Paul Athey and Stuart 'Jumbo' Yates', Halycon Order at Ryde Castle © Wendy Clapcott
In June 1967 the Beatles spectacular Seargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sat at number one in the UK album chart. Just as the Beatles had assigned many of the popular singers on the cusp of the sixties to obscurity with their Hamburg/Merseyside beat they now gave that the heave ho as well.
The fixing point for Isle of Wight Rock is July 14th, 1967. Zoot Money's Big Roll Band cease to exist, their gig at Clive Meddick's Disco Blue abandoned. Eight weeks later they return to the Island for probably the earliest gig of Dantalian's Chariot. Psychedelic theatre rock and then some from the showman extraordinaire of the British beat boom.
Zoot Money's mate Eric Burden had smitten by music from San Francisco. Burdon changed direction emerging with the classic San Franciscan Nights song hinging on the Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane influence rather than Otis Redding. Zoot Money took stock of the opposition before deciding to enter his psychedelic period. In England the Pink Floyd were putting light shows to music. The original 'Bag O' Nail' Raver' was unimpressed:
"I thought their light show was a joke. These guys were supposed to be art students and they had this lighting wired to the bass drum that went on every time it was hit." - Zoot Money
The Big Roll Band's pull in the clubs had always been solid largely due to their razor sharp musicianship allied to their leaders off-the-wall looner performances. Preparing to give audiences an electric theatre show they would never forget the band came off the road remerging in all white stage robes with a complete set of new tunes.
It was a bad business decision, if you are in business they tell you never to change a good thing. And that's what we did. We had ten weeks off the road and then ten glorious months. Everyone was expecting the old Zoot Money and they something very different. I created Zoot Money and I killed him. We wanted to bend people's minds. We put together a light show that was the best in Europe at the time. We had two big overheads burning oil which we lit and beamed lights into the audience.
Years later I met this guy who was now running his own computer company who told me he gave up taking acide after one of our performances. It totally freaked him.
Dantalian's Chariot tried to change audiences consciousness without drugs. True theatre is trying to change an audiences consciousness just ever so slightly." - Zoot Money
Zoot Money's Dantalian's Chariot returned to Clive Meddick's Big L Speakeasy on September 9th, 1967. Judge by Zoot's remarks on the band's formation this must have been an early outing for the band. If not the earliest.
If Zoot Money and the Big Roll Band in full flight had steamrollered the beat from Klooks Kleek to London's Flamingo Club then the psychedelic charge of Dantalian's Chariot shook the senses. After a night supporting the be-robed combo, that included Andy Summers later of Police, a local band called the Intruders promptly changed their name to Halcyon Order. Halcyon Order opened the first Foulk brothers festival at Godshill in 1968.
"I thought the name up, it was Halcyon not Halcyon because we wanted to be different." - Mick Wood's lead guitar Halcyon Order.
"We played ten songs by Cream and My White Bicycle by Tomorrow." - Paul Athey, drums Halcyon Order.
Halcyon Order's regular gig became the Ryde Castle. Earlier it had been the bopping, rocking temple to the beat of Johnny Vincent and the Shamrocks. Early in 1968 the Ryde Castle had taken on the first of two progressive blues cum psychedelic resident combos. During the summer of 1968, Halcyon Order were joined by Uriel a fledgling band lured from London.
"At the Ryde Castle Hotel we supported the Spencer Davis Group, the Herd and Arthur Brown who tried to set fire to the ceiling. The 69 Club at the York shut for a refit. The very first night they shut was Spencer Davis. We had a thousand people there. The stage was so small. Jack Hallen had to sit behind an organ. All the stage was just beer crates and ply. One night Stuart's teeth went blue when he tried to introduce a number. His hair wnet up in the air and he came off the ground like a hovercraft. He just kept running out into the audience. The jack plug came out of his guitar. He collapsed like a grog. His multi-plug had shorted.
Two girls came to see me on the night of Arthur Brown and asked for his autograph when they were packing up. They came back and gave me an earful. He had signed it 'Paul and Barry Ryan'.
Uriel were very Nice influenced. Hillage was a very good guitarist. We used to do forty minutes, they used to do forty five and then the main band came on." - Mick Woods Halcyon Order's lead guitarist
Uriel and Egg's A Trip To Newport Hospital
"Uriel (for that was the name of our band) did a few youth club type gigs but then, in the summer of '68 we got our BIG BREAK. A totally trustworthy gentleman called Johnny Quinn offered us a residency at the Ryde Castle Hotel on the Isle of Wight. We'd get to play every night, free accommodation and a chance to rehearse in the venue after afternoon.
Actually, the landlady of the hotel, a venerable woman named Mrs. Ross, took one look at Steve and Mont's bare feet and afro hair and refused us permissionto even enter the hotel during daylight hours. We eneded up sleeping in the van and having to rehearse silently (difficult!), but we managed to knock up one or two original tunes written by Mont - 'Egoman' is one title I remember.
The Ryde Castle gig was basically shit, but we got to support Arthur Brown and Fairport Convention. At the end of the summer Steve Hillage said he was going to University." - Dave Stewart, Uriel
"Hello, hello, hello . . ." © Keith Daly
Once the Ryde Castle closed for the evening Uriel repaired to their van on the seafront. Here the foot-odour related horrors of bunching up were repeated night after night. Relief was at hand when Adrian, a friend of Mont Campbell's, arrived with a tent under his arm. Another set at the Ryde Castle over, the opportunity was quickly seized to removed some offending feet from the van for the night.
"Steve, Mont and Adrian went off along the front and found somewhere to pitch the tent in the dark. The next morning they were awakened by a policeman at the tent flap. He said 'You can't pitch your tent here, this is a putting green.' " - Dave Stewart, Uriel
One tune from Egg's second album is the only surviving artifact of Uriel's summer of '68. The opening track of Egg's the Polite Force (Deram SML1074) is entitled A Trip To Newport Hospital. The song was written by Mont Campbell and sung by him on the album.
The tune is sandwiched between two slices of a doomy organ riff that sounds like Vincent Crane meets Black Sabbath. After this gothic introduction the trio lighten up for some extended and subtle interaction which is interspersed by Mont Campbell's vocal.
There used to be a time when we lived in a van
We used to loon about with Janice, Liz and Ann
Now looking back it seemed to be a happy time
And so we kid ourselves we didn't really mind
The hang-ups and the lack of bread
There were four of us then the group was Uriel
We played five nights a week at Ryde Castle Hotel
We spent our time avoiding skinheads and the law
It was a freedom that we never felt before
And now we are doing this instead
It was a way of life that was completely new
And so we found that we had quite a lot to do
The time passed slowly and each day was much the same
We ate, and loved, and slept and no-one was to blame
For saying things better left unsaid.
© Mont Campbell
The line "Pyschedelia at full tilt" borrowed from jissum and dynamite rock archivist Pete Frame.