Reminder, previous post:
I've been much impressed by that very great record, an amazing soulful one. Well, instead of tryin' to share my (rare) enthusiasm for that fantastic groovy LP, will let speak John Hellier who has written the Sleeve notes. Also look at the Guests list... Mollie Marriott And Tobi! Hope it will ring the bell for that very excellent cd. He also played with a post Stevie's Humble Pie line up and With fellow splinterite Brent Yeomans Black17's band. Believe me, it's really a must have for Small Faces / Humble Pie's fans. John's notes:
It is now eleven years since I first met the charismatic Dean Rees. I had been publishing the Small Faces magazine “Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Launderette” for a while and Dean had picked up on it and decided to write to me to express his passion for the Small Faces and all things connected. It was fairly common practise for fans to contact me (still is today) but something about Dean’s letter made it stand out from the rest and prompted me to react differently from my usual short, polite reply. Firstly he was a young lad in his teenage years and in an age when most teenagers were buying Spice Girls cds here was a young guy that knew what real music was all about. He was thirty years my junior but my heroes were his heroes and what’s more he knew his business. His knowledge on all things Small Faces was astonishing, most guys of his age wouldn’t have even heard of them but Dean knew the complete story inside out. Yes, I was impressed.
Although he lived a hundred miles away in Milton Keynes, I found out that he was regularly in my Essex manor; visiting relatives. I invited him round, he was a like-minded soul, couldn’t go wrong could it? Not only was I knocked out by this young kids knowledge, but he also knocked me sideways with the look! Marriott, aged 18, re-incarnated! I still remember the classic corduroy jacket Dean was wearing; I swear I’d seen it before in Lord John’s window back in 1966.
Even at this early stage Dean was writing prolifically and a recent listen to one of his ten-year-old cassette tapes confirms how good he was even back then. Apparently Dean was a failed drummer and failed guitarist before finding a Hammond Organ at his local rubbish tip! That was his birthing and the journey had begun.
Shortly afterwards Dean accompanied myself and Ronnie Lane’s brother, Stan, to the Ivor Novello awards in London to see The Small Faces receive a lifetime achievement award. The ticket price of £125 certainly wasn’t going to put him off! He just had to be there (so did I). We became good mates and it wasn’t long before we were sitting drinking tea with Stanley Unwin in Stanley’s back garden when the Professor asked him what he did for a living, to which Dean replied “The Hammond Organ”. Stanley’s reply being “Ah, yes, the Hammondy origolde all rotary spin it topple, round and round, oh folly!”………God bless ya, Stanley.
Dean’s early bands Colour Sergeant, Sargeant and Markus, with whom he cut an unreleased album, were all solid Rock outfits along the lines of Steve Marriott’s Humble Pie. Humble Pie being the biggest single influence on Dean’s career to date.
To say that his CV is impressive is surely the understatement of the century. Since appearing at my Steve Marriott Memorial concert in April 2001, at the London Astoria, Dean’s world has been a frenzy of playing with some of Rock and Roll’s finest. As well as appearing with mod favourites 17Black on that memorable night Dean’s Hammond services were required that same evening by the likes of Zak Starkey and Rabbit Bundrick’s house band that accompanied such high flyers as Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Ian McLagan and more. As if that wasn’t enough, on the strength of that gig Dean was approached by Jerry Shirley to join a recently re-formed Humble Pie for a mini-tour of the UK. Now this really was living the dream. Not only was Dean meeting his boyhood heroes, he’s being invited to play with them! Although the tour was short Deano became particularly close to bass player Greg Ridley and was to form Greg Ridley’s Humble Pie with him, but not before a brief spell with Steve Marriott’s son Toby in an outfit called Grand Society and a spell playing with ex-Faces drummer Kenney Jones new band. “Playing ….Won’t Get Fooled Again… on Hammond wasn’t for me” quotes Dean.
Greg had moved to Spain and unbeknown to most was suffering from throat cancer. After a quarter of a century in musical retirement he was raring to hit the road again and the first person recruited was our Dean. It was a gutsy line-up that also featured Dean’s pal Karl Randall on drums. The future looked bright with an American tour and a recording contract lined up. In September 2003 the band played at the Small Faces Convention in London. After a short, but breathtaking, set Greg left the stage to tumultuous applause with the words “ See you again next year”. Sadly he died just six weeks later. Dean (as was I) was totally shattered by Greg’s demise and I’m sure many tears were shed. It was as bigger blow as Dean had ever suffered during his short but eventful career but it was onwards and upwards, as Greg would have wanted. A gig at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Pete Townshend, Ronnie Wood and Paul Weller in memory of the late, great Ronnie Lane helped lift Dean’s spirits.
Since that concert, in April 2004, Dean has continued playing with his soul brothers, 17Black. He’s also been in AC/DC’s studio in London with Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith, Bad Company’s Dave “Bucket” Colwell, Todd Zuckerman and Foreigner’s Rick Wills. Greg Ridley had written some lyrics just before he died and Greg’s widow, Patti, had asked Dean and Bucket to write the music. This was the ultimate honour for Dean and the end result turned out to be a fine example of “Greg Rock”. “Live To Learn” by Ridley, Rees and Colwell…listen out for it. Early 2005 saw Dean’s involvement with the Mod Aid 20 charity single release, by Biff Bang Pow Records. There’s a great video lurking somewhere with Deano rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ronnie Wood, PP Arnold and Chris Farlowe.
Later in the year Dean and drummer Karl Randall were approached by another of Dean’s Rock and Roll idol’s Del Bronham with the words “ Dya fancy joining Stray? Apparently Del had first spotted Dean playing with Humble Pie a few years previous and was duly impressed. Anyway Stray it was and they’re currently touring. Watch out for ‘em!
Spurred on by a message from a medium, of the spiritual kind, both Greg Ridley and Steve Marriott told Dean to concentrate on his own material rather than covering other peoples. This debut solo album is mighty impressive and is surely just the beginning of a long and successful career and when he’s sitting up there on the top of the tree just remember who told you about him first.
To Dean I offer my utmost admiration, not only as a fine muso, vocalist and songwriter but also as a genuine, down to earth guy and believe me there aren’t too many of those in this business.
JOHN HELLIER (FEBRUARY 2006)
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