James Warren was one of the principal songwriters in the quintessentially British rock band Stackridge. Hailing from Bristol, James played bass, guitar and fronted the band and cites Lennon-McCartney, Paul Simon and The Beach Boys as early influences. He and songwriting partner Andy Davis developed the band's quirky, progressive repertoire and Stackridge played the very first Glastonbury Festival as the opening act.
In 1971 the band signed to MCA Records. Three albums followed including their best known work 'The Man in the Bowler Hat', recorded with legendary Beatles producer George Martin. Stackridge gained a huge following from their live shows but were simply too eclectic and progressive for commercial recognition. It wasn't long before cracks appeared within the now large lineup, with members wanting to follow their own paths. Even though the band had a brush with stardom by performing at Wembley stadium with Elton John and The Eagles in 1974, they failed to tour and two years later disillusionment had set in and Stackridge officially threw in the towel.
Then surprisingly in 1978, Warren and Davis entered mainstream music as The Korgis. Their highly melodic tunes, thoughtful lyrics, strong vocal harmonies amd uber-catchy hooks eventually resulted in commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic with 'If I Had You' from their debut LP, 'The Korgis' in 1979 and 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime' from the follow-up, 'Dumb Waiters'.
A revamped version of Stackridge appeared in the late 1990s, with original violinist Mike Evans getting Warren and Crun Walter on board. They produced their first new album in 23 years, 1999's 'Something for the Weekend'and appeared at the Glastonbury, Cropredy and Trowbridge Festivals. Sadly management problems caused this unit to grind to a halt and once again the Stackridge story went on hold.
In 2006, James helped reform Stackridge again, this time with three of the original lineup Andy Davis, Mutter Slater and Crun Walter. In 2007, they returned to the Glastonbury stage in their original form to rave reviews. They released a new a album 'A Victory For Common Sense' in 2009, produced by Chris Hughes, who has cast his magic spell over recordings by Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and Tears For Fears.
After over 40 years Stackridge finally decided to call it a day. The final tour between September and December 2015 was a sellout success throughout the UK and in Tokyo, Japan for two memorable concerts in October 2015.
Much of this tour was filmed , including the entire last ever gig in the home town of Bristol: Released on DVD 2016. Available on Angel Air HERE
James Warren has a formidable catalogue of memorable songs and encouraged by old mate guitarist, songwriter and arranger Al Steele, he embarked on a new chapter with his band James Warren and Friends.
An album of brand-new material 'Innocent Bystander' was released October 2017 and this fantastic 8-piece lineup toured throughout 2017 and 2018, performing choice cuts from this and all periods of James' long and fascinating career.
In the middle of 2018 the pressure to tour as the Korgis finally gave way to the band centring on a new set. The first Korgis gig was at The Sunshine Festival in August 2018. Although the name was misleading as it was one of the wettest gigs ever(!), the audience reaction was overwhelming, and The Korgis as a touring band had finally arrived.
Although the name is The Korgis, the band draw from the collective history of Stackridge, The Korgis and James' solo albums. With James' song 'Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime' seeming even more relevant today than in the '80's, it is gratifying to see a new audience joining with the stalwarts.
James Warren's music has been described as 'timeless', and perhaps that's what makes his music seem just as fresh today, as when The Korgis first hit the charts in 1979.
Here's to the next 40 years!