STAR PROBE

Well, When we picked top hit maker Roy Wood for our next Starprobe victim, we didn’t know what we’d let ourselves in for – letters positively flooded in, with questions sane, silly and some downright stupid! But Roy answered every single one, and we've crammed as many answers on to this page as we could.

The winner of our Starprobe prize is Sue Franks of Barking, Essex. Her question was certainly original, and made everyone laugh, including Roy. She wanted to ask him:  Have you got as much hair on your chest as you have on your head? His answer: Not quite, but almost!

Only one person asked that question, but many other questions were duplicated. Probably the most popular was readers asking Roy which of all the tracks he’s recorded are his favourites?

"Probably the favourite one of all was ‘See My Baby Jive’, because it was the most successful, and it seems to be the one everybody knows and likes. Although we’d had lots of hits before, that was the first record of mine ever to be awarded a gold disc. I was very tired when it was awarded and didn’t take much notice, then suddenly a while later it hit me. Then I was very excited."

"Of the tracks recorded when the Move were together I liked ‘Blackberry Way’, ‘Brontosaurus’ and ‘California Man’. From the ELO days my favourites are ‘10538 Overture’, ‘Daybreaker’ from the ‘On The Third Day’ album and Showdown."

The other, and most obvious questions, concerned Roy's looks and the unusual make-up he wears on  stage. He summed them up for us:

"I use Leichner theatrical make-up on stage. It all started one night when we had a bit of spare time before a concert and I was mucking about with some theatrical make-up I found backstage. I decided to go on stage wearing it and everybody thought it was really good fun, the band and the audience too.  We always play to entertain, and if the audiences are entertained by the make-up then why not! I reckon it costs me about 75p a week, and takes more than an hour to do. The thingy with my green hair started when a girl grabbed at my hair and some got so knotted that I had to have it cut off. So my hair was short on top and long at the sides. Rather than cut it all to match I decided to dye the top a different colour. Why green? Well. it just happened to be the first colour I thought of.  I do wear hair pieces now – not wigs. I never used to, but I found that the constant backcombing was ruining my hair, so I started to wear false bits occasionally."

Q. Do you think that Wizzard will ever split up?

A. "Well. I've always said if they did that I would never bother to get another group together. But as people constantly point out. I said that about ELO too and then Wizzard just happened along. So who knows…"

Q. Why did you leave the Electric Light Orchestra?

A. "I suppose I left ELO because of the media – newspapers and things like that. They were always upsetting Jeff (Lynne) because although he’d written a lot of the stuff he never got any recognition from them, they were always just talking about me. So I reckoned the only thing to do was for me to leave and it worked well. I’m delighted with Wizzard so things couldn’t be better. And Jeff and I are better friends than ever."

Q. Is it true that you and Jeff are thinking of recording together again?

A "Yes, in fact we’ve already got some stuff ready It’s finding the time to record it that’s holding us up. but I hope we’ll do it when we come back to England after the American tour. It will definitely get done – hopefully before Christmas."

Q. When can we expect to see the release of "Mustard", your next solo album?

A. "l’ve completed about eight tracks, but there are still the vocals to be put on the others. I hope to get it finished soon, and we’d like the album to be released before Christmas. I hope so – there’s so little time to do all the things I’d like to do."

Q. Have you still any ambitions left in pop music?

A. "Of course. For one thing there’s still America to conquer. Some of my records have been played a lot. but we haven’t had a hit there yet. We’re off on tour in a couple of weeks, and I hope that will change things. Funny isn't it, apparently over there I’m some sort of underground type cult figure. I think it’s funny anyway. There’s so much musically still to do, and America’s just one thing."

Q. How old were you when you started to play your first musical instrument?

A. "I suppose I was about nine when I started playing the drums. I used to come home every night and practise in the front room – it drove me mum and dad mad. When we were all a bit older I had my first skiffle group."

