1970 – 1972 Kevin Ayers

March 14 Roundhouse (Atomic Sunrise Celebration) 22 Roundhouse, Chalk Farm "Implosion" 28-30 Paris Festival at Le Bourget Airport April 9 Hampstead (Country Club) 12 Birmingham, Mothers 25 Plymouth (Vandike Club) May 3 Bletchley (Youth Centre) 9 London (Imperial College) 30 Liverpool Stadium 31 Southall FarXClub June 6 Clitheroe Castle [free open air] 7 Bristol (Locarno) 11 Oxford (St Michael's Hall) 19 Cardiff (Sophia Gardens) July 11 Germany, Aachen (3 day festival) 18 London (Hyde Park) 19 London Roundhouse 'Implosion' 25 Worthing 'Phun City Festival' (3 day event) August 5 Nice Festival 8 Amsterdam Paradiso 7 Sussex Lewes Festival 8 Amsterdam Paradiso 21 Lyceum Ballroom September 13 London (Roundhouse) 22 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall* 23 Newcastle City Hall 26 London (Queen Elizabeth Hall) October 10 Central London Polytechnic 16 Brighton (Sussex Uni) 26 Cambridge Dorothy Ballroom 30 Wolverhampton, Waltham Hall 31 Manchester (Free Trade Hall) November 12 London (Lyceum, Strand) 13 Thames Polytechnic All Night Rave 28 Liverpool Stadium December 12 Holland, Nijmegen 13 Paris 14 Paris 15 Holland Dordrecht Verblifa Hall near Rotterdam - 10 day tour 16 Exit Club Rotterdam 18 Utrecht 19 Paradiso, Amsterdam 20 Sittard

Kevin Ayers' Whole World was formed around February or March of 1970. They played with some well known bands on the same bills. T Rex were at London Imperial College; in Germany Pink Floyd and Deep Purple played; Floyd also played Hyde Park which drew 20,000 along and was free. Barclay James Harvest played at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The material at the Queen Elizabeth Hall was David Bedford's The Garden of Love. The Nice festival featured Joan Baez, Derek and the Dominoes, Spencer Davis, Chris Barber, Alan Price and Pink Floyd. Cochise supported at Implosion on 25 July. Bridget St John played on a number of gigs.

These associations alone make one wonder. Mike named a track on the Guitars album Cochise. He had a telecaster that used to belong to Marc Bolan. He said of the gig in the Hangar at Le Bourget airport that Pink Floyd's track Astomini Domini contains a one and a half minute sequence that influenced his music a lot (he told R1) - because it had no drums.

Mike said of it: "I'd play bass most of the time and Kevin would play rhythm guitar. Then we'd switch over and he would play bass and I'd have a lead solo at the end of the set. I would do a completely unaccompanied solo then, and depending on my mood I used to let it feed back and I would do somersaults all over the floor." Imagine Mike doing that today!

During the 9 April gig classically trained composer David Bedford played the organ with a brick. His Garden of Love piece at Queen Elizabeth Hall was so strangely concocted that some members of the audience and the musical director of the London Sinfonietta walked out. On 22 September they were prevented from going on stage at Liverpool because they were 10 minutes late after travelling back from Amsterdam!

Apparently at a gig in Newport in December 70 Mike took over the lead guitar from Kevin but at that point the fuses in the speakers blew. Lol Coxhill played sax for 10 minutes and then Mike played some jigs on the mandolin finishing with the Sailor's Hornpipe.

Reviewer Richard Williams wrote of their Country Club gig that "the sound is occasionally a bit anarchic, but it's the kind of warm chaos which draws you into it and the band is a highly recommended listening experience."

1971 January 14 Bristol (Arnolfini) 16 Manchester Uni 29 London (The Temple) February 6 Plymouth Vandike Club 7 London Roundhouse 20 Durham Uni (Old Shire Hall) March 7 Surrey (Guildford Festival) April 11 London Alexandra Park CND Festival 15 Marquee 29 Llanelli Technical College 30 Chelmsford May 1 Camden Festival* July 4 Blackburn 10 London (The Temple)

The WW dropped out of the Camden festival for some reason; they performed the Garden of Love at Bristol. They were supported by SuperTramp at Manchester University.

In 1990 William Murray, who drummed for some of 1971, told David Porter that "Michael didn't like performing, he still doesn't, and he didn't like touring". When Mike himself looked back on that period he commented, "We were trailing everywhere to gigs, but technically and creatively the music became abysmal. People would get drunk, we'd struggle to find the right notes, so we'd turn up the amplifier and the feedback and do somersaults."

In November 1980 he said to Melody Maker (in answer to why he didn't tour sooner) "I did with Kevin Ayers. We toured for two years, but I found that a bit miserable. I used to drink too much. We didn't have much money and we travelled around in the back seat of a Transit van with no window. You tend to get a bit drunk and a bit miserable and wish you were somewhere else."

The truth seems to be a combination that while Mike could ensure some of the drunken antics that passed for performing, he could not endure it indefinitely because it was too chaotic for somebody of his sensitive disposition. It did not sit well with his desire for control that came out later in a showdown with Ayers over the group's musical direction.

That happened in April 1971. Sean Moraghan has it that Mike sought more focus, less drink, more guitaring for him and no Lol Coxhill. A reviewer apparently said "The result was that the humour, spontaneity and surprise element all went out of the band." It didn't last longafter that - they were not always getting paid and Kevin Ayers realised it was not working in the way he had originally sought. Oldfield told Mick Brown (author of a Richard Branson biography) who then wrote for Sounds 1976, "The last tour was a very drunken affair. Too much so. I wanted to have more say in the music. I got it, but it didn't work out as well as it might have done, so I left."

Mike's days on tour with Kevin Ayers and his earlier time on stage with Sally and others gave him a circle of friends whom he later drew upon to play with, like David Bedford, William Murray, and Bridget St John. It opened him to new music that shaped some of his later work (very notably parts of Tubular Bells) but it put him off playing live mainly because he felt he lost control in a world he already found difficult in the extreme.

©Mark Slattery