Q&A with veteran UK bass guitarist, Steve Bingham - Rock n Roll has played a huge part in his life and career

"What I miss most from the music of the past is the sound of actual live musicians playing together without the aid of modern technology. You can always tell when music has been generated from a computer and no matter how much you try it's impossible to replicate the sound of great musicians."

Steve Bingham: Soul Rhythm Groove

Steve Bingham is an English bass guitarist who joined the worldwide chart topping UK band The Foundations in 1969 - replacing their former bass player - and stayed with them until their break-up in 1970. He played on the 1972 Ennismore album by Colin Blunstone, on the 1974 Anymore for Anymore album by Ronnie Lane, and the 1976 album Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms) by Kevin Westlake. Steve also toured with Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance in "The Passing Show", which took a huge circus tent on the road with dancing girls, fire eaters, clowns and a general assortment of circus people. In 1999, because of the popularity of the film There's Something About Mary, the renewed interest in '"Build Me Up Buttercup" and The Foundations, a version of the band reformed with Colin Young on vocals, Alan Warner on guitar, Bingham on bass, and Gary Moberley on keyboards, etc.                                                  (Photo: Steve Bingham)

The group stayed together for a period of time seeing a change of the lead singer with Hue Montgomery replacing Colin Young. In recent years Bingham has been a member of Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band as well as the "Reformed but Unrepentant" reunion edition of Slim Chance with original Slim Chance members Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson. Slim Chance is a tight band of good friends, which has evolved around three original members of Ronnie's band - Steve Bingham, Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson. They are now regularly joined by Brendan O'Neill, Billy Nicholls, and Geraint Watkins, and together they deliver a unique and entertaining show, both joyous and of a high musical calibre.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Rock n Roll has played a huge part in my life. I was introduced to the very early records by my older sister and it's still amazing to think that those early Blues records followed by Elvis/ Buddy Holly/ Little Richard etc. formed the platform for everything that's happened in popular music ever since! The emergence of American soul/r&b in the 60's was hugely influential and to this day I believe that some of the tracks recorded at Motown/ Stax/ Atlantic/ Philadelphia etc. are still phenomenal grooves and songs that have stood the test of time and people both young and old still love to hear to this very day!

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? What do you think is key to a life well lived?

My sound as a bass player is very much influenced by the musical genius of James Jamerson who played bass on most of the Motown hit records and they remain a source of inspiration to bass players throughout the World even today. My own music philosophy is that if a song doesn't groove then don't play it! The key to a life well lived is to do something with your life that you truly love doing and being a musician has truly enriched my life. 

"If I could change one thing it would be that young up and coming musicians/ artistes could have the opportunity to play live as so many venues are closing due to lack of support and it's sad that many young people prefer to be locked up in a bedroom with their laptop rather than venture out to support local talent. (Photo: UK Soul legend, Geno Washington & Steve Bingham on stage)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

There have been many meetings in my life which have had great importance but perhaps the best advice I've ever been given was by my current band leader Geno Washington who is true living legend. When I asked him one day how he was feeling he said "Stevie, every day above ground is a good day" Whenever I feel a bit low, I just think of those words, and they make me smile immediately and inspire me to enjoy my day whatever happens!!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

One of the greatest artistes I've had the pleasure and honor of playing bass with was the late great Ronnie Lane (founder member of the Small Faces and The Faces) who went solo in 1973 and asked me to play bass on his first album recorded in 1974 entitled "Anymore for Anymore" Ronnie was an amazing bass player himself but preferred to play guitar whilst singing and I toured the country playing bass with him on the now legendary "Ronnie Lane's Passing Show" which took a huge circus tent on tour all over the UK and we all stayed in caravans around the tent. It was an amazing experience and has gone down in music folklore.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

What I miss most from the music of the past is the sound of actual live musicians playing together without the aid of modern technology. You can always tell when music has been generated from a computer and no matter how much you try it's impossible to replicate the sound of great musicians. I'm actually very optimistic that the tide of computer-generated music is turning, and producers/ engineers are now looking for great players to enhance their tracks as they know full well that it makes a huge difference. Obviously, there is a massive demand for electronic dance music, but you can't put a bunch of computers on stage without any humans at a live gig and I hope that never happens!!                                              (Photo: Ronnie Lane, Steve Bingham with Slim Chance)

"Rock n Roll has played a huge part in my life. I was introduced to the very early records by my older sister and it's still amazing to think that those early Blues records followed by Elvis/Buddy Holly/Little Richard etc. formed the platform for everything that's happened in popular music ever since!"

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

If I could change one thing it would be that young up and coming musicians/ artistes could have the opportunity to play live as so many venues are closing due to lack of support and it's sad that many young people prefer to be locked up in a bedroom with their laptop rather than venture out to support local talent. Again, I'm optimistic that eventually the wheel will turn full circle as there is simply nothing like a live gig with a great band/artiste playing to a crowd of people who are enjoying every moment!

Since 60s, Donegan (Skiffle), Chris Barber (Jazz), Alexis Korner (Blues), and many other Rock, Folk pioneers... What were the reasons that made the UK to be the center of music researches and experiments?

It's very hard to say how the UK became the center of the World's music scene but once The Shadows got hold of Fender guitars from the USA and started to make Rock n Roll records with Cliff Richard it suddenly inspired thousands of youngsters to do the same and then when The Beatles came on the scene there was simply no stopping! It was like the floodgates suddenly opened and literally every town in the UK had it's very own superstar pop group! Of course, pop evolved into heavy rock and all the other genres but there has simply never been an explosion of talent like there was in the 60's.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

I've learned many lessons from being a musician but perhaps the most important thing is to know that being a musician should not be confused with being in the music business! I know that sounds contradictory, but most music industry figures are only concerned with one thing and that is making money. If your music ends up making you money, then so much the better but it's incredibly important to believe in yourself and to follow your instincts. If you work hard and give it all you've got then you've been true to yourself and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

One amazing thing that I've really noticed since the easing of Covid restrictions in the UK allowing people to attend live gigs again is the sheer joy on people’s faces listening to a live band and being a part of a "once only" experience that brings everybody together as one. It's truly wonderful to be a small part of that experience and it makes everything seem so very worthwhile and long may it continue!!

Steve Bingham - Home

(Photo: Slim Chance)

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