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11.08.2008 14:26     Памяти Колина Купера

Colin Cooper: Climax Blues Band singer

Thursday, 17 July 2008

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Change font size: A | A | A Colin Cooper was the lead singer on "Couldn't Get It Right", the radio-friendly 1976 single by the Climax Blues Band and their sole hit in their native Britain. The group came up with the song after Miles Copeland, their manager, said he couldn't hear any hits amongst the tracks recorded for their ninth album, Gold Plated.

"Miles tried to persuade us to do an Elvis Presley cover," Cooper told Chris Welch for the book One Hit Wonders in 2003. "Instead, we put together 'Couldn't Get It Right', which proved to be unbelievably catchy." It reached No 10 in the UK in the autumn of 1976, but proved even more popular in the US. "In America, it rocketed up the charts and got to number three in 1977," Cooper said. "It was played on the radio around the clock." The track has proved an enduring oldie and was revived by Fun Lovin' Criminals in 1999.

Born in Stafford in 1939, Cooper began playing the harmonica in the early Fifties but soon added the clarinet, the guitar, the flute and the saxophone. He made his recording dйbut in 1965 on saxophone and vocals with the mod group the Hipster Image, whose sole Decca single – "Can't Let Her Go" / "Make Her Mine" – produced by Alan Price of the Animals, has become very collectable, especially in Japan, where the B-side became the soundtrack to a Levi's ad in 1999. The band also had a residency at the Place in Stoke-on-Trent and occasionally backed or supported visiting US artists.

Originally formed in 1968, Cooper's next group were blues purists, following in the footsteps of Alexis Korner and John Mayall, influenced by Chicago blues and calling themselves the Chicago Climax Blues Band, though they soon dropped the Chicago bit to avoid confusion with the American group of the same name. "Now people think our name is kind of rude. Climax is not what we meant," Cooper said.

In 1969, they signed to EMI's Parlophone label before moving to Harvest, the major's progressive rock imprint, the following year. Copeland eventually took over management of their most successful line-up, which comprised Peter Haycock (on gold-plated guitar), Richard Jones (keyboards) and John Cuffley (drums) alongside Cooper and the guitarist Derek Holt. I still have vivid memories of seeing the group at a three-day festival held in a Roman amphitheatre in Orange in the south of France in 1975, on a bill featuring Caravan and Wishbone Ash, also managed by Copeland.

By then, the Climax Blues Band had become an early example of what is today known as the jam-band genre, often featuring Cooper's saxophone or harmonica in unison with Haycock's guitar. They signed to Warner Brothers in the United States in 1977, but, Cooper admitted, "In the quest for follow-up hits, we kind of lost the plot."

Constant changes in the band's line-up left Cooper the only original member of the group, although the Climax Blues Band soldiered on. When I met him and the band around that time, he was philosophical about having to play student unions once again. "When you reach my age, playing the pop star would be a bit undignified," he said.

Pierre Perrone

Colin Francis Richard Cooper, singer, instrumentalist and songwriter: born Stafford 7 October 1939; married (one daughter, one son); died Stafford 3 July 2008.

Андрей Евдокимов

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