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Man are a rock band from South Walesmarker whose style is a mixture of West Coast pychedelia, progressive rock, blues and country-rock. Formed in 1968 as a reincarnation of Welshmarker rock harmony group ‘’The Bystanders’’, Man are renowned for the extended jams in their live performances, and having had numerous line up changes.

The Bystanders

Man evolved out of the Bystanders, a successful close harmony pop group from Merthyr Tydfil, who played numerous club residencies, often playing several clubs a night. The Bystanders issued eight singles, including "98.6" (#45 in UK Singles Chart, in February 1967) which featured in the 2009 film, The Boat That Rocked (despite Keith's version reaching #24 in the UK) and "When Jesamine Goes", written by their manager Ronnie Scott and Marty Wilde under the pseudonyms of Frere Manston and Jack Gellar, which was later covered by The Casuals as "Jesamine" and got to #2 in the UK Chart. They also recorded cover versions for the BBC, becoming regulars on the ’’Jimmy Young Show’’, "The David Symonds Show" and others, as restricted needle time required "live" performances between the records.

When formed in 1962 The Bystanders included Owen Money, then known as Gerry Braden, but he was replaced by Vic Oakley, giving the classic line up of Micky Jones (guitar), Ray Williams (bass), Jeff Jones (drums), Clive John (aka Clint Space) (keyboards) and Vic Oakley (vocals). By 1968, the band, other than Oakley, wanted to change musical direction, to a more psychedelic/American west coast guitar sound, so Oakley left, to be replaced by Deke Leonard and the band changed its name to Man.

The Pye Years

Man were initially signed to Pye Records, for whom they recorded their first two albums:- Revelation noted for the simulated orgasm on "Erotica", which received a UK ban , and 2 Ozs of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle. Whilst mixing the second album, Deke left, and was replaced by Martin Ace from Deke’s previous band, Dream. At this time, Man were recording three demo sessions a week for Leeds Music, including Down the Dustpipe which they taught to Status Quo.

Man then toured Europe, predominantly Germany, where they supported Chicagomarker, but on their return, were stopped as suspected terrorists, then jailed for drugs offences in Belgium. Deke then rejoined, but Martin stayed on as a multi-instrumentalist. Shortly after, Ray and Jeff were fired, with Terry Williams joining on drums and Martin moving to bass. Deke, Martin & Terry having been together in “Dream”, this was seen by some as a take-over.

A bootleg of the first gig by this line up, October 1970 in Hamburg, was issued as To Live for to Die and was later re-bootlegged by the band. Despite good reviews in Britain Two Ounces of Plastic ... was more popular in Germany, so the band spent a year in Germany, where, having to play 4–5 hours a night, most numbers became extended jams.

The United Artists Years

Their manager, Barry Marshall, obtained a new record contract with United Artists Records, for whom the band recorded the eponymous Man album, which received mixed reviews. Their media break came when outperforming Soft Machine, Yes and Family at a concert in Berlin, but they continued to play on the continent. Having appeared on the United Artists sampler album, All Good Clean Fun, they undertook a tour of Switzerland, to promote the album, together with Help Yourself and Leicester band Gypsy.

The next album Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In? recorded at Rockfield Studiosmarker by Kingsley Ward, received good reviews, and the band played German TV and Iceland with Badfinger. Constant touring was creating internal pressures, and in January 1972, Clive left the band, to form “Iowerth Pritchard and the Neutrons” with Phil Ryan and Will Youatt.

The new four piece supported Hawkwind and Brinsley Schwarz at a charity gig at The Roundhousemarker on 13 February 1972, recorded and issued as Greasy Truckers Party, a limited edition double album which rapidly became a collectors item. United Artists's A&R man, Andrew Lauder, persuaded them to follow this up with a live album. Live at the Padget Rooms, Penarth was recorded on 8 April 1972, Only 8000 copies were pressed, which sold out in a week, making it No 1 in the “budget” album chart. Man recorded the first of their three Peel Sessions on 29 August 1972, (the others being 18 September 1973 & 31 October 1974)

The band then tried to write a new studio album, but lacked inspiration. Martin Ace left, to form "The Flying Aces" with his wife George, so Micky and Terry sacked Deke, and Clive John rejoined together with his new band members, Phil Ryan (keyboards) and Will Youatt (bass). The new band recorded Be Good to Yourself at Least Once a Day which received good reviews. A party on 19 December 1972, with Dave Edmunds, Help Yourself, The Flying Aces and others, was issued as Christmas at the Patti, a double 10” album, which again topped the “budget” album chart, but on tour Clive fell out with Micky, and left again.

