13 Aug 2011

Gary Thain on Musical Chairs (Part 2) Addiction and Fame

From Musical Chairs, 11:55 pm on 13 August 2011
Uriah Heep 1973: From left to right Mick Box, David Byron, Gary Thain, Ken Hensley, Lee Kerslake.

Uriah Heep 1973: From left to right Mick Box, David Byron, Gary Thain, Ken Hensley, Lee Kerslake. Photo: Mick Box collection

Part two: Keith Newman talks to former Me & the Others band members Dave Chapman and Paul Muggleston, and Uriah Heep guitarist Mick Box to tell the story of the rise and fall of Gary Thain, The Christchurch-born bass player who played with top British acts The Keef Hartley Band and heavy rockers Uriah Heep.

A Kiwi Rock’n’Roll Casualty

The Christchurch boy whose distinctive driving bass guitar sound took him to super-stardom as a member of British heavy rockers Uriah Heep, had at the tender age of 27, become a Kiwi rock'n'roll casualty.

Gary Thain began playing bass at the age of 13, eventually joining top Christchurch bands at the dawn of the 60s was a member of four piece band Me & The Others, the first Kiwi pop band to foot it alongside the big names in England and Europe at the dawn of the British rock explosion.

Arriving in London in May 1966 the band introduced themselves to Viv Prince the former drummer of the Pretty Things who owned a club in central London who immediately gave them their first gig.

Within three months of their arrival they were regulars on the British circuit, hanging out and sharing the stage with respected chart toppers, at a time when thousands of UK bands couldn't get a hearing.

They shared stages with Roger Taylor, later of Queen, and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker who would shortly team up with Eric Clapton in Cream; and they won a recording contract to play Europe, following The Kinks into one of the top clubs in Germany. But a succession of fortnightly bookings, consisting of six days weeks playing 12 hours a day with only short breaks eventually did the band in.

Gary Thain joined the Keef Hartley Band in time for their first album and a trip to Woodstock, remaining through five albums before being recruited by British hard rock band Uriah Heep in 1972.

Produced by Keith Newman for Radio New Zealand National.

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