The Creation

The Creation was an English rock band that released the 1966 singles “Making Time” and “Painter Man” on Shel Talmy’s Planet label. Guitarist Eddie Phillips played solo passages with a violin bow. Their recorded work is now revered among devotees of “freakbeat.”

Members: Bob Garner (bass, vocals, 1966-68, 1993-2000), Kenny Pickett (vocals, 1966-67, 1968, 1985, 1993-97), Eddie Phillips (lead guitar, 1966-67, 1985, 1993-present), Jack Jones (drums, 1966, 1967-68, 1993-2000), Dave Preston (drums, 1966), Kim Gardner (bass, 1967-68), Ron Wood (lead guitar, 1967-68), Tony Ollard (lead guitar, 1968)


Background

The Creation stemmed from The Mark Four, a beat group formed in late 1962 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. The Mark Four evolved from Danny King & The Blue Jacks, a pre-beat rock ‘n’ roll combo that included drummer Jack Jones, bassist John Dalton, and guitarists Norman Mitham (lead) and Mick Thompson (rhythm). Singer Jimmy Virgo took over for a time in 1961 before the arrival of Kenny Lee, which prompted the name-change to Mark Four.

In January 1963, Mitham cleared for guitarist Eddie Phillips, formerly of Bobby Lee & The Travellers. They played multiple spring–summer shows at Long’s Ballroom in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, including a September 7 bill with Brian Poole & The Tremeloes. In March 1964, they played Rex Ballroom in Cambridge, billed for the final time as Kenny Lee & The Mark Four.


The Mark Four: 1964–1965

In April 1964, Lee reverted to his real name Kenny Pickett and the band henceforth billed itself The Mark Four. They gigged throughout the Greater London area with shows in Kent (4/5: The Inferno Club), Dagenham (4/8: The Robin Hood), Finchley (4/11: Sims Motors), and Downham (4/14: The Tigers Head). On April 9, they opened for Manfred Mann at the Dreamland Ballroom in Margate, Kent.


Mercury Singles

On May 8, The Mark Four made their vinyl debut with the Mercury single “Rock Around the Clock,” a cover of the 1955 Bill Haley & The Comets chestnut backed with “Slow Down,” a song by R&B singer–pianist Larry Williams (recently covered by The Beatles).

The Mark Four plugged the single on summer opening dates with Unit Four Plus Two (6/25: Worsley Hall, Cheshunt) and Sounds Incorporated (8/20: Dreamland Ballroom, Margate) and double-bills with Cheltenham beatsters The Talismen (7/11: Athletic Club, Cheshunt) and future Spencer Davis proteges The Habits (8/22: The Dolphin, Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea).

On August 21, The Mark Four released their second Mercury single “Try It Baby,” a recent US Billboard No. 15 Tamla hit for Marvin Gaye (backed by The Temptations), written by Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr.  The b-side, “Crazy Country Hop,” originated as a 1958 Capitol a-side by American bandleader Johnny Otis.

The Mark Four played autumn 1964 shows on bills with American pop singer Little Eva (10/9: Pill Social Centre, Pill Road, Milford Haven) and Marmalade precursor The Gaylords (10/27: Kodak Hall, Wealdstone).

On May 17, 1965, The Mark Four played the Ritz in Potters Bar, North London, as part of a multi-bill with Them, The Zephyrs, and Screaming Lord Sutch. On June 29, they opened for The Who at Burton’s Ballroom in Uxbridge.


“Hurt Me If You Will”

On August 6, 1965, Decca issued the third Mark Four single: “Hurt Me If You Will,” a mid-tempo R&B rocker backed with “I’m Leaving,” a raspy number set to the Bo Diddley beat. Kenny Pickett and Eddie Phillips co-wrote both sides, which Decca soundman Mike Smith produced amid 1965 label releases by The Applejacks, Dave Berry, The Redcaps, and The Tremeloes.

“Hurt Me If You Will” appears on Mersey Sounds, a 1980 two-record compilation of the beat-era Decca sides by Beryl Marsden, The Big Three, The Checkmates, The Dennisons, The Mojos, and The Pete Best Four. The song later gained cult status in ‘freakbeat’ circles with its inclusion on the 1986 Bam-Caruso comp The Electric Crayon Set — Vol. 5 in the label’s Rubble series. 

