March 1, 2019: It has been confirmed by Gary Husband and Paul Carmichael that Paul Williams has passed away:
Paul Williams is a British singer. He and Allan played together in Tempest. Williams later moved to California, and Allan would stay at his house when first arriving in the U.S. Williams would sing on three of Allan's solo albums: IOU, Road Games and Metal Fatigue. They also appear together in the video Tokyo Dream (video). Williams would later take part in releasing the soundtrack of this video as a CD, under the name IOU Live. Allan would have this release withdrawn for the market.
- 1 The Silent Man In Tempest (disc 1973)
- 2 Player Of The Month (Beat Instrumental 1978)
- 3 Allan Holdsworth (International Musician 1981)
- 4 No Record Contract, No Big Hoopla, But The Fans Have Kept The Faith For Allan Holdsworth (Guitar World 1982)
- 5 Allan Holdsworth (Music UK 1983)
- 6 Guitar Phenom Allan Holdsworth Says He’s Not That Impressed By Flash (The Georgia Straight 1983)
- 7 The Innocent Abroad (Musician 1984)
- 8 Allan Holdsworth (Guitarist 1985)
- 9 "...Where No Guitarist Has Gone Before..." (Cymbiosis 1986)
- 10 Castles Made Of Sand (Guitarist 1987)
- 11 Guitar Like A Saxophone (Guitar World 1987)
- 12 Guitarist's Guitarist (Jazz Times 1989)
- 13 The Unreachable Star (Guitar World 1989)
- 14 No Secrets (Facelift 1994)
- 15 A beginners guide to (Classic Rock 2000)
- 16 A Conversation With Allan Holdsworth (Abstract Logix 2005)
- 17 Allan Holdsworth - Jazz/Fusion Guitarist (Musicguy247 2017)
- 18 In Memoriam: DownBeat’s Final Interview with Allan Holdsworth (Downbeat 2017)
The line-up is completed by two of Hiseman’s old friends - Mark Clarke and Paul Williams. Clarke, on bass. keyboards and vocals, was with Colosseum during their last year and after the split joined Uriah Heep in November ‘71. Paul Williams primarily lead vocals, some percussion, guitar and keyboards, first sang with Jon when the pair were together in the Wes Minster Five. Before that there were gigs with Georgie Fame at the Flamingo and with Alexis Korner at the Marquee, and in 1963 he joined Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band for four-and-a-half years. In 1967 came a one-year stopover with John Mayall, followed by gigs with the Alan Price Set, Poet And One Man Band, Ainsley Dunbar and, finally, Juicy Lucy.
Williams’ career often ran a close parallel with Hiseman’s. Jon began with the Graham Bond Organisation - filling the gap left by Ginger Baker’s departure for Cream. From there came a spell with Georgie Fame. The New Jazz Orchestra (which he helped form in 1962 and which is still alive) followed by a rewarding association with Mayall. After Mayall performed one of his customary juggling acts in 1968, Jon set about forming Colosseum.
The Big Time had arrived very suddenly. It only lasted nine months, however. Holdsworth, according to everyone who knows him, learns at a frightening rate, and soon got a little bored with the traditional rock format of Tempest. It was also very much Hiseman’s band. There wasn’t a great deal of room for the new ideas that kept bubbling up in Holdsworth’s mind, so he quit, along with singer Paul Williams, and Ollie Halsall took over, Tempest continuing as a three-piece for a while before plummeting into oblivion.
Who is in the band?
ALAN: Gary Husband is the drummer, I found him in Leeds, he plays piano too. The bass player is Paul Carmichael, and vocals for the band are handled by Paul White (sic).
No Record Contract, No Big Hoopla, But The Fans Have Kept The Faith For Allan Holdsworth (Guitar World 1982)
Allan Holdsworth wasn’t Stateside for long. But he had a new band this tour, his own. The vocalist, Paul Williams, first appeared with Allan ten years ago in a heavy metal band, Tempest, on the same bill as the old Fleetwood Mac at the Fillmore East. Tempest didn’t make it big, and the next time Holdsworth appeared in the U.S. he was filling the chair formerly occupied by another British guitarist, John McLaughlin, in drummer Tony Williams’ Lifetime. Holdsworth was already a guitar legend, having recorded in Europe with Soft Machine, the prototypical jazz-rock fusion outfit. Guitar fans strained to hear Allan’s outrageous lines, which were buried in a muddy stage mix. After all, it was the drummer’s gig!
