1973 - 1979
Georg Kajanus - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Gavin David - Virginia David
1990 - 1995
Georg Kajanus - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
1996 - 1999
Peter Lincoln - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
October 1999 - April 2001
Peter Lincoln - Phil Pickett - Anthony England - Grant Serpell
May 2001 - July 2005
Peter Lincoln - Phil Pickett - Rob Alderton- Grant Serpell
August 2005 - September 2006
Peter Lincoln - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
October 2006 - April 2009
Oliver Marsh - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
May 2009 - February 2011
Nick Parvin - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Grant Serpell
February 2011 - May 2011
Nick Parvin - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Tom Marsh
May 2011 - today
Oliver Marsh - Phil Pickett - Henry Marsh - Tom Marsh
For nearly forty years the 'Cafe de Matelot', one of Paris' most famous coffee houses, was the favourite habitué of writers, painters and musicians from all over Europe and the Americas. The leading creative talents of the western world spent many an evening talking, boasting and singing at the place Hemingway fondly called "that contagious box of music."
In 1936, the proprietor, M. Faux, assembled a house group who would perform on a regular basis for the amusement and delight of his clientele. Quickly dubbed "le fils de Faux", the group was an always changing ensemble of mixed nationalities. M. Faux, himself of dubious origin, but certainly not French, encouraged the talents of itinerant songwriters and musicians from all over the world, providing in the course of the following decades, a musical tradition that documented the development of contemporary popular music. As one American critic recently pointed out, "the 'Matelot' has been the scene of the most portentous events in modern music".
During the thirties, Panama Al Brown would stop by after the Cirque Medrano to sing, tap-dance and play solid black jazz, while on another night, Josephine Baker would stun not only the bohemian patrons, but even members of the unshockable French press, one of whom wrote: "Miss Baker's superb brown thighs... seem, without argument, what Offenbach had in mind." Elsa Maxwell belted songs at Janet Flanner, while Mimsy Turner spun her beaded skirts into the faces of France's leading intellectuals. The result, through the years, was a multinational demonstration of song that has spanned generations and continents.
Then came the dark years of the Second World War. Paris, under the shroud of the Occupation, seemed to mourn her faded nights of revelry. M. Faux, active in the French underground, was captured and the doors to the "cafe de Matelot' were closed at last. Sentenced to death by a military tribunal, the brave hero of popular culture was left bound in front of his beloved coffee house for twelve hours as he waited for the morning sun, at which time he would be shot.
As he recounted later, "It was a miracle. Suddenly I see the soldiers guarding me dropping like flies. There was not a sound but my own heart exploding. Then a man approach me. He say, 'Hey, Frenchie, you okay?' I say, 'You bet, Joe.' And he cut me loose. We run away together to the house of my friend Philippe. The man, he was an American navy officer who said he liked Paris more than the war, so he did AWOL. He was to some people, a criminal. When it was time for him to go, I say, 'Joe, you tell me your name and after the war I get you a fat job, okay?' He said to me, 'Call me Sailor, and I'll see you around sometime'. And then presto! He leave me. I never see him again."
The silent brooding American never returned. But M. Faux never forgot him. When 'Le Matelot' re-opened in 1946, the house band was officially christened 'SAILOR'. Keeping its international flavour, the never-ending string of band members came to include such legendary names as Barry Inverson, Michael Michaud, Boris Karensky, Dickie Dorengo, Brad Fowler and Gino Franci. (To most Europeans and well-travelled Americans, SAILOR has always been the group whose music had the power to point the direction of the future.)
In late 1970, fire swept 'Le Matelot' and, in one evening, obliterated a musical landmark. The last SAILOR broke up and M. Faux disappeared. For two years nothing was heard of either the band or their famous patron.
Suddenly in the summer of 1973, Steve Morris, sagacious son of music mogul Edwin H. Morris, discovered one of the last members of SAILOR, Phil Pickett, jamming with a group of studio musicians after a demo session. He told Steve an amazing story of wealth and ruin, hope and failure. Between them, they managed to pick up the threads that linked all the SAILOR musicians together again.
Georg Kajanus, son of the well-known sculptress Johanna Kajanus, had returned to visit his mother in Mexico City. When the famous 'Eva' statuette, stolen from his mother's studio in 1971, was reported to have been found in New Orleans, Kajanus immediately flew to that Southern metropolis in hope of regaining it for his family. What he found instead was another ex-SAILOR, Phil Pickett.
Pickett, a young Englishman from Birmingham, had been studying at the Joan Baez School for Non-Violence for over a year following the break-up of SAILOR. Drafted by the U.S. Army, Pickett was given the choice of either serving or leaving the country. Lacking money, Pickett thumbed across America, cadging whatever he could along the way. Fate brought him to New Orleans, where, in the airport coffee shop, he spotted his old friend Kajanus. Together they returned to Mexico City.
Kajanus had managed to stay in touch with another ex-SAILOR, Henry Marsh, who had landed a teaching job at his old school, Langley College in Dorset. Moreover, Marsh had rescued the tapes, discs and cylindrical recordings of SAILOR dating back to its formation, when the group was led by an amazing American accordionist, Wilbur "Gazoots" Mahoney.
So, to once again consolidate the sound of SAILOR, all that was needed was the fourth member, Grant Serpell.
Morris, together with Pickett, Marsh and Kajanus, began a search that led them around the world. Morris pursued every possible lead, chased every tip, followed every clue, invariably to a dead end.
Kajanus, meanwhile, returned to Paris on family business. One melancholy evening, on a stroll, he happened by the old 'Matelot', its burnt-out shell a dim memory of a happier epoch. And there, where some twenty-five years earlier another miracle had occurred, he found Serpell leaning wearily against the club's forlorn wall, wearing a tattered naval uniform which had for so long been the trademark of SAILOR. Musical history was on the brink of being re-created.
Morris contacted a number of eminent American musicologists and discographers. Word of the possible revival of SAILOR spread throughout Europe and America. The London offices of Edwin H. Morris Company were flooded with calls and curious visitors.
Finally, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Association took the rather unprecedented step of awarding a major grant to Steve Morris to reassemble the group, and, drawing on its long history and recent success, to give the world another chance to enjoy the phenomenal sound of SAILOR. The links with the past were restored, and once again a new direction in pop music became possible.
SAILOR is not an "old" band. They play no "old" music. In the words of the M.A.A.A. General Secretary, Alice de Brae, "Their music is new and rich and exciting, yet possessing the intelligence and creativity that comes to what has become a musical legend."
The music of SAILOR
will astonish those not fortunate enough to have heard it before.
More importantly, the success or failure of the group is not in
question. SAILOR is a European tradition pointing the way for
tomorrow's music. This unique, unparalleled reuniting of the
first Continental "Supergroup" will never again take
place. It will happen just once.
But once, for all time.
The formation of what became possibly the most original sounding band of the '70s took place in 1973.
Georg Kajanus and Phil Pickett had known and admired each other's work for a number of years before collaborating on an album, Hi Ho Silver! Their subsequent decision to form a group found Grant Serpell, previously drummer and percussionist of cult jazz/rock fusion band Affinity, and Henry Marsh, previously keyboard player and guitarist with Gringo, making their first demo recording with Georg and Phil in a small studio in North London.
The original line-up of the band at this point was 2 guitars, bass and drums and the music, although original in its vocal approach, was instrumentally very much in the vein of 'Harmony Rock' music of that time. One historic day in his music room, where he experimented and wrote all his songs, Georg played to the others, by way of entertainment, a demo tape of a musical he was planning to write.
The strange and unusual sound of harmoniums, mandolins, glockenspiels, hand-bass drums and tack pianos filled the room. The song was "Sailor's Night On The Town", and Grant, rising from his seat in ecstasy, exclaimed that this was the sound they had been looking for. "It contained a pathos that I'd never heard in pop music before; we had all come from the '60s where there were many bands all basically doing the same thing; here was something for me to be involved in that was totally unique."
From that point on, as more songs in the style of "Sailor's Night" flowed from Georg's twelve-string and pen, a whole style of playing started to develop between the four members. Bass guitars were replaced by enormous synthesizer bass sounds, standard keyboard styles gave way to street-organs, and drum and percussion approaches of a totally unique style were originated. In fact, a whole new attitude to playing and presentation appeared to be necessary in order to make the music work
In due course, CBS Records came to audition a new act called SAILOR. Rather than witnessing the customary long-haired rock bands prevalent at that time, they found themselves in a small room with four short haired young men who played a multitude of unlikely instruments and sang songs about red-light quarters, sleazy underworld characters, and romance of an altogether quirky nature.
The CBS reaction was immediate and the first SAILOR album was recorded in Spring 1974. Georg recalls the making of "SAILOR": "Production-wise it was all down to emphasising all the colours I was feeling and seeing within the instrumentation and music, and not really paying too much attention to individual sounds; just having fun making things sound atmospheric."
Their first single "Traffic Jam" was probably Georg's last composition written before the SAILOR concept music began, but was always considered to be the perfect introductory single for the band and an excellent opener to the album.