Q. How many musical instruments can you play?

A. "Well that's a difficult one. You see, I play lots of instruments but in my own particular way. It's probably not the correct way, but I get what I want out of the instrument. Apart from the usual guitars, drums and piano, I can also play the banjo, washboard, bass, tambourine, slide guitar, saxophone, cello, trumpet, double bass, glockenspiel, "jarp" guitar, sitar, bagpipes, violin, bells and some old fashioned instruments like the crumhorn as well as others I’m sure I've forgotten."

Q. How many musical instruments do you own?

A. "As you know, I hire a lot of the instruments l use. I’ve just bought a rather rare low C bass clarinet, then I have a bassoon, tuba, oboe, my guitars, drums, two saxophones, clarinet, cello, banjo and a beautiful little half size Fender that I had made for me in Birmingham. It’s perfect in every detail - looks like my guitar had a baby!"

Q. If you weren't Roy Wood, would you like to be any one else?

A. "Yes. I’d like to be classical guitarist  John Williams just for a day. Then the next day I could try and remember what I’d learned from the day before."

Q. Which do you find it easier to write, lyrics or melodies?

A. "Well, I usually write both together. Sometimes the idea will come from a phrase, a snatch of tune or even just a title. I more often find it easier to write the tune first than the other way round, but I always finish the whole of the first section of a song before carrying on with it."

Q. What do you think you would be if you were not a successful musician?

A. "Unsuccessful and broke."

Q. Is there likely to be another Wizzard tour after you've been to America?

A. "l would think it’s very likely, but nothing has been settled yet."

Q. When can we expect the Wizzard double album, and what will it be called?

A. "I don’t know, and that's the honest truth. We'd still like to do it, and include some of the jazz stuff I’ve got on it, but there just isn’t time for all the things I’d like to do. I hope we will still get round to it some day."

Q. Where did you get your "flag" coat, and who makes your clothes for you?

A. "A lady called Rita, who’s my nephew's girlfriend and lives in Birmingham, makes most of my clothes for me. I tell her what I want, and then she designs them too."

Q. Who is your best friend?

A. "Rick (Price) of course. I get so involved in my music and Rick helps me to get to places and do things I’d forget like paying bills. I really don't know what l’d do without him. He’s great."

Q. Why did you call your new Wizzard album "Eddy and the Falcons"?

A. "The Falcons was the name of the first group I was ever in, and Eddy sounded like a good old rock 'n' roll name. So there you are, or were."

Q. Do the other members of the group have a nickname for you?

A. "Yes. 'Woody’."

Q. Do you have any pets, and if so, what are they and do they have names?

A. "I've got an old English sheepdog called Hoss, and  three Welsh wild mountain goats. The male is called Spike, the lady Rosie, and their baby kid hasn’t got a name yet."

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. "What spare time?"

Q. I read that an old Move single, Do Ya, is being released. If it was a hit would you consider reforming the Move if only to make singles?

A. "I think it's rather unlikely."

Q. How long doss it take to make a Roy Wood single, like ‘Going Down the Road’ for example?

A. "It’s very hard to say because they all vary so much. That particular, one took about two days all together but I can't be accurate because I did it in between recording Eddy and the Falcons."

Q. Do you believe in ghosts?

A. "No."

Q. What's your favourite football team?

A. "Birmingham City. I used to go every Saturday with Jeff, but we don't have time now. Sometimes I watch it on the telly."

Q. What is the most embarrassing mishap that's ever happened to you?

A. "Well, it must be the time we were on our way to Cardiff in the brand new Range Rover we’d just bought. We went through Weston-super-Mare, and feeling like a break we stopped and drove down on to the beach where it said ‘Car Park’. But the van was so heavy and loaded with equipment that it started to sink. No-one would come and rescue it because they were afraid they'd sink too, so we had to unload it and just watch while it eventually disappeared."

Q. It said in a daily newspaper the other day that the painted men of pop are disappearing. Do you agree?

A. "No!…"

Disc, September 21, 1974


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