Christopher John Spedding (born Peter Robinson, 17 June 1944) is an English musician, singer, guitarist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and record producer. In a career spanning more than 50 years, Spedding is best known for his studio session work. By the early 1970s, he had become one of the most sought-after session guitarists in England. Spedding has played on and produced many albums and singles. He has also been a member of eleven rock bands: the Battered Ornaments, Frank Ricotti Quartet, King Mob, Mike Batt and Friends, Necessaries, Nucleus, Ricky Norton, Sharks, Trigger, and the Wombles. In May 1976, Spedding also produced the very first Sex Pistols recordings.
AllMusic has described Spedding as “one of the UK’s most versatile session guitarists, [he] has had a long career on two continents that saw him tackle nearly every style of rock and roll …”.
Spedding, a long-time friend of Chrissie Hynde, was a regular concert feature artist with the Pretenders on their US tour in March/April 1980. He appeared regularly during the band’s encores, playing the guitar solos on their version of the Kinks’ song “Stop Your Sobbing”.
As well as his celebrated work as a session musician, Spedding pursued a solo career, releasing his debut album Songs Without Words in 1970. Since then, he has released fourteen studio albums, and two live albums. His only solo hit was 1975’s “Motor Bikin'”.
Chris Spedding was born in Staveley, Derbyshire, but was raised in Sheffield and Birmingham by adoptive parents Muriel and Jack Spedding, and renamed Christopher John Spedding.
Whilst still with the Battered Ornaments, which without the departing Pete Brown left Spedding as their frontman, he joined the Frank Ricotti Quartet, and played guitar on the album Our Point of View, released in July 1969. He was also invited to play on Jack Bruce’s first and third solo albums, Songs for a Tailor (1969) and Harmony Row (1971).
Spedding then recorded his own instrumental album, Songs Without Words (1970) for Harvest Records, which was only released in Japan.
During this time, he was also playing jazz-fusion with Nucleus and recorded and toured with Mike Gibbs, featuring as lead soloist on the track “Five for England” on Gibbs’s Tanglewood ’63 album. He played guitar on the Pete Atkin/Clive James album Driving Through Mythical America. He was a session player on Harry Nilsson’s breakthrough album, Nilsson Schmilsson, recorded in London. In 1970, he played on the original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar, and in 1971 he also played on “Pieces of Me” by Linda Hoyle and Coming from Reality by Sixto Rodriguez, who was later the subject of the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man. During 1972–74, Spedding played a central role in Sharks, initially with ex-Free bassist Andy Fraser. They recorded two albums and toured with Roxy Music. After that, he toured and recorded with John Cale. He also played with Roy Harper’s occasional backing band Trigger, notably on 1975’s HQ album. In 1972–76, he played in Mike Batt’s novelty band The Wombles, and confirmed on the Marc Riley show on BBC Radio 6 Music that he performed on television in a Womble suit.
In 1975, Spedding had a Top 20 solo hit in the UK with “Motor Bikin'”, which he promoted with popular television appearances on Top of the Pops and Supersonic, dressed in leather motorcycling gear, with greased hair. On his 1976 single Pogo Dancing he was backed by UK punk band The Vibrators. When further hits failed to materialise, he subsequently became better known as a session guitarist, appearing and recording with Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Elton John, Brian Eno, Jack Bruce, Nick Mason, Art Garfunkel, Typically Tropical, Katie Melua, and Ginger Baker, amongst others. During the mid-1970s, he even took part in the Wombles’ UK tour in full costume, whilst wielding his trademark Gibson Flying V. His own album Chris Spedding (1975) was produced by Mickie Most. Spedding recorded a version of the American singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys’ song, “Wild in the Streets”, on his own Hurt album. The song has since been covered by the Circle Jerks and is featured on Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland.
He also was the producer of the Sex Pistols’ first demos, which were recorded on 12 May 1976 at London’s Majestic Studios, where Spedding had recorded his contributions to Eno’s album Here Come The Warm Jets and the Sharks track “Kung Fu”. The three tracks recorded were “Problems”, “No Feelings” and “Pretty Vacant”; there are persistent rumours that he played guitar and bass on their debut album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, however both Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and Spedding himself deny this entirely. The following year, Spedding featured extensively on the concept album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, issued in 1978.