By the time the album was finished the complexity of the group sound created a new challenge for SAILOR: How were four musicians going to successfully deliver the sound of about ten instruments on stage without increasing their line-up? (Bear in mind that this was 1974, long before the advent of computer keyboards which can play any sound at the touch of a button.)
Within a very short time, in fact possibly as little as a month after the final mix of the SAILOR album, Georg had come up with the solution: a custom-designed all-purpose machine, the constituents of which were two upright pianos, two synthesizers, mini organs and glockenspiels all mechanically linked and contained within a wooden frame also designed by Georg.
Construction work took place above
a pub, appropriately in one of the seedier parts of London.
Henry: "I remember standing next to Georg handing him hammers, nails, glue, sandwiches and anything else required, as he set about his creation like a man pssessed! After the final staining of the wood which made it resemble some strange piece of antique furniture, I recall standing back, looking at it and thinking: 'He actually expects us to play the bloody thing?'"
The basic keyboards were back to back, enabling Phil and Henry to face each other when playing, and also to talk to each other when bored. Phil played what was referred to as the bass side, Henry the treble side, and so the Nickelodeon was born.
Anyone seeing early film footage or photos of SAILOR from that time would be forgiven for thinking that this was some strange combo from the 1940s. Grant's drum and percussion console resembled something from the Edmundo Ros Orchestra. The overall theatrical setting consisted of a harbour town/cafe/street lamp which cast a red glow over the players, plus an amazing collection of Latin American instruments procured by Georg on one of his many trips to Mexico. All these placed the audience in a unique and nostalgic world.
SAILOR's first performance was a live In Concert for BBC Television in September 1974. Although there is no known copy or recording of this programme, it is generally remembered by the band as being an altogether terrifying experience. Never having played to an audience before, to find yourself in front of five or six TV cameras capturing your every movement for millions of people to witness live was an unforgettable experience.
Georg: "I've never been so
terrified in my whole life. It's the sort of thing sane people
Henry: "I remember our facial expressions that night were mouths that smiled and eyes that screamed!"
Phil: "My heartbeat was so loud, I thought it was being picked up by the microphone!"
Grant: "I was a drummer who found himself playing the main Nickelodeon part in "A Sailor's Night On The Town" on live TV, knowing that if I got lost during the playing of the part I'd never find my way back!"
The natural shyness of this first night, coupled with the enormous sound and energy that came across in the music and instrumentation, created a tidal wave of excitement throughout the media in England.
SAILOR found themselves representing CBS at conventions in Los Angeles, Paris and England as the new band worth watching, whilst established artists invited them to be tour support for them. Kiki Dee's tour was quickly followed by a wonderful alliance and friendship with Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. Steve, a new-found SAILOR fanatic (he saw that first TV In Concert) was at that time at the height of his success with a number one hit in England, 'Come Up And See Me, Make Me Smile', and insisted that SAILOR be the other act on his forthcoming tour.
Whereas the Kiki Dee tour had been valuable experience on warming up an audience for the main act, the Harley tour was perfect in every respect. Not only did both acts appreciate each other's music, but also the Harley fans themselves took SAILOR to their hearts, finding in the SAILOR music a similar danger and excitement to that of Cockney Rebel.
In February 1975 the "SAILOR" album reached Gold status in Holland, much to the delight of the Dutch record company and the slight embarrassment of the UK company.
It was of course understandable that the music of SAILOR should be so well received by the Dutch, the first album containing a song called "The Girls Of Amsterdam" and the Nickelodeon sounding as if it belonged to the streets of Amsterdam; but it should also be pointed out that Holland was extensively toured by the band, as many Dutch fans of the '70s will remember, when they headlined at the Concert Gebouw Amsterdam and performed a memorable set at the Pink Pop Festival, a venue usually associated with heavy rock artists, where they received an ovation from over a hundred thousand people.
This success in Holland gave the band enormous confidence and impetus, but the emphasis now seemed to be on creating the same degree of impact in their home country - in conquering the UK.
By that summer, following various small headlining tours of the UK, Scandinavia and Holland, SAILOR were ready to take to the studio again, but by now they had developed into a formidable live act and this energy needed to be captured on tape by a sympathetic and imaginative production team.
The first meeting with New York's Jeffrey Lesser and Rupert Holmes soon removed any doubt that this would be an excellent working relationship. In spite of the fact that two different cultural worlds were meeting, the chemistry created between the two Americans and the four Europeans gave birth to the legendary Trouble album, still considered to be SAILOR's most successful work to date.
However, at the time of recording there was concern over finding that elusive 'hit' single which would pave the way for big album success. Phil well remembers the morning that Georg arrived at the studio with a cassette containing the backing track idea to a song called "A Glass Of Champagne": "We were in the middle of recording something like "Jacaranda", which involved a harp and various other unusual ingredients. We took one listen to "Champagne" and knew it was the HIT." Of all the songs in the Trouble album, "A Glass Of Champagne" probably took the least time to record, instantly capturing the power of Georg's original demo. "Girls, Girls, Girls", a song that had been performed live by the group for a few months before recording, became the perfect choice as the opener to the album.
At the time nobody realized that "Girls, Girls, Girls" would become virtually the anthem for the band and is, coupled with "Champagne", the highest selling SAILOR single.
The completion of the
"Trouble" album also gave birth to a change in the
visual appearance of the band. Up to that point SAILOR had
dressed, inevitably, as SAILORs! The attitude to the image had
always been rooted in Theatre rather than Rock, the members of
the group portraying the four SAILORs out on the town in a
red-light district near you(!), but this uniformity was frowned
on by many observers in the media as giving SAILOR altogether too
safe and lightweight an image.
"Not that lightweight," recalls Phil. "Once we were doing a photo session in the red-light quarter of Amsterdam and were mistaken for the real thing by some drunken merchant seamen. I think after a few drinks we nearly ended up on a ship bound for Rumania!"
The new 'look' - see the Trouble
album reference - established Georg as a recognizable lead singer
and figurehead in SAILOR. The more decadent 'dockside' appearance
seemed to belong even more to the imagery of the music. The
recognizable anchor on his cheek, however, created one
Georg: "I read in a paper shortly after our first TV appearance in this image that two girl fans had real tattoos applied to their faces, not knowing it was just stage make up!"
With "A Glass Of
Champagne" reaching the number one spot in the UK over the
Christmas period of 1975, it appeared to many observers that this
was an overnight success story, this being the first SAILOR song
to make a noticeable impact in the UK. Their first major
headlining tour followed to sensational live reviews in all the
national and music journals coupled with fan mania that the band
were quite unprepared for.
Grant: "We regularly found ourselves mobbed by hundreds of fans before and after concerts, with only one faithful but panic-stricken 'roadie' to keep them at bay."
Phil: "After one gig, on one of the few occasions Ann (Phil's wife) came to see us perform, a jealous fan bit her on the arm!"
It was during these tours that
Henry began to emerge as a humorist and somewhat lunatic
raconteur on stage. This element actually created a memorable
challenge to him on one occasion.
Henry: "The problem was this: all our machinery on stage was so unusual that if it ever broke down during a concert, there was only one person who could fix it. Yes, you've guessed it... Georg! So, when half way through a performance in Plymouth the nickelodeon started squealing like a strangled pig, Georg, Phil and Grant left the stage with the offending keyboard, to Georg's immortal words: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, sorry about this, but we leave you in the capable hands of Henry Marsh!' I was left with an accordion, an audience of two thousand people and a rather average repertoire of bad jokes and old English Music Hall songs until the others returned."
"Girls, Girls, Girls" was released in the spring of that year and proved to have the same impact as "A Glass Of Champagne" and the "Trouble" album, working its way towards Gold status all over Europe and in Australia. It seemed as if SAILOR were on a roll and nothing could go wrong. (Cue music of an ominous nature...)
The decision to send SAILOR on
their first American tour at such an early stage in their
European success was the result of a number of things. Their
manager at the time, Robert Wace, who had been a considerable
influence and source of guidance, saw the USA as being the next
step for any successful UK rock act. As ex-manager of The Kinks
and now managing SAILOR under the umbrella of the Pink Floyd
Organisation, he was no stranger to the gruelling tours necessary
to break artists in the States.
Although SAILOR's second live performance ever had actually been in Los Angeles at the CBS convention, where they had record executives on their feet screaming for more, the tour which was now mapped out for the band and which they undertook to honour, was appallingly planned without any consideration for the band's style of music or the compatibility they might or might not have with the headlining artists that they supported.
Grant: "The feeling was one of helplessness. We'd play to an audience of 60 people, when across the road Steve Miller had sold out in the main venue of that city. We knew we should be back in Europe where we could fill halls and play to fans who had not yet been able to see the live show."
One minute they would find themselves playing to a hard core Country & Western audience in San Diego, impatiently awaiting Charlie Daniels, next a rock audience in Atlanta, even at one point an all-black soul audience in Philadelphia who very politely rose from their seats and left after the first few bars of "Let's Go To Town", the opening song of the evening. Let's Go To Town... and they did!
