Guide to British Music of the 1960s


The Artwoods

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Vocals- Art Wood, guitar- Derek Griffiths, bass- Malcolm Pool, drums- Keef Hartley, organ- Jon Lord

Formed in London in 1964, initially as The Art Wood Combo, the Artwoods consisted of Arthur (Art) Wood on vocals, Derek Griffiths on guitar, Malcolm Pool on bass, Jon Lord on organ and Keef Hartley on drums. Art was the elder brother of Ronnie Wood. Red Bludd's Blusicians had been formed in 1963 and the Artwoods were formed following the departure of Don "Red Bludd" Wilson who played bass and Red Dunnage the drummer. Jon Lord came from the Bill Ashton Combo while Art Wood has sung with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. Keef had previously played with Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, replacing a certain Ringo Starr, and Freddie Starr and the Midnighters having started his career in Preston's The Thunderbirds. .

The Artwoods gained a reputation as the hardest working R & B band on the circuit. The live set consisted of both Chicago Blues standards and original material. Many appearances were made on the top UK pop TV show Ready, Steady Go. Originally the groups mimed to songs but, over time, more and more live performances were allowed. The Artwoods performed on the first Ready Steady Goes Live. Tom Jones mimed to It's Not Unusual on the show. The Kinks and Donovan played live and the Artwoods promoted their first single Sweet Mary.

The group was very popular in the clubs around London but they never equaled this on record despite releasing an LP, an EP and a string of singles. The band was signed to Decca Records with the LP Art Gallery released in 1966. The only chart single was the 1966 I Take What I Want although this is not corroborated by The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. This was a cover of a Sam & Dave song.

There was also one EP called Jazz in Jeans and an album Art Gallery.

There were successful tours of Europe and Poland. Eel Pie Island was a regular gig with the band playing there about once a month. This is an island in the Thames which had to be reached over a small bridge, the equipment requiring three trips. Derek Griffiths remembers the trips to the gig up north:

"Waitress: Which band are you?

Me: You won't have heard of us.

Waitress: Oh go on, tell us.

Me OK. The Artwoods.

Waitress: Never 'eard of you.

It was everybody's dream to walk into the Blue Boar just as their hit of the moment was playing on the jukebox."

The Artwoods were chosen to represent the 20th Century at the centenary celebrations of the State of Monte Carlo. The ball was held in the Casino. After this, the band travelled to Paris and played next door to the Moulin Rouge at The Locomotive.

The band split in 1967 and, at a time of psychedelia, there was a name change to St Valentine's Day Massacre. This was intended to "cash in" on the thirties-style gangsters craze which had been started by the film Bonnie & Clyde. Brother Can You Spare a Dime was a cover of an old Bing Crosby song.Ivy League

Keef Hartley left the band in 1967 to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and later formed the Keef Hartley Band. This band played the Saturday afternoon slot at Woodstock and released several albums during the late 1960s. He later formed Dog Soldier. Jon Lord briefly formed Santa Barbara machine Head with Art Wood's brother Ron, releasing a single Rubber Monkey.  Lord later joined the Ivy League having a hit as The Flowerpot Men and later moved to Deep Purple. Derek Griffiths became a session player.

Keef Hartley died in November 2011. He had quit the music business to become a joiner although he played in several Artwoods and Thunderbirds reunions. Jon Lord died in July 2012.

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?Making Time 1997-2012

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