Roy Wood
United Kingdom
Solo Artist
In the ever changing world of popular music, there are certain characters who remain constant. Always present, though in many different guises, is a man whose appearance is as colourful as his music: Roy Wood.

As a teenager, Roy Wood joined local Birmingham band, Mike Sheridan And The Nightriders. They quickly became one of the most popular and well-respected live groups around, touring the UK and making the then obligatory trip to Germany, taking up a residency at the Storyville Club in Duisburg.

Returning to the Midlands, The Nightriders found a thriving music scene. In those days, bands would meet up and hold jam sessions and it was in The Cedar Club’s early morning hours that a regular collection of musicians came together, creating such an energy and chemistry that each decided to leave his respective band and form a new "supergroup".

In 1966, Roy Wood along with Carl Wayne, Bev Bevan, Ace Kefford, and Trevor Burton formed The Move, who were to become one of the most legendary, and indeed, notorious bands of the Sixties. After securing a residency at London’s Marquee Club, The Move picked up a record contract with Deram. Their first single, the Roy Wood song, "Night of Fear" immediately landed the band in the Top 5, which set a precedent for nine further Top 20 hits over the next five years, all written by Roy.

Controversy reigned throughout The Move’s career. Their ferociously wild live set, which included the demolition of various worldly goods, resulted in them being banned from quaking concert halls across the country. Roy’s lyrics revealed an original and often curious view of the world (eg. second Move single "I Can Hear The Grass Grow") that raised many a disapproving eyebrow and the band had the dubious honour of being sued by Prime Minister Harold Wilson concerning the promotional postcard used to advertise "Flowers In The Rain", the first ever record to be played on Radio One.

The Move’s No. 3 hit "Fire Brigade" was followed by chart topping masterpiece, "Blackberry Way" before personnel changes within the band led to the teaming up of Roy with Jeff Lynne. Whilst The Move continued to record four more hit singles and two albums, the Electric Light Orchestra was born to accommodate Roy’s burning desire to create pop songs with heavily classical overtones.

ELO’s first single, the spine-tingling "10538 Overture", entered the charts as The Move’s final offering, "California Man" left the Top 10. The latter was one of rock’s finest moments and made a fitting farewell for a truly great band.

After co-writing and co-producing the first ELO album and taking the adventurous unit on the road, Roy Wood decided to look elsewhere for a fresh challenge and a new direction. Experimentation with a stage costume to represent The Move’s hit "Brontosaurus" eventually evolved into the delightfully fearsome "accident in a paintshop" appearance of Wizzard.

Woody seemed to have heard the band’s sound in his head and interpreted it so boldly and literally with a visual image of wildly multi-coloured hair, bizarre face paint, and a dress sense that made Ziggy Stardust look subtle! The combined sight and sound of Wizzard was stunning; what the eyes could hear, the ears could see! Wizzard roared across the pop scene like Santa Claus on a Harley Davidson, scattering a well established musical sobriety in all directions.

Debuting in the charts at No. 4 with "Ball Park Incident", Wizzard followed up with two No. 1’s in "See My Baby Jive" and "Angel Fingers" and a Christmas classic that still sounds today as fresh as a snowflake! Meanwhile, Roy was enjoying hits under his own name and gave new meaning to the term "solo album" when he wrote, produced and played everything on the L.P., "Boulders". Recorded at Abbey Road, it further intrigued all the pop kids who had bought the "Wizzard Brew" L.P. expecting a dozen more cuts like the gloriously commercial "See My Baby Jive".

Musical schizophrenia pervaded everything Roy Wood laid his hands upon, from the darkly whimsical "Dear Elaine" to the full blown jazz found on the Wizzard B-sides. Their "Top Of The Pops" appearances courted infamy. Gorillas, ballet dancers and angels-on-rollerskates cavorted with gay abandon whilst well-deserving DJ’s were the unsuspecting recipients of custard pies. Roy steered his band between the Spectorish "Wall Of Sound", through the brilliantly witty rock ’n roll pastiche of the "Eddy And The Falcons" L.P. to the be-bop influenced "Are You Ready To Rock?".

By the end of 1975, Roy Wood had almost single-handedly created a total of eleven band and solo hit singles, two Wizzard albums, and added a second solo album, "Mustard". After enjoying one of the highest profiles on the music scene, contractual problems combined with a heavy dose of over-work led to a temporary slowing down process in which live work was abandoned, Wizzard disintegrated and record releases were less frequent.