Georg: "The feeling for me was just to get the hell out of there and get back home, but we had to stay and do our best."
Phil: "Being booed on stage by a sea of Stetsons before you've even played a note doesn't exactly warm you to an audience."
It is said of American tours that
they either make or break a band depending on how well the
artists in question are received. This fortunately wasn't the
case with SAILOR, who had always recognized their strong European
roots, and in spite of bad choices of venue they still managed to
create a cult following in the more intimate club environments
that came their way.
Although a degree of depression sank in, the humour of the band saw them through some of the more unfortunate gigs.
Henry: "Phil offered one unfriendly audience a recitation of our new double album rather than giving them just one more song, and on another occasion Georg and I got such a hysterical fit of giggles during "Josephine Baker" (not the best cultural choice for the American public) that he just stopped singing and I fell off the stage!"
In spite of these tales of woe, there were some creative moments. Georg managed to write "Quay Hotel", later to become a favourite track of the third SAILOR album "The Third Step". This song was inspired by an extraordinary person he came across in the Beverly Rodeo Hotel.
There was also some very good news filtering across from Europe. SAILOR were now a household name in Germany, a country they had long wished to tour, with talk of a TV special featuring the band and calls for numerous other appearances.
After six weeks of exhaustive travel and performances, the band were on their way home, and the flight from New York to London was nothing short of a celebration.
Coming back to England to loved ones and the recording of a new album was a great relief and the highly tumultuous reception received on the tours of Europe that followed demonstrated to the band the degree of impact they were making.
Although "The Third Step" did not contain the degree of single success as the "Trouble" album the year before, it did provide SAILOR with some of its best live songs which were firm favourites at concerts. "One Drink Too Many" and "Give Me La Samba", containing some of Georg's best and most amusing lyrics opened many of the shows on the 1976/77 tours. The haunting quality of "Quay Hotel" and "Melancholy" also stand out as powerful works, giving "The Third Step" its own unique personality.
This period (1976 - 1977) was time spent to a great degree touring and making TV appearances. One of the most special TV appearances was the German "SAILOR Special" which was broadcast at 9 pm on ARD television in late 1976.
Of the many characters who made
their way in and eventually out of the SAILOR entourage, two are
definitely worth a mention:
First, there was Robert Wace (referred to earlier). Robert, probably the tallest and most elegant manager in the history of the music business, was a common sight at SAILOR concerts, stalking the auditoriums with an air of authority and an expression of disdain, as if he had better things to do, like attending Royal Garden Parties!
By contrast there was SAILOR's personal roadie and minder Alan Jones. 'Big Al', Australian, ex-Viet Nam veteran, surfer and strong man, who started work for SAILOR in 1973, became the mainstay of the crew and technicians that kept the show on the road. Never one to waste words, his protective nature usually kept the band from any danger on stage or wherever he happened to be! When eventually as a result of personal grievances he and SAILOR decided to part company, Al ceremoniously took parts of the Nickelodeon and various amplifiers to the top floor of the Vienna Hilton and threw them to certain death before embarking on the last plane to Sydney, and thence to obscurity.
1977 saw some big changes for
Those of you familiar with the "Checkpoint" album will notice the absence of Phil on the credits. Phil's decision to leave SAILOR and pursue his own song writing career was probably his first major step towards achieving the success he eventually enjoyed in the 1980s. But for SAILOR, it left a void that was in no way filled by the "Checkpoint" production team, Bruce Johnston and the late Curt Becher.
For this and other reasons the "Checkpoint" album was not an enjoyable experience for Georg, Grant and Henry, who found themselves one man down, being led into musical directions previously considered taboo and derivative. Bruce Johnston (of The Beach Boys) fell in love with the song "Checkpoint Charlie", from which the title of the album was taken. Meanwhile Curt, a disco fanatic, got down to the task of making "Down By The Docks" SAILOR's first definitive disco hit!
These two songs were probably the only songs that Bruce and Curt felt had hit single potential and, rightly or wrongly, little emphasis was placed on the remaining songs. This was especially disappointing for a band that had always prided itself in creating a conceptual feel and thoroughness on all its albums.
However, the trophies and awards for previous works still kept flooding in. As "The Third Step" reached award status in the UK and Europe, SAILOR were also invited to Germany to receive the International Deutscher Schallplatten Preis 1977 as one of the main cultural events of that year, having an audience with the President, and finding themselves alongside the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and the legendary Oscar Peterson.
Not long after this, at what turned out to be their last European appearance, they received the freedom of the town of Grinzing, Austria, a touching tribute that is still remembered by the group with great affection.
Phil returned to SAILOR after he
had started to work on his solo career. At first SAILOR were
enthusiastic and started working on new ideas. And although
something had changed they stayed optimistic.
A German magazine wrote: "No great hits any more! No extraordinary show! And from day to day they receive less fan-mail. Millions of people in the world wonder: What's up with SAILOR? But Georg Kajanus, Phil Pickett, Henry Marsh and Grant Serpell stay calm. They say: 'It's not unusual that bands have ups and downs in their career. We have had huge hits with 'Girls Girls Girls' or 'A Glass Of Champagne'. Every band automatically needs a break after such hits. But we kept on working together."
SAILOR's last live performance took place on 17 June 1978 at Trinity College, Oxford. Phil had returned and although the band in theory were promoting their new album Hideaway, the magic had temporarily gone for them. Times were changing and the pop media was enjoying a resurgence of energy in the form of Punk and New Wave music.
Ironically, that last gig performed to a college audience of young intelligentsia seemed a fitting venue for the band that had broken just about every rule in the book, and the cabaret atmosphere of the Trinity College audience helped the band rise above the sadness of the occasion. The sound that had in the past created so much emotion once again enchanted the entire hall, with SAILOR only leaving them after exhausting all their available encores.
That could have been a fitting end to this part of the SAILOR story - but for one incident involving the promoter and the four band members as they packed away their instruments for the last time:
Promoter: (unaware that this was
the last gig ever) "We've had all the top bands playing at
the College this year."
SAILOR: (somewhat despondent) "Oh really, that must have been good."
Promoter: "Yes - Clash - amazing! Pistols - just incredible! The Damned - even better! Elvis... Costello, that is - what a writer!"
SAILOR: "Yes, well anyway, we'd better be off."
Promoter: "By the way, you're the best band we've ever had here, where are you playing next?"..........
In 1980 Phil Pickett
and Henry Marsh recorded the album "Dressed For
Drowning" together with brother and sister Gavin and Virginia David.
Phil: "After SAILOR split up, I started writing some new songs and what I felt was going to be a brand-new project with Henry. We'd had some tough, but very funny and unforgettable times together in the interim period - but that's another story. James William Guercio, the legendary US producer and manager of 'Chicago' and 'Blood Sweat and Tears' fame, heard the tape and got on a plane to the UK, turned up at my house in a limo a mile long wearing a huge cowboy hat, fur coat and boots with real spurs! He also fortunately had a large chequebook and wanted us to come out immediately to his famous recording studio, 'Caribou' in Colorado USA. There we recorded the 'Dressed For Drowning' album, and it was only after the record was complete that Dick Asher - the head of CBS (owner of Caribou Records) and a huge SAILOR fan insisted the band to be called SAILOR, as in his words: - 'Goddam' it - Phil and Henry are in the band so it's gotta' be SAILOR!' We then recorded a follow-up album 'TV Land' which was never released."
Afterwards the last
two SAILOR members went their own ways and worked on many
Phil joined Culture Club and co-wrote hits like "Karma Chameleon", "It's A Miracle" and "Move Away" together with Boy George, Henry started writing music for musicals in America and for television, Georg formed a new band named DATA and Grant started to teach chemistry at a school in his hometown.
Bad Segeberg, Germany -- 18 May
It is a hot summer evening and a fifteen thousand strong audience seated in an outdoor environment, similar to a Roman amphitheatre, is waiting in anticipation for a very special opening act. The rapturous applause for SAILOR is way beyond Grant, Georg, Henry and Phil's expectations as they emerge from a giant sized juke box, evoking a feeling that they have been beamed back to Earth after their twelve-year absence. Wearing battered-looking white suits but looking remarkably unbattered and youthful, the band bounds with enthusiasm to their waiting instruments, the opening bars of "A Glass Of Champagne" literally bringing the audience to its feet.
The momentous occasion is further enhanced by the other acts due to play that evening forsaking their last-minute rehearsals to witness and applaud SAILOR's return.
It was hard to believe that the events leading to this specific moment in pop history were seemingly instigated over a cup of tea, one rainy afternoon, in Phil's studio in South London. Phil and Henry had kept in touch throughout the twelve years that followed SAILOR's demise and on this occasion they were recovering after completing a 60s style library album, Tribute To The 60s. They had been working on it for about a month, and although they were both involved in their own separate projects, the conversation invariably turned to SAILOR. Apparently Phil had been contacted with some excitement and conviction by a Dutch music publisher who was testing the water for a possible SAILOR reformation.
