So how much do you really know about the Rubettes?
If you are a keen follower of The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd, then you will already know that Bill Hurd is not just one of the original band members, but also the second longest serving member of the band, dedicating 40 years of his musical life to the bands continuance and musical legacy.
Apart from a brief time away from the band in 1976, during which time he recorded his solo album for the Rubettes record company Polydor, and completed a short USA tour and recording stint with Suzi Quatro, he has always been a recognised as an ‘original Rubette’ through and through!
The whole wide world probably knows by now that the Rubettes’ incredible story began when they appeared on BBC TV’s “Top of the Pops” in 1974.
The band became an overnight success when their debut single “Sugar Baby Love” stormed to the top of the UK charts.
Originally recorded as a “studio session” and sung by legendary session singer Paul Da Vinci, it was used to test the water as a possible single release. Sugar Baby Love hovered around the top 100 for several weeks getting mixed reviews.
That would dramatically change after the very first ‘play’ on BBC’s Top of the Pops. The record went on to sell more than 8 million copies around the World and it has become one of the all time classics!
‘It is reported that ‘Sugar Baby Love’ is played somewhere on radio, around the world, every hour of every day!’
Incredibly only weeks before that first ever TV appearance the band did not even exist!
With an element of luck and a strange twist of fate, the band unexpectedly got their big chance when the band “Sparks” were unable to appear at the very last minute. To their credit, they grabbed the opportunity with both hands, adopting a totally thrown together image with the infamous White suits and Gatsby caps, and a “slick” routine to make an enormous instant impact.
Most people would not guess that the ‘Top of the Pops’ routine was put together the night before in one of the bands front rooms using chairs and an ironing board as props.
The 50’s and 60’s American rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop sounds were a huge influence on songwriter/producers Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington.
With a passion for that kind of music and incredible faith in their song “Sugar Baby Love”, they completely master minded the creation of the Rubettes. Even the name is typically 50’s style and came from playing around with names like the Ronettes, the Diamonds etc.
From that first infectious “bop sho-waddy” sound the band went on to have a string of international hits, with some more great songs from the Bickerton & Waddington partnership, and clever productions moving from the sophisticated orchestration of “Tonight” to great rock ‘n’ roll tracks like “Juke Box Jive”, “I Can Do It” and “Foe-Dee-Oh-Dee”.
The Rubettes sound, with good musicianship and its distinctive harmonies, enabled the band to notch up sales of 30 million records and to deservedly build up an excellent reputation worldwide.
Like many bands, a hectic schedule of touring, recording and TV appearances took its toll over the years and with various members following a natural progression of solo musical and personal projects, and the original band had virtually ground to a halt by the end of 1978.
Nothing is forever it seems and with a wave of interest in ‘nostalgia’ Bill Hurd and Alan Williams reformed the band in 1982 with Mick Clarke, briefly returning to the band and new member Alex Bines on Drums. Mick Clarke would eventually leave the band again, and his role on Bass guitar would be filled by Steve Kinch for a short period and then byTrevor Holiday who remained as Bass guitaist through to 1999. This incarnation of The Rubettes would fly the flag for the music of The Rubettes from 1982 to December 1999 when the last remaining remnants of the band known as ‘The Rubettes’ finally disbanded, with some members indicating a wish to retire from playing live, airing the views that there was not an audience for the music of The Rubettes.
Bill Hurd and Alex Bines disagreed and declared their desire to carry the torch for the bands musical legacy. It was this situation that ultimately created resistance between long serving band members, and when Bill Hurd, Alex Bines secured the vocal talents of Paul Di Vinci (the original voice of the Rubettes) and set about replacing the now missing original members, the situation escalated towards legal actions that would prevent any of the original band members from playing as The Rubettes for more than two years.
Like so many bands before and since, long serving ‘original members’ who have dedicated the majority of their career to a band, are prepared to fight for the right to use a bands brand identity through legal proceedings.
Sadly, these issues would mean that this was the last time that any band would be able to lay claim to the name as the ‘original’ band and ultimately in all likelihood prevent all the original members ever playing together again as ‘The Rubettes’.
Under a High Court ruling of 2002 there are two Official ‘Rubettes Featuring’ bands in existence today.
With contractual obligations preventing Paul Da Vinci from joining the band when it was formed in 1974, he never in fact appeared with the original band at all during the first incarnation of the band.
He did however feature with Bill Hurd and Alex Bines as ‘The Rubettes feat Bill Hurd’ from 2000 until 2006, at which time he left for personal reasons and was replaced by the hugely talented George Bird.
The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd has always been regarded as an impressive classy line-up that continues to impress any audience that it plays in front of.
Bill’s mantra has always been to preserve the legacy of the Rubettes music, representing it when played live as closely as possible to the original recordings, and dubbing anything less than that as cheap and cheating the audiences.
If you want to hear the authentic sound of ‘The Rubettes’ music, then you need to be watching a Rubettes feat Bill Hurd live performance.
The Rubettes Feat Bill Hurd have not been happy to just play the older material, and Bill is very proud that the band continues to evolve and to be able to record new material that is worthy to sit amongst the established Rubettes catalogue of classic hits.
In 2010/11, The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd, recorded the album ’21st Century Rock n’ Roll, which was well received internationally. This remains today as the only new album recorded by any of the original Rubettes members.
Fans of the band can look forward to additional new material being recorded, with an CD album already in production for 2016, and another album planned for 2017.
In Bill’s own words, ‘if you’re only prepared to play the hits and stand still as a band, then you’re nothing more than a 70’s oldie act going through the motions’… that we can leave for others!’
Unlike the majority of nostalgia acts that follow that route, The Rubettes feat Bill Hurd is certainly not standing still on the bands nostalgic success, and has demonstrated its ability to evolve and grow as a credible music act. Such is their success at achieving this, the band has had the honour of winning two international music awards, including the coveted Radio Regenbogen media prize!
Widely recognised as one of the more stylish bands from the Glam-Rock era, ‘the Rubettes’ style of music is still very much in demand today. By blending the trademark harmony sound with superb musicianship and introducing some great new material alongside the ‘Hits and old favourites’, this exclusive and distinctly talented line-up, is thrilling audiences everywhere with its exceptional live performances.
With each and every show, the reputation of “The Rubettes feat Bill Hurd” grows stronger, and with incredible audience reactions and consistent great reviews, they not only continue to ‘win over’ fans that have previously chosen to pick their ‘favourite version’ of the band, but also continue to attract many new fans, young and older around the World!