'TEA GOES POP' AND OTHER RECOLLECTIONS - by John Hodson
My first exposure to the voice of Roger Chapman came at the age of 14 when 'No Mules Fool' was a modest hit single for Family. Impressed by this, Family were then the first band I saw a few months later in 1970 at the Colston Hall in Bristol (at least they were the first live band I saw out of choice - several years earlier I was taken to see Cliff Richard and The Shadows but I was very young and didn't do it again !). This was about the time of the 'Anyway' album and I remember coming away impressed particularly by songs like 'Holding The Compass' and 'Lives And Ladies'.
The first two albums I bought were again by Family - 'Old Songs - New Songs' followed by 'Fearless' and it's fair to say I was well and truly hooked. Other early memories recall my first foreign holiday to Spain in 1971 and I recall tuning in each night to Radio Luxemburg to try to catch 'In My Own Time' - I was dead chuffed that 'my band' were storming up the charts.
In those days I seemed to be going to concerts in Bristol every week as there were so many bands emerging at the time. I remember seeing the likes of Free, Yes, Wishbone Ash, Status Quo, The Faces, Pink Floyd, The Strawbs, Focus, Genesis, Lindisfarne etc but it was always Family concerts that I considered special. Over the next three years, right up to their premature split, I saw them on many occasions and, looking back, the most bizarre of these was at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 12th May 1973. While the drug culture was very much intertwined with the rock business at the time, it's hard to credit that this concert was sponsored on behalf of a legally grown substance - tea ! The following quote from the programme explains :
'John Smith Productions in association with the Tea Council present the first ever Tea Pop Concert starring Family, Fanny and 'Legs' Larry Smith. Refreshments during the interval are with the compliments of the Tea Council and we hope you will try the different teas being served here tonight. Then take the programme home and you have an instant guide to making tonight's tea recipes'
Sure enough the programme included several recipes for tea ranging from traditional (ie fill kettle, warm pot, measure the tea, put boiling water in the pot and wait 3 minutes) through to Lemon Tea, Iced Tea and Tea with Punch. I don't know if there was ever a second Tea Pop Concert but it doesn't stick in the memory like, say, Reading or Knebworth ! I can't remember a thing about the concert - indeed why pay attention when you can be having a nice cup of tea instead.
I was lucky enough to witness the last ever Family concert as my friend, Steve Rose, was at Leicester Polytechnic at the time and was able to get me a ticket. Being on a Saturday, we went to see Leicester City play Leeds United in the afternoon and I remember the presence of the members of Family, and their imminent final gig, being mentioned over the PA at half time. I believe some of the players, Frank Worthington included, then went onto the gig.
Following the split of Family I have continued my allegiance through 'Streetwalkers' and through Chappo's solo career and had to be content, through his exile from the UK during the 1980s, to very rare live sightings. It's been nice to 'have him back' a bit more during the last three years or so.
In 1993 I, along with fellow Appreciation Society member Martin Davis (the other half of the society in Bristol !), teamed up to promote an appearance by Roger at the Bristol Bierkeller on 13th December 1993. Having had a long standing interest in the music business it was an enjoyable experience to 'go behind the scenes' and put together all that is involved - from publicity to catering arrangements and many things in between. I thought we did quite well publicity wise with stories featuring in the local papers and the regional Sunday paper, together with plugs on some local radio stations, including an interview with me and Martin on Radio Bristol - shame they included it in Gardening Hour ! There were a few hassles on the day, including the PA system being double booked and a much inferior replacement provided, together with the day in question being the worst night weather wise all year - 80mph storms with rain to go with it. Consequently, the turn out was not as we would have wanted and our bank balances suffered accordingly ! Anyway, it's something I can look back upon as an achievement.