Steve Hammond

Steve Hammond is perhaps one of the less well-known former members of the Chris Barber Band. He was the band's banjo player and occasionally electric guitarist for just two years between 1971 and 1973, taking over from Stu Morrison and being replaced by Johnny McCallum. He was involved briefly with the Barber Band before that, as the producer of one LP in the experimental Get Rolling double-album, the co-writer of some of the tunes that appeared on it, and guitarist on two tracks. He played a similar role with Drat That Fratle Rat.

According to the Bielderman-Purser Discography, Steve appeared on only about a dozen tracks that were commercially released, which is a great pity, because if you listen to his solo on Lazy River, an un-released concert recording from Basel, Switzerland, on 10 February, 1973, you can get a sense of his unusual ideas and unique style. Another excerpt is I'm Slapping 7th Avenue With The Sole Of My Shoe.

Steve Hammond died in California in 1989.
The following biography of Steve Hammond has been generously contributed by Martin Mycock:

Born in London, Steve emigrated to Canada at the of age five. At school he took up clarinet and later guitar, playing Rock n Roll and Dixieland in High School bands. This early straddling of genres was to come to typify Steve's career-long ability to write, perform and produce in a wide range of musical styles.

In 1963 Steve returned to London and took up residence in a flat above organist Zoot Money and future Police guitarist Andy Summers. During this early period he played in Tawny Reed And The Heatwave, as well as releasing two solo singles in late 1966 and early 1967 on the Pye label. For both of these singles the flip-sides are more appealing than the A-sides and arguably closer to Steve's true musical aspirations. Steve then became involved with Chris Farlowe's band co-writing the November 1968 single 'Dawn'. When Farlowe moved his base of operations to the United States the band regrouped as The Hill. Meanwhile, Money and Summers had become members of Eric Burdon's New Animals and no doubt due to their influence Steve's composition 'Gemini' was included on the 'Love Is' album released in December 1968. The Hill had the dubious honour of being one of the last artists to release a single on the legendary Immediate label in June 1969. This comprised Steve and bassist Bruce Waddell's 'Sylvie', backed with the bizarrely titled group instrumental composition 'The Fourth Annual Convention Of The Battery Hen Farmers' Association Part II'. It was around this time that Steve first became involved with Chris Barber in the form of the 'Get Rolling' album. Steve took on playing, writing and production duties as rock influences became absorbed into Chris's sound.

In December 1969 Steve undertook a musical director role for the first solo album by Deviants' vocalist Mick Farren. Farren relates in his book 'Give The Anarchist A Cigarette' how a chance meeting at a party resulted in Steve generously offering his services to help get the album off the ground. Farren thought the offer was just an idle boast but was pleasantly surprised to receive a follow-up phone call from Steve the next morning and things quickly got moving. The album has been described as 'good time druggy rock'n'roll'! Three of Steve's songs - a reworking of 'Gemini' along with 'Make Up Your Mind' and 'Black Sheep Of The Family' - were featured on the eponymous 1970 album by the band Quatermass. This organ-based trio mixed rock with the improvisational approach of jazz. They featured keyboard player Pete Robinson (a contributor to the 'Get Rolling' sessions, a member of The Hill and later to play with Brit jazz-rockers Brand X), John Gustafson (a veteran of the Sixties Liverpool Scene) and drummer Mick Underwood who had been a member of The Outlaws with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. 'Black Sheep Of The Family' is said to have been the catalyst for Blackmore leaving hard rockers Deep Purple when he heard the song and became determined to record it despite the band's vehement original material only policy. Eventually the song was released with his own band Rainbow, which we can surmise provided Steve with a useful source of income over the coming years.

'Black Sheep Of The Family' was also to feature on Steve's next appearance on vinyl - Chris Farlowe & The Hill's 1970 album 'From Here To Mama Rosa'. The Hill had been recording an album of predominantly Steve penned material, but it had been decided that a separate vocalist was needed to do the material justice. This decision happened to coincide with Farlowe's return to the U.K. and he was enlisted to front the band. The alliance however only lasted a few months, and even before the album was released Steve had joined Fat Mattress where he replaced former Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist turned guitarist Noel Redding. Steve contributed to roughly half of their 'Fat Mattress II' album, as well as a single B-side which wasn't on the LP - another interpretation of 'Black Sheep Of The Family'. This version was underpinned by Steve's fine acoustic guitar playing, as indeed many of his recordings were. Listening to this arrangement it's easy to picture Steve strumming away when he first composed the song. Fat Mattress began work on a third album but this was left unfinished when the band split up in early 1971. Steve's next album appearance was on singer/songwriter Jonathan Swift's 'Introvert', where he was again heavily involved in arranging the material and contributed his own composition 'I Won't Let You Down'.

In March 1971 Steve renewed his musical acquaintance with Chris Barber by joining the Barber band on banjo and guitar for a two year stint. Steve also continued with session work including Rupert Hine's 'Pick Up A Bone' and band-mate Jackie Flavelle's 'Admission Free'.

After leaving the Barber band Steve's next major project was the sci-fi rock musical 'Flash Fearless And The Zorg Women Parts 5 & 6'. This was intended to be a stage show, but only the 'soundtrack' album was ever completed in this form. Poor sales of the album, despite it boasting a large cast of rock luminaries, were doubtless to blame. The venture did however lead to an ongoing association with the country-rock band Meal Ticket, which included long time friend and fellow Canadian Rick Jones who had assisted with the writing of 'Flash Fearless...'. Steve co-wrote a substantial number of songs for the band over their three-album career. Another Hammond original was featured on the Chopyn album 'Grand Slam' - the band's keyboard player Ann O'Dell had assisted on the 'Get Rolling' sessions.

By the early Eighties Steve had relocated to the U.S.A. and was finally able to fulfill his ambition of getting 'Flash Fearless...' onto the stage. The production opened at the Santa Monica Boulevard Theater, Los Angeles in March 1981. It was now entitled 'Captain Crash And The Zzorg Women Parts 5 & 6 ' - presumably due to copyright difficulties. Old pal Rick Jones played one of the leading characters while Steve acted as narrator, musical director and guitarist. For the remainder of the decade Steve found gainful employment transcribing Hollywood movie scores.

In 1989 Steve died suddenly in Port Hueneme, California. As he had done throughout his career he had been just about to embark on another project in a new musical style - as Rick Jones remembers "... at the end, Steve was working on a 'Lounge Lizard' act - something rather like Rod Stewart has just done - all suited up and playing dimly-lighted bars. He always needed to perform. He'd constructed backing-tracks on his computer.... it would have been very good had he managed to live. I guarantee you, though, they're all laughing their asses off in Muso Heaven. He was one funny Canadian."

Martin Mycock, April 2004

Steve Hammond Photo Gallery

Chris Barber's Jazz & Blues Band, 1971 - 1973:
Left to right: Steve Hammond, Jackie Flavelle, Graham Burbidge,
Chris Barber, John Crocker, Pat Halcox, and John Slaughter
Steve Hammond and John Slaughter (date unknown).
(This photograph was kindly donated to the Barber website by John Slaughter.)
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