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Erlestoke teacher regroups with 1960s rock band
A teacher in the education department at Erlestoke Prison has been reunited with the rock band MacArthur Park, with which he had several hits in the 1960s.
David Rees, 64, from Sandridge, between Melksham and Bromham, hopes the re-formed band will have more luck than the original.
The band had one notable hit in 1969, It Could Be Tonight, which was Tony Blackburn’s record of the week on BBC Radio 1, before poor management destroyed any hopes of a follow-up.
But now, more than 40 years since the band broke up, the original line-up is back with Mr Rees fronting and Roy Taylor on drums, Martin Rickets on vocals and guitar and Dave Fisher on bass and vocals.
They have recorded a new Christmas song, Now A Child is Born in Bethlehem, which is available for download from sites including Amazon and CD Baby, and more recordings are in the offing.
Mr Rees was just 17 when he left home to make his fortune in London as a songwriter and performer. After knocking on the doors of most of the big record producers in the city, he signed an agreement with a major music publisher.
He worked as a DJ and singer in the nightclubs of Hamburg’s red light district and, on returning to England, he met up with the band members, all of whom he had met in Hamburg.
Mr Rees suggested the name MacArthur Park for the band, after the hit single by actor Richard Harris.
Mr Rees said: “After successfully completing an audition for Radio 1 in 1968/9, MacArthur Park released a couple of records on the now defunct Philips label. Singles by the band, now quite rare, were also released in France, Germany and many other countries.
“One single, It Could be Tonight, was featured as record of the week on Tony Blackburn’s very popular Radio 1 show and power played on Radio Luxemburg.
“For three years the band toured extensively throughout the UK, sometimes alone, but more often sharing the bill with other top 1960s pop bands –that list is extensive.
“Like so many other bands at the time, MacArthur Park suffered through bad management. In 1971, I left the band and they broke up with me going solo for a while before agency and management work. I continued with the songwriting.”
Mr Rees eventually took a teaching degree and wound up on the staff at Erlestoke Prison, from where he will shortly be retiring.
Meeting the band members again was an emotional experience. He said: “Getting back together again after all that time brought back so many memories, some good, some not so good. It is like we never split up, except we all look an awful lot older.”
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