Steve Ellis never lost his eternal love affair with music | Music | Entertainment

Steve Ellis, the original voice of Love Affair. (Image: Chris Bessel)

“It was in December 1967. We were like, ‘Are you kidding?’ But we didn’t question it, we were kids – I was 17 – we just thought “This is it”.

“Two of us fell into the icy water and, idiot, I got to the top and couldn’t get down. “

Ground traffic at a standstill. “The police were called, the fire department had to rescue me. We were slashed, released on bail and by the time we got to court we were all over the papers.”

The group was fined £ 12 for breaching the peace and bound for a year. “But the record went straight to number one! Steve said. “Talk about it deep down!” “

This perennial classic, Everlasting Love, topped the charts for two weeks in February 1968. Top

Ten hits Rainbow Valley and A Day Without Love quickly followed. That year, only The Beatles sold more singles than Love Affair.

“We were dragged down to Carnaby Street and told we would be wearing frilly shirts and satin velor pants on Top Of The Pops,” recalls Steve. “But we were mods and it was hippie clothes. The others bowed but I reached out for a brown double-breasted suit.

MATTER OF LOVE: Maurice Bacon, Steve Ellis, Mick Jackson, Lynton Guest and Rex Brayley in 1968. (Image: Jeff Hochberg / Getty Images)

“I mean, they said if you wear that on TV tonight, you can have it. So I did it, “he said, adding with a laugh,” and it got torn to shreds by screaming girls? Love Affair were true north London mods, fueled by a love of black American soul. “My mom kept Green Shield stamps to buy me Ray Charles albums,” recalls Steve.

“When we formed our group, the Soul Survivors, we went to see James Brown in Walthamstow Granada. He blew our socks off, he was phenomenal. I thought that was how a singer should be, so I started doing gymnastics.

Now plagued with knee issues, he adds with regret, “You could walk across the stage on your knees at that age and it didn’t hurt. “

“It helped that Steve has one of the great voices in white soul. The five musicians of Soul Survivors played anywhere – youth clubs, school discos, “we would have concerts and even weddings saying” We’re the band you booked. ” We would try anything.

“Because the others were Jews, we got a call for a bar mitzvah – they didn’t want to pay us but they gave us a lot of food. Their first manager was the father of drummer Maurice Bacon, a handbag mogul who let them rehearse in his Tottenham warehouse.

Love affair perform

Love Affair in 1970. (Image: Michael Putland / Getty Images)

They graduated from mod clubs in Clacton and Brighton and soul clubs in Stoke and Manchester. Steve was 15 when they played the legendary Flamingo from Soho. “” The manager said, “Tell everyone you’re 19 or we’ll lose our license,” “Steve laughs. “We would come home at 4 am and get up for school the next day. “

“Residences there and at the Marquee followed. “We played Goldhawk with the Who and the Small Faces at Albert Hall. It was a plus for the Aberfan disaster and Dorothy Squires was on the bill.

“When we played she came over and slapped a mod girl in the face. They dragged her off the stage. It was a weird night!

Steve was still 16 when Decca Records signed them. They changed their name to Love Affair, but their first single, the Jagger / Richards song She Smiled Sweetly, flopped. “I was happy – I hated it, ”Steve says.

Decca let them down and CBS stepped in. Ellis worked part-time at the co-op but switched to a six-month apprenticeship on a construction site. “I asked the Scottish foreman for a day’s. F. He said, ‘Why, boy?’ I said, ‘I have to make a record, mate,’ and that was Everlasting Love. “

love story

English pop and soul group Love Affair in London, 1967. (Image: Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Still children, they sabotaged Maurice’s drum stool on Top Of The Pops, replacing the bolts with matches so that he collapsed under him when he sat down.

“Imagine doing that now! Health and safety would be like a ton of bricks on you! “

They also tried to prank Val Doonican on his TV show. “We took his rocking chair and made it so that he would fall flat if he sat on it, but he caught us in the act?” In Kettering, two female fans reached for Steve’s pants as he sang, one leg each, and pulled. “Was I standing in my pants?” It all sounded surreal, but we worked hard, we traveled the country, slept in the van; sometimes we would play three one-hour sets a night.

There were issues, however. When the band recorded Everlasting Love, an American hit from soul singer Robert Knight, their management was not satisfied. Steve says, “I was told to go to the CBS studios where I found a 40-piece orchestra waiting for me.”

“Other A-sides of Love Afair were recorded the same way, just Steve, an orchestra and a brass section. “Live it was painful because we couldn’t get that sound back. And the rest of the group, who only played on the B sides, didn’t want it.

Then Jonathan King took them out for it. “It was common practice at the time, but it made all the newspapers. What a stench.

Love story with Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis led the successful group. (Image: Jeff Hochberg / Getty Images)

He shakes his head. “Live we kicked a ***.”

Steve’s mother disapproved for other reasons. Even at the height of her fame, she berated him, saying, “You could have run the co-op. “

“Love Afair had more success in 1969 – including Bringing On Back The Good Times – but never went beyond their prime.

Ellis resigned in 1970 to pursue a solo career. “The band wanted to do progressive rock and it wasn’t for me. I had always been a soul boy. The main reason we broke up was the screaming. We couldn’t hear what we were playing. It was no longer music, just madness ”.

Steve made his first solo album, recorded the soundtrack for the 1970 movie Loot, and then formed Ellis with Zoot Money – “commercial suicide?” Mid-1970s rock band Widowmaker was doing better, but by 1981 he had left the company and worked at Shoreham Docks, until his feet were crushed by a forklift.

It took eight years of operations and therapy to fully recover. Ellis started karate to rebuild his strength.

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After a stint at New Amen Corner, he released an album called The Best Of Days with his friends Paul Weller and Roger Daltrey in 2015.

Weller also co-produced his stunning 2018 album Boom! Snap! Accent! in his famous Black Barn studio and co-wrote Steve’s Nordic-inspired single Lonely No More. They have known each other since the early 1980s.

“He’s a perfectionist,” says Steve, “Paul lives and breathes music. Ellis, who has lived in Brighton for 40 years, was born in Edgware, north London. “My dad was East End, Bow Bells. He worked as an expedition clerk for Lloyds and escaped and joined the RAF as a ground crew during the war. My grandfather was in the Somme in the horse artillery.

“They scampered off to Finchley – mum and dad bought a house with grandpa and had four kids, I was second.”

Steve, married 48 years, has three grown children. To relax, he restores Japanese samurai swords and watches Match Of The Day.

He is currently working on a 10-CD Love Affair set which will be released in April. Self-tuned pop stars and unknown “celebrities” get her goat, as do “reality stars.”

“When we started we had to work for the glory. Now talentless people are on TV and suddenly they’re all over the store. I do not understand.

  • Dreamboats And Petticoats Presents Bringing On Back The Good Times is now available on Decca. 100 classic songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s

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