"I still miss him even now 25 years later..."
Heavy Metal Kids drummer Keith Boyce remembers Gary Holton
Well we got to Nice and the Club that Mickey told us we were playing in turned out not to be a club but an Indian Restaurant! If that wasn't bad enough it was a terrible Indian Restaurant. Oh to make matters worse I have to tell you that French people hate any sort of hot spicy food! So we found ourselves playing to about five people a night while they ate crap Indian food and we deafened them with really loud Rock'N'Roll! Very surreal looking back on it! The food was so bad in this joint that after getting ill from a it a few times we would take the little money we were earning and go out a buy a hamburger or sandwich instead! This was clearly not working so me and Mickey would drive down to St. Tropez every night after we'd played and we'd get there at 2 or 3 in the morning when it was all happening. Mickey knew a lot of people there as he'd been there with his band the Mickey Finn and we'd got to jamming with whoever was playing and the two of us landed a residency gig at this club the Voom Voom which was one of the top clubs there.
So we started the residency there with all the band and pretty soon word spread and we got hired at the Papagayo which was the top club there. We were there for months and you'd see people like Bridget Bardot and Johnny Halliday and a lot of other French stars and jet-setters there. It was really something. Anyway we met this singer Nino Ferrer there. He was a huge star in France at the time and he had had loads of number ones. He loved us and asked us to be his band and to do an album with him. So next thing we were in Paris staying at his mansion and living like lords eating Lobsters and drinking Champagne by the bucket. We did the album with him and a load of TV shows and radio shows but then that was it.
At this point we decided we had to come back to London only our singer Terry Scott decided he really liked Paris so he stayed there. I forgot to mention that Bob Weston had left while we were in St. Tropez as he got fed up. Good job for him as when he got home he got a phone call from Mick Fleetwood asking him to join Fleetwood Mac which he did! So Mickey said he knew this singer actor guy Gary Holton and we should try him when we got back to London. So as soon as we got back we got Gary to come down and have a blow with us. We were all really impressed with him and we hit it off straight away. I was still living with my parents in Clapham and what was strange was Gary was living just a stones-throw away! He was on the next street from me so I was round there all the time and he'd often come round my place and my mum would cook him something to eat as he was as skinny as hell and was stoney broke.
Anyway soon Brian Johnston left the band for a better paid gig so we found Cosmo who was fairly new in London from Glasgow and that really was the beginning of the Kids proper I'd say. This was about September or October '72. Pretty soon we were gigging all the time and then Gary split with his girlfriend and asked me if I wanted to rent a house with him. I was well up for it so me, him, and one of our roadies and another friend all moved into this ramshackle house in Kennington. That really was mad house and boy did we have fun there. Pretty soon Gary had a French Model girlfriend who moved in as well and there were all sorts coming and going. That really was one of the best periods of my life and I think the same goes for Gary as he was still pretty straight and very focused then and we used to have such a laugh together. Our front door was only about 10 feet away from a pub so that helped matters as well! Next thing was Cosmo left the band and we got Barry Paul in on guitar to replace him. Atlantic had been courting us for some time and the day we signed to them Barry left the band! Me and Mickey were really upset about that and tried to persuade him to stay but he wouldn't have it. He seemed to think we weren't musical enough so decided to move on. Funny enough he would rejoin us later as did Cosmo!
Anyway we did the first album and were doing lots of gigs and when we weren't gigging me and Gary would be out at clubs like the Speakeasy or J. Arthurs in the New Kings road or Tramp or catching bands like Silverhead, who we really dug, at the Marquee or some other clubs like Dingwalls. It was all very exciting then and Gary was a joy to be around most of the time. Everywhere you went Gary would be the centre of attention without trying. He was very funny and even though he could be a sod at times I could never get angry with him for long as he could turn any situation into a joke and have you creased up with laughter! After a couple of years in the house one of our roadie friends who we let stay there while we were on tour set the house on fire and we returned from the tour to find the top of the house and Gary's room gone and my room was a charred mess and all flooded! We weren't well pleased so Gary moved into a house his girlfriend had just brought in Clapham and I moved in with a girlfriend in Chelsea and I think that's when a lot of the innocence went out of all of us. It started to become more of a business then and we didn't see as much of each other when we weren't working. Mind you we did do hundreds of gigs a year at that point so I guess we needed a break from each other!
So we carried on touring all over and made a few more albums and at the time we broke up in '78 we'd started on a 4th album and had completed about four or five songs and I wish I had a copy of those tracks now, I then joined Bram Tchaikovsky and was out touring for a year so didn't see Gary much and then I moved to LA. for 5 years or so. When I came back to London in late '84 Gary was a big star in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Me and Ronnie used to see him a fair bit then. He was living in a great big flat he'd brought in Maida Vale and me and Ronnie went round there now and again, he'd brought the flat with the money he'd made from these Tennents ads he'd done, I think he said he made 80 grand for the four ads which was a lot of dough back then, Not only that but he had a crate of Tennents delivered free every week as part of the deal! Gary would say how much he missed the band though and I think it was on all our minds to get the band back together when tragically he died in '85. It was terrible thing when it happened but not a total surprise to me seeing the life he was leading then but it left a big gap. I still miss him even now 25 years later...
