The Fleurs de Lys were one of the 1960s bands that
released a series of wonderful singles but failed to make the
charts. Nowadays, their contribution is widely appreciated and
this new CD or double LP from Acid Jazz brings together the best
tracks along with a detailed and very informative biography of
the band. The band had an evolving line-up and only drummer
Keith Guster was ever-present.
The band came together from various Southampton area groups. They were given
a record deal by Immediate Records but the resulting single, a cover of Buddy
Holly's Moondreams, was not representative of the group. To add
insult to injury the b-side was a Jimmy Page track that had nothing to do with
the Fleurs de Lys even though it used one of their song titles. The
band's Wait for Me is included here and it is well worth a listen.
Keyboard player Alex Chamberlain left and was replaced by Phil Sawyer whom
the band found touring in Germany. Sawyer's amazing guitar work was outstanding
on the follow-up single, a version of the Who's Circles. This
single is widely viewed as superior to the Who's own version, quite an
accolade. Bassist Danny Churchill had also left by this stage to be replaced by
Gordon Haskell. The single received little support from Immediate and
guitarist/vocalist Frank Smith left the group.
Chris Andrews and Pete Sears joined the band on guitar and keyboards
respectively. After the band moved to London,South African Frank Fenter entered
their lives along with his girlfriend Sharon Tandy. Phil Sawyer's guitar work
was at the heart of the next single Mud in Your Eye. However, after its
release, the band had a devastating blow when Sawyer joined Shotgun Express
and then the Spencer Davis Group. However, they found a new guitarist in
Bryn Haworth who opted for the Fleur de Lys instead of the Herd.
The band were gigging widely and supporting visiting US artists. They
recorded Reflections of Charles Brown (Not included here) but, believing
it was derivative of Whiter Shade of Pale, it was released under the name
Rupert's People. The b-side also credited to Rupert's People was
the stunning track Hold On. There is also a version of this track with
the Fleurs de Lys backing Sharon Tandy although this is not included
here. They also recorded under the names Shyster (Tick Tock) and
Chocolate Frog (Butchers and Bakers).
Enter the songwriting team of Brian Potter and Graham Dee. They wrote a
number of sings for the Fleurs de Lys and some with the band backing
Sharon Tandy. Unfortunately, the Sharon Tandy & the Fleurs de Lys tracks
Hold On and Daughter of the Sun are not included here but are well
worth listening too. At this time Haskell left the band and ended up with
King Crimson and much later with a number 1 single as "The Pub Singer". Tago
Byers joined the band on bass. Now Tony Head joined the band on vocals and
Fenter set him up with Tandy as Tony & Tandy as a double act in the style
of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tyrell. Potter/Dee's Two Can Make It Together
should have been a massive hit but again suffered from a lack of promotion.
Brian Potter & Graham Dee's Gotta Get Enough Time also hints at what
could have been.
By this time Bryn Haworth and Sharon Tandy had become an item and were
heavily involved in drugs. This took its toll on the band. Haworth decided to
move to the US as did Frank Fenter. While this was the end of the Fleurs de
Lys they did leave a massive legacy. They were actually the first UK act to
sign to Atlantic Records, the second being Led Zeppelin.
Original release: 26 March 2021
- Hold On
- Gotta Get Enough Time