ALL I can say about 1972 is that I worked my ass off for the whole year with Johnny Nash, and at the same time as joining Free, plus the countless extra sessions I got myself on with various artists and record companies. I mean I was busy. If I wasn’t working one day, then I was moving house. We moved around London a lot in 1972. When we first got here from Stockholm our first address was Old Church Street/ 333 King ’s Road SW3 – Flat 5. We lived there from October 1971 to January 27 1972. It was me, my Swedish lady, Johnny Nash and Danny Simms all living together under the same roof. Then on January 27 until April 27 1972, we lived at 34 Ridgemount Gardens/ 3rd floor off Gower street - Tottenham Court Road - WC1. Bob Marley joined us again at this address. Another move came on April 28 1972, when we packed up and headed for 12a Queensborough Terrace - London SW7, still with Bob Marley in tow. It got so manic after a while, that on July 8, 1972 me and my girlfriend packed our bags, left the ‘camp’, and severed ties with Nash and his team. We moved to St. John’s Wood, I had joined Free and was headed off to Japan to tour on July 15 1972, supporting Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
The tour of Japan was great. I forgot all about working with Nash for a bit, and got stuck into Free. It was a great tour, however Paul Kossoff didn ’t make the tour because of illness, so it was just me, Simon Kirke, Tetsu, and Paul Rodgers, who sang his ass off and also took on the role of guitar player. We did it with just the four of us, and it was a great time. Japanese whiskey, Japanese clubs, Japanese food, and Japanese girls. I was asleep in my hotel room in Tokyo one morning, and I heard a knock at the door. I took it for granted that it was just the maid, so, too hung over to get out of bed, I just yelled, “Come on in and do the room. Just ignore me cause I ain’t getting out of bed.” I heard the door open, and started to go back to sleep. The next thing I know is the covers start being moved, as if she was gonna make the bed with me in it. Oh no! Nothing like that. It wasn ’t the maid at all, but it was a young Japanese girl fan, who managed to get the maid to let her in the room. All of a sudden this lovely little Japanese girl crawled into the bed with me, under the covers, and started playing with my !.. I couldn ’t believe what was happening. Have I died and gone to heaven? No! It was real. Here I am in Japan, and I ’ve got an authentic Oriental girl giving me all she has to give. Wow! She blew my mind! We played a gig at the huge Kora Kuen Baseball stadium in Tokyo, and then took the 100mph Bullet train to Hyogo near Osaka and did the huge Kasien Stadium there too. ELP were headlining, but we didn ’t care. We were men of attitude. God could have been headlining the show, but with our attitude, we knew we would be better. The whole Japanese thing was a great experience. On the way back to England we stopped off in Hungary to do a gig on July 30th. That ’s the first time that I saw a bit of 'agro' coming to me from Paul Rodgers. I was happy as a pig in shit, but I must have done or said something that he didn ’t like, because in a instant he said to me, “Rabbit, you better start pulling your weight in this band!” I still don’t know what he meant to this day. But I let it pass, and thought to myself, “you be in a bad mood if you want to, but don’t drag me into it. Sod off!” It didn’t happen again so I forgot all about it and went on my merry way. Maybe it was something to do with that Japanese girl in Tokyo. It ’s funny, but I did notice that she was with me in Tokyo, and when we got to Osaka, she was with Paul. Maybe...?
