His is not a household name, but for musicians the words “Paul Gurvitz” sound as shattering as the notes plucked from his bass in the days when heavy rock was just becoming what it is today. Still, you can’t hear the very bottom of the sound that’s too low, and there’s more depth to the man DME had a little chat with.
– Why did it take so long for you to come up with a solo career?
My solo career has been going for many years more as a writer. The CDs I put out are really more for me about writing songs than it is about singing and performing as an artist.
– Your father used to road manage THE SHADOWS. Did you ever chance to meet Hank Marvin to learn some twangy thing from him?
I think I was influenced by Hank’s playing before I met him. Before I took up music seriously I was a hairdresser and I used to cut Hank, Tony and Jet’s hair.
– Gene Vincent was infamous for his drunken tantrums while others say of him as a vulnerable soul. Which side of his you had to deal with when THE KNACK backed Gene?
Actually it was THE LONDONERS that was Gene’s backing group, and it was the drunken side that we had to deal with, but deep down he was a nice guy, just a little messed up with the pain from his leg accident.
– Would it be right to say that GUN originated an idea of marrying hard rock to orchestra?
I would say that we were one of the few bands doing that in those days.
– Does it make you somehow proud that the GUN’s debut was also the first Roger Dean’s record sleeve ever?
No… I think it should be more the other way around.
– Was Jon Anderson, a YES singer, ever a GUN member?
Yes, Jon Anderson was a member for a short while.
– As I know, in the beginning, there was an organist in GUN. But what was his name?
Tim Mycroft was the organ player.
– Were you really going to perform at Woodstock?
There were rumours, but the tour we had planned was cancelled.
– Who came up with that brilliant idea to do count-in to “Take Off” in different languages?
That was my idea, and I wrote the song.
– Where did that orchestral sound and arrangements for the “Race With The Devil” album come from and why did the course changed with the second album for a the more acoustic vibe?
I liked the combination of strings and brass with the rock music and not many bands were using it at that time. But “Gunsight” was just another side of what we liked to play.
– Who’s that fourth person on the “Gunsight” cover?
There are six photos on the cover: two of Louie, two of Adrian, and two of me.
– How did the amazing swamp blues “Drown Yourself In The River” and flamenco of “Lady” on “Gunsight” come about?
“Drown Yourself In The River” was just a blues song I wrote, and the flamenco guitar was at the time something that Adrian was learning.
– Why did you change your last name to Curtis just to reclaim it back later?
My father changed his name to Curtis and we thought it was a more commercial name at that time. It was George Martin who suggested I use Gurvitz, my real name, and later Adrian decided to go back to Gurvitz also.
– You said you’re Jewish back in the GUN days, then you recorded a song called “My Yiddishe Mamma” on THREE MAN’s “Mahesha”. Is that part of yourself important to you?
Yes, I was Jewish back in the GUN days, and I still am, the reason we did “My Yiddishe Mamma” was because we thought we would do a track like Hendrix did “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Being Jewish is my religion, I had no choice although religion is not important to me.
– Did you play Hendrix’s “Freedom” with BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY as a response to Jimi’s live take on “Race With The Devil”?
– Why did GUN fold after just two albums?
We just decided to do different things
– Did any GUN live recordings survive to be released any day soon?
There are some, pre-“Race With The Devil” radio shows, but I have not decided when and if I will release them.
– How did the Parrish-Gurvitz combination come about?
Brian Parrish was in THE LONDONERS and THE KNACK, and we had been friends for a long time. I was going to do a solo album for CBS and at that time Brian was going to do an album, so we just put our songs together, and we took it to George Martin and we became PARRISH & GURVITZ.
– Why did you call two of your bands “the ARMY”? Just because of the force – or was there any military thing in it?
No reason, THREE MAN ARMY was first, and when Ginger joined, he wanted his name to be part of the group name, so we just called it the obvious THE BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY.
– How did you get Buddy Miles to play with THREE MAN ARMY?
Adrian was playing with Buddy in THE BUDDY MILES EXPRESS in the USA, and when Buddy came to England we asked him to play on some tracks.
– That must have been a hell of a work for you as a bassist to play with Ginger Baker. Was it more difficult or challenging?
Not really. Ginger made it easy for me cause he always played in time.
– From the bassist’s point of view, was Ginger the best of all the great drummers – Buddy Miles, Mike Kellie, Tony Newman, Graeme Edge – you ever worked with?
There also were Louie Farrell, Geoff Britton and Carmine Appice, but Ginger was definitely the most original, though I preferred Tony Newman’s drumming out of all the drummers I have played with.
– It’s easy to understand why the band was called BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY but why you decided to stand behind Graeme Edge’s name when joined forces with him? Was THE MOODY BLUES drummer much more famous than Gurvitz brothers?
It was nothing to do with being famous. Graeme was a friend and needed help with songs and making some albums while THE MOODY BLUES took a break, so when we had time in between touring with the BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY, we would record the albums, "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots" and "Paradise Ballroom".
– With Adrian singing so well, why there was a need to get another vocalist into BAKER-GURVITZ ARMY?
It was a management decision, they thought it would be better for touring. Snips was a great front man and singer but I always liked Adrian’s vocals.
– What was the "Elysian Encounter" concept about with all those characters-based songs?
“Elysian Encounter” was “a meeting of the gods”, all the characters being each a title of each song. Peter Lemer, the man holding the paint brush, was the Artist, Ginger is The Gambler, I was Time, Adrian was the Key, Snips was The Hustler, the Dreamer was our sound engineer Anton Mathews.
– Are there any special memories of working on the “Tommy” soundtrack?
Only the fact that we had to do it twice, because they did not like the first version which was sung by David Essex, and Elton John wearing a leopard skin cat suit.
– At which point of your career did you decided you would rather be a bass player than a gutarist?
I didn’t have time to decide, it just happened overnight.
– Rumours have it that your relationship with your brother is quite bitter.
Are they really? We are brothers
– Could the song title “Flying In And Out Of Stardom” be a definition for your career?
It could be…