Dale Griffin - Biography
Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin Dale Griffin 
Dale Griffin

Terence Dale Griffin was born on October 24, 1948 and grew up in Ross-On-Wye in the Midlands. Interested in music from an early age, he quickly moved from an Eric Delaney snare drum and cymbal to a red sparkle Gigster kit. But after seeing Pete Watts playing with Paul and Lionel Jeffrey in a Ross Grammar School classroom, Dale decided his Gigster wouldn't cut it. He eventually caught Watt's attention with a new Premier drumkit (purchased with encouragement from his father Fred), but was surprised at his first rehearsal to find that Watts had taken up with guitarist Bob Davies, bassist John Sutton, singer Patrick O'Donnell. Dale and his new kit quickly took over from drummer Patrick Brooke, and the new band set about looking for a gig.

In the summer of 1963, they adopted the name The Anchors to reflect their new gig as the house band at the Cabin, the music bar at the Hope And Anchor. The band went through a few quick personnel changes, when Sutton, Davies, and Patrick O'Donnell left. A number of singers were auditioned before the lineup settled into Watts, Griffin, Patrick Brooke (now on vocals), Robert Fisher (second vocalist), and Paul Jeffery (guitar). The Anchors played out the summer at the Cabin and disbanded in September 1963.

In October 1963 the band decided to reform to play Ross Grammar School dances, and played out 1963 as Wild Dog's Hell Hounds. (The name came from the 'Wild Dog Treble' setting on a Burns guitar.) Pete 'Wild Dog' Watts would crawl out onstage on all fours, working his way toward a dog bowl and bone.

In February 1964, he group changed their name to The Soulents, adding a 'u' to Robert Fisher's cigarette brand in a Beatles-inspired pun. Robert Fisher picked up Patrick Brooke's unused electric bass, and the group began gigging regularly in the greater Ross-On-Wye area. Paul Jeffrey left the group to go to college in September 1964, but continued to turn up to play whenever he was around.

In October 1964, the group entered a Beat Contest at the Malvern Winter Gardens. They won their first heat against the King Bees, and beat the Roustabouts three weeks later, despite Patrick Brooke being on crutches due to a rugby accident. On December 3, they prevailed against the Erly Berdz, but failed to beat the Ravons in the finals.

The group continued to play throughout the next year. In June 1965, the group changed their name to The Silence, and began playing - as Robert Fisher's diary notes - 'new rave material'. The Silence could be found opening local shows for the Who, The Yardbirds, and the Zombies, among others.

By late 1965, though, it was clear that Pete Watts wanted to turn pro. The other members of the Silence were not in any position to do that, and so Watts accepted a job as the bass player for a rival Hereford group, The Buddies. The Silence limped along for a couple shows with ex-Beatniks guitarist Ricky Welch, but gave up on him when he couldn't play the material. Being near the Christmas holiday, Paul Jeffery was available for a couple shows, including the band's last at the 1600 Club in Hereford on December 28, 1965. Fisher and Brooke went on to join the Uncertain Kind and toured Germany in 1966.

Buffin took the occasional gig backing strippers at the local Dolphin Club, and then joined the Charles Kingsley Creation when their drummer John Morgan decided to quit. The Charles Kingsley Creation featured guitarist Charles Ward, organist Kingsley Ward, and bassist Dave Wintour (later replaced by John Casey). The Wards ran the Future Sound studios in Monmouth, and would soon gain a measure of fame running Rockfield Studios in Wales. Buffin gigged with The Charles Kingsley Creation, and also played on a few Future Sound sessions - his beat can be heard on singles by Bryn Yemm, The Interns, and The Cheatin' Hearts.

In the meantime, The Buddies had had adopted the name The Doc Thomas Group, suggested to the band by Dave Mason. In Italy, they were introduced to record producer Gian Stellari. A contract was offered, and the group went to Milan to record an album for the Dischi Interrecord label in October 1966. About 20 songs - all cover versions - were recorded, mostly taken from the group's live set.