Henry: "Phil was really
confident that we could do it, but as I saw it, there were so
many problems. For instance, I knew that Georg was somewhere in
Mexico and had been for quite some time, and Grant, whom I hadn't
seen for years, was really successful and respected in another
field. I just couldn't see how he would be able to get
Phil: "It was impossible to think of reforming without Grant's unique style and creative input - and where was Georg?"
Unknown to Phil and Henry, at about the same time an extraordinary set of circumstances were presenting themselves to Mr. Kajanus many thousands of miles away in Mexico. Georg was enjoying his second year of comparative seclusion in Acapulco where he had been visiting his mother Johanna Kajanus, the famous sculptress, and exercising his creativity through painting and researching Mexican and Latin American music.
On this particular evening, he
made his regular trip from the Hotel Tortuga to his favourite
open-air restaurant La Barbarosa, which overlooked the beautiful
bay of Acapulco. It was early evening and the sun was going down.
Georg: "I cast my gaze briefly towards the bay to observe a cargo ship leaving the harbour. I was about to resume concentration on my marguerita, when the ship made herself know by a gigantic blast from her fog horn, which reverberated around the bay for what seemed an eternity.
I was immediately transported back to 1973 and a foggy harbour somewhere in Europe, which had inspired the sound effects for the beginning of the song "Sailor". I felt warm nostalgia creeping dangerously over me, as I recalled the studio creation of seagulls, lapping waves and of course, fog horns, which introduced our listeners to our Red Light Quarter."
As if on cue, Georg found himself
the topic of enthusiastic whispered conversation taking place at
a table within earshot. The couple, who later identified
themselves as 'tourists from Hamburg', were peering inquisitively
in his direction. "It is him, but maybe we shouldn't disturb
him", or words to that effect.
Jürgen and Britta, on eventually introducing themselves shyly to our hero, proved to be learned and ardent SAILOR supporters who had witnessed the Hamburg performance of the band in 1976. They owned every SAILOR recording, and now proceeded to recall, over numerous margueritas, the rise and then disappearance of their favourite music.
Georg: "By the time we parted company, they to their hotel to pack (it was their last night before returning to Germany) and I to mine, I felt a strong urge to contact the other SAILORs to see what they were up to."
When Georg returned to England, he
was surprised to find a letter from Henry on his doormat. After a
brief and exuberant meeting between Henry and Georg at Georg's
studio, Klockwork, Georg made a historic call to Grant at his
Grant: "I really couldn't believe it. I took the call during one of my lessons, and returned to the class completely stunned. I do remember one thing though: I didn't set anyone any homework that day!"
The London Evening Standard newspaper recently printed an article on its Arts pages. It read: "The only band in the history of rock 'n' roll to reform after a twelve-year' separation." It went on to say that SAILOR were also creating great new material and not solely relying on their hits from the seventies.
SAILOR were one of the only bands from the 70s that reformed again in the original line-up. They recorded a new album entitled "Sailor" that included new hits like "The Secretary", "La Cumbia" and new recorded versions of "Girls Girls Girls" and "A Glass Of Champagne". The band was known in whole Europe again and could be seen on television on many occasions during the following time. In the meantime a new SAILOR fanclub was formed in England.
Grant: "It is a real thrill
for me to be a member of SAILOR once again. There is a very
special chemistry between the four of us and I believe that we
can rekindle the magic that existed in the early days of the
band, producing what I know to be a unique brand of musical
Henry: "I have to say that Grant, Georg and Phil are very special people to me, and the musical world of SAILOR is something I always want to be a part of, and of course there is all of you out there showing that the fans want to share the experience too."
Phil: "The greatest thrill is to be back playing with the guys again - there's nothing that compares with the magic chemistry of SAILOR, first formed with Georg, Grant and Henry in 1973, and now going strong in the 90s..... all over again!"
Georg: "I'm now looking forward to 'melody' and acoustic instruments again, i.e. SAILOR. And for the third time, working with my old friends from 'Le Matelot'."
SAILOR won the "RSH Gold" award for the best comeback in 1991 and appeared on the German RSH Gold television show where they received the award and played a medley of "Girls Girls Girls", "A Glass Of Champagne" and "La Cumbia".
In 1992 the second famous SAILOR album of the 90s was released: "Street Lamp", which unfortunately did not have very much promotion from the record company, also included first-class SAILOR material. Songs like "Street Lamp" or the singles "It Takes Two To Tango", "Latino Lover" and "Precious Form" should not be missing in any SAILOR collection.
Not only SAILOR were enthusiastic
about their comeback. Many fans from the 70s and also new and
younger fans started to enjoy the music of SAILOR once again. And
lots of articles about SAILORs comeback were published in the
newspapers. Some examples:
"It seemed as if the SAILORs had stopped sailing a long time ago - but now the four English guys have stared a great comeback. With 'La Cumbia', a Euro-pop-song with Latin dance elements the band tries to conquer the hearts of the fans again."
"After their great comeback the band has been under pressure. The more imperturbable they suddenly create new treasures from their almost inexhaustible amount of ideas. "Street Lamp" combines the traditional elements of the typical happy SAILOR-sound and new stylistic elements. It's extraordinary how the quartet swings through pop- Latino and rock-songs. Absolutely marvellous!"
In 1993 SAILOR performed in many TV shows an even did a 30 minutes special on German HR3 television in which they talked about their comeback and played some of their best songs. A new Nickelodeon was created and SAILOR were finally ready to perform live again.
The 10th of August 1993 was one of
the very special days for SAILOR:
They were booked to play their comeback concert at a so-called "Oldie Night" with several other 60s and 70s bands in front of 22,000 people at the Waldbühne in Berlin, Germany. There was an incredible sense of occasion and a substantial proportion of that enormous, expectant audience were SAILOR fans.
They had also gone back to their old "Trouble" outfits again, and used a red street lamp on stage from then on.
The new black Nickelodeon then appeared on the stage of the "Westfalen"-hall in Dortmund, Germany, and SAILOR performed at another Oldie Night where they played the songs: "The Secretary", "La Cumbia", "The Old Nickelodeon Sound", "Girls Girls Girls", "One Drink Too Many", "Vera From Veracruz" and "A Glass Of Champagne". SAILOR's show was very good, although quite short, and the audience seemed to enjoy their music very much.
SAILOR soon started performing at many Oldie nights during 1994, where they performed all their greatest hits from the 70s and 90s and also introduced their new encore, the song "La Bamba", which they later enclosed in another of their live songs, the "Latino Medley".
In late 1994 SAILOR again performed at many Oldie nights with different other bands, organized by the husband of Suzi Quatro: Rainer Haas. On one of these occasions the Nickelodeon broke down during the soundcheck because it had rained on the instrument, so that Phil's keyboard didn't work any more. The only thing SAILOR could do was to take the keyboard from Suzi Quatro's band, so that Phil was able to play his side of the Nickelodeon. The result of this quick change was that the bass was louder than everything else. But in the end it was a real great show which the audience enjoyed very much.
A big birthday party of radio FFH
took place in the "documenta"-hall in Kassel, Germany
in November 1994. SAILOR were invited as the main attraction for
this evening. Several other famous bands were to play before
them, e.g. Boney M or Haddaway. On the radio they played the
first three songs of this evening: "The Secretary",
"La Cumbia" and "Girls Girls Girls" - for the
first time with a special Germany announcement by Henry! ;-)
In the same week SAILOR had another performance in the same town at the annual Oldie meeting.
Exactly one year after the first live performance of SAILOR another concert happened to be in the "Westfalen"-hall in Dortmund, Germany. Georg's special guest for this evening was his good friend Tim Dry, who is the one to play quite an important role in Georg's further career. This concert was part of a Christmas tour including the bands SAILOR, Smokie, The Searchers, Suzi Quatro, Showaddywaddy, Chubby Checker and Harpo, who were touring through Germany for two weeks. The last concert of this tour took place in Fulda, where SAILOR appeared on stage together with The Searchers and Harpo in order to sing the Status Quo title: "Rocking all over the world". Although SAILOR were often regarded as one of the best bands of the evening, they unfortunately had to play right at the beginning of some shows because the Nickelodeon was said to be a "disturbing influence" on the scene that had to disappear as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile the SAILOR fanclub had moved from English fanclub-secretary Jean Murray to Berlin, Germany, where a new secretary named Andrea now wanted to take care of the fans.
In June 1995 SAILOR opened up an
annual regatta named "Kieler Woche" in Kiel, Germany.
Another great show featuring many famous acts like The Hooters, The Sparks, Fleetwood Mac, Sister Sledge etc. was planned to happen in a small German town named Hooksiel on the coast of the North Sea. The whole event was to be broadcast live on television, and SAILOR were the only band that should perform there on both days. According to the manager of this event Georg had even written a new song especially for this show. Unfortunately the Hooksiel-event had to be cancelled because of a lack of promotion and money.
A few weeks later a big TV
programme from MDR-television named "Tag der Sachsen"
had decided to invite SAILOR to their Oldie night which could be
seen in a shortened version on TV the same evening. Some weeks
later they again broadcast the programme, this time with only one
or two songs of each band missing.
