+50 Years on the Road with Bill and Sue-On Hillman
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Early Years Pages
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Journal Excerpts 
The Recording of Album 7 in
Newcastle's Impulse Studios

A pensive mood - one of many beards over the yearsHillmans between sessions with Alan, Bernie and Mick at Tyne MouthHillmans between sessions with Alan, Bernie and Mick at Tyne Mouth
We took many hundreds of photos during our three performing tours of England.
Unfortunately they are all in slide format and until we can find 
an economical way of converting them to digital files 
the following journals will remain unillustrated.
This chapter of our Musical Odyssey contains excerpts from the 
Hillman July/August 1977 Travel Journal.
Recording anecdotes are found in the chapter featuring 
Album Vol. 7: On Tour In England.

August 3, 1977  Wednesday

First Rehearsal Day: At Mick and Margaret Sandbrook's House
We first met Mick at the end of our 1976 tour of England.
He offered to drive us from Middlesbrough to London
We then went on to Bromley to return our equipment to Wing Music.
We had set up a correspondence over the next year.
Mick was invaluable in the setting up this year's recording session
Kevin Pahl and Alan Jones were unable to accompany us on this tour, so...
We had planned to use Mick's band in the studio but they broke up just before we arrived
We then had to scramble to find studio musicians for the session.
During the recording sessions we stayed in Spennymoor, Durham County
Alan Jones' brother, Keith and his wife, Margaret, had invited us into their home

We drove from Spennymoore to Stockton for our first pre-session rehearsal at Mick's house.
Finally met Mick's wife Margaret.
Guitar player Alan showed up even though a guitarist wasn't really needed
I planned to do all the guitar parts, but Alan is also a piano player.
Alan has a solo act and he used to work with Mick. The drummer didn't show.
We rehearsed till 9 pm. Mick is an excellent bass player.
Funny and great guys to work with - Mick does some very funny Cheech and Chong routines
Went to the pub for a pint and after and back to Mick's for tea.
Sue-On was tired and sick - we headed back to Keith & Margaret's house - read and bed.

August 4, 1977  Thursday

Sue-On still sick, and worried about the baby.
Saw a doctor and he ordered her to bed all day.
I left for Newcastle at 11 to make arrangements at Impulse Studio with manager, Dave Wood.
The studio was only 8-track, not fancy but serviceable.
Rates: 12 pounds per hour - 25% extra Saturday and 50% extra Sunday.
Much of the equipment was not as good as our home set up: Tannay monitors, Peavy twin amp.
I hired a session drummer and pianist.
Back at 3 and left for rehearsal at Mick's alone
Back home Sue-On wrote out lyrics for tomorrow's session and slept.
Rehearsed with Mick only as Alan was working at Whitby
The drummer didn't show again - ust as well as I had hired a replacement.
We spent much time on my originals. Ate fish and chips with Sandbrooks.

August 5, 1977  Friday
Friday - Sunny

Keith Jones knocked us up at 7:50am.
We had a quick breakfast and Sue-On and I headed off to the studio at Newcastle.
Sue-On was feeling better and not as worried about the baby as the dull cramps were gone.
The Joneses were off to Scarborough for a day or two.
We took the Tyne Tunnel to Walls End.
Dave Wood and I carried the equipment up to the THIRD floor, above a bingo hall.
Sue-On went to get baking for snacks.
Drummer Alan and his dad arrived and started to set up.
Pianist Bernie arrived at 10 A.M. and then Mick
(Mick had to go to work at 8:30 A.M. with a Canadian Club hangover.
I had brought him a bottle from Canada).
Alan and Bernie worked together in a group at a club in Newcastle - La Dolce Vita
They also worked in a large band in Aubin Byker?.
They were both solid musicians and things started off well.
By 12 noon we had done bed tracks for two originals and two oldies.
By 1:15 we were working on "Horizons" (Swamp Romp).
Sue-On and I ate our first Cornish Pastries.
The session involved much concentrated work: rehearse from scratch, then record - over and over.
Mickey Sweeney, the engineer, goofed.
He had the whole first tape on fast varispeed
This resulted in our using two 1" 8-track Scotch & Ampex tapes at 25 pounds each.
We could use the session musicians till 6.
We did Tammy and Song Sung Blue in the last half hour.
Paid them 40 each and left the equipment in the studio.
We talked Dave into wiping out the overtime with just 10% extra on Sunday.
Headed out for gas... only had 2 pounds.
To a Chinese place with Mick for tons of bean sprouts (Sue-On still has a craving for sprouts).
To the Superstitions Club - Scottish bass player signs us in - a good group -
Then Alan and Bernie backed a country duo - we stayed for an hour and left at 9.
Motorway - Mick points us to Spennymoor.
Alone in the house watching TV until Keith, Margaret and Beverly come in.
They decided that one day at Scarborough had been enough.
They had seen The Spy Who Loved Me. Bed