The Doc Thomas Group returned to Hereford after recording their album, and picked up Dale Griffin to fill in for the departing Bob Hall. Dave Tedstone also called it quits, but was not replaced. The Doc Thomas Group LP was eventually released in Italy in January 1967, along with a single culled from the album: Just Can't Go To Sleep b/w Harlem Shuffle. The group - now known variously as The Buddies, The Problem, and The Doc Thomas Group - quickly returned to Italy to capitalize. They made a couple TV appearances in Milan in March, and when told that a five-piece band was expected they sent for Advocats' bassist Geoff Peacey to play organ for them. Peacey finished the summer season with the group, but upon returning to England Geoff's parents were alarmed at how thin and gaunt he looked. As band's prospects were not looking too good, it was decided that he would quit the group.

The remainder of the band continued as a four piece with an uncertain future, and finally dissolved when Mick Ralphs accepted an offer from Verden Allen to replace Kevin Gammond in the Shakedown Sound, Jimmy Cliff's backing band. Later, Buffin would also join the group, replacing Sean Jenkins for the last three weeks. When the Shakedown Sound gig ended, Ralphs, Griffin, and Allen returned to Hereford to reunite with Pete Watts and Stan Tippins, cementing the final lineup of the group before Mott The Hoople.

The group continued to use the Shakedown Sound moniker in the UK, but reverted to The Doc Thomas Group when they returned to Italy in the summer of 1968. The group played engagements at the Pinetta Club in Milano Marittima, and the Bat Caverna in Riccione. As the season ended, Pete Watts remained in Italy with his fiance, Maria Jannelli, in anticipation of joining a 'supergroup' with members of the recently split I Giganti. But I Giganti reformed, and so Pete eventually went home.

Nearing the end of 1968 and back in Hereford, the band made one final push toward the big time. They bought a van and new equipment, and began using the Jay Vee agency in Swansea, Wales. They used the better known Shakedown Sound moniker while playing Hereford and the Midlands, but for gigs in Wales the band resurrected the old Silence banner. (The Silence had been Pete Watts and Dale Griffin's band before hooking up with Mick Ralphs in the Doc Thomas Group). Using Buffin's contacts at Rockfield, Silence recorded a demo tape which included The Rebel and Find Your Way. Despite the effort, though, the band still foundered. They unsuccessfully auditioned for Apple under the name The Archers, and also failed to distinguish themselves at an audition to back the Swedish band Paper Dolls.

Sensing the lack of success with Silence, Watts and Ralphs traveled to London to audition for Free, but apparently failed to impress producer Guy Stevens. When EMI rejected The Rebel at the last moment, Mick Ralphs took it to Stevens in London. The meeting went well enough for the band to scheduled an audition at Spot Studios, but on the eve of a Liverpool Cavern show Stan's jaw was broken during a scuffle. The band auditioned without Tippins, and won a second audition the next month for the entire group. Legend has it that Guy Stevens was so impressed with the band's ability to maneuver Verden's Hammond upstairs, that he had already decided to take them on. He was not, however, impressed with Tippins, who voluntarily withdrew from the band rather than hinder the success of the others.

With the addition of Ian Hunter in June 1969, Guy Stevens his new band spend less than two weeks rehearsing at the Pied Bull in Islington before entering Morgan Studios to record their debut album. In August, the band spent a couple weeks getting it together at the Bat Caverna in Riccione, Italy. The band didn't go over well, and were apparently asked to take a cut in pay or leave. Back in England, the group played their first shows supporting King Crimson in September. Mott The Hoople's debut album was released in November 1969, preceded by the single Rock and Roll Queen b/w Road To Birmingham.

In 1971, after recording four failed albums with Mott The Hoople, Pete Watts and Mick Ralphs joined up with Leslie West and Corky Laing or Mountain, and Paul Rodgers of Free, with an eye toward forming a band. Nothing came of the idea, although the group did manage to record Sail On at Island Studios.

