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ST. PETERS (Robin Peter Smith) RIP
5th April 1939 to 8th June 2010
Crispian St. Peters the 60’s Pop Star
passed away today 8th June 2010 aged 71 after a series of illnesses
that kept him chair bound and unable to continue the music career he so loved
for over 50 years.
Crispian St.Peters a lifelong resident of Swanley in
Kent began his career in 1956 with local Kent bands 'The
Hard Travellers”, “The Two Tones”, 'The Country Gentlemen”, “Beat Formula
Three” and “Peter & The Wolves”.
He was signed by Decca in 1965 who released his single 'At This Moment' bringing TV
appearances that eventually and inevitably lead
to fame with Top Ten hits records 'You Were
On My Mind' in 1965 and 'Pied Piper' which made No.1 in Canada in
1966, and many other recordings which are still intensely played worldwide.
Crispian’s astounding fame and
unbelievable talent spread around the world, where he was met by screaming fans
in every country he visited. His self penned songs were written with true
emotion and when performing he sang with such feeling and a natural
professionalism that left his audiences wanting more, unable to believe the
overwhelming talent and charisma that oozed from this remarkable man with the
Crispian was loved, cherished and admired
by anyone and everyone fortunate enough to meet him. To know him a pleasure, to
hear him sing an experience of a lifetime. He spent his whole life dedicated to
his love of music. He travelled the world performing and entertaining on many
radio and television shows, continually writing new songs, many still not heard
by the public.
In 2001 Due to worsening health problems
Crispian officially retired, his last major public performance was in 1999 with the Fortunes at Dartford
Over the years Crispian suffered 3
nervous breakdowns, a divorce, a major stroke, Pneumonia and then Emphysema. In
a conversation with his record company in 2010 as chirpy as usual he said “ I
have just come out of hospital again, I am on permanent oxygen and can’t walk.
The good news is though, I have given up smoking those big cigars”.
The Pied Piper was originally written by Steve Dubof and Artie Kornfeld who is also known as the music
promoter and Father of the Woodstock Festival. Artie says “I co-wrote this song. Our version cracked the Top 100 on Billboard
and Cash Box, but Crispian St. Peters had a number 4 smash with our song in
1966”. John Lennon told him “Pied Piper, that’s one of my favourite
Old Crow – Crispian’s
St Peters and Old Crow finished their last album in 1993. It was eventually
fully released on Red Admiral Records in September 2009 – as “Night Sessions
Vocalists - Crispian St Peters - Margaret Rose - Brian Star - Gary Silver
Crispian said recently in a conversation after a spell in
hospital, “I don’t think I will be around much longer, make sure that if you
write about me, don’t forget the band, they have been the best friends anyone
could have ”
Old Crow, was formed
over 30 years ago. The name was thought of by Crispian’s steel guitar player,
the late Gordon Huntley, with the help of bass player George Plummer,
Gordon was also a man of fame and talent who performed and recorded with many
of the most famous American country singers, his name can be seen in the Hall
of Fame at Nashville.
Old Crow worked well together as one unit under
the guidance and influence of the master - Crispian St.Peters. The man they loved
and admired. When Crispian was forced to retire from regular performance due to
a stroke in late 1993, the band carried on as Old Crow, never allowing the
audience to forget that they were Crispian’s band. Although Crispian could no
longer play guitar or perform on stage he was still their leader in every way.
One happy unit of friends and family of long standing, they didn’t just work
together they mixed as close friends in their social lives.
Margaret Rose first met Crispian and became a close friend in 1983, when she hired him and
his band for a venue that she and Brian Star were promoting. She then enjoyed
trying to promote Crispian in other venues and various other ways. When
Crispian found out she could also sing, after hearing some recordings, he
encouraged her to sing duets with him and eventually solo, so she was now part
of the band. Crispian has been her rock throughout her career and is the reason
she is still singing today. She has also written and recorded a few songs that
have been played on radio in USA and the Continent. Margaret Rose is now
performing as the 'Silver Rose' duo, with her son-in-law, Gary Silver, but
continued to work for and with Crispian in both his professional and private
Mike Ford joined Old Crow playing bass in 1984, but he was no stranger to Crispian
St.Peters as they had been friends since school days. Mike was also with one of
Crispian’s old bands called The Wheels. His knowledge and expertise of music
and arranging has been welcomed in the recording studio. Although he is now
retired from gigging he stayed involved. Mike played bass, keyboards and helped
Crispian with arranging when in the studio. He also makes backing tracks for
Silver Rose. Recently he has arranged and recorded new songs for Margaret Rose
and Gary Silver that were written by Crispian St.Peters.