While the mood during this concert was great and the sound of SAILOR could not have been better, the whole atmosphere later changed for at least one SAILOR. At the hotel, SAILOR were asked for a little talk to some guys from a Danish record company who tried to persuade the bands to let them release their next albums. SAILOR decided to talk to them because they did not have a record company at that time.
What followed was that this company wanted to release a Greatest Hits album of SAILOR with three or four new songs on it. Unfortunately they were only able to guarantee the release for Denmark/Scandinavia, so that Georg refused to accept their idea. While Phil, Grant and Henry kept on discussing with them, Georg decided that he didn't like this idea and, after a short talk to some fans, he left the others alone.
In addition to this, Georg had always diskliked playing at bigger festivals with lots of other bands, and so he was beginning to dread playing to massive audiences. He was also uncomfortable with the compromises SAILOR were required to make in order to fit in with the cabaret circuit, which seemed to be taking the band further and further away from his dream of how the band should be perceived.
Only a few weeks after this event another Greatest Hits album of SAILOR was released by Sony Music. The sound of all songs was remastered and it included all famous song except the ones that had been released by BMG. The only song they had bought from them was "La Cumbia". This CD was available in two different versions: One version with 21 songs on it (also including three songs from the "Dressed For Drowning" album), and another version with the same songs plus a bonus CD with 8 songs on it.
At the end of September 1995 SAILOR were to play at an Oldie show in a big tent in a town near Hannover, Germany. It was the very first time that they played the songs "Traffic Jam" and "Two Ladies On The Corner". During these two songs Grant came to the front of the stage, which was made possible with the help of Georg's new construction, a percussion part that was put upon the big drum Phil normally used to play during "The Old Nickelodeon Sound".
Another Oldie night with SAILOR
was planned on 25 November 1995. But it was said to be cancelled
because not enough tickets had been sold. Only a few days before
the concert somebody realised that it might be quite a good idea
to make some promotion by hanging up posters. That's why they
finally sold enough tickets and the Oldie night could take place
in the city hall of Bielefeld on November 25 1995, the day when
it had been originally planned.
That evening SAILOR played a very long set because Smokie, who were to play after them, had got into a big traffic jam and were not able to reach the concert hall in time.
So, SAILOR played "Traffic Jam" and "Two Ladies On The Corner" as unplugged versions. After the usual encores they had to play a second "La Cumbia" - this time "with a little help from their fans" who helped them to make the end of the show a bit different. Then they even played "Girls Girls Girls" a second time in order to lengthen the appearance a little more.
A short time after this concert Georg Kajanus decided to leave SAILOR in order to start a new music project with his friend Tim Dry. They later released a single named "Walking" under the name "NOIR".
But this was not the end of SAILOR...
...the story continued...
The official fanclub newsletter
which announced Georg's decision to leave SAILOR reached the fans
in early 1996. It read:
"We have to announce that Georg has left SAILOR. This decision was reached by Georg after three months of discussion with him regarding his desire to pursue other music ventures rather than SAILOR. We - Grant, Phil and Henry - are very saddened by this, and we did everything we could to make him change his mind. However, life goes on and so does SAILOR and we wish Georg well with his future. As you and all our fans have meant so much to us, we felt you should be the first to know, before we go 'public'. Because of our love of the SAILOR sound and songs, we have every intention of continuing the SAILOR heritage with our live shows and a new album as soon as possible. We have asked Andrea to send this letter to you on our behalf. We would love to feel that you will support us during this time. Please write to us at the Fan Club for any other information or if you just want to send us your encouragement. Love from Henry, Grant & Phil"
Henry, Grant and Phil looked for a new singer and finally found a marvellous man who was a former background singer of Shakin' Stevens and Cliff Richard: Peter Lincoln.
The new SAILOR captain rehearsed a
lot, a new SAILOR album with four new songs and 12 new recorded
versions of old hits was planned to be released in Denmark by the
Danish record company CMC and the very first performance of
SAILOR with Peter took place on 01 June 1996 at a festival in
This festival included many other famous bands, for example: The Sweet, Deep Purple, Meat Loaf, Suzi Quatro, CCR, Boy George, Dr. Hook, Hot Chocolate, Slade 2 and many more.
SAILOR's show started at 5 pm and they played almost all of the songs they had played at the last gig with Georg. Peter wore a captain's dress that had made him look like G.K. (These letters were to see at the black wooden Nickelodeon that had its last appearance at this concert.)
After a few special surprises for the audience, for example a live version of "Stay The Night" sung by Henry who also played the guitar, while Peter did a good job at the Nickelodeon, the show was finished with a special encore: the new Raggae-version of the song "Karma Chameleon" co-written by Phil Pickett when he was a member of the famous Culture Club in the 80s. This song featured a special guest named Peter Lee (a real Rasta-man!). The song later became their new single.
The whole show went great for SAILOR and many people didn't even notice that there was another singer on stage.
In 1996 Peter had his first
interview for the SAILOR fanclub.
Peter: "I first met the guys in Europe a few years ago and had no idea that I would eventually become a part of SAILOR. I next met the band at the end of the last year when we played and sang the SAILOR songs together for the first time. It was fantastic! Now to answer some questions about myself. - I am forty years old (oh! oh!) - about 1.88 m tall. I am happily married with two children (a son and a daughter). I sing, play the guitar and keyboards..... and the Charango!? and I have worked with all kinds of bands and artists during my career as a musician."
Having released the "Legacy -
Greatest and Latest" album in Denmark, SAILOR were invited
to a TV programme named "Gottschalks Haus-Party" in
Munich, Germany. Having arrived at the TV studio of this show,
SAILOR almost decided to leave and get back home because the TV
production had only prepared the old playback of "Girls
Girls Girls" for SAILOR's performance - the one with Georg's
voice. The band tried everything to make them prepare the version
with Peter's voice, but it didn't work because it was planned to
show a part of an old video from 1976 at the beginning, so that
the TV production refused to take the new recorded version with
On the one hand nobody wanted Peter to sing with the voice of Georg, but on the other hand this show hosted by Thomas Gottschalk was quite famous, so that SAILOR decided to stay and at least to remind the viewers of the fact that they were "still alive". Peter rehearsed the old playback of the song in the dressing room and in the end he did it really great so that nobody noticed that there was something wrong.
On this occasion SAILOR also introduced their new plastic Nickelodeon. Thomas Gottschalk even showed the "Legacy" CD at the end of the show, something which he usually doesn't do. That's why SAILOR enjoyed the whole thing at last, although there had been so many difficulties.
Meanwhile, some fake SAILOR CDs recorded by someone who called himself "Bizarro" were available for very low prices in almost every CD shop. This guy had taken several of SAILOR's greatest hits like "Girls Girls Girls" or "A Glass Of Champagne", other songs have been written by himself, and he has invented new names for some of his songs which shall probably remind people of SAILOR's famous songs, for example: "Sexy Sexy Secretary", "Life Is Fun In Stiletto Heels"... He used original photos and even the original biography of SAILOR, so that it was not obvious for the customers that they have just bought a bootleg at first sight. You could only recognize it by listening to the songs. Those fake CDs could be found with several different covers but always with the same rubbish on it.
SAILOR used their invitation to a
German TV programme named "Oldie Parade" to walk
through some CD shops in Bremen in order to look for some of
these wrong CDs. In this show they were able to play one of the
new songs from the "Legacy" album: "Latin
They also recorded a Christmas song named "It's Christmas Again" that could be seen on television in Denmark. It also appeared on some Danish Christmas samplers later on.
Several performances in Denmark followed, until SAILOR were asked by a lawyer company to perform a solo concert for a private party in the club "Rotplombe" in Erfurt, Germany. It was their first solo concert in the 90s, where they played two long sets with many of their greatest and latest hits and also some rather unusual songs. With all encores the whole gig was almost two hours long.
After some gigs in German TV shows SAILOR got more concerts in Germany, where they could finally show the German audiences how good captain Peter Lincoln really was. The result was that many people said that he is even better than Georg (although completely different and so rather difficult to compare with him) at live concerts because he makes much more "action" on stage.
On 04 October 1997 SAILOR were to play in Erfurt, Germany for the third time. On this occasion Peter for the first time appeared on the same stage as Georg had played on two and a half years before. This time, all SAILORs had anchors on their cheeks, just like Georg used to wear in former times.
The year 1998 started with a 14
days-tour through Greenland that SAILOR enjoyed very much. This
is what Peter said about Greenland:
"It was the most incredible experience. I can't remember all the statistics, but it was one of those trips where every time someone opened their mouth whatever they said was gobsmacking. We arrived there and drove from the airport to hotel in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, which has a population of 12.000. The whole country is either 14 or 16 times as big as the UK, but only 60.000 people live there. So you can't get your head around that. We go to the hotel, and there was a pedestrian crossing outside my hotel window - it was the only traffic light in Greenland. It was put there to give the cars a chance, because this particular road was the main connection from a main living area to a main shopping area, so there were constantly people crossing this road and the cars would always just sit and give way to the pedestrians, so they put the traffic lights there to stop the pedestrians and let the cars go through. (...) The second town we played in had a population of 5.000 people and 10.000 dogs. Of course everybody has a team of huskies because the only way to get from town to town - there aren't any roads, you either have to fly or go on a snow-bike on the land or be pulled by a dog-sleigh. Anyway, I could go on about Greenland all day, it was fantastic, really really fantastic!"