August 6, 1977  Saturday

Up at 8. Mick and Margaret arrived at 8:30.
Mick bounced around in the back of our van for a fast trip up the Motorway.
Through the Tyne Tunnel to an Esso
We talked the salesgirl into taking a 10 pound travellers' cheque.
Dave Wood let us into the studio and we drank coffee
We waited for Mickey who arrived at 10.
Sue-On and Marg went out to cash travellers cheques and to get pastries.
We did One Night Stand first - in a low A instead of the stage E - an answering duet.
Sue-On's voice  a bit croaky but it went well.
Sue-On then did Tammy - croaky and many takes - no harmony.
Song Sung Blue - some harmony.
Montana - used third take - bed track: electric piano instead of acoustic.
Why Me, Lord: Sue-On did a knockout version with great harmony.
Paper Roses/Rambling Rose medley.
Goodtime Jamboree dragged a bit and Sue-On added some harmony.
Horizon (Swamp Prairie... eventually Swamp Romp): did 'Barry McGuire' vocal : )
Horizon a bit too extreme - tamed it down a bit - funky.
Outlaw Ramblin' Band: one take.
Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Please Release Me.
Alan Studholme and Bernie Watson came around for the last three songs.
Finished at 4: 30 and we all headed out to Priory at Tyne Mouth.
Many old bunkers there. Took many photos. Marg took some.
Very windy sunny chilly. Old ladies helping us to choose poses.
We left Bernie and Alan and went to a fish and chips shop.
An old colonel was giving the waitress a rough time.
He latched onto us, shooting down foreign investments.
Against Yankees and Canucks coming into the country - actually very funny but vulgar.
Motorway to Thinford Inn for a pint of lager and lime.
To Joneses and Sandbrooks left for home. Watched Cliff Richard on TV.
Norman and Elsie came in and invited us all to KGH Club.
Dorothy and Norman and Johnsons are there.
To Elsie's for sandwiches and tea. Got Jubilee gifts and watched Frankenstein.
Home to Premature Burial.

August 7, 1977   Sunday
Overcast and cool but turns sunny.

We slept in till noon and got up for tea and crumpets.
Caught up diary while watching serious BBC drama on TV
TV shows: The Addams Family animated and Top 40.
Sue-On and Margaret cooking chicken, mushrooms, etc.
Mick and Marg arrived at 1:30 and we piled into van to make 3 P.M. session at Impulse.
Arrived to bad news: John the string synth man can not come . . . overworked, etc.
Packed up and make new date for Wednesday, Aug. 10.
Back to Spennymoor and dropped off Sandbrooks.
We left a note and drove to Liverpool.
The next day we visit Chester and
Blacon Cemetery where Uncle Bill and his Lancaster crew are buried.
Tuesday we explored York and old haunts in Middlesbrough.

