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Many thanks to all the fine people who regularly send us their memories of the Flames

February 2002:   Duncan Russell recalls

News about the "See the Light" single and the Flames stay in England, 1968-69.

Duncan Russell, of South Africa,  was kind enough to send us his personal recollections about his friendship with the Flames. With his permission we include a few highlights here.

I was living with them in North Harrow in England in 1969, at the time that Carl and Dennis Wilson visited with them (the Flames) to tie up the details of their moving to the States. I haven't had the opportunity to fully examine your site- excellent work! So do not know if you know that Ricky and Blondie backed Marsha Hunt on her "Walk on Gilded Splinters" single and appeared on "Top of the Pops" with her, with Tony Visconti producing. This was at the time that Ricky and Blondie were looking to develop original material for the Flames, as there was some comment that they needed to do this. Well they obviously succeeded. Ricky, Blondie and I sat in the back-room in North Harrow and I gave them the first few lines of lyrics for "See the Light" which they subsequently developed and polished to make them their no1 in LA. They came to visit me in 1970 or 71 in Durban whilst on tour, and I was very happy to see them go on to greater things. They certainly were the best live band I have seen, and the "vibe" at the Alfresco in Durban (where they had several residencies) was something very special. I stayed with the Flames April to August 1969. I left to come back to South Africa on August 5th.1969. Those few months I stayed with the guys were very interesting, to say the least. When I arrived they had a residency at "Blaise's" club in South Kensington - a tiny basement club which had the pick of the top groups of the time. It was "Blaise's" where Chas Chandler (former bassist with the Animals) launched Jimi Hendrix's amazing career. It was there that Carl Wilson first spotted them and saw their obvious talent. Blaise's was virtually a second home for the Flames. I remember "Pinball Wizard" by the Who  being played often at the club. As the youngest of the Flames, Ricky (in particular) and Blondie were always interested and ambitious as musicians, open-minded and willing to work at sessions and virtually anything that was going when the Flames weren't playing. I think that was how the collaboration with Marsha Hunt occurred. Ricky was doing sessions as well at a small studio near the Marquee Club in Soho, and played on several of other people's recordings. Unfortunately I do not have any record or recollection of these, except the one session that was recorded appeared on a radio show the very same evening! Things happened fast back then. Ricky and I went to see "Ten years After" and "Jethro Tull" at the Albert Hall in about June of 69 - as I said Ricky was always exploring different approaches. Ricky and Blondie were also doing some sessions at the Apple studios in Savile Row, and I recall they were doing sessions for a friend Jimmy Thomas, an American singer. I don't know if the recording still exists in the BBC archives - that "Top of the Pops" was recorded in the Shepherd's Bush studios. Frankly they were not very happy with the BBC recording. I don't know if "Walk on Gilded Splinters" made the charts. The other player on the recording that I remember was "Tex" who was a Panamanian conga player. The Flames also played at least once at the "Revolution" club in Mayfair, which was the "in" club at the time, with various Beatles and other luminaries of the time popping up all the time.

Thanks for the intriguing memories, Duncan.

Richard Laws, guitarist of Bill Kimber and the Couriers and later the A-Cads kindly sent us the following fascinating insight dating all the way back to the time of the Flames' formation in 1964. Thanks Richard.

It seems that there's a general misconception about when The Flames started (or started using Ricky Fataar on drums).  I can definitely say that Ricky was drumming for the band during the first half of 1964. My band, Bill Kimber and the Couriers, did a two or three week gig topping the bill at Cape Town's Luxurama Theatre at that time and The Flames were among the supporting acts.  It was definitely Ricky on drums.  He must have been about eleven years old at the time.

Tertius Louw from South Africa reports the following:

Grahame Beggs who produced The Flames and Una Valli was an excellent musician who played lead guitar for Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans as well as the Shangaans. The Shangaans were short lived, but Loader and the Blue Jeans released many singles and albums and were one of SA's top pop groups of the sixties. Other groups in the same league were Johnny Kongos and the G-men; The Four Jacks and a Jill; The Staccatos; etc. Another SA Pop star, Gene Rockwell, composed the B side of single 45R 239. See singles discography. Soul was the "flavour of the month" in SA during 1968/9. Local bands like The Bats, Staccatos, Square Set and the Rising Sons used tracks featured on Burning Soul on their own album releases during this period.