In April / May 1998 SAILOR went on
a tour through Germany together with John- Paul Young, Christie
and several other bands. SAILOR had been signed to a promoter who
had planned to do two shows on the same night, in towns one
hundred kilometres apart. They would consequently play the first
venue, appearing bottom of the bill, pack everything away and
travel to the next show and play as the headline act.
During this tour SAILOR were proud to be able to sell and promote their very first live album "Live in Berlin". Another SAILOR greatest hits album was released by EMI. It included 12 of the "Legacy" album.
During their tour SAILOR also introduced their new special strip/comedy encore for their live show which they named the "Full Monty".
After one concert in October 1998 the silver bell from the Nickelodeon 'disappeared' after the show. Explaining this to the band, the only response that SAILOR's sound engineer and tour manager Graham "NaylorMan" Naylor got was (from Grant) 'So, NaylorMan wins the No Bell Prize'. But the real strange thing about this whole event was the fact that the bell disappeared in the German town Apolda that happens to have quite a famous museum for bells... ;-)
In 1999 Phil and Henry were asked to compose the music for three musicals - "Casper", "The Mask" and "Spider-Man". They were shown at Butlin's camps all over Britain to a total audience of some 1.3 million and "Casper the Musical" even went into London's West End.
In October 1999 Henry Marsh left the band because of professional reasons.
...But the story continued...
Phil, Grant and Peter found a new fourth member named Anthony England. Anthony had played the piano and keyboards for countless engagements, shows and sessions. He worked as a freelance player, arranger and producer. He was musical director for the musicals "Casper", "The Mask" and "Spider-Man", where he also got to know Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett.
SAILOR's first performance with Anthony took place at an Oldie Night in Münster, Germany, the town where Phil Pickett was born. They also did a great television show in early 2000, the famous bicycle race "6 Tage Rennen" in Bremen and a lot of Oldie concerts in German cities like Göttingen, Dortmund, Erfurt and Bremerhaven and some shows in Holland, e.g. in Veendam, Steenwijk or Zoetermeer. Although he was a bit shy at the beginning, Anthony soon turned out to be a very good musician who did a very good job at the left side of the Nickelodeon.
In an interview with Phil Pickett
in the Japanese music magazine "Strange Days" it was
finally revealed that parts of the early SAILOR biography and the
story of 'Le Matelot' were not true.
Phil: "Dennis Boyles, originally a friend of Georg's came up with the idea of a fantastic story to go along with the unique fantasy we were trying to create. (...) On one level - i.e. in the fantasy world of the harbour-town ambience, one could readily believe the tale of 'Le Matelot' and 'Le Pomme Flasque'. As with young people, ambitious and starting out, we failed to realise how special our real life stories were, and were probably also self-conscious of not having achieved that much at the time. It was far easier for Georg to accept and even I suspect, sometimes even believe this story to be true! Writing these songs immersed him more than the rest of us in a world of pimps, prostitutes and matelots - and he was far happier for inspiration's sake to remain in it. Although it seems very funny now to recall, the rest of us were quite uncomfortable at the time with the fiction, probably because, unlike Georg we all had families, friends and known histories in England. As Georg has often enigmatically said in subsequent interviews on the subject however, - 'It all can be considered true on a certain level' - so who are we to argue?"
Georg: "What really is true or not in life is usually a matter of perspective or expediency. With regard to 'The World of SAILOR' that we brought to the public, everything was utterly true."
In 2000 the previously unreleased
"NOIR" album "Strange Desire" from Georg and
his friend Tim Dry was exclusively available for the fans at the
website of Tim Dry.
In the meantime the former SAILOR members worked on some new projects as well. Henry Marsh composed the music for several successful plays in the USA, while Georg Kajanus started to work on a new music project.
Georg: "I will continue to compose music that is close to my heart. I am presently still working on an opus that encompasses classically trained vocalists and a ten piece string orchestra plus timpani and orchestral bass drum. It is a sizeable work and I had no idea when I started it that it was going to take this long to compose. I have had to research the mechanics and emotional boundaries of everything from childbirth to the intricate workings of microbiology as well as the theories of earth as a living organism, just to mention a few themes. This all takes a great deal of time. Hopefully, in 2001 I will see an end to it!"
On 14 October 2000 SAILOR
performed their first UK live show in London for many years at
the "Groucho Club". SAILOR played a three-song set and
helped to raise money in aid of the many homeless people in
London, during a show which featured many of the UK's top stars
of comedy, theatre and music.
Phil: "Enjoying SAILOR's set were Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders (who 'beamed' in the front row - like the Wagners (!) for the entire short set, and later said it was the best thing she'd seen for years!) Also appearing: Suggs (from Madness) Martin Fry (ABC) Heaven 17, the Average White Band and Steven Fry to name but a few."
In early 2001 SAILOR recorded their latest single "Estepona", a song which was composed by Phil Pickett, inspired by his favourite town in Spain, and they also worked on a new party medley with songs about girls.
On 18 May 2001 SAILOR were to play at an Oldie Night in Rotenburg an der Fulda, Germany...
...And then it happened again...
In May 2001 SAILOR
surprised their fans with the following news:
"Date: 18 May 2001
SAILOR have just come off stage in Rotenburg to a huge ovation (ask "Marinero" and many other fans who were there at yet another famous "milestone" in the band's history) having performed with their brand new Nickelodeon player- unbelievable accordionist, ex-SAILOR fan and supremely gifted all-round musician and vocalist... Rob Alderton.
A few weeks ago, and after one of the best ever performances in SAILOR's entire career- at Paaren on 30 April, a genuinely distraught Anthony England informed the band finally that due to overbearing theatre commitments he regrettably could not continue performing his SAILOR duties.
Although Peter Grant and Phil were incredibly sorry to lose him (he is a lovely man, brilliant musician and really "fitted-in") they appreciated his honesty in making a very hard choice- eventually coming down in favour of what obviously promises to be a diamond-bright future as a musical director par excellence! (Anthony was MD on Phil and Henry's first Musical "Casper" so they know first hand just how great he is!)
SAILOR all wish him extremely well - as will I am sure many of the fans who saw Anthony in action -- Good Luck Anthony!
However - and this brings us to very exciting news - the legendary SAILOR good fortune in times of adversity has scored yet another triumph, this time in the shape of prodigious musical talent - Rob Alderton....Welcome to one of the greatest and most unique bands of all time.......SAILOR !!!!!"
Rob Alderton soon turned out to be a great musician and a very lovely guy with lots of enthusiasm and marvellous ideas for SAILOR. Rob brought the average age of the band down somewhat and helped to drive the band forward, ensuring the sound of SAILOR lasts well into the future.
The year 2001 ended with the creation of the new Nickelodeon which was designed by SAILOR's sound engineer and tour manager Graham Naylor and SAILOR's performance in Aylesbury, UK as "Very Special Guests" of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel on 14 November 2001. The evening was a fantastic success for SAILOR, being their first major concert in the UK for over 25 years, with many fans travelling the length and breadth of the UK to see their heroes in the flesh! Over 80% of the tickets had been sold to SAILOR fans, so that SAILOR were planning their very own "in concert" in England in late 2002 - a classic opportunity to perform many other original SAILOR songs from their repertoire, that could sadly not usually be played at their other Oldie Night concerts where they normally appeared with several other acts.
The year 2002 was spent with many Oldie Night performances and some special shows, e.g. a concert in Newbury (UK) at the 40th birthday party of an English SAILOR fan. Also the 1998 album "Live In Berlin" was re-released on the label "Angel Air Records".
In the meantime the former SAILOR members also worked on several successful projects. Georg Kajanus continued working on a new interesting music project, and Henry Marsh was nominated for the "Jefferson Award" for best musical composition for the play "As You Like It" in Chicago. He was the only composer in the history of these awards to be nominated for every show that he had composed for, and he had also won the award on one occasion. Later Henry started writing the music for "Hollywood Be Thy Name", the Story of the Warner Brothers, and launched his own Video Production company.
SAILOR were still one
of the audiences' most favourite bands at all Oldie concerts and
regularly got great reviews in the newspapers after their shows.
Just a few examples:
"SAILORs hits like 'A Glass Of Champagne' were celebrated as well as cover versions from Culture Club and other bands. The people who have been able to see a SAILOR show in the past might have noticed that their new repertoire is much more colourful. Meanwhile the four guys have created a whole show for their gigs. The special highlight of their show is a strip-performance which was very entertaining for everyone."