The Mark Four played summer–fall 1965 bills with The Plus Four (aka Candy Choir — 8/19: Dreamland, Margate) and The Cossacks (aka The Naturals — 10/2: Harpenden Public Hall).

Mick Thompson and John Dalton left the Mark Four, which continued as a four-piece with bassist Tony Cooke, formerly of EMI studio-backing band The Le Roys.

Dalton joined The Kinks; first in June 1966 as a stand-in for injured bassist Pete Quaife, whom he deputized for five months and played on their November single “Dead End Street.” After Quaife’s spring 1969 final departure Dalton joined The Kinks for a seven-year run, starting with their rock opera Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).


1966

The Mark Four opened 1966 with shows in Catford (1/8: Witchdoctor) and Guildford (1/27: Harvest Moon). On January 15, they played the Orford Cellar in Norwich with visiting American R&B act Lucas & The Emperors>.

On February 4, Fontana issued the fourth Mark Four single: “Work All Day (Sleep All Night),” a pounding soul-rocker backed with “Going Down Fast,” both Pickett–Phillips originals.

The Mark Four greeted this release on a Gala Ballroom, Norwhich, double-bill with South African beatsters The 004s. Spring shows included dates with Unit 4 (4/8: Tower Ballroom, Great Yarmouth), The Moody Blues (4/23: Dreamland, Margate), and The Beat Syndicate (5/14: The Dolphin, Marine Court).

In April 1966, the Mark Four signed with Koobas manager Tony Stratton-Smith, who swapped Cooke with bassist Rob Garner, recently of Merseybeat combo The Kinsleys. Earlier, Garner played in Jimmy Nicol & The Shubdubs, a jazz-pop band led by drummer Jimmie Nicol, famed as Ringo Starr’s substitute on The Beatles’ July 1964 Australian tour.

At Pickett’s suggestion, they changed their name to The Creation, inspired by a book on Russian poetry. One of their first post-change concerts (not acknowledged on the bill) was a May 29 show at Crawley’s Starlight with Parlophone beatsters The Shindigs. On June 10, they played Greenford’s Starlite with another Parlophone act, The Quiet Five.

The Creation impressed Kinks producer Shel Talmy, who recently lost The Who to Robert Stigwood’s Reaction label. Talmy signed The Creation to his fledgling Planet label.


“Making Time”

In June 1966, The Creation debuted with “Making Time,” a pummeling mod-rocker built on a five-note, two-chord riff; backed with “Try and Stop Me,” a fluid, swelling track (in open D). Kenny Pickett co-wrote both songs with Eddie Phillips, who shreds “Making Time” with a bowed-guitar break.

“Making Time” peaked at No. 49 on the UK Singles Chart. Abroad, “Making Time” appeared on Barry (Canada), Hi-ton (Germany), Sonet (Denmark), and Vogue (France).

The Creation gigged throughout the summer and shared bills with The Action (7/12: Marquee, Soho), The Roosters (aka The Clique — 7/6: Royal Links Pavilion, Cromer), and The Meantimers (7/30: Corn Exchange, Maidstone). For three weeks, Jack Jones stepped down for drummer Dave Preston, who plays on the 1967 Nirvana debut The Story of Simon Simopath.

On September 9, The Creation played the Scunthorpe United Football Ground in North Lincolnshire as part of the Beat Festival, which also featured sets by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, The Ram Jam Band, The Troggs, The Mindbenders, and The Fenmen.

On September 17, The Creation played the Blue Lagoon in Newquay, Cornwall, with The Reaction, which featured young drummer–singer Roger Taylor.


“Painter Man”

On October 7, 1966, The Creation released their second single “Painter Man,” an ode to mod’s affinity with Pop Art; backed with the onomatopoeic “Biff Bang Pow,” both Pickett–Phillips originals.

