- The Babys
In particular, the article, while well-referenced, appears to be substantially written from the aggrieved perspective of Michael Corby.
The Babys were a popular British rock group of the late 1970s.
There are two stories regarding the origin of the band and the source of the band's name.
Founding member Mike Corby places the origin of the idea for the band at Smalls Café on the Fulham Road in London in 1973 during a chance meeting with manager the late Adrian Millar. An agreement was signed between Corby and Millar on September 4, 1974 and auditions were held to fill out the remaining members. [ [http://www.myspace.com/thebabysofficial MySpace.com - THE BABYS - - Classic Rock - www.myspace.com/thebabysofficial ] ] . The names "Cry Babys" and "Big Babys" were also proposed with Millar ultimately deciding on "The Babys."
Adrian Millar had stated:‘The Babys’ was 1000% my idea from the start!” [http://www.thebabysarchives.com The Babys Official Unofficial Archives and Chronological History - Introduction ] ]
According to the Babys Archives the initial conversation between Millar and Corby went like this:
Millar: Like the gear…
Corby: Thank you, I've got ten outfits that I wear… they all look exactly like this one
Millar: You look like a Rock Star, whaddya do…? I mean for all I know you push a broom for a living
Corby: I play a guitar…as it happens. You look like a manager, what do you do…?
Millar: I manage bands…as it happens. [http://www.thebabysarchives.com/05Bio.htm The Babys Official Archives and Chronological History - Bio ] ]
Millar outlined his ambitions for the band:
Although they hadn’t written any great songs up to the point where we were parted, I was prepared to protect their weakness and certainly would not have targeted them for a pop audience because they were quite simply, not a ‘singles’ band. The Babys were designed to be the biggest act in the world…the design was right, but the mechanisms failed, wasn’t their time and I was betrayed. They were only a recipe, a blank canvas, merely a run through, certainly not a work of art, never completed and never signed by the original artist.
Millar describes Corby:
Mike Corby was without a doubt, the most photogenic and charismatic musician I had ever come across. Although I had serious doubts as to whether he would be manageable, I reckoned my biggest challenge would be to convince others with an acceptable bravado to tolerate him.
The Archives detail John Waite showing up for a rehearsal with a band that he claims to have formed:
The initial meeting between Adrian Millar, Michael Corby, Gordon Hawtin and John Waite took place at a popular pub located on Haverstock Hill in Hampstead, known simply as The Steeles. Here, Waite accepted an invitation for a bit of rehearsal, and it was later decided that he would join the group. [ [http://www.thebabysarchives.com/05BioC.htm The Babys Official Archives and Chronological History - Bio ] ]
Waite's claims seem to be strange in the light of the information contained in "The Babys Official Archives." He claims that the band's name was chosen to give them a greater chance of a recording contract as they felt companies were leaning towards the teen market. He also states that he met guitarist/keyboardist Mike Corby in an East End pub and formed the initial plans for the band during an all-night drinking binge. Waite also claims credit for the band's name, stating that the unusual spelling is because he is a, "lousy speller." [http://www.johnwaite.com/lifestory/thebabys.htm Life Story of John Waite - The Babys ] ]
In a 1979 Hit Parader magazine interview, Waite stated,
[T] he name was meant to be a joke. We took the name simply because the record companies wouldn't listen to any bands they thought were rock & roll. I mean, they wanted sure-fire teen bands, pre-teen bands. We couldn't get anybody down to hear us to get a record deal, so we called ourselves The Babys. We thought we'd keep the name just for two weeks. Then, the word got around in London that there was a band playing rock & roll called The Babys and it seemed so off the wall, so completely crazy, that it was worth taking a shot with. It really appealed to everyone's sense of humor. [ [http://netwaite.com/jwfaqbabys.htm#2.01 John Waite FAQ-The Babys ] ]
Another Waite claim was that the band's initial demo tapes (and cute teen image) were receiving little interest from record companies so the band decided to make a video demo because, according to Waite, "The only way we could prove that it was us playing on our tape was with a video presentation." Mike Mansfield produced the tape and Chrysalis Records signed the band in 1976.
This version is discredited in the Babys Archives:
Contrary to popular belief, the group’s so-called ‘recording-contract-sealing’ promotional film was prepared shortly AFTER The Babys had signed the actual recording agreement. Mike Mansfield produced the film and was solely commissioned by Adrian Millar so as to draw the producer’s interest into booking the band on a pioneering music variety program called “Supersonic.” Needless to say, the brilliant move worked, and their record company subsequently adopted the video presentation to capitalize on the current ‘BUZZ’ surrounding the highly-touted BABYS!