"SAILOR have always been one of the most theatrical bands performing, and as many recent reviews will show, still have many surprises up their sleeves. With many famous classic hits such as 'A Glass Of Champagne', 'Girls Girls Girls', 'Traffic Jam' and more recent European hits 'La Cumbia' and 'The Secretary' plus many others. SAILOR have been regularly performing throughout Europe since re-forming in 1990, and in the last twelve months have played in front over 200,000. To support their new CD release, Live In Berlin, founder members Phil Pickett and Grant Serpell, are joined by newer stars Peter Lincoln and Rob Alderton." .....
Finally, our nautical
heroes proudly announced their very own spectacular headline
"in concert" show, and invited all their fans to
"A SAILOR's Night On The Town" - a very special and
unique evening of SAILOR musical magic, and the best glam-rock
70's party night out ever with their own stage set and special
guest Chip Hawkes of The Tremeloes at the Swan Theatre (Town
Hall) in High Wycombe, UK.
Phil: "As soon as we walked out on stage however all those fears quickly sank to the bottom of the ocean, the response from SAILOR's loyal and devoted fans, some of whom travelled from all over Europe and the 4 corners of the UK being absolutely fantastic. From the very first note of SAILOR's now famous Overture going into 'Champagne'...the atmosphere was simply electric on stage!"
The theatre looked really extraordinary with a harbour background, street lamp, palm trees, anchor, ship, life belt and everything the SAILOR fans could wish for. The band had several surprises for their audience in addition to the songs that they usually performed at their Oldie concerts in Germany. Songs like "Traffic Jam", "Blame It On The Soft Spot", "Jacaranda" or "Josephine Baker" - sung by Rob!! - made the evening even more special. The concert was a great success, and the fans from England, Germany, Holland, Denmark etc. enjoyed it very much and made it a night to remember. The show was also filmed for a DVD which was to be released on "Angel Air" in 2003.
2002 ended with a
SAILOR performance at the "SWR1 Silvesterparty" in
Mainz (Germany) on 31 December, and 2003 started with plans for
another special headline show at the Musiktheater in Kassel,
right in the middle of Germany on Sunday, on 18 May 2003, where
several things were to be celebrated:
- the 12th anniversary of SAILOR's great comeback performance in Bad Segeberg (Germany) at the RSH Oldie Night on 18 May 1991,
- the 2nd anniversary of Rob Alderson's first show with SAILOR in Rotenburg an der Fulda (Germany) on 18 May 2001,
- and of course the DVD release of SAILOR's High Wycombe concert at "Angel Air" which was planned for May 2003.
Unfortunately this special headline concert had to be cancelled only a few days before it was to happen because the promoter of the concert disappeared and there was a lot of confusion about the number of tickets that had already been sold and the money that had been paid for them. SAILOR and the Marinero-crew did all their best to make it possible in spite of all this trouble, but in the end it was too late to rescue the concert under the circumstances.
The SAILOR DVD
"Pirate Copy - Live In Concert" was released on Angel
Air on 12 May 2003. It included the complete High Wycombe concert
plus unplugged songs, interviews with all band members as well as
SAILOR's "one-man-crew" Graham Naylor and the fans
Katrin and Karsten Wagner, and also the history of SAILOR with
text and pictures.
The first reviews about the DVD said: "Absolutely marvellous!", "You can watch the whole concert in a perfect video and sound quality.", "Your SAILOR collection is not complete without this", "Brilliant", "Wonderful concert in a perfect picture- and sound-quality.", "Great picture, great sound and the music of this live recording: terrific."...
In 2003/2004 the official SAILOR biography was written by James McCarraher. "A Glass Of Champagne - The Official SAILOR Story" was planned to be an independent assessment of SAILOR's history which was been exhaustively and lovingly researched and written by James McCarraher, with the full, frank and unbridled co-operation of the four founder members Georg Kajanus, Henry Marsh, Phil Pickett and Grant Serpell, current torch-bearers Peter Lincoln and Rob Alderton as well as past members, Gavin and Virginia David. The release of the book was planned for June 2004.
In the meantime the company "Dream Maker Productions" was planning a very interesting project named "SAILOR, The Musical Journey". This musical had taken over three years to write and has been read and enhance by Georg Kajanus, who has also given two unrecorded tracks to the musical that he originally wrote for his very own SAILOR musical in the 70s. The musical was to contain 21 songs mainly from the first four albums, "Sailor", "Trouble", "The Third Step", and "Checkpoint". The musical play was to be performed at the Carnegie Hall Dunfermline (near Edinburgh), UK in 2006.
In 2004 SAILOR
started to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The first big event,
another very own spectacular headline "in concert" show
at The Courth Theatre in Tring, Hertfordshire, UK, was planned
for March 2004. It promised to be yet another marvellous
"SAILOR's Night On The Town" for the fans as well as
for the band.
The SAILOR fans and friends were all seated in the Court Theatre in Tring, UK on the evening of the 20 March 2004, ready for SAILOR's 30th anniversary headline concert. The show was sold out, the stage set looked marvellous, the fans were dressed up and ready for the best and most special show in years. SAILOR started their performance at 8 pm with their trademark-song "Sailor", receiving a more than fantastic applause from the audience. When they were just about to start the second song "Blame It On The Soft Spot" there suddenly was a power cut because of the terrible storm outside - not only at the theatre but at the whole town. There had already been problems with the electricity in the afternoon, but now SAILOR had to leave the stage in order to try to solve the problems together with NaylorMan.
The fans started their own little party in the dark theatre, in spite of the worrying events, waiting for NaylorMan who gave them regular updates on the power cut. Everyone hoped the problem would be solved in the next few minutes, so the show could go on. But at 9.45 pm there was still no electricity and it was rather unlikely that it would come back soon, so SAILOR decided to play the concert on the next morning at 10 am. For quite a few fans this unfortunately meant that they could not come back to see the concert because they had to drive a long way, flights to catch etc., but it was the only way for SAILOR to rescue the concert at all.
On Sunday morning approximately 100 tired but yet expectant SAILOR fans found their way to the Court Theatre in Tring once again and then enjoyed the most special and unique concert in years, including not only SAILOR's greatest and latest hits but also some rare songs like "Jacaranda" or some songs that were never before played at any live concert: "Nickelodeon Nights" and the brand new song "The Harbour Bar Bell", written by Rob.
The debut of
"The Harbour Bar Bell" at the Tring concert was Rob's
favourite moment in the band so far, as he explains in the book
"A Glass Of Champagne - The Official SAILOR
"The sound of SAILOR for me was set by those songs I heard on 'Trouble'. I could almost smell the exotic places Georg wrote about. I decided to try my hand at writing for SAILOR, and at Tring we performed 'Harbour Bar Bell'. What a thrill it was. The song is about four men who meet in a harbour bar and make music together. There is a pirate captain, a merchant sailor from France, a conjurer in black and plantation owner in a panama suit. Eventually the mechanical music machine (Nickelodeon) joins in of its own accord. As the dawn breaks, the fog clears and all but the sound of the harbour bar bell have disappeared. Could it be any more theatrical?"
In June 2004 the book "A Glass Of Champagne - The Official SAILOR Story" by James McCarraher was released. The book was lavishly illustrated with over 120 photographs (mostly unpublished!), bound in hard back, running to 352 pages and limited to just 500 copies worldwide. It included contributions from Georg Kajanus, Phil Pickett, Henry Marsh, Grant Serpell, Peter Lincoln, Rob Alderton, Gavin and Virginia David, Jeffrey Lesser, Bruce Johnston, Dee Dee Wilde, Steve Levine, Robert Wace, Tim Dry, Ron Altenbach, Sir Cliff Richard and Jeremy Irons.
In 2004 SAILOR were also voted the 45th most successful pop band of the last 40 years in Germany. The went to Cologne for the recording of the TV show "Die ultimative Chart Show - Die erfolgreichsten Popgruppen" for German RTL television. The show was broadcast on 03 September 2004 and included a countdown of the 50 most famous pop bands of the last 40 years (according to the chart positions of all their singles) and SAILOR reached place number 45, surrounded by Genesis on 46 and Culture Club on 44.
In October 2004 we were proud to anounce the launch of the new homepage of Henry Marsh at www.henrymarsh.co.uk.
The year ended with
Classics 30th anniversary Holland tour of SAILOR and The Rubettes featuring Alan Williams,
which was a great success.
Phil: "It's heartwarming and very special for us to be back in the land of substantial bicycles, 'Top Pop', hot chocolate and street organs again after all these years - since "Traffic Jam" topped the charts in Holland - our very first hit record anywhere in the world. Judging by the reaction we've received from Dutch audiences, it looks very likely we'll be playing concerts in Holland on a much more regular basis. Most of the audiences have been singing along to everything and seem to know all the words to our songs."
2005 started with a
big UK "Glitz Blitz and 70's Hitz" tour with SAILOR,
Andy Scott's The Sweet and The Rubettes featuring Alan Williams.
Phil: "SAILOR are hugely excited about taking part in this event in commemoration of our 30th Anniversary since the band's very first No 1 Record, and will be delighted to get out there across the UK to meet many fans from the 1970s."
