Once Upon a Time . . .
Mike in the 60's and 70's
Loads of pictures to click and enlarge on this page! Homepage
What the History books say . . . !
Mike Absalom was one of the real folk-singing characters of the seventies club and college music circuit. He was an ex-Oxford graduate and the son of a clergyman and spent many years after graduation travelling the world living on his wits and undertaking a variety of odd jobs including teacher, journalist, bodyguard, illegal liquor seller, tourist boat guide and busker, putting to good use his knowledge of eight foreign languages.
In my Earls Court pad in Sunnyhill Ct, Trebovir Road
Returning to England in the late sixties, he joined the burgeoning club and college music circuit with an act based around the singing of mainly traditional bawdy rugby-style songs. An album of this material was released on the Sportsdisc label in 1966.
Playing the phono fiddle in 1967 - click picture for more
He further developed his act and began to write his own material which largely consisted of his wry and humorous observations on various aspects of life, but concentrating on sex, drugs and the church. This self penned material first featured among the songs on his second album which was entitled Save the Last Gherkin