“With raw material like The Babys, it was hard to go wrong - They are a sensational band!”
The original Babys lineup was: Drummer
Tony Brock, Keyboard player/guitarist Michael CorbyGuitarist Wally Stockerand vocalist/bassist John Waite, .
Tony Brock is described in the Archives as an unassumingly confident, one-of-a kind extraordinaire drummer with a ‘throne-able strut’ rightfully elevated to a posture that merely acted as a platform in which to later showcase his sincere vocals upon “Silver Dreams”…a true musical statement.
Walt Stocker as a quiet, naturally-gifted musician, possessing an ability to translate his guitar mastery with the utilization of painting with majestically broad strokes, topped only by a lovable ‘doll-like’ stature that made him…truly irresistible.
A very early member before the final lineup was decided, Gordon Hawtin, states:
Originally, we were going to be called ‘Smalls’ because we were all so tall, but I vaguely remember the manager Adrian Millar saying we were childish and small-minded. Meanwhile, Corby and Waite were at one another’s throat, and I was in the middle getting stressed out. Maybe that’s why the band chose ‘The Babys.’
Early tensions caused
Matt Irving, who played on the "Official Unofficial Babys Album", to remember the band thus:
As far as I remember, John Waite had been ‘plonking’ on bass and the band needed someone to free him up to sing swayed in. I guess a combo of Tony and Adrian trying to blag me in with a bit of cash, about twenty quid I’d say, which was pretty good for a jobbing muso in those days.
The band had very early reservations about Waite's personality and ability, particularly as a bass guitarist, Mike Corby states:
Most disagreements I had with Adrian were over John. Listening to him speak, I sensed he had the potential to be a great rock singer. Adrian, whose initial concerns were over John’s bass playing ability, grew as he questioned whether his character would endure with the group. I felt that our personality differences could be worked out and was adamant in keeping him, whereas Adrian wanted him out!
The Babys eponymous first album (highlighted by the single 'If You've Got The Time') was recorded in Toronto, Canada with producers Brian Christian and
Bob Ezrinand released in January 1977, although it appears that Millar and Corby were unhappy with the production.
We hired Ron Nevison to produce the (Broken Heart) album, as we were all impressed with the work he’d done with Bad Company and decided we had to have him. I knew of him years prior when he was tagging around London working on other ‘knob-turning’ adventures. Once in the studio, he acted more like a ‘headmaster’ speaking to his pupils, than as a producer hired to record a rock band. Upon completion of ‘Broken Heart’ (even though there was still a little ‘blood’ left on the tracks), I personally thanked Ron for helping us make the album. In stark contrast, when The Babys left Toronto, I was so disgusted that I told Ezrin… I wouldn’t buy the record!
Both albums featured music and lyrics that were melodic and sensitive but some critics felt the teen-friendly packaging on their second album "Broken Heart" may have affected the group's appeal to wider audiences, although it is claimed that it was part of a Clockwork Orange experiment by Corby with group members looking like characters from the film.
The Babys second album, "Broken Heart", (released in September of 1977) produced a top 20 U.S. hit "
Isn't it Time" written by Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy, which peaked at #13 although Cashboxplaces them at #9. They continued to tour the U.S. successfully with the Babetteswho included singers from Andrae Crouchand the disciples Lisa Freeman Roberts, Myrna Matthews and Pat Henderson. The album spent two weeks at number one in Australiabut did not produce another top 40 single.
Disputes with Chrysalis management resulted in the firing of original manager Millar in 1978. While recording their third album, a version of events exists that Corby disagreed with the other members over the musical direction of the group in August 1978. Due to Corby's public silence on these matters for over 27 years this version of events has remained undisputed. Corby insists that he is still on good terms with Stocker and Brock and that there were other reasons for his departure which was certainly not planned nor intended by him.
The compilation of "The Babys Archives" to explain his departure and silence over the matter was in the main to inform fans and music aficionados of the real history of the band and seeks to debunk any theory that the singer controls the band.
All previous histories, at least over the
World Wide Webhave been undertaken by John Waite fansites two of which have been dormant for a number of years Johnwaite.com and Netwaite.com and another Johnwaiteonline.com has recently been taken off the Internet.
A dispute also existed over Waite's date of birth some sources claiming
1955and others with more authority claiming 1952.
