Bev Bevan is a world class drummer best known for his work with Electric Light Orchestra, Black Sabbath, and The Move. After hearing American Rock and Roll music in his teens, he asked his mom for a drumset. He immediately found success when he joined Denny Laine and the Diplomats. Throughout his stellar career, Bev has shared the stage with the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, as well as the top notch musicians that he's worked with. Currently, Bev is not resting on his laurels and is staying very active. You can find him on the brand new CD release "Brush with the Moon" by the country/folk rock band "Quill". He also tours regularly with "Stand up and Rock" and his own band. I recently chatted with Bev.
R.V.B. - Hello Bev? This is Rob von Bernewitz from Long Island, New York... How are you today?
B.B. - I'm good thank you, How's Long Island these days?
R.V.B. - Well today we have a beautiful day, around 80 degrees. How's things over by you?
B.B. - We're having a good summer, it's nice today as well.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new CD release with Quill. I gave it a listen. It's a very well produced... well sounding CD. Are there various members from Quill in "Stand Up and Rock" also?
B.B. - Yes. The lead singer Joy Strachan-Brian is one of the two girls in "Stand Up and Rock". Tony Kelsey who has played some guitar on the album is a guitar player in "Stand Up and Rock" as well.
R.V.B. - It's very nice that the new Quill release a tribute to Ben Brain.
B.B. - It is. He just had a heart attack about three years ago. He was in the garden weeding and he just keeled over and that was it.
R.V.B. - That's a shame. It was very nice for everyone to pull together and make this tribute CD for him.
B.B. - It was, yes.
R.V.B. - So your career has been fantastic ride, with many hit songs and the nice variety of projects that you have been in. Can you explain what it was like in Birmingham and how you got interested in playing the drums?
B.B. - I got interested in playing the drums like anyone anywhere. I was about 15 years old and off at school. Music was pretty dreadful and then rock and roll came along. I fell in love with American rock and roll music. I think the most inspirational record I'd ever heard was "What'd I say" by Ray Charles... Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, everybody really. Then like a lot of other people, we formed a band at school and played the local youth club and stuff like that. I was hooked really, from that moment. That's all I wanted to do.
B.B. - Eventually. The school band never meant anything. I went off to work for a year. I had some good exam results and got a decent job, but then Denny Laine had seen me play somewhere, and he said he was going to form a new band. We called it Denny Laine and the Diplomats. That was in 1963. We became really successful. We'd never made it nationally but we were big in the Midlands. We opened for The Rolling Stones, we opened for The Beatles, which was just thrilling things to do. Then Denny kind of fell in love with blues music and he went off and formed The Moody Blues.
R.V.B. - You must have made it up the ladder pretty quickly to start at 15 and still as a young guy, get pretty high up in the music scene. How long did it take you to learn your instrument?
B.B. - My dad died when I was ten. I had this hair-brained idea to form a band. I don't know why I wanted to be a drummer but I wanted to play rock and roll music. I asked my mum if she could buy me drums, which was a lot of money. We weren't a wealthy family and she immediately said "Yes". I didn't have any lessons or that sort of thing. My dad was a drummer. His name was Charles Thomas Bevan. They nicknamed him Bev, and he had the Bev Bevan Trio during the war years and he played jazz. That's why I was named Bev. That's why I guess it all fell automatically into place... really.
R.V.B. - When people found out your name was Bev, did they reference your father on occasions?
B.B. - No, because no one knew my dad. I had more trouble at school because of the name Bev. You couldn't be called "Bev". I was called Beverly which is a girl's name basically. It was like a boy named Sue.
R.V.B. - I could imagine that being a bit of a problem. I see apart from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones... once you formed The Move... which also was a very successful band... you played with Jimi Hendrix?
B.B. - That was a magical time. It was 1966/67 and we had a residency at the Marquee Club in London, which was just the best club. All the other bands used to come and see us. Eric Clapton would be there... The Who would turn up... Small Faces would be there... The Stones, even The Beatles on occasion would come. We were just part of that whole London scene... the Carnaby Street scene. We had record companies queuing up to sign us. The original lineup of the Move was a really hot band. Yeah, there were fabulous times.
