INTERVIEW: Steve Ellis of The Love Affair

The Love Affair were the much loved 60’s mod outfit that combined English tare away looks, big orchestrated time less numbers with an conquering lead singer in the guise of Steve Ellis. Having a rasping voice in a similar vein to Chris Farlowe, Steve Marriott and Reg King was no mean feat, but Ellis carried it off with aplomb.

Now some 50 odd years since their debut release The Love Affair, plus Steve’s band Ellis, and Steve’s solo stuff are getting a brand new vinyl release entitled The Love Affair & Steve Ellis: The Best Of which wipes the cobwebs of their material for their fans and new fans to discover their hits such as Everlasting Love, Bringing On Back The Good Times and Rainbow Valley released via Demon Music Group.

Steve Ellis chats exclusively to Gigslutz:

Can you tell me your first musical memory?

In truth. I was staying with my auntie Peggy I was about 12 or thirteen and I kept singing Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly to her as I heard it on the radio. After that Ray Charles on T.V. when I was about 14 or 15

Who did you look to as a musical influence as a teenager?

Obviously Ray Charles but being a mod it was Black R&B, Motown, Stax and Sue etc, etc, and most definitely James Brown and Otis Redding to name but a few.

Were you in bands before The Love Affair?

My first band were called The Clifton Bystanders which was two Irish brothers from school on catalogue guitars and me on biscuit tins as my dad was having none of it when I asked for a drum kit on H.P. I was thirteen. The Love Affair were previously called Soul Survivors, this was 1966 we were all at different schools playing at night but a few players came and went for a couple of years before a permanent line up was achieved and the band renamed.

When did you first start singing?

About 1965/6 in The Soul Survivors we were 15/16 and played anywhere we could. Weddings and Youth clubs and we got better and played the All-nighters three or four one hour sets a night, which ended up with us supporting the Small Faces at the Royal Albert Hall. Then in the morning back to school again.

Were you always a confident singer?

No, not in the early days because I was really still finding my own voice as such instead of trying to sound like Ray Charles.

How did The Love Affair form?

There was an advert in I think it was the Melody Maker music magazine. Steve “Morgan” Fisher and myself went to the audition which our mates set us up for us as a double dare but Morgan was a good Hammond player and we both got the gig.

Who chose what to perform and record as a band?

The Live material was all soul driven so that was a no brainer really but the managers and people who came to rehearsals suggested songs we should cover. Also my mate Brian Carol worked at Trident mastering The Who and Jimi Hendrix. He was an ace face and had a great ear for music. We are still pals today.

Everlasting Love is an all time classic single. What are your memories of recording the tune?

I went into C.B.S. studios with The Keith Mansfield Orchestra which included people such as Clem Cattini, Big Jim Sullivan, all top players and with Mike Smith producing and Mike Ross engineering. I could not believe this wall of sound I was hearing, it was brilliant, a bit like Phil Spector maybe. Anyway Mike gave me a Brandy and I did it in two takes a great song a great production and great musicians what more could you ask for?

Rainbow Valley is a pop class also, in the same guise as Tin Soldier, Waterloo Sunset and Penny Lane. What are your memories of recording this tune?

In truth pretty much the same as Everlasting Love.

Were the band a popular live act?

Yes. We cut our teeth at the all-nighters and such like so we were pretty tight, plus we were pretty much on tour in total two years playing every night with Love Affair. The band did not play on the Hits but there were reasons for this.

Bringing On Back The Good Times is yet again a magnificent timeless ballad, any memories of recording this tune?

Same answer as before all done with Keith Mansfield and Mike Smith at C.B.S. studios. Jimi Hendrix used to slip in the back door at midnight and lay down tracks for his album with The Experience, we all kept quiet about that one. He was a really nice guy super talented.

Are you pleased to see the material get another release on vinyl?

Yeah sure. I cannot go to the studio because of COVID and I am shielding and so I thought it would be a good idea to put all the hits on vinyl for the first time in about 50 years with the help of Oli Campbell at SONY and DEMON Music group.

What have you been up to in lockdown?

Sorting out this release, doing a post on Facebook every single day, but playing a track/song by somebody I knew or I liked for people. Dabbling with the idea of finishing my book which I shelved back in 2000.  Also getting some songs on the go with various mates under difficult circumstances by post and Wefransfer.I got one with my drummer Andy Mapp, also COW, DREAM FOUNDRY and not forgetting my mate Paul Weller of Woking; we’ve got a great one cooking plus a few covers I have in mind.

Do you have plans to record more material?

As above, as soon as it is safe to do so.

 Finally, what’s on your turntable at present?

The Truth is this……. Ike & Tina Turner, River Deep Mountain High. The Vinyl L.P. In the C.D. Boogie Chillun`, John Lee Hooker.

The Love Affair & Steve Ellis: The Best Of can be ordered via the following link