Chris Lamb & The Universals


Chris Lamb & The Universals were a 7-piece Showband fronted by trumpeter Chris Lamb, playing US bases and Irish clubs around Kilburn from 1963 to 1968.
Although they were basically known as an Irish Showband, the only true Irish members in the band were bandleader Chris Lamb and the saxophonist Mort O'Sullivan from County Cork. Trombone player Brian O'Shea aka "Brian Keith" and drummer Albert Rossi were both from Scotland, the rest of the band all from England except an American female vocalist, Edie Andrews who had worked for Alan Williams at the Blue Angel, Liverpool.

They were supporting American singer Jim Reeves on his tour of American military bases in Britain and Ireland in May and June 1963. Reeves was permitted to perform in Ireland by the Irish Federation of Musicians on the condition that he share the bill with Irish show bands, becoming popular by 1963. The British Federation of Musicians would not permit him to perform there because no agreement existed for British show bands to travel to America in exchange for his band, the Blue Boys, playing in Great Britain.
However, Jim Reeves compromised by doing a tour of the American bases from June 10 to June 15, which was allowed because it was then considered that he wasn't performing on British soil and he appeared on British radio and TV programs. The Universals’ guitarist Peter Jay used to sing Jim Reeves songs to close the shows.
During 1964/5, they played many times at the Hammersmith Oden for Top Rank.
The only known record by Chris Lamb & The Universals is “Mysterious Land” / “If You Ask Me” on Decca records released in June 1965. However they also covered some Beatles songs with Edie Andrews singing lead on. Andrews eventually went back to the States at the end of the year. The Universals backed Scottish singer Gidian on his third single “Feeling” / “Dont Be Sentimental” released on Columbia records in October 1966.
At this time, the band featured new musicians: Carlo Little on drums, Paul Raymond on keyboards and Bill Parkinson on guitar. They toured the south of England and backed several stars like Stevie Wonder between November 1965 and June 1966. They played everything from the top 20 to themes like “Laurence of Arabia” or “Tijuana Brass”, and of course an array of Irish music.
By July 1966, Carlo Little rolled his mates of The Universals into Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages. This crew spent half their time backing Sutch, but also worked as The Circles, recording on their own with Chris Blackwell (Island records). As The Savages, they played at the Olympia in Paris, and recorded such gems as Saturday Club with Brian Matthews.
By 1967, The Universals signed to Page One then evolved into Plastic Penny.

Many of the personnel went on to greater things. Carlo Little joined The Flowerpotmen; Bill Parkinson worked for Tom Jones; Grabham formed Cochise and then joined Procol Harum; Tony Murray joined The Troggs; Paul Raymond was with Chicken Shack and then Savoy Brown; Nigel Olsson was with the Spencer Davis Group and later became the drummer in Elton John's backing group and Brian Keith headed Congregation...

Chris Lamb led a number of bands until his decease some years ago. His brother Robert 'Bobby' Lambe is an internationally renowned composer/arranger, who as a trombone player worked with Frank Sinatra, Woody Herman and many other top names and spent most of his musical career in the US.
Bill Parkinson After I left P.J.Proby I auditioned with 30 other guitarists and got the with job with top Irish show band Chris Lamb and The Universals, this was a very good tight band with excellent musicians, On drums was Carlo Little, ex Rolling Stones, on vocals and Trombone was Brian Keith lead singer with Plastic Penny, on keyboards was Paul Raymond who played with many bands and on Bass, John Lawson. The sax player was Mort Sullivan, the leader Chris Lamb played trumpet, We played everything from the top 20 to themes like Laurence of Arabia and Tijuana Brass, and of course an array of Irish music. We backed several stars like Stevie Wonder and played on several records… One day Carlo Little asked me and a couple of the other musicians if we would join the Savages and back Screaming Lord Sutch.
Mick Grabham about “Everything I Am”: “Our only hit! No I didn't play on that actually. I was living in Sunderland at the time and the rest of the Plastic Penny was formed out of a group that was a showband called Chris Lamb and the Universals. Three or four of them had made a record apart from the rest of the group, which was produced by Larry Page of Troggs tape fame, and they were playing as Chris Lamb and the Universals in this night club in Sunderland. They were looking for a guitarist and they saw this friend of mine with frizzy hair and asked him if he was a guitarist – they didn't want to get a face from London into the band. He said 'No I'm not, but I know somebody who is'. At the time, this guy was sharing up [sic] house with me, so he brought them back and they asked me if I wanted to go down to London and give it a try. They said that they needed a drummer and like Nigel Olsson was a real good friend of mine, so I got him to come down as well and we both ended up getting the job. When I think of it now, somebody coming up to me in Sunderland, saying 'do you want to come down and join this band', it's mad!”



Discography

Singles:
  • Mysterious Land / If You Ask Me (Decca F 12176) 11/06/1965 as Chris Lamb & The Universals
  • Take Your Time/Don't You Love Me No More (Island WI 279) 07/1966 as The Circles
  • Feeling / Dont Be Sentimental (Columbia DB 8041) 10/1966 as Gidian & The Universals
  • I Can't Find You/Hey You (Page One POF 032) 07/1967 as The Universals
  • Green Veined Orchid/While The Cat's Away (Page One POF 049) 11/1967 as The Universals


Various Line-ups of Chris Lamb & The Universals

Chris Lamb & The Universals Allstars #1 (April 1963 - Late 1964)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Peter Jay (Lead Guitar)
  • Alan McCiver (Bass)
  • ?? (Keyboards)
  • Albert Rossi (Drums)
  • Judy Ward (Lead Vocals)

Chris Lamb & The Universals #2 (Late 1964 - June 1965)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Foggy Little (Lead Guitar)
  • Peter Jay (Rhythm Guitar)
  • Alan McCiver (Bass)
  • P.J. Kelly (Keyboards)
  • Dave ?? (Drums)


Chris Lamb & The Universals #3 (June - November 1965)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Foggy Little (Lead Guitar)
  • Peter Jay (Rhythm Guitar)
  • Alan McCiver (Bass)
  • P.J. Kelly (Keyboards)
  • Dave ?? then Carlo Little (Drums)
  • Edie Andrews (Vocals)

Chris Lamb & The Universals #4 (November 1965 - July 1966)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Bill Parkinson (Lead Guitar)
  • Ged Peck (Lead Guitar)
  • John Lawson (Bass)
  • Paul Raymond (Keyboards)
  • Carlo Little (Drums)

Chris Lamb & The Universals #5 / The Circles (July 1966 - September 1966)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Bill Parkinson (Lead Guitar)
  • Tony Dangerfield (Bass)
  • Paul Raymond (Keyboards)
  • Carlo Little (Drums)

Chris Lamb & The Universals #6 (Late 1966 - December 1967)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Foggy Little (Lead Guitar)
  • Tony Murray (Bass)
  • Paul Raymond (Keyboards)
  • Eddie Thorpe (Drums)
  • Terry Parsons (Drums)

Chris Lamb & The Universals #7 (December 1967)
  • Chris Lamb (Trumpet)
  • Mort Sullivan (Tenor Sax)
  • Brian Keith (Vocals/Trombone)
  • Mick Grabham (Lead Guitar)
  • Tony Murray (Bass)
  • Paul Raymond (Keyboards)
  • Nigel Olsson (Drums)

1 comment:

  1. Eddie Thorpe was the drummer in 1966-67. Also in the group were Dick Errington John Lawson and Peter Jay. Eddie went on to play with Simon Raverne( Buddy Britten ) in Jersey and various places abroad

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