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|Labels||Pye, Castle, Uni|
|Labels||Pye, Castle, Uni|
The Foundations were a British soul band, active from 1967 to 1970. The group, made up of West Indians, White British, and a Sri Lankan, are best known for their two biggest hits, "Baby Now That I've Found You" (a Number One hit in the UK Singles Chart and Canada, and subsequently Top 10 in the US), written by Tony Macaulay and John MacLeod; and "Build Me Up Buttercup" (a number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 in Canada), co-written by Macaulay with Mike d'Abo, at the time the lead vocalist with Manfred Mann. The group was the first multi-racial group to have a number 1 hit in the UK in the 1960s.
The Foundations are notable for being one of the few label acts to successfully imitate what became known as the Motown Sound. In terms of line-up and musical style, they anticipated the sound of the more successful Hot Chocolate. They were in a similar musical vein as Love Affair, who also topped the UK charts in 1968 with their version of Robert Knight's "Everlasting Love". The Foundations signed to Pye, at the time one of only four big UK record companies (the others being EMI with its HMV, Columbia Records, and Parlophone labels; Decca; and Philips who also owned Fontana).
The Foundations drew much interest and intrigue due to the size and structure of the group. Not only was there a diverse ethnic mix in the group, but there was also diversity in ages and musical backgrounds. The oldest member of the group was Mike Elliott, who was 38 years old. The youngest was Tim Harris, who, at 18, was barely out of school. The West Indian horn section, which consisted of Jamaican-born Mike Elliott and Pat Burke, both saxophonists and Dominican-born Eric Allendale on trombone. They were all highly experienced musicians who came from professional jazz and rock-and-roll backgrounds. Mike Elliott had played in various jazz and rock and roll bands including Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, the Cabin Boys (led by Tommy Steele's brother, Colin Hicks), and others. Pat Burke, a professional musician, was from the London Music Conservatorium. Eric Allendale had led his own band at one stage as well as having played with Edmundo Ros and being a former member of the Terry Lightfoot and Alex Walsh bands. Alan Warner, the guitarist, was also an experienced musician for his age, having played with numerous semi-pro groups from the age of 16. Bassist Peter Macbeth was a former teacher. Tony Gomez, the keyboard player, was a former clerk, while Clem Curtis had been an interior decorator and professional boxer.
The story of the origins of the Foundations can be somewhat surprising and a bit confusing as to who was responsible for choosing the band's name, and various sources give slightly different accounts of their beginnings. One version is that they were originally called The Ramong Sound, or The Ramongs, and there were two lead singers, Clem Curtis and Raymond Morrison aka Ramong Morrison. When Raymond was imprisoned for six months a friend of the band suggested Psychedelic shock rocker Arthur Brown. Other variations on this are that after they dropped the "Ramong" from their name, they were then called The Foundation Squad or The Foundation Sound. Apparently, Arthur Brown was only a temporary member for about one month, and by the time the Foundations had signed to Pye, he had left the group.
The Foundations actually did come together in Bayswater, London in January 1967. They practiced and played in a basement club called the Butterfly Club, which they ran. While managing the club themselves, they played music nightly, and handled the cooking and cleaning. They would get to bed around 6 or 7 a.m., sleep until 4 p.m., get up and begin again to get ready to open at 8 p.m. Sometimes they barely made enough money to pay the rent, let alone feed themselves. At times, they lived off the leftovers and a couple of pounds of rice. They stayed there until they were eventually forced out by a protection racket gang and then had to move next door to a dingy unused mini-cab office.
While the biography on Allmusic states that Barry Class was the first to discover them, Alan Warner, the original founding member and lead guitarist of The Foundations and former Ramongs member states that it was actually Fairway who saw them in the dingy office and then introduced them to Class. Either way, both Fairway and Class teamed up to become their managers. Class took care of the business management, while Fairway went out promoting and trying to secure gigs for the group.
When they were at the top spot with "Baby, Now That I've Found You", Fairway commented to Melody Maker that most management would pull them out of the "bargain priced dates" that were booked for some time. He expressed gratitude to everyone for their support, and said that they would fulfill every engagement for which they had signed.
Not long after "Baby, Now That I've Found You" became a hit, rock historian Roger Dopson describes what followed as a "behind the scenes struggle", where Fairway was "pushed out" and his partner, Barry Class, remained as sole manager of the group. Fairway later attempted to sue the band, alleging that he was wrongfully dismissed, though the band said that he had resigned of his own accord. Dopson also noted that Fairway also leaked a story to the media saying that the Foundations had broken up which only served to keep the Foundations name in the news headlines.  Fairway and Class eventually introduced them to Pye A&R man Tony Macaulay. The day Macaulay came to hear them play, he was suffering from what he described as the worst hangover of his life. The band was playing so loud he could not judge how good they were, but he decided to give them a chance. He would later comment in the book, 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, that he woke up that morning with a stinking headache, and when he got to the studio and heard The Foundations, he thought they were pretty terrible. He decided his hangover was to blame, and so he gave them the benefit of the doubt.