Producer Ivan Wehr also produced for another popular SA band called the Invaders. The latter also recorded "For Your Precious Love." Wehr also produced a single for the Invaders in1969 with the title "I've Got Dreams To Remember" (Ed: also the tile of a compilation album)

A short while Burning Soul was released, an American band by the name of The Mauds released an album called Hold On. Three tracks from Burning Soul are also on this album and if one listens to these songs it is quite clear that the Flames also copied the brass arrangements used by The Mauds on said tracks. The album details are: Mercury Records MG 2055 1967 (SA number) and Mercury Records SR 61135 (USA).

The A-Cads were the first South African group to record a cover-version of Don't Fight It.

Webmaster's Note: We gratefully acknowledge Tertius' many excellent scans of precious early Flames material, as well as his compendious knowledge of South African Flames-related record releases.

Ricky Fataar

This South African born drummer made his debut in the States in the early 1970s with his band, "The Flames." This was the first step in his career climb. That first US trip led to a tour as the drummer for the Beach Boys, 5 years with Joe Walsh, and most recently the drum chair with Bonnie Raitt. Ricky has also been fortunate enough to work with Boz Scaggs, Crowded House, and Etta James as a producer.

Ed.: From the Pearl drums page, who seem to omit that Ricky had been playing at least five years by 1970. Perhaps it was Boz and the other who were fortunate to have Ricky!

Centerpiece of a long and convoluted story regarding the recording of the HOLLAND album. The Beach Boys relocated to the Netherlands in 1972 to record this album away from the pressures of L.A. They spend exorbitant amounts of money building a studio on a farm in Baambrugge, Holland recording much of the album. The story goes that when the band turned the album into Warner Brothers, they rejected the album because there was no
potential single. Brian's friends were then alerted to convince him to write a surefire hit. Luckily, Van Dyke Parks had a cassette of a song that he and Brian started, that being "Sail On Sailor". The song was then polished, recorded (without Brian's participation) and tacked onto the album replacing a Ricky Fataar/Blondie Chaplin song called "We Got Love". Arguably the best Beach Boys song of the last 20 some odd years. Features a soulful lead vocal from guitarist, Blondie Chaplin.

Blondie Chaplin: Back-Up Rolling Stones
Blondie Chaplin, born in Durban, South Africa, is a multi-talented musician , singer, and songwriter whose recent work includes an album of his own material as well as performing as a background vocalist and musician on Bridges to Babylon. He also works as lead vocalist and guitarist with Skollie performing a wide-ranging musical repertoire, from rhythm and blues to reggae and African influenced rock music and ballads, primarily featuring songs composed by Blondie, often written from a personal perspective while also reflecting issues of wider social concern. Blondie Chaplin has performed and recorded with some of the major figures and groups in popular music, including the Band, the Beach Boys, Paul Butterfield, Rick Danko, David Johansen, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, and Jennifer Warnes. These have featured his singing (both lead and harmony vocals) and guitar playing, as well as performances on bass, piano, percussion and drums. Beyond his extensive experience performing both with his own band and with numbers of other groups, Blondie Chaplin also performs as a solo-acoustic artist and along with his instrumental and vocal prowess, is an accomplished songwriter and vocal arranger. In addition to recordings of his own material, as a writer of both music and lyrics he has contributed material recorded by artists including the Beach Boys, Paul Butterfield, David Johansen, Renee Geyer, Ray Ohara, and, on their most recent album, the Band. He also has recorded a series of African chants as the soundtrack for a three-part National Geographic video special entitled The Heart of Africa that was televised nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service Network.

Phoebe Snow:
Mick Taylor and Shayne Fontayne played on her most recent comeback album, Something Real. Blondie Chaplin was also on the album. This could be where they agreed that Chaplin would join Taylor.

