“Revisiting The Quiet World” - TWR in conversation with Dick Driver about his work with Quiet World and more recent work with Steve. Photographs courtesy of Phil Henderson and Hackettsongs.com.
TWR: What were your earliest musical influences?
DD: My earliest musical influence was hearing my mother play the piano. She was a good pianist and often played the piano. The pieces I particularly enjoyed were; Debussy’s Clair De Lune, Chopin’s Waltz No 2, and Jerome Kerr’s Swing Time. I went to see the film Rock Around The Clock which had a huge impact on me. I thought Bill Haley and The Comets looked and sounded great, but it was the rhythm and the beat which really appealed to me. I listened to Radio Luxembourg a lot and was fascinated by all the new tunes and singers I heard.
In my teens I listened to many Blues singers like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and then Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Tamla Motown and Elvis, of course. I went to a lot of Trad Jazz gigs which I liked a lot, again, mainly because of the rhythm but then I became more interested in modern Jazz. The Bull’s Head at Barnes (near the river Thames) was a great venue as it had a resident rhythm section with guest soloists. The Roy Budd trio and later on the Tony Lee Trio were both fantastic and I loved hearing the interaction between piano, bass and drums. This interest in Jazz culminated with Miles Davis. I listened to Kind Of Blue and Miles Ahead for hours in total awe. Finally I found three bands that for me had all the ingredients - Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds, and The Brian Auger Trinity.
TWR: Did you go straight into music as a career or did you have other occupations before taking it up…?
DD: When I left school at the age of eighteen I became a trainee in the Town Planning Department at Croydon Council . I was there for thee years and during that time I played in various semi-pro bands.
TWR: How did you become involved with Quiet World?
DD: Ernie O’Malley whop played drums in two of the bands I worked in. He had been asked to play in Quiet World and he suggested that I play bass with them.
TWR: What were your first impressions of Steve…?
DD: He was quiet, thoughtful and a nice guy. It was great working with him because I think we had a mutual respect for each other, and the project we were involved in. I love Steve’s playing on The Road album, in particular his intro to track three; Star and the driving rhythm of his chord playing in the instrumental break section of track five; Loneliness And Grief.
TWR: Who were the main instigators of the album…?
DD: As far as I know, the three Heather brothers; John, Neil and Lee, wrote all of the material on The Road album . I remember that they told us that the concept of the album and the material in it had originated from a spirit through a medium who I think was their father. They met John Schroeder , a record producer at Pye , and after hearing them play and sing, he agreed to take on the project. The many months of rehearsals which took place either at Ernie’s place in South Croydon or at Steve’s flat near Victoria and the subsequent recording sessions at the Pye studio was an unforgettable experience. For me, being asked to create bass lines for the music they played us and to work together with such talented musicians was sheer joy! Neil, John and Lee’s belief in the project, their energy and passion was inspiring, I think for all of us.
TWR: Can you remember if any material was recorded which didn’t make it to the final recording…?
DD: I don’t know if any recorded material did not get on to the album. When the album was finished I remember they said that there was some spare studio time left, and so we recorded some songs; Miss Whittington, There Is A Mountain; Gemima and Rest Comfortably. There is also another single; Sam The Visitor but I am not sure if I played on that one.
TWR: There is a rumour that some shows were performed by the band, do you have any memory of this…?
DD: As far as I know the band didn’t do any shows. I certainly didn’t play in any.
TWR: After the album, who else have you worked with…?
DD: After Quiet World I decided to work in the Classical field. It was a musical compromise but a financial necessity, or so it seemed. I joined the BBC Training Orchestra in Bristol and after a year moved back to London to be a freelance bass player. I was gigging with various bands notably one run by Peter Coe, ex tenor sax with the Blue Flames. I started getting work with the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras and this continued for over twenty five years.
Throughout that time there were many notable occasions , for example working with the world’s best conductors and soloists. Two weeks in Tokyo playing all the Mahler symphonies. Playing in Shostakovitch’s 15th and last symphony with the Philharmonia at the Festival hall with the great man himself in the audience. I have always enjoyed doing West End shows, these include; Cats, My Fair Lady, Blood Brothers and Mary Poppins.
During these years I played in a four piece function band called A Swinging Affair. After a week of playing Beethoven symphonies for example, it was great to get the bass guitar out and do a stomping gig at a golf club or Heathrow hotel.
TWR: How did you become involved with Steve again after all these years…?
DD: When The Road album was released as a CD back in 2000, I wrote to Steve about it, and told him briefly what I had been doing. I was delighted when he wrote back. We eventually met and he asked me if I would like to play on his next album.
TWR: What is Steve like to work with…?
DD: I always look forward to working with Steve. It is a huge privilege for me to play bass on Steve’s albums and I really enjoyed the recording sessions. Steve is very kind, considerate and easy to get on with, just as he was back in the Quiet World days.
TWR: What projects are you working on at the moment…?
DD: My work during the last few weeks has included a week in Glasgow with the English National Ballet orchestra, playing Giselle. Eight shows of Phantom Of The Opera in the West End (fantastic bass part!), and a week in Nottingham playing in Blood Brothers. Coming up is three weeks with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia starting at the Coliseum in London, then on to the Hippodrome in Birmingham and finally the Millennium Theatre in Cardiff.
And there you have it. As you can see, Mr Driver is very much a musician “in demand” and our thanks to him for giving up some of his time to speak to us at TWR.