The first half of the
year also brought some other interesting new projects including
- James McCarraher's plans to write the one and only Georg Kajanus biography,
- the world premiere of Rob Alderton's first musical "Fast Food"
- and of course the release of Henry Marsh's first solo album "The Other Side Of The Ocean".
On 29 July 2005 Rob
Alderton left the ship. The official statement from the band
"SAILOR wish to inform all our fans that sadly Rob Alderton
is leaving the band with immediate effect. We are very grateful
for his talents and unique contribution to the continuation of
SAILOR over the last few years and have wished him well for his
musical and other projects in the future."
Rob: "Time to hand the Nickelodeon back. First and foremost, I'm a SAILOR fan, so I can only say 'great news'... It's been fun keeping the seat warm! Theatre calls me once again. Thanks to everyone who has sent me kind wishes. The biggest compliment of all was being mistaken for Henry sometimes. Good luck all... Rob. x"
...The return of an original...
A few weeks later
original SAILOR member Henry Marsh returned to his place at the
Nickelodeon after a 6-years-absence.
The official statement from the band read: "SAILOR are absolutely thrilled to announce officially that after a period of uncertainty since Rob Alderton's recent departure, original member Henry Marsh has now agreed to rejoin the band he helped to co-found in 1973 and will be appearing along with Grant Serpell, Peter Lincoln and Phil Pickett on all future shows".
With Henry, SAILOR
quickly returned to the stages in Austria (Graz), Germany
(Regensburg) and Holland (Bergen Op Zoom), followed by the long
awaited SAILOR's night on the town - the exclusive headline
concert at The Bedford in London on 04 December 2005. This
concert was so special that it promised to become what the band
described as "an annual event for the fans to enjoy an
evening of Christmas frivolity and the true incomparable SAILOR
Henry: "I'm sure those of you that were there, will agree that it was a rather remarkable evening. The room itself has an atmosphere that seems tailor made for the SAILOR vibe and the audience that night made it one of my favourite evenings of all time."
In February 2006 the
new anthology CD boxed set "Buried Treasure" was
released at last. It included many rare live recordings and
previously unreleased songs and demo versions from the very early
SAILOR days until today.
Phil: "We are releasing 'Buried Treasure' ourselves and it's the whole anthology of SAILOR. Half of the album has never been released before. We have the original demos of the band and experimental tracks and of course all the hits. The idea behind it was to create an anthology because we had a lot of recordings that were never released. We made a whole album's worth after the CBS era and before BMG. We also loved the way the Beatles did this anthology and they had all sorts of weird and wonderful things on there like the original demos and tracks where maybe the quality is not as good but the atmosphere is fantastic. And we also included some newer recordings and some very special live tracks. So it seemed that the only way we could release something like that was to do it ourselves on our own label. It was done in studios all over the world, from Caribou Studios in Colorado and PUK Studios in Denmark, in London at the original CBS Studio and in our own studios at home, everywhere. It was a labour of love putting it together. We also used all our own private archive photgraphs to go into the book that accompanies the records and tells the story of how everything was recorded and when we did it and who was playing and all the details. You can only get it at our website www.sailortheband.com at the moment."
The book "Kajanus" - the definitive biography of composer, songwriter and musician Georg Kajanus - was released in June 2006. The book was written by James McCarraher and Georg Kajanus. It has over 100 photographs, 67.000 words and runs to over 300 pages. All copies of the first edition were accompanied by a free CD single release of Georg Kajanus' previously unreleased "Norwegian Trilogy". This was Georg's first solo single release for thirty-five years.
The first and only
SAILOR Musical, written by Bill Blenman with songs by Georg
Kajanus, premiered at the Carnegie Hall Dunfermline (near
Edinburgh), UK from 03 July to 08 July 2006. The show called
"Sailor - The Musical Journey" contained 21 songs
mainly from the first four SAILOR albums as well as two
previously unreleased songs written by Georg Kajanus, exclusively
audiable in this musical.
Georg Kajanus himself attended the world premiere on 03 July 2006. Here's what he had to say about the Musical: "I've experienced a great many emotional events during my career: from the wondrous to the hideous; from the ecstatic to the tragic. What I experienced on the evening of the 3rd of July, 2006, in a place called Dunfermline, Scotland, was one of the most tender and exciting moments to date. It was the world premiere of Bill Blenman's: 'Sailor - The Musical Journey'. A couple of years ago, Bill contacted me with the idea of using songs that I had previously written for SAILOR as a kind of road map for the story of his Musical. On opening night, I was confronted with an enormously enthusiastic cast of some considerable size pouring themselves into their parts as if they had become the very characters they were playing. Bill had managed to realize his dream through the heartwarming and romantic story of his book, and against all odds, had found the finance to stage this imaginative production for a six night run for charity at the well-known Carnegie Hall. Considering this was an amateur production, I was very impressed with the quality of the acting, directing, singing, dancing, musical arrangements and the set and costumes. I don't think this will be the last that we'll hear about 'Sailor - The Musical Journey'."
In August 2006 Peter
Lincoln decided to leave SAILOR after ten years to join The
Sweet. The band is currently looking for a new singer to continue
The band's official statement read:
"SAILOR regret to announce that after almost 11 years as lead vocalist and guitarist, Peter Lincoln is leaving to join Andy Scott's Sweet. Although initially sad and surprised he decided to jump ship, Henry, Grant and Phil wish him the very best for his future with Sweet. Peter's last show with SAILOR will be at Parchim in Germany on 09 September 2006. Although extremely sorry to lose him, there are no recriminations whatsoever and everyone involved will enjoy many happy memories and extremely good times making music together over the last decade for many years to come. SAILOR also wish to take this opportunity to thank Peter for his consumate professionalism, wonderful voice, warmth and humour - and in fact for being a 'bloody decent all-round chap' flying the flag 'up at the pointy end' for the last 11 years - Good luck shipmate!
Of course it seemed obvious that SAILOR's first port of call for Peter's replacement would be original member and writer of many of SAILOR's songs, Georg Kajanus. The band felt that after an 11-year absence Georg might well have cherished the opportunity to get back on board the unique musical entity he helped create all those years ago and to that effect SAILOR contacted Georg recently. After much deliberation however, unfortunately Georg felt that circumstances were not right for him at this time, and so in the true spirit of 'Le Matelot' - Sailor now intend to search for new blood and a fresh start."
Peter: "Well, its been a wonderful eleven or so years but now five Nickelodeons later - it seems that the time has finally come for me to move on. I have made lifelong friendships with Phil, Grant and Henry. Along the way we have shared some fabulous times with a good deal of uproarious fun, and sometimes complete insanity. Our trip to Greenland, the "birth" of 'The Full Monty', the towns, the girls, the harbours When Henry first suggested the idea of his son Ollie as a replacement I was absolutely delighted. Hes a great guy and hes going to do a great job! So I guess it only remains for me to thank all of the friends and fans of SAILOR for their continued support throughout my time with the band. I bid a fond farewell to SAILOR and wish them every success for the future. Love to all."
Peter's last concert with SAILOR took place in Parchim (Germany) on 09 September 2006.
...Welcome aboard Captain Oliver...
In September 2006 the
remaining SAILORs Henry, Grant and Phil were proud to announce
that Henry's son, Oliver Marsh joined the band replacing Peter
Lincoln on lead vocals and guitar. Oliver, already achieved
fantastic success as a star vocalist in such productions as 'The
Blues Brothers' which toured all over Germany, and 'The Roy
Orbison Story' in which he played both John Lennon and Bruce
Springsteen to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Prior to this
he impressed many in Phil and Henry's ''Casper The Musical''
which opened in London's West End in 1999. In many ways he was
the obvious choice and his impressive vocal range as well as a
genuine enthusiasm to become part of the band instantly convinced
everyone that Ollie was their man.
''Being part of the SAILOR 'family' was of course an advantage'' says Phil; ''but his youthful energy and amazingly powerful voice knocked spots off all other contenders and he is already becoming a huge asset to the band. I believe Ollie will give SAILOR a whole new lease of life as well as the 'shot in the arm' it needs at this point.''
Grant agrees: ''Henry of course did a fantastic job going over everything with Ollie and although content to leave the final decision to me and Phil, was very confident in his abilities. But you can tell Ollie just loves the songs and the strength and range of his voice will give SAILOR opportunities to expand and improve the live show enormously. I'm thrilled he actually wants to do it!''
Oliver had his first performance with SAILOR in Munich (Germany) on 14 October 2006. The concert was a huge success, as were the subsequent concerts. Thanks to Oliver's unique opera voice, SAILOR added a moving new encore, "Con Te Partirò" to their set.
In April 2009 Oliver Marsh left the band in order to pursue his career in opera, but he returned again in May 2011. During those two years, SAILOR's singer was Nick Parvin.
In February 2011
SAILOR announced the retirement of Grant Serpell, who was
replaced by Henry's son Tom Marsh who had already helped out in
SAILOR for a couple of concerts while Grant had to take a break
after an injury.
The present SAILOR band line-up is: Phil Pickett, Henry Marsh, Oliver Marsh and Tom Marsh.
Last updated: 30 May 2011