There’s an element of “suck it and see” as the two surviving members of ’70s glamrock band Mud get together to perform as Mud for the first time in 37 years.
Singer Les Gray and drummer Dave Mount passed away in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
Lead guitarist Rob Davis and bass guitarist Ray Stiles are now flying the flag for the first time in nearly four decades, with Mud – The Greatest Hits Show at Horsham’s Capitol on Thursday, October 29 (7.30pm).
As Ray recalls, Mud effectively formed from two competing bands in Mitcham in 1966, The Mourners and The Remainder.
“Rob was the guitarist in both of the bands, and I was in The Remainder. We were the better band, but The Mourners had Les Gray. There were two of us in one band and two in the other, and by various twists and turns Dave and I joined Rob and Les, and the name became Mud. I can remember Rob came up with the idea. He bought a jacket that was a nasty brownie colour, mud-coloured, and that’s where the name came from!”
It was six and a half years before they had their first hit. Eventually, they boasted 14 UK top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976, including three number ones, one of them the classic ‘It’ll be Lonely this Christmas’.
They reached their peak in 1975 when they had seven singles in the UK top 40 totalling more than 45 weeks in the charts, the most by any artist that year. They cracked the Valentine’s Day market with ‘The Secrets That You Keep’ and more hits followed with ‘Moonshine Sally’ and ‘One Night’.
But it was all a long time coming: “We were on the circuit with some of the top non-name bands. We would play somewhere like Rotherham Football Club, and then you would be asking who else had played there. The Sweet… Oh…. And then somewhere else, and you would ask. Oh, The Montanas, right…
“The Sweet were picked up by (songwriters/producers) Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, and it seemed wherever they went, there was this band Mud playing. They picked up on that and came to see us. We were playing just north of Nottingham. They had heard of us, and they went back to Mickey Most who said ‘You might as well sign them because if you don’t someone else will,’”
In Les Gray, they had the perfect frontman: “He was of Irish descent, and he had the blarney about him. He was a great showman. He would say ‘I am not a great singer, but somebody had to do it!’”
And there was a great competition driving everyone on: “You would be looking at Top of the Pops to see what The Sweet or Glitter would be doing one week, and then the next week you would try to top it.”
When success came, they made sure they fulfilled all their commitments: “We had been so used to working clubs and the smaller venues, sometimes with not very many people there, so I think we were all a little bit apprehensive when it started to happen for us. We were going out and playing places, and they were absolutely packed.”
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