Formed in 1973, Kokomo originally consisted of four vocalists: Dyan Birch, Frank Collins, Paddie McHugh and Tony O’Malley (also on keys) – all from ’60s pop sensations ‘Arrival’. Alan Spenner (bass) and Neil Hubbard (guitar) were recruited from Joe Cocker’s ‘Grease Band’; Mel Collins (sax) from King Crimson, and percussionist Jody Linscott (who went on to tour with The Who, Elton John, Dave Gilmour and more), Terry Stannard (drums) and Jim Mullen (guitar) completed the 10-piece line-up.
Kokomo launched onto the U.K. pub rock scene where their loose-limbed funk workouts were in an absolute class of their own and they took London by storm!
In early 1975, taken on by manager Steve O’Rourke’s (also Pink Floyd’s manager), Kokomo finally broke out of the pubs and the band joined the seminal ‘Naughty Rhythms’ tour alongside Dr. Feelgood and Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. CBS was similarly enamoured, signing Kokomo and issuing the band’s self-titled debut album that summer.
Bob Dylan, who was signed to the same label, also admired the group — when Kokomo visited New York that July to launch their album in America, Dylan recruited them to the early sessions for his forthcoming ‘Desire’ album.
Despite top-rate management and record label on board, successful inroads into the U.S. R&B charts, extensive UK & US tours (often supporting UK’s other renown soul/funk outfits – the Average White Band), and a second album ‘Rise & Shine’, by January 1977 the band’s melt down was such that an indefinite hiatus was announced. Line-up changes and the financial difficulties forced members of Kokomo to seek work with other artists. Although, after an extended sabbatical, a further studio album was released in 1982, by and large, that was then that, further compounded by the tragic premature death of influential bassist Alan Spenner in August 1991.
Kokomo’s enduring pedigree is evidenced by how many of the original members have gone on to enjoy considerable success in their subsequent careers. Jim Mullen is now a much feted award-winning jazz guitarist, Neil Hubbard’s discography is impressive to say the least – recording and touring with the likes of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, BB King, Buddy Guy, Dexy’s… and is at present back working with Bryan Ferry, Jody Linscott continues to work with everyone from McCartney to Will Young, Mel Collins’ sax work has graced albums and gigs by Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few, and recently found himself back touring with King Crimson; Tony O’Malley has forged a successful solo career here and in Europe, Frank Collins toured and recorded with Terence Trent D’Arby and he, along with Dyan Birch and Paddie McHugh, were in great demand as session vocalists and toured with Bryan Ferry amongst others.
In 2014, Kokomo fan and music promoter Sue Martin approached eight members of the original line-up following an enquiry about reforming the band to headline a new summer festival – to Sue’s delight they all said ‘YES’!