Interview: Bev Bevan (The Move, ELO, Black Sabbath)

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HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: March 2014. We had the great honour to talk with a great drummer: Bev Bevan. Bev is founding member of The Move and ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). He has also played with Black Sabbath and Paul Weller. The Move will start a UK tour in a few days. An amazing live album, “Live at the Fillmore 1969”, released on February 2012 and it is a must-have for every Move fan. Read below the very interesting things Bev told us:


What fans should expect of the upcoming The Move tour?

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They should expect to listen to all the singles we had. In England, we had ten. They will listen to the classic songs like “Flowers In The Rain”, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”, “Fire Brigade”, “Blackberry Way”, “Night of Fear”, “Tonight”, “Brontosaurus”, “California Man” and some other songs we did way back. We are now rehearsing for these shows. Also, we will do a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. The Move toured a lot with Jimi Hendrix and will do “Hey Joe” as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix (ed: also The Move’s Roy Wood and Trevor Burton sang backing vocals on “You Got Me Floating”, on The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s second album, “Axis: Bold as Love”). Yeah, they are going to listen to a lot of The Move songs.


Do you think this tour is also a chance for younger listeners to discover the music of The Move?

Yeah, the Move were together between 1966 and 1972, when was the last time The Move toured. I know a lot of years have passed since then and we are hoping that a lot of younger people will appreciate what was a crazy rock band and we are back making again something here.


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Are you satisfied with the final result of The Move’s “Live at the Fillmore 1969”? It’s a great performance!

I’m glad that we did it but there is some kind of rough bits in there, but it’s exactly as it happened. It’s fantastic that we played 4 shows at Fillmore West in San Francisco and those shows remained undiscovered for years and years. It’s great that this performance is out now, yes.


Are there plans for a new studio album by The Move?

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Yes, it could happen. The reaction for this tour has been really-really good. Last year, we have been suggested to do a tour of England we thought to do only about 15 shows. But now, it seems that people want more. If this tour is successful, yeah hopefully we can do a new album.


When you recorded with The Move songs like “Brontosaurus” and “Disturbance” had you realized how revolutionary they were?

When we started The Move in 1966, we started as a very underground sort of band. We started in ’66 and we used to tour all the time with The Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. It was a very underground sort of band and then we had some hit records and some pop songs. When we went to Fillmore and got back, we started doing heavier stuff. But we always tried to experiment and do different things.


Did Tony Secunda’s (he managed The Moody Blues and Motorhead among others) management help or harm The Move? He did many crazy things!

He was a crazy man. Yes, he was! He was great to gain publicity and he used to make stories up. Some of the stories he just made up: When the master tapes of the first Move album had been stolen and then there were found by someone and he gave them back. They all were made up (laughs). When we had our first album finished, he made this story up. He used to make stories up all the time. But unfortunately he went way too far. He made that story about Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister (ed: he produced a cartoon postcard for “Flowers In The Rain” single, showing Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary), and that got us in really serious trouble. The Prime Minister sued us and that was too much. Then, we left him after that.


Are you proud that The Move’s single “Flowers in The Rain” was the first single played on BBC Radio 1 on 30 September 1967?

Oh, you have the exact date! Of course, it was a great honour and Tony Blackburn -we had met a few times since then- apparently liked the thunderstorm in the beginning of the record. He still works for BBC Radio 2. Yes, we are very proud of that.


Do you have any memories from The Move tour with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd and The Nice in November and December 1967?

Yes, indeed. The strange thing is that Pink Floyd just had two singles at the time: “See Emily Play” and “Arnold Layne”. That’s all they got to play. They only got to play those two songs.  They had to open the show. It was kind of difficult to get to know them. But, we became really good friends with The Jimi Hendrix Experience: with Jimi and Noel (ed: Redding – bass) and Mitch (ed: Mitchell -drums). It’s shame that all of them are no longer with us, they are all dead men. We got on really-really well with them. It was a fantastic tour. We played two shows a night for three-four weeks. It was great then.


I have read many rumours and you may help me: Did you invite Hank Marvin (The Shadows guitarist) to join The Move?

