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Bass Guitarist
Born in Bombay, India on 15th February 1951

Norman Watt-Roy one of the most accomplished bass players in the UK, who helped make up the Blockheads with Ian Dury. Norman has also contributed his talents to recording artists as diverse as the Clash and Frankie goes to Holly-wood. Gilad Atzmon recalls Norman would listen to Charlie Parker and Jaco Pastorius all day. He used to say,
"We're a jazz band with an audience"

Norman Watt-Roy  2002


Last week, (April 16th 1967), Let's Live For Today appeared as John Peel's climber by the Living Daylights. This week the single enters the Fab 40 [presented by Ed Stewart] at 36

Newcastle's Living Daylights were Curt Cresswell, gtr, Roy Heather, drms, Garth Watt-Roy, gtr, vcls and his brother Norman Watt-Roy, bs, vcls. They released two singles in 1967, both produced by Caleb Quaye.

In 1968 the Watt-Roy brothers formed a nine-piece soul band called The Greatest Show On Earth and toured US bases in Germany, backing American soul singers.

Norman Watt-Roy.  1981  Australia.

INTERVIEW [special interest to bass players]

Norman himself has been cited by many as one of the great exponents of bass guitar, his easy, bubbling style brings together elements of funk, soul and rock and his most famous line, 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick', is one of the great bass challenges that we all want to conquer. How does he create a line like that?
"It's just how I've always done it," He said, simply. "I study now and can read but I never learned that way, I always played by ear. So it was just listening to what the others were playing and finding something to fit. I always joke about 'Rhythm Stick' and say 'I thought I was getting paid by the note!' I was just doing what everyone else had laid down, I was lucky enough to have a schooling of doing a lot of great stuff, a lot of Tamla Motown and Stax stuff, with some great bass players. It just kind of moulded me that way, it's very hard, you never really get to where you're trying to get. Even now I'm still trying to play things that I can't play. I listen to a lot of jazz and stuff now."

Ask Norman who are his favourite bass players and you'll get a list as long as your arm. "Jamerson, Chuck Rainey all those guys and from the modern era, Larry Graham and Jaco Pastorius, the best for electric bass," he says, just for starters. "He did for the electric bass what Mingus and Scott Lafarue did for the acoustic bass. But there are so many, you know, if people ask me for my favourite bass players I've got lists that go on for ever and they're all my favourites. I'd say Jaco is the one that stands out. He was, as he said himself, the world's greatest bass player. I mean he went up to Ronnie Carter and introduced himself that way!"

As far as Basses are concerned Norman is one of the old school. "Yeah, I've always had a Fender Jazz. My very first bass was a cheap Rosetti or something and when that fell apart I got my dad to sign a form for H.P. for me when I was doing my paper round and I started with A Fender Jazz. There's something about them, I just fell in love with them. It's what I call a working man's bass. I had an Alembic for a while, lovely instrument but so delicate. And 'active' and 'passive', I couldn't deal with all that, I didn't see the point of it you know? The Fender is so down to earth, you've just got your volume and your tone and that's it."

Asked what models he currently plays.
"I've got a '62 Jazz that I use most of the time, the gold one and I've got a '70 maple neck Precision that I adapted, that's the one I played on all the hits, I put a jazz pick up on it as well so I can get the jazz tones out of it. It has a maple neck which is not like the ordinary Precision, it's slightly thinner, but a little bit wider than a Jazz."

If pressed, Norman will admit to owning a five-string Jazz too. "I play it a lot at home and I use it if it's required on any recordings if I want to get a bottom 'B' or something. But I listen to Jaco and I think 'if I can't do half those things on four what's the point in getting more strings!' But I love Anthony Jackson and all those guys, John Pattitucci. If it's required I can do it but I'd rather stick with the old four string."

Similarly in the amp field Norman's stuck to his guns over the years. "I've always used Trace Elliot. My cabs were made in 1978 by a flight case company and fitted with JBC K140 speakers and in all that time I've only had them re-coned once. I was in the Bass Centre recently and I was tempted by some Gallien-Krueger and also by Ashdown, but for now I'll stick with the Trace."

