Norwich's Eyes of Blond look back to the psychedelic 1960s

The Eyes of Blond in action.

The Eyes of Blond in action. - Credit: Eyes of Blond

They played with the Kinks, Slade and the Pretty Things but after 60 years Norwich psychedelic rockers Eyes of Blond have finally seen their music released worldwide.

The band's cover of the Byrds track 'Why', originally recorded in 1969, has finally been released on a compilation of music from the decade called 'I Think I'm Going Weird'.

Eyes of Blond were one of the county's most popular bands. And despite not releasing a single the band toured clubs and venues across Norfolk and around the country.

A photograph of Eyes of Blond pcitured in 1970 at the Tuckswood Festival, and ehich appeared in a Ma

A photograph of Eyes of Blond pcitured in 1970 at the Tuckswood Festival, and ehich appeared in a Marshall Amplification magazine.Left to Right - Neil Applegate, Phil Wade, Paul Watts, Phil Dimitri. - Credit: Archant

The Evening News even had a hand in changing the group's name from Circuit 5, running a competition offering £10 to the winning name, with entries being sent in from as far away as Stockholm.

After being founded by lead singer Phil Wade, they shared the stage with the decade's biggest names when they visited the county, including an ill-fated visit to Gorleston from the Kinks.

He said: "They were so bad. So the promoter asked us to go on again and do a second set because the audience were getting upset.

Eyes of Blond: The line-upof the the Norwich band that went professional in September 1969, and is

Eyes of Blond: The line-upof the the Norwich band that went professional in September 1969, and is the same as for the January 2015 charity gig. Left to Right - Paul Watts, (back) Neil Applegate, Phil Dimitri, Phil Wade - Credit: Archant

"They had to stop halfway through one of their songs which was in the hit parade.

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"The thing was Ray Davies couldn't sing and play guitar at the same time. I guess the thing is they were a recording band."

Other artists they befriended included PP Arnold, Eddy Grant and Jimi Hendrix's Irish proteges Eire Apparent, who he produced and toured with.

Eyes of Blond performing at Eastbourne earlier this year..now they are playing in Norwich again – a

The Eyes of Blond during their reunion tour. - Credit: Archant

Mr Wade added: "We played with PP Arnold and the Nice and Keith Emerson was sticking knives into his organ while playing 'America' even back then.

"I remember her saying to me, 'I can't believe my backing group have a hit record and I don't'.

"When we played with Eire Apparent and they were smashing all their equipment up, they were under chemical assistance shall we say.

"Once they got back to the dressing room, their guitarist was jumping around going 'my guitar's broken' and they had to go down to London and get a new one.

"We really got on with the Equals, when we played with them at The Talk and covered their song 'Baby Come Back' and at the time nobody used to cover the main band while supporting.

"So Eddy Grant came running down the stairs and we thought he was going to be angry but actually he was laughing his head off and saying 'we've never seen anyone do that before'.

"Chris Farlowe borrowed a microphone and he still hasn't given it back."

But it wasn't always a glamourous life with the band's Renault Estafette van prone to breaking down.

An advert for Norwich band Eyes of Blond.

An advert for Norwich band Eyes of Blond. - Credit: Eyes of Blond

Mr Wade added: "Our then drummer Mike Sullivan was driving it with L plates on and we'd overloaded it with Marshall stacks and equipment which caused the front wheel to fall off as we were driving through Thetford Forest. 

"Brian Cooke-Morrison, of Cooke's Pianos fame, saw it and found the wheel and gave it back not realising it was us.

"We managed to get the wheel back on but it happened again - so eventually we got rid."

This picture of Norwich band Eyes of Blond was taken on the flat roof at the front of the Melody Roo

This picture of Norwich band Eyes of Blond was taken on the flat roof at the front of the Melody Rooms - now The Talk...Left to Right - Paul Watts, Phil Dimitri, Neil Applegate, Phil Wade. - Credit: Archant

He says the recently released track perfectly sums up the psychedelic side to the band after compilers initially wanted to take an original song written by guitarist Phil Dimitri.

"Someone putting the compilation together heard a one hour special BBC Radio Norfolk had done on the band and wanted to use the track 'Land of Green Green Grass' so I had to say 'no you can't'.

Phil Dimitri from Eyes of Blond, taken at the Norwood Rooms in Norwich in 1970. This photograph late

Phil Dimitri from Eyes of Blond, taken at the Norwood Rooms in Norwich in 1970. This photograph later appeared in the Norwich Union staff magazine in early 1971. - Credit: Archant

"Because all the best songs we did were written by him and he wants to keep them to himself.

"They thought it sounded psychedelic but it isn't really. I said there is 'Why' which I've got the recording of and it's definitely psychedelic."

Currently he is hoping to find one of the band's former drummers, Michael Sullivan, who he lost contact with after he left the band.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact him at: enquiries@eyesofblond.co.uk

Swinging Norwich

During the 1960s, Norwich had a vibrant folk scene as well as its large beat and psychedelic scene which birthed hundreds of bands in a similar style to Eyes of Blond.

Most of them played on the pub circuit instead of gigging in some of the city's dedicated music venues which included the Orford Cellar, the centre of the Norwich music world at the time.

Bands including the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and David Bowie, all played at the venue which is now Nandos in Red Lion Street, but Mr Wade says the Eyes of Blond never played the venue as they weren't good enough until they turned professional on the day of his birthday in 1969, long after the venue's heyday.

In other parts of the city Rowntree Mackintosh were churning out chocolate, while new tower blocks, ring roads and multi-storey car parks changed the face of the city along with Anglia Square.