Preparing my solo album was cathartic, it brought back so many memories of my very hedonistic days when I was involved with the Michael Schenker Group & recording my first single in a Sussex Studio and Air Studios in London – my band way back then was ‘Hayleys Comet’. I was requested to be at the Chateau in the balmy summer of 1982 and anyone reading this needs to google the volume of world-wide stars who have recorded there, such as: David Bowie, Marc Bolan- T-Rex, Fleetwood Mac, Iggy Pop, Elton John etc, etc. I arrived in my Daimler having become a successful singer/musician in my own right.
Leaving for Paris
On arriving on the stroke midnight with my lady and Chris Glen’s wife Jennifer, the door of this awesome building was opened by a gentleman called Youth who was extremely well built in height and stature – you would not argue with this man, he was after all the head of security. With rain pissing down and lightning strikes it was like entering Count Dracula’s Castle or the Adams Family House. When the door opened we were confronted with an amazing sight. There was my good friend Chris Glen (formerly of The Alex Harvey Band) and Michael Schenker having a brawl over the snooker table, music from the amps blasting out as we were escorted up to the minstrel gallery to our rooms. As I looked down below it was like a scene out of a rock 'n' roll film - wine women & song, whilst the staff carried on with their duties as if it was a normal day/night in the office. After unpacking, we all went down to the open plan lounge area and the gifts I’d brought from England cheered everyone up!
Helicopter drops Graham Bonnet off
Days there turned in to night and one particular afternoon the lead singer of “Rainbow” Graham Bonnet who had just left that band to join M.S.G. arrived by helicopter. He was pretty peed of as he’d just landed in the grounds and one of the official photographers kept taking photos of him. Graham and I became very good friends for years after that memorable month in the Chateau.
Mealtimes were: you ate when you wanted. The service was 24/7. If you wanted breakfast at 2 in the morning it was done (that’s how it was in those days).
From left to right: Graham Bonnet (formley of Rainbow), Finn (Camera Crew), Martin Birch (record producer to top musicians) Jennifer and Chris Glen (Chris originally Bass Guitarist - Alex Harvey Band then joined M.S.G), Steve - Production Crew, Hayley
Meanwhile in the studios everyone was doing their job. Martin Birch was the producer and his catalogue of artists he produced needs to be seen to be believed. And whilst the album carried on gathering momentum a typical day off for us lot was 5 aside football, the local café and sing songs round different parts of the grounds.
Graham Bonnet and myself singing til the early hours
One particular evening I remember, Graham and I jumped in to the Daimler and headed out in to the country having packed the car with a crate full of booze and champagne. We found a wooded area, parked up, got the guitars and booze out and sang mostly Beatles songs til the early hours of the morning. We got back about 9am and Mr B was not too pleased but hey that was real studio days and any musician knows reading this that despite the luxury we were all cocooned in “cabin fever” crept in.
Michael Schenker and myself shooting pool in the Chateau d’Herouville
You’re bored with hanging around waiting for your turn to put your bit down (musically or vocal wise). Another memorable night we all decided to go to Paris for dinner. Chris Glen’s wife, (bless her heart) decided to sit in a portable buggy by the pool waiting for the rest of us to get our act together and Chris being Chris decided to give the buggy a run for its money. They both ended up in the pool with Jennifer calmly walking out saying “how delightful” – what a trooper that woman!
Left - Right: Myself, Graham Bonnet & Michael Schenker chilling out
After coming back from the Paris meal I pulled another present out of my bag from England as I sensed friction through boredom was setting in again. This time it was a VHS tape with different Fawlty Towers episodes. That really worked. We all spent many evening in stitches.
Chris Glenn teaching Michael “Delilah” dance routine
One afternoon with Chris and Michael being friends again (there was always a kick off now and then, generally) Chris decided to teach Michael the steps from the middle part of the song “Delilah” charted by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in which the two guitarists do a great dance routine which was performed on The Old Grey Whistle Test (try Googling the song). I happened to have a camera on me and I captured the moment in time (see pic).
Myself and the lady grabbing a beer
At the end of the month we all headed back to our homes pleased to be out of there. We all regrouped at Air Studios in London, where the final mix was put down. Whilst waiting around again I shot many games of pool with the late Cozy Powell, jammed with the Jam (who were recording their latest album) and lost pool yet again to Paul Weller (I’m not too good at that game). One afternoon I spent a long time having a chat with Paul McCartney over coffee where he gave me fantastic tips on a music situation I needed to get clarity over. A month later he phoned me at home to just touch base.
Chris and Myself leaving for Air Studios London
Here are some examples of artists who have record at the Chateau: Elton John, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd, Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, T. Rex, Rainbow, Iggy Pop & many other artists.
For reference: The one time owner of the above Chateau was the famous french musician and film score composer Michel Magne
Original cassette sleeve cover -Hayleys Comet