Geno Washington, the UK’s very own resident Godfather of Soul, is back in Chichester for a date with his Yo Yo Blues at The Chichester Inn on Saturday, March 29.
On bass, just as he has been for the past ten or more years, will be Steve Bingham, who well recalls longing to join Geno on stage when he first supported him back in the 1960s.
Steve recalls: “I first moved to London in 1967, and in my early days as a bass player, I loved soul and r&b and played with a couple of bands in London. We even supported Geno a couple of times. I never got to meet him, but I just thought what a fantastic band he had and how I would love to be in it.
“Lo and behold, about 15 years ago, I was touring again with a band called The Foundations which had reformed. I had joined The Foundations first time round in 1969. They had parted company with their original bass player who had been with them at the height of their fame, but I joined up with the original members.
“And then the band reformed because there had been a film called There’s Something About Mary at the time, and it used (The Foundations’) song Build Me Up Buttercup which everyone associated with the movie. And we were supporting Geno again.
“We did a 30-date tour around the country, and Geno got to know me and got to hear what I was doing. Eventually Geno’s bass player, who he had had with him for quite a long time, decided it was time to move on. Geno asked me if I would like to join, and I just jumped at it. I had always wanted to work with Geno.
“I have been with him now for at least 12 years as part of the band, but before that I had done a few deputies for him for the bass player he had had.
“He is just fantastic. He never changes. He is hilarious. He is a lot of fun in the dressing room, and when he goes on stage, he is a very exciting performer to play bass with. You get all the fun and games, but he is also a very serious performer.
“He asks a lot of his musicians. You have to be right on the money, right on the ball. He wouldn’t like it if you messed up! There is a responsibility there that I enjoy!”
As Steve says, he turned up in London at an exciting time, the 1967 summer of love: “It was an amazing time to be there. It was just all going on. I had been kicking around the scene in Birmingham. I had a job. I just really wanted to be in a band and play bass. Heaven knows where that came from.
“Actually, I think it came from my sister. She was six years older than me and had every rock ‘n’ roll record there was. She dragged me into the local clubs. I started listening to bands.”
And then Steve made the move to London, though he admits he was never particularly comfortable in his kaftan, de rigueur at the time:
“That disappeared a long time ago, along with the long hair and the beard, but it was all very exciting. Everyone embraced the summer of love. People seemed to be more friendly. There was a very nice atmosphere.”
Steve joined a couple of bands and was then invited to join The Foundations. When The Foundations disbanded, Steve became one of the most sought-after session players in the country. In 1974 he played bass on Ronnie Lane’s acclaimed first solo album Anymore for Anymore and also toured with Ronnie on the Passing Show tour.