Mott The Hoople did actually decide to split in early 1972, after a particularly miserable show in a converted gas tank in Switzerland. On the train ride home, the band decided to pack it in. When they returned to England, Pete Watts put a call in to David Bowie to see if he needed a bass player. When Bowie learned the group were breaking up, he asked the group to reconsider. Bowie gave the band a song, All The Young Dudes, and agreed to produce their next album. The single shot into the top five in the summer of 1972, and the resulting album All The Young Dude also made a strong showing.

Having spent a few months under the Mainman umbrella, the group wisely decided to strike out on their own. In early 1973, Verden Allen left the group ,and the four remaining Motts went into the studio to record and produce their mext album, simply titled Mott. The album was a critical success, and firmly established the group as a headline act in the UK and the USA. But Ian Hunter's increasing role as the leader of the group was causing friction with Mick Ralphs, who decided to leave the group and rejoin Paul Rodgers to form Bad Company. In September 1973, Ariel Bender - known to Spooky Tooth fans as Luther Grosvenor - replaced Ralphs.

Ariel Bender was fantastic onstage, and Mott The Hoople became a major tour attraction. But when it came time to record the next album, Bender's lack of creativity was in the studio was a problem. The Hoople was recorded in January 1974 at Advision Studios, and Ian Hunter was left to write much of the album alone.

After a few warmup dates in the UK, Mott The Hoople embarked on a major tour of the USA, highlighted by a wekk of shows at the Uris Theater on Broadway. Pete Watts regularly stepped forward to sing Born Late '58, and the tour was very well received. The group played a few UK festivals in the summer of 1974, and planned a major tour of the UK and Europe in late 1974. But first, the group needed to take care of some unpleasant business. Although Ariel Bender Mott were great mates, it was clear that he wasn't able to contribute creatively to the group. He was replaced by David Bowie's brilliant guitarist and arranger, Mick Ronson.

On paper, the move to enlist Ronson was genius. In reality, it caused enough friction to break up the band. Ever since the departure of Mick Ralphs, Ian Hunter had felt the pressure of being the group's leader. He felt that the he was writing all the material, giving all the interviews, and looking after the business affairs of the group, while the rest of the band were content to just turn up and play. When Ronson joined the group, he also noticed what he felt was a lack of effort from the rest of the band. For their part, Watts and Griffin felt that Mick Ronson was being given favorable treatment, and was only interested in working with Ian. Whichever side the truth lies closest to, the group managed only a handful of concerts in Europe before Ian Hunter quit in November 1974.

After the split, Pete Watts, Dale Griffin, and pianist Morgan Fisher stuck together and recorded a few demos at Gooseberry Studios in December 1974. The results encouraged CBS enough to put together a band, financed in part by Pete Watts' publishing deal. Auditions were organized to find a guitarist and singer, and the first to arrive was Ray Majors, a friend of the band who had didn't realize who had placed the ad. At his audition Ray played recorded a solo for I'll Tell You Something, and was told six weeks later by Pete that he had the gig. The band didn't announce their new member to the press for a couple months, however.

Recruiting a vocalist did not prove quite as easy. The band auditioned dozens of singers, and listened to hundreds of tapes. Brian Parrish and Peter French were considered, but eventally Southend native Nigel Benjamin was given the unenviable task of replacing Ian Hunter as the front man. Although there are competing stories, Nigel told NME that his girlfriend had sent an audition tape without his knowledge. Nigel joined Watts, Griffin, Fisher, and Majors only days before they were set to go into the studio.

Mott's debut album, Drive On, was recorded during April and May 1975 at Clearwell Castle using Ronnie Lane's mobile studio. Pete Watts wrote most of the material, and also sang lead on Stiff Upper Lip and Love Now. Their self-produced album was released in September 1975, garnering favorable reviews but not catching the general public's attention. The band toured the UK when the album was released, and followed with a two-month visit to the USA in November.

