Racey

Lineup:

Keyboards, Lead Vocals - Richard Gower (74-82)
Bass, Background Vocals - Peter Miller (74-82)
Guitar, Background Vocals - Phil Fursdon (74-82)
Drums, Percussion - Clive Wilson (74-80)
Drums, Percussion - Dave Crossley (80-82)

The founding members of Racey were Phil Fursdon and Clive Wilson who hailed from Taunton, Somerset. They went through various name changes starting as "Phoenix Press", then changing to "The Saints", "Alive And Kicking" and finally "Dalton Gang". The latter name was a reference to their musical influences - the Eagles and various other West Coast American acts. Other members in the band at the start included Harvey Coles and Gary Coomes; when Gary quit, they went in search of a new member. They wound up London, on advice of a friend, and there met a keyboard player in a pub band, one Richard Gower, who fitted the part and had previously been in a pop band called Pickettywitch. Not long after, Harvey Coles was dropped as his backing vocals were not up to scratch and so they placed an advert in the music paper, Melody Maker, and came across bass player, Pete Miller.

By 1974, this was the line-up that remained for a long time. While playing up and down the country, they managed to get a booking to Denmark in '75-'76 for two months under the name of Alive And Kicking. They also got to play Bonn, Germany, but lost the gig the first night after having saved all their money to fly there!

After coming back to the UK with the money they'd made on the European tour, they went into a studio and recorded five songs. One, ironically enough, was called "High Street Sunset" - released as a B-side as it was recorded the first time around. They also managed to score a residency in a pub in Weston-Super-Mare called The 3 Queens on Fridays and Saturdays which gradually became a three-days-a-week, selling out every night, while they were still playing covers mixed with a few songs of their own. Unknown to them, a friend of theirs took their demo tape to Micky Most in London. After searching all over London with no address for Micky and then having spent a whole day at Micky's place, he finally managed to give the demo tape to Micky's wife and asked that she'd pass it on to him. Four weeks later, Micky called and came down to see the Dalton Gang play at their residency gig. Micky was impressed and listened to their demo but could hear no hit single; he wanted them to record some demos Micky himself had already.

Micky said the advance would be minimal but they would have a good chance of chart success. They signed a 5-year contract which included one album and three or four singles. Micky set about changing their image and luckily the band avoided names such as the Blue Band which had been one of the suggestions. He chose "Racey" as it was simple, and something the fans could chant and say real easy. Simple but effective!

In the meantime, they played two more months at The 3 Queens and then concentrated on studio recording. Their first gig as Racey was in London, but as they didn't have much material at the time, they relied on their standard covers set. Around this time, their first release, "Baby It's You", came out; it was written by Chris Norman from Smokie. Though it didn't chart or get on "Top Of The Pops", it did get airplay.

Their next release was "Lay Your Love On Me", which was, interestingly, recorded before "Baby It's You". They were so nervous in the studio while recording, it didn't work, so they erased the session and recut the track later on. The beginning of the song with the talking ladies was actually secretaries at radio stations, who were invited to a party; their voices were recorded and added to the record - this made for a reason for these women to get DJs to play those songs - clever!

Around this time, their touring slowed down, but Racey did have some choices in their music such as album tracks and B-sides, however, the A-sides were still up to Micky Most. They got to tour Australia and Europe but the group was starting to show signs of strain under the pressure of being together all the time. The next single was "Some Girls", a massive smash hit which had been offered to "Blondie" who turned it down! They then recorded tracks for their first and only album, "Smash And Grab", which failed to chart but the single, "Boy Oh Boy", did the business for them. There was also to be another single called "It's Up To You Babe" but it was pulled. The only other track to have been recorded but not released was "Heartless"; furthermore, there may have been five or six songs overall never to see the light of day at least at the time. In addition, they've also done some backing vocals for Chris Spedding's album in '79.

Next single was "Such a night" which was the last single off the album. Promoted and released the same year as the album, they both flopped though the single did better in Europe. After a gig in Vienna, Austria, the unrest boiled over and drummer Clive Wilson quit or was forced out of the band after a heated disagreement with Richard Gower. His replacement was David Crossley a local drummer they knew. He appeared on the band's next single, "Rest of my life ", although strangely enough Clive Wilson appeared on the picture sleeve. This was a great song though, again, it sadly disappeared without a trace. Fortunes switched when they released a cover of Dion's hit, "Runaround Sue". The group appered back on Top of the Pops, with new drummer, Crossley, and also using Gary Coombes on piano (but not seen as an official member). Sadly, this was to be their last hit. With this going on in the group, as if to add insult to injury, Micky Most had a fallout with writers Chinn and Chapman, so the hit material started to dry up right away. With success now evading them, and receiving less and less airplay, the band was drifting apart. Next up was a Richard Gower composition, "Shame", a great pop tune but not a hit. Trying to get back the hit formula which the Dion song had given them, they turned to another 50s remake. This time the song was called "Little Darlin", and even with a B-side, "Rock It", a 50s type rock song written by the band and stronger than the A-side; it still flopped. Getting desperate, they went back to the album and plucked "There's A Party Going On" which was originally the B-side of "Such A Night". That release didn't go anywhere, but it's worth picking up for the B-side alone, a bubblegum pop gem called, "High Street Sunset", recorded by the band in the early days - this was released as recorded, and proved these guys could rock too. The last single, "Never Too Young To Get Married", was a tune written by Greenwich and Spector from the 60s, probably a remake which had originally flopped, but it was fitting the band's repoitoire and was brought up to date. Though great bubblegum in style, it almost sounded too tacky, in a Black Lace sort of way, and that's not too good as a career move!