Peter Salisbury - the drummer joined the band in 1984. He had previously played with other
well-known artists and bands. Although he has now retired he continued to be
involved in the music of the other members and takes an active part in the
recordings, He was always the joker of the band, with a funny story or a joke
to keep everyone happy. Besides playing the drums with the band he also sang
top harmomies. Peter loves to reminisce about the good old days remembering the
good times they all had with Crispian.
Brian Star first met Crispian in 1983, as previously mentioned. He would help Margaret and
Crispian with any promotional work, travelling arrangements and any kind of
behind the scene necessities. He enjoyed supporting the band and with a little
encouragement would get up on stage and give a couple of songs. As the years
went on his appearances on stage became more regular and he became another
member of the band. He performs, as the duo Pop'N'Stuff with is brother
Gary Silver was
the last member to join the band, also the youngest. At first he would just
sing a couple of songs with marvelous renditions of Elvis Presley. Crispian
taught him to play the guitar and brought him into the band on rhythm guitar
and additional vocals. He is now dueting with Margaret Rose as the 'Silver
Rose' duo, they have been recording and compiling a CD of Crispians self penned
When Crispian was indisposed after his stroke
Gary was thrown in at the deep end and fronted the band with the help of
Margaret and Brian.
Red Admiral Records LLP
Text Links and images at webpage http://www.redadmiralrecords.com/Crispian%20St%20Peters/
Special thanks to the valuable contributions made by other musicians and friends on the album including Kevin Pyne, Roger Cotton, Toby Chapman, Anthony Wimshurst, Jeff Martin, Peter Sure, Barry Sibbett, Lorez, Ted Taylor and Gambler
It is indeed sad news to hear of Peters death. I have had the pleasure in meeting him on several occasions over the past few years and quite possible I was the one of the last few people to jam with Peter at a get-together at a friends house.
I was introduced to him by Geoff Hughes, a personal friend and past band member. Back in 2006 my own band included two of Peters songs, 'Last Train to Memphis' and 'Don't know what I am gonna do' in our show at the Country Music Festival in Berlin, Germany.
Peter gave me a CD with a number of his songs he asked me to do something with, sadly time wasn't on our side. Maybe I will do something in memory of Peter at some point in the future.
I read your article with interest, sadly, the one thing missing, was any mention of Geoff Hughes. Geoff, has been a long time friend of Peter, often visiting him daily to make sure he was doing alright. Geoff once took me along to Peters house, only a few minutes drive away. Peter would call him in the middle of the night and Geoff would get dressed and drive over to see him. On many occasions Geoff would see Peter in hospital, expecting the worst, only for Peter to bounce back from his deathbed and sneak out for a cigarette. In my view, Geoff was in many ways the unsung Hero in Peters life.
The last time I saw Peter was again at Geoff's house late last year for a 'annual' get together of musicians. Peter played the guitar and sang, accompanied by other musos in the room. As his body was frail and fading, his charm and his sense of humor never did.
I hope the above is of interest and helps to complete the picture in some way.
With thanks & best wishes .... Frankie
Doggone Country Band
I have now updated the Radio London website
with a personal tribute to Crispian. The offshore radio stations were of course very much instrumental in assisting him in achieving his chart successes and his records did well in the Big L Fab Forty.
I only met Crispian once, in 1966, but I've never forgotten the excitement of being all of sixteen years old and getting a lift home in a real pop star's Jaguar!
