DENNY BALL


Biography

Bands/Discography:

Solo albums: Dennis 'Denny' Ball is part of a family related with music. His brothers Pete and Dave also played in several 60s groups (Dave Ball will also have his own page in my Olympus). Denny was born in Erdington, Birmingham (UK).


THE DEADBEATS 

This was Denny's first band, with his brothers Pete & Dave. They played together from 1963 to 1965.

Pete Ball (lead guitar)
Dave Ball (rhythm guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Pete Donohoe (drums)

DANNY KING & THE MAYFAIR SET 

This was Denny's first professional band, Birmingham-based, around 1965:

Danny King (vocals)
Trevor Burton (lead guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Roger Harris (keyboards)
Keith Smart (drums)
They released 2 singles before change of personnel. Denny plays in the single “Amen (My Teenage Prayer)/It's Such A Shame” (1965, Columbia). It was his first professional recording, at the famous Abbey Road studios.

Trevor Burton joined The Move, and Keith Smart joined The Rocking Berries, later moving to Balls, along with Denny Laine.

Danny King (vocals)
Dave Morgan (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Roger Harris (keyboards)
David Reay (drums)
(Danny King & The Mayfair Set; Birmingham, England, 1966)
(Left to right: Dave Morgan (kneeling),  Roger Harris, Denny Ball, David Reay (kneeling) and Danny King)
(click here for a bigger image, 68 Kbs.)
 

Danny King left the band, and they re-shuffled...


THE MAYFAIR SET

Chris Evans (vocals, guitar)
Jim Murphy (vocals, guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Roger Harris (keyboards, guitar)
David Reay (drums)
This band spent one year in Germany 1966 to 1967 playing German night clubs like the K52 in Frankfurt, and the Pallette bar in Fulda. They went on to play US Army and Airforce bases.

The Mayfair Set returned to the UK in September 1967, and split up after a short time.

Chris Evans (under the stage name Christopher Robin) and David Reay went on to form The World of Oz, and later The Casuals.


CHICAGO HUSH 

Denny joined his brother Dave in a blues band called Chicago Hush. This was 1967.

Dave Ball (guitar)
Mo Willetts (vocals)
Denny Ball (bass)
Paul Willetts (drums)
+ a keyboardist
(Chicago Hush, 1967)
(Left to right: Paul Willetts, Denny Ball, Mo Willetts, Dave Ball & keyboard player)
(click here for a bigger image, 60 Kbs.)

After returning from “exile” in Germany, Denny found his brother was playing John Mayall type blues, and sounding like a cross between Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Denny joined Chicago Hush and started to experiment with a different style of bass playing.

By popular consent Dave and Denny left the band on April 1st 1968.


IDEAL MILK 

This was the rehearsal band for things to come.

Dave Ball (lead guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Cozy Powell (drums)
This is how it happened: The Ball brothers were all in Germany, in different bands. Dave was in “The Madding Crowd” in the north, and Pete was in “The Sorcerors” (watch Cozy Powell biography page) playing the same circuit as Denny in “The Mayfair Set”. Denny first met Cozy Powell on stage at a Sorcerors gig in Frankfurt. A jam session ensued, and a musical relationship was born. It was Pete Ball who had met up with Cozy Powell in Germany in 1967, and hired him to play in the Sorcerors. This band spent some time in Germany and then went to Turkey playing USAF bases before going back to England. When Cozy and Pete returned, Cozy  stayed at the Ball household, and lived with the family on and off for the next three years. The Sorcerors changed their name to Young Blood, and signed a record deal with Pye records. They released several singles (Denny wrote some songs with them). And that close friendship gave birth to Ideal Milk.

There are some early recordings by this trio including a BBC session, and some rehearsal tapes of the music which later formed the basis of the Bedlam album.


THE MOVE 

In 1968, Denny deputised for Trevor Burton who broke his arm apparently whilst fooling around in the country with members of the band Traffic (Stevie Winwood & co).

Carl Wayne (vocal)
Roy Wood (guitar, vocal)
Denny Ball (bass)
Bev Bevan (drums)
Denny recorded some radio sessions with the Move including a live lunchtime show in London with an audience of ‘screaming girls’.


WORKSHOP 

Short-lived band with blues and country feel. A launching platform for Phil Pickett, who became a successful writer and performer with success in pop band Sailor, and later worked with Culture Club.

