I Shot The Move

Photographing this 1960s rock 'n' roll band during their rise to fame was always interesting, thanks to the outrageous publicity stunts and media events orchestrated by band manager Tony Secunda

The Move were a British band, formed in 1965. The original band members were guitarist, singer and songwriter Roy Wood, drummer Bev Bevan, bassist Chris ‘Ace’ Kefford, vocalist Carl Wayne and guitarist Trevor Burton, with Wayne, Wood, Burton and Kefford sharing lead vocals.

Playing everything from pop, psychedelic and blues to 1950s style rock ‘n’ roll, the band became one of the most successful bands to come out of Birmingham during the 1960s. This was due in no small part to the influence of band manager, Tony Secunda.

Having secured a regular slot for the band at London’s Marquee Club, Secunda dressed the members as Chicago gangsters and masterminded a range of high-profile stage antics, media events and publicity stunts.

“Tony’s idea was not to sign us to a label until we’d built up a reputation and got our name in the papers.” Ace Kefford

As Secunda’s official photographer, I photographed the Move during their rise to fame, taking many of the defining promotional images of their early career.

The Move 1966 newspaper clipping

The Move: Smashing right to the top

The band members followed Secunda’s direction and their popularity soared. A few months after the Roundhouse opened, they took part in a Giant Freak-Out All Night Rave, or Psychedelicamania, for New Year’s Eve 1966. Following a show from Pink Floyd featuring ‘groovy picture slides’ and The Who, with their smoke bombs and sound barrier smashing, The Move’s performance “came smoothly to a stage-shaking climax as TV sets with Hitler and Ian Smith pictures were swiped with iron bars, and a car was chopped up.” [Source: ‘PSYCHEDELICAMANIA NYE 1966 FEATURING THE WHO, THE MOVE, PINK FLOYD’]

The Move’s shows became notorious for their wild and ritualistic stage antics, with lead singer Carl Wayne regularly smashing or setting fire to television sets, destroying images and effigies of politicians and on one occasion, the Marquee Club stage. Sometimes Secunda hired strippers, and from time to time female members of the audience “became incensed enough to strip to the waist”.

One memorable publicity stunt involved all of the usual pyrotechnics alongside Wayne taking an axe and chainsaw to a Cadillac. That particular escapade resulted in Soho becoming jammed with fire engines, and the band being banned from every theatre venue in the UK for a while.

“Secunda was creatively a genius. I think he saw the embers of a great band and he was able to fire that. In many ways he was able to bring out the best in everybody – by bringing out the worst!”” Carl Wayne

“The Move admit they got carried away a bit, too” reported the Disc and Music Echo. “To date they have chopped 17 holes in various stages and one night the whole stage collapsed, taking the Move and their equipment with it.”

 

The Move: smashing right to the top
Disc and Music Echo, January 14 1967

 

The Move at the Roundhouse, 1967 - Carl Wayne smashes a television set with an axe, one of the Move's trademark publicity stunts orchestrated by Tony Secunda.

 

Carl Wayne smashes television displaying image of Adolf Hitler with axe @ The Speakeasy, London, 1966

 

Night of Fear - The Move pose with a fake H-bomb, which was towed around Manchester

 

The Move 'Night of Fear' record signing, January 1967

 

Chris 'Ace' Kefford sings to the crowd at the Tiles Club, London, 1967

 

Trevor Burton at The Roundhouse with stripper

Signed, sealed, delivered – how a contract signing became a media event

With Roy Wood’s incredible talent for songwriting and news of the exciting new band spreading far and wide, it wasn’t long before they were offered a recording contract by producer Denny Cordell. The offer was accepted, and true to form, Secunda had yet another controversial trick up his sleeve. This would be no ordinary contract signing.

Instead, he had the contract drawn up on the back of topless female model, Liz Wilson. The band members signed on the dotted line. Here, Roy Wood signs the contract on Liz Wilson’s back as Carl Wayne, Denny Cordell and Tony Secunda look on.

The Move and model Liz Wilson - Robert Davidson Photography 1966
The Move and model Liz Wilson - Robert Davidson Photography 1966

Night of Fear

‘Night of Fear’ was The Move’s first record. To promote the release, manager Tony Secunda had the band tow a fake H-bomb around Manchester, in an attempt to get arrested. A policeman told them to ‘move along, now’. The resulting images were used for promotional postcards and record sleeves.

Secunda’s efforts were a success, with ‘Night of Fear’ reaching Number 2 in the UK Singles chart in January 1967.

Night of Fear record sleeve
The Move first record 'Night of Fear' postcard
The Move 'Night of Fear' postcard, photography by Robert Davidson
The Move pose with fake H-bomb

I can hear the grass grow

‘I can hear the grass grow’ was the Move’s second single. This release reached number 5 in the UK charts in March 1967.

