Spotlight on UK Country artist Phil Lloyd

Spotlight on UK Country artist Phil Lloyd
Phil got into music back in 1965 doing rock and roll in multi-ethic outfit called the Five Aces. But it was country music he was drawn to when he went to see the film The Hank Williams Story featuring George Hamilton, and he got hooked – the rest is history. He started listening to the music of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves and later David Allen Coe, Charley Pride and later Waylon Jennings. Lloyd describes Jones as “the greatest singer ever” but he cites Hank Williams as his mentor and started performing his songs. For him every Williams were great songs and told a story.
Lloyd bought Hank Williams songbooks and albums were sourced from a cheap label RCA Camden and learnt the songs. From there he started going to a pub in Bentley in Doncaster called The Bay Horse, a popular venue in its heyday. Phil describes it as “The country capital of Doncaster”. It was there that Phil would get up on stage to sing, forming duos and trios and everything stemmed from there.
His country music tree started in the 60’s as The Lloyd James Duo, then trio, then band and then onto The Larry Hinchcliffe Trio which lasted 3 years. From there he teamed up with Ken Durrans to form a band called The Davisons. Shortly afterwards along the country route evolved the Phil Lloyd trio and then Phil Lloyd Sound. That band format included Jimmy Henderson (lead guitar), Mick Johns (bass) and Fred Harris (drums).
Three years afterwards Phil joined The Collier Dixon Line, with Dennis Collier (lead guitar), Phil on bass, Barry Ward (rhythm guitar) and Johnny Young (drums), they worked together for over four years.
For family reasons Phil left in 1976 with the birth of his daughter but when barely 6 months he was asked by musicians to form a new band, who had been working with Doncaster based Jack Parks and the West Coast Sound, this became known as Mustang. As a 4-piece band they would use a lot of close harmonies. In 1979 they won the coveted Marlborough Talent Competition, the finals were held at the Easter Wembley Festival – “sponsored by the cigarette company, hence the cough, we were all smokers then, they threw them at us” says Phil!
After this success, the pressure was on, expectations were running high in terms of their live performances – “You couldn’t falter and have an off night”. They performed with American artists touring at the time.
In 1983, 6 years on, due to financial constraints the band split. From there another band came into being called Shackband – “It was a different ball game because it was back to being enjoyment and going out for a laugh” says Lloyd. Dave Rafferty the steel guitarist and lead for Collier Dixon Line joined them for 2 years. Due to work commitments he had to leave and Scotty from Mustang rejoined and they stayed together for the next 6 years.
In 1989, due to personal problems (nervous breakdown) Lloyd took a 3-year break but then he met his wife Carole and she encouraged him to make a return. A call was made to buddy Ken Durrans and together they formed the partnership Phil & Ken. On and off they have been together since 1971, fast forward to the present day Phil works as a solo act.
Phil enjoyed the live band days best but due to the economic climate with clubs not being able to afford to pay bands he became a performer in his own right. Occasionally at festivals he gets to play as part of a band meeting up with other musicians.
In the days of Phil & Ken there was a great rapport and much humour. They would go out to enjoy themselves as entertainers, the fun rubbed off on the audiences who would go home happy.
Phil has made many records over the years with the different bands and four solo albums. Ken likes to sing powerful songs; ones he can “get his teeth into”. Phil has cut quite a few George Jones tracks because of his admiration for the great man.
Lloyd has a brand new album called MEMORIES which comprises old-time material from the 60’s up to the 80’s. These songs are ones he likes to sing and has thus recorded; it is selling well at gigs. The album cover has pictures going back many a year when he had brown hair – “I have always had a beard since 15, I did shave it off once but was told to re-grow it because I was too ugly” states Lloyd.
The last few years have been a difficult period because Phil has had problems with his voice. 3 years ago he had nodules on vocal chords and had them removed. He returned to the music scene too soon and struggled to hit the notes. Then a lump grew in his throat which resulted in further operations to remove it but his voice returned after recuperation. He had to visit a speech therapist when he could talk but not sing – “Me at a speech therapist” jokes Lloyd.