When I saw Allan Holdsworth on a very grey day in Kingston Surrey in the middle of 1981 he was feeling well shall we say not at his best? He’d grown tired of the fight and intimated that it wouldn’t take an awful lot more before he threw in the towel. He’d become disillusioned with the business to the point of thinking about taking a job in a factory, leaving free his evenings to play what he liked. Allan refuses point blank to play music he doesn’t feel, hence his dilemma. The last straw was an album he recorded in England called IOU, which featured singer Paul Williams who is now the only person from that band that’s currently playing with Allan. Allan Holdsworth’s troubles were not yet over, and he ended up having to press the album himself, and sell it on the door at his own gigs and by mail order. So far he’s sold an astonishing 14,000! None of the major UK record companies were interested enough to pick up the album, although that situation is about to change.
The first IOU band split after a series of gigs in the New York area and the East Coast because of internal problems within the band.
‘It all got too much, one of the band thought everything that went wrong was my fault, and I just didn’t need that pressure. With the old band I’d get on stage and not even want to play, I’d feel this evil vibe on stage. Paul is the only guy with me from the old band, and I recruited Chad Wackerman on drums, and Jeff Berlin on bass for the current line-up.’
How did you come to get Jack Bruce to sing on “Was There?” and “Material Real” on Road Games?
That was at the request of the record company. They didn’t want me to use Paul, the original singer, ’cause they said they didn’t like him. And they weren’t going to let me put the album out at all if I didn’t use a famous singer. So I said that I wanted to use Jack, ’cause he was the only famous singer that I liked out of the guys that they were talking about.
Ellis Island for these gifted immigrants consisted of the Orange County living room of veteran British vocalist and I.O.U. member Paul Williams (no, not the short, geeky guy from Hollywood Squares), who had moved to California some time before (and whose home still serves as a drop zone for migrant British fusioneers). "We were more or less all staying at his house, which probably drove him crazy. Then we did really well at the gigs. I was amazed how many people came out to see us - I didn’t know that many people knew we existed."
In search of a rhythm section to call his own, Holdsworth "met this really amazing drummer, Gary Husband, and I more or less saw it as a musical partnership with him. We tried to find a bass player - with great difficulty - and eventually found Paul Carmichael. We tried to get someone interested in the band, but we couldn’t, so we borrowed the money and made the album on our own and tried to sell it. We couldn’t even give it away." It was around this time that the redoubtable Paul Williams re-entered our story. Williams’ long career as a rock singer/bassist included four years in the trenches with Andy Summers in Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and stints with Alan Price, John Mayall, Aynsley Dunbar, Juicy Lucy and, of course, Tempest, where his work sounded noticeably like Cream-era Jack Bruce ("Well, maybe he sounds like me...," rebuts Paul).
Indeed, Paul Carmichael and especially Gary Husband were unable to get used to living in a very foreign land. As Williams relates, "Gary was having trouble dealing with his own head, so to speak. He wasn’t very well; his father died and he was suffering a lot, so it was affecting us. So he went back to England." Holdsworth filled their chairs with journeyman bassist Jeff Berlin and Zappa alumnus Chad Wackerman (great name for a drummer, eh?).
With Holdsworth in command, a whole new set of problems began: "As soon as the record company found out they weren’t involved, it turned into as (sic) little story-’oh shit, shall we let this guy do this, is he going to hang himself or what?’" Paul Williams continues, "It was a constant hassle; everything had to be approved, everything was going along in steps. Ted would pull us out of the studio and say, ‘You can’t have any more time until I’ve heard the material,’ and then they’d put us back in again. It was driving Allan crazy!"
Despite Holdsworth’s victory in keeping his band and the material, Templeman insisted Williams could not sing on the album, surprising since Paul had not only written the words, but the melody lines of the songs, making him one of Allan’s first real collaborators. "Ted didn’t want me. He never gave Allan a reason for it. It got really ridiculous, down to the fact that he told Allan he hopes he never sees me in the street. It’s a bit sad; it just made me sick."
What are you doing at the moment?
Well, we’ve got a new album coming out soon in the States, called ‘Metal Fatigue’, on the Enigma label. I understand it’s going to be released over here, unlike the last one, Road Games’, which was on Warner Brothers, but I don’t know which label it will be on. Warner Brothers took an awful tong time to decide whether they wanted us to do another album or not, which is why this one’s taken such a long time to come out. The majority of the recording was actually done quite a while ago, and there are two different sets of personnel. On side one it was Chad Wackerman on drums, Jimmy Johnson on bass, Paul Williams on vocals and myself on guitar. On side two Gary Husband, (an original member of the IOU band) played drums, Gary Willis was on bass and Alan Pasqua played some keyboards. The first line up is the one we’re touring with at the moment, and we’re just off to Japan. Hopefully, we’re going back to the States to record the next album, which I’m really hoping will feature the SynthAxe.
Cymbiosis: Well, your new album, Atavachron, because of the SynthAxe, has a distinctly different sound from Metal Fatigue, the one prior.
