EL-Lea-Eye-Em’s first seeds were sown in 1971 when I encountered Philip Gerald Souter playing piano at a club in Elstree (England’s ‘Hollywood’), twenty miles north of Central London.
I had taken up drums two years earlier, and after hearing rock group, Deep Purple’s, Concerto for Group & Orchestra, was inspired by the way composer, Jon Lord, had fused two apparently diametrically opposed types of music to create a work of great power, diversity and harmony. It was this and my subsequent meeting with Phil that gave us the idea to form a group inspired by classical composers like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, but performed with the power of some of the top prog. rock bands emerging at that time.
FIRST THINGS FIRST (FTF)
Bass guitarist, Pat Burns, was brought in, and shortly afterwards, two lead guitarists were recruited. This was when Paul Andrew Watson joined and Star Cry was born. This line up, however, did not gel. But when the second lead guitarist was sacked and Star Cry became FTF (1973), the serious business of composing classically influenced music began. That same year Paul’s cousin, Keith Stuart, joined on lead vocals and my friend, Ray Wallace-Watson stepped in on bass, after Pat left. FTF was complete.
We had high standards in our musical composition with as much emphasis placed on instrumental as vocal works. With a few notable exceptions our songs were not commercial, though that was not a problem then, as younger audiences were receptive to the creative explosion in song writing that pervaded that heyday of rock.
Keith’s stay with FTF was relatively short, so Phil had to take up lead vocals again, in addition to playing keyboards, and acting as musical director. Subsequently, we struggled to find and retain lead singers, so the instrumental side of our music remained pre-eminent. FTF peaked in the late seventies having established a following in North London where we captivated audiences with our powerful message based songs. When Ray left (1979), Paul doubled up on bass and lead guitar using a twin neck. During this twilight period, prior to disbanding in 1981, we were at our tightest and most creative.
THIRTY YEAR BREAK
In the years before FTF’s reunion in 2011, and the decision to start re-recording our best material, as it was deteriorating on cassette tape, Phil, Paul and I were involved with other bands and studies that served to expand our musical horizons, writing, arranging and performing commercial pop/rock songs.
Paul developed his formidable guitar playing and riff-writing skills with a local rock group and Phil’s highly successful soft-rock band, Charlie Rose, were offered a recording contract, but the deal collapsed when the lead singer backed out.
I played drums in a semi-pro female fronted rock ‘n soul covers band called Angel, and through my membership of the ascended master sponsored mystery schools, Shangri-La and Theosophia is the Way, learned about the science of music and how naturally balanced and harmonious music, such as classical music, raises our vibration, whereas most forms of pop/rock music does the opposite through the use of incessant syncopation, discordant sounds, and lyrics with negative messages.
This is explained in my book, A Golden Age Economy, in the chapters: The Perversion of Music (pages 238 – 243) and The New Popular Music (pages 419 – 439).
HUGE NEW MUSIC MARKET
I believe there is a huge market, and pressing need, for a new type of enlightened popular music that does not contain any harmful elements, but that would appeal to young people, and act as an antidote to the increasingly negative music, messages and images promoted by the pop music industry today. It occurred to me that there already existed the basis for such music in some of FTF’s songs and that with some modification it would be possible to create a new genre of music that would be universally popular and also that would encourage the enlightened thinking needed to turn our upside-down world around.
Soon after I approached Phil with my ideas for EL-Lea-Eye-Em we began putting music to my lyrics and tunes, beginning with Funny Money, which is the first of over forty songs I have written since 2003 that I plan to release under the EL-Lea-Eye-Em umbrella. Composed after the financial crash of 2008, the lyrics were first published in my book, A Golden Age Economy, in 2013.
The basic tune for Funny Money was mine, but the rest of the music, arrangement and production was Phil’s work.
The initial reaction to this song, and video (which I produced and directed, with technical assistance from Tom Watkins) has been extremely encouraging.
The ‘Funny Money’ musicians are: Phil (keyboards, synthesisers, lead vocals), myself (Roland TD-30KV V-Pro Series digital V drums), Paul (guitar) and Vicky Souter (backing vocals). Ray provided invaluable technical assistance.
I am also looking to collaborate with other talented composers, singers and musicians already successful in the industry, and/or with those who wish to make music their main career.