A document such as "The Babys Archives" is bound to detail the tensions that the group encountered with management and each other although the main source of the tension seems to have occurred between Corby, the founder, and Waite, the lead singer who has never publicly acknowledged the contribution of Corby, Stocker or Brock to the band.
The Babys Archives suggest a strong reason for the sacking was that Corby was unhappy with the financial arrangements surrounding the band and that some members of the road crew were not being remunerated.
I began to hear of complaints being made by the roadies that they were not being paid, and I certainly did not want The Babys to acquire any kind of dubious reputation. So this was about the time I began to ask questions. I was about to become a father, and I felt that the responsibility of having a family was a heavy one. In other words, if things were going on, as they were, I wanted to know and to be involved in doing something about them. To compound these matters, I was completely shocked when they played us the rough mixes of ‘Head First’ and heard songs that I’d never been part of. Certainly, I can say the same feelings were had with Walt and Tony.
Corby's Sacking and the Third "Official" Album
Eventually on Monday 28th of August 1978 it was Corby who was asked to leave, Evita Corby details the events of the day:
I believe they lured him out under the auspice of a ‘photo-shoot’ because he spent a lot of time getting ready, makeup, jewelry, etc. On this particular day I’d say he was ‘dressed-to-kill.’ The humility of being dolled up, only to have been led to the lions, getting booted from ‘His’ band was all too much for him to handle, and in my opinion…it ruined him. It’s sad when I think back to fans in the audience holding signs that read: ‘WE LOVE YOU MICHAEL.’ He really was a beautiful Man. I also think that jealousy played a significant role in his firing. In the end Corby was ‘difficult’ and Waite was ‘easy’ and record companies don’t want the ‘Heathcliffs.'
Corby describes the day:
In the morning I received a phone call requesting my presence for a meeting at the Lookout Management offices that afternoon. I called back, spoke to a secretary, and explained that I did not think I would be able to attend the meeting because I was tied up with my wife and new born son, my wife was in bed recovering from the birth, and I could not get a nurse until the evening. So I said that I would accept the decision made by the majority of the other three band members…
At about 1:30 pm Stone himself telephoned me, and said that I absolutely had to attend the meeting, because somebody might be getting fired. Ellis, Stone added, he’d heard the album and ‘there were problems.’ Stone said he would send a car for me. I replied that I did not think there were any problems, and that I could see no reason to fire anyone, not suspecting that the victim would be me…
However, in view of Stone's insistence I did attend the meeting, arranged for 3:00 pm although I arrived 10 or 15 minutes late [fashionably late] .
On arrival, I was shown into Roberts personal office at Lookout; present were Roberts, Stone, Waite, Brock and Stocker. Roberts said words to this effect: ‘The problem is that Terry (Ellis) has heard the album and doesn't like it.’ I interposed that neither did I, but that I had not been allowed to give my opinion during recording, that part on the recording had been done without me, and that there were songs on the record I had not even heard. Roberts went on to say that, in effect, ‘Terry refuses to continue with the band unless he gets 3 basic things’:
1) Less songs on the album by John
2) John only sings and does not place bass guitar
3) That I am removed from the band [period]
My rent was never paid again, and I was asked to quit my apartment at the end of September 1978. I received no more wages, and my medical and furniture bills also were not paid again. At the time of my dismissal I had no legal visa status”
Despite Corby's departure, the remaining three members completed the third album, "Head First" (released in December 1978). Early in 1979, "Everytime I Think of You," again written by Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy reached the top 20 in the United States (peaking at #13) and top 10 in Australia.
A cover version of
Everytime I Think of Youwas number one in the Netherlands for 5 weeks from in October 2006 and featured Marco Borsatoand Lucie Silvas.
Cain and Phillips
Equipment Manager Ray Sheriff states:
Almost immediately after the sacking, the remainder of the band went into auditions for a replacement. In fact, two other musicians were hired, with the idea, I believe, of promoting John Waite. Jonathan Cain in fact became Mike’s successor but I am sure he had not been selected until after Mike left. The other musician was Ricky Phillips who played bass. I think from what John, Wally and Tony said that it was they and not Chrysalis who selected these two successors. And I think that at about this same time Lookout Management ceased to be the band’s managers. [ [http://www.thebabysarchives.com/05BioL.htm The Babys Official Archives and Chronological History - Bio ] ]
Jonathan Cainreplaced Corby, and bassist Ricky Phillips(of "Nasty Habit") joined in 1979, making the band a 5-piece. Because Corby and Millar had the original documents for the band Cain and Phillips were never contracted.
