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A Snail Mail Chat with Eddy Pumer of Kaleidoscope UK

Kaleidoscope UK
10 June 2014

I was honored to interview Eddy Pumer, guitarist for Kaleidoscope UK and long time radio producer and friend to Sir Paul McCartney. Due to illness, he was unable to take part in the Kaleidoscope interview in Issue 74. Thanks to Joe Viglione for putting me in touch with Eddy, and to Eddy for taking the time to write out all his interview responses, despite being ill this past winter.

What are your earliest musical memories, such as the first musical event you attended?

EDDY: We started playing in school halls — pubs and clubs. It was this that started us on our journey into our greatest love – music. It was in a club where we saw Alexis Korner, Tom Jones, and The Rolling Stones. It was at a club in London (the Marquee) and all three acts were superb. It certainly fired us to move in a more adventurous place in the music industry. My main feeling was to contact a record company. That’s when we joined Fontana Records and were taken under the wing of an in-house producer, Dick Leahy.

What was the first instrument you picked up? I understand you’re a bit like Brian Jones in being able to play multiple instruments?

EDDY: Danny Bridgman (Kaleidoscope’s drummer) and I knew each other since we were about 4 years old. When we were in our early teens, we were influenced by the great rock ‘n’ roll guitar legend, Duane Eddy. I never thought I would meet him, let alone work with him and become a close friend and have been for 40 years. I worked with Duane on many projects and got him together with ‘Sir Paul’. We produced an instrumental by Sir Paul titled “Rockestra”. Duane was my inspiration to study the guitar. I’m most flattered to be compared with Brian Jones. He was a great musician. I play a little bit of piano, sitar, and cello.

Was anyone in your family a musician?

EDDY: My father played the tuba in the Coldstream Guard, who are the Queen’s band, and he played regularly at Buckingham Palace. He taught me a great deal. My eldest daughter used to play the flute.

How did you and the other band members meet?

EDDY: I knew Danny as a kid, and Dan met Steve Clark when Danny became a tool maker. By this time, Danny and I toyed with starting a group. He said he knew this guy at work (Steve) who played bass guitar. The three of us got on and played instrumentals at the school halls to rehearse. I got a job as a post boy at ABC Television. After several auditions for a singer, Danny, Steve, and I knew we needed someone of more vocal substance. Peter Daltrey was also a post boy at ABC, and one day we were delivering the mail and I heard Pete quietly singing to himself and in turn, this caught my ear. I asked Pete if he would come to the rehearsal. He went white — he was terrified. He agreed to come over to the school hall. We played some blues numbers, and Dan, Steve, and I then knew Pete was the one.

What were your biggest musical influences? How about literature and art? Did they color your music at all?

EDDY: Our greatest influence was The Beatles. I was also influenced by John Steinbeck, and in the art world, it’s Vermeer.

Your band had four name changes. Does each name represent a different musical phase? And do you think the late period switch from Kaleidoscope to Fairfield Parlour confused fans?

EDDY: At that time, we called ourselves The Sidekicks. We then changed our name to The Key. I wasn’t happy about this and came up with the name Kaleidoscope. It was at this phase, as you say, that Pete and I started writing together and kept in the more progressive type of music. I never liked the name Fairfield Parlour, even though it was a joint decision, including our then producer David Symonds. He was a BBC presenter and loved our music.

After four decades, which album do you think holds up the best?

EDDY: Having commented on the name Fairfield Parlour, I have to say that the album which holds up the best is White Faced Lady. I wrote all the arrangements for the brass and strings. They were a great orchestra. Also, on the song “Just Another Day” (From Home to Home), guess who comes in the studio at 4 in the morning? It was Elton John, who also sang with us on the track. We also did the music for the film “Eyewitness”. I wrote the music for the film, and Pete and I wrote the theme song.

Describe the creative process in how you came up with so many memorable melodies. What about arrangements where the words and music were set? Did Steve or Danny ever try to write songs?

EDDY: Thank you for the compliments about our songs. Pete wrote the lyrics and I wrote the melodies. Danny wrote a couple of songs, but we never got round to using them. Steve didn’t come up with anything.

Did you see an uptick in sales when Bucketfull of Brains (EK: obscure British magazine that only zealots like me know about) reviewed your work in the 1980s? What about after the most recent reissues?

EDDY: Sorry, but I’ve never heard of Bucketfull of Brains, so I can’t comment. They have re-released so much of our work, and should do this again this year or early next year.

Do any of the band’s live performances remain fixed in your mind as being most representative of what the band could do live?

EDDY: We recently did a concert in London and the audience went crazy. When we finished with “music”, they all went berserk. We signed at least 100 autographs.

Tell us about your work with Sir Paul, and your other work as a producer.

EDDY: When I was working as a producer at Capital Radio (London), Paul’s Director of Promotions came to my office — I was the senior music producer at that time and producing Sir George Martin (Beatles producer) and many of the DJs.

Anyway, Paul’s promotion man Joe Reddington said that Sir Paul had an idea for a radio series and would I like to have a meeting with him to discuss it. I eventually met with him and we got on immediately. This initial meeting was a great success. The radio show is titled, “Oobu Joobu”. We decided to produce 6 one hour shows. This never happened because we went on to record 17 hours of “Oobu Joobu”. This radio series went to Number 1 in the USA.

One memorable production I did with Paul was a special CD that went with the box set celebrating Band on the Run’s 25th year and was redigitalised. We were happy with this special and the box set was so successful. I went on to produce with Paul and have done so for the last 25 years. I also interviewed some greats for Band on the Run, such as Dustin Hoffman, James Coburn, and one more.

Do you think you’ll ever play on stage or record with Peter again?

EDDY: I’ve talked to Peter and Danny about going back in the studio and making a fresh album. I have songs which I believe are some of the best I’ve written, but Pete’s got his own band and does lots of work with them including Europe and I believe the States.

In retrospect, do you think if the band launched afresh today that you’d make a much bigger mark? There are quite a number of psychedelic bands about and there seems to be a resurgence of interest.

EDDY: Yes, there is a new interest in the band and a younger audience — very interesting.

For more information on Eddy, read Joe’s artist biography of Eddy.

 

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