“Painter Man” reached No. 36 on the UK Singles chart and reached the Top 10 in Germany, where The Creation carved their most lucrative market. The single appeared abroad on Hi-ton (Germany), Sonet (Denmark), and Vogue (Netherlands).

In 1978, the German–Carribean disco–funk group Boney M went Top 10 in multiple European territories with their cover of “Painter Man” (No. 1 Belgium), released as a double-a-side with “Rasputin,” an adoption of Cozy Powell‘s 1973 song “Dance With the Devil.” In 1993, the title “Biff Bang Pow” inspired the name of Biff! Bang! Powder, a compilation of unearthed material by Powder, a mid-sixties Californian garage-rock band that molded itself on the English mod movement.

The Creation played autumn bills with The Cymerons (11/27: Belle Vue, Greater Manchester) and multiple dates with label-mates The Thoughts, including a November 30 show at Soho’s Flamingo on Wardour Street. “Painter Man” was the second of two Creation singles on Planet, which folded after November–December singles by The Gnomes of Zurich and The Corduroys.

In France, Vogue issued a Creation EP comprised of “Biff Bang Pow” and both sides of the first single (“Making Time,” “Try And Stop Me”), plus an otherwise unreleased Phillips–Garner number, “Sylvette.”


1967

On January 7, 1967, The Creation played London’s Roundhouse as part of a multi-act bill with The Artwoods, St. Louis Union, Herbie Goins & The Night Timers, and Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers.

Mid-month, The Creation did a three-nighter with The Kinks in West Germany (Jan. 13–15), where they performed “Painter Man” for the Radio Bremen music program Beat-Club. Their segment aired on the February 25 broadcast along with hits by Cream (“I Feel Free”), The Equals (“Hold Me Closer,” “I Won’t Be There”), Percy Sledge (“Warm and Tender Love”), and Liverpudlian R&B heavyweights the Remo Four (“Ain’t Love Good, Ain’t Love Proud”). In the “Painter Man” segment, Eddie Phillips saws his strings with a violin bow, which he waves with snapped threads before the audience.

“Painter Man” was the final Pickett–Phillips Creation single of the 1960s. In late February, bassist Bob Garner edged Kenny Pickett out of the vocal slot as The Creation on-boarded bassist Kim Gardner, fresh from London beatsters The Birds, which cut three 1964–65 Decca singles with teenage guitarist Ron Wood.

In March–April, the new lineup played UK bills with The Fingers (aka Daddy Linburg — 3/11: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend), The Syn (4/14: Starlite, Greenford), and a multi-act Roundhouse event (4/22) with Soft Machine and the Sam Gopal Indian Group.

On June 3, The Creation played Rhodes Centre in Bishop’s Stortford with Dutch beatsters The Tykes. That month, the Creation lineup of Bob Garner, Eddie Phillips, Kim Gardner, and Jack Jones cut its first of three singles for Polydor.


“If I Stay Too Long”

On July 7, 1967, The Creation released their third single: “If I Stay Too Long,” a Phillips–Garner vocal  ballad backed with “Nightmares,” a psychedelic number written during the Pickett–Phillips era. Abroad, this single appeared on Polydor (Sweden) and Decca (North America).

In Germany, Hi-tone issued “Nightmares” and “If I Stay Too Long” as the respective b-sides of “Tom Tom” (June 1967) and “How Does It Feel To Feel” (September 1967), two songs yet-to-be released in the UK market.

The Creation played July–August shows with Swedish beatsters The Avalons (7/8: Maidstone Corn Exchange), Jethro Tull precursor the John Evan Smash (8/4: Marquee), and The Mike Stuart Span (8/23: Big Beat Cruise, Portsmouth Harbour). On September 2, they played the Upper Cut in Forest Gate with Welsh beatsters The Shevelles.


“Life Is Just Beginning”

On October 27, 1967, The Creation released two Garner–Phillips songs: “Life Is Just Beginning,” a cello-laden harmony number backed with “Through My Eyes,” a psychedelic drone piece.

In early November, Eddie Phillips joined TNT, the backing band of London-based American soul singer PP Arnold. Guitarist Tony Ollard joined The Creation for an autumn–winter string of European dates.