Phil Pickett (keyboards, guitar)
Paddy McGuire (vocals)
Denny Ball (bass)
Mick Kinsella (flute)
Paul Warren (drums)

JAMES TAYLOR audition 

In July 1968, Denny attended the Beatles Apple offices in Baker Street, London and auditioned in a small rehearsal room for the job as bass player for James Taylor.


ACE KEFFORD STAND 

This was the merge of “Ideal Milk” with the ex Move star Ace Kefford.

Ace Kefford (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Cozy Powell (drums)
Cozy handed his notice in to Youngblood. An interesting situation in which the Ball brothers and Cozy were all sharing the same house. Cozy was quitting Pete Ball’s band to join forces with the other Ball brothers. Fortunately, Pete Ball was very philosophical about the whole thing, and realised that Cozy was heading for a different style of playing, and that he was much more interested in a rock band.

The Ace Kefford Stand started rehearsals on September 2nd 1968. The first gig by this band was at the Belfry (home of the famous golf club) on September 21st 1968. Amongst the sell out crowd were members of The Move. Robert Plant and John Bonham also gave their support.

The Stand played some college and university gigs as they waited to secure a record deal which finally came from Atlantic Records.

From early recording sessions at Polydor in London, they released a single, 'For your love / Gravy booby jamm' (Atlantic, Apr 69), being the A-side a cover of The Yardbirds. Funny, as how we're going to read, Denny joined The Yardbirds in 1998, twenty years later!!! This song can also be found in 'The perfumed garden, vol.2' sampler compilation.

A second single called “This World’s an Apple” (Oct 69, Atlantic) was released under the name of “Big Bertha featuring Ace Kefford” This was after the band had split up. This record is now a rare collector’s item!

In mid 69, Ace Kefford quits, and the rest formed a new band, Big Bertha. But meanwhile, Cozy Powell tried to form a power trio with Clem Clempson (watch their own pages).


BIG BERTHA 

In October 1969, Big Bertha emerges:

Pete French (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Pete Ball (keyboards)
Cozy Powell (drums)
Sometime later, the singer changes:
Dave McTavish (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Pete Ball (keyboards)
Cozy Powell (drums)
The band signed to United Artists and recorded four tracks. “Munich City” was released in Germany and sold well. But after weeks of inactivity, and just a handful of gigs, Cozy was approached by Jeff Beck’s management company to meet with the legendary guitarist in London.


JEFF BECK rehearsals 
Jeff Beck (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Cozy Powell (drums)
Cozy suggested that Denny went with him to meet up with Jeff Beck. They met at the United Artists offices, and with a very eager record company managing director in tow, went on to play together as a trio at a rehearsal venue in north London.

Being well rehearsed, Denny and Cozy presented a “showcase” of just bass and drums at the start of that session, after which Jeff took up the guitar and jammed for about an hour with them.

Jeff suggested that they both stay at his cottage in Kent for further rehearsals.


BIG BERTHA (again) 

Denny returned to the fold to try with his two brothers to salvage Big Bertha. They auditioned a new drummer. and set about replacing David Mactavish who quit when Cozy left.

After several days of auditions, two of the most unlikely people turned up at the house.

Frank Aiello (vocals)
Maria Popkievitch (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Pete Ball (keyboards)
Denny Ball (bass)
+ a drummer
The new band was created, and with the new singers a whole new approach had to be made to the material. Denny wrote several new songs. Often sitting in a corner of the A&R department of the record company, or in the demo studio of the publishing department scribbling lyrics. The band were given a record producer Dick James and a rehearsal studio in which to come up with the right formula.

United Artists continued to make use of their signings through sessions and other appearances:

In January 1971, a promoter in Germany wanted to book the now defunct Big Bertha. United Artists agreed to limited funding for the band to go over and perform.
Dave Ball (guitar, vocals)
Denny Ball (bass, vocals)
Cozy Powell (drums)
A series of gigs in north Germany were put together and at last the band who called themselves Ideal Milk went on the road as a trio. Denny and Dave somehow managed the vocals over a thunderous Cream/Hendrix type of music full of solos and awesome power.

During the tour a live recording was made. And, in June 1999, an album has been just released with these live tapes!!! Called Big Bertha, it contains energetic live performances by the trio.

