Part one of the interview featured stories of gigs in working men’s clubs and recording in Abbey Road, in this second part Bob and Dave remember more shenanigans in ‘70s band Fogg.
At the time Tyne Tees TV were building a team to produce music shows resulting in the ground breaking Tube exploding on our tv screens in November 1982, but before The Tube was a programme called Geordie Scene.
Dave: We were on the Geordie Scene a few times. One time we were on with the band Geordie, Brian Johnson (AC/DC) was their singer. On the last song both bands got up and jammed on Blue Suede Shoes, we were the daaarlings of the North East scene (laughs). There was a party afterwards, it was great, both bands got on really well.
Bob: Yes, we did a few shows. Heidi Esser from EMI Electrola flew us out to Cologne to do a TV show and we stayed in a beautiful hotel all expenses paid. Boney M and Gilbert O Sullivan were on the bill too.
After the show we wanted a drink but like most bands we didn’t have any money. However there was a mini bar in our room which we’d been told was off limits. Chris and me looked at each other and said well just the one!
I’m ashamed to say that we disgraced ourselves by drinking it dry by 4am. I was told that it cost a fortune. Apologies to Heidi and EMI. It’s no excuse but we were just young lads and were very very thirsty!
Bob: The excellent Vaingloriousuk site does have many of our TV performances on video. (link below)
Mind the result of a little known FOGG/Geordie football match is still a sore point for us. Tom Hill, Geordie bass player ‘It’ll just be a quiet kickabout’. Aye that’ll be right Tom. (laughs)
Dave: Geordie were signed to Red Bus Records. I’ve got three songs on a Geordie album, and never had a penny. But that’s the music business.
Bob: Thinking back about that we were lucky to have John Reed and Derek McCormick on our team, they were dead straight with us. In fact they still look out for us. The re-release of the album This is it is their project.
How did the re-release of the album come about ?
Bob: Over the years John Reed stayed in touch with Mike Heatley at EMI who had worked on the initial This is it release and was a huge fan of Fogg. Cut to the present day and the new CEO at Warners music is Mike’s friend and ex colleague.
Our manager Derek McCormick has been beavering away on the legal side whilst John and Mike discussed a digital release with Warners. Success – what a team.
Talking about team members, our guitarist and main songwriter was Dek Rootham. Dek had a great sense of humour which certainly enlivened long journeys. He was often seen with Archie, a ventriloquists dummy.
We once had a small fire in the back of our Ford Transit whilst flying down the A1 at 70 mph. We are all thinking like Basil Fawlty ‘F-F-F-Fire!’ but Dek just turned around, warmed his hands on the blaze, turned back and continued reading his newspaper. What a guy. (laughs)
What caused the band to call it a day ?
Bob: A number of things really. In the mid-70s a few things were happening around the UK – recession, middle east oil shocks, venues closing down, three day weeks, power cuts. Just lots of things that really added up. But we gamely carried on playing gigs for a while surviving on the money from them.
We eventually decided to wrap it in. Chris went on to form his own band Shooter. Dave, Dek and I worked the clubs for a few months as a trio named Jingles (laughs).
Dave: By the late ‘70s Brian Johnson was re-forming Geordie to play the clubs, he already had a drummer and he asked me and Dek to join. We joined and had a great time with gigs pouring in. We had a few with Slade as Brian knew Chas (Chandler, ex Animal, Slade manager) quite well.
Then 1980 came round, Brian left for an audition in London, my wife was in hospital giving birth to my son, and I got a call from an American called Peter Mensch.
‘Hello is that Dave Robson, my name is Peter Mensch, I own AC/DC. I believe you have some contracts ?’
I said best to ring me back as my wife has just given birth. Well really I was devastated, Geordie had being doing well, now suddenly I was out of work. We continued with other singers but it was hard to replace Brian, he was very funny and had an instant connection to the audience soon as he got on stage.
(Along with many tales about the band Geordie, Brian Johnson’s story of the AC/DC audition can be read in the new book ‘The Lives of Brian – A Memoir by Brian Johnson’).
Bob: I went on to work with other bands and really enjoyed working on several unique projects with Steve Daggett (Lindisfarne). After studying at Newcastle University I joined Raw Spirit again for a while who I was in before Fogg.
Sadly Chris (vocals) passed away in 2014. He is still greatly loved and missed by the lads and indeed by all who met him. Dave, Dek and myself still do occasional gigs in our respective bands. Music is always in your blood I guess
Dave: But looking back it was a fantastic time.
Bob: Yeah such a magnificent period in our lives. We are so blessed to have experienced it and have This is it come to light once again.
Dave: And you can always dine out on the stories (laughs). Although some don’t believe you about Abbey Road.
Bob: Yeah there are a wealth of tales which are true but usually met with disbelief. Did we tell you about the time the Duchess of Devonshire asked us to pop in for tea, or Freddie Mercury’s market stall, or our near fatal adventures on Aberystwyth beach or when recording the album This is it, Olivia Newton John walked by and simply gave us a dazzling smile ?
Dave: She did. And she was absolutely stunning.
The FOGG album This is it is available from:
FOGG TV appearances can be found at VainGloriousUK:
Alikivi October 2022