The four-piece started to record Back Into The Future, but felt the need for a second guitarist, so Alan “Tweke” Lewis joined from Wild Turkey. On 24 June 1973 they recorded the live half of this double album at Man’s spiritual London home, The Roundhousemarker, backed by the Gwalia Male Voice Choir, who had previously sung with Man at The Ovalmarker, when they supported Frank Zappa. The album initially sold well, rising to No 23, and again, this was tipped to be album that would make the band, but pressing was restricted by a lack of plastic during the oil crisis. The follow-up tour had Deke Leonard’s Iceberg as support. During the tour, Micky and Deke discussed a new Man line-up, so when Phil Ryan and Will Youatt left to form The Neutrons in December 1973, Deke disbanded Iceberg and rejoined Man along with two former members of Help Yourself; Malcolm Morley (keyboards) and Ken Whaley (bass), who had also played in Iceberg.

The next album Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, noted for his work with Queen, and spent 4 weeks in the UK album chart, peaking at No 24. In March/April 1974 Man supported Hawkwind on The 1999 Party, a 5 week US tour. At the Los Angeles Whisky a Go Gomarker on 12 March, Jim Horn joined on saxophone, which was issued as a bonus disc with the reissue of the Rhinos ... Album in 2007. The 21 April gig in Chicago, was recorded for radio, and issued on CD as The 1999 Party Tour in 1997, but omits Malcolm from the credits, although he is on the recording.

Malcom left the day before recording started on the next album Slow Motion. Before the album was released, the band toured the UK and USA in August-October 1974. They returned to the USA in March 1975, to promote the album by touring with REO Speedwagon and New Riders of the Purple Sage, but the tour collapsed on the first night. A new US tour, with REO Speedwagon and Blue Öyster Cult broke up two-thirds of the way through. Additional dates were arranged, but most were cancelled when Micky developed pneumonia, so the final gigs were to be at the San Francisco Winterland. These were a great success, and promoter Bill Graham paid them a bonus, and rebooked them, but Ken had had enough, and left.

Martin Ace flew out as a stand in, and the band met and rehearsed with John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service, who played with them at Winterland, and agreed to play a UK tour. On this tour, the Roundhouse gig was recorded, but it is rumoured that Micky had to over-dub Cipollina’s guitar, as it was out of tune, before the Maximum Darkness album could be released. The album eventually reaching no 25 in the UK album chart. and Martin continued as “stand in” bassist, until the end of a French tour, with Hawkwind, Gong and Magma, when he returned to the Flying Aces. .

MCA

The band changed label to MCA Records, Phil Ryan rejoined on keyboards, but as no bass players they knew were available, the band had to audition for the first time in their history. Auditions went badly, until the final audition, of John McKenzie of The Global Village Trucking Company, who was immediately offered the job. They then recorded The Welsh Connection which reached No 40 in the UK Album Chart and was toured in March/April 1976 in Britain and June/July in the US. During the US tour differences arose again, and on the subsequent European tour Ryan and McKenzie announced they would be leaving, and the rest of the band agreed to call it a day. The MCA record deal, however, was for 3 albums, but nobody was willing to contribute new material, and their attempts at covers were poor, so MCA eventually agreed to a live farewell album. All's Well That Ends Well was recorded at the Roundhouse on 11-13 December, although the final gig was in Slough on 16 December 1976. The band agreed that they “would never, ever, be one of those bands who reformed in a futile attempt to recapture past glories ...”.

Interval

After the 1976 break up, band members undertook numerous projects, often with other former members.

Martin Ace

Martin left Man before The Welsh Connection to reform The Flying Aces with his wife George (guitar), Mickey Gee (guitar), Phil Ryan (keyboards) and Stuart Halliday (drums).Ryan returned to Man and Halliday joined ‘’Alkatraz’’ being replaced first by Dave Charles, (ex Help Yourself) and then Mike Gibbins (ex Badfinger)

In the 80’s Martin & Micky Jones occasionally backed Welsh Elvis impersonator, Peter Singh in The Screaming Pakistanis and Martin also played with guitarist David Tipton with John 'Pugwash' Weathers (ex Gentle Giant) on drums.

Micky Jones

Shortly after the break-up, Micky recorded some demos with John McKenzie (bass), Malcolm Morley (guitar & keyboards) and Derek Ballard (drums). In 1978 he formed the Micky Jones Band, with Tweke Lewis (guitar), Steve Dixon (drums), Al McLaine (bass) and Steve Gurl (ex Wild Turkey & Babe Ruth) (keyboards).

