Breakfast with: Steve Ellis

Oct 2019 Breakfast with: Steve Ellis

By Derek Mead

This is a short story about the London-based pop and soul group formed in 1966 and active until 1971.

There were five appearances in the UK Singles Chart with Everlasting Love reaching UK No.1 for two weeks with 12 weeks in the UK Top 40 and in the Top 10 in seven other countries, with sales to date of more than 10 million.

The single has become a perpetual classic. In the five active years, there was much musical intensity, with many well- known names becoming involved mainly around vocalist Steve Ellis.

In addition to Everlasting Love, there were four additional appearances in the UK Top 40 – Rainbow Valley UK No.5 – A Day without Love UK No.6 – One Road UK No.16 – and Bringing on Back the Good Times UK No.9.

The last recording could well have out-sold Everlasting Love and occupied UK No.1, had it been released earlier.

The group’s first single She Smiled Sweetly by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on Decca was unsuccessful but was followed by Everlasting Love on CBS, originally destined for Marmalade who declined.

The B-side of the group’s UK No.1 was a cover of Gone Are the Songs of Yesterday by Phillip Goodhand-Tait, who progressed to other songs for the group.

Steve Ellis sang with a style similar to Sreve Marriott of the Small Faces, so backing for this B-side was a soul sound. There was controversy over the use of session musicians, and the studio sound – with arrangement by Keith Mansfield – was used with Steve Ellis the one group member involved.

Four female backing singers were Kiki Dee – Madeline Bell – Lesley Duncan and Kay Garner of The Ladybirds.

Later came five other releases that did not enter the UK Top 40 – Baby I Know – Lincoln County – Speak of Peace Sing of Joy- Wake me I Am Dreaming – Help.

Baby I Know was a totally different sound from the usual anthems and was designed for the Christmas charts but failed because of severe competition. The album The Everlasting Love Affair followed in December 1968.

The group did not appreciate being called ‘teen idols’ – being admired by young female fans and disliked by teenage males – being called a ‘pop group’ – being unable to hear on stage through screaming.

A-sides behind the Steve Ellis vocals had orchestral and brass backing, but the B-sides were composed and played by group members.

So Steve Ellis departed in December, 1969, for a solo career, and because nothing was happening in America. The remaining group continued with a new vocalist August Eadon or Gus Yeadon but releases never succeeded.

In their five years of activity in the late 1960s, they had produced superb singles and played exceptional music among the top UK acts, but there were no EP releases and nothing going forward.

The group has since revived for cabaret, often without original members, and Steve Ellis performs live with Steve Ellis’s Love Affair.

Three compilation CDs were also released – Everlasting Hits in 1991 – The Best of the Good Times in 2001 – Singles A and B in 2002, including six solo tracks recorded by Steve Ellis. As recently as 2013, he had brief outings with New Amen Comer, and in 2015, performed an album with Paul Weller and Roger Daltrey titled The Best of Days.

Even more recently, in April 2018, Steve released an album Boom Bang Twang with CBS/Sony, a mix of new songs and clever covers, including two titles Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying and Cry Me a River. The album was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of UK No.1 Everlasting Love on February 6,1968, and entertains with soul, rock, rhythm and blues, reggae and pop.

(See the official homepage of Steve Ellis www.steveellis.co.uk to order.)

Steve is also touring extensively this autumn, September to December – see the Sixties Gold itinerary on the back page of Beat, including Hermans Hermits, The Merseybeats, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Marmalade, and of course, Steve Ellis.

It is interesting to note what the official website homepage of Steve Ellis says about himself.

‘Iconic Mod- Soul Vocalist with 1960s chart-toppers Love Affair. Acknowledged as having one of the best soul-rock voices in the business.
‘With their sharp Mod looks and with national TV appearances Love Affair found themselves enjoying the kind of exposure and adulation offered to the likes of The Beatles and Rolling Stones. He toured and once again found himself being cited as a Mod hero to a new generation of fans while retaining the support and respect of his own musical peers. Steve Ellis has come full circle.’