At the end of the tour, the trio vowed to reform ‘at some juncture’ and ‘do it properly’.

Cozy Powell went back to the Jeff Beck Group and Dave Ball joined superb band Procol Harum.


THE LONG JOHN BALDRY GROUP 

After a spell of musical inactivity, Denny went to audition for John Baldry, and was given five days to learn the set before going on tour in America. The band were on a package with Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac. This had to be around Winter 1971.

Long John Baldry (vocals)
Aliki Ashman (vocals)
Harry Reynolds (vocals)
Bob Weston (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Rod Edwards (keyboards)
Ian Armit (piano)
Keith Boyce (drums)
After the tour finished they made an appearance on “Top of The Pops” BBC show. The band line up for that show included Rod Stewart, Elton John and Lesley Duncan on back-up vocals.

In the summer of 1972, John changed the line-up as people went their separate ways. Keith Boyce joined The Heavy Metal Kids (watch my page on Danny Peyronel for more details), Bob Weston joined Fleetwood Mac. Aliki Ashman and Harry Reynolds continued to work together.

John flew to New York with bass player Denny Ball and piano player Ian Armit (a veteran from the 60s British r&b scene, he played with Alexis Korner in Blues Incorporated) to look for musicians for the next tour.

Long John Baldry (vocals)
Elaine Clark (vocals)
Marsha (or Myra Cooper?) (vocals)
Bob Kulick (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Joe Forgione (drums)
The band opened for Uriah Heep who were on one of their biggest concert tours yet. It was an unusual alliance of a blues and gospel band opening for a heavy rock band. It was during this tour that Denny struck up a friendship with the Heep guys.

Bob Kulick left the band (later to join Meatloaf). Dave Ball quit Procol Harum and joins Long John Baldry band in September 1972.

Long John Baldry (vocals)
Elaine Clark (vocals)
Marsha (or Myra Cooper?) (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Ian Armit (piano)
Joe Forgione (drums)
The band play a few UK dates, and the Good to be Alive album is recorded. With some great guests: Lesley Duncan (vocals), Sue Glover (vocals), Liza Strike (vocals), Kay Garner (vocals), Sam Mitchell (guitar), Andy Bown (keyboards), Jimmy Horowitz (keyboards), John Mealing (keyboards), Terry Cox (drums) and Tony Newman (drums).

Meanwhile, Cozy Powell quits Jeff Beck Group, joins Spirit but leaves again after a month... and there's another great reunion!


BEAST / BEDLAM 

November 1972 and the core of Big Bertha/Ideal Milk reunites to form the ultimate band. Originally called The Beast, they changed the name to avoid confusion with another band in the States.

Frank Aiello (vocals)
Dave Ball (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Cozy Powell (drums)
 
(Bedlam scans courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

They released a self titled album, Bedlam. With help from old Cozy mate, Max Middleton (keyboards). Produced by the late Felix Pappalardi (Cream's producer, and bassist in Mountain), who also played keyboards. They also released a single, 'I believe in you / Whiskey and wine' (1973, Chrysalis).

There are also some sessions of unreleased material which were scheduled for Bedlam II, but unfortunately, that never happened, as they split in April 74. (Please, someone should release this album!!!!!!)

There is also a CD of Bedlam from a live radio show recorded in 1974 when they were on tour with Black Sabbath. If someone has a copy of it, PLEASE write me an email message!

Finally, in 1999, it has been released a 2CD anthology by Bedlam, including live tracks and unreleased studio recordings.
 

(Denny Ball, 1974)
(click here for a bigger image, 61 Kbs.)
 

JEFF ST JOHN 

A year after Bedlam split, Denny had a spell with an Australian band fronted by Jeff St John (Australian rocker from 'The Id' and 'Copperwine'). The guitarist in the band was ex Bee-Gees Vince Melouney (he plays in several of their early albums, from 1967 to 1969). They played some gigs and appeared on TV before the guys returned to Australia.


(Almost) URIAH HEEP 

In 1976, in a not-very-known episode, Denny rehearsed with Uriah Heep, to get the bass role. The surprise comes when Denny himself discovered the name of the singer who rehearsed in the same sessions:

David Coverdale (vocals)
Mick Box (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Ken Hensley (keyboards, guitar)
Lee Kerslake (drums)
But the vacant jobs were not given to Coverdale or Denny, but to John Lawton (vocals) and Trevor Bolder (bass). Anyway, Denny maintained a close relationship with Uriah Heep members, as we can read in these pages.


