English born, Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer Malcolm Tomlinson (b. June 16, 1946, Isleworth, Middlesex, England) first played drums in the early ‘60s group The Panthers in West London. Around 1963, he joined R&B outfit Jeff Curtis & The Flames – the house band at the Ealing Jazz club where the nascent Rolling Stones also played. The group recorded some demos with Joe Meek, but these tracks were never completed.
During 1964-1966, Tomlinson played in England and Germany with The Del Mar Trio and James Deane & The London Cats with singer Jimmy Marsh. The band recorded some tracks at Abbey Road with Bob Barrett in early 1965 that were never released.
Returning to the UK in spring 1966, Tomlinson re-joined Marsh in The Noblemen, a soul covers band, which also featured future Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre. Throughout late 1966, they backed visiting soul acts like Lee Dorsey, Edwin Starr, The Coasters, Alvin Robinson and The Vibrations.
By November 1966, the band had become The Motivation and spent six weeks in spring 1967 at the Piper Club in Rome. Soon after Marsh left and singer Denny Alexander from Liverpool band, The Clayton Squares took over.
In September 1967, following further personnel changes, the group changed name to The Penny Peep Show and issued two singles on Liberty Records in 1968 as The Penny Peeps. The band also recorded further tracks that were not released until years later.
The following year, The Penny Peeps changed name again to Gethsemane. Losing singer Denny Alexander, Tomlinson started to sing lead vocals and also developed his flute and guitar skills. On stage, he participated in flute duets with Barre.
Specialising in blues, the band toured the UK club circuit and opened for Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull among others. They also recorded a couple of tracks that were never released.
In October 1968 Tomlinson played on an Elton John radio session for the BBC. However, when Barre joined Jethro Tull two months later, Tomlinson split from Gethsemane and was invited to Toronto by former Influence guitarist Louis McKelvey, who had played with Tomlinson in Jeff Curtis & The Flames and returned from Canada in July 1968.
Tomlinson emigrated to Canada in January 1969 and together with McKelvey formed Milkwood, who recorded an album for Polydor during the summer with noted producer Jerry Ragavoy that was subsequently shelved. However, the album may well be released in the coming months by a leading Canadian collectors’ label.
When the band dissolved, McKelvey and Tomlinson formed the short-lived Damage in late 1969. When this band broke up during late 1970, Tomlinson landed a brief slot in Rhinoceros for six months.
In the early ‘70s, Tomlinson played with Rambunkshish, Zig Zag and Syrinx and then worked with Bill King and Jackson Hawke before joining Rick James's first Stone City Band. The band recorded an album that was never released in early 1973.
Tomlinson then joined a Bearfoot for a single. Tomlinson launched a solo career in the late '70s and recorded a string of solo albums. He continues to perform on the Toronto scene from time to time.
45 Knockin' My Head/? (A&M 448) 1977
45 Celebrate It/? (A&M 458) 1978
45 Fiddler's Green/? (A&M 1997) 1978
LP Coming Outta Nowhere (Casablanca?) 1977
LP Coming Outta Nowhere (A&M SP-4649) 1977 (US version)
LP Rock 'N' Roll Hermit (Casablanca NBLP 7199) 4/79
LP Rock ‘N’ Roll Hermit (A&M SP 4765) 4/79 (US version)
Nick Warburton is a UK freelance writer, who has written for Shindig, Record Collector, the Garage Hangover website and Richard Morton Jack’s new book, Endless Trip. Visit: http://www.nickwarburton.com/wordpress/
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2011. All Rights Reserved
Malcolm Tomlinson: guitar, lead vocals, percussion, backing vocals
Danny Marks: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Scott Cushine: keyboards
Colina Phillips, Sharon Lee Williams, Steve Kennedy: backing vocals
Rick Birkett: bass, backing vocals
Frank (Yum Yum) LoRusso: drums
Sonny Seals: saxophone (Alto)
Ron Kolber: saxophone (Baritone)
Michael Brecker: saxophone tTenor
Bill Dinwiddle: trombone
Ralph Craig: trombone (Bass)
Randy Brecker: trumpet
Produced by: Cub Richardson and Jack Richardson