He classes himself as a country singer not a dance act and there were frustrations not being able to reach the high notes. He had reassurances from friends like Gary Perkins who have undone similar operations that the voice would return. Phil’s vocal chords are now straight and everything is thankfully back to normal.
In January 2011 he felt his voice was ready and able to record once again, hence forth this new album.
On 22 May 2011 Phil Lloyd “Doncaster Country Legend” joined current CMA International Broadcaster of the Year Allan Watkiss for an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield to promote it. The project was a former country programme Album of the Week feature. Songs played from MEMORIES included ‘Streets Of Baltimore’, 3 Alan Jackson songs: ‘You Can’t Have It All’, ‘House With No Curtains’ and ‘Who Said You Can’t Have It All’ and ‘My Woman My Woman My Wife’ by Marty Robbins, of whom he regrets never having the opportunity to work with. Looking back over his career, from the Mustang collection came ‘Love Is Just A Game’ and ‘Cause It’s You’ from The Shackband era.
In interview Phil spoke about songwriting and the way the live music scene has changed.
About songwriting
Phil “I didn’t do a lot of it to be quite honest, the Americans have got it taped, some fabulous songs out there, it’s very hard to do your own stuff and have it appreciated. You see so many acts go on stage and say “Right I’m going to sing all my own songs tonight” and they FALL FLAT because people don’t recognize them. This is the thing about country music people like to hear songs that they have heard before, that they can recognize.
Allan: “It’s very hard for a British act to get a song known with isn’t it? With one or two exceptions like Dave Sherriff, where people know them now”
Phil: “Dave cottoned onto the line dance scene and he started writing line dance songs because they are played the length and breadth of the country now. So they all know they are Dave Sherriff songs. What I would a call as the REAL country fans they aren’t interested in line dancing, they wouldn’t think two things about it, they are just songs, but to the line dancers he is a household name”
What of the changes in the British club scene over the last 46 years?
Phil: – “When we did the clubs in the 60’s and 70’s and you got there at 7 o’clock, people were queuing up to get in. Now you roll up at 7, 7:30 to set up and they crawl in a 9 o’clock and you to play to 25 – 40 people in a club, it’s sad, umm I don’t know what it is, I think there is to much in-house entertainment now and people don’t want to come out. I tell a gag on stage, ‘I played a club last night and I was the youngest in there, and I was the only one in without a stick (laughs) “
Allan: “What’s the future then for the British Country Music Scene – Doesn’t look good does it? “
Phil: “I don’t know, it I’ll keep going, we need young people in, and that’s all”
Alan: “How are you going to do that, how are you going to get young people in “
Phil: “Were getting some young entertainment in now of course, the young singers come in and all that. I always think that people of our age back when they were 30 didn’t like country music. They get to 40 and 50 and they suddenly like country music, so hopefully this will happen. People in their 30’s or their 40’s will start to like country music and come to watch country music. Love line dancing or hate it, it does bring people into clubs and you’ve got to appreciate that and it keeps them going. I think the biggest problems with a lot of clubs are the finance side of things. Being an entertainer of course you have to get paid for what you do. If every club charged a nominal fee to get in to see entertainment I can’t see a problem, I think clubs would flourish.
Allan: “Would people pay it?”
Phil: “Well you’ve always got a mentality of people – That I’m a member of this club and I shouldn’t pay to come in “. But if you go up to the North East everybody pays. Go anywhere in the club and its free, go into the concert room where there is a turn on and you pay. Maybe only £1, but you pay, it does help to offset the price of the acts, and I think it would help tremendously”
After 46 years in on the music scene Phil says he is still living, breathing and enjoying what he does. He has taken his foot off the gas and is no longer doing 5 nights every week. He says he needs to have enjoyment now and hopes the audiences appreciate his show. He has enough songs to keep everyone happy at dance clubs – “No one has ever written a song for line dancers, you write a song and people dance to it”
Sadly good friend Barry Ward died and Dennis Collier has asked Lloyd to attend a memorial show on 22 August so it will be reunion with Ken Durrans and The Collier Dixon Line. It will be live, no backing tracks – “Dennis Collier has a backing track bonfire every year”!
Allan Watkiss BBC Page – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d722
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