Mick Taylor/Blondie Chaplin:
Blondie Chaplin, a creative studio musician most famous for playing on many Beach Boys albums, replaced Shayne Fontayne in the Modified Band.

You may be interested to know that a previously unreleased 1976 MICK RONSON album was issued earlier this year, called JUST LIKE THIS. On this album Mick does "Crazy Love" (written by Blondie Chaplin) and "(I'm Just A) Junkie For Your Love" (written by Ricky Fataar).  I publish a Ronson fanzine / web page, and have been researching this "new" album for a forthcoming article. I know "Crazy Love" was subsequently recorded by Chaplin on his 1977 LP - but I have not been able to find out if Fataar (or anybody else) recorded "Junkie For Your Love". Can you help? Do you know?  The "Just Like This" LP started out as a collaboration between Ronson and David Cassidy, and Fataar was the drummer in early rehearsals (early summer 1976). Cassidy and Fataar bowed out soon after, though - Fataar was replaced by Bobby Chen (who plays drums on the album). Cassidy, Fataar and Ronson did record together earlier, though - on Cassidy's "Getting It In The Streets" single (from the LP of the same name). Do you know when this album was recorded? My guess is spring 1976. Blondie Chaplin may have been around at early rehearsals too - his solo album was not recorded at the time, so he probably played his song to  Ronson. Do you know anything about this?.

Hope to hear from you soon!
Best wishes

Sven Gusevik

Blondie Chaplin new SOLO album expected soon......

Blondie Chaplin is expected to release his new solo album soon on IN-FI, a new US based soul label after finishing his contribution to the Rolling Stones "No Security" tour. Please return to this spot often. All details will be published immediately as they become available. We will also publish links for easy and quick mail order of this long awaited album, featuring VERY prominent guest musicians. Blondie's previous solo album was put out by Asylum records in 1977. So far no CD release has been sighted.

Scott Albertson at IN-FI records

The Flames were actually "discovered" by Paul McCartney while visiting Durban. He recommended them to Brian Wilson. The Flames opened for the Beach Boys until their bass player died and Blondie and Ricky were asked to join the band. I am a friend of Anton Fig who was in a band called Spider which was the hot band in Cape Town while the Flames were highly profiled in Durban. Blondie, Anton and Keith Lentin, Spider's former guitar player are doing an album now in Canada with Rob Fraboni producing. I've heard some cuts and it is amazing! Blondie is still also on the road with the Stones for most of the year. Your page is great Thanks for making it available.

Regards,   Liam McCann

Just writing to see if you were aware of the website dedicated to Neil Innes called Words of Innespiration. You might be interested in checking it out as, on the Rutles page, there are many recent photos of Ricky Fataar. Also, somewhere on the web (don't have the URL, sorry), there's a guy called Tom Strickland, who probably has access to videos of the Rutles press conferences/performances from 1997. Don't know if that necessarily interests you, but......

Hope that helps you out.
Bye, Maria

One question which I've been trying to get answered for years. When the Beach Boys and Month Python's Flying Circus appeared together at the Lincoln Festival in England in 1973, is there any evidence that Ricky and the Python crew had any contact? I reckon this is more than likely, but cannot prove it. The Rutles was in its formative stage at this time, I believe.

Rip Gooch

There is one correction - the Fataar brothers are not Indian but of Malay ancestry. I think the Indian outfits were part of the Indian fad in the sixties thanks to the Beatles. I thought they were Indians at first but I was corrected by people in Durban. Steve is also known as Marnie in Durban.

Well bye for now
Jay Tulsiram

Just wanted to let you know that I did not have time to meet personally with Blondie Chaplin this time in Europe. Their schedule was quite hectic & being in the UK there were lots of friends & family to entertain. I did, however, see Blondie briefly in the VIP lounge before the Wembley 1 show, and I gave him a copy of your homepage with the URL & your email address. I do hope he checks it out sometime.

Kind Regards,
Blue Lena