Holdsworth: Yeah, I think there’s two reasons for that. One is because I’ve been thinking over the last couple of years that when I reviewed all the albums, I’d never feel quite so happy with the vocal tracks. Not because of the vocals, because Paul [Williams] sings great. It wasn’t that. It’s just because, musically, they seem to be more watered down or more fickle. They just didn’t seem to be what I wanted. And I wanted to do an instrumental thing, so when I got the SynthAxe, I was thinking in those terms. So when I started to write the music, it just came out more instrumental. And, second, because I was playing some of the synth parts and playing guitar, I realized we should definitely get a keyboard player in the band.
Why was it so bad; did you hate the album itself?
I hated the album. I hated the way it was done because they wouldn’t let me mix it where I wanted to. I had a guy who was engineering it who was under direct control of Ted Templeman. He wasn’t like a guy who was working for the band, he was working for the producer - who wasn’t there. The other sad thing was that he wanted to change the personnel of the band which caused terrible problems, and I put myself in a lot of trouble because of it, by trying to keep it the way it was originally. For example, they wanted to use a different drummer and a different singer - Geddy Lee or someone - and I wanted to use Paul Williams. But they said there was no way -
they weren’t putting the album out if we used Paul. So I went ahead and used him anyway and we remixed some of the tracks ourselves with the money that we’d made selling the first IOU album, by mail order.
Then Ted said ‘Go ahead and approve the album yourself’. He was never there; he used to listen to singers over the telephone and never came in the studio, never heard a note. But listening to guys over the phone is pretty hilarious! So he told me to approve it myself- so I did - and Paul was on one of the tracks. I made a personal decision at that point that I couldn’t afford to just put Paul on all the tracks and have the album never come out, so I stuck him on just the title track. Then Templeman spotted it and said ‘We’re not putting the album out’. So I called him and talked to him and he said ‘Do you really want this thing out?’ and the reason I did was that we’d put so much work into it, so much aggravation. I still liked some of the music even though it hadn’t been recorded properly and could have been done a lot better, but he said ‘If you really want it out, we’ll just let it go’.
So that was the last conversation I had with Ted Templeman and he let the album go. Apparently he told my manager that he felt sorry for me and just put it out because of that. So when they paid me off, I was very happy to be able to make a record how I wanted to make it and that’s what started me off on engineering.
I’d always been interested in engineering, I’ve learnt a lot from it and I try to make each album sound better, through what I’ve learnt each time.
Perhaps after his disappointment with Enigma Records and the debacle that happened at Warner Bros. with his Road Games album, Holdswor th is ready to check back into the sideman situation. His brief stint with Warner Bros. was especially disheartening ... almost enough to make the beleaguered Brit chuck the whole music game and open a pub back home somewhere.
As Allan recalls, "That was a situation brought about by Edward Van Halen, who really was responsible for me being signed to Warner Bros. He got Ted Templeman to hear the band and sign us up. But I think most of it was just because they wanted to keep Eddie happy. And when they finally signed us, they wanted me to do something that I didn’t want to. Then, they were really lame about it in the end. See, I kind of put my life on the line by sneaking Paul Williams on a couple of tracks to sing. They didn’t want Paul Williams on any of the record. They didn’t like him, they wanted me to use somebody else. But I snuck Paul on two tracks without them knowing it. And then, right before the album came out, they spotted it and were going to pull the album. It was like, ‘You’ve done this… you’ve been a naughty boy.’ I mean, it’s nothing to Warner Bros. to shelve a record like that. But they finally put it out, then dropped us. That was it.
"I got to the point," he recalled, "where I couldn’t make a living in music, and I was on the verge of just getting a job so we could survive. That’s normal; it happens to millions of people, and I didn’t mind at all. But when I kept seeing my name in American music magazines I thought, ‘well, maybe we could do a few gigs over there.’ Paul Williams, who was the vocalist in our original band, lived here in Southern California and said he thought we could line up some work.
GW: Did that record do anything for you?
HOLDSWORTH:: Well, it’s the same prob1em. I have great difficulty listening to it now because I sound so bad on it. But it was obviously representative of what we were doing, and that’s the way I played then, because I didn’t know any better. But it’s a good record in terms of having captured something; it captured the essence of what we were doing. And Gary I thought, played just great on it. Paul Williams sang great, too.
GW: Do you think the vocal concept prevented you from getting over with the jazz constituency?