R.V.B. - Were you a little disappointed that The Move didn't really breakthrough in America, even though you were really popular in the UK?
B.B. - Yeah It was bad management. We were so successful in England. We had hit after hit after hit... quite a bit in Europe too. If we'd have gone to America the time where The Who did, Cream did... I'm sure we'd have done really well. By the time we got there in 1969, we just did The Whiskey in LA, The Fillmore West, we did Detroit, but that was it. The band was way past it's best by then anyway. We missed the boat basically.
R.V.B. - When you did come to America for the first time, was it very thrilling and exciting just to make the trip over?
B.B. - Oh totally. We were just like tourists. We landed in New York and saw all of the skyscrapers. We went to Manny's and we hired a car and a trailer. I bought a kit of Slingerland drums and put those in the trailer. Then we bought some amps, and then we drove to Detroit to the Grande Ballroom and played with Iggy & the Stooges. Then we drove Route 66, which was so magical to do that. Going to party's with cowboys. Then we did five nights at The Whiskey. Joni Mitchell came to see us... The Doors, and The Carpenters. Hahaha. Then we went to San Francisco and we did four or five nights with Little Richard and Joe Cocker. There was a lot crammed into three weeks. It was just amazing.
R.V.B. - So when the move eventually slowed down and ELO was starting... Were you trying to maintain both bands at the same time for a while?
B.B. - The Move, really because we were so successful and we had hit's. In 1972 we had a big hit called "California Man". The Move really financed all of the recording costs for this totally unknown band called "Electric Light Orchestra". So yeah, we did balance the two. Then we had a hit record with ELO called "10538 Overture" in England. Roy Wood had left the band and we reformed it. We decided to do the very opposite of what The Move had done. We would concentrate on America and try to get success in the USA. That's when we started touring America in 1972, I think?
R.V.B. - Was there any difference in studio work between the two bands? Did everyone contribute in The Move? and was it the same in ELO.
B.B. - The recording process was much the same. You used to layer everything. I think it's different these days but you would always concentrate on getting a good drum track down first. Then the bass... then some keyboards and guitars. That was much the same. Roy Wood wrote most of the songs for The Move. In ELO, the songs were written by Jeff Lynne. We used to work with two great songwriters like that.
B.B. - Yeah, we'd have rehearsals. Roy and Jeff would play us the songs and we'd listen. Then we'd throw in a few ideas and go into the studio and record it yeah.
R.V.B. - So ELO had major, major American success and I'm sure in Europe also... How did you keep up with the rigorous touring schedule and did you enjoy life on the road?
B.B. - I did, and I prefer live work to recording. I find recording can get a bit boring because you're just sitting around for hours on end doing nothing. Saying that, surely I loved being on stage and I love being on stage to this day. It's all the traveling that is the problem. We have the same problem with "Stand up and Rock". It's only Britain but were all over Britain, and our road system is a mess. It takes us hours and hours to get to places. It's still the same old story really, the playing is great... the traveling is not so great.
R.V.B. - Is there any particular shows in your career that really stood out and were the best experiences for you?
B.B. - Yeah, loads really. With even going back to Denny Laine, opening for The Beatles. That was a fantastic thrill.
R.V.B. - Where did you open for The Beatles?
B.B. - It was near my home town in Birmingham. In a place called "Old Hill". Then with The Move, the Hendrix tour was the highlight. 15 nights... 2 shows a night with Jimi Hendrix. We closed the first half and he closed the second half. Pink Floyd also opened the first half and did 2 songs. That would rate with (hmmm), with ELO... the spaceship tour probably. The "Out of the Blue" tour. Playing places like Anaheim Stadium. We did 7 nights at Wembley in England, which was amazing.
R.V.B. - There was a lot of production on that tour Right? Did that take a long time to set up?