We arrived back in London on July 31, and I picked up doing sessions with Johnny Nash again. It was good to see him. We also went into the studios at the end of March with Bob Marley and recorded his version, with him singing, ‘Reggae On Broadway’, as a single to try to get CBS to take him on, but as history has proved, it didn ’t happen that way. Island were waiting around the corner for Bob. The whole year was up and down, left and right, top and bottom, all over the place, but through all the haze, I could see that I was having a brilliant time! Just to give you a taster of my workload, here is an example: in January I was working with Johnny Nash(CBS), KKTR, my own solo album, Jimmy Cliff (all 3 Island), and moved house once. You must remember too that in those days I would get around £15 to £20 for a session, which is sad, but then it was a lot of money. You could go out on the town with £20 quid in your pocket, get stoned, get drunk, buy fags, pay the taxi, and still come home with a bit of change in your pockets. Not bad for those days. In February I did sessions for Susi Quatro via Micky Most producing; I got paid £100 for doing 6 Quatro sessions. Wow!, still working on my solo album, ‘Broken Arrows’, Julie Felix (Micky Most again), Jess Rhoden (Island), and Peter Noone,(also Micky Most). I was in the studio nearly everyday of the month, all year round when I wasn ’t on the road. In March it was Johnny Nash, Jess Rhoden again, more Micky Most sessions, New World, and Claire Hamill (Island). Busy, busy! Moving on to April it was Jess again, Duncan Browne (Micky), Peter Noone again, all at the same time as rehearsing Johnny Nash ’s band to tour England. Also came the Sutherland Bothers (Island), And we moved house again, all in this one month. And, my total salary per week at Island Records was a mere £20 a week. May was no different. I had Duncan Browne again, an album with Donovan (both Micky), gigs with Nash all over England in between sessions, plus rehearsing on days off with Nash, sessions with Rebop Kwakuba (Island), more Susi Quatro sessions for Micky Most, more Jess Rhoden, and Sandy Denny sessions(Island). June brought more gigs and rehearsals with Nash, more Micky Most sessions with Angelo and Richard, a session with Bruno Wintzel (Nash prodigy-CBS), more Sutherland Brothers, a one off with Phil Wayman. Most of this month was spent on the road touring with Nash throughout England. We ended his tour of for June with a gig starring Bob Marley at the ‘Speakeasy’ club in Soho. What I night to remember! July saw me cancel any more gigs with Nash, as I was soon to join forces with Free.
On July 7, 1972 I stopped working with ‘Johnny Nash and the Sons of the Jungle’, and me and my girl left the camp and moved to St. Johns Wood. Free were beckoning. I did a couple of sessions with the Sutherland Brothers before going to Japan to tour with Free on July 15 1972. I spent the rest of July with Free in Japan and Hungary, before returning to London on July 31. Finally some rest. I spent most of august off, apart from a few sessions with Johnny Nash and also Donovan, plus a little group named ‘Aphrodite’.(Micky) then on august 28, Free started rehearsing again. I was well in there! In September it was Free ’s turn to gig, so we rehearsed a bit some more, then hit the road in England on September 8 1972 for a tour. The tour was cancelled after Edinburgh because of Kossoff ’s health on September 15. So it was back to London to see if I could drum up some more sessions in the ‘off-time’. That’s when I started recording John Martyn’s ‘Solid Air’ album, plus some more work on my own stuff, and since the tour was off, Free went in to the studio to start recording as well. When October came around, the Free tour was back on, so we hit the road again until October 20th. We made it at last! After the tour I did a couple of sessions with Scott English, and Tommie Lionetti (CBS). Then on the 23rd Free were back in the studio to record some more. Great! I love it! We were working on the excellent album ‘Heartbreaker’.
In November, during some ‘Free downtime, Chris Blackwell brought me in to overdub on Bob Marley's album ‘Catch A Fire’. Brilliant! I’m back! I spent 2 or 3 days working on Bob’s album, (I made a total of £30 for Bob’s entire album) then it was back in with Free for more sessions. During our Free sessions I was also nipping in late at night and working on my own solo stuff as well. I also managed to sneak in a couple of sessions with Kenny Young (CBS), the Sutherland Bothers, Roger Charles, Rebop, Phil Wayman, and moved house again. Okay! Tired yet? I am. We still got December, and it looks like this: more Donovan sessions, more John Martyn sessions, Rebop Kwakuba sessions, Duncan Browne, Ken Gould, Phil Wayman, and more of my own stuff too. More Kenny Young, and Scott English. To top the month off we celebrated Paul Rodger ’s birthday on December 17, rehearsed some more with Free and then took the rest of the month off. What a year! There ’s so much I’ve left out, but from my workload you can see that it was party, party, party! I was a stoned out hippie, who had finally made the grade!