Sunday, 24 January 2016
Always/Hi, Hi Hazel/Water/If You Knew
Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band were an English-based soul band, active from 1965 to 1968.
The Ram Jam Band were formed around 1964 by Pete Gage and Geoff Pullum. Before taking on Geno Washington, whom Pete knew from performing the Bentwaters USAF Base, they had Jamaican Blue Beat singer by the name of Errol Dixon front the band as they embarked on the London club circuit. Pete approached Geno to finance his demobbing to the States and to return to front the band as it seemed essential to have an American to perform US soul rather than the West Indian alternatives in London at that time.
Geno Washington was a US airman stationed in East Anglia who became well known for his impromptu performances in London nightclubs. In 1965, guitarist Pete Gage needed a singer to front his new band and replace the previous singer Errol Dixon, and asked Washington to join. When Washington was discharged from the US Airforce, he became the band's frontman. Their first single featuring Geno, "Shake, Shake, Senora" / "Akinla" released on Columbia had sunk without a trace.
They released two live albums. Hand Clappin, Foot Stompin, Funky-Butt ... Live! was released in 1966, reached no.5 on the UK albums chart, and remained in the charts for 38 weeks. It was followed up by Hipster Flipsters Finger Poppin' Daddies in 1967, which reached no.8 on the chart. They also had some moderate hit singles released by the Pye label: "Water", "Hi Hi Hazel", "Que Sera Sera" and "Michael (The Lover)".
They managed to build up a strong following with the crowds and due to their touring and engergetic performances. Like their Pye label mates and rivals, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, they became popular with the mod scene.
The band broke up in the autumn of 1969 and the band members went their own ways while Geno Washington continued as a solo artist before returning to the United States. Keyboard player Geoffrey K. Pullum became an academic linguist, and is today a professor at the University of Edinburgh and a linguistics blogger at the Language Log and Lingua Franca websites.
Washington temporarily reformed the band between February and June 1971 with new band members Dave Watts (organ), Mo Foster (bass), Mike Jopp (guitar) and Grant Serpell (drums)
The band's name came from the Ram Jam Inn, an old coaching inn on the A1 (Great North Road) at Stretton, near Oakham, Rutland.
Since 2005, Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band have been constantly playing shows. The current version of the band is: Geno Washington (Lead Vocals); Geoff Hemsley (Drums); Steve Bingham (Bass and Backing Vocals); Stuart Dixon (Guitar and Backing Vocals); Alan Whetton (Tenor Sax); and Allesandro Carnevali (Tenor Sax)