Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Ernie Graham: Ireland, chicks & dope

Ernest Harold Graham was born in Belfast on June 14th 1946. Having served his apprenticeship with Tony & The Telstars and The People, he became guitarist with the appallingly-named Irish psychedelic pop-rockers Eire Apparent. Their sole album, Sunrise, was produced by Jimi Hendrix, with whom they'd toured America for most of 1968 (along with The Soft Machine). Sunrise appeared in May 1969, rather late for music of its sort. It's pretty good, though, with some especially inventive guitar playing - but when it flopped, the band folded. Like many reformed acid rockers, Graham decided to eschew all psychedelic trappings (except drugs) and adopt a more personal and straightforward approach. Eire Apparent had been managed by Dave Robinson, who'd since established Down Home Productions, with Brinsley Schwarz and Help Yourself on its roster. 
Help Yourself and Graham played a gig together in January 1971, as this Melody Maker ad shows:

Having befriended Help Yourself's ace singer and songwriter Malcolm Morley, Graham invited the band (and members of Brinsley Schwarz) to back him on his solo album, which was recorded early in 1971 and issued that April.

It's a laid-back, good-natured collection, reminiscent (unsurprisingly) of both Brinsley Schwarz and Help Yourself, and features a few classics, such as the touching 'Sebastian' and 'Sea Fever', and the tough 'Blues For Snowy' and 'Belfast'. As original copies are rare, it has attracted a fair amount of attention from collectors, but remains unknown to many people who would probably enjoy it a lot. So (as an addendum to my Help Yourself post) I thought I'd put up a few odds and ends relating to it.

This is the original press release sent out with promo copies in April 1971:

Here's the half-page advert that appeared in the music press in April 1971, designed by 'Jeff Of 'Ello Mum':

And here's an interview that appeared in Beat Instrumental's June 1971 issue:

The album was moderately well-received but sold poorly, prompting Graham to join Help Yourself for a few months (he can be heard on their second album, Strange Affair, released in May 1972, though he'd left them at the end of 1971). On August 7th Sounds ran a piece investigating what was wrong with the Irish music scene, to which Ernie contributed a few thoughts:

He went on to form pub-rockers Clancy in mid-1973. They released a couple of LPs on Warner Bros. before he went solo again, though he only managed one 45, a cover of Phil Lynott's 'Romeo & The Lonely Girl', for Robinson's Stiff Records, in 1978. I've read that he worked as a railwayman thereafter, and was training as a counsellor when he drank himself to death in April 2001.

1 comment:

  1. thanks- nice bits of info always liked that album a lot,and that's added to the little i knew of him.