To start with, the timing wasn't great. He was born at a truly bad moment, March 1941, when Britain Stood Alone and things looked grim indeed. Later, things picked up. At school, his piano teacher hit him every time he made a mistake, which swiftly led to taking up the ukelele. And then folky guitar stuff. He met a chap at drama school, one David Stuart Chadwick, known to all as Chad. He played better. He also played piano. So, the usual thing... they had a college band for a while, The Jerks. Drama school over, off to be a Proper Actor, to a rep season in Dundee, Scotland. Damn chilly. Then back to conquer London. Bad timing... Equity, the actor's union, is on strike. Thus, call old pal Chad which led to singing in a bar which led to John Barry checking them out and signing them up. Their first effort "Yesterday's Gone" was a minor hit in the UK, but things really took off in the USA where, in the slipstream of The Fabs, anyone with a record and hair was in with a chance.
Success followed. Seven Top Forty hits, it says here. "A Summer Song" is the big one. "Trees swaying in the summer breeze... silver leaves etc." You probably know it.
But now the so-called British Invasion is over; big serious albums are in. Check out The Ark, if that's your thing. Album stiffs, nowadays a big cult number. So, back to England and that acting career. Got v. lucky, v. quickly... BBC series, hit play in the West End, then Broadway. Since then, popping up all over the place on British TV, in the theatre, and occasionally, in films. Lots of hats and facial hair. Lots of period roles. Lots of villains, as well.
But, yesterday hasn't gone yet, it seems, and in the mid 80's they get together again for a bit of touring and recording.
"David M Pierce has pursued the typical career path of the aspiring private-eye writer - aluminum company slave, furniture salesman, reporter, truck driver, magazine salesman, stage manager, actor, bartender,and hatcheck girl. He has also written lyrics for Alice Cooper, Chad & Jeremy, and John Entwhistle ,and co-wrote and acted in the musical comedy Captain Crash vs. the Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6. He is the author of four previous Vic Daniel mysteries: Angels In Heaven, Roses Love Sunshine, Hear The Wind Blow, Dear, and Down In The Valley. Born in Montreal, David M Pierce spent years in London and Los Angeles before settling in Paris."
From Ballads Of A Boulevardier, a volume of verse...
"David Pierce was born the year after the repeal of Prohibition, in Montreal. His first brush with the great came when he offered Oscar Peterson one Canadian dollar to play "Chi Baba, Chi Baba" in the old Alberta lounge. Mr Peterson foolishly declined and soon disappeared from the scene. Later encounters with the famed include the afternoon Gordon MacRae offered him a stick of gum in a New York taxi, the time Joan Collins said "Are you kidding?" to him, and that wonderful morning Zoot [Sims] poured shredded wheat on his head. A modest man, Mr Pierce seldom mentions the lovely Christmas card he received last year from that great gal Annette Funicello. As for his well-documented tete-a-tete with Papa [Hemingway] , well, that's another story, and a terrific one."
Hugo Williams is my oldest friend. Our parents were close friends & for a while lived across the road. I have pictures of us toddlers crawling together in the garden. Much later we would discover girls and Elvis & that first cigarette. Hugo went on to become one of our foremost poets...The Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry, The T.S. Eliot prize. He started out working in various literary magazines & wrote a very well received travel book "No Particular Place To Go". He hugely admires the lyrics of Chuck Berry. Even now, if I’m over at his place, it won’t be long before he produces some rare vinyl from the late 50s or early 60s...rockabilly is a favourite. And obscure soul.
By the mid seventies I was deep into the overwhelming business of raising a family, and had completely run out of songwriting ideas. Time to call Hugo. And to discover that I found the tunes would come thick & fast if I didn’t have to worry about the words. And so we wrote a number of songs together which are only now beginning to see the light of day...from BDS 6 onwards. I like them very much & they seem to fit seamlessly into the overall style. In 2014 Hugo developed health problems which eventually led to a successful kidney transplant. Which meant that I got the opportunity to perform some of his recent poetry at the Royal Festival Hall in London. ( Alma please insert the link...YouTube Jeremy Clyde reads Hugo Williams). You may want to fast forward through the long introduction.
I can’t place the first time I met Rick, but I was certainly aware that he was part of the London Sixties scene, as an actor & star of children’s TV. Even now there is a generation that reveres the memory of Mr Fingerbobs. I definitely remember meeting him in Soho on a sunny afternoon just after I had finished a matinee performance of the hit play Conduct Unbecoming in 1969. A decade later he was to reappear as the writing partner of my new pal, Big Dave Pierce. Together they had written for Meal Ticket, a noted band in the UK in the 70s in which Rick played keyboard. He remains a great friend, a man of extraordinary ability. Sculptor, painter, poet, songwriter, novelist, guitarist, piano player. I am in awe. Fortunately I have been able to set a couple of his lyrics "Lord Save Me", on No 4 & "Hope To Hell" on no 6. Surprisingly, they both have a religious theme, which is not particularly a part of Rick’s world, but then his world is wide & certainly has room for many & various concepts.