Straight Eight Biography July 2014
In 1976 Rick Cassman met Richard ‘Boot’ Kingsman through a ‘wanted lead
guitarist’ ad in the Melody Maker. Both lived near Shepherds Bush, West London. Rick rented a basement flat next door to where The Who’s Roger Daltry had been born. They formed a rock band called ‘The End’, and the four piece unit began playing local bars.
Old friend John Burns who had produced Genesis and worked with the Rolling Stones came down to a rehearsal and was impressed enough to offer the band some recording time.
With the addition of Paul Schofield on Bass and Rod Johnson on the drums the new lineup changed their name to Straight Eight, after the local car showroom at the end of Rick’s road.
John Burns was good on his promise and took the band into his Escape Studios in Kent where they cut what was to become the nucleus of the first album ‘ No Noise From Here’. He also introduced the boys to Sphere Management. A new ambitious company set up by Camilla Hellman and Robin Greatrex. They were impressed with the band’s hard driving and commercial sound and signed the band. A residency at London’s famous SpeakEasy club followed. Meanwhile original bassist Paul left the band due to the pressures of constant gigging and subsequently Steve Cherry was recruited to fill the bottom end.
Sphere also had a PR Company and working for them was journalist Peter Makowski. Peter was moonlighting for Pete Townshend’s new label, Eel Pie Records. Rick slipped a tape of the band’s demos recordings to Mr Makowski. The morning after Pete T heard the tape Rick was offered a publishing deal and the opportunity arose for the band to complete the album with producer John Burns at Island Studios and Olympic in Barnes.
The album was released to positive reviews and helped the band build their grass roots following in the UK.
1978 – 1980
Being a part of Pete Townshend’s family was unbelievable and his guidance and support was amazing. The band played everywhere they could in the UK
refining their sound.
WEA records signed them after seeing them smash it at The Marquee Club, and Pete T produced and played keyboards on the single ‘Spread It Around’. Then a bit of bad luck. Keith Moon died, and a planned Who support tour of the States was cancelled and Rod the drummer exited the group.
1980 – 1981
Determined to carry on, the band recruited new drummer Paul Turner, ex Eddie and The Hot Rods, and went back into the studio with producer Mike Howlett to record their second album ‘Shuffle n’ Cut’. This powerful slice of heavy rock/pop anthems got the band signed to Transatlantic Records in the UK and El Mocambo Records in Canada. It also helped Sphere Management get the band onto the new Queen tour all across Europe. A fantastic experience.
The band opened for Queen every night for three months playing stadiums throughout Europe from Berlin, to Rotterdamn to Wembley Arena. And as the opening act for Queen they can claim to being the first band to play at Birmingham’s NEC. The reviews and reaction was great, and momentum was growing.
After the tour they returned to the UK and played support to Robert Palmer,
Slade, and Mud whilst continuing to work the UK circuit hard. Although Shuffle ‘n’ Cut perfectly captured the band’s powerful cutting ‘live’ sound, and got great reviews in the music press…
The album unfortunately did not attract FM radio support and consequently no singles action.
UPDATE TO TODAY …Shuffle ‘n Cut is being remastered and remixed by original producer Mike Howlett and shortly the world will hear it afresh.
1981 – 1983
Three more years on the road. Although the band had picked up crossover radio they had not toured in the States or found significant chart success in the UK.
Robert Charles Dunn, who had signed the band in Canada, brokered a deal with RCA Records in New York. The A and R people there were really impressed with the airplay crossover in Canada. Never before had a band captured the heavy rock audience and the mainstream pop crowd. RCA approached producer Martin Rushent (who had a number one record with The Human League) to work on a new album specifically designed to reach out to mainstream American AOR audiences.
They went into his private studio in Berkshire , England and emerged three months later with the album ‘Straight To The Heart’. Ahead of its time, this album integrated electronic sequenced synth and drums with heavy rock guitars and vocals.
By the time it was completed however, RCA had deleted their A and R department and shelved the album. It has never been released in the USA where it was intended to break the band. A single from the album ‘Desperation’ received A List rotation on Radio One for a couple of weeks but failed to dent the charts.
Despondent and weary, the band called it a day…
IN THE YEARS BETWEEN THEN AND NOW …. Rick went on to forge a successful career as a composer for film and television, and the others continued playing in various successful bands in Europe and the UK.
FORWARD TO 2013 – Present
A reunion of the original band took place in 2013 at a party in Copenhagen, now home of bassist Steve Cherry. It was such fun the boys decided to start working on a new collection of songs and self produce a new record. Their past has made them wiser and stronger.
The new songs have a more focused direction, capturing the excitement and drive of the band but with a modern contemporary feel and strong melodic hooks and rhythms. The Darkness producer and engineer Nick Brine is mixing the album at RockField Studios next year and the band are planning live gigs and a release for Summer 2015.
The entire back catalog is being re – mastered for future worldwide digital release and an official biography with collectors photograph and archive material will be available too. Watch out for their new YouTube channel with rare ‘live’ performance clips and promo video material. The band also have new FaceBook, Twitter and BandCamp web sites with regular updates and clips from the new album.
Camilla Hellman is representing the band in USA and is working on setting up performances Stateside to promote and finally get them over the pond.
2015 promises to be an exciting year for a band that ‘never says die’.
For further information contact:
Straight Eight Music Ltd
12 Northfields Prospect
Putney Bridge Road
London, SW18 1PE
mobile +44 7966 924651
954 Lexington Avenue
Tel +1 212 729 0127