At first they found progress quite slow, and one of their sax players, Pat Burke, had to drop out of the band and take another job while they went through a rough patch. He did rejoin them again later in 1967. 
They did a couple of tours backing The Toys and later Motown Records' Edwin Starr. Curtis doubted if this group called The Toys was the original Toys let alone American. They were noticed by Brian Epstein who added them to the roster of his NEMS Agency but the contract became void when he died.
When "Baby Now That I've Found You" was first released it went nowhere. Luckily the BBC's newly founded BBC Radio 1 were looking to avoid any records being played by the pirate radio stations and they looked back at some recent releases that the pirate stations had missed. "Baby, Now That I've Found You" was one of them. The single then took off and by November was number one in the UK Singles Chart. This was the ideal time because of the soul boom that was happening in England since 1965 and with American R&B stars visiting the UK, interest and intrigue in The Foundations was generated. Their second single released in January 1968, "Back On My Feet Again", did not do as well but made it to #18 in the UK, and #29 in Canada. Also in January 1968 they were invited to put down some tracks for John Peel's radio show. One of the tracks that they laid down was a cover of ? and the Mysterians garage classic 96 Tears. On the same day PP Arnold was in the studio with Dusty Springfield and Madeline Bell as her backing vocalists.
Around this time after the release of their second single, there were tensions developing between the band and their songwriter/producer, Tony Macaulay. He would not allow them to record any of their own songs. In an interview, the band's organ player, Tony Gomez, told NME Magazine in an interview that he, Peter MacBeth, and Eric Allendale had some ideas that they wanted to put together. Curtis later recalled that Macaulay was a problem. "Tony Macaulay was very talented, but could be difficult to get on with. When we asked to record some of our own material - just as B sides, we weren't after the A side - he called us 'ungrateful' and stormed out of the studio." The group felt that Macaulay had reined in their "real" sound, making them seem more pop-oriented than they were. Tony Macaulay was later to recall, "I was never close to The Foundations. I couldn't stand them, and they hated me! But the body of work we recorded was excellent."
A third single, also released in 1968 "Any Old Time (You're Lonely and Sad)", reached #48.
Original vocalist Curtis left in 1968, because he felt that a couple of the band's members were taking it a bit too easy, thinking that because they had now had a hit, they did not have to put in as much effort as they had previously. Saxophonist Mike Elliott also left around this time and was never replaced. Curtis hung around and helped them audition a replacement singer. They auditioned 200 singers. It was reported in a New Musical Express article in 1968 that Curtis while being interviewd at a festival had mentioned that they were trying out Warren Davis to replace him. He said he wouldn't leave the band until they found a replacement. He had become friendly with Sammy Davis, Jr. and was encouraged to try his luck in the United States. He moved to the US for a solo career on the club circuit, encouraged by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave, playing Las Vegas with the Righteous Brothers. His successful replacement was Colin Young.
With Young the band had two more big hits; "Build Me Up Buttercup" which was their third hit in 1968 and "In the Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)" which was a hit in April 1969, and reached #23 in Canada May 5 that year.
At the height of their popularity, the Foundations management were in negotiations and a UK TV company for a television series that would star members of the band. They had turned down a number of offers to appear in films because of script unsuitability.
After a successful run of hits, The Foundations broke off with their management and a Bill Graham-sponsored tour to support The Temptations at the newly opened Copacabana club. This ended up in disaster and the band came back to the UK in low spirits. It had been previously reported in a publicity sheet around early December 1969 that the band had broken away from their manager Barry Class. Jim Dawson who was formerly their agent and Mike Dolan took over the group's affairs. The group's final hits were "Born to Live, Born to Die" which was written by Eric Allendale and Tony Gomez. and "My Little Chickadee", a US only hit which barely made the hot 100. Another member joined the band in 1970. Paul Lockey who had been with Robert Plant in Band Of Joy joined as their bass guitarist.
"My Little Chickadee" proved to be the band's last hit. In spite of releasing "Take A Girl Like You", the title song to the Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills film, and a heavy blues rock song "I'm Gonna Be A Rich Man", the band split in late 1970.
The last record released in the early 1970s as The Foundations was a single "Stoney Ground" b/w "I'll Give You Love" MCA MCA 5075 1971. By that time the original band had already split up and Alan Warner had been a member of Pluto since joining and helping to form the English progressive rock band in 1970. There would be two more singles released as The Foundations in the mid to late 1970s.
