Guy Stevens : biography
Guy Stevens (13 April 1943 – 28 August 1981) born in East Dulwich, London. Stevens worked in a number of different roles in the British music industry including producer and manager. He gave the rock bands Procol Harum and Mott the Hoople their distinctive names.
Death and legacy
Stevens died on 28 August 1981, at the age of 38 years old, having overdosed on the prescription drugs he was taking to reduce his alcohol dependency.
In 1981, The Clash wrote a song for, or about Stevens, who had died the same year: "Midnight to Stevens". A lush sweeping song that sounds almost unlike anything the Clash recorded despite the range of styles on Sandinista! and Combat Rock. It was released originally as the b-side of a 12" Clash single in the summer of 1982. It was later released in 1991, when it appeared on disc three of Clash on Broadway.
Stevens' involvement in Mott the Hoople's early career was covered in the 2011 documentary "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople".http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2004382/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Stevens also produced Free's debut album Tons of Sobs, the eponymous debut album of Mighty Baby, and the debut of Spooky Tooth, Supernatural Fairy Tales.
A poem in tribute to Stevens was included by Ian Hunter on the lyric sheet of his 1983 CBS album All Of The Good Ones Are Taken, which concluded: "I remember the guy with the electric hair at that first rehearsal standing there. You gave your heart - you gave your soul. God bless you, Guy - Rock n Roll!"
In assessing himself, Stevens notably stated:
Stevens was involved in the early history of Island Records and also ran the UK division of the Sue record label for Chris Blackwell. Stevens used the Sue label to put out obscure American singles not only from the U.S. Sue group of labels, but from any number of tiny independent record companies, and some of the bigger ones. It became widely influential. Stevens was also president of the Chuck Berry Appreciation Society, and had a say in the UK releases that Pye International put out by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and others on the Chess and Checker labels. It was Guy Stevens who brought Berry to the UK for his first tour after paying his bail to get him out of jail for offences under the Mann Act.
- Mott the Hoople
While working for Island, Stevens was fundamental in the formation of Mott the Hoople, recruiting and mentoring Ian Hunter as lead singer along with giving them their name. Stevens named the band after the Willard Manus novel, that he had read while in prison serving time for a drug offence.http://www.procolharum.com/guystevens3.htm He went on to produce the band's, well received, eponymous 1969 debut album and their two subsequent albums: Mad Shadows and Wildlife.
- The Clash
In 1979 Stevens produced The Clash's acclaimed album, London Calling. The band themselves have always held up Stevens' input as a major factor in the album's popularity and quality. However it was not the first time Stevens had worked with the Clash. In 1976 Stevens was present, although not clearly as a producer on a demo session the band undertook before they were signed.
Mick Jones recalled that:
The Clash involved Stevens because they recognized the influential role he had played in the British beat and blues booms of the 1960s. The Who, The Small Faces, The Rolling Stones and many others used Stevens' knowledge of the American R&B and soul scene, as a source for their own repertoire, having heard of him through his deejaying at the influential New Scene Club in Ham Yard, London W.1, where he exercised his obsessive love of rock and roll, R&B, ska, jazz and soul for an audience that counted The Beatles and Eric Clapton amongst them.
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