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3 September 2014
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Where Are They now?
Ken Andrew
Ken Andrew offers an update on '70s cheep and chirpy thrill-seekers Middle Of The Road...

This rag tag Scottish quartet scored a No.1 hit with the beautifully baffling 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' in 1971 and have never looked back.

In view of the thirty-second, erm... and a half anniversary of the group's biggest hit, we thought we'd get the latest on the Jock stars, and their rivals.


Though many tapes from the early '70s have been wiped, performances of both "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" and "Soley Soley" survive. What do you remember of these performances and perhaps any others that have since been junked?
Ken: It is a pity that most of these tapes were wiped or destroyed but we have many happy memories of these performances. During our first appearance on Top of the Pops in June 1971 the thought of "How the hell did we manage this?" was universal to us all. We had been very successful in Europe and this was by no means our fist appearance on TV but we were nervous. Somehow the feeling of performing to our own people in our own country on such a high profile show on national TV was very unnerving. Sitting in the Top of the Pops Studio on 26th June 1971 with 'Chirpy' tipped for the No.1 spot the following week was our moment to relish. Ok, 'Chirpy' wasn't the most intellectual song in the world but it did turn out to be one of the most popular.

What else do you remember about that first performance?

Ken:During a break in rehearsals for our spot we were waiting in position on the studio floor feeling quite lonely (we were completely unknown on the musical circuit here) when a group of girls in the audience, apparently regulars, came up to us to make contact. They had heard that we had come from Italy where 'Chirpy' was recorded and assumed that we were Italian. Presumably to make us feel more at ease they asked us what part of Italy we came from in very broken Italian. We simply replied, "Glasgow". The conversation ended there with them wandering off to the other side of the studio muttering that they thought Glasgow was in Scotland. I would like to thank those girls for easing the tension for us. We were still laughing when we had completed our performance.

Any other significant TOTP memories?
Ken: After that first appearance we did appear regularly on Top of the Pops and the programme played a very important part in our success in the UK. One time a camera crane ran out of control and smashed into the drum riser during a take and I had to finish the song holding on with one hand to my floor tom tom whose legs had collapsed. Sally recollects the time when she was snubbed in the make-up room by a well known actor who had managed to achieve success in the charts with another novelty song. He apologised for his poor manners later. He had not realised that she was a fellow performer.

Mac and Katie Kissoon also released a version of 'Chirpy', were you friendly rivals?
Ken: We met Mac and Katie on a German TV Show where we were performing 'Chirpy', which was already a hit there. We had no idea that they had recorded the song. Our reaction when we saw their version of 'Chirpy' at No.15 in the UK Charts was one of shock-horror. We were not happy at the prospect of our now worldwide hit charting in our own country with another artist. If it hadn't been for Tony Blackburn playing our version regularly on his breakfast show and the British Public hearing it played in holiday resorts all over Europe, I think Mac and Katie's version would have been as successful here as it was in the States. I don't believe there is friendly rivalry between artists over different recordings of the same song.

What happened to the band after Samson and Delilah?
Ken: It's more a question of what happened to 'Samson And Delilah' in the UK. The song simply disappeared completely from the charts after comfortably climbing to reach the Top 20. The prediction on the basis of current sales was that it would at least reach the Top 10 the following week. It is quite common for a record to drop back down the charts gradually but it is most unusual for it to disappear. We continued to have top ten hits all over Europe and in other parts of the world and so we were kept very busy travelling and performing well into the late '70s.

Find out what the members of Middle Of The Road are doing now. You won't believe it...

  Modern Romance  
  'Two flop records.' Andy's explanation for shift from new romantic to salsa.  
  Mungo Jerry  
  'It just kept selling!' Ray Dorset talks about his seasonal anthem.  
  Dave Dee  
  Dave Dee discusses the hazards of using a bullwhip on stage.  
  Pete Burns  
  We chat to androgynous Dead or Alive frontman about the '80s revival.  
  The Searchers  
  'At the time, I really didn't think it was going to be a lifetime job'.  
  Middle Of The Road  
  Ken Andrew talks about the cheap and chirpy world of Middle Of The Road...  
  Howard Jones  
  We ask the synth wizard a heap of questions, including "What is love?"  
  Paul Hardcastle  
  We speak to the Electro-pop wizard about his TOTP memories...  
  The Stranglers  
  The history of The Stranglers, according to bassist and songwriter JJ Burnel.  
  S'Express  
  Mark Moore tell us what he's up to these days.  
  Owen Paul  
  He's back! And music is still his favourite waste of time.  
  Bucks Fizz  
  We speak to Cheryl Baker about Eurovision, Jay Aston and mini-skirts  
  The Foundations  
  We track down Clem Curtis of 'Build Me Up Buttercup' fame  


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