An Apple Tale
The next week we did the same thing, only this
time we recorded, I think at IBS....or IBC, I can't be sure. Here Terry
introduced us to Gerry Marsden and Robert Stigwood. At dinner, we were also
introduced to a guy from Abigail or Dratleaf called Rudi. Abigail were
publishing the Bee Gees and Dratleaf publishing Cream....it could have been vice
versa, I'm not sure.
Again, Terry liked all the four songs we presented him with. One was called
'Hassle Castle', another 'Tales From The GPO Files' and 'Far Away From
Forever'....the last one escapes me. Again it was back to Terry's house. The
next day he took the acetates to John to see what he thought about them.
Again, John loved them, especially 'Far Away From Forever.' Terry loved 'Hassle
Castle'. I wish you could have heard this song, it was about the Blue Angel, so
you would have related to it. We stayed several days with Terry, who again
played the songs to Brian Epstein, and he loved them just as much as the first
songs. Terry then told us that Brian thought we should form a band and when we
were ready he wanted to become involved. He also said that the name should be
Terry then took Dave and I down the Kings Road to a shop called Dandy Fashion
and kitted us both out in the latest gear. We also had our hair styled at Vidal
Sassoon and it was then out to the Speakeasy for the evening where we met Eric
Burdon, Jonathan King and some other stars who I can't remember. It was here
that Terry said he wanted to sign us to a publishing deal with Apple as soon as
the company was legally drawn up. He also said he would be pursuing a recording
contract for us as soon as the band was formed - and he wanted to manage us,
with Brian taking a back seat.
We eventually returned to Liverpool and began our search. We had an idea who we
wanted and put the plan into action. However, the problem was not so much the
band, but the songs. We needed more and had none, so it was the start of a long,
We went back to our base, the Lambamba club and offered the deal to Tim Wells a
keyboards player and Dave Slater on bass, who both played for a band called the
Top. The drummer we decided on was a guy called Ted Hesketh, who was not with
anyone at the time, but he was a drummer similar to Keith Moon, both in style
and appearance. They all agreed that they couldn't turn this offer down.
It was now, I would say, August and we heard from Terry that Apple was moving
into a building in Baker Street. Brian had also died. Terry said this would not
affect us, we were still wanted.
Dave Rhodes and myself both signed to Apple Publishing in September 1967. I was
over 21 and not a minor. Dave was 18 and required his parents signature, so
Terry came to Liverpool to get the documents signed.
A small studio was set up on the top floor of the Baker Street building and
Focal Point traveled down to London to begin recording all our material. We had
unlimited time in the studio. It was then that Terry introduced us to Lionel
Morton - he had been hired as a staff producer. We hit it off with Lionel right
away and he began producing our songs. Terry suggested that Lionel and he should
manage us on a joint basis. We all agreed this was a good idea.
Many months of hard work followed. We would go into the studio in the morning
and work well into the night. Some nights Terry would come back after he had
been to dinner with John Lennon and we would have typical Liverpool banter with
John. Terry said John loved this. We saw George Harrison and Paul around the
offices with frequent visits from people like Keith Moon, the Walker Brothers
and Joey Molland from Badfinger, who we knew from the Liverpool days.
Terry was trying to get some of our songs placed with other artists and Lulu
nearly did one. Terry told us Alan Price had recorded 'Miss Sinclair' and had
not decided what to do with it. Eventually, he released 'Simon Smith And His
Amazing Dancing Bear' instead. We did not have a lot of equipment with us, most
of it was in the Apple Studios. Anything we wanted we would borrow from Abbey
Road. Terry had access to all the Beatles equipment and we frequently borrowed
it. We were introduced to Pete Shotton, Neil Aspinall (who I reminded I was a
friend of his brother). We did some recording with Jackie Lomax too and backed
Jackie on a song called 'Little Yellow Pills.' This was recorded, I think, at
Trident Studios, or Olympic Studios, and was produced by Glyn Johns. Again, we
got no credit on the song when it was released.
Round about Christmas time the rest of Focal Point signed publishing deals with
Apple and we all signed a representative deal with Nems Enterprises. Terry had
offers for us from Liberty, MGM and Decca Records for a recording contract. It
was decided we would sign with Decca and our producer would be Wayne Bickerton.
Again, we got on famously.
We recorded our first single in March 1968 at Decca Studios in West Hampstead
and it was decided the song would be 'Love You Forever' on the A side with
'Sycamore Syd' on the B side. At the same session we recorded a song called
'Never Never' and 'Girl On The Corner.' A massive press reception was arranged
and the record was released.
During all this activity we had been introduced to Grapefruit, who were also
with Apple. We got on very well and Terry told us he was also managing them. The
song was a flop. It only sold a few records. We then went out on the road and
got lazy. To cut a long story short - when Apple moved to Wigmore Street, Focal
Point moved back to Liverpool.
During our time with Apple we had a house in Highbury and another in East
Dulwich - all paid for by Apple.
I have stayed in touch with Lionel Morton periodically over the years and also
with Terry Doran. Indeed, when Terry was PA to George Harrison I stayed with him
at Friar Park on numerous occasions.
I am still playing guitar in and around north London. My musical career has been
interesting. Indeed, in the 1970s I was signed, along with Dave Slater, to Wayne
Bickerton's company State Music.
Text © Paul Tennant
Editor's Note: Apple Records began with
high spirits and hope. Although, in addition to the Beatles themselves, Apple
saw success with artists such as Badfinger and Mary Hopkin, various signings had
their hopes dashed. Mersey Beat will be bringing you the tales of various
signings to Apple Records and the behind-the-scenes events which dashed the
hopes of artists such as Focal Point, Drew & Dy, Timon and Mortimer. Paul
Tennant, in his own words, relates the story of Focal Point, who were actually
the first group ever signed to Apple and not Grapefruit, as reports have always