Sparks Kimono first Island demos

Adrian Fisher, Ron Mael, Dinky Diamond, Russ Mael & Martin Gordon
Sparks "Kimono My House" Band. The new line-up
Adrian Fisher, Ron Mael, Dinky Diamond, Russ Mael & Martin Gordon
In August 1973 Sparks was moving to the next phase of recruitment. At the Barnet Cricket Club, Ron and Russell were practicing with drummer Chris Townson. Chris Townson, formerly with John's Children, played in Jook, another band managed by John Hewlett. Martin Gordon joined them and they learned a few songs. "Girl From Germany", "Wonder Girl" and "I Like Girls" from the first two Sparks albums were among them.
The next meeting came a few days later. The venue was Island Studios in west London, and Ron Mael and Russell Mael had booked some demo sessions. It is explained that, due to there being no fixed line-up, various session musicians have been enlisted to play. Produced by John Porter, who also played bass, the sessions featured guitarist Paul Rudolph from The Pink Fairies.

Even though Martin Gordon was invited, John Porter still played the bass parts because the demo sessions had been arranged before. Early versions of the following songs could have been recorded at time : "Barbecutie", "In My Family", "I Like Girls", and "Alabamy Right" which became the non-album b-side to "Never Turn Your Back On Mother's Earth" from "Propaganda" album. Then there was another rehearsal in King's Cross' and Martin Gordon introduced a friend of him, drummer Tony Sprinks. The band ran through a few tunes, including "Barbecutie", but it clearly didn't work. Nevertheless at the end of the rehearsal Martin Gordon was accepted as part of the band. Tony Sprinks was not. - read more about Martin Gordon...

More adverts had appeared in the Melody Maker. Skilled guitarist Adrian Fisher formerly with Toby - the band of Free bassist Andy Fraser - was enlisted and John Porter and Paul Rudolph were sweeped off the scene. Best of a mixed lot of drummers was Norman Diamond, soon to be revealed as "Dinky" so Chris Townson went off back to Jook despite his Keith Moon-style playing would have fitted into that edition of Sparks perfectly. Dinky Diamond was discovered in a club playing Sparks covers with his band.
Thus consolidated with Martin Gordon on bass, Adrian Fisher on guitar and Norman "Dinky" Diamond on drums, the new line-up began rehearsals in Clapham in autumn 1973. Ron Mael brought the songs, some complete through compositions, some skeletons that the band had an opportunity of fleshing out. People threw in ideas and the music begans to take shape. Management contracts were produced, to be eagerly signed by all except Adrian Fisher who knows a bit more about this business than either Dinky Diamond or Martin Gordon. Rehearsals continued in Chelsea in the Furniture Cave under King’s Road to rehearse for the album "Kimono My House".

The place was a basement with mouldy carpets and a single bar electric fire. It was cold and damp but the music was getting better and better. Ron Mael impressed everyone with his constantly improving songs. It seemed the man was physically incapable of producing anything but master-pieces. The tunes certainly improved after band contributions, though, Ron Mael - with a little help from Russell - wrote all the tunes that made it happen. Dinky Diamond and Martin Gordon shore an enthusiasm for the bass and drum bits of Yes. They attempted to surreptitiously insert quotations and phrases inspired by their heroes. Sometimes they got away with it, as on "This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us”. Soon it would appear that Dinky Diamond was the good-natured middle-man between the opposing poles. Adrian was the quietest, himself admitting to ”astral travelling” a lot of the time when he wasn’t playing. Martin Gordon was playing the role of Mr Grumpy.
One day Martin Gordon decided to show his disapproval of something or other by playing the whole rehearsal whilst reading the newspaper. Spreading it out on top of his amplifier - it was a broadsheet, and took up a lot of space -, the bass player turned the pages during legato notes. He took great care to play well, closely observing cues with peripheral vision. But soon Martin Gordon fell out over Ron Mael's domination of the songwriting duties. One day, the bass player made the tactical error of suggesting the band play one of his songs. Martin Gordon who had learned the female noun seemingly essential to a Sparks song title dared to present a song called "Cover Girl". He was really upset when Ron Mael didn’t care to hear it.

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SPARKS 1969-1973
the early years of the Maels

Most of informations regarding Ron Mael & Russell Mael on this webpage were obtained from Martin Gordon's Official website : Some additional infos from Carl Van Breukelen and Petteri Aro. Many thanks to Christophe "Outer Space" Horlin. Visit his website at

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