"He will always remain a true inspiration as a writer and performer..."
Former Heavy Metal Kids & Uriah Heep star John Sinclair remembers Gary Holton
"Gary may have had Crabs, but he sure had durability..."
Heavy Metal Kids' Ronnie Thomas remembers Gary Holton
Anyway, both bands used to rehearse at a place in Ealing and quite often we would both be rehearsing at the same time...that is, Biggles would be rehearsing and us Heaven Boys would play for maybe an hour and then if it was a nice day we'd lay about on the grass outside, smoke Dope and just fuck about. Usually Gazza would come out, while his lot were working out complicated solo sections, and fuck about with us. Mickie got our band a gig in Nice in the south of France in a newly opened Indian restaurant (typical Mickie blag) and the day before we left for France our Drummer phoned me up to say that Mike Leander, the guy who wrote and produced Gary Glitter, wanted him as one of the Drummers in the Glitter band, whose first record had just hit number 1 in the charts, so Peter Phipps joined Glitter and Keith Boyce joined the very next day and we fucked of to the sarf of France. After playing in the south of France for about five months we came back to England, but our singer Terry couldn't return home as he had Paternity Payments warrants out for his arrest, so we left him in Paris.
When we returned home we needed another singer and Mickie said those four magic words "Wot about little Gary???" and dat woz dat!!! I guess I was pretty close to Gaz on the road, it was always Gazzer and me that shared rooms together, but saying that, I guess we were all a band of brothers. He was like us, a terrific looner on the road, creating mayhem everywhere he went. Just for the record, The Kids were banned from Holiday Inns, Marriott hotels, and Forte's Trust hotels and we were told that we would never play Hastings Pier ever again!!!
I miss Gaz terribly to this day. Not that I walk about thinking about him all the time, but whenever I do I always end up with a smirk on me chops! Yep! Had great times with the lad, he will always be 33 years old! Gary may have had Crabs, but he sure had durability...
Huge thanks go to Keith,Ronnie & John for taking time out of their busy schedules to help me with this article and also for sharing their memories of Gary. Cheers guys!
In May 1972 I'd just come back from a 4 month tour of America with Long John Baldry. It was a great tour and I turned 18 on tour in New York. I was at a bit of a loose-end when I got back but within a few days I got a call from my pal Mickey Waller aka Mickey Finn. 'Do you fancy a few weeks in Nice playing at a club' said Mickey. 'Yes' said I.
The next day I was in a Mercedes van full of gear and my drums heading off to France with Mickey and our mate guitarist Bob Weston also from Baldry and the remnants of the band Mickey had joined called Heaven. That was my first introduction to Ronnie Thomas (Bass) Brian Johnston (Keyboards) and Terry Scott (Vocals) Heaven had had a huge deal with CBS but had blown the lot with not much success and were on their last legs. Anyway things went wrong the moment we hit France. The van broke down in a small village close to Rouen and the local wide boy garage guys dismantled the engine and left it lying in pieces in the street and demanded hundreds of pounds to fix it. I had to stop Mickey having a fight with them and we were stuck in this village staying at a cheap hotel while we tried to work out what to do. This was good in one respect as somehow we managed to get the use of the local village hall and rehearsed there for the week as we didn't have a set so we knocked one together! Meanwhile Mickey managed to get an East end mechanic he knew to fly out from England. Thing is this guy didn't have a passport but lied and said he's had a death in the family and they let him into France on compassionate grounds! Anyway he fixed the van in no time at all as it was just a blown head gasket so we were then on our way to Nice.
Gary was an incredibly talented performer. For me, his theatrical background was what made the Heavy Metal Kids so special and he was always looking to push the boundaries in every respect, both musically and in regards to his unfortunately short life. To me, after a lifetime in the music business he will always remain a true inspiration as a writer and performer.
I can't help but wonder what he would have gone on to do if he had not tragically died so young. The times I spent with him will stay with me as some of the funniest and most creative of my life, but history will testify that such talent and creativity are often accompanied by self destructive tendencies. A true visionary, I'll never forget him...
Well I first clapped eyes on his nibs back in 197O when I was playing in a band called "HEAVEN" with Mickey Waller on guitar. Ricky Farr was managing the band and he also had another band under his wing called Biggles with Gazza singing. Biggles were a progressive Rock with loads of solos (Yes, even a 10 minute Bass solo!) Barry Paul was on guitar and Carl Palmer's younger brother was on drums, they also had a great bass player called Mick Feat who ended up playing with people like Van Morrison and Dave Gilmore! After he came round to see me in my pad in Chelsea, I got him wiped out on Burmese "Temple Balls" and laid "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye on him, he forgot Prog-Rock and started playing sensibly after that!!! Good drugs in those days!!!