On New Year’s Day 1969, Marmalade began a month-long reign at Number One with ‘Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’. Their consequent headlining slots on Top Of The Pops marked not only the high summer of Scottish rock, but the climax of a hard-won personal victory traceable to the struggles of Glasgow’s Dean Ford and the Gaylords, who, becoming too hot for mid-1960s Clydeside to hold, began a new chapter with a change of name to Marmalade. 1967 finished with a smash sur le continent in psychedelic ‘I See The Rain’. Tenacity was further rewarded the next summer when Marmalade cracked the British Top Ten at last with ‘Lovin’ Things’. This – and ‘Wait For Me Marianne ‘ – paved the way for ‘Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’ and the protraction of a lengthy international chart run with ‘Baby Make It Soon’ and self-penned – ‘Reflections Of My Life’, another million-seller – and a major US chartbuster. Among further hits were ‘Rainbow’, ’My Little One’, ‘Cousin Norman’, ‘Back On The Road’ – and ‘Radancer’, issued in the wake of Sunday newspaper revelations about the lads’ off-duty frolics with female admirers.
Yet no harm was done as 1976’s ‘Falling Apart At The Seams’ penetrated Top Twenties across the globe, following the recruitment of Sandy Newman, a talented singing guitarist, who had emerged as leader by the turn of the decade when Marmalade, having weathered passing trends, were coping with a hectic touring schedule that, over subsequent years, has shown no signs of slowing down, very much the opposite. Though Sandy remains at the helm, he has forged a second career as a composer, record producer and interpreter of quite sophisticated material, notably ‘Voir Un Ami Pleurer’, a highlight of 1998’s Ne Me Quitte Pas CD celebration of Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel – and one of Folk Roots‘ Albums Of The Year. More recently, a critically acclaimed solo offering, Golden Years, reached the shops, shortly before John James Newman, Sandy’s younger son, entered the Marmalade equation as guitarist and backing vocalist.
No child of such a parent could have avoided performing in public becoming second nature when, on trying his luck in North America, he surfaced as a regional attraction in Massachusetts and Alaska. Nevertheless, John considered prospects more appealing back in Britain where response to both his recorded and in-concert output – both solo and fronting The Velvet Hearts – still suggests that he has the potential to be more than a mere cult celebrity As much a ‘collective’ nowadays as a group – meaning personnel can engage in a multitude of interesting extra-mural projects.
Marmalade’s current line-up is completed by multi-instrumentalist and humorist Alan Holmes, who became a long time mainstay, following a tenure with Federation – who notched up a ‘turntable hit’ with 1976’s ‘Hooked On Love’ – bass player Jan Robinson and in-demand drummer Chris North, whose career has embraced providing accompaniment for several top ten artistes. Both new fans and those there from the beginning agree that the Newman-Robinson-North-Holmes-Newman amalgam might be the finest edition of Marmalade ever to take the stage. Live concerts see Marmalade blitz across the generations by counterpoising freshly-minted showstoppers with the timeless classics. Every appearance remains a special event – and there’ll never be another like them!