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1977



Taken from "Popfoto"

SAILOR: Shammed! Exploited! Broke!

Since "Stiletto Heels" and their last tour in Germany in November 76 it has been silent around SAILOR. The more surprising was the announcement of the leaving of the Nickelodeon-man Phil Pickett. What happened in the band? POPFOTO met SAILOR in London and got to know a blodcurdling story...

The doord of the CBS-studio at Whitfield Street in London have been hermetically sealed for weeks for all outsiders. There, in the middle of Soho, SAILOR are working on their fourth LP. But it's not only because of the recordings that they don't want to see any fans or reporters.
"There have been so many shocks for us during the last months that we have hardly managed to cope with it yet", explains Henry Marsh during a recording-break. "That's why it's so hard for us to talk about everything openly. We have experienced the biggest crisis of our career - and it's not over yet!"
What has happened? Henry: "Last autumn everything went perfect for us. We had three hits and a very successful tour through Europe and the USA. We thought that we had finally made it. In high spirits we had started with the rehearsels for the next LP in January. Then there suddenly was trouble with our managers Robert Wace (Ex-Kinks) and Steve O'Rourke (Ex-Pink Floyd)."
"We had approached a crisis for quite a whole. But it had never been as serious as this time. We felt exploited." Henry stops: "I don't want to tell you all about the problems with them. The reasons are too complicated and also extremly boring. Anyway, we were fed up with them and cancelled their contracts."
But this had serious consequenes. The managers didn't want to lose their main source of income - SAILOR. Henry: "In return they quickly blocked all our finances. From one day to the other we suddenly didn't have any more money. And nobody in SAILOR is so rich that he wouldn't have cared. Our former managers predominantly earned most of the money with our hits. Georg, Grant and myself still drive used cars, and we still have to pay mortgages for our houses."
The financial block especially affected Phil Pickett. "Phil lives in Cornwall (South-West England), and suddenly he couldn't even afford the train to come to London", Henry explains. "Then he paniced. It's all over with SAILOR, he said. No matter what kind of disaster could have happened to us - we had never expected Phil to leave us. But he didn't want to go on like this. We tried our best to stop Phil - it was useless. Phil left."
"For me it was the hardest knock in my life. We had perfectly complemented one another musically at the Nickelodeon!" In spite of all hope, Henry doesn't think that Phil might return to SAILOR one day: "We are still trying to persuade Phil to come back. But he's writing such phenomenal songs, that he is just about to start a great solo-career. CBS has just signed him as a composer."
SAILOR were left broke and without Phil - but that was not the end of their run of bad luck. Henry: "We had an Austrialian roadie, who didn't get any more pay. So this idiot sold our complete amplifiers, which we hadn't even payed off yet. He took the money and disappeared to Australia. When we heard this we really believed that the end of SAILOR had come. We had lost all hopes."
But SAILOR still exist for two reasons: "First of all our record company has helped us financially, so that we could survive. And then there were so many letters from fans that prove that they haven't forgotten us yet." So SAILOR were encouraged again and tried a new start. The management affairs were passed on to the lawyers who now try to get SAILOR's blocked money back.
Then the three leftover SAILORs went to the studio. "The new record means everything to us", Henry admits. "It just has to be successful, so that we don't use the rest of our courage. Fortunately we could get some experienced helpers: Bruce Johnston, formerly with the Beach Boys and now a famous solo-star and composer, produced the LP. We have met Bruce some months ago at a TV show in Hamburg. When Bruce came to London in July he was accompanied by another professional: Curt Becher, who once was responsible for the sound-success of Association. Bruce and Curt are fantastic - they get musical things out of you that are absolut top class. For me, Curt is a sound-mastermind!"
The famous Beatles-producer George Martin thinks the same. One day he came over to see what his colleagues did. And he helped them to male the new SAILOR LP even better with many tips and tricks. "The album will probably be called 'Checkpoint Charlie', the title track will also be released as a single", Henry explains. "Ten new songs are on this record. Two of them were composed by Grant and myself, and one of them is our first instrumental song. Georg gives us a lot more leeway now - and that's a reason for us to hope that Phil might return. But whatever - when the record is successful we are also going to do a tour. Maybe in November in Germany. There we had our greatest success so far."

The text next to the photos:
above: The happy studio-ambience is misleading: SAILOR have the biggest crisis of their career.
below: With this crew SAILOR want to try a new start. From left: Bruce Johnston, Georg Kajanus, Henry Marsh, Curt Becher, George Martin, a studio-helper and Grant Serpell.

Article by courtesy of Thomas Henning (Berlin, Germany)!


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