Lewis & Gurl left, so Jones, Dixon & McLaine continued as three-piece Manipulator occasionally known as ‘’The Acidtones’’. In 1981 Micky disbanded Manipulator and formed The Flying Pigs with Mick Hawksworth (bass) and Phil Little (drums).

Deke Leonard

Deke reformed Iceberg, with Lincoln Carr (bass) and Terry Williams (when not playing with Rockpile). He still had a record contract and initially recorded with Martin Ace and Terry Williams, but needed two attempts to complete the album ‘'Before Your Very Eyes’', release of which was delayed for five years, when EMI took over United Artists.A later line up included 2 people Deke played with in Help Yourself, Richard Treece (guitar & bass) and B.J. Cole (pedal steel guitar), plus Reg Isadore (drums). Deke took up writing, and briefly moved to the USA, where he worked on a Walter Egan album.

Deke formed The Force with Sean Tyla (ex Ducks Deluxe) (guitar), Micky Groome (bass) and Paul Simmons (drums). Their album Force's First also included Terry Williams and Martin Ace. The Force disbanded after Sean Tyla suffered severe stage fright in 1982, and Deke reformed the band as another Iceberg

John McKenzie

John initially joined Phil Ryan and Pete Brown, and then joined Steve Hillage appearing on some tracks of the ‘'Live Herald'’ album. He then became a session/backing musician, touring with The Christians, Seal, Alison Moyet and Everything but the Girl and recording with Bob Dylan, The Pretenders, David Bowie and Wham. He currently performs as part of Space Boogie He will also tour with Gong and Steve Hillage in 2009

Phil Ryan

Phil Ryan rejoined his former Piblokto partner Pete Brown and briefly formed The Brown & Ryan Band with John McKenzie (bass), Taff Williams (ex Neutrons) (guitar) and Steve Jones (drums). A second line up of Pete Brown, Phil Ryan, Taff Williams, Dill Katz (bass) and Jeff Seopardie (drums) known as both ‘’Pete Brown and the Interoceters’’ and ‘’Ray Gammond and the Interoceters’’ recorded some tracks issued on Pete Brown’s 1984 album ‘’Party in the Rain’’. He also played a few gigs with the Flying Aces.

Phil then moved to Denmark, where his wife Bolette came from, and wrote music for films and TV

Terry Williams

On the break up of Man, Terry immediately joined Rockpile with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and Billy Bremner. They continued until 1982, issuing several successful albums & singles and touring the USA and Europe. Terry briefly worked with Meatloaf, before receiving an offer from Dire Straits, who he was still working with, when Man reformed.

Reformed

The band reformed in 1983, with a line up of Micky Jones and Deke Leonard on guitars, Martin Ace on bass and John “Pugwash” Weathers (formerly of Gentle Giant) on drums. This line up was to stay constant until 1996, except from a short spell, when Weathers was unwell, and Rick Martinez temporarily took over

After rehearsals, their first gig was on All Fools Day at the Marquee Clubmarker in London, and in June they recorded Friday 13th (Picasso PIK 001) at The Marquee, but this consisted of old numbers, not new material. Not having a recording contract to promote them, albums were issued on several labels, e.g. Friday 13th was also issued as Live at the Marquee (Great Expectations PIPCD 055) and Talk about a Morning (Dressed to Kill DRESS 600). Later that year they played the Reading Festival which was recorded for Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show and released as Live At Reading '83 in 1993.

In 1983, they also recorded an album of new material in Germany, but fell out with the producer, who was also the album’s promoter, so the album was never issued. The first studio album to be issued, The Twang Dynasty was issued in 1992 and included the track "Fast and Dangerous" which was used on trailers for Paul Whitehouse’s Fast Show, although the band were not paid for this.

Their performance at 1994’s Glastonbury Festivalmarker was issued as Live 1994 - Official Bootleg (and reissued as Live Official Bootleg), and in 1995 they recorded Call Down The Moon issued on the Hypertension label, and produced by the band and Ron Sanchez – a US musician and DJ, who had long championed their cause.

Weathers left in 1996, allegedly because Gentle Giant were about to reform, and was replaced by returning drummer Terry Williams, who in the interim, had served in bands such as Dire Straits. Terry recorded some tracks, later released on the Undrugged album, and then Deke suffered a minor stroke, so the band played a few gigs as a 3 piece. When Deke returned in 1997, Terry left, to be replaced by drummer Bob Richards formerly of The Wild Family and The Adrian Smith Band.

