Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 

The Creation

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Vocals- Kenny Pickett, guitar- Eddie Phillips, bass- Bob Garner, drums- Jack Jones

The Creation started life as the Mark Four. This band was made up of Kenny Pickett, real name Kenny Lee, (vocals), Norman Miffin (lead guitar), Mick Thompson (rhythm guitar), John Dalton (bass) and Jack Jones (drums). Norman Miffin left in late 1964 to be replaced by Eddie Phillips. This group released four singles before Dalton left to join the Kinks and Thompson abandoned music altogether. Bob Garner then joined the band. He had previously played with the Merseybeats and Tony Sheridan. The group decided to change the name to The Creation following a 1966 record deal with Shel Talmy's Planet Records. Shel Talmy was known as the producer of The Kinks and The Who. In changing from The Mark Four to The Creation and drafting in the new band members, the group's sound became much harder.

The first two singles as The Creation were the explosive Making Time and Painter Man, both written by Pickett and Phillips. These singles had the raw energy of The Who, also clear on the b-side of Painter Man, Biff Bang Pow. Painter Man was later covered by Boney M! Eddie Phillips was showing himself to be an innovative guitarist, using to violin bow on the guitar to effect, a feat that was later made more popular by Jimmy Page. Both of the singles were minor hits in the UK but were far more successful on the continent where the band had a string of successes. The Creation had an action-packed stage show where Kenny Pickett would paint canvasses with aerosol paint and then set fire to them.

Kenny Pickett left the group in 1967 with Bob Garner taking over the vocals. Kim Gardner joined to play bass. He had previously played with The Birds. Singles that followed a move to Polydor included If I Stay Too Long, Life is Just Beginning and How Does it Feel to Feel (later covered by Ride). A full size advertisement was taken out on the back page of Melody Maker to push Life is Just Beginning. This was of a very old woman with a very lined face. This caused such a scandal at the time that it practically crushed any hope of the group increasing their popularity.

An album called We are Paintermen was relatively successful in Europe. The success on the Continent and lack of success at home fueled the personality clashed within the group and both Garner and Phillips left. Phillips had earlier turned down Pete Townsend's offer to join The Who as second guitarist. Tony Ollard played guitar for a brief spell.

A reshaped Creation emerged in 1968 with Ronnie Wood, formerly of The Birds on guitar. Whatever happened to him? Kenny Pickett rejoined for a short time with this line-up releasing the single Midway Down, before finally splitting up in April of that year after playing the last gig at the John Lewis store in Oxford Street London.

Eddie Phillips went on to form the band TNT and work with PP Arnold before becoming a bus driver. Kim Gardner was a member of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (Resurrection Shuffle) and Badger. Kenny Pickett worked as a roadie for Led Zeppelin, also writing the UK hit single Grandad.

Phillips and Pickett started working together again during 1976 with the singles Limbo Jimbo and Little Lolita.

However, this is not the end of the story. The group was cited as influential by Paul Weller with a shot of Biff Bang Pow on the inside cover of All Mod Cons. Later it provided the name for the Creation record label. In 1993, Kenny Pickett and Bob Garner spoke again and agreed to reform the band to "lay the ghost". It was felt that it had not been properly been laid to rest. The first song played by the reformed "original" Creation was Making Time.

The band made its '90s debut at the Mean Fiddler in North London in July 1993 where the live album Lay the Ghost was recorded. This showed that while the group was still rusty, the explosive power was still there and Eddie Phillips wrote off two violin bows during the evening. The first song played was Batman that carried into Biff Bang Pow. The remainder of the set was made up of previously recorded songs, with Life is Just Beginning played for the first time in concert, previous live favourites such as I'm a Man, and a new song Lay the Ghost. Making Time and Painter Man were amazing! Kenny Pickett returned to his aerosol painting but this time did not set them alight. Incidentally, the cover painting for the live album was by the late, great Vivien Stanshall.

A new single, Creation, was released on Creation Records in 1994 and there have been a few more gigs. An album called Powersurge was released and showed there was still a spark there.

The German reissue label Outline has released a couple of compilations as has Edsel in the UK. Eva Records from France released a compilation of Mark Four and Creation material. 

In October 1998, Retroactive issued a two-CD set that had all the Creation's 1960s recorded work as well as some German Beat Beat Beat recordings. These CDs are highly recommended.

Kenney Pickett died of a heart attack on January 10th 1997. Kim Gardner died of cancer in Los Angeles in October 2001. He had been running a pub called the Cat & Fiddle. 

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