Gizmo Reform (1984 to 1988)
The band (above from left to right):
Maurice Memmott, Martin Reed - Guitar (front), Nick Milton - Drums
Amalia (Macari) Memmott - Bass Synth (front)
Brian Gould - Keyboards (front), Dave Radford - Vocals / Guitar
In 1984 Gizmo reformed; this time with Martin Reed on guitar. Martin came into the frame after a drunken night at a gig where Maurice Memmott was playing with Whitstable folk band 'Smack Alley'. The support artist failed to arrive and when the crowd was asked if anyone present could play a guitar and entertain, Martin volunteered. He made quite an impression; so-much-so that when the idea to reform Gizmo came about, Maurice invited Martin to join the band. A drummer was needed. In 1983 Dave Radford had been working with heavy rock band 'Atlantis Rising'. Atlantis Rising disbanded soon after recording their only, and now highly collectable single, 'Tightrope'. Nick Milton was the band's drummer and so was asked if he'd like to be part of the new Gizmo.
This line-up's first gig was at Dover Town Hall in front of the impressive back drop of massive church organ pipes.
This led to several years of gigging. The band became regulars at the psychedelic concerts held at The Crypt in South London, performing alongside prog-rock bands such as 'Ozric Tentacles', who borrowed Nick one night when their drummer was unavailable. A cassette (Remember cassettes?) EP was recorded of 'Mars' from the 'Planet Suite' by Holst, and 'Hey You'. Both tracks became popular set-pieces live.
1986 saw a limited release of a bootleg cassette. Tracks were live versions of 'Mars', 'Small Garden', and 'On To The Sun' - this showcased the power of the band with Nick on drums.
The 'Bootleg' cassette sleeve
In 1987 Nick Milton departed, to be replaced by Steve Wyse who briefly returned to the fold. Also to leave was Amalia Memmott whose position was filled by Anita Salt playing violin and synthesizers. A double 'A' side, seven inch single was released - 'Psychedelic Rock 'n' Roll' (penned by Steve), with a song written by Dave Radford in 1975 'Martyr for a Kingdom'. The band once again split in 1988 with Brian Gould, Maurice Memmott, Steve Wyse and Anita Salt leaving to form orchestral rock outfit 'HPC'. HPC recorded one album in 1990 entitled 'Camera Obscura', they then toured the length and breadth of the UK throughout 1991. The band retired exhausted at the beginning of 1992.
In 1991, the desire to do it all again was sparked off by a collaboration between Martin Reed and Nick Milton. Grant Matcham, ex 'Atlantis Rising', a formidable keyboard player of great skill and sensitivity, was invited to join the band. Stuart Monteith joined on bass guitar, soon to be replaced by Chris Dempsey on vocals, bass and Moog (Chris has more recently been with Canterbury rock band 'Moscow Riley'). Gizmo also recruited Tony Rico, an exceptional 18 year old saxophonist - His playing fitted perfectly with the band's prog-rock style. Last, but not least, Dave Radford - Gizmo's founder member, was on back on vocals / guitar, continuing to be the band's main songwriter.
It was during this collaboration in 1992, that the third Gizmo album 'They're Peeling Onions In the Cellar' was released, comprising of a track written by fellow Canterbury prog rock band Caravan, entitled 'Mr Policeman'. There were new versions classic Gizmo tracks 'Storyteller', 'Hey You', and 'Gravity', plus some new material. Just prior to the release of this album, Gizmo performed at The Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone - footage of which can be viewed here »» Please excuse the quality, it was 1992 and home video recorders were pretty basic affairs back then.
More gigs followed the album and the band found themselves in London again playing alongside 'Gong'.
Gizmo in 1992 - Grant Matcham, Chris Dempsey, Dave Radford
Nick Milton and Martin Reed
All was quiet until 1995, when Dave Radford was contacted by an Italian record company, who asked if Gizmo would like to be British representatives on a tribute album to seventies prog band 'Van Der Graaf Generator', which would include Van Der Graaf Generator tracks performed by bands from all over the world. One problem - There was no band! Excited by this opportunity, Dave went through his list of musical contacts and a new Gizmo was rapidly assembled.
