with the original founder of the group Ian McCredie
Over 45 years SUPERHIT "CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP"
world-wide Nr.1 - hits from the seventies :
S A C R A M E N T O ,
CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP ,
SOLEY SOLEY, SAMSON & DELILAH, TWEEDLE DEE - TWEEDLE DUM,
YELLOW BOOMERANG u.v.a.
This is the seventies brought into the 2000's with Lorna Bannon, Stuart McCredie & Ian McCredie, the longest serving member of the original MOTR. Stuart have toured Europe successfully under the banner of 'Lorraine & Stuart'. 'EX MIDDLE OF THE ROAD', for about 3 years.
Lorna joined Middle of the Road in 2001 and stayed in band as lead vocalist until today. Stuart joined as a playing member around 1985 and performed with the band as drummer, lead guitarist, drum and computer programmer until this days.
During this time several albums were recorded and many TV appearances were undertaken throughout Europe. More recently they have been joined by Ian, the main rhythm guitarist and harmony voice of Middle of the Road. They are currently enjoying many appearances throughout Europe with other headline 60's and 70's bands enjoying the oldies revival.
The essence of the original happy sound remains the same but there is a new dimension generated by the enthusiasm of youth and the appreciation of modern music techniques.
Crowned with THE RADIO REGEN BOGEN AWARD in 2002 in Germany after being since many years one of the most successful seventies groups in Germany.
The group are:
Ian C. McCredie : Vocals/ 12 string guitar
Founder member, been with the band since before 1965. Appeared on all of the hits, wrote some material. Travelled with the band throughout the world. Still enjoys performing.
Lorna Bannon : Lead Vocalist
Outstanding lead vocalist, joined in October, 2001 after previous singer left unexpectedly. First gig rehearsal was in the car to the venue. Gig was a great success. Lorna is also a highly rated session singer & has worked with Van Morrison, Chrissie Hynd, Runrig, Elton John & many more top class artists. She has recorded & released singles under the name Lorna B.
Stuart McCredie : Lead Guitarist/ Programmer/ Vocals
Joined MOTR in 1984 as a part-time roadie. Started playing drums with the band within a year or so. "Promoted" to lead guitarist in 1987, playing guitar upside down since he was lefthanded!! Stuart runs a successful recording studio & plays with two other bands, "Pacifica" & "Yogi", performing & recording their own material
Stephan Ebn : Drums
Stephan is one of the most requested drummers in Europe. He goes very often on tour with Italian superstar Gianna Nannini. On all big events he is with Middle of the Road on stage.
THE STORY :
Ian & Eric McCredie started playing semi-professionally, together, around 1960 having started learning guitar in 1958. Ian "persuaded" Eric to take up the base, (the first bass being a Framus violin bass, long before a certain Paul McCartney had discovered the Hofner violin bass).
Sometime around 1962, they headhunted Ken (Andrew) and persuaded him to join them as a drummer. Played in an assortment of bands together, later joining a "big band" which eventually disbanded, the three musicians went there separate ways thinking that was the end of it. Ian, the incurable performer, joined Karen & The Sophistikats... a trio comprising a Karen Carpenter type of singer, lead guitarist & drummer playing light pop & standards; the drummer left; Ian persuaded them that not only did they need a replacement drummer but a bass player would be a great idea!! Ian, Eric & Ken were back playing together again.
HOW MOTR BEGAN
The original members of Karen & the "Sophistokats" were a romantic item & like most couples tended to argue or fall out; this left I, E & K on many occasions without a lead guitarist & vocalist…..awkward, during live appearances….so the three guys started to put together a repertoire to fill the inevitable gaps. The 3 guys did some gigs on their own; Ian bought Ken his first mike, put it in front of him & taught him how to provide the high harmony lines. Ken was a fast learner & caught on quickly!!
For some reason the singer had to leave the band & we had to find a replacement. Eric discovered Sally singing in a pub, thought she would be the right one & convinced her to join the "Sophisticats". Sally fitted in well & eventually the lead guitarist left, leaving Ian, Eric, Ken & Sally as a four piece band. Without a lead guitarist (rhythm guitar/bass guitar/drums), the band developed their harmony technique to compensate for the lack of lead instruments.
