How We Met: 46. Georgie Fame and Alan Price

Georgie Fame, 49, ne Clive Powell, started out as the pianist in the Blue Flames. He had three No 1 hits as a solo singer in the Sixties, including 'Yeh Yeh'. When not touring with Van Morrison, he now plays with his own band, whose latest album is The Blues and Me. He and his wife, Nicolette, have two sons and live in Somerset. Alan Price, 50, gave up a job with the Inland Revenue to join the Animals. Later he went solo and recorded hits such as 'Jarrow Song' and 'Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear'. He lives in London with his second wife, Alison, and two daughters.

GEORGIE FAME: I was doing a residency at the Flamingo in Wardour Street in London during the winter of 1963, when I heard about this band from Newcastle called the Animals. In my break I walked over to the Scene Club to hear them. Eric Burdon was jumping up and down on this black baby grand piano singing a John Lee Hooker song called 'Big Boss Man'. Alan was seated at his organ, a Vox Continental. I think they were wearing dark three-button Italian suits with black ties, which was de rigueur for lots of groups at the time. I went and knocked on the band room door to say hello, and said I'd meet Alan the next day at this pub called De Hems in Macclesfield Street, where you could get steak and kidney and oyster pudding, as well as good beer.

After that we lived out of each other's pockets for a while. We had the same love of sport as well as the same kind of music. We both came from Northern backgrounds, so drinking was a social interest, to say the least - though we'd never get deliberately out of it. Sometimes we'd go off at short notice and while away the hours in Paris discos. They had a bit more class than the English ones.

We started working together in the early Seventies. One evening, we were both on the same bill at Bradford University. We were in the urinal, and that's when we said: 'Let's form a band.' The catalyst was when we appeared on Lulu's live TV show together. We shared a piano, wore rented tails, and sang 'Back in the USSR', the Beatles song - so we had this crazy idea. We got the strings in the orchestra to play the theme from Dr Zhivago, while we staged a mock battle and interrupted each others' playing. We ended up rolling on the floor pretending to fight. Word has it that Billy Cotton Jnr was strolling along the gantry at the time and said 'Give these boys a series.' This became The Price of Fame.

I can remember one time travelling back from a gig when I was quite drunk and lost my rag. I can't remember what it was about. But most of the time, when you're at the hub of it, you're too busy plying your trade for any aggravation. People often come up and ask me to sing Alan's songs, but it never annoys me. I was waiting to go on and play at a 'Save the Spire' concert for Salisbury cathedral last week. There was a bloke standing next to his wife 10 yards away and I heard him say: 'Where's your bear, then?' He meant Alan's song 'Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear', but I think it tells how strong the partnership was and the impact it's had on people. We established our professional relationship long after our personal one. Nothing's going to break it.

ALAN PRICE: The Animals were originally my band, of a sort. We were known as the Alan Price combo. The name was like a really bad Fifties film, so we became the Animals when we came down to London. Basically we all disliked each other. It was a marriage made in hell.

Anyhow, that night we'd done a bad set and weren't happy, but somebody said Georgie Fame had arrived. We were excited because we knew from the gig pages of Melody Maker that Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were working all the time. That was the thing you aimed for, to be playing all the time.

When Georgie came into the dressing room he was wearing a black overcoat with a velvet collar - very Mod. I think he had a girl with him called Carmen, but that may have been the next day.

He told me he'd enjoyed the band and that we were going to give the scene a kick up the arse. He meant the scene down south. The only rival band at the time was the Stones, and we considered them a bit middle-class - though Eric always looked on Jagger as competition.

The Scene didn't have a drink licence, so the Animals would go out and buy half a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of Coke; we'd tip half the Coke out and top it up with whisky. We'd get through five bottles that way. Georgie Fame talked to me as if I were the leader and said to come and meet him at De Hems the next day.

At the time, the Animals were staying in a flat in Fitzjames Avenue, living on a diet of brown ale, Ryvita and rusks. It was so cold that when we got back from a gig, we'd all make a run for the only warm room in the flat, the bathroom. One of us slept in the bath while everybody else was relegated to camp beds. So you can see why I was glad to get to the warmth of De Hems. It was like civilisation.

It had been a leap in the dark for me, packing in my job as an income tax man to play in a band. Meeting Clive - I always call him by his real name - gave me reassurance that I was on the right track. I'd had terrible difficulties with the Animals. As soon as we'd cracked it, all they wanted was girls, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. I couldn't get them to rehearse and I kept bugging them, which they didn't like at all.

Zoot Money (who Clive says had the best rhythm and blues band in the Sixties) had this house which was a crashing pad where all the raving was done. We became a tight circle. Often Clive was playing the all-nighter at the Flamingo until five or six in the morning. Later, after I'd left the Animals and started the Alan Price set, we'd meet at a disco called the Scotch of St James's.

I lived in Belgrave Mews North, but Alan and I never shared a house, nothing as strong as that. We never shared a girlfriend either. It was like: 'Don't tell me your troubles, I've got troubles of my own.' But I remember being impressed when a lady had a go at me about going out with another woman. She called me some very bad names, so Clive just picked her up and took her outside.

One night, Clive had had an argument with his current girlfriend, so we went down to Victoria Station. You could make a 45 rpm record there in those days. We were singing an apology to this girl, when this guy walked past who said he was a night chef. We got him in to the booth and started interviewing him. He told us he'd been involved in sexual peccadilloes with a British prime minister. We let him go after that]

Often Clive and I would take the Golden Arrow, an old-fashioned train with all the candelabra and the brass, and go to Paris, champagne all the way. We'd go to a bloody good restaurant when we got there and have oysters and more champagne. Sometimes we took girlfriends. It was a nice day out, something to do.

Later on, when we did cabaret together, we'd be somewhere like Liverpool and play golf in the morning, table tennis in the afternoon, then go swimming. Golf was a wonderful boon because it kept me out of the boozer and in the open air. We stopped working together in 1973, but people still think we're together.

I'm doing a greatest hits tour at the moment and I do 'Yeh yeh', which is his song, and 'Rosetta', which we both did. It's part of our history, if people can't tell the difference, who cares? Georgie's son James is going to deputise for my drummer in my band next month. Our wives have links, but you try to keep all that separate. I don't encourage fraternisation between spies]

I never really got angry with him. The only people you get angry with are managers, agents, or even audiences. With us it's like being able to speak the same language. It all adds up. It's kept us alive.

(Photograph omitted)

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower