graphic by Greg Volpert
 K A L E I D O S C O P E     U. K.  

An interview with Peter Daltrey - lead singer of the British 60's band Kaleidoscope which changed it's name to Fairfield Parlour.  


How old were you when the Kaleidoscope formed?

I was eighteen and working at ABC Television in London`s Hanover Square where I met Ed. We got along really well, finding that we both enjoyed the same sense of humour. We were both fans of Alfred E.Newman of Mad magazine. 

It was sometime after we met that Ed asked if I`d like to join his band. I didn`t know he had a band! He, Dan and Steve had been playing together for about a year; had chucked out one singer -and were looking for a replacement. In spite of nerves I agreed to go along to the school hall in Acton in West London where they rehearsed. I hid behind the music stand and warbled away to a few R&B classics. I was in! 

The Fontana label seemed to really be impressed with the band. Although they seemed anxious to chart your careers... 

They actually thought we were the next Beatles!! They put a lot of money behind us to start with on the strength of `Flight from Ashiya` which they thought was a Number One. Unfortunately their distribution network was dreadful and their promotion was lazy and the single failed to get major airplay or sales. After that the emphasis was on producing a commercial hit so they could recoup their money. 

Dezzo Hoffman photo sessions - Beatles photographer - what was this like? 

I recall very little about the sessions, other than that we all felt a bit stupid having to strike poses that went out ten years earlier. I think you can see that in the resulting pictures. We do look rather silly. The most memorable session was the one for the famous cover of `Tangerine Dream.` All that Bacofoil. That heat! Falling out into Kensington after the session, gulping in great lungfuls of fresh air.

The August 7- September 8 1967 "Tangerine Dream" sessions - Maybe you could go into a bit more detail on how it felt to be recording your first album at the height of the summer of love! 

The summer of `67 was special. It felt different -- it was different. It sounds like a cliche: but there was something in the air. Of course, it was all Beatles-led. Everything they did was important to young people. We copied their hair, their clothes, their lifestyle, their music. They were the four young kings of the world, nothing less. At the time our music was soaking up these influences -- you couldn`t stop it even if you`d wanted to. As soon as Fontana heard our new songs after agreeing to release `Holiday Maker` as the A-side (changed to `Ashiya` as soon as they heard that) they contracted us for an album. A bold move back then for a company with a new band. 

So we entered the studio feeling rather pleased with ourselves, but nervous of everything that lay ahead of us: could we live up to their expectations. Fortunately we had Dick Leahy to guiide us. He was sympathetic to our youth, but could see that we were very keen. These were truly magical days -- or nights. We would go for lunch and then dive into the vast Number One studio at Philips in Marble Arch. We would record for hours and hours. We had all the songs rehearsed in advance, but they grew into something special in the studio. 

The world was our lobster! We could do anything! The big-wigs in suits would slip into the control room and check up on progress and how their money was being spent -- then slip away without a word to report back to the unseen Gods at the top. We were twenty-one, recording our first album in a major studio, outside the Beatles ruled the world, Kings Road was like Wonderland, music of every colour was coming at you out of the sky and the trees, the sun was shining on everyone: the days of magic..... 

By the way, I think I had my tonsils removed in '67. 

Yea -- great experience! Nice feeling when you wake up after the op! Great timing, just as you start work on your first album! 

BBC sessions - any wacky stories about the Beeb dates? 

No wacky stories -- only memories of steam-driven equipment and engineers in white coats telling you to turn it down. It was pathetic. We did scores of BBC sessions. Eventually we -- and the record company got wise -- and took along backing tracks. We then sang over these and buggered off home.

 What was the score of the croquet match between you and Keith Moon/members of the Bonzo Dog Band? Who won? Any exciting play by play commentary?

It was in Dave Symonds` local. A lovely sunny day, tea and buns on the lawn, the Bonzos trying to be hilarious, pretty girls in summer frocks floating around -- and some local lout smashing into me, knocking me flying and then whispering a choice comment in my young ear. Sorry, that`s all I can remember, apart from the homegrown refreshments later. 

 The Faintly Blowing period. Changes in your music.