HOLDSWORTH:: It was just something that I grew out of, or that I thought I should change. The original vocal concept stemmed from the trio concept; I wanted to be able to play things as a trio with a melody and chords, set up in a situation where I could perform them with just a guitar. So I used the voice like an instrument, and Paul was the perfect person for that. But I just wanted to do something different. I mean, I never know what I’m going to feel like or what I’m going to want to do, because it changes, and I can’t help it. When I got the SynthAxe, a whole other thing suddenly opened up to me and I didn’t see what I was doing as a musician, or the band itself, in the same way anymore. And I also saw the vocal thing sitting me on the fence really hard, and that people who like instrumental or "jazz" music were kind of perturbed by the vocal aspect of my music. I never was, but I thought that they were, and I also felt that there were people who liked the vocal aspect of t he songs but didn’t like the rest of it. It was like stretching both sides, and, like I said, when I got the SynthAxe I decided that that was what I wanted to do, so I just continued to sit on the fence in a different way.
"The singer, Paul Williams, who was working with us at the time, he lived in America - he lived in California - his wife was American. So they invited the band over to stay at his house, and we looked for gigs out there. And then we met that guy Mike Varney who has that Spotlight column in Guitar magazine and he talked to a San Francisco club owner who had three clubs to give us a gig. I don’t know how he did it but he did. And we went there from paying to play to 15 people in England to small clubs in 300-500 seats, completely sold out. We couldn’t believe it. So it seemed pretty obvious me that if I wanted to continue as a musician then that’s what should do.
"Eddie (Van Halen) brought the President of the company along to hear me and essentially got us signed," he says. "Then it all went wrong because they wanted a different drummer and singer. But I’d already hired the band with Paul Williams on vocals. Ted Templeman, the producer, listened to shit over the phone - I mean, how can you listen to shit over the phone? - and said he wanted a different singer.
"So I offered him Jack Bruce, an old mate of mine, and Ted, who never came near the studio, said ‘Yeah, great, gold record.’ But at the last minute I switched the mixes on ‘Road Games’, the title track, not because Jack wasn’t good, he was, but because of my friendship with Paul. And then I got a phone call from Templeman while we were on the road, saying ‘That’s it, you’re fired, you’re off the label’ I sacrificed my record deal because of him (Williams). A fucking miserable experience for both of us."
Bill: Speaking of bootlegs, I saw a CD the other day at a store here in town...it’s a live I.O.U. gig being marketed by (I.O.U. singer) Paul Williams.
Allan: Oh yeah, it’s a bootleg. Yeah, I have a little bit of a problem with that guy.
Bill: Yeah, I would think so. There’s a big picture of him on the inside and none of you. It’s like the Paul Williams show. Allan: Yeah, except that he’s ripping everybody else off. It was from a tape of a gig we did in Japan in 1985. He took the audio portion of what was a video and made his own album cover. Pretty sad.
Bill: So he obviously didn’t get any permission from you to do this.
Allan: No. There’s this guy that he used to work with...a guy called Shawn Ahearn. If I see him, I’ll deck him. He runs a label called Pangaea Records. He put out this bootleg and he wouldn’t stop. Even after I said, ‘You can’t do that!’ he went right ahead and did it. There are certain people all over the world who make bootlegs, but I don’t know these people. You know, they’re people just trying to make some money and they know that a person in my position can’t do anything -- you can’t really stop them, you can’t sue them. It’s not like Madonna, where you can get all this stuff stopped. But when it turns out to be guys that you know, that are supposed to be your friends, it’s kind of brutal. I mean, that’s happened to me a lot in the last few years. I was dealing with a lot of small record companies and they’re all wonky. It’s not good. They start out as your friend and then they end up like the enemy.
R.V.B. - Why did you move to the United States? Was it tough to pick up from your homeland and move here?
A.H. - When I first got my own band together, the singer - Paul Williams - lived in Tustin California, with his wife. They invited me to stay with them. I was married at the time but I went out there on my own. I started working with some musicians like Chad Wakerman and Jeff Berlin. We started doing gigs and people started showing up... which was amazing. We went from playing in a pub to 6 people, to a 250 seat club that was packed. It wasn’t a tough decision at all. I had been to America before when I came to New York in 1976 to work with Tony Williams. I started my solo career in England but it was a struggle. It started gaining momentum in the States, so I made the jump. I decided to stay because it was all about the music. Then my family moved out here.
Although a lot of your music is instrumental, you’ve had some great vocalists on your albums, like Paul Williams, Rowanne Mark and even Jack Bruce. What prompts you to add vocals on certain albums or tunes?
I like lyrics a lot. In the beginning I tried to write my own lyrics. Then, in the same way I like to give the guys freedom, I thought, “This guy is singing my lyrics, and is he thinking what I was thinking when I wrote them?” So, I stopped doing that. And I told Paul Williams, “The song is about this. Go write the lyrics yourself.” I think he and the other singers enjoyed that because they got to sing something that was meaningful to them. More often than not, it’s exactly what I had in mind.
Just like with instrumentalists, if you like what they play, you don’t want to tell them not to play that, but play this. The correct thing to do is to say, “I want you to be you!”