In the early 70's Beggars Opera, from Glasgow, recorded 4 albums for the now legendary Vertigo label.
Their electrifying and unforgettable live performances at home and abroad, earned them major success in Germany, with the super hit Time Machine from their Waters of Change album of 1971.
Had you been there at that time, you would have seen and heard Ricky Gardiner's sonorous and surreal guitar climbs and bends, Alan Park's lavish organ psychedelia and phenomenal keyboard dexterity, Virginia Scott's ethereal mellotronic orchestration with subliminal song and rhyme, Gordon Sellar's powerful and dynamic, succinct bass growl, Raymond Wilson's pounding and relentless driving drum engine and kilt and Martin Griffith's 'fa la la' minstrel voiced strobe figurine, air conducting the apocalypse.
Martin Griffiths, singer and Marshall Erskine, bass had played with Ricky Gardiner in school band the System, and had worked with him through the blistering hot summer of the Moon landings 1969 on the M40 Motorway Beaconsfield Bypass, to earn some cash.
With the proceeds from this and a loan of £1.000 from Ricky's uncle, John Spence, they were able to purchase their famous cool white Marshall stacks.
Alan Park, organist, was in a residency at the Locarno Ballroom when he was approached by the band, and Raymond Wilson, drummer of the Beings, was auditioned after responding to the band's newspaper advert.
Virginia Scott, who had been studying piano in Italy was requested to join the band as their composer of original music in 1970.
With their shiny new equipment and a repertoire of progressive rock covers they quickly landed the Saturday morning spot at the Burns Howff in Glasgow, thanks to John Waterson then proprietor.
Alan Park was a qualified pianist and quickly showed a real talent for arranging the popular classics. Thus tracks like Raymond's Road, a real favourite of the Beggars fans, was born.
Alan responded to this by producing Poet and Peasant and Light Cavalry arrangements of the famous overtures by Franz Von Suppe, into which he and Martin Griffiths inserted tunes and lyrics.
By this time Virginia Scott was contributing original material to the band's pool, and tracks like Time Machine, Passacaglia, Memory, The Fox and Sarabande were created.
The band's identity was emerging and Vertigo, progressive rock label, offered Beggars Opera an album deal and by 1970, just under a year after the formation of the band, Act One, the first of 4 Vertigo albums, was released soon to be followed by Sarabande their first single.
Between 1970 and 1974 Beggars Opera wrote and recorded their four Vertigo albums and toured Scotland, England and Europe extensively. Following their incredibly successful live performance at the Great British Rock Meeting at Speyer Germany in August of 1971,with Gordon Sellar on bass and Virginia Scott on MK2 Mellotron, where the audience topped 112.000, Beggars Opera single Time Machine from the second album Waters of Change, became a Super Hit in Germany.
Beggars Opera were also televised on the legendary Beat Club Bremen show in that same month playing 'Raymond's Road'.
Pathfinder followed as did tour after exhausting tour of Europe/UK.
Martin Griffiths was then to leave the band in early 1972.
Pete Scott, ex of Savoy Brown took his place, having impressed the band with his fantastic ability to improvise and his classical training, at their auditions in London.
Pete was to prove highly popular, eliciting five encores every night from the audiences and introducing a blues flavour to the band's music.
However, at the Get Your Dog of Me sessions, Phonogram Studios 1973, an altogether unfortunate dispute errupted and although Pete Scott had recorded most of the vocals, it led to his highly regretted leaving.
The late Linnie Paterson of Scottish band Writing on the Wall, was quickly approached and stepped in to finish the recording and performed live with the band till 1974.
In 1975 Ricky Gardiner was approached by Jupiter Records of Germany to produce two more Beggars Opera albums.
Ricky Gardiner gathered together Pete Scott on vocals, Virginia Scott on keyboards and with session drummers Mike Travis, ex of Gilgamesh, and the outstanding Clem Cattini respectively, and completed the 2 albums Sagittary and Beggars Can't be Choosers on Jupiter's less than a shoe string budget.
In 1981 Beggars Opera were briefly reformed by Gordon Sellar and the album Lifeline was released on Vertigo Germany.
All who have contributed to Beggars Opera's various incarnations:
Ricky Gardiner: Guitars/ Vox
Alan Park: Keys/ Organ
Virginia Scott: Mellotron/ Keys/ Cello/ Vox
Martin Griffiths: Vox
Pete Scott: Vox
Linnie Patterson: Vox
Gordon Neville: Vox
Gordon Sellar: Bass Guitar/ Guitar/ Vox
Colin Pattenden: Bass Guitar
Marshall Erskine: Bass Guitar
Raymond Wilson: Drums
John Hollywood: Drums
Colin Fairley: Drums
Clem Cattini: Drums
Mike Travis: Drums
George Butler: Drums
Ed Bicknell: Drums,
Tom Gardiner: Drums
Roy Wood and Co: Saxophones