B.B. - It was complicated to begin with but eventually it worked. I think with the spaceship, we could do only every other night because the actual spaceship took so long to put together. We did one night with the crew and the spaceship, and then the next night we'd do another show with a different crew without the spaceship, while the other crew was building the spaceship in another town. So that got pretty complicated. I don't know how familiar you are with topping the bill at Reading Festival in 1983 when I was with Black Sabbath. That's another fantastic time, yeah.
R.V.B. - That's getting to my favorite kind of stuff. I thought that the "Born Again" album was under rated. It might not have been mixed to everyone's liking and the subsequent tour went on for approximately for a year right?
B.B. - We did two American tours and a European tour. I was with Tony Iommi just the other night having dinner. Apparently there's a promoter who is a massive fan of the Born Again tour lineup and he wants to put it back on again... with Tony, myself, Geezer, and Ian Gillan. That would be fun if that ever happens.
R.V.B. - That sure would. I personally loved it. I think there was a radio show that you guys did in Worchester, Massachusetts that fired on all cylinders and sounded great. Was it a tough transition learning Black Sabbath songs as opposed to playing the classic ELO material?
B.B. - Yeah, Black Sabbath stuff was not easy. Some of the timing was difficult. Black Sabbath is just feel. I remember the actual song Black Sabbath... as a drummer you try and count things, and you can't get a count on it. So I had a word with Cozy Powell, who was a friend of mine, and he played me Black Sabbath. I said "What is that count on the song Black Sabbath?" (Haha) He said "Just watch Tony, there is no count." He's absolutely right, it's just got a feel.
R.V.B. - Apart from that, you had to play a variety of Black Sabbath songs. You had to scan the early stuff and the new Born Again stuff. You recorded on an album with them also.
B.B. - Yeah. My favorite Black Sabbath stuff actually was the stuff they did with Ronnie James Dio. I loved all those tracks. I did drums and percussion on a few tracks on an album.
R.V.B. - That was Eternal Idol. I sure hope Born Again touring lineup does get back together. I'm actually going to see Ian Gillan in two weeks. B.B. - If you get to speak to him, say hello from me. We try to keep in touch still.
R.V.B. - I will. So you do some work as a DJ?
B.B. - Yeah, I work for the local BBC. I do specials for them around once a month. I write CD reviews for my local paper 'The Sunday Mercury" and a magazine out here called 24/7. I'm working with Quill and I'm working with Stand up and Rock. I'm working with my own band and we're working in Birmingham. So I'm still doing loads of things and it's all related to music. It all goes back to when I started in music when I was 15. I'm still in love with it, so it's been great.
R.V.B. - That's great that you're doing what you love. Obviously you're very successful at it, because you've been on many successful projects. Keep up the good work. I meant to ask you, is it true that The Move signed a record deal on the back of a naked lady?
B.V. - Haha, well there is a photograph of that happening. We had a manager who was so into publicity. He had us carrying a replica of an H-bomb around the streets of Manchester until we got arrested. He used to do crazy things and that was one of them. It was hardly the actual contract but yeah, it happened.
B.B. - David Bowie asked me to play on some stuff way back. If I really tried I could have done it. I said "Oh no, I haven't got the time." I couldn't be bothered. I kind of wished that I had now. That's one little regret, but generally things have been very good for me, so I'm very happy with the way things have gone.
R.V.B. - With the new Quill stuff... I know it's a little departure from your normal plan. Do you plan on supporting that album at all?
B.B. - We're doing gigs. Not that many... about one or two a month and only in England. I've been writing songs and we're hoping to put out a new album next year. Myself and Joy are writing the lyrics. Tony Kelsey and the bass player Matt are providing the music. We've got quite a few songs together already. I would be nice for me to go back in the studio and record a new album again.
R.V.B. - We're all looking forward to that. Thank you for taking this time with and we look forward for more great music in the future.
B.B. - Your very welcome. Thanks a lot.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form without permission from this site.
For more information on Bev Beven visit https://www.facebook.com/bevbevannews
For information or to advertise on this site contact musicguy247(at)aol(dot)com
Musicguy247 has thousands of music items on Amazon... records, tapes, videos, books, CD's and more. Click here to view items. Musical Items for sale