Bright Eyes


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 14.52.56Members

Bright Eyes MK1
John Norton:  vocals, guitar
Mike James:  vocals, guitar
Rod Hudson:  guitar
Trevor Foster: drums
Keith Jones: vocals, fiddle, mandolin
Kevin Whitehouse: bass

Bright Eyes MK11
Allan Knowles: vocals, guitar
Rob Knowles:  vocals, guitar
Keith Jones: vocals, fiddle
Trevor Foster: drums
Kevin Whitehouse: bass


About

Bright Eyes was formed in Birmingham in 1975 from the ashes of folk rock band Scotch Mist. During this changeover period my brother left the band and was replaced by Rod Hudson on guitar whilst John Norton replaced Heather McCauley.  This line up changed a few times and did many university/college gigs over a period up until 1980-ish when the band dissolved. They had released one single – ‘Miss Inbetweener’ with an instrumental B side – ‘The Way of the Bow’, recorded at Phil Dawson’s Ginger studios on the newly formed Wild Dog Records. The band also completed a great live session for Robin Valk’s rock show on BRMB radio.

After a few months of being in limbo, Keith then heard, whilst playing violin on a jingle for BRMB radio, the voice of Allan Knowles. Phil Dawson explained that Allan had booked a session with his own band but the band had split up prior to the session leaving Allan adrift and finishing the recording himself. His voice was stunning. Contact was made and, within a couple of days, Bright Eyes MKII was formed.

A few guitarists came and left – notably Keith Farr who was an exceptional country picker, similar in style to American guitarist Jerry Donahue. However, Keith Farr eventually moved on and was replaced by Allan’s brother, Rob Knowles. This, I consider to be the best line-up of the band. The mix of Allan’s hard edge vocals, Allan’s song writing capabilities and the wonderful interplay between the brothers was, without doubt, electrifying!

I really thought this was the band that was going to make it big. And it almost did! A recording deal was in the offing with Island Records. The band was put up in a hotel and recording demos started at Basing Street studios in London https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNvLrMwQSJU (now ‘Sarm Studios’, recording the likes of Jake Bugg, One Direction, Mark Ronson, Kanye Wesr and Olly Murs). We were even offered a tour as support to David Bowie!  About a year went by and Island Records A & R man left the company and a new deal was offered with the newly formed ‘Radar Records’ who, at the time, had artists on their roster such as Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. The deal eventually fell through due to executive changes.

The band, although disheartened, carried on gigging, and taking up residencies and supports to the likes of Fairport Convention, chart toppers Sailor, Bram Tchaikovsky, heavy rockers UFO and Irish cult band and founding fathers of Celtic Rock,  ‘Horslips’. The band also had a two track contribution to the now very collectable ‘BrumBeat Live’ (available on iTunes) – a double album released by Big Bear’s Jim Simpson. Please see Big Bear Records’ reunion.

During this period the band also recorded a single – ‘Casablanca’ at Heath Levey Studios in London which, for some reason, was never released.  They completed, in 1981, a now lost session with Radio 1’s Peter Powell show ‘Night Boat’ and sessions for BRMB’s rock guru Robin Valk who was a big fan of the band and named Bright Eyes as one of his top ten in Birmingham, along with the likes of Fashion, Ruby Turner and Ricky Cool.

Many gigs followed at Birmingham’s the Holy City Zoo, Rebecca’s, the Railway, Bogart’s, Barbarella’s, the Cedar Club and at universities the length and breadth of the country.

The next blow was to come when the long standing partnership of Trevor Foster (drums), Kevin Whitehouse (bass) and Keith Jones (fiddle) finished as Trevor joined,  and still is to this day, I  believe, a member of ‘The Albion Band’.  It was a sad loss to the existing members, although they totally understood that it was the right move for him. Bright Eyes finally folded, in 1982, when Keith joined the already established Birmingham pop/rock band, Orphan.


Bright Eyes MK1 Gallery

 

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Bright Eyes MK11 Gallery