We Are Paintermen

In late 1967, Hit-ton issued the German album We Are Paintermen — effectively the only Creation studio album of their original run. It features twelve songs, including eight pre-released sides:

  • first single: “Making Time” and “Try And Stop Me”
  • second single: “Painter Man” (titled “Painterman”) and “Biff, Bang, Bow”
  • third UK single: “If I Stay Too Long” and “Nightmares” (their fourth and third German b-sides)
  • fourth UK b-side: “Through My Eyes”
  • third German a-side: “Tom Tom” (not yet available in the UK)

We Are Paintermen contains four new recordings: one Phillips original (“Can I Join Your Band”) and covers of Bob Dylan (“Like a Rolling Stone”) and The Capitols (“Cool Jerk”). The penultimate track, “Hey Joe,” is a blues standard recently popularized by The Leaves and Jimi Hendrix.

Can I Join Your Band” (2:55)

In France, Vogue combined four Paintermen tracks (“Tom Tom,” “If I Stay Too Long,” “Can I Join Your Band,” “Nightmares”) on its second of two Creation EPs.


1968

In January 1968, Rob Garner quit The Creation. Ollard joined the Warren Davis Monday Band, which featured journeyman Paul Brett (Tintern Abbey, Velvet Opera, Fire). Meanwhile, Hi-tone lifted “Cool Jerk” as the fifth German-market Creation single (backed with Life Is Just Beginning”).


“How Does It Feel To Feel”

On January 26, 1968, Polydor issued two leftover Garner–Phillips numbers as the fifth UK Creation single: “How Does It Feel To Feel” backed with “Tom Tom.” Both songs (released earlier as German a-sides) stem from mid-1967 by the lineup of Bob Garner, Eddie Phillips, Kim Gardner, and Jack Jones.

The Creation ceased to exist, but only for two months. Due to popular demand in the European market, drummer Jack Jones reformed the band with original singer Kenny Pickett. They called back Kim Gardner, who called in guitarist and ex-Birds bandmate Ron Wood. The pair recently played in Santa Barbara Machine Head with ex-Artwoods organist Jon Lord and Tomorrow drummer Twink Adler.


“Midway Down”

On April 19, 1968, The Creation released “Midway Down,” a song by singer John Wonderling co-written with Los Shapiro. The b-side is the Jones–Gardner composition “The Girls Are Naked” (alternately credited to Pickett–Wood). “Midway Down” appeared on Polydor (UK) and Hi-Tone (Germany).

The Creation disbanded in June. Wood (on bass) linked with singer Rod Stewart (Steampacket, Shotgun Express) in the Jeff Beck Group. Gardner teamed with Remo Four alumni Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke in Ashton Gardner & Dyke.


Post-split German Singles

The Creation disbanded amid ongoing fanfare in the German market, where Hi-ton culled two further singles from the band’s vault.

In August 1968, Hi-ton issued the seventh Creation single, comprised of two covers: “Bonney Moroney” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

“Bonney Moroney” (sic) is a much-covered rock ‘n’ roll standard (usually spelled “Bony Moronie”) by Larry Williams, whose original first appeared as a 1957 single.

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” is a 1966 song by Austrian jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul for American post-bop saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, whose instrumental original version reached No. 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Soul singer Marlena Shaw cut an April 1967 vocal version. It became a huge hit for Chicago popsters The Buckinghams, whose August 1967 version reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In December 1968, Hi-Ton issued the final sixties Creation single: the anthemic rocker “For All That I Am” backed with “Uncle Bert.”

“For All That I Am” is a song of mysterious origins credited to American songwriters Paul Kahan and Stephen Friedland. “Uncle Bert” is credited to Garwood Pickjon, a writing pseudonym used by The Creation.


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1 thought on “The Creation

  1. Draft intro (2018):
    “The Creation was an English rock quartet that was active during the mid-to-late 1960s. Vying for attention just as beat music and mod fashions were being overtaken by psychedelia, the band was noted for the antics of guitarist Eddie Phillips, who played his instrument with a violin bow. Musically, their legacy amounted to a series of singles that have since been touted by devotees of “freakbeat.””

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