HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: May 2016. We had the great honour to talk with a very talented person: Adrian Gurvitz. He is best known as a founding member, guitarist and vocalist of Baker Gurvitz Army, The Gun and Three Man Army. He has released several solo albums and his song “Classic” was a major hit in 1982. He also collaborated with Buddy Miles (Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys –drums) and Moody Blues’ drummer, Greame Edge. As a successful producer and songwriter, he has worked with Andra Day, Transviolet and many others. Read below the very interesting things he told us:
What are the current projects you are involved in?
I just had a Grammy nomination for Andra Day. So, I produced and wrote this record (ed: “Cheers to the Fall”). I also produced a band called Transviolet. So, Epic Records released a new single called “New Bohemia” (ed: by Transviolet) that I produced and wrote.
Did you expect that your solo song “Classic” (1982) would become so popular?
I think so, yeah.
You released your first three solo albums through Jet Records. What was it like to have Don Arden (also manager of Black Sabbath and father of Sharon Osbourne) as your boss?
I liked him. He was a nice man. Good. I liked him, yeah.
When you released the first album of The Gun in 1968, had you realized that you were one of heaviest bands of that time?
I think so. We were one of the first heavy rock bands, as long as I can remember (laughs).
I really love the song “Rat Race” from the first Gun album. Can you tell us a few things about this song?
I can’t remember that much about it. I think it was the first time that I wrote a song on a piano. My mother had an old piano. I remember writing it on that and when we made the record, that was one of the songs that we used. I don’t have much to say about it, really. It was one of those songs that we wrote. Yeah, I don’t know.
Were you flattered when Jimi Hendrix played the riff of “Race with the Devil” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970?
I was at the Isle of Wight Festival at the time. I was there at the time on the side of the stage. Yes, it was great. I mean, I was friends with Jimi. I knew him well. It was great. What else can I say?
Do you like the Judas Priest cover of “Race with the Devil”?
Yes, it’s ok. I don’t think it’s bad. Obviously, I don’t think any of the covers of “Race with the Devil” was as good as the original.
Are you proud of the classic album status that the first Baker Gurvitz Army album (1974) has?
I am happy with that album. I think that was my favourite album I did with Ginger. I really like it. It has a lot of fine playing in it. We made it in The Who studio. We made it in that studio.
Was Ginger Baker (Cream –drums) an easy-going person to work with?
He’s very difficult (laughs).
I know. I tried to do a phone interview with him and he only answered with “yes” or “no”.
(Ed: He mimics Ginger) “Yes”. “No”. “Yes”. Yeah, I know. It’s not very nice.
Was it an interesting experience to play with Buddy Miles in front of large crowds?
I think that was one my favourite things that I ever did. When I came to America, I was 20 years old. Playing with Buddy Miles and touring with him across America, was pretty great. I really loved that tour.
When and how did you meet Jimi Hendrix?
He used to go to the Speakeasy club. I first met Jimi there. Later on, when I met Buddy in London, he played on one of my records (ed: Three Man Army’s “A Third of a Lifetime” -1971). I already knew Hendrix, and we used to hang out again at the Speakeasy. I played with Jimi about three times. In those days, you played in the club and then somebody would come in like Jimi, get on stage and play. I don’t remember who the other musicians were. I only remember me and him.
Did you have a good time working on Greame Edge’s “Kick Off Your Muddy Boots” (1975) album? I love the song “In Dreams”.
In the beginning, we had a good relationship but he was a bit of a drinker. He liked to drink and I didn’t like drinks (laughs). I think a few times we had problems because of his drinking habit. But most of the time, it was good.
You are also a very successful producer. Are there producers like George Martin (The Beatles) and Mickie Most (Donovan, Jeff Beck Group) nowadays?
I think so. There are a lot of good producers. I think the music changes so fast. Music is not as great as it was in the past and people produce in a completely different way right now. I don’t think today’s producers are really like George Martin, because George Martin was a genius and he did have The Beatles (laughs). So, anyone could be a genius with them. Mickie Most was a very clever producer. Not really, what I consider a great, great producer. Even though, I have a lot of his records. He was a kind of strange producer. But it worked. Mickie was a strange guy.
Are you happy with the comeback of the vinyl records?
I think it’s great that the vinyl is coming back. I never liked the CD and I hate the MP3. So, I think the vinyl is the best way to listen to music.
Why did you stop performing your own music?
I did a lot of rock very early, from 15 to 26. I had already many years playing blues and rock and it was a life’s doing. I guess at the time, I didn’t really want to continue just playing rock. I did it all my life. I wanted to do all different kinds of music: pop music, rock music, soul music. I was interested in writing the songs, playing a lot of different styles in between, rather than scratching my head in heavy rock. I had already done it for 20 years. It was a lot for me. Also, I got married and had four children and I am still with the same wife for 35 years and I am happy with my children.
Why did you call Los Angeles as “a rock ’n’ roll graveyard”?
(Laughs) I think everybody at one time used to come here. If you toured across America as much as I have done, it’s kind of inevitable. I live here. My days now are full with producing records and writing music for other people. It’s kind like the last place, that’s why I called it a rock ‘n’ roll graveyard. I think Lemmy and other people came to settle in California. There are a lot of rock ‘n’ roll people and things that there aren’t in Europe anymore. It’s a much bigger place to do things in music.
Have you ever turned down an interesting work offer because you were busy or for any other reason?
Oh yeah, a lot of times. I just don’t help that. You are already doing one record. You wanna give your heart and soul to that record. You can’t go away and do other things. You kind of pick and choose. You pick and choose what you are gonna do. Most of the times, I do what I wanna do and in these days is getting even better. No, I don’t regret.
Do you miss those UK underground days around 1967, with the UFO Club, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine etc? Did you like that period?
Yeah, I very much liked it. I was 17 years old and I was aware of some of that music. It was a very interesting time and I was amazed to go with my friends at the UFO to see Pink Floyd, The Move, Steve Howe and Tomorrow and some other bands. There were a lot of bands. In those days, you could see them for 5 pounds. Nobody had to pay $500 for a ticket. Everything has changed now. But those days were great! London was an amazing city. You walked on the streets and everything was so free. It couldn’t be better than London. I mean, London was the best place in the world at the time.
A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Adrian Gurvitz.
Official Adrian Gurvitz website: http://www.adriangurvitz.com