Pete Gavin

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Drummer Pete Gavin came out of one of the most creative periods in the British music scene, the late '60s and early '70s. He was involved in groups such as Heads Hands & Feet and Vinegar Joe, which…
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Drummer Pete Gavin came out of one of the most creative periods in the British music scene, the late '60s and early '70s. He was involved in groups such as Heads Hands & Feet and Vinegar Joe, which combined various roots styles such as country and blues, and attracted a lot of positive critical attention, but never enjoyed the massive international success of other, "luckier" bands from the same era. Certainly established as a musician's musician, Gavin was enlisted for the bands of stars, such as the hoarse-voiced vocalist Joe Cocker, and the mellow string-bender Eric Clapton. He also followed guitarist Albert Lee -- playing a sidekick in several bands with him -- and he was into a variety of interesting session opportunities before (apparently) retiring from drumming to concentrate on a business remodeling houses.

Of the many projects involving Gavin, the Heads Hands & Feet band seems to have left behind the most devoted fans, although Vinegar Joe enjoyed a large following for its live shoes. Although the latter group never really captured the excitement of its stage act on record, Heads Hands & Feet came up with a debut album featuring much the same blend of country and rock played by groups such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Grateful Dead. As a result, Gavin and company were considered ahead of their time, and have enjoyed a fair amount of interest in the reissue market. The group evolved out of another band featuring both Lee and Gavin, entitled Poet & the One Man Band. Like many British musicians, Gavin cut his teeth playing in the bands of British bluesmen, and shows up on some efforts in this style by Long John Baldry.

Vinegar Joe, mostly known as one of the early bands to feature vocalist Robert Palmer, was a rhythm & blues outfit with an average of about a dozen musicians on-stage. Its high energy show was compared to the revue of Ike & Tina Turner and featured the young Palmer in a winning combination with female singer Elkie Brooks. Ironically, the band evolved out of a much more experimental outfit entitled Dada, which recorded one eponymous album for Atco in 1970. Lee and Gavin were both enlisted by Cocker following a mass exodus of sidemen from Cocker's band. Both went on to play in the first edition of Joe Cocker & the Cock N Bull Band, which never recorded. The drummer also appears on a variety of sessions, including records by Don Everly, Teresa Brewer, Shirley Bassey, and Al Stewart. The Brewer recordings, taped at live shows in London in the early '80s, seem to be Gavin's last major recordings.