Norman Watt-Roy  [early days] Watt-Roy [early days]


Born in Bombay, India on 15th February 1951
When Norman was a four year old his family moved to England and settled in Highbury, North London and at eight years of age relocated to Essex where he remained until he left school and moved back to London.

In 1967 he formed 'The Living Daylights' with his brother Garth and released a single on the Philips label called 'Lets Live For Today' and did regular gigs in venues such as The Angel Blues Rooms in Edmonton, London. In 1968 Norman and Garth formed a nine piece soul band and toured U.S. bases in Germany backing American soul singers such as Sonny Burke and played a summer residency at the Maddocks Club in Spain. By this time the band were known as 'The Greatest Show On Earth' and by 1969 had procured a recording deal with Harvest Records leading to the release in February 1970 of a single 'Real Cool World' which was a hit in Europe and reached No.1 in Switzerland. A debut album was to follow entitled 'Horizons' and by 1971 they had put out another single 'Tell The Story' and a second album 'The Goings Easy'

72 / 73 Norman joined Glencoe and met guitarist John Turnbull. This funky quartet released two albums 'Glencoe' and 'The Spirit of Glencoe' along with three singles and four recorded John Peel radio sessions before breaking up, and in 1974 got together with keyboardist Mick Gallagher to form the nucleus of a band which ,with the addition of drummer Charlie Charles, was to be called 'Loving Awareness' (managed by Radio Caroline guru Ronan O' Reilly) .It was while doing a session with Charlie for a friend in 1976 that they met Chaz Jankel and Ian Dury and went on to play on the album 'New Boots and Panties'.

The 'Loving Awareness' quartet were later to join up with Chaz and Ian for the first Stiff Tour of U.K. and became known as 'Ian Dury and The Blockheads' releasing two more albums on Stiff and a bevy of singles, achieving No1 status in the U.K. in 1979 with 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' (featuring a dazzling bass line by Norman which can be heard jammed in music shops around the world by aspiring bassists everywhere).It was when Chaz Jankel was replaced for a time in 1980 by Wilko Johnson that a rapport between Norman and Wilko resulted in Norman becoming a regular member of Wilkos' own band by 1985.

During the 1970's and 1980's Norman did session work, appearing on albums such as Nick Lowe's 'Jesus of Cool' , Rachel Sweet's 'Fool Around' and Jona Lewie's 'No.1 single 'You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties'. He also made an appearance on Selectors 1981 album 'Celebrate the Bullet' and played on The Clash 'Sandanista' album along with fellow Blockhead Mick Gallagher on keyboards. Norman also put his bass on their 'Cut The Crap' recordings.

In 1983 he provided the original bass line for the 'Frankie Goes To Hollywood' single 'Relax' and in 1984 teammed up with Mickey again for Eric Goulden(Wreckless Eric)s' 'Captains Of Industry' album.
Recently Norman has completed sessions with members of 'Madness' who he sporadically joins for live work and the ex producer of Depeche Mode who has recorded him jamming with drummer Steve Monti with plans to sample the results.
Today [2006] watch out for Wilko Johnson in your area (as I do) and you will have the chance to see this great bassist performing his awesome talant.

Norman Watt-Roy

(Selected) Discography

'Lets Live For Today' 7" single Philips BF1561
Also an EP - French only release Fontana 460234

'Horizons' LP (1970) Harvest SHVL 769
'Real Cool World' 7"Single (1970)
B/Side 'Again And Again' HAR 5012
'The Goings Easy' LP (1970) Harvest SHVL 783
'Tell The Story' 7" Single (1970)
B/Side 'Mountain Song' HAR 5026
There was also a double album release in 1975 and a later single release -
'Magic Woman Touch' HAR 5129.The albums are also available on CD both separately on Repertoire Records in '94 and as a 'two on one' 'See For Miles' in '97.

'Glencoe' LP (1972) Epic 65207
'Spirit Of Glencoe' LP (1973) Epic 65717
3 x 7" Singles on Epic 'Airport'/'Telephonia','Friends Of Mine'/'Divine Mother',
'Look Me In The Eye'/'It's'.