The Move single cover - Robert Davidson Photography

A stunt too far? The Wilson affair…

The Move continued to court controversy under the direction of their manager, but a promotional postcard printed and distributed by Secunda without their knowledge would land them in bigger trouble than ever before.

“Disgusting, Depraved, Despicable”

The offending postcard featured a cartoon of the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, being discovered by his wife in a compromising position with his secretary, Marcia Williams.

To the surprise of the band, ‘Flowers in the Rain’ was the first record to be played on the newly launched BBC Radio 1. Arguably, the single would have reached the Number 2 spot without any extra promotion. But the postcard was made and Secunda found a way of ensuring that its release did not go unnoticed.

“Robert, we’ve got to get this postcard out there,” says Tony.

“Yes… How are you going to do that?” says I.

“Mr Foot…”

Michael Foot, the Labour politician, was deputy to Wilson, but apparently wasn’t getting on that well with him. Mr Wilson was on the right of the left, but Mr Foot was to the left of the left. As the MP for Devonport, he also had a house in Hampstead. Tony, of course, knew where he lived. He decided it might be a good idea to visit Mr Foot early one morning. So, armed with his trusty photographer (myself) and carrying 500 copies of this postcard, we arrived outside Mr Foot’s London abode. He used to take his dog for an early morning walk at half past seven. This too, Tony appeared to know. At half past seven on the dot, out comes Mr Foot with two barking dogs. Tony walked up to him and saying,

“Mr Foot.”

“Who are you? Press? Go away!”

Tony said, “No, no, no. I want to make you an offer that I think may be to your advantage. It could be mutually advantageous.”

I went up to take a picture.

“You are the Press! Paparazzi!”

Tony disagreed, “No, I promote popular musicians.” He turned on the charm offensive for which he was famous. He was good-looking in an Italian way. He smiled, with his big teeth. He told Michael Foot that the elections were coming up and maybe this cartoon would help pull the rug out from under Mr Wilson’s feet? It could be to his advantage.

“Perhaps, Mr Foot might like to put one of these postcards, on every single seat in the House of Commons?”

“I can’t do that,” he retorted.

“I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t,” responded Tony and gave him the whole bundle of postcards.

Next day, newspaper headlines read: “Pop Group Sued By Prime Minister For Libel.” So he had gone along and done it. He had done the deed (or so I thought). What happened between our handing the postcards over and the next day, I’m not entirely sure. But suddenly, the postcard was out there and there was an injunction against the group. That night, The Move were playing Portsmouth. The press descended on the group, flashbulbs popping and demanding interviews.

“What’s happened? Have we got a number one?”One of them asked.

“No, you’re being sued by the Prime Minister,” they were told. “For a libellous postcard showing him in bed with his secretary.”

“Oh my God!” they went. “That’s our manager. What’s he gone and done now?” They knew he didn’t do things by halves. Meanwhile, Tony was jumping up and down with joy. An overnight sensation – his band are known worldwide. He was tremendously excited.

The Prime Minister sued, serving the group with an interim injunction and the whole thing went to court a couple of months later on October 11th 1967.

The Move - Newspaper clipping

Before the court case, a few days after the story had broken, Tony heard a knock at his door. Two very nice-looking men with Homburg hats, both carrying briefcases, stood outside his flat in Earls Court.

“Are you Tony Secunda?”

“Yeeesss,” he answered, as though not quite sure.“What do you want?”

On the admission that he was, in fact, Tony Secunda, they moved like greased lightning. Entering the doorway, they picked him up and held him against the door, lifting his feet up off the ground. They were still holding their briefcases and umbrellas and kept their hats on. One of them grabbed hold of his balls and began twisting them. Tony told me afterwards that he never experienced such agony, or been so frightened. Then these two terribly respectable gentlemen said,

“You’ve been a very naughty boy. You’ve upset the Prime Minister. If this continues…” There was a pause.

“But it won’t, will it, Sir…?”

Tony knew that he’d overstepped the mark. “Once you start messing with the establishment,” he warned me, “look out”. These two gentlemen had just appeared, he told me, and then they disappeared. They hadn’t said who they were.

On the day of the court case, Quintin Hogg Q.C. acted for Harold Wilson. He was a Tory MP and later became Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone, not to mention Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. Anyway, for now, I was sitting in court observing his ears, which stuck out in an elephantine sort of way. The case was being held ‘in camera’. “Marvellous!” I thought. “I’ll go along and take some pictures.”

‘In camera’ actually means ‘in secret’. I wonder, was I naive or just didn’t want to understand? Whichever it was, I had taken my trusty camera into the High Court. Which you’re not supposed to do. I’m not sure whether I realised this or not. Tony and the band were supposed to be there as well to see what transpired. They had not arrived yet and I was in the High Court waiting for them.

