‘I wore a flaming helmet to sing it’ … how The Crazy World of Arthur Brown made Fire | Culture

Arthur Brown, singer, songwriter

I’d all the time cherished flames. I don’t know if it’s the rest to do with shifting to London on the finish of the battle, when I used to be 3 and the East End was once on hearth. If you glance into the centre of a blaze, you get a stillness in your self. It’s like meditation, and that impressed me.

Later, when I moved to Leeds, I preferred to head wandering within the hills and sing, to really feel the power. I’d been studying metaphysical poets comparable to John Donne and sooner or later I wrote The Fire Poem. After we shaped The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, I became the poem into the tune Fire with Vincent Crane, our organist. He sooner or later ended up in a psychological well being health facility after a foul acid travel, however prior to that he was once a cornucopia of never-ending choral melodic invention. I’d simply say to him: “That thing you just played, that’s the one!”

We have been inventive guys into the surreal, people, jazz and a few classical. Drachen Theaker, the drummer, performed an African rhythm and Vince performed it as chords on organ. In the construction the place we rehearsed, two different guys [Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker] have been rehearsing with an Indian singer, Elli. They had a tune that I in reality preferred [Baby, You’re a Long Way Behind], so we combined it into Fire for the “Da da daaaa” horn riff. They’re within the songwriting credit now.

Pete Townshend got here to look us at [legendary psychedelic haunt] the UFO membership and presented us to the Who’s managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. We made a demo at Pete’s studio, with him enjoying guitar. Then Kit and Chris signed us to Track Records: Kit produced us. Ronnie Wood [from the Rolling Stones] says he performed bass on Fire, however I believe he’s complicated it with the John Peel consultation model, which he did play on.

I wore a flaming helmet to sing it, which proved common within the golf equipment, however after the tune went to No 1 there have been numerous incidents. The flames might be four-foot top: a lot of golf equipment have been left with scorch marks at the ceiling. At one gig my coat stuck hearth and I used to be working spherical with a burning arm. Health and protection wasn’t a large factor then.

Phill Brown, tape operator

I used to be a 16-year-old tape operator at Olympic Studios in London, coaching beneath Keith Grant, Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer. We did an attractive quantity of wonderful periods – Traffic, the Small Faces, the Move, Jimi Hendrix. I used to be studying methods to make information and I used to be fortunate sufficient to be the tape op for Arthur.

When we have been putting in the tools this very tall determine walked in, dressed in gowns. I by no means noticed him in denims or a T-shirt. Apart from the make-up, he appeared similar to he did on degree. Before we began recording, he wasn’t precisely chanting however he did numerous vocal gymnastics to heat up. He was once any such personality however a ravishing man, no longer egotistical but additionally seeking to push the limits.

On Fire, there’s a backwards bass drum, which is lovely a ways out for 1968. We became the tape over and performed the drum so whilst you became it the fitting means it might cross “pfft, pfft …” There have been no plug-in sound results again then, so if you happen to sought after a unique sound, you needed to cross someplace that wasn’t the studio. The impact at the “I am the god of hellfire and I bring you … fire!” intro is a mix of those gorgeous EMT echo plates [artificial reverb] and recording in the bathroom, which gave a chamber-type sound.

Fire was once performed on a four-track, then bounced to every other four-track to present extra tracks to document on. Vince performed bass pedals on his organ. Kit Lambert – who was once extra musically mindful than numerous the managers again then – made up our minds that it wanted some further stuff, so the brass portions have been added.

Working on a No 1 document elderly 16 was once an unbelievable feeling. Sadly Arthur by no means noticed any royalties for it, which was once regularly the case again then. I therefore spent numerous time running with my heroes [as producer] however I’ve were given no autographs and clearly none folks had cellphones. I’ve were given one {photograph} of me with Sly Stone. You do a task and every so often you grow to be associates. It’s most effective a lot later that you simply glance again and assume: “What a week that was.”

Arthur Brown’s new album, Long Long Road, is launched on Magnetic Eye Records on 24 June, his eightieth birthday. The band play Bush Hall, London on 25 June. Details thegodofhellfire.com

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