The Julian Kirsch | Sunny with Occasional Rain
I was telephoned about a year ago by a journalist in England who was researching and writing a series of articles about bands from the sixties and seventies that were on the cusp of success, had made some impact but were definitely not the legendary greats of the time. Apparently Julian Kirsch, my first professional band was to be included in the series. Frankly I was astonished because, although we had certain interesting accomplishments to our credit, I never thought that we might be potential candidates for inclusion in an article of the kind that was being assembled. But apparently we were, so I suppose that sometimes you make more impact than you realize at the time, especially when you are trying to get from one level to another and maybe your criteria for what constitutes success become confused.
I was introduced to Julian Smith, my future writing and performing partner and the ‘Julian’ of Julian Kirsch by a mutual friend during my last term at King’s Canterbury. I had wrestled much of my last year at school with career decisions. A large part of me wanted to study drama with a view to becoming an actor – (I had a potential place at Bristol University to do just that) , but I was also in the grip of 60s music fever and the Woodstock Festival was on the horizon, with names like Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Who, Crosby Stills Nash and Young , in fact almost anybody who was anybody in music. So finally, with my mind set, my commitment absolute and my dreams still intact, I sat down with Julian to map out our destiny. He was a great keyboard player ( he had a Hammond Organ which was the equivalent in today’s digital world of having the absolute best and most sophisticated software imaginable) and I was still playing my trusty Burns guitar ( soon to be replaced by a Stratocaster). We shared a common ideal, had similar musical tastes and so agreed to form Julian Kirsch, a group of well educated public school boys with aspirations to be rock legends.
Julian and I were the core of the band and writers, although in the early part of the band’s evolution, Julian was by far the more active composer. He was quite classical in his approach to our sound, whereas I was more rock orientated. As we evolved we became something resembling a fusion between Jacques Louissier , Deep Purple and various pop bands of the time – odd but somehow it worked and we got some pretty good audience reactions. The band’s complement changed a few times over the 3 years that we were together but it was always keyboards, guitar bass and drums with vocals divided between Julian and myself.
Julian’s parents had a farm in Kent which allowed us the opportunity to have a permanent rehearsal base in an old barn on the farm. An ideal and advantageous situation for start up bands with limited funds for rehearsing. It was a thrilling time. We worked hard, with passion and were all sticklers for perfection. The music we were doing required precision and concentration, it wasnt just 12 bar blues
Julian Kirsch lasted for three years. It was a wonderful learning experience and a great first step on that long and unpredictable road. Often I have been asked what is the most important requirement for surviving in the music/ entertainment industry and my answer has always been and still is ‘ having the hide of the rhinoceros’, staying power, accepting the endless disappointments and treasuring the occasional wins.
During those three revealing years, we produced some good music and managed to get our first single released ‘ – Clever Little Man’ recorded at Lansdowne Studios (of which more later). We also were signed by a very special agent Lady Elizabeth Anson who owned a hugely successful, high society company called Party Planners – as I mentioned we were nice young gentlemen who fitted her strict profile requirement. Through her we played many debutante parties and the United Nations Ball. From a more authentic side, we toured with Tyrannosaurus Rex and Chris Farlowe among others, getting on the rung of the critical University circuit. But the abiding memory for me of those early days was playing the great and eternal London Clubs of the time , Hatchetts, the Revolution, The Scotch of St James, the Flamingo Club – we played them all, regularly and started to build a small but solid following.
Why did the band break up? Well it probably went as far as it could. I wanted to transition my instrument to keyboards and Julian had aspirations to a solo career. London was beckoning, new influences were bubbling. It was 1972, the future was full of expectation, life was full of hope, music was everywhere.
Sunny with Occasional Rain
Sunny with Occasional Rain is a blog series written by BKP Media Group CEO, Barry Kirsch, highlighting moments from his intriguing career.