International Writers Magazine: Rock
A Prog Tale
For many music
lovers, Prog is a dirty word, an era best forgot. But to those who
accept, admire and wish to address prog rock, then look no further
than Falcon. Falcon,
or Kings Falcon as they were known at the fag or joint end
of the 1960s were for many the great white hope of progressive rock
music. The line up of Roger King, lead vocals guitar and leader
of the band; Ray Wicksworth guitar and sometime vocalist; Lester
Frith on bass; Tony Bannerman the drummer and Erik Dell-Taylor,
the wizard of the keyboard and moog synth; became something to admire
for music fans and something to achieve for musicians.
days can be traced back to school boy friends Roger King and Ray Wicksworth
who, in early 1967 started a blues band first called The Roger King
Sound. Frankly these early stages were mildly derivative of a lot of
the scene and success eluded them until they fully ensconced themselves
in the faux Edwardian revival of the summer of love. With King being
at his most strident and powerful, he re-christened the group Kings
Falcon, and with his love of English History adopted the logo of King
Henry VIII with a blinded Falcon. Posters began to appear up and down
the Kings Rd and Carnaby Street creating a healthy buzz for the
band that were sounding folkier and more strange.
As John Peel said around the time; "Noisy odd buggers arent
they?" and he was right.
In 1969, the band released their album Dawn Execution, and it was immediately,
well within a month anyway, a success. For a brief period that spring/summer,
the boys were riding the crest of a wave commercially, however in private
there was turmoil. Many believed Dawn Execution with its references
to Hampton Court and its Henry VIII imagery to be solely about
that period in time. However what few fans realised was that at the
heart of the album, the broken heart if you may, was the disintegration
of Roger Kings marriage to his first wife Dawn and her subsequent
relationship with drummer and welsh druid Tony Bannerman. The driving
influence of the group, King, was suddenly at the wheel of a runaway
car. Literally after having an LSD binge from which he still receives
flashbacks, he crashed into a tree and was admitted to hospital. From
there it was diagnosed that he had suffered a nervous breakdown brought
on by an extensive drug intake that even Jimi Hendrix warned him about.
He was admitted into a mental home and many thought the band was over.
However, the band continued, and renamed as Falcon, achieved frankly
little success as a four piece with Wicksworth taking the helm, unless
you include a novelty record, Wheres My Gnome? still
a hit at childrens parties to this day. Finally a fitter and well
Roger King returned to the band he made he created. For many this is
the golden age of Falcon, an age with a lot more creativity for all,
as King could no longer fully control the band for the sake of his own
health and had to admit that Tony and Dawn were now officially together.
In 1972 they scored a huge hit with their concept album, Daemonologie,
based on the witch trials of the 1600's.
would say this is their finest work, a seminal piece that serves
as a precursor to metal whilst still being deeply prog and a revered
example of that music as any.
Featuring such classic tracks as The Number Of The Beast, running
at 7minutes and 6 seconds (6, 66 being the in joke) and the excellent
ten minute suite Miss Coopers Impes Part 0ne Jack, Part Two
Prickears and Part Three Frog and of course the excellent Hopkins
and Stearne which opened side two and ran for a staggering 14 minutes
that is so good it only truly feels like 13 minutes.
The seeds were
sown, with their love of history and their creative sounds, Falcon were
the biggest success progressive rock had scene, and The Old Grey Whistle
Test was their oyster. Who too can forget Pans Peoples own
unique interpretation of Suckling Sabbat in the form of dance when the
band failed to appear on Top Of The Pops after an unfortunate and near
incident of Frith choking on Dell-Taylors own vomit at a Little
Chef on the A53.
For many, the band could never top this classic album, though there
are several admirers of their later concept stuff, such as Spring heeled
Jack and The Pied Piper. They continued on until an amicable split in
So what became of these rock gods?
Roger King is now fairly reclusive, his solo work is sparse but welcome,
he has made a return to his blues roots and worked with Clapton recently,
but still shows a penchant for prog with his Celtic flavoured albums
and his soundtrack to the Arthurian film Mordred made in 1988. He lives
in Glastonbury, with his 16-year-old girlfriend whom he met whilst serving
on the PTA board of the local school. In an account often humourously
related he complained to neighbour Michael Eavis about the festival
noise of Glastonbury last year wearing only the girls nightie and carrying
a pump action shot gun to make a point. He still suffers those LSD flashbacks.
His drummer, the Welshman Tony Bannerman and King's former wife, Dawn,
live happily on a farm in North Wales, speaking only Welsh and selling
fresh produce to passers by of a gullible nature.
Lester Frith the bassist achieved some success with his solo album devoted
to bass entitled 'Slap This' which the NME lauded as 'not as annoying
as you'd think' on its release in 1979. He currently resides in Ibiza
with a lisping hairy-lipped Spanish houseboy. He remains unmarried.
Ray Wicksworth is probably the most commercial of the group, writing
several musicals for the west end, having fingers in many business pies,
notably a chain of bakers and is still touring to this day. He wrote
last years British entry to the Eurovision, it gained nul points.
He spends his time in LA and Spain and has a ponytail.
Sadly the master of the moog, the finest keyboard player this country
ever produced, Erik Dell-Taylor, succumbed to a debilitating alcohol
addiction and suffered severe burns when he set himself alight after
smoking a Camberwell Carrot in bed. He continued with his love of antiques,
running a small antique business moderately well in Tintagel throughout
the late 70s and 80s with a speciality in broadswords and pistols. But
his time was short and he was dogged by rumours of random bestiality.
A shadow of his former self, he eventually died in a tragic flintlock
accident in 1990.
But we remember them, as does a lot for todays modern bands such
as The Arctic Monkeys who offered this tribute; "Theyre
ok like, not as bad as we first thought."
© Mark Cunliffe Feb 2008
Guy's last Blast
Eddie Cochran once sang of love as being a journey built on Three
Steps To Heaven;
'Step one - you find a girl to love
Step two - she falls in love with you...'
Mark Cunliff's spook story
Harry trudged bitterly up the marble steps of the imposing house and
pressed the buzzer. It was gone eleven at night, he was tired and his
Man in Africa
The jeep bounced along the dirt road sending Harry up from his seat
and back down again with a crash. His stomach was not happy about this.
You can buy the Collected Guy Block stories here
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