'Loving Awareness' LP (1976) More Love ML001
Gatefold sleeve either black or white with two posters.
'New Boots And Panties' (1977) Stiff Seez 4
'Do It Yourself' (1979) Stiff Seez 14
'Laughter' (1980) Stiff Seez 30
All three LPs now released on CD some with bonus tracks
'Warts and Audience' (1991) also LP + 7"Demon FIEND CD 777
MR. LOVEPANTS (Album) 1998 CNR.Music.530 O 267 Also released in U.K. on Ronnie Harris Records .Dur1

'Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll' (1977) B/Side 'Razzle In MyPocket' Stiff BUY 17
'Sweet Gene Vincent' (1977) B/Side 'You're More Than Fair' Stiff BUY 23

'What A Waste' (1978) also 12" B/Side 'Wake Up' Stiff BUY 27

'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' (1978) also 12"
B/Side 'There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards' Stiff BUY 38

'Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3' (1979) also 12" B/Side 'Common As Muck' Stiff BUY 50

'I Want To Be Straight' (1980) B/Side 'That's Not All' Stiff BUY 90

'Supermans Big Sister' (1980) also 12" B/Side ' You'll See Glimpses' Stiff BUY 100

'What A Waste' (1981) B/Side 'Wake Up And Make Love' Stiff BUY 135

'Stiff Live Stiffs'
2 Tracks (Ian Dury & The Blockheads),
1 Track (All) (1977) Stiff GET 1 Also available on CD

'Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea' 1 Track (1981) Atlantic

LP/CD 'Watch Out' (1985) Waterfront WF024
'Call It What You Want' Line INLP 4.00435 also on CD - Line IN CD 9.00435

'Barbed Wire Blues' (1988) Jungle FREUD 26 also on CD - CD FRUED 26 &Line IN CD 9.0064
'Don't Let Your Daddy Know' (1991) CD only Bedrock BED CD21
Makoto Ayekawa with the Wilko Johnson Band
'London Session #1' & 'London Session #2' (1993) VICL 410 & VICL 420
Singles: 'Oh Lonesome Me' (1980) B/Side 'Beauty' Blockhead BLO 1
'Exstacy'/'Ice On The Motorway' (1988) unreleased SEND ONE

'All Night Garage Service' LP (1986) 1 Track Waterfront WF 029

NV R&B EP 7" (1996) 1 Track NVEP6

'Southend Rock 2' CD (1996) 1 Track Lunch Label 01702 001

'Sandanista' (1980) Triple LP Norman played bass on all the tracks recorded at Electric Ladyland Studios CBS FSLN1
'Cut The Crap' LP (1985) uncredited CBS
'Clash On Broadway''
'Every Little Bit Hurts' unreleased from Sandanista sessions + other tracks previously released EPIC 46991

'Chisolm In My Bosom' LP (1977) Norman and Charlie Charles were rhythm section on most tracks
Gull GULP 1023

'Fool Around' LP (1978) Norman & Charlie on 4 tracks Stiff SEEZ 12

'Jesus Of Cool' LP (1978) all tracks Radar RAD 1

'You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties' (1978) 7" Single Stiff BUY 73

'Celebrate The Bullet' LP (1981) Norman on 2 tracks CHR 1306

Norman and Charlie on both 'Relax' (1983) and 'Two Tribes' (1984) - uncredited - released in various formats

'A Room Full Of Monkeys' LP (1984) Go Discs AGOLP 5
'Lifeline'/'Girl In A Million' 7" Single (1984) Go Discs GOD 6

BRAND NEW BOOTS & PANTIES(Album)2001 eastcentralone NewBoots2CD/
New Boots 2LP/New Boots 2 MC
STRAIGHT FROM THE DESK (Live Album-Internet Only)2001 BLOXLIVE001

NICK CAVE - I AM SAM - Original Soundtrack Album
Let it Be with Nick Cave and The Blockheads V2. / Bmg; ASIN: B00005TT77

Norman Watt-Roy.Norman Watt-Roy relaxing.

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