As with most bands, the first album is made up of songs you`ve had knocking around for awhile. Whe you`re ready for your second album the songs are more recent and reflect the musical changes around you. Also we were growing up, maturing fast. We had more of a say in the studio -- although we were mostly in control on `T.Dream` the second album saw us standing our ground on behalf of our material. I like `F.Blowing` -- it is a varied and interesting batch of songs. The title track should have been released as a single, but they told us it was too long. I think an edited version would have been successful. The orchestral tracks stand out from the rest, sounding as if they come from an established band who have been recording for years. Then you have the very subtle and mysterious, `Poem` and the humorous `Tom Bitz.` A good album in my biased opinion.

 Was it the lacklustre performance of the singles that caused you to kind of pack it up and change the name of the band?? 

Fontana was trying very hard to turn us into Dave Dee Dozy Beeky Mick and Tich. In some desperation we were going along with this, turning out crap like, `Balloon.` It was David Symonds who was a big fan who said, "Stop! What are you doing??" He convinced us that with him as our manager (after he quit as a Radio One DJ) and with a name change to shed the old skin, we could re-emerge as a `new` band. Anything was better than the commercial sausage mincer we were in. 

 Tell us about the "Great Vinyl shortage" 

Don`t know anything about that. Philips distribution was totally useless. We were always getting mail from fans all around the UK asking why our records weren`t in their local shops. It wasn`t a vinyl shortage as far as I know. It was a lousy record company. 

 Your toured with Jeff Lynn and Idle Race. Any recollections? 

We got along really well with those guys. But memories....? Look, if I hadn`t kept detailed scrapbooks of those years most of this would have disappeared with my decreasing brain cells. I have a terrible memory! Thank Buddha I kept all my scrapbooks. Yes -- Jeff was there and we had some laughs whenever we bumped into them. But the rest has evaporated.... 

You wrote and performed a song especially for the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970.This must have been the "English Woodstock". How well do you think it went over? 

See above. All I remember is the view from the stage: the endless blue sky, the endless audience, the thousands camped for free on the rolling hills to the right, the heat, the clouds of red dust, Joan Baez wandering by looking stunning, the movie camera thrust in my face as I was told our set was to be cut in half, the terror, the sublime lift after the first wave of applause, the evenings in the Red Indian camp with the fires burning, the thump of distant music, crouching below the stage waiting for the nod so Ed and I could leap up and be allowed to play an acoustic `Let the world wash in` to half a million hippies, the leaden realisation that we`d been conned and ripped off and stuffed and abused by the brothers Farr, the sleepless nights of total physical and mental exhaustion, breakfast at Herbie Snowball`s hotel in Shanklin -- and returning there thirty years later on a family holiday and standing across the road and looking up at the window where three decades earlier a young man once stared at the orange moon... No, don`t recall much. 

Did you make an effort to sound "folk-psychedelic" ? How WOULD you describe you music? 

I wouldn`t say `effort` is the right word in any sense. We wrote songs, we recorded them as best we could with the range of instruments we could play. Some songs demanded a band arrangement with drums and guitars and organ -- others needed only a voice, a guitar and a couple of bongos and a flute. Horses for courses -- you pays your money -- it takes all sorts -- the grass is always greener -- it never rains but it pours -- how the other half  live -- is the glass half full or half empty -- half a loaf is better than none -- a bird in the hand.... Describe it? No way. 

Kaleidoscope performed at the Montreaux TV Festival with artists such as the Who. Any memories you'd like to share ?

A luxury hotel beside the lake, white-capped mountains beyond a high blue pool on the veranda, various ballrooms with stages and different bands playing, films showing, beautiful girls everywhere, a guy walks slap-bang into a plate glass door and smashes his face and staggers off in search of bloody help, us on stage playing the best in ages, giving it the English wellie and quoting poetry and eating broken apples and roaring through a perfect set and coming off and one of the little Blossom Toes tripping me up on the steps on purpose and Julie Driscoll like an angel miming to `This wheel`s on fire` with Brian beside the pool and the flight home over those sharp mountains of icy Switzerland. 