Former keyboardist Phil Ryan returned in 1998 taking the band back to the classic 5-piece line-up, which recorded a live double album at The Star Club, Oberhausen, West Germany, in March that year. Phil played a major role in producing 2000's Endangered Species, but then had to withdraw from the band for personal reasons. Phil was replaced by Gareth Llewellyn Thorrington, who missed the recording of Down Town Live at the Down Town Blues Club, Hamburg, in May 2001, as his flight was cancelled due a bomb-scare, but appeared on part of the Undrugged album (an “unplugged” album with a twist in the title), which had been started in 1996, and was finally issued in 2002. Undrugged has some classic covers, including Brian Wilson's Sail on Sailor and Ray Charles's Georgia On My Mind both lead vocals being by Micky.

In 2002 Micky was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to take time off for treatment. Micky's place was temporarily taken by his son George, but when Micky had recovered enough to rejoin, in 2004, Deke decided to leave, again, so George became a permanent member of the band. In 2005, Micky's health deteriorated due to the re-occurrence of his brain tumour and he was replaced by Martin Ace's son Josh. Micky remains in hospital and the chances of him ever being able to perform again are slim. This is a tragedy for an undervalued and underrated master of the guitar.

In 2006, the album Diamonds and Coal was released, after which Gareth Thorrington was sacked, and the band continued as a 4-piece. The 40th anniversary tour in 2008, saw the return of Phil Ryan on keyboards, giving a multi-generational line up, with two early members (Martin Ace and Phil Ryan), two sons of early members (George Jones and Josh Ace) and Bob Richards, who had been in the band since 1997. This line up also recorded a studio album, but before this was mixed, the band split. Josh Ace, Martin Ace and Phil Ryan recruited James Beck (guitar, vocals) and Rene Robrahn (drums, vocals) to the new line up and re-recorded parts of the album to replace Jones & Richards. As of March 2009, the new album, to be called Kingdom of Noise, is being mixed.

Meanwhile, Deke plays sporadic gigs with a reformed Iceberg band. This initially comprised Deke, former Man bassist Will Youatt, guitarist Clive ‘’Snob’’ Roberts, and Bob Richards (as well as playing with Man). Sadly, Clive Roberts was diagnosed with lung cancer after their first gig, and died soon after. He was replaced by Brian Breeze, who featured in the original Iceberg line-up, who was, in turn, replaced by Ray "Taff" Williams (not to be confused with Ray Williams, the original Man bass player, who died in 1993). Deke is also working on a third book, his first two books having documented the history of the Manband and Deke's adventures prior to this. The books have been the subject of award-winning radio broadcasts, and the film rights have been secured with a view to transferring them to the big screen.

Discography

References

  1. Allmusic biography of The Bystanders, by Richie Unterberger Retrieved 11 November 2008
  2. Sleevenotes by Nigel Lees to "Shapes and Sounds 2 - Shades of Deepest Purple from the BBC Archives 1967-1971" - Top Sounds TSSCD 003 (2008)
  3. Welsh Icons - The Bystanders Retrieved 11 November 2008
  4. BBC Wales Biography Retrieved 10 August 2009.
  5. Sleeve notes to To Live for to Die Point 1997 re-release
  6. The Manband Archive - The UA Years Retrieved 17 March 2009
  7. Sleeve Notes to 2007 CD Re-Release of Do you like it here now, Are you settling In?
  8. Sleeve Notes to 2007 CD Re-Release of Greasy Truckers Party
  9. Allmusic Biography of Man by Bruce Elder Retrieved 13 March 2009
  10. Sleeve Notes to 2007 CD Re-Release of Live at the Padget Rooms, Penarth
  11. The Peel sessions, BBC Radio 1 Retrieved 13 March 2009
  12. NME Biography of Man Retrieved 13 March 2009
  13. Chart Stats for Man Albums Retrieved 17 March 2009
  14. The Manband Archive - The MCA Years Retrieved 17 March 2009
  15. Manband Archive - The Missing Years Retrieved 16 March 2009
  16. Deke Leonard,com - background retrieved 16 March 2009
  17. Space Boogie at The Edge Retrieved 16 March 2009
  18. Gong Tour Info Retrieved 16 March 2009
  19. Sleevenotes to Live at Reading ‘83
  20. Sleevenotes to The Twang Dynasty - Point 1997 re-release
  21. Announcements on the Manboard Forum Retrieved 26 November 2008
  22. The Manband Archive - front page retrieved 16 March 2009
Leonard D. (1996 & Rev. 2001) Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics. Northdown Publishing ISBN 1900711 00 1 & ISBN 1 900711 09 1

Leonard D. (2000) Maybe I Should’ve Stayed in Bed? Northdown Publishing ISBN 1900711 09 5

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