By Gary: Russ and I were having one of our daily / nightly discussions and he asked me about the Seventies. It is not my strength, but I loved some of the singers, groups and the music (not really disco).
I started thinking about one or two hit wonders, so I made a phone call to my close friend Brad Wilson. Now, Brad is also a music fan and is much younger so he would be more familiar with that era. One of the first groups or songs that Brad mentioned was this group from England.
1. Early in the Morning/ Page One 21,027/ December 1969/ #12 Billboard
2. Hitchin’ A Ride/ Page One 21,029/ May 1970/ #8 Billboard
School friends Trevor Brice (born 12 February 1945, Rochester, Kent, England) (vocals), Tony Goulden (born Anthony Goulden, 21 November 1942, Rochester) (guitar), Dick Allix (born Richard Allix, 3 May 1945, Gravesend, Kent) (drums) and Tony Jarrett (born Anthony Jarrett, 4 September 1943, in Rochester, Kent) (bass) formed the band in Kent in 1966, originally called themselves The Avengers.
They played local clubs and were spotted by entrepreneur Roger Easterby who became their manager and producer. Having changed the name of the band to Vanity Fare after the novel Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, they signed to Page One Records (a division of Bell Records).
Vanity Fare achieved a UK hit single with their first release, a cover of “I Live For The Sun” (originally recorded by The Sunrays in 1965) in the summer of 1968.
Following two more singles, “Summer Morning” and “Highway Of Dreams”, both of which failed to make the UK Singles Chart, they released their biggest UK hit “Early in the Morning”. Written by Mike Leander and Eddie Seago, it reached number 8 in that country in August 1969 and number 12 in the U.S. in early 1970.
For their next release “Hitchin’ A Ride” they added keyboardist Barry Landemen (born 25 October 1947, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England) to the group. “Hitchin’ A Ride”, written by Peter Callander and Mitch Murray, gave them a million-selling hit reaching number 5 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and making number 16 in the UK in January 1970. This disc sold over one million copies, and received a gold disc awarded by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The hit was preceded by a tour of the United States, following which both Dick Allix and Tony Goulden left the band and were replaced by guitarist and singer Eddie Wheeler and drummer Mark Ellen.
Two more singles followed before the end of 1970; Mike Leander and Eddie Seago’s “Come Tomorrow” and Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway’s “Carolina’s Coming Home” both of which failed to dent the charts on either side of the Atlantic.
Over the next couple of years more singles were released including Tony Macaulay’s “Better By Far” on DJM Records in 1972, but none of them entered the charts. Following this they decided to concentrate on live performances touring Europe, where they were having hit singles.
Following the mid 1970s, and amid many band member changes (including the departure of Tony Jarrett, replaced by Bernie Hagley), the group recorded only sporadically.
In 1986, the band attempted to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing third in the UK heat of A Song for Europe, with the song “Dreamer” featuring Jimmy Cassidy on vocals, Phil Kitto on keyboards alongside long time members Ellen, Wheeler and Bernie Hagley.
In 2007 they toured alongside P. J. Proby.
They are still together today with a line up of Hagley, Wheeler, Ellen and Steve Oakman. (lastfm)