Yes, we did. We definitely did. But we never really thought that he would say “yes”. And he did not say “yes”. It was again a good publicity story. It made front page in all music papers but we never expected him to say “yes”. I don’t really think it would work out anyway. But we had a lot of respect to Hank Marvin. My best friend in the music business is Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath and Hank Marvin is Tony’s  hero, and when you ask him: “Who is the best guitar player in the world?”, he says: “Hank Marvin”.


Which is your favourite ELO album?

Probably “New World Record” (1976).


In 1983, you replaced Bill Ward in Black Sabbath (during Born Again Tour). Did you feel any pressure from the fans then?

A little bit. But it wasn’t the first time Bill wasn’t there. They had some other drummers, as well as me. Bill Ward had some problems then. I didn’t really have pressure. I have always been a live drummer since I was in The Move, so I really enjoyed that time with Black Sabbath and it was great to play heavy rock again.


Did you enjoy recording with Paul Weller for his “Wake Up The Nation” (2010) album?

Yeah, that was great. He found me and said that I was his second choice. His first choice would have been Keith Moon (The Who), but Keith Moon is dead (laughs). So, he chose me and I had to play like Keith in a way. Yes, Paul is a lovely guy. It was a great time playing with him.


You organized a benefit concert in Birmingham, Heart Beat ‘86, where George Harrison (The Beatles guitarist) joined all the artists for the finale. How was playing “Johnny B. Goode” with George Harrison?

It was a great thrill. I worked with The Beatles when I played with Denny Laine & the Diplomats. We opened for The Beatles and we met with them a couple of times. But that was way back in the mid ‘60s and all of them were great guys. And from The Beatles, I think George Harrison was the nicest Beatle. He was such a lovely man. It was fantastic that I played with him. It was such as surprise for the crowd, for 4.000 people and when the comedian Jasper Carrott said “We have a big surprise” and when he announced George Harrison, all people went mad.


Do you believe that popular music which was written in the ‘60s and ‘70s was much better than today’s music?

Oh, yes. Absolutely. I love rock ’n’ roll music from the late ‘50s and then the ‘60s and ‘70s. Yes, I think today’s music is not so good. There is some good music, but not so much.


Is there anyone you would like to play with and hasn’t happened yet?

Yes, there are 100 people I would really like to play with. I love some female American singers like Bonnie Raitt and Beth Hart. And people like Don Henley (The Eagles). They are a lot of people that I would like to play with.


Who are your influences as a drummer?

My main influences were people like D. J Fontana who was Elvis Presley’s drummer, Hal Blaine who played a lot with Phil Spector. Brian Bennett from The Shadows maybe and then my friend John Bonham (Led Zeppelin).


What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to the artists that I mentioned earlier. Beth Hart, Joe Bonamassa,  Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin. A lot of American country rock.


Are you happy with the triumphant return of the vinyl?

Yes. You can listen to the original music. You can look at the artwork. You can think of something like “Sgt. Pepper’s” for instance. You think of the original album and you can compare it with the CD, and you ‘ll see that the album, it’s a piece of art. It’s much better than the CD.


Are you still presenting radio shows on BBC Radio West Midlands?

I ‘m writing CD reviews for a paper called Sunday Mercury and a magazine called 24/7. I do album reviews and I also do my radio show on BBC WM, yes.


Have you ever turned down an interesting work offer?

There were a couple of things that I couldn’t do it but it would be nice. Way back, David Bowie and Lou Reed wanted to play with them, I think it was on “Transformer” album (ed: Lou Reed’s, produced by Bowie- 1972) but I couldn’t do that. And David Coverdale from Whitesnake and Deep Purple, when he started Whitesnake wanted me to join Whitesnake, but I couldn’t do that either. Those two things would be nice.


Few people know that Marc Bolan (T. Rex) played a couple of times with ELO. What really happened?

With ELO we did “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” (ed:“On The Third Day” album -1973) in the studio and he played a lot of twin lead guitar parts on that. Then we did a show -I think it was in Watford, I think it was at Watford Town Hall- and he played on stage with us. He played that track and I think he played “Roll Over Beethoven” too. Again, it was a great surprise for the crowd, to see such a hero playing with ELO. It was a great time, yes.


A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Bev Bevan for his time and to Ashley Yeates for his valuable help.

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