In the spring of 1975, Graham Parker, a 24-year-old petrol pump attendant from Surrey, England, began to drive up to London to meet like-minded musicians and get a backing band behind his songs, which he now considered to be stronger and more interesting than anything he was hearing on the radio. By placing an advert in the Melody Maker he met Noel Brown, a guitarist, and Paul “Bassman” Riley, a bass player who had featured in Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers, a so- called “pub rock” band that had recently split up. Riley thought Parker should meet Dave Robinson, a manager who ran a small studio above the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington. Robinson had previously managed Brinsley Schwarz, another demised pub rock outfit that included its eponymous guitarist, Nick Lowe on bass and Bob Andrews on keyboards.
Lights went off in Robinson’s head when he heard Parker’s songs, and shortly after recording some demos, began to ease Schwarz and Andrews, along with a young rhythm section comprised of Andrew Bodnar on bass and Steve Goulding on drums, into place behind Parker. Together with Martin Belmont, the former guitarist of Ducks Deluxe, yet another alleged pub rock band that had also called it quits, they began rehearsing that summer.
Before they had played a note together however, Parker had secured a major record deal with Phonogram records after Robinson got a tape of a Parker demo to Charlie Gillett who hosted an eclectic Radio London show named Honky Tonk. As soon as the song had had its airing, Nigel Grainge from Phonogram called Gillett insisting he wanted to sign Parker right away.
Until then, Parker had had exactly zero professional, or even semi-professional, experience in the music business. Before his journey to London, he had seen the name Brinsley Schwarz in the Melody Maker gig guide and imagined that with a name like that, they must surely be a German heavy metal band.
During those first rehearsals, Robinson brought a “tall, bird-nosed fellow,” as Parker described him, to the sessions and said that he would produce their first LP. His name was Nick Lowe, the aforementioned bass player in “the German heavy metal band.” Parker and the Rumour’s first album “Howlin’ Wind” was recorded in London in late 1975 and released in April 1976 to widespread critical acclaim. This was followed in the same year by “Heat Treatment” and a hit EP, “The Pink Parker,” released on pink vinyl.
The band played a handful of small venues starting in late ‘75 before opening for the hit band Ace (“How Long”) on a concert tour. Within a year they were headlining concert hall tours in the UK themselves and toured America twice, driving around in...(read more)