August 10, 1977  Wednesday
Sunny hot

Up early at 8:30 and arrive at 9:30 for 10 A.M. session.
Dave Woods is there alone.
Mickey & keyboardman John Ashcroft arrived late but soon set up Vox string synth & ARP Odyssey.
We started vocals with Why Me, Lord and the sound is very impressive
John came up with lush beautiful sounds from my head arrangement suggestions.
He did a great job in getting the sounds I describe that I want to hear.
Paper Roses: Strings and ARP solo.
Tiny Bubbles: Strings and sfx (bubbles and sea).
Goodtime Jamboree: Jews harp sound from the ARP.
Horizons:ARP clavinet sound.
Outlaw Ramblin' Band:  Growly bass on chorus.
Montana: Flanger on strings with wind fx at end.
Silver Threads: ARP solo.
Release Me: nothing can help : (.
One Night Stand: good strings. Tammy: good strings.
Song Sung Blue: strings and ARP solo.
Great job - he worked till 4 PM and asked only 25 pounds but we gave him a 5 pound bonus.
Started the mix. Bernie came in and John stayed for a few.
Mick phoned and drove over.
A gruelling day but some good mixes
A few bass mistakes to punch out. (missed a glaring one in Outlaw Ramblin' Band).
Didn't do any more guitar as we had taken long enough with the ARP and strings.
Sue-On brought Chinese food in at 1 and 6.
Keith, Marg and Norman arrived at 8:30 and stayed durng the Swamp Talk mix.
Sue-On then left with them for Grey's Casino.
I finished the mix at 10:30
Dubbed backing tracks onto a stereo tape to use on stage at home.
Mickey had to leave so Dave took over.
Charged for 12 hrs studio time - 10@ for mastering 1/4" tape. Two reels instead of three.
Phoned Sue-On, they were leaving so will meet them at home.
Phoned Canada - airstrike over - everything is OK.
Sue-On home at 2 AM - she won 38 pounds playing blackjack.
Toast and tea and bed.

August 11, 1977   Thursday
Sunny and hot

Slept in to catch up on sleep.
Norman brought over Alan Jones' Free Spirit master 1/4" tape
We decided to take the tape over to Impulse again for a dub of one of my songs.
The secretary was alone as Dave was at the radio station with Why Me, Lord.
One of the jocks flipped over it and played it three times.
They will feature it on his religious programme on Sunday.
Dave returned dubbed Boogie Woogie Band from the Free Spirit master for 5 pounds.
Talked and explored the storage rooms.
Many good groups have recorded at Impulse, including the Chieftains.
He gave us an Impulse logo T-shirt
Second shirt was left over from the recent energy crisis: "Save Energy, Fuck Slowly."

August 12, 1977

Spent a night at the Fiesta Club in Stockton a large show and dance and disco club.
Good house band, MC and English C&W singer played to a full house.
Then tonight's feature act: Jet Harris and the Diamonds (original Shadows bass player).
Jet is a small balding spaced out, tippsy man on bass.
His lead guitarist did all Shadows and Ventures.
Harris ended the set by playing Diamonds & Rhythm and Greens on a terribly out-of-tune guitar.
During the evening a group of guys asked him in the toilet if I was Kenny Rogers -
They were fooled by the accent, long hair and beard.

August 16, 1977  Tuesday
Stormy night

We spent the day roaming London:
Picadilly, Knightsbridge, Harrods, British Museum, Museum of Natural History and Science,
75 Years of Recorded Sound Exhibit, Royal Albert Hall, Leicester Square
(saw ERB's People That Time Forgot), Chinese restaurants,
Returned to our bed & breakfast room just a terrific storm hit.
Shocking news on the radio:
Elvis just reported dead at 10:30.
Hotel keeper and roomers in grief.
The storm flooded the streets and closed down parts of the tube system. Surreal.
BBC solemnly signs off with Elvis' How Great Thou Art.

August 17, 1977   Wednesday
Cloudy and drizzle

We  hit the streets of London early: Oxford, Regent, Wedgewood, Carnaby, Shaftsbury,
London Experience show, Chinese restaurants.
Every paper displayed on the streets has "King is Dead" headlines.
I bought up all the unusual English Elvis records I could find. BBC signoff tribute to Elvis.

August 18, 1977   Thursday

Took the train to Gatwick.
In the airport queue a
French Canadian couple ahead of us remembered us from our shows at Winnipeg's Club LaVerendry.
Behind us was a girl who knew us from a dance we played in Oak Bluff two months ago.
Another lady in the lineup knew us also... heard us paged on the PA and let us know.
The Joneses were phoning the airport to say goodbye.

August 19, 1977  Friday

Home in time to play a gig at the Rossburn Indian Reserve - an outdoor dance.
Heavy rain before the dance.
We set up on a low, dumpy outdoor stage with mud and water all over and around it.
The audience made up of little kids to old people -- all of them wet and mud covered.
We played in the fog and wet and cold. Very responsive crowd.
We backed many of local singers including the chief who played fiddle songs.
An amazing contrast to the English scene we had left yesterday.

. .
Early Years Pages
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1. Gig Notes: 1-10
2. Album Notes
3. Guitar Tales
4. Prairie Saga
5. Roots
6. Photos
7. Media
8. 100 Songs


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