Boxer Virgin 1976 Press Kit





Boxer, whom discerning journalists and enlightened sections of the public have already designated as conquerors of 1976, are a new group with the assets of an old tradition in the form of:

MIKE PATTO Vocals, keyboards
OLLIE HALSALL Guitar, keyboards

The tears and triumphs of such stalwarts could take the rest of the year to divulge in detail, so, not wishing to clutter up the present with too many notes from the past, let’s close in on


* Played five-string guitar in various East Anglian skiffle groups, one of which, The Skyliners, managed to win a youth club competition.
* Got de blooze and joined The 12 Bar Blues Boys to get them off his chest.
* Own group, Mike Patto And The Fretmen, became top combo in their area and came to the attention of Larry Parnes and his stable of singers with emotive surnames (Fury, Wilde, Pride etc).
* Decided he might be a better singer than he had thought and formed The Breakaways which developed into The Bluebottles. "Great", said their manager, "Sounds just like The Beatles".
* Moved to London, made demo disc and sat behind a glass screen outside Robert Stigwood’s office while his future was being discussed inside. Was asked to compere a Chuck Berry/Moody Blues/Graham Bond Organisation/Steampacket tour and sing three songs. Became friend of the stars.
* Joined friend Tim Hinkley’s group The Bow Street Runners as vocalist. Following changes of personnel, became The Chicago Line Blues Band.
* While wandering lonely as a cloud, decided he wanted to stretch his tonsils, so sang with the London Youth Jazz Orchestra, then joined Timebox, who subsequently joined forces with LYJO for one performance at the Marquee - group in kimonos, orchestra in tuxedos. Beginning of association with Ollie Halsall.
* London swung like a pendulum do as group’s version of "Beggin’" became a minor hit. Pressure from record company to play safe, so rapid overhaul of name - to Patto - and change of emphasis.
* Patto remained together for just under four years, releasing three albums – "Patto", "Hold Your Fire" (both Vertigo) and "Roll Em, Smoke Em, Put Another Line Out" (Island) – plus another, provisionally titled "Monkey’s Bum", which never appeared. Patto himself also acted as Centipede vocalist. Broke up after conclusion of world tour with Joe Cocker. Temporary end of association with Ollie Halsall.
* Formed Dick And The Firemen, large aggregation of strong players and heavy drinkers. Also thought up the name Hatfield And The North and was civil enough to pass it on to our boys.
* While doing some solo recording, received offer from Gary Wright to join further installment of Spooky Tooth. Lure of big-house-with-swimming-pool in Connecticut proved irresistible. Stayed for eight months, including recording of "The Mirror". Beginning and temporary end of association with Keith Ellis, group bassist.
* Became employee of Good Ear Records, was given an office and some euphemistic title.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . Continued under BOXER

Then there’s


* Already Southport’s whizz-kid vibraphone player at age of 14.
* Joined group called Take Five, named after the Dave Brubeck cocktail favourite.
* Moved to London in mid-teens and lived in virtual prototype of appalling-Bayswater-hotel-with-gruesome-landlady.
* Worked hard at developing vibraphone technique but season at Butlin’s in Filey resulted in rusted notes, so always out of tune. Took up guitar instead.

Formed Timebox in 1966.
(See under PATTO for Timebox and Patto sagas).

* Spent brief periods with Tempest, Grimms and Kevin Ayers - for whom he acted as ‘musical director’ and co-produced the album "Sweet Deceiver" - before deciding to form BOXER with fellow Ayers band member Tony Newman.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . Continued under BOXER

Not to mention


* Drummer of Sounds Incorporated in early sixties - the aristocrats among backing groups as well as performing and recording as themselves.
* Left to do session work - Petula Clark’s "Downtown" one of his first contributions in this field.
* After several years of skin-thrashing in studios, joined the Jeff Beck group (featuring Rod Stewart edition), but returned to sessions when combo fell apart.

Work on David Bowie’s "Diamond Dogs" LP led to thirteen-week American tour with him.

* Enlisted by Halsall to join Kevin Ayers group - co-founded BOXER shortly afterwards.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . Continued under BOXER

And let’s not forget


* Living in environs of Liverpool towards the end of Beat Boom, Ellis wanted to be a guitarist, but too many guitarists in area and not enough bassists so change of intention necessary.
* Joined The Koobas who toured a great deal (Beatles, Walker Brothers, Small Faces), made records and then watched their popularity recede until Switzerland was the only country in which a living could be made. Inevitable dissolution: 1967.
* Spent a year with Van Der Graaf Generator and appeared on their first LP. Then two years with Juicy Lucy before boredom set in.
* After six months of unemployment, met Bobby Whitlock and joined his band. American tour and recording followed, but Ellis stranded in Toronto without a visa when group split up.
* Joined Spooky Tooth. Didn’t enjoy it, didn’t stay long. However, met Mike Patto.
*       Based in Los Angeles, he was playing in both studio and club bands when the dreaded Patto rang with a tempting offer.

And the offer was to join


It was just an ordinary day in the life of Mike Patto, record biz executive of indeterminate capacity: drinking tea, watering his plants, chasing secretaries around filing cabinets, playing the piano and answering the occasional phone call with the deft wit acquired during years of keeping excitable people at a proper distance.

In those days he had been a pop star, of course - an activity so conducive to excess in all its horrific manifestations that somehow he felt secure and dignified in the deep-pile carpeted warmth of his sumptuous repository.

Then the door opened. He hadn’t seen Ollie Halsall since the dissolution of that much-acclaimed beat combo Patto some two years before, and he harboured no particular intention of ever seeing him again. But there stood Halsall, looking reckless and dishevelled. Beside him was Tony Newman. Patto had heard about him, and lit a cigarette with urbane precision to camouflage his unease.

"What are you up to, boys?" inquired Patto, with cautious familiarity as Newman began to scuff up the Persian rug menacingly.

"We’re forming a group", replied Halsall, "We want somewhere to rehearse and a recording contract".

Patto had heard it all before. Occasionally, when he had an hour to spare and felt philanthropic, he would allow a snivelling and complaining youth to come into his office before sending him away snivelling and complaining into the chilly London streets.

"I can’t help", he smiled patiently, "I’m just someone in an office. I don’t run the music business".

"Christ", exploded Newman, "You’ve got four fucking telephones on your fucking desk, ring some fucker up and get us a deal".

Patto couldn’t quite manage that but he did book a rehearsal room, and join the group on vocals, and ring Keith Ellis in Los Angeles to suggest he come over and play bass.

Then he destroyed his office.


BOXER’s new album is called "Below The Belt". Their single is called "All The Time In The World". They are both wonderful.

Virgin Records 2- 4 Vernon Yard 119 Portobello Road London W. 11. 01 727 8070



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