Rest in peace, the Pied Piper of Swanley......Mary Payne
(c) 2010 Fergus West
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE PIED PIPER
FERGUS WEST TAKES A RETROSPECTIVE LOOK AT THE CAREER OF CRISPIAN ST PETERS
Some twenty years ago I had the germ of an idea for a book on sixties music. Obviously I wasn’t going to be a pioneer here, but the publications that had previously emerged either took the form of full -blown biographies or a series of brief, often superficial, appraisals of artists’ careers. My idea was to select performers to whom a theme of particular interest could be attached, one which could then be examined in some detail. Thus there would be ‘The Child Prodigy’ ( Helen Shapiro ), ‘The Great Survivor’ ( Dave Berry ), ‘The Sound of Flower Power’ ( Scott Mackenzie ) – you can begin to get the picture. In all, six interviews took place, with six others planned. The problem was time – whilst lassitude on my part was probably a contributory factor, I also had to balance other commitments – and in the end I reluctantly dropped the project.
One of the interviews completed, however, was with Crispian St Peters, whom I met in 1997. What had fascinated me about St Peters was that even in the fickle and transitory world of pop music, his fall from grace had been spectacularly dramatic and, when analysed, not just as easily explained as many would have us believe.
I always thought that I’d make it; I wasn’t sure about exactly how or when, but I did feel things would happen.
Born in Swanley, Kent, in 1939 Crispian St Peters was christened, more prosaically, Robin Peter Smith. Just as was the case with the jobs he took on leaving school, in the late fifties and early sixties the young Peter drifted from one pop group to another. It was only when David Nicolson, an EMI publicist barely out of his teens, became his manager that his fortunes changed. Reincarnated as Crispian St Peters and with four years lopped off his real age, the singer released two Decca singles in 1965 – At this Moment and No, No, No. Both were emphatically unsuccessful from the commercial point of view, albeit the latter received some airplay on Radio London.
I never liked that song; to this day I can’t see anything in it – it was only when Nicolson went down on one knee and begged my mother to get me to record it, that I said ‘ Oh well, I’ll give it a try’.
More or less as a last throw of the dice, Nicolson coerced a reluctant St Peters to record a version of the erstwhile folk song ‘You Were On My Mind’, which after a slow start eventually came within less than a couple of thousand copies of securing the number one spot in early 1966. The follow-up, ‘The Pied Piper’, with its distinctive piccolo ‘hook’, also garnered impressive sales as well as establishing St Peters in lucrative markets overseas.
There were a lot of great nights around that time – I remember doing a big dance hall in Portsmouth and I got too close to the edge of the stage. The girls grabbed me by the leg and there I was, lying on my back, held up by the audience, but still singing and the girls still screaming
Backed by an excellent band, The Puppets, Crispian undertook a plethora of tours, these along with TV performances and interviews underlining that he had become one of the most high profile artists of the year. Further tangible proof of this came with his appearance in the hugely prestigious NME Poll Winner’s Concert, held at the Empire Pool, Wembley ; here, despite a somewhat hesitant version of ‘The Pied Piper’, Crispian rubbed shoulders with the good and the great of the pop world and, along with everyone else on the bill, was rapturously received.
To this day, I don’t know what went wrong with ‘Changes’ – everyone thought it would do well. Nicolson told me ‘This will be great, this will be a smash’ ….it was my wife’s favourite song, too’.
The NME concert was televised in May . Yet by the autumn of the same year, Crispian’s career was in serious decline. His version of ‘Changes’, the follow-up to ‘The Pied Piper’, may not have been much liked by its composer, Phil Ochs, but was nonetheless tipped for great things by those in the St Peters’ camp – and, more importantly, by the music press ( ‘a potential Top Three record’ proclaimed The Record Mirror ). Had he secured his third consecutive hit, one might have expected the singer to have gained a more permanent place at pop’s top table; as it was, the single stalled in the lower reaches of the Top Fifty, the last time Crispian was ever to make an impression on the UK charts.
Over the next three years, Decca released six more singles. Admittedly some were pretty ordinary– to wit ‘Carolina’ and ‘That’s the Time’- but others such as ‘But She’s Untrue’ and ‘Almost Persuaded’ ( which was promoted via a front page spread in the New Musical Express ) almost certainly deserved to have done better.