Up until this time, Racey had still been touring, though drummer Dave Crossley was making less and less effort of being available. So he was replaced in late 1982 with Pete Stroud, who had been with Sassafras towards the end of there career in late 70s. Pete never recorded any singles with Racey but toured with them and was, by all accounts, an excellent drummer. He had been suggested to the band though he lived in Ebb Vale, Wales. The agreement was for him to learn his parts, then show up for a few rehearsals before the gig, which worked out well. He recalls learning 15 to 18 songs for upcoming tours and rehearsing down at Gary Coombs farm in Somerset. His first gig was down in Devon in early '83, and by Spring started a one-week tour with Racey in Ireland.

Though Racey were touring sporadically, the band and mainly Richard Gower were still writing new material. They were still on the RAK label and even recorded a few new songs at Redbath Studios, but nothing came of those for a release.

Frank Dolan worked on the band's 1982 Irish tour. Having seen the band rehearse in Bristol for the tour, Frank later commented: "Throughout my whole career in music, I've never seen a band that could rehearse as constructively as those guys. They were great musicians, they worked really hard and had an amazing way of critiquing each other's performances without letting it get too personal." His recollection of the tour included that of Racey's frustration with trying to shake off the bubblegum image. Though it brought them a crowd, they were never given the chance to be taken seriously, which was necessary in order for people to accept their music.

Sadly although two tours of Ireland in '83 were the most high-profile gigs in a while, most had been before this had been one-nighters. The Spring tour was followed by a late Summer tour where the promoter ran off with the money and this added more conflict to the band problems. Pete Stroud remembers this as being his last gig and was there 'til the gigs stopped coming. Finally, a disagreement on publishing rights amongst the band finished them off, and by '84 they were dysfunctional.

Although they never released a second album, they did manage to record four more singles after "Runaround Sue", but all with no avail.

Afterwards, Richard Gower had some success writing compositions for Hot Chocolate and Suzi Quatro and worked steadily in the music industry.

Since then, Clive has owned a nightclub and didn't play drums again 'til 1990 when Racey got an offer to reform. Here is where it gets tricky!

Richard Gower, the vocalist, got three new musicians and toured with them under the name Racey. On July 4, 1990, the other three members, Wilson, Miller and Fursdon, got an offer to reform and decided to try it for fun rather than for money: after all, that's what had caused the band to fall apart before! They also got a new vocalist and toured mainly England, whereas Gower's Racey primarily toured in Europe. 

Richard Gower's Racey recorded a new CD called "Latest And Greatest", released in Denmark on the CMC label; it was a mixture of their greatest hits and brand new songs, and featured the trademark Racey sound. The single hit spawned by it in Europe was the reggae-tinged "Cry Cry Time". They also recorded two tracks for a "70s" Christmas album in Germany, in '96, one of those tracks was the Gower-penned "Big Big Christmas".

The 3 remaining original members of Racey also recorded together a single, "Little Girls Don't", and a new CD on the Arcade label, which features some reworkings of their hits and new songs written by Clive and Phil. They also got to do an appearance on ITV's Nightfever. Currently they play a few times a month just for fun in and around Britain. Currently, Richard Gower is playing the Taunton area with pal Gary Coomes (who also worked with Racey at the end of their music career) under the name Little Rich & Gaz. Sadly, it does not seem as though Racey will ever be the same as they once were: a true pop band, with strong vocals. Listening to the songs that the group has written through the years proves they really could rock and were a very talented, underrated bunch who were never given the credit they so richly deserve.

DISCOGRAPHY

SINGLES
YEAR SONG B-SIDE CAT NO
78 June BABY ITS YOU RUDI RAK 277
78 October LAY YOUR LOVE ON ME I BELIVE IN YOU RAK 284
79 March SOME GIRLS FIGHTING CHANCE RAK 291
79 August BOY OH BOY SENSATIONAL BUZZ RAK 297
79 November SUCH A NIGHT THERES A PARTY GOING ON RAK 301
80 June REST OF MY LIFE CRY BABY CRY RAK 317
80 November RUNAROUND SUE HOLD ME CLOSE RAK 325
81 March SHAME LET ME TAKE YOU HOME TONIGHT RAK 329
81 August LITTLE DARLIN ROCK IT RAK 335
81  THERES A PARTY GOING ON HIGH STREET SUNSET RAK 338
82 September NOT TO YOUNG TO GET MARRIED LOVE GAMES RAK 348
ALBUMS
YEAR TITLE TRACKS CAT NO
79 SMASH AND GRAB SRAK 537
COMPILATIONS
LAY YOUR LOVE ON ME Disky SE865702
VERY BEST OF RACEY
97 SAY WOW(GREATEST AND LASTEST Contains 6 New Tracks CMC 24248-2
BEST OF RACEY
SOME GIRLS WISEBUY885562

Racey On Tour, Summer 1982


For more information, contact Jason Humphries

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