Before And After
interview with Chad Stuart
by Robert Silverstein
Renowned for their superb easy listening approach to
classic pop in the wake of Beatlemania, Chad Stuart and Jeremy ClydeChad
& Jeremyrecorded a number of innovative pop albums back
in the mid 60s. With the 2006 reissues of I Dont Want
To Lose You Baby and The Ark, Sundazed now has them all
on CDcomplete with bonus tracks and great liner notes. Compared
to the post Rubber Soul vibe of I Dont Want To Lose
You Baby, the early 68 release of The Arkoriginally
on Columbia Records, remains an excellent example of that psychedelic
paisley pop sound popular during the era of Sgt. Peppers.
C&Js final Columbia record, The Ark is also their
most adventurous and satisfying. Featuring amazing songs written by
C&J, coupled with Chad's adventurous arrangements and Gary Usher's
skillful production, The Ark remains a timeless pop classic.
Although he's been off the scene, hiding out in Idaho for the past
20 years, Chad Stuart is a living legend from the original British
invasion of 1964, so it was with great respect that I introduced myself
to Chad Stuart on the telephone for this rare interview.
RS: Im a big Chad & Jeremy fan. I use to watch you guys
on Hullabaloo in the 60s and I had the early singles
and stuff. I hear theres a Chad & Jeremy resurgence going
CS: Amazing but true! Well sort of! We're doing two tours a year,
Spring and Fall. Those are the seasons for the Performing Arts Centers
which is sort of our specialty. And we're recording again. What started
it all was a PBS special in 2003 and the fact that Jeremy had been
writing up a storm. He teamed up with lyricist Dave Pierce and started
writing again. It always amazed me that after being so prolific in
the Ark period, he just walked away from it. Anyway, he started
getting frustrated because as an actor, obviously he didnt have
an outlet for the musical side of his creative persona. By his own
admission, hes a hopeless schizophrenic. Hes an actor
in England but he also plays guitar, sings and writes. I think he
probably asked himself periodically over the years, Jeez, why
did I give that up?
RS: So why did you and Jeremy split?
CS: There were probably two main reasons. Back then, before David
Bowie, before Phil Collins, Columbia Records had this rather limited
outlook. It was like, Oh, you want to be an actor? Well okay,
were going to pull the plug on this one. Decades later,
theres Bowie appearing on Broadway in The Elephant Man.
It was silly. It was a shortsighted policy. A typical suit policy
to say, Make up your mind. Are you going to be a singer or a
you going to be an actor? What a stupid idea that was! So I
blame Columbia to some extent for that. And then there were the inevitable
growing pains and the insanity of the late sixties and there we were
doing Cabbages And Kings and The Ark. Gary Usher and
Curt Boettcher got into the picture and Jeremy got more and more frustrated
because his idea of heaven was more like Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale.
In other words he was seriously out of step with what was going on
at the time which was the psychedelic extravaganza phase. Me, Id
always been an arranger. That's where I thought my career was going
at first. I started as a copyist at a music publishing company, copying
charts for the in-house arrangers. Then I wrangled an apprenticeship
with an amazing arranger called Gordon Franks. He was a great teacher.
He'd just throw projects at me and I learned by doing. At the same
time, I was playing guitar and piano in various bands. I had a bit
of a split personality going at the time. Big band arranging on the
one hand and guitar playing and folk music on the other.
heard you were a big fan of Nelson Riddle...
CS: Yeah, the whole pop thing was a serious side step for me; it wasn't
big bands and it wasn't folk music, but being young and curious, I
thought, why the hell not? The tradeoff was turning into
some kind of pop star, which neither Jeremy nor I had bargained for.
I kept on with the arranging during our fifteen minutes of fame and
a lot of people found that side of me hard to believe. It was, What?
Youre a pop singer. Youre not supposed to be doing this.
Youre not supposed to have ink-stained fingers and lots of charts
lying around. And not only that, but it put us out of step with the
sort of classic rock band where nobody read music and nobody cared
to read music. Certainly, nobody wrote it down; they played by ear
and more power to em. Nowadays, with all the digital gear, I
don't write anything down either. I record and I play and I've been
teaching guitar, piano, bass, drums as a music teacher for the last
decade or so, maybe longer, fifteen years now. Thats improved
my chops no end. You know the old saying, if you want to learn more
about something, teach it? So I really take delight in recording and
playing. Occasionally, Ill write a chart if I have to, or if
someone wants me to scribble down a top line for them.
RS: I hear theres a new CD - Chad And Jeremy Then And Now.