The following two years were spent writing and recording for the next venture, The Wizzo Band, a large brass - based ensemble which released one album and made it’s only appearance on T.V’s "Sight and Sound" concert series, showcasing jazz treatments of Roy’s songs. Around this time, Roy worked in America with Brian Wilson, playing sax on the Beach Boys album, "15 Big Ones", and also produced and played on Annie Haslam’s refreshingly varied L.P., "Annie in in Wonderland".

Following a third solo album, "On The Road Again", which featured Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham on drums, Roy Wood was responsible for the production on one of the decade’s liveliest albums, "Dart Attack", providing Darts with their most successful period.

The Eighties began with a flurry of activity as Roy released two singles almost simultaneously and formed a powerful touring band by the name of Helicopters. Production work with a wide variety of artists followed, along with collaborations with Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Phil Lynott, Rick Wakeman, Carl Wayne and a wonderfully irreverent romp through Abba’s "Waterloo" with Doctor and the Medics.

The decade played host to ten solo singles and a superb album, "Starting Up" which displayed all the originality and diversity for which Woody had become famed.

The early Nineties were spent mainly in his own studio writing and recording. However, live work called again and Roy launched the twelve piece Roy Wood Big Band. This band has now evolved into an exciting new venture, Roy Wood’s Army, which features a stunning, seven piece brass section, (six of which are female!) playing all Roy’s hits & songs written especially for his sparkling new band!

Some of Roy Wood’s most recent ventures include playing with Cheap Trick at an all-star charity concert in New York and accepting invitations to perform live with the cream of artistes from a new generation, including Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller, Dodgy and Reeves & Mortimer whilst Mark Lamarr and Sean Hughes acclaimed Roy as an all time hero when he appeared with them on Never Mind The Buzzcocks! Recently, Radio 4 devoted a documentary programme to his life, whilst a further example of the wide reaching respect commanded by Roy is his inclusion in the exclusive group, the Society Of Distinguished Songwriters along with all time greats such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Graham Gouldman. Woody is a SOD and proud of it!

An extensive and highly successful tour of the UK with Roy Wood's Army culminated in a headlining performance at Birmingham's Millennium Celebrations, which was relayed worldwide by the BBC. In May 2001, Roy achieved one of the music business's highest accolades when he was honoured with an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.

Roy Wood’s next project was the release of his album, "Main Street". Although the songs were recorded in 1976, it was never released at the time. The original tapes were discovered and after a little digital ‘tweaking’, the CD was released on Edsel Records, with sleeve artwork by Roy himself! The jazz-influenced style has not dated and the music sounds as fresh and innovative as one has come to expect from a man of such legendary creative stature.

March 2002 saw Roy's return to the U.S. With Army in tow, four nights at the Village Underground marked his first official New York appearance in 28 years! Mojo's David Fricke wrote:
"Confronted with three decades of pent-up Yankee love in this basement room, he proved there's no substitute for hearing 10 of British pop's biggest and brightest hits played and sung by the composer, in a youthful tenor that betrayed few of his 55 years."

Despite this critical acclaim and admiration from his fellow musicians, songwriters and fans, Roy Wood's recordings have not been treated so well. Many of his original albums with The Move, Wizzard and as a solo artist have never appeared on CD or are deleted. Even Roy's master tapes were not safe, unbelievably lost or stolen as a result of management and label squabbles during the seventies. Quite simply, Roy Wood's recorded legacy had been neglected by the very industry that celebrated his songs.
This could all change. Inspired by Roy's Ivor Novello Award and continued popularity with his legion of fans worldwide, EMI, Sanctuary and Warner Bros., (the three major labels that own his catalogue from The Move's 'Message From The Country' onwards) have collaborated in recovering and restoring the songwriters' surviving master tapes. (A similar, separate exercise has been in progress since 1999 for The Move's catalogue).

As a result of this cross-company collaboration, 'Roy Wood - Outstanding Performer' appeared in November 2003 on Sanctuary Records, including tracks from the Jet, Warner Bros., Cheapskate, Speed and Legacy record labels. It is also the first time this material has been remastered from the original master tapes.

2005 sees the release of an expanded and remastered edition of The Move's 'Message From The Country', 'Harvest Showdown', a Harvest Records rarities and best of set featuring The Move, ELO and Roy's work as a solo artist and with Wizzard. Also scheduled, in memory of Carl Wayne who sadly died in August 2004, is an anthology of collaborations between Roy and Carl, for which Roy has remastered and acted as executive producer.

These cds will be the first in a series of remastered releases and surprises that will continue into 2006 and will reinstate Roy Wood's catalogue and rightful position in music as "…the mastermind behind some of the most beguiling tunes of our time…"
(source: Scott Schinder, Time Out New York, 2002)
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