I performed ‘Do Daddy Do ‘ a lot and the audiences always loved it: they’d come up to me and say ‘You should release that, it’ll be hit’, and I’d say ‘But I did release it’. The problem was that it just didn’t get any exposure.
In the 70s, an early version of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’, recorded on Decca under the guise of ‘Wheels’ and easily superior to the Olivia Newton John hit, passed without notice, as did a 1974 release on the Santa Ponsa label, using Crispian’s customary name. The latter, his own composition and entitled ‘Do Daddy Do’, simply came a few years too late: as catchy as ‘The Pied Piper’, it nonetheless sank without trace.
Just as demoralising for St Peters as the lack of success on vinyl must have been the way in which several channels of the music business now seemed to be no- go areas for him. Whilst for two or three years there was still some money to be made – for instance he remained a big draw in Australia and in 1967 represented Britain in an international music festival in Sopot, Poland – it was salutary to note that after August 1966 and for the next nineteen years, he seems to have made not one appearance on national TV in the UK.
I went from getting £300 for a half hour spot to £ 35 a night, split between three. Also, when the tours dried up, there was nothing left .I know I wasn’t good with money but I don’t understand how I could have been left with so little.
By the early1970s he was effectively limited to playing pubs and working men’s clubs, he had suffered the first of three nervous breakdowns and his marriage had collapsed. The 80s brought little respite, with the occasional overseas gig in the likes of Belgium or Germany offering a welcome boost to an otherwise meagre bank balance. This decade, however, did bring with it two rare moments when the singer, albeit briefly, once again enjoyed the limelight: both occurred in 1985, the first in the form of an appearance on Channel Four’s ‘Unforgettable’ series. His contribution went down well, as indeed it did in the Dave Dee initiated ‘Heroes and Villains’ 1985 charity concert, the list of performers read like a Who’s Who of 60s pop and the concert was a sell-out – but typical of the cards Fortune seemed to deal him throughout his career, Crispian was one of a handful of artists whose spot was edited out of the televised version.
During the last twenty years of his life St Peters performed locally with his group ‘Old Crow’, as well as recorded intermittently for cassettes and CDs which were then sold at gigs. In 1995, he suffered a major stroke, rendering him unable to play the guitar. In 1999, he performed in public for the last time, appearing with The Fortunes; sadly this was not a success, with Crispian cutting a forlorn figure both vocally and physically. Financial worries were never far from his door and psychological problems in one shape or form plagued him, too – for instance, one minute he could be kindness personified, the next turning against even the closest friends and supporters. When he died, in July of this year, he could scarcely walk and was dependent on oxygen.
The comments weren’t meant to be taken seriously, but they were a mistake; looking back, I see the damage they did.
In reviewing some of the factors which led to the effective demise of Crispian St Peter’s career in pop’s fast lane, it seems already clear that bad luck had played a part. It is, however, worth looking at this factor in a little more detail. Over the years, a lot has been made of the extravagant and well documented claims St Peters uttered during his few months of chart success – to state, for example, that he was more exciting than Tom Jones and that The Beatles were past it was to say the least ill-advised, and the singer himself should take some of the blame for this. However, it seems likely that these quotable quotes were initially prompted by Kit Wells, who at the time was the singer’s publicist. Once made, the comments stuck, despite subsequent retractions by Crispian, and the harm which had been done was unquestionable.
But perhaps misfortune in another, hitherto unacknowledged, form also struck around this time. From ‘The Pied Piper’s’ disappearance from the top twenty to the release of ‘Changes’ around thirteen weeks had passed – in that era an uncommonly long time between singles . On enquiring of Crispian as to why such a hiatus occurred, he said that no-one could agree on what the follow-up should be ( interestingly, a self-penned and highly commercial number entitled ‘ I’ll Give you Love’ was considered and then rejected – and a few months later was picked up by Marty Kristian, of New Seekers fame, and turned into a sizeable hit in Australia ). So good though ‘Changes’ was, might it be that, to add to the damage done by the boastful claims he had been encouraged to make, the delay in bringing out the new single meant that St Peters’ career lost momentum?