CS: That was an idea of Jeremys for a while, but I think
its probably fallen between the cracks as an expensive idea
which isnt going to happen. So what were going to issue,
hopefully by next Spring, is an album called Live At The Liberty,
which we recorded in January of this year at Bruce Willis theater
here in Hailey, Idaho. We did that as a benefit to raise money for
Habitat For Humanity in the Gulf states after the horrors of Katrina.
The second album, (as yet untitled) is a studio album. A lot of people
from our era re-record the hits, and with good reason. The prevalent
idea is to make your new recording as close to the original as possible
so that if it gets involved in a commercial or a film soundtrack and
they use your version, youre likely to get paid. In our case,
our first record company, Ember Records, never, ever paid us, so every
time they license A Summer Song for a movie or a commercial,
we never see a dime, so if we want to see any financial return for
our recordings, the answer seems to be to re-record the hits. Okay,
got that. Makes sense. But Jeremy and I have had a hard time buying
into that concept. I mean, weve never enjoyed any revenue from
the hits anyway since the bastards never paid us. So what appealed
to us was going back and having a fresh look at the old songs, using
our 2006 brain to reinterpret them. What this new album will reveal,
is a mix of old and new, with the old revisited in a hopefully interesting
RS: Theres so many excellent Chad & Jeremy songs. Theres
a whole breadth of timeline material in there that definitely makes
CS: Timeline, I like that. That's a good way to go. So with the first
studio album, were sort of obligated to to go back to the beginning
and then the second studio album could be the Columbia years, and
we'll do some of our favorite songs from Cabbages and The
Ark. And we'll include some of the more memorable new material
as well. Thanks Robert. Good idea!
RS: There seemed to be a great chemistry between you and Gary Usher
during The Ark. I call that period when Usher produced albums
like Cabbages And Kings and The Ark the greatest period
in 20th century music music history.
CS: I think thats really interesting that you would say that.
I would have to say that Gary wasnt a very musically gifted
person, but what he did do was listen to you and give you the opportunity
to run with an idea. Like a movie producer, he knew how to bring people
together. People like Curt Boettcher or Keith Olsson. Keith was a
serious talent. He was the techie who really knew how to use the effects
processors to get things to sound the way they did. And of course
he went on to produce Fleetwood Mac.
RS: One of the surprises on The Ark was the guitar instrumental
CS: Yeah, Pantheistic Study For Guitar And Large Bird
RS: Would you consider doing more instrumental stuff?
CS: Absolutely. There's all sorts of things in the pipeline. But that
little piece with the bamboo pipe and the guitar I remember with great
affection because I was discovering open tunings, the same way David
Crosby was, and he later passed on to Joni Mitchell. One of my favorites
was John Fahey, God bless him, who made a career out of open tunings.
But what makes that particular track special for me is that I was
sitting in the studio on the floor and there was a wicker basket next
to me with my eldest son Patrick (now a TV actor) asleep in it. He
was just a baby and I recorded that with him asleep in the studio,
which is kind of sweet. Its just a little personal memory.
RS: I always loved Of Cabbages And Kings.
CS: Bless your heart. Youre a member of a very select group
by they way. (laughter)
RS: Now with the 2006 reissue of The Ark. Why did the reissue
of The Ark take so long to resurface, if you dont mind
Right. Very good. The ark became a submarine! (laughter) None of this
would have happened if it hadnt been for Bob Irwin at Sundazed.
Bob got involved with Columbia and he did a series of albums. He was
the only guy who was given the key to the Columbia vaults. They had
him doing some sort of remixes. He did a compilation album of ours,
Painted Dayglow Smile. That was Bob going into the vaults and
digging out stuff. But then what he did, being a smart cookie, he
got Sundazed going, kept his relationship with Columbia, which gave
him a very privileged position. He was the only one who could go into
the vaults and do all of that research. So I think he just worked
his way through the catalog and finally he's arrived at The Ark.
I must say Im glad it came out. Its a little puzzling
that he put a picture from the very beginning of our career on the
back. I mean from a collectors point of view, thats a no-no.
Youre supposed to try to stay within the same time frame, arent
RS: You mean on the CD label?
CS: On the tray card. Its a bit strange. Hes got these
two teenagers on the cover who quite patently had nothing to do with
the creation of The Ark. We were probably what, nineteen at
the time? I think hes getting his periods mixed up.
RS: I call The Ark one of the great reissue discoveries of
CS: I thank you. Over the years, Ive always told everyone thats
the only album I can bear to listen to. I like that album.
here to read more