I Drive

I Drive was an English post-psych band, formed in Greater Manchester and based in Germany. They released the 1969 two-sided single “Classical Rigby” with (future Twenty Sixty Six and Then) singer Geff Harrison, followed by a 1972 eponymous album on the Krautrock label Metronome. After their breakup, guitarist–singer “Cheese” Hampson and bassist Leslie Graham carried on the I Drive name for the 1974 Spanish-market single “Castle In the Sky.”

Members: Leslie Graham (bass), Richard Henry “Cheese” Hampson (guitar, vocals), John Barry “Jabe” Smith (keyboards, vocals), Dave Charles Bailey (drums, 1968-73), Geff Harrison (vocals, 1968-70, 1973), Bernd “Nando” Tischer (vocals, 1971-73), Carlos Gallego (drums, 1973), Hannes Eder (drums, 1973)


Background

I Drive formed in 1967 as Some Other Guys, a Salford beat combo that took a Valentines Day gig at the Haus der Musik in Wuppertal, West Germany, where they impressed the local audience despite their unfamiliarity with the language.

After their van broke down en route to Hannover, they situated in the German market, where they gigged nightly on a city-to-city plan with frequent stops at clubs in Munich (Blow Up), Hamburg (Gruenspan), and Frankfurt (K52). In 1968, they renamed their act I Drive, a reference to their road life. They shared stages with touring acts from Liverpool (Remo Four) and Scotland (Nazareth) as well as Hannover hard rockers Scorpions (then billed as The Skorpions) and fellow English transplants Nektar.


“Classic Rigby”

In 1969, I Drive released “Classic Rigby,” a psychedelic guitar–organ epic that interpolates Beethoven’s 5th with the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby.” They spread the song across two sides (part’s one and two) on self-press A1 Prod Recordcomp. I Drive plugged the single on Germany’s open-air festival circuit, where they crossed paths with local stalwarts Can, Ihre Kinder, Jeronimo, Klaus Doldinge, and Wind, plus traveling acts from England (Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express), Norway (Titanic), and the Netherlands (Golden Earring).

In 1970, I Drive’s original English vocalist Geff Harrison departed for stints with Twenty Sixty Six and Then, Kin Ping Meh, and Tritonus. I Drive on-boarded singer Bernd “Nando” Tischer from the Munich cast of Hair. Tischer left after one year and later surfaced in Amon Düül II.

In 1972, I Drive recorded a full album under the four-piece configuration of guitarist–singer Richard Henry Hampson, keyboardist–singer John Barry Smith, bassist Leslie Graham, and drummer–percussionist David Charles Bailey.


I Drive

I Drive released their self-titled album in 1972 on Metronome. It opens with the Hampson original “Down, Down, Down” and features songs that Smith co-wrote with Graham (“Looking Out My Window”) and Bailey (“Be the One”).

I Drive also contains two Smith lone-writes (“Marry a Musician,” “What a Pity”) and the group-written numbers “Christine,” “Before the Devil,” and “Brave New World.”

Side Two contains the group-arranged blues standard “Just a Little Bit.” Two tracks (“Oo, Bopajeroo,” “Only the Lonely”) are credited to ‘Winter.’

A1. “Down, Down, Down” (4:45)
A2. “Oo, Bopajeroo” (3:33)
A3. “Looking Out My Window” (3:46)
A4. “Marry a Musician” (3:10)
A5. “Before the Devil” (3:31)
A6. “Christine” (4:53)
B1. “Only the Lonely” (4:25)
B2. “What a Pity” (3:44)
B3. “Just a Little Bit” (3:40)
B4. “Be the One” (4:01)
B5. “Brave New World” (5:31)

Sessions occurred in Munich at Bavaria Tonstudios. Hampson designed the gatefold cover, which shows a motion-blurred image of the band on foot (inner-gates) and a photo of a traffic light with the words “I Drive” in lieu of a green light.

I Drive later reappeared as a double-album on the German reissue label Little Wing of Refugees. The bonus record contains “Classic Rigby” and the post-album “I Need a Friend” (with Harrison on vocals), plus seven 1971 demo tracks, including the otherwise unissued “When Evening Comes,” “It Ain’t So Bad,” “Everything In Vain,” “Happy Days,” and “Turmoil.”


Later Activity

I Drive continued until 1973 when they played their final show at Munich’s Crash Club, where Harrison reunited with the band. They celebrated with drinks at an after-party where a fight erupted that sent the members on their separate ways. Graham and Hampson went to Spain, where landed in the backing band of German singer Thomas Hock.

In 1974, Graham and Hampson released one final single under the I Drive name, recorded for the Spanish Barnafon label with drummer Carl St. Claire.

A. “Castle In the Sky” (“Castillo en el Cielo,” Fredy Cuper)
B. “Coming On Home” (“Volviendo a Casa,” Kay Still)


Discography:

  • “Classic Rigby (Parts 1 & 2)” (1969)
  • I Drive (1972)
  • “Castle in the Sky” / “Coming on Home” (1974)

Sources:

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