It’s been 10 years since the passing of one of the most tragically underrated and unheralded singer / song writers the British Isles has ever produced. With his stand out blonde hair, aka a nosier Brian Jones, the enigmatic, stylish and soulful Reg King brought so much mystic, enchantment and curiosity to many who purchased one of his releases with extraordinary London band The Action, plus his work with Blossom Toes and his vastly unheard solo work.
Born in Paddington, West London, his first experiences of public singing were at the Hampstead Playhouse where plucky singers would go up on the stage whilst gangs of other youngsters were in attendance who would cheer you on if you were a good singer. King would dip his toe into singing versions of ‘When I Fall In Love’, ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Moon River’, with this experience under his belt this would stand him in good stead for his future centre stage destiny.
After a brief stint backing the glamorous Sandra Barry in 1964 as The Boys which featured Reg, Mike Evans, Roger Powell and Alan King, The Action with the addition of Pete Watson were signed to producer George Martin’s Air Productions whilst signing to Parlophone Records. George Martin as you might be able to suss was the legendary producer of The Beatles, so fitting The Action into his time was very much in between what Martin was doing with the fabs. Nonetheless the material that has been produced has gone down in the folklore of music as some of the most hallowed and revered recordings of the period, Reg’s vocal firmly taking centre stage.
You won’t find better covers of I’ll Keep Holding On, Since I Lost My Baby and Land Of A Thousand Dancers anywhere. Reg’s vocal is full on soul, he’d rival the likes of Sam and Dave, Otis, Marvin, you get what I’m saying, he was the best of the best, and even those great white English soul singers including the likes of Steve Marriott have been quoted as saying he was the best. Sadly The Action were seemingly stuck being a covers band with rarely a chance to break through with any original material, that was until years later demos of an album entitled Brain were released.
Why oh why the recordings that made up Brain were never professionally released is yet again another scratch your head moment to the The Action fan base. In My Dreams, Little Boy, Something To Say and Things You Cannot See find the band in unstoppable form. The demos you hear are full of imagination, popular grooves and simple hits. If it was released at the time of its making it would have rivalled the White Album, Electric Ladyland and Odyssey and Oracle. With Brain seemingly being the last bow in Kings armour he released his debut solo album via the United Artists label which featured a super group backing band including Stevie Winwood, Brian Auger and Mick Taylor. Yet again Reg’s luck was out and the album bombed leaving the luck less singer seemingly down and out.
Very much sadly after Reg’s passing Looking For A Dream released via Circle Records, featuring demo recordings that sounded like finished product were clutched from thin air so it seemed. This was the solo album everyone was waiting for and firmly cemented Reg’s legacy as a legendary singer song writer. Merry Go Round, Let Me See Some Love In Your Eyes, Picking Up Nancy’s Grin, Suddenly, the list could go on and on, this album packed more than a punched, an especially surprising pinch to all those that maybe thought Reg’s light had gone out. Not so, his legacy is firmly well and truly lit with many most portably raising a glass and lifting a needle on to one his records once more to hear his voice soar to the heavens.
Reg / Reggie King. Thank you. May you continue to rest in peace.
Some of the information for this article was taken from the Monkey Picks blog