The Weston-super-Mare band who toured with Bowie and Pink Floyd

A Weston-super-Mare rock and roll band who were a support act for David Bowie have had their music re-released – half a century after they formed.

Fumble, who formed in 1966 in the seaside town and went on to play with some of the greatest music superstars of all time, including Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd, will see their recordings re-released by London-based Cherry Red Records.

The collection – Not Fade Away – features all of the band’s recordings from 1964 to 1982, including their three studio albums.

Lead singer and guitarist Des Henley and Mario Ferrari had been friends since the age of three and when they were 15 formed The Iveys with Mario’s brother Remo on bass and John Watson, later replaced by Bob Davies, on drums.

As The Iveys, the band toured Sweden in 1965 and even recorded a single at the famous Abbey Road Studios.

Fumble lead singer Des Henly
(Image: Fumble/Cherry Red Records)

The same year the group appeared on the Swedish TV show Drop in with Sony and Cher, the Loving Spoonful and The Kinks.

The Iveys disbanded in 1966 when Remo got married and Bob Davies joined the army.

But later that year Des and Mario met Sean and Barry and The Baloons were born.

Fumble in action with Linda and Paul McCartney
Fumble in action with Linda and Paul McCartney
(Image: Fumble/Cherry Red Records)

The group toured at universities across the UK and Europe including in Bulgaria and Romania.

They also appeared at the legendary Star Club in Hamburg in December 1963 and in 1970 played at the world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool.

The band changed its name to Fumble in late 1971 when Mario ended up in hospital with a broken leg, giving him time to think about the future of the band.

Fumble – with the same line up as The Baloons – recorded their first LP in 1972.

It was also during this year they embarked on their first major tour supporting Bill Hayley in Germany.

In 1973 Fumble played alongside music legend David Bowie on his UK and US tour.

They went on to play numerous festivals that year including Reading Festival and The Roskilde Festival in Denmark before supporting Fats Domino on his European tour in 1976.

“David Bowie wouldn’t fly,” said Des. “And he travelled to the USA by boat.

“We drove with him east coast to Weston coast. It was an amazing thing to do driving across the states.

David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase
(Image: V&A/PA Wire)

“We did his English tour with him and then he asked us to do the US too.

“This was the time when Ziggy Stardust first appeared to the world.

“He was cool, kind and intelligent.”

By the end of the 1970s, Fumble had played with Chuck Berry several times, supported Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney and were regulars at venues including Liverpool’s Cavern Club and the Rock Garden in London.

“It was the laughter we had that I will remember the most,” said Des.

“But it has been a real honour to have played with some of the world’s biggest music legends.”

The band were contacted by music legends Pink Floyd to appear at their end of the tour party in Munich.

Fumble is to have its music re released
(Image: Fumble/Cherry Red REcords)

“They asked us to go over to do the last night party at the end of the tour after performing in Munich.

“Dave Gilmour was a fan of the band.

“It was a good party.”

The band was also left with a somewhat ‘funny’ feeling after climbing up onto the stage to watch Floyd perform when in Munich.

“We had back stage passes in Munich and were walking around at the top of the stage,” said Des.

“We started to feel a bit lightheaded but quickly realised the 13,000-strong crowd below us were smoking weed and we were inhaling it.”

Fumble with Bill Hayley
(Image: Fumble/Cherry red records)

In 1978 the band went on the provide the background music for the West End musical Elvis featuring Shakin Stevens and PJ Proby.

The show was voted the best musical of the year in 1978 and ran for 19 months at the Astoria Theatre in London.

1979 saw a change in style for the band. Dressed in pink suits they played in the rock n roll TV show, Jack Good’s Old Boy featuring Shakin Stevens, Alvin Stardust, Lulu and Freddie ‘Fingers’ Lee.

By this time Fumble had released two LPs and nine singles in the UK as well as a live bootleg LP in 1979 which included live recordings from different venues.

The shows were broadcast all over Europe in the early-1980s.

Fumble resumed touring in late 1979 and in June 1980 went to South Africa to support Bill Hayley on his very last tour.

Fumble’s lead singer Des Henly with Bill Hayley
(Image: Fumble/Cherry Red Records)

In 1981 they recorded another album, It’s only a Rock n Roll Game, which was released in Germany only along with two of the singles from the album.

At the end of 1982, the band stopped touring but continued to play occasional gigs in their hometown of Weston-super-Mare.

The new release is a four CD package of all the band’s recordings from 1964-1982 including their three studio albums including their self titled 1972 debut set and the follow up Poetry in Lotion.

The collection also includes the Rumble With Fumble Live LP as well as a number of previously unreleased studio outtakes, alternative versions, a BBC radio session and even eight pre-Fumble recordings from their time as mid-Sixties garage beat/R&B group The Iveys.

The collection features more than five hours of music and comes complete with a 40 page booklet charting the band’s career including rare photos of their performances with a range of music legends.

Project manager of the re-release, David Wells of Cherry Red, said: “Growing up as a Bowie obsessive in the early seventies, I was aware of Fumble’s name as the support act on his early 1973 tour.

“But I don’t think I heard the band’s recordings until their superb version of ‘Not Fade Away’ was championed by Capital Radio around the end of 1974.

“After hearing that, I bought the album that the single came from, Poetry In Lotion, which is still one of my favourite albums of that era – some great original songs and stylish revamps of late Fifties/early Sixties material.

“Fumble were always the classiest of the Seventies revival bands, so it was great to work with Des Henly and assemble all their recordings under one roof for the first time.”

The release date for Not Fade Away is November 27.

You can find out more about Fumble and how to order the new collection by visiting www.fumble ontheweb.com.

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