I’d have liked some of my own songs to have been successful – I thought some of them were good songs, really good songs. But they never really did anything.
And whilst on the subject of an artist who, in one way or another, merited better from his career, a little more should be said about his innate talent. Mention has already been made of recordings which undeservedly failed to register in the charts, but there were others which also showed that, both as singer and songwriter, St Peters could have expected considerably more success than he ever achieved.
Listen to Crispian’s debut album ‘Follow Me’, and one of the first things to register is that he was capable of writing some decidedly impressive songs. If lyrically these could sometimes be a tad lame, melodically they were often striking – ‘It’s a Funny Feeling’ and ‘But She’s Untrue’ would be two obvious examples. And listen in particular to the magnificent ‘Your Love has Gone’ – an outstanding track, this time combining poetic lyrics with a haunting melody and also showcasing St Peters’ soaring voice.
There are other gems, too: ‘Simply’, a second LP brought out in 1970 on the Square label, contained the achingly beautiful ‘Soft as a Rose’ whilst later cassettes and CDs threw up notable tracks such as ‘Jean’ and ‘ Sailing Deep Water’, the latter co-written with Roger Rounce.
Reassuringly, if perhaps somewhat surprisingly, a fair amount of Crispian St Peters’ output, both on record and as a performer on stage and TV, remains available; ‘The Anthology’ CD, released by Repertoire Records in 1996, and various inclusions on You Tube are two obvious ports of call. For those tempted to dip into the St Peters portfolio, they may well arrive at the conclusion that here was a Sixties artist for whom it was not simply a case of what could have been, but probably also of what should have been.
Tribute Concert To Crispian St. Peters now SOLD OUT
There will be a concert as a tribute to Crispian St Peters the 60's pop star
on 12th June at Ruxley Park Golf Club, Orpington in Kent.
Crispian, a native of Swanley (Real Name: Robin Peter Smith) rose to fame with his hits "The Pied Piper" and "You Were On My Mind" in the 60's but the rich life of being a Pop Star can be a short one. Crispian continued working in the music business for many years and suffered traumas in his personal life and health problems that finally ended his performing days.
Just before he died in 2010
he said that he had nothing left but his very good friends and his music.
His very good friends will be performing his music as a benefit. Putting on this concert to raise money towards a headstone for Crispian's grave at Swanley befitting the icon he was.
Gary Silver and Margaret Rose will be performing and a Country & Sixties Band from Crispian's circle & Gambler with Richard Headingly as compere for the night.
12th June 2011
Ruxley Park Golf Club, Orpington, South East, England, BR5 3HY
7pm to 11pm
Entry £5 SOLD OUT
CRISPIAN ST. PETERS
A TRIBUTE TO THE LATE GREAT
CRISPIAN ST. PETERS
WITH HIS BAND
POP’N’STUFF & FRIENDS
FRIDAY 8th JUNE 2012
RUXLEY GOLF CLUB (bottom course)
SANDY LANE, ST. PAULS CRAY,
ORPINGTON, KENT, BR5 3HY
7-30pm till 11-00pm. .........More Details (PDF)
I was saddened to learn the news of Crispian St Peters passing. I have always enjoying playing his music from way back in December 1965. He certainly went through the wars health wise in the last few years and bravely battled on.
He was just one month younger than me. At least he is now at peace.
I will do a musical tribute this coming Sunday evening on my BBC Eastern Counties regional show which runs from 9.00pm-1.00am. I do the programme from studios in Norwich
....Keith "Cardboard Shoes" Skues
A truly sad day... Mike Payne
A truly rmarkable charcacter....
The best email I have had in years a lovely tribute ....
Sad news.....I would appreciate it if you will let me know funeral details, I have been reading your reviews and can't say enough how great it was to see Crisp recording again. I met him loads of times with my connections musicially with Erkey Grant (Candy Choir) and took a lot of infuence from him when I became a member of Chicory Tip.
I know that Erkey, Danny and Eddie will also be saddened by the news..