This time, in the band were:
- Dave Radford - Vocals/Guitar
- Martin Reed - Guitar
- Hugh Hopper - Bass
- Grant Matcham - Keyboards
- Tony Rico - Saxophone
- Nick Milton - Drums
Hugh Hopper was a long-time friend of Dave's and was happy to oblige. Hugh brought a serenity to the line-up and a great sense of melody. The track chosen for the album was 'A House With No Door' - which is included as a bonus track on the Gizmo CD called 'Gizmo' (this track is not available on the vinyl version of 'Gizmo').
Hugh Hopper and Martin Reed
Martin Reed savours the memory of the first rehearsal with Hugh - "After my acoustic guitar intro, the next person to play was Hugh - He played one high note so gently and with such sensitivity, it gave us all goosebumps!"
In this reincarnation, they played only a few gigs, including a memorable prog-rock double-billing with 'The Ozric Tentacles' at Folkestone's Leas Cliff Hall, Kent, on 12th September 1996. The final gig was at Pullman Wine Bar, also in Folkestone, on 29th September 1996, the place was packed and the evening was captured on video by a member of the audience. We've tracked down a copy which can be seen here »» - Apologies for the picture quality. None-the-less, it's a charming record of the event.
Hugh Hopper was tucked away behind Martin - It was a cramped performance area - Hugh is visible sometimes!
Martin Reed, Tony Rico, Hugh Hopper, Grant Matcham,
Dave Radford and Nick Milton in 1996
Hugh left quite an impact on the rest of the band who feel privileged to have shared laughs, stories as well as a stage with him. He died in June 2009. His work with 'Soft Machine', Allan Holdsworth, Steve Hillage, 'Gong', Robert Wyatt and many other prog-rock greats, is there for all to hear and enjoy. It's nice to know that Gizmo played a part in Hugh's long and varied musical career.
Gizmo Reform Yet Again in 2011
In 2011, Martin Reed was contacted by Nick Milton, and this ignited the enthusiasm for a reunion of the band. He contacted Dave Radford, and lured him out of his retirement from performing. Dave had not picked up his guitar or sung for 15 years, so initially he was quite reluctant. However, the willingness and enthusiasm of Grant Matcham, Nick Milton, and Martin, was too enticing to be ignored by Dave, and he agreed to return as the stalwart in the band. They were fortunate enough to also find the perfect bassist - a man with a melodic flair who is a master of the bass guitar - Alex Powley, who was introduced to other band members by Martin.
During the Spring and Summer of 2011 they rehearsed, perfecting the old songs, whilst writing new ones too. Then on 12th August 2011 the band performed their first gig in 15 years, at 'The First & Last' in Herne. It was a fantastic gig, packed with Gizmo fans, many of whom had travelled from afar to be there. This was followed two days later on 14th with a gig at The Farmhouse, in Canterbury, which was being billed as their 'first official gig'. They were on-a-roll and played a third gig at Gees, Sandgate on 19th August 2011. All three performances went down a storm which, in-part, inspired the band to record a new album.
After the gigs, they focused on writing new material for a fourth Gizmo album. They did do one final live performance that year on 23rd December. Again, it was at The First & Last, and was yet another huge success.
Sadly, 2012 was a year beset with problems for the band, through which they remained determined to complete their fourth album 'Gizmo'. There was a change of drummer - Nick Milton was replaced on the sessions by Ian Harris (ex Karnataka). Grant Matcham on keyboards, due to circumstances beyond his control, had to leave the band, and during the recording of the album, Dave Radford fell ill, undergoing surgery in London. Dave made a full recovery and now feels better than he has ever done.
Martin Reed also became unwell during the latter weeks of recording, but managed to complete all the tracks. He was diagnosed as having a brain tumour and was referred to the same London hospital as Dave just weeks after he had left there! Martin underwent surgery to remove the tumour on 31st July.
It is amazing how both Dave and Martin were able to write and record the songs for this album, when they both had such life threatening conditions. Despite what they were both went through, it did not affect the quality or standard of Gizmo's material, and there are indeed many new masterpieces on this release to which they rightfully felt proud to have produced.
Regretably, Martin's tumour reappeared in 2013. He died just 12 days after a final performance with Gizmo on June 29th at Churchill's famous rock tavern in Ramsgate.
2015 saw the release of 'Marlowe's Children - part 1 The Innocence'. This is part one of a trilogy of albums. A novel by author Paul Crampton will follow based on this recorded work.
Released on 12 inch vinyl with classic gatefold sleeve, it is also available on CD and to download.
Gizmo 2015 - Alex Powley, Dave Radford, Steve Wyse, Tony Rico Richardson, Matt Barwick and Brian Gould.