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Friars Interviews

dave greenslade
greenslade  colosseum
Friars appearances:   02/02/74  27/07/74  26/10/74  13/09/75  12/02/77 also 22/10/69 with Coliseum at Friars Dunstable

Dave Greenslade is one of the Friars greats headlining Friars Aylesbury no less than five times and also in Friars first year, played the first ever gig at Friars Dunstable with Colosseum,. Dave chatted to us over a beer or two in his Suffolk base in February 2010. As you will discover, Colosseum are still going strong and Dave tells us about his work in TV between Greenslade and Colosseum reforming. We were delighted also to inform him of his Friars Heroes Award. 

 Dave belting it out at Friars photo copyright Geoff Tyrell

Hello Dave, thanks for talking to the Friars Aylesbury website. We’re delighted you’ve accepted a well deserved Friars Heroes Award. I know your musical history goes back before Friars, but you first played Friars in 1969. You played the inaugural gig at Friars Dunstable with Colosseum. What do you remember from that period? 

I do remember certain gigs at various Friars venues. One of these was (I think) the first night in the new building (Civic)… I had arranged to meet up with a friend beforehand, who couldn’t make the gig, and have a beer. Afterwards I went back to change but I couldn’t get back in to Friars. The guy on the door said the place was full! I tried to point out who I was and that I was playing. He didn’t believe me, thinking I was another long haired guy trying to get into a gig. He wouldn’t let me in, and this was half an hour before we were due to go on! There was a poster up near the box office and I asked him politely if he would mind having a look at it. He turned around and looked at the poster and then looked at me and then the poster … (laughs) 

Followed by the sound of a penny dropping! 

It was quite strange that, being locked out of your own gig! 

I know that happened to Stewart Copeland at Friars as well unbelievably… Colosseum is still a going concern isn’t it?

Yes, very much so! Although we did have a 20 year break. After Greenslade split around 1975, I was asked to do some television work, creating music for drama, for both the BBC and ITV. And that became my very enjoyable work for the next twenty years (1975-1995)! I ended up doing about 28 different series and programmes. What happened next – on my fiftieth birthday my wife, Jan, who was also in the music business invited, unknown to me, all my music chums for a surprise party at which we decided to get Colosseum back together, which we did in 1994. We then went off to Europe to do some dates and we played the Freiburg Jazz Festival after a 23 year gap. The audience was even more into it than they had been before. We played about fifty gigs on the reunion tour.

When you were touring as Greenslade, you headlined Friars an incredible five times. 

I remember one night (at Friars)… I had been to Chicago with a manager for a meeting with Mercury Records. I flew back on the Friday night on a very crowded jumbo and arrived back on the Saturday morning exhausted after a ten hour flight. I arrived at Heathrow and was taken home to bed. Four hours later I was woken to be put in a car to be taken to Friars. The rest of the band were fresh as daisies. I was completely jet-lagged but apparently the gig was fantastic! I don’t remember anything about it because I was so tired. I was told afterwards it was one of the best gigs Greenslade ever played. I just went back to sleep for about a day! 

You played three times in 1974 and then in 1975 and in 1977 with a new band. You’d disbanded Greenslade around 1975?

Yes, and then in 1976 I recorded a solo album with Warner Brothers – ‘Cactus Choir’. I put a band together to tour the new album and played some UK venues including London Victoria Palace and Friars. That was with Jon Hiseman and Mick Rogers and Tony Reeves. It was only a limited thing as more and more television work came in. I started on a film called ‘Gangsters’ which became a cult hit on BBC1 and also spawned two series. Then all kinds of work came in. Television is a great shop window. 

A change of career to a certain degree as you were concentrating on the scoring and not so much on the gigging and records…? 

I was still playing though. I was music director for my TV activities and I often put a band together and worked with people like Tony Reeves and Jon Hiseman, people I could trust to do the job. That was great and I carried on with that for twenty years until my 50th birthday when it all turned round again! (laughs) 

Since ’97 Colosseum has toured every other year and there’s been three new albums. There has been a lot of interest in Greenslade as well and I have toured as Greenslade with Tony Reeves, John Young and John Trotter and we did the Baja festival in Mexico in 2001 and recorded a live album at the Classic Rock Society gig: ‘LIVE 2001 FULL EDITION’. 

So you were playing gigs with both bands, best of both worlds! 

Yes, but Greenslade is dormant for now as I am busy writing for Colsseum.

We’re playing some festivals in the summer and a three week tour of Europe in the autumn. 

Are there going to be any UK dates? 

I don’t think so. Somebody has mentioned it, but there are very few suitable venues and we have an established circuit in Europe. The venues are great and the gigs are attended by all age groups. There are young kids as well as the grey-haired! 

Dave, thanks for your time and congratulations on your Friars Heroes Award. 

Thank you. I remember my times at Friars with happy memories and on behalf of Colosseum and Greenslade thank you for remembering our performances.

This interview and its content are © 2010 Mike O'Connor/ and may not be used in whole or in part without permission.


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