DELTA 

Another long break from the business and Denny was asked to play on a recording session. He liked the band (especially the girl member) and they became Delta.

Derek Damon (vocals)
Jude Allen (keyboards, vocals)
Tony Barton (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Ike Ertzmonite (drums)
The band made some recordings, which included a speculative session with David Byron (of Uriah Heep) producing, but none of it was ever released.


DENNY & THE JETS 

A spin off band called Denny and the Jets produced a single, also produced by David Byron.

Denny Ball (vocals, bass)
Jude Allen (vocals, keyboards)
Gaby Byron (vocals)
The single went out on State Records in 1979. It was given some healthy air time on Radio 1.


SHOTGUN 
(click here for a bigger image, 50 Kbs.)

In 1980, Denny joins Shotgun, the band assembled by Ken Hensley when he left Uriah Heep (after 11 years in the band).

Ken Hensley (vocals, guitar)
Derek Marshall (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Ian Gibbons (keyboards)
Pete Thompson (drums)
But the band's life was very short, and they didn't make any recording. Made one concert tour of UK. Great reviews.

There is a video of the band performing Ken Hensley’s single taken from Ken's Free Spirit album.


ROBERT LEE KOLB 

Robert Lee Kolb (from Dallas) came over to play a couple of shows. Line-up included Shotgun members:

Robert Lee Kolb (vocals, guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Ian Gibbons (keyboards)
Pete Thompson (drums)
+ singers and a sax player

RICK WAKEMAN 

In 1985, Rick performed on a TV special called “Night Music”, with this lineup:

Rick Wakeman (keyboards)
Rick Fenn (guitar)
Denny Ball (bass)
Tony Fernandez (drums)
Also on the show, a twenty piece string section, and the actor Robert Powell performed a narration.

Tony Fernandez was a member of Ruthless Blues. Denny was deputy for Ruthless Blues on a few occasions.


WOLFIE WITCHER AND HIS BREW 

Then, he began to collaborate with Wolfie Witcher, before joining permanently in 1987 in Wolfie Witcher and his Brew. They are a London-based R&B band, although they play many different styles of music. They have been through lots of lineup changes along the years, so I state here what I've been able to check. I'd like if someone can provide more info here, please.

Rick Wakeman joined forces with Wolfie Witcher and his Brew for a TV fund raising event for “Children in Need”.

Around 1988, the lineup was:

Wolfie Witcher (vocals, harmonica)
Gary Thomas (guitar)
Gary Jones (guitar, trumpet)
Simeon Jones (sax)
Denny Ball (bass)
Paul Goosens (drums)
As we can read in the sessions page, there is a live album shared with another blues band (Shakey Vick Blues Band), recorded in London. The lineup for Wolfie Witcher & His Brew in that album, recorded circa 1989 is:
Wolfie Witcher (vocals, harmonica)
Gary Thomas (guitar)
Kit Packham (vocals, sax)
George Carless (sax)
Denny Ball (bass)
Paul Goosens (drums)
The lineup around 1997 was:
Wolfie Witcher (vocals, harmonica)
Pete Emery (guitar)
George Carless (sax)
Kit Packham (vocals, sax)
Denny Ball (bass)
Sam Kelly (drums)
After several years, he left the band for a while in 1998, to join a mythical band...

This is the list of albums where Denny appears. I don't know the lineups for every one, as I don't have them.

Indoor Buskin’ was recorded live at the Carnarvon Castle in Camden Town London. This is how Denny contacted the band. He was asked to record and engineer a live show. Afterwards, he became the reserve bass player, and then joined the band.

Gummin’ the Gob Iron was a studio album co-produced by Denny and Wolfie. Only available on cassette.

Sunday night and Saturday Morning was a live album recorded again at the Carnarvon Castle. The album is shared with Shakey Vick Blues Band. Watch the sessions page, under the 'collective albums' section.

Hang On to your Mouth Organ is another live album, this time recorded at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street. Available on cassette.

Long Way to Tipitina’s is a studio album, available on cassette. Sometime later, it was reissued on CD, with extra tracks.

Howl along a Wolfie was recorded live at the Underworld London.