Spedding moved to New York City, joined the Necessaries as a guitarist and songwriter, collaborated with drummer/percussionist David Van Tieghem, and worked extensively with Robert Gordon. Before long he was back in the UK and recorded another album of his own, I’m Not Like Everybody Else (1980). The same year he appeared on Joan Armatrading’s album Me Myself I, playing lead guitar on a number of tracks, including the chart-hit title track. His live album, Friday the 13th was released in 1981. In 1982 he played on Nina Hagen’s recording NunSexMonkRock, and over the next few years he continued his session work on such albums as Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, while periodically releasing solo material (Mean and Moody (1985), Enemy Within (1986) and Cafe Days (1990). He worked on several solo releases by Jerry Harrison (of Talking Heads) including the critically acclaimed album Casual Gods released in 1988 spawning the No. 7 hit on US Mainstream Charts Rev It Up.
He played on the tracks “Not Such A Bad Boy”, “So Bad” and “No Value” on Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street released in 1984. Spedding recalls Ringo Starr, engineer Geoff Emerick and producer George Martin working on the same sessions as well as McCartney and his wife, Linda. In the same year he played on Roger Daltrey’s solo album Parting Should Be Painless. Spedding was producer of the first two albums by the Canadian rockabilly band, The Razorbacks, entitled Go to Town (1988) and Live a Little (1989). In 1995, he played on Willy DeVille’s Big Easy Fantasy, and later that year, on his album Loup Garou.
Accepting an invitation, Spedding toured with a reformed Roxy Music in 2001. By now in his late fifties, Spedding’s own blues rock offerings One Step Ahead of the Blues (2002) and Click Clack (2005) were released, followed by It’s Now Or Never in 2007. He was one of only two musicians from the 1976 album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds to return for Jeff Wayne’s Black Smoke Band’s 2006–2012 tour of Europe. He then featured on the 2012 album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – The New Generation, touring with the show in 2012 and 2014.
Chris Spedding (far right) on stage with singer Bryan Ferry (centre) at GuilFest, 2012:
On 31 October 2011, the 11 track CD King Mob album was released featuring Spedding on guitar, Glen Matlock on bass, Martin Chambers on drums, Sixteen on guitar and fronted by Stephen W. Parsons, aka Snips a former member of Sharks. Although both the album and live shows received positive reviews, King Mob announced that they were disbanding in September 2012.
In June 2014, Spedding appeared as a special guest playing guitar with Bryan Ferry at the 2014 Glastonbury Festival held in Pilton, Somerset, United Kingdom. In 2016, and again in 2019, he toured the US with Ferry. (wikipedia)
Chris Spedding’s seventh LP, I’m Not Like Everybody Else, was released in 1980 on UK’s RAK label. The album has a similar feel to his previous LP, Guitar Graffiti. Fans will find some really terrific songs on this album such as “Box Number”, “I Got A Feeling”, “Musical Press” and “Contract”. A nice mix of his laid back alternative rock along with some more rocking numbers make I’m Not Like Everybody Else worth seeking out and sort of a must for Chris Spedding fans. (Mark Yokel)
A criminally forgotten and underrated album !
Phil Lanzon (piano)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Chris Mercer (saxophone)
Chris Spedding (guitar, vocals, organ)
Paul Westwood (bass)
Chris Green – Pete Willison
Richard Gower – Phil Fursdon – Pete Miller
01. I’m Not Like Everybody Else (Davies) 3.40
02. Box Number (Spedding) 2.33
03. I Got A Feeling (Spedding) 3.04
04. The Crying Game (Stephens) 2.39
05. Depravitie (Spedding) 3.01
06. Musical Press (Spedding) 3.11
07. Contract (Spedding) 3.07
08. Counterfeit (Spedding) 2.48
09. A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues (Thompson) 3.57
10. Mama Coca (Spedding) 4.48
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