For the band's followup album, Shouting And Pointing, CBS brought in Eddie Kramer to produce. Kramer was highly regarded for his work with Jimi Hendrix, but the band didn't have material ready and he lost interest in the project. The bulk of the songwriting chores fell to Watts and Fisher, with a bit of help from Nigel and Ray. The recording was done at Manor Studios in Oxfordshire in February and March 1976, and the album was mixed and released by June. The band once again toured heavily in the USA, and then spent November and December gigging in the UK.

Dropped by CBS and without a contract, the remaining Motts agreed to back their old friend Steve Hyams on a few demos. Hyams' manager, Paul Warden, got Arista to foot the bill. Rehearsals were held at the Rainbow, and demos were recorded by Tom Newman at Argonaut, Richard Branson's floating studio in the Regents Park Canal. When a Sounds reporter was told that Mott The Hoople were reforming, the band went along with the story for a couple weeks. Arista declined the band demos, and signed Steve Hyams as a solo artist instead.

In the summer of 1977, the remaining members of Mott set about the task of finding a new front man. Morgan Fisher suggested John Fiddler, whose duo Medicine Head had just disbanded. Morgan had played on the last Medicine Head album, and in March 1977 filled in on their tour when Peter Hope-Evans quit the group. Although Fiddler's hippy appearance - long hair and glasses - didn't fit the group's hard rock image, he was asked down to audition and secured the job.

With Fiddler providing most of the material, British Lions entered The Manor in Oxfordshire in September 1977. The band toured the UK in November and December 1977 supporting Status Quo, also handled by Colin Johnson. The British Lions LP appeared in February 1978.

The band gigged extensively to promote the album, headlining a couple tours in early 1978. In May 1978 they toured the UK once again, this time in support of AC/DC.

The group returned to the UK to start work on a follow-up album, but ran into trouble from the start. They entered RAK in London in November 1978, but their constant touring schedule had left them without much new material. To compound their problems, Ray Majors was hospitalized with hepatitis for much of the sessions. Vertigo insisted that the record be targeted toward the US market, but they didn't like the album that resulted. In the end their US label RSO decided against releasing the album, and Vertigo followed suit.

The group were in a stalemate over how to promote themselves - Watts and Griffin wanted to concentrate gigging in the USA at larger venues, while the rest of band were content to play Britain in smaller venues to build a following. In the end, Watts and Griffin decided to leave and the band dissolved in April 1979. The second British Lions album remained in the vaults for over a year, until Cherry Red licensed the material and released Trouble With Women in May 1980.

After British Lions broke up, Pete Watts and Dale Griffin put away their instruments and had a go at production. They formed Grimtone Productions and worked with a few artists in the early 1980s, such as Dumb Blondes, Zeitgeist, Department S, and Hanoi Rocks. The pair also contributed to a Verden Allen solo single, This Way Now with About Tomorrow (UK Spinit VA2). The production work didn't seem to be progressing very far, and so Pete left music.

Dale Griffin spent much of the next decade as a producer for the BBC, working on thousands of sessions. Over the years, nearly up-and-coming band recorded live sessions for the John Peel Show and The Evening Show. Many of these have been issued on CD by Strange Fruit, Windsong, and other labels, and Dale's credits are often found on them.

In June 1989, the original Soulents - Pete Watts, Dale Griffin, Robert Fisher, Paul Jeffrey, and Patrick Brooke - got together in Acton for a few hours to relive the old days. The session went better than anticipated, so the following year the group booked Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales to finally record their debut album. On October 8, 1990, the group converged on the studio and ran through a number of old cover songs, plus one new autobiographical number written by Robert Fisher and Paul Jeffrey. The album lay unissued for several years until Angel Air decided to package it, now titled Shotgun Eyes, in with their reissue of the original 1967 Doc Thomas Group album. The disc contains the entire Doc Thomas Group album, plus fifteen tracks from the 1990 silence sessions.

Buffin has been very active in the 1990s, preparing Mott The Hoople material for reissue on CD. He has compiled, remixed, and/or penned liner notes for a fistful albums, including discs for Island, Sony, Windsong, and Angel Air. He was largely responsible for making the recent Anthology box set project such a resounding success.