Chewin’ on the Old Tin Butty is their last studio album for now.


THE YARDBIRDS 

Yes, it's the same band who once had Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in its lineup! There are still two original members, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty. They've been in and out the music business during the 80s, but now they're back again. Great! When their last guitarist, Gipye Mayo (ex-Dr Feelgood), left them to take a sabbatical period, bassist John Idan switched to guitar, and that's when Denny comes here!

John Idan (vocals, guitar)
Chris Dreja (guitar)
Alan Glenn (harmonica, percussion)
Denny Ball (bass)
Jim McCarty (drums)
(Denny Ball 1998 (with Yardbirds in Czech Republic))
(click here for a bigger image, 47 Kbs.)

Denny played with them during summer 1998, until Gypie Mayo returns, thus Denny coming back to his band again, Wolfie Witcher.



WOLFIE WITCHER AND HIS BREW 

This is the current lineup for the band:

Wolfie Witcher (vocals, harmonica)
Pete Emery (guitar)
George Carless (sax)
Kit Packham (vocals, sax)
Denny Ball (bass)
Richard Spaven (drums)

DENNY BALL BAND (for the COZY POWELL TRIBUTE CONCERT) 

On May 1st, 1999, it was held a Cozy Powell Tribute Concert, at Buxton Opera House, in Buxton, Derbyshire. The evening was called "A night to remember...Cozy Powell".

This was a moving occasion with tributes paid by all the performers, and enhanced by some excellent music.

Denny Ball played with his own band, comprised of:

Pete French (vocals, ex-Big Bertha, ex-Cactus, ex-Atomic Rooster)
John Idan (guitar, from The Yardbirds)
Denny Ball (bass)
Russell Gilbrook (drums, from DeadLine)
There were many notable performers including Neil Murray (playing with Tony Martin, Geoff Nicholls, Mike Casswell, and Bobby Rondinelli), Spike Edney (playing with a version of his own SAS Band: Chris Thompson, Clayton Moss, John Marter, Neil Murray, Susie Webb and Zoe Nicholas), Chris Farlowe, Tony Ashton, Darren Wharton, and many more. Brian May closed the concert after making a very moving tribute to Cozy.

I hope it was filmed, and someday we'll have the chance of watching that great event! For now, I've got permission for using a photo of Denny during this concert.

(Denny is the one with the baseball cap! Also appearing: Neil Murray, Brian May and Chris Thompson)
(photo used by kind permission of Oliver Tamminga - visit his Brian May site for many more photos - link below)



And now? DENNY BALL music 
(Denny Ball, 1995)

Apart of being part of Wolfie Witcher And His Brew, Denny is writing two albums. He continues to use Denny and the Jets as his pop/contemporary band name.

And in 1999, it has seen the light of day the first Denny Ball album, after such long, interesting career. The album is called Items, it's fantastic, and it can only be obtained via Internet, at Denny's own website at www.dennyball.com

The album contains great tracks, but my complete favourites are 'The deputy' and the lovely 'Stranger in Autumn', with his extended solo. Denny plays all the instruments on it, plus some guest female vocals. I knew how good bass player he was (you just have to check the tracks 'Soundcheck' or 'Numbers'), but I've been very surprised about his great skills at playing electric guitar. His guitar solos are great!!



Sessions

Press here to read about Denny Ball sessions


Related links: From the always interesting Alex's Picks (by Alex Gitlin), we have: From the superb site Knights in Blue Denim: The British Blues Scene '68 - '70 (by Christer Fridhammar & Vanja), we have:
Musicians mentioned in this page that I have projected to cover in my site someday: And short tributes to:

Family tree

Coming soon (I hope so!).


Thanks section

Very special thanks to: Denny Ball, for his kindness, patience, and great help with info, Rodrigo Werneck, for the contact (check out his superb Ken Hensley site for 3 interviews with Denny, link just above!); Boris Shnitzer, for the albums by David Byron and Ken Hensley.

Special thanks to: Christer Fridhammar, for info about several Wolfie Witcher lineups; Oliver Tamminga, for giving me permission for using his photo from the Cozy Powell Tribute Concert.

Thanks to: Shawna Ball, for her real kindness; Bruce Dumes, for his message.



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Page created by Miguel Terol on: 15/December/1998. Last modified on: 26/March/2002.