For British Invasion and/or 12-String Geeks

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by GretschSwing, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. GretschSwing

    GretschSwing Country Gent

    Jan 27, 2014
    Howell, MI
    I was listening to Peter and Gordon's "A World Without Love," my favorite among the records made of Lennon-McCartney give-away tunes, and got to wondering where that one fit in the chronology of Brit tracks featuring electric 12-string. I knew, first, WWL was released in '64; second, that George Harrison was gifted with his Rickenbacker 360/12 on 2/8/64; third, that George first used his new Ric on 2/25/64 (his twenty-first birthday) for the recording of "I Should Have Known Better," so taking it from there, I did a little googling:

    According to Tony Bacon's Rickenbacker Electric 12 String, The Story of The Guitars, The Music, and The Great Players:

    In fact, Harrison's Rickenbacker wasn't the first electric 12-string on a British recording session. That honour belongs to a Burns guitar played by Hank Marvin of The Shadows. Marvin, a Fender Stratocaster player, had teamed up with British guitar-maker Jim Burns to design a new solidbody six-string electric. Burns also came up with an electric 12-string, and around October 1963 Marvin received an early sample of the Burns Double Six. He took it along to various sessions at EMI's Abbey Road studios in London where he was recording with Cliff Richard & The Shadows.

    Marvin intended to record "Don't Talk to Him" using the Burns 12, but problems arose, so instead he doubled a six-string line to achieve the prominent hookline. A few weeks later, however, he recorded another Cliff session and played the prototype Burns 12-string for "On The Beach." Unusually, the 12 was strung like a six-string bass plus octave strings, clearly heard on the song's low-down double string runs. Later in November, Marvin used the Burns 12 with regular stringing for "I'm the Lonely One." These Cliff Richard songs weren't released until 1964 -- in the UK singles chart, "I'm the Lonely One" went to Number 8 in February and "On the Beach" to 7 in July -- but they are important as early British recordings of the electric 12-string sound.

    The book goes on to say:

    The very first release of a British record with electric 12-string -- just ahead of The Beatles and well ahead of Cliff & The Shads -- was the result of another Abbey Road session. Paul McCartney gave one of his songs to Peter & Gordon, a new duo signed to EMI. They recorded their single "A World Without Love" at Abbey Road in January 1964, with sessionman Vic Flick on guitar.

    Subsequent googling revealed that WWL was recorded on 1/21/64 and released 2/28/64. In seeming contradiction to Bacon's above assertion that it was the first British release with an electric 12, I discovered that Richards & Shadows' above mentioned "I'm the Lonely One" reached Number 8 in the UK singles chart by the week ending 2/22/64. Hmmm...

    Too, I did find a quite glaring boo-boo in Bacon's book:

    Harrison, however, continued to play his Rick 12 in the studio -- listen to how he uses it throughout the sublime "Every Little Thing" [...]

    Beatle fanatics will know that George played J160E rhythm on that track, while John, in fact, played lead, by most accounts using George's 360/12.

    At any rate, WWL beat any Beatles-Harrison 360/12 entry to the studios. Too, those who might cite Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas' "Bad to Me," another Lennon-McCartney tune, as earlier electric 12 representation, having been recorded 6/26/63, might be surprised to learn that Dakotas lead guitarist Mike Maxfield never owned a 12-string, using instead a 6-string Guild Starfire played in octaves to achieve the 12 effect.

    Well, I welcome all input on the general subjects of WWL and early British 12-string usage. I love every aspect of the production on WWL, from Peter and Gordon's voices to the rhythm, especially the way the bass is used, to the organ, but the thing I think absolutely makes the record is the 12-string.

    Again from the Bacon book:

    Flick had been a member of The John Barry Seven and is best known now for his guitar lead on the James Bond theme. On the Peter & Gordon record Flick plays the powerful opening five-note guitar line on a Vox Bouzouki electric 12-string. He adds some more flurries during and after the organ solo, and closes the record with another strong series of 12-string lines.

    [...] Vox is renowned today for its amplifiers, but from the early 60s the British company also made and marketed guitars. Vox's first two electric 12-string models were the Bouzouki and the Phantom XII, probably issued late in 1963 or early '64. Flick's Bouzouki model, despite the name, had a very Fender-like solid body, three pickups, and, remarkably for a 12-string, a vibrato system.

    "The Macari's shop in London gave me the guitar as a promo. It was terrible to play," Flick recalls. "Vox had sent it to Macari's for Hank Marvin, as they had done a deal with him, but I believe he didn't want the 12-string, and the producer of Peter & Gordon, Normon Newell, had heard the sound and asked me to bring one to the session. At that time, The Shadows and Peter & Gordon both recorded at EMI."


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  2. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    Interesting stuff. Thanks
    GretschSwing likes this.
  3. shrews824

    shrews824 Country Gent

    Feb 22, 2016
    Hardinsburg, Kentucky
    Great research. Thanks for all the info.
    GretschSwing likes this.
  4. Hammerhead

    Hammerhead Gretschie

    Dec 29, 2012
    A good read. :)

    I saw Peter perform it last year with Albert Lee standing in as Gordon.
    GretschSwing likes this.
  5. emitex

    emitex Synchromatic

    Aug 21, 2014
    Thanks for that great read! I like everything British invasion, Merseybeat, etc. Love the Shadows too!
    I saw Peter & Gordon live in NYC about a year before Gordon passed. Love all those groups. WWL is clearly a favourite!

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