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RUSSELL HUNTER

Russ Hunter, besides being drummer for the Deviants/Pink Fairies during 1968-74, was also Steve’s flatmate in Ladbroke Grove during 1971-72, from the break-up of Took’s relationship with Angie until he moved into his live-in studio beneath the Mayfair offices of his manager Tony Secunda.

By late ‘71/early ’72, Tookie’s Shagrat sidemen Larry Wallis and Dave Bidwell had drifted away and were earning their respective crusts with UFO and Savoy Brown. Took was making some reasonable headway as a solo acoustic performer but, in the words of one article from the time, Took “began to find it limiting. [It was] time for another band.”

Accordingly, the two flatmates by early ’72 were, in Russell’s words “Vaguely trying to form a band’ – we talked about it a lot.” Russ’s PF cohort Duncan Sanderson completed the line-up on bass and the trio then headed off for some attempts to rework the most obviously commercial number from the Shagrat days.

“Amanda, mmm!” Russ recalls “There was more than one abortive attempt to record Amanda. I can recall one in particular where Steve fell asleep halfway through the vocal. And I’m pretty sure there was another one where we all passed out. I do remember once being incredibly fucked up. I think there were two, neither of them was actually finished because one, some combination or all of us passed out!”

The most significant such attempt was the last, not only because it was bankrolled by manager Tony Secunda, but also because it gave rebirth to the Pink Fairies following the departure of Paul Rudolph. Coming across ex Bowie/Junior’s Eyes guitarist Mick Wayne in Olympic Studios when they turned up to record “Amanda”, “Blind Owl Blues” and “Mr Discreet”, the trio quickly roped Wayne into their band. Only Steve’s uncertainty over which musical direction in which to push the tracks prevented the completion of the three tracks that night.

Russell also sat in Took’s sessions for the material featured on the Missing Link CD. Although he didn’t actually play on the tapes, Russ, uniquely, has actual recollections of the sessions – if only he realised it! “I don’t have any real recollection of Steve being involved in the sessions. I can remember him sitting in his room, playing his guitar into a tape recorder … Maybe that was the sessions… That could be the sessions! … If that’s the sessions [you] mean, then yes … it was just Steve strumming a guitar into a tape recorder. Well, if that’s what’s meant by sessions!”

However, Russ, Sandy and Wayne had other plans for the future, which didn’t involve their frontman. “The idea of Steve and Mick and I and Sandy forming this band, … we’d been talking about this for months and months and passing out in recording studios, but nothing ever happened and nothing was going to happen and so we just drifted away on the basis of ‘Well, we’ll try and regroup the Fairies together, 'cos nothing’s happening here.’”

Steve was not at all amused at the fleeing sidemen and the subsequent debacle of the Wayne-era Fairies, (such that the band’s reputation was only rescued by ex Shagrat member Larry Wallis) did little to salve the wound. “Steve took that fairly amiss – like we’d ‘stolen the nucleus of his band away, in the middle of its gestation’ but nothing was ever going to happen. Yeah, we fell out over that.”


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