My new show "rock around the 60's kicks off in July and I am currently arranging a medley for the finale and I am sure now that Piper will be included as a tribute to him...not sung by me but will ask Craig Douglas to perform it.
please pass on my condolences to family members. one of my songs
which you may find appropriate at this time ......
Geoff Howells (Richard Headingley) Chicory Tip
Just said goodbye to an old friend of ours an awesome engineer writer and performer. Why do the good ones go first? Keep your chin up.....
That’s sad news, I’m a big 60’s fan and I love all the music from that period. Everyone from that period is in their 60’s and 70’s now, so it’s no surprise when you hear about someone passing but it’s harder when you actually know or work with them. Many condolences to his family…..Tosh Marshall
RIP Crispian and thank you for the music.. Gaz Barnes
I'm sorry to learn this. When I worked with Crispian in the 1990's, he told me he had a repertoire of more than six hundred songs. He was a useful guitarist too. Ireland were playing in the World Cup that night. There was a large Irish contingent and they were a bit lively, but good-natured. I finished with Danny boy
and they all took to the dance floor with pints in hand and sang their hearts out. It was quite moving and not easy for Crispian to follow (the lads, not me), but of course he did and did well.....John Scott Cree
Sad news. I last saw him way back in the early days when our band Candy Choir , were his backing group. This was at the time of his hit records. I've lots of vivid memories of him...John Pearce
Condolences, I lost a music friend, very suddenly, such a shock, I havent been able to play any of his music since then...obviouslly I havent dealt with it properly...Lady Roisin
Sad News...Tom Proctor
Oh, how sad .....Jan Clear
Sorry to hear this sad news. Very well written obituary.. Ben Copeland
Very sad news.
Please pass on our deepest condolences....
Guy & all the members of The Zen Relics
Sorry to hear the news. I have passed on the message to folks I know who knew him. ... Mark Ellen .. Vanity Fare
Sad News. I had the pleasure of Crispian singing a few no's with us The Mavericks at the Brands Hatch Kentegon, it was nice also to see Gorden Huntleys name, as I giged with him in the past,, he was a friend of my dad Leslie Colley in the 40s. Peter Salisbury, was the last drummer I ever played with.
When I left The Mavericks I teamed up with Owen Wheatly and Mick French, we named ourselves Maverick.
Crispy's passing has stirred a few memories for me with your article,.so agin thank you Chris.and ny deepest regards to all who are associated with Crispian... Mike Colley
Sad news about Crispian, us children of the sixties appreciate hearing news of our idols departing to that great gig in the sky, the media always tell us about unknown mp's dying! not our pop!! stars, keep up the good work but hope no one else goes, thanks..Van Kemp
This was very sad news indeed. You Were on My Mind is a truly great pop song, beautifully delivered and revives many memories. Along with Pied Piper it is one of those songs that you suddenly find in your head, for no apparent reason.
I was not aware that Crispian was a Kentish Man, though I suppose I should have known that such talent had to be local. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. I guess I will be singing that song again tomorrow morning..Malcolm (Molly) Marsh
I was so sorry to hear Crispian St. Peters had passed away. Although I never met him, or saw him perform, I heard much about his singing and playing and knew he was one of the greats. To be able to write your own material, and perform it, is truly a gifted talent, something I was unable to do. I thought, You Were On My Mind, was one of the greatest songs of the 1960s, one I used to include in my own act. If there were a Rock n Roll hall of fame in Kent he would truly deserves a place on it. I would like to send my condolences, to all of his family, group, and friends. Godbless... Bill Kent (David Kingsman)
Really sad - I remember when we had him at the Farnborough Town Hall - still have the photo that we took backstage.
Please pass on my condolences to his family...Sylvia McMaster (and Bob Potter O.B.E.)
`I remember him coming into the off licence I used to run in the High Street, Swanley. A real gent.
It was with a heavy heart I read on your site that Crispian St Peters passed away. It was only a month ago that a few good friends of mine - whom I hadn't seen for some 20 years - visited. Where upon we jammed "I'm the pied piper" It was one of the songs we jammed with great joy? In the early 80s he twice played our Bexleyheath working Men's club and both times are in-printed on my memory. God rest his soul.
regards Lee Mitchell.