When Curtis returned to the UK, he formed a new version of the group with little success in spite of releasing several singles, but later had a lucrative spell on the 1960s nostalgia circuit. Curtis' re-formed Foundations have on several occasions and among the many musicians to be part of latter day Foundations were Bill  and John Springate, the latter becoming a member of The Glitter Band, Derek "Del" Watson, Paul Wilmot (all members of the band "ELEGY") and Roy Carter who later on joined Heatwave.
Also in the 1970s there would be a collaborative attempt between two former members of the Foundations. Original Foundations trombonist Eric Allendale attempted to work with original Foundations drummer Tim Harris.
In the mid-1970s, while Clem Curtis and The Foundations were on the road, there was also another Foundations line up that was led by Colin Young who were on the road at the same time, who were playing basically the same material. This eventually led to court action which resulted in Curtis being allowed to bill his group as either The Foundations or Clem Curtis & The Foundations. Young was allowed to bill himself as The New Foundations or Colin Young & The New Foundations.
Also in the mid-1970s, Young and his group, The New Foundations, released a lone single on Pye, "Something For My Baby" / "I Need Your Love". There were actually two more singles released in the late 1970s as the Foundations. They were "Where Were You When I Needed Your Love" / "Love Me Nice And Easy" and "Closer To Loving You" / "Change My Life" on the Summit and Psycho labels. These featured Curtis as the lead singer.
Various sources erroneously state that there was an early 1970s English line up that had nothing, or little to do with, the original Foundations. However, Curtis has been leading a new line up of the Foundations since coming back to the UK and reforming the group in the early 1970s.
There has also been another line up formed in 1999 that included Young (vocals), Alan Warner (Guitar), Steve Bingham (bass), Gary Moberly (keyboards), Tony Laidlaw (sax) and Sam Kelly then Steve Dixon (drums). This version of the group was reformed due to the popularity of the film There's Something About Mary and the interest created resulting from the 1968 hit "Build Me Up Buttercup" being featured in the film. Some time later Young left this version of the group and was replaced by Hue Montgomery (aka Hugh Montgomery).
Known as Alan Warner's Foundations, this group is on tour in 2012 either in their own right or with The New Honeycombs, Terry Rice-Milton of Cupid's Inspiration, Billie Davis and Keith Powell.
Curtis still appears at venues and tours as Clem Curtis & The Foundations as he has done during the past four decades.
There is also a bogus group in the US that uses the Foundations name but has no connection to the original group that played on the Foundations recordings.
From the bands beginning to their breakup near the end of 1970, the Foundations released ten singles in the UK including two versions of the same song. A good deal of the songs on the singles were composed by Tony Macaulay and John Macleod. They had four significant hits from these plus a minor hit with one of their own compositions, "Born To Live, Born To Die".They had minor hit with "My Little Chickadee" in the United States. This was written by Tony Macaulay and John Macleod. There were other titles announced that were either never recorded or were never released. They were "Our Love Went Thataway", "Tear Jerker, Music-worker, You" which was to be released around the same time as "Better By Far" by Lulu and "No Place On Earth Could Find You"  In 1971 the single "Stoney Ground" was released. It is believed that this single was actually by Colin Young and his new backing band Development. It seems quite likely as the Colin Young and Development debut single "Any Time At All" pre-dates "Stoney Ground". In the mid and late seventies there were two more singles released under the Foundations name. They were "Where Were You When I Needed Your Love" and "Closer To Loving You" which featured the Northern Soul classic "Change My Life" as the B side. These last two singles to bear the Foundations name featured Clem Curtis once more as the lead vocalist.
During the 1960s the Foundations recorded and released four LPs in the United Kingdom. Before the release of their debut album, it was originally announced, in the October 1967 of Beat Instrumental Monthly that the debut album's title was to be Sound Basis. However, when it was released on Pye, it had the title of From The Foundations. The American version of this album, which was released on the UNI label, was given the title of Baby, Now That I've Found You. This album featured Curtis on lead vocals. The next release was in 1968. It was a live LP called Rocking The Foundations, and also featured Curtis on lead vocals plus two instrumentals "The Look of Love" and "Coming Home Baby." Also in 1968, another LP was released, this time on the Marble Arch label. This self-titled third album featured re-recordings of their previous hits and songs, but with Young on vocals instead of Curtis. It also featured a version of a new track, "Build Me Up Buttercup." There was also a second American album released called Build Me Up Buttercup. This release was a compilation of Foundations tracks. Side one consisted of tracks from their Rocking The Foundations album, while side two consisted of "Build Me Up Buttercup," the B side of that single, plus some earlier Foundations tracks. The group's last LP release was Digging The Foundations in 1969, which featured their hit "In The Bad Bad Old Days" and the minor U.S. hit "My Little Chickadee." A track "Why Does She Keep On" that was mentioned in 26 April 1969 issue of Billboard magazine wasn't included. Since then, there have been various compilations of the Foundations songs, released on both the Golden Hour and PRT labels.