The band's fourth album "Union Jacks" (released in January 1980) had a more punchy sound similar to fellow label-mate Pat Benatar with the single "Back On My Feet Again" spending a very short time in the top 40. During an extensive tour in 1980, The Babys opened for the supergroup 'Journey.'
The band's fifth and final album, "On the Edge" was made during the 1980 tour and released in October 1980. The single "Turn and Walk Away" only reached the top 100.
During a performance in
Cincinnati, OHon December 9, 1980 (the day after John Lennon had been murdered), John Waite was pulled from the stage by an overzealous fan during an encore and seriously injured his knee. Following a subsequent final performance by the group in Akron, OH, the remainder of the tour was cancelled. The group disbanded following the tour.
Although different members of the group have given various reasons for the band's demise, the general issue seems to have been dissillusionment that the group never really achieved the success they felt they deserved given the quality of their albums and live shows. Waite later mused, "We were better than people thought we were." [ [http://www.johnwaite.com/lifestory/thebabys2.htm Life Story of John Waite - The Babys ] ] The band's marketing image as a teen pop band (reinforced by their name) was also out of sync with the twin and opposing styles dominating the popular music of the time: punk and disco.
John Waite, Ricky Phillips and Jonathan Cain later played together in
Bad English. Cain went on to enjoy great success with Journey. Tony Brock spent many years drumming for Rod Stewart, as well as drumming and co-producing for Jimmy Barnesand producing for Keith Urban. Wally Stocker went on to play guitar for Rod Stewart and Air Supplyas well as a reformed version of Humble Piein the 1990s.
Wally Stocker and Tony Brock have not worked with John Waite since the breakup and there have been no rumors of any kind of reunion for the 1979 lineup. And given the persistant acrimony surrounding Corby's departure from the group, there is also little chance of the original 1976 lineup ever getting together again.
Brian Maychose "Back on my Feet Again" as one of his Desert Island Discs.
The Archives have the final word from the late Adrian Millar on the band's demise:
The inherent built-in design fault that's always going to come back and trip you up, electrocute or drown you in a cup of coffee was the fact that Mike Corby had all the looks and should have been the lead singer. The only problem here was that Mike didn't [rather couldn't] sing, and it just goes to show how a tiny little element can change everything. If Mike had been the one with 'the voice,' it would have balanced the status quo between him and John. Then, if you want to look at the bright side of things, we wouldn't have been forced into employing somebody like John Waite...A person who was so completely opposite of Mike Corby. [ [http://www.thebabysarchives.com/05BioM.htm The Babys Official Archives and Chronological History - Bio ] ]
* "The Babys (self-titled)", 1976
* "Broken Heart", 1977
* "Head First", 1978
* "Union Jacks", 1980
* "On The Edge", 1980
* 1976 "If You've Got the Time"
* 1977 "Broken Heart"
* 1977 "Isn't It Time"
* 1978 "A Piece of the Action"
* 1978 "I'm Falling"
* 1979 "Everytime I Think of You"
* 1979 "Love Don't Prove I'm Right" (Australia)
* 1979 "White Lightning"
* 1980 "Back on My Feet Again"
* 1980 "Midnight Rendezvous"
* 1980 "Turn and Walk Away"
* [http://www.thebabysarchives.com The Babys Official Unofficial Archives and Chronological History] Based on the Archives of Adrian Millar and Michael John Siddons-Corby
* [http://www.myspace.com/thebabysofficial The Babys Official] Contains Rare Unreleased Songs and Video Clips of The Babys.
* [http://www.worldmusicdatabase.org/profile.php?id=The%20Babys&tag=agGnqIpzgjUf7Qn The Babys at WorldMusicDatabase]
* [http://www.myspace.com/the1stbaby Mike Corby's Official]
* [http://www.johnwaiteonline.com John Waite Official Site]
* [http://johnwaitethegreatest.web-log.nl/ John Waite site]
* [http://www.netwaite.com/index.htm The Babys John Waite site]
* [http://www.johnwaite.com/discography/babys/babys.htm The Babys Discography and Lyrics]
* [http://www.johnwaiteonline.com Current John Waite information]
* [http://www.tonybrock.com Tony Brock - Rockin' Hoarse Studios]
* [http://www.waite4you.de John Waite Deutschland/Germany]
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