The interview starts about 7 minutes in and takes up pretty much the whole of the rest of the hour. Tony is interviewed by Jim Baker, and gets to choose three favourite tracks. Jim also plays some Kokomo tracks (including one from the Half Moon) and some from Tony’s band, including one hot off the presses from the previous week’s show in Swansea.
“In May 1973 Neil Hubbard and Alan Spenner formed Kokomo, with Dyan Birch, Frank Collins, Paddy McHugh and Tony O’Malley who had all been in a pop group called Arrival. I came in on sax and we got Terry Stannard to play drums, Jim Mullen on guitar and percussionist Jody Linscott. Kokomo have been described as a ‘white soul group’, along with people like the Average White Band and so on. We released a couple of albums for CBS, but made most of our money from constant touring and after a few line-up changes the band were really running out of steam. “
“Back to Kokomo; at the end of 1976, Joe Cocker played a few gigs with us as ‘special guest’ – he was an old mate of Neil and Alan’s from their days with the Grease Band – and in fact one of those gigs with Joe was at the Croydon Greyhound. But by January ’77 Kokomo finally decided to split up, although as you know we all still get back together again for the occasional benefit gig or just for the hell of it – they’re a lot of fun.”
ON AND off group Kokomo have at last breached the charts with ‘A Little Bit Further Away’, in at number 68. The band have broken up and reformed more times than they care to remember. They’d go their separate ways, do some session work, then get back together again for a few gigs.
The latest reunion is thanks to Dick Asher, head of Columbia Records, who got in touch with them and asked them to get back together again, an unusual involvement for a record company boss. But his judgement was sound and now they have a surprise hit on their hands. As soon as they succeed In finding a manager they hope to go out on tour. “Just now it’s too time consuming to manage ourselves” Dyan Birch explains. “It would be good to have the time to be totally In charge of our affairs but it means that you’re neglecting the creative side of things.”
Although Kokomo have been idle as a group for the past five years, as separate members they have been busy. Various sessions with artlsts such as Carol Grimes, Mickey Gallagher, Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Marianne Faithfull kept their vocal chords in trim. Frank Paddy and Dyan even went out on tour as backing singers for Bryan Ferry. But while such tours were enjoyable, the lure of Kokomo always pulled them back together agaln. Yet, until Dick Asher took a hand in their fate, such reunions didn’t last.
“What normally happened was we’d get together and do a few gigs and then flnd we were financially hard up, so we couldn’t continue”, Frank says. “It wasn’t odd that we got together so, often because apart from bumping into one another at sessions all the time, we’d see each other socially as well, so in a way we hadn’t really broken up.
This time, however, the reunion should last longer, with a new LP, ‘Kokomo’ recently released, a few dates in Holland, and even American ears picking up in the street.