The band first gigged under the name of Part Four, however since they were a vocal harmony band, influenced by the Beach Boys/Beatles/Tremoloes they were persuaded to become a speciality band with a Latin American theme…Los Caracas…..performing a few Latin songs along with the normal pop songs. Their flamboyant image with ponchos & short dresses (not the boys!!), together with strong harmonies ensured that they attracted a lot of good quality work.
Gig money was so good that they had to turn down full time professional work because it did not pay enough!!!
THE TURNING POINT
In the UK there was a national talent show called "Opportunity Knocks". The band's management persuaded them to go to an audition which they did reluctantly, then promptly forgot about it. A phone call on a Friday, "come down tomorrow, you are on the show" resulted on a five week appearance on the show, winning each week by virtue of a national audience vote. These appearances definitely gave Ian, Eric, Ken & Sally the idea that a full professional career was worth considering. The year was 1968.
The band continued to work semi-professionally for another year but decided in 1969 that it was time to 'have a go" The UK/London scene was very heavy metal & Los Caracas, now known as "Middle of the Road" was a harmony band. Their management persuaded them to travel to Italy (another story!!) & try their fortune there.
The band sent their manager to Italy in advance of their arrival. He made one contact which turned out to be very important but otherwise had a very pleasant time at the band's expense. MOTR arrived in Italy, learned to count from 1 - 10 in Italian very quickly then sent the manager back to Scotland. At this point MOTR were alone in Rome with no idea how to contact the Italian agent. All they knew was the agent's name was Pino Moschini & that he lived in Florence. On a very wet Sunday (It's wet on Sundays in Italy too!!) Eric volunteered to go to Florence & find Pino Moschini... Eric was lucky, he found Pino Moschini's son Stenio in downtown Florence who took Eric to his father. Pino Moschini came to see us the next day & a contract was signed.
The band worked constantly all over Italy, (Rome & all points north), for a good number of months, working Tuesday/Sunday with 2 gigs on a Sunday, (just as well since Ian & Ken were married by this time & each had a son!!... keeping in contact & sending money home was a nightmare procedure).
In August, 1970, the band was working in a prestigious venue in Viareggio, on the west coast, close to Florence, a resort mainly frequented by Italian holidaymakers. Fortunately for MOTR, an A&R executive was on holiday & heard the band; being duly impressed, he invited the band to perform a demo at RCA Studios in Rome. (An interesting point at this stage was that Sally, because of the constant demand on her voice, had developed nodes on her vocal chords & therefore was under doctor's orders to remain mute... she communicated via a small notepad & mimed during gigs for a couple of weeks... the MOTR vocal sound used a lot of high voices & falsetto & so they were able to convince their audience that the performances were as normal). Fortunately Sally had her voice back for the RCA audition which was well received by the RCA recording executives who even used 3 of the demo tracks on the first LP (much to the aggravation of the Band
THE FIRST RECORDINGHaving successfully passed the recording audition, MOTR were called into the studio in Rome in September, 1970. The A&R guys ( Italio Greco & Jacomo Tosti) suggested the song "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" & introduced the writer, Lally (Harold) Stott, from Liverpool . He had settled in Italy some years before having come over from the UK with a band that had enjoyed some success. He had recorded "Chirpy" for Philips, Italy which had charted at number 17, a remarkable success in a country that did not recognise anything other than music sung in Italian. His record company refused to release the song in Europe, UK or the States etc.
Ian, Eric & Ken were not keen on the song & suggested that a reggae treatment might work; Sally liked the song & it was duly recorded. The track was recorded using a quarter inch machine modified to allow 6 separate tracks. The session lasted two & one half hours during which 2 bottles of bourbon were consumed & the only instrumentation was drums/12 string guitar/6 string electric/bass then several overdubs of vocals & harmony tracks. This was MOTR's first professional recording, all the instrumentation & vocals were performed by the band although the writer & producer joined in on some of the harmony overdubs.
The track was released by RCA in Europe in Feb. 1971, the song charted in Italy, Belgium & Spain in March/April, moved to Germany & the rest of Europe in early spring, eventually charting in the UK in June 1970. (It was released at least 4 times that year but that is another story before hitting the charts….Tony Blackburn promoted the track having heard it in Holland). The rest is fairly recent history.
Middle of the Road is still touring and very successful ! Top of the bill on open-air-shows in Germany, Austria, Siwtzerland, Scandinavia and BeNeLux.