 You met with the Moody Blues or representatives twice. Was this a possible label move (to Threshold??) Did you feel the meetings influenced your musical choices? 

The Moodies` second career (after the high fast success of the dirge, `Go now`) was helped on its way by Symonds championing them on his radio show. They became mates, Dave was our manager, we all became mates and had nights down the pub, nice chatty evenings at Dave`s place near Hampton Court and met up to discuss our career. Justin was producing a guy called Timon. He supported us on a couple of gigs. We became mates. Mike Pinder had just moved into a huge house and was building a studio. He suggested we record `From home to home` there. We cut a couple of tracks but they were not quite right so the plan was abandoned. The Moodies tried to get us on to Decca and then on to Threshold. Eventually we went back to Philips (!) to the new progressive label, Vertigo. The Moodies music never influenced my musical choices as it did not (and does not) appeal to me. But Dave was trying hard to push us aboard the Moodies rowing boat. Luckily we held back, preferring to make our own way down de big river of life...

 The "White Faced Lady" release - This is a compilation I think plus unreleased material recorded in the late 60's/early 70's?? A concept album about Marilyn Monroe?? Fill me in! 

 The album `WFL` was written in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Ed and I were always writing and had accumulated a handful of songs. A new album was proposed. We began writing some new songs. I noticed a tenuous link between the lyrics of some of the songs, concocted a story that might join the songs with more emphasis. But we had a lot of songs. A double album!!? Our manager encouraged  us to proceed and the eighteen songs were written. I also wrote a novel to be published at the same time as the release. Olaf Wyper at Vertigo liked the idea and gave us the green light. Everything we recorded at that time was on a tape-lease deal which meant us recording the album and then presenting the label with the finished article and the bill. But when we`d finished the album Olaf had left to join RCA. At first he said he would take it at the new label, but eventually had to say no as RCA didn`t want any of his old Vertigo projects. And Vertigo didn`t want any of Olaf`s old projects! Finding ourselves without a contract and no work we folded. Twenty years later, after we had been rediscovered by new generations the album was finally released on our own label through a company called PWC. (Fortunately the dreadful novel had been dumped years before and the CD booklet featured a condensed version of the story.) About a month after release PWC went bust and UFO took it on. The story is not about Marilyn Monroe,  but her ghost is in there someplace. As a swan song it is quite a piece of work. I`m proud of it as it represents very well the maturing of the band`s music from rather twee juvenile psychedelia, through bucolic folk rock, to something very much our own.

What are your current projects? Are there any current bands you  listen to? The Lavender Brigade perhaps?? 

What an odd question, young man. Me thinks ye know too much for your own good! I`m currently recording an album with Damien Youth. He sent me a tape of his songs. I fell in love with everything that he does and suggested we write together. It worked and the album, `Nevergreen` is the result. Now we need a deal.... I`m also waiting for the green light from Evangel in Japan to release my fifth solo album, `Tambourine Days.` 

Your website has quite a bit of info on your groups. Do you plan to add MP3's or other features ? 

I think there are a couple of MP3s and a couple of RealAudio files for download at [ Sound Files ]

If I get really frustrated at having to deal with record companies in the future I just might decide to give it all away in MP3 files. I don`t do this for the money. I do it because one grey day so long ago a friend asked me to join his band and I said yes and had the time of my life with him and two other good guys and we made music as if our lives depended on it and because we couldn`t do anything else and because it`s that old corny standby that is true true true: it`s in my blood.....

Damien Youth describes the album he is working on with Peter Daltrey:

The album seems to be turning into a concept album, It all started with me sending a song to Peter about Peter titled "The Boy In The Butterfly Shirt". Peter shocked me by writing me back and asking if he could do his own version of the song! I told him that would be great! I then added, I wish we lived closer and we could do a whole album! to which he replied "Let's do it!" Since then we have been exchanging tapes through the mail and constructing a wonderful album! The music is acoustic based, very pagan folk sounding and the lyrics have taken off in the direction of a loose concept, meaning that there are reoccurring themes through out. Other than the Butterfly Shirt song the lyrics are all Daltrey! I think the "Fairfield Parlour" album is Peter's best work.