The sun is streaming through a huge picture window behind Quintin Hogg. He is standing there in front of this massive window with his large, protruding ears all red and glowing. I am thinking “Wow! Great picture!” So I walk up to him, go *click* with my camera and take a picture. Immediately, he bellows out, “Arrest that man!” Before I know what is happening, these gorillas – enormous gentlemen, appear from nowhere. I was carried with my little feet hardly touching the ground and swept down into the bowels of the earth. I thought that this was going to be it.

“You’ve been very naughty,” they say.

“Really?”

“You know cameras aren’t allowed here.”

“Really?”

“You know you can’t take pictures in here, thinking that that’s going to be your next best selling poster, or any such nonsense.”

Then they pulled the film out of my camera and I responded,

“Please don’t hit me,” putting my hands over my face and fearing the worst.

“Now, just make sure you just don’t do it again,” they said and put me outside the back door of the courthouse.

Just at this time, Tony and the band were arriving.

“Hello Robert, how’s it going?”

“Well, I’ve just been kicked out of the High Court.”

“Oh!”

Tony had hired a Rolls Royce for the day, which had broken down on the M1 on its way down from Birmingham. They were running late and had missed the proceedings. I loaded up the camera and took a picture of all of them. Carl Wayne was holding a book by Timothy Leary, ‘Turn on, Tune in Drop out.’ Acid had arrived. He was holding this and they were all looking very smug and pleased with themselves. Trevor Burton had had his hair permed, it was an early Afro. Asked about their political standpoint, they joked,

“We’ve got no faith in any political sides at all. We’d vote for people like Frank Zappa or Jimi Hendrix, you know.”

The Move - Robert Davidson Photography 1967

Tony Secunda and The Move arrive late for their court hearing – 12 October 1967

The court found Tony, the publisher, the cartoonist, Neil Smith. the band and anybody else involved, guilty. Quintin Hogg described the postcard as “scurrilous”,”making use of ‘malicious rumours’ concerning the Prime Minister’s character and integrity.” He also criticised the decision to send it to journalists, television producers and music publishers. The band were ordered to apologise to the Prime Minister for spreading “false and malicious rumours concerning his character” and to pay all profits from the single ‘Flowers in the Rain’ to charities of Wilson’s choosing, including Stoke Mandeville Hospital (where Jimmy Savile was jolly busy) and the Spastics Society (now called Scope). The royalties for both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides of the record were to be paid in perpetuity – forever. This agreement would cost the band more dearly than they could have imagined. At the time, lost revenue was estimated at anything from £2,000 to £8,000. Twenty years after the event, Roy Wood complained that he was losing hundreds of thousands of pounds. By now, it is estimated that he could have lost millions in royalties.

After Harold Wilson’s death in 1995, Roy Wood tried to reverse the ruling. But they said no, forever means forever and the charities changed to those chosen by Lady Falkender. Wood said that it was “worse than a sentence for murder”.

“The court case was the beginning of the end. We were suddenly thrown into the High Court of Justice and we were defenceless. We had no one to represent us or listen to whether we were involved. Had we been sensible, we’d have taken counsel and listened to what we should have said. Instead, we admitted to something that we didn’t actually do – all because we thought it was good fun to do. When you think about it, it was completely and utterly fucking stupid because we hooked ourselves onto something that we would later regret. It was really Secunda’s bag and we should have quickly stepped away from it. It was a stunt too far, but by then of course, we couldn’t.” Carl Wayne [Source: www.carlwayne.co.uk]

Flowers in the Rain

Flowers in the Rain went on to reach Number 2 in the UK Hit Parade, and achieved its own place in music history when it was the first single to be played on BBC Radio 1 on its first day of broadcast.

Record Sleeve - The Move 1967 Robert Davidson Photography

The band were already divided over Secunda’s tactics, but the court case created a rift that never healed. Tempted to bait controversy further with “Cherry Blossom Clinic”, a song about the delights of a mental institution, it was felt that the B-side, “Vote For Me”, was one dig at Wilson and the political establishment too far. The planned single was cancelled, together with The Move’s contract with Tony Secunda. The group subsequently underwent various reshuffles, with Ace ‘The Face’ Kefford being let go due to personal circumstances escalated by drug use, Trevor Burton quitting after an on-stage altercation with Bev Bevan and Rick Price joining the band. In 1970, Carl Wayne also split from the group, and Jeff Lynne joined them. Eventually, the band would metamorphosise into ELO. But, it seems that the Wilson court case signalled the end of an era.

“I do believe that when Tony Secunda went – and we got rid of Secunda because we got scared- that was the end of it. We dug our own graves because I think ultimately, Secunda could have got us through.” Carl Wayne

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