgeon in Abbey Road Studios and recorded an instrumental version, “Love at First Sight (Jet’aime…moi non plus)” (August 1969). Credited to Sounds Nice, a name that stuck after a throwaway comment from Paul McCartney on hearing the finished recording, the single stayed in the UK charts for eleven weeks climbing to number eighteen. Tim plugged the song twice on Top of the Pops during October 1969, appearing with Cliff Richard, Karen Young and The Hollies on the first show and then with Joe Cocker, David Bowie and The Archies two weeks later. Subsequent releases all over Europe, New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore, the USA, Canada and Egypt had varying degrees of success, the best being a number eight placing in South Africa. A second single, “Sleepless Night (La Jeanne)” (December 1969) flopped, but that didn’t deter Hall from taking a punt at financing an album to cash in on the single’s success. The ten heavily orchestrated instrumentals included an ambitious rendition of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong”, a version of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” with Tim’s Hammond to the fore and a reasonable treatment of The Beatles instrumental “Flying” from their much maligned TV spectacular Magical Mystery Tour. Tim weighed in with three Mycroft originals, “Gauloise” with added accordion to give it that extra French flavour, “Iron Mountain”, “A western movie theme in search of a western movie” is the astute summarisation on the album sleeve and “Continental Exchange”, the flip side of their second single. Tim took top billing on keyboards but was joined by some heavyweight session guys including Chris Spedding and Mike Morgan on guitars, bassist’s Herbie Flowers and Brian Hodges and Terry Cox and Clem Cattini on drums. There’s not much to recommend the album as it is mostly fairly pedestrian Middle of the Road fare, but it has its moments, particularly on side two with the organtastic “King Kong”, “Love You To” and “Continental Exchange” sequence.
After Sounds Nice, Tim had one more shot at the big time with the Tony Ashton produced “Shadra” (September 1971) which gives the Mycroft tonsils an airing for the first time on record. Trouble is, you won’t understand a word he’s singing as the lyrics are gobbledygook. According to a press release, “The lyrics of Shadra don’t mean anything, as they are no known language. So everyone of any nationality can sing along”. To be honest, the song is a bit of an oddity with its simplistic eastern singalong arrangement, but it’s nice to see that his hometown gets a mention on the B side with “Bournemouth Rock”.
When his recording career spluttered to a halt, Tim returned to Dorset and for the last eight years of his life lived in West Moors. He died of bronchial pneumonia due to emphysema on New Year’s Day 2010 and is succeeded by his ex-wives Lyn and Krystle and a daughter Natalie.
Tim Mycroft Discography
Thursday’s Child Single
Hey, Hey c/w I Want You Back: Astoria (66/1006) 1966 German release
Sounds Nice Singles
Love at First Sight (Je t’aime…moi non plus) c/w Love You To: Parlophone (R 5797) 1969
Sleepless Night (La Jeanne) c/w Continental Exchange: Parlophone (R 5821) 1969
Sounds Nice Albums
Love at First Sight: Parlophone (PCS 7089) 1970
Love at First Sight: Rare Earth (RS 512) 1970 American release different cover
Love at First Sight: Parlophone (PCSJ 7089) 1970 South Africa release
Love at First Sight: Parlophone (PCSO 7089) 1970 Australian release
Love at First Sight: Odeon (SOLP 7055) 1970 Venezuelan release
Love at First Sight: Parlophone (WPCR 16287) 1970 Japanese CD
Tim Mycroft Single
Shadra c/w Bournemouth Rock: Parlophone (R 5919) 1971
Album featuring Tim Mycroft
John Gibson & Tim Mycroft Guitar Music – Organ and Rhythm: Standard Music Library (ESL 117) 1970 An album of production music for film, television and commercials
Compilation Albums featuring Thursday’s Child
Electrick Loosers 3: The Rheingold Rampage 1964-1970: Blumenkraft (BK 7963) 1983 “I Want You Back”
Blow Your Bubblegum: Particles (PARTCD4014) 2012 “Hey, Hey” and “I Want You Back”
Beatfreak! Vol. 1 (Rare and Obscure British Beat 1964-1968): Particles (PARTCD 4044) 2016 “Hey, Hey” and “I Want You Back”
Compilation Album featuring The Gun
Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume Ten – A Hidden Secret Garden Found: Dig the Fuzz Records (DIG 039) 1999 “Light on the Wall” as Happy Vegetable
Compilation Albums featuring Sounds Nice
Top of the Pops 1969: EMI Gold (50999 5 08949 2 5) 2007 “Love at First Sight (Jet’aime…moi non plus)”
Instro-Hipsters A Go-Go 2: Past and Present (PAPRCD 2038) 2001 “Love at First Sight (Jet’aime…moi non plus)”
Instro-Hipsters A Go-Go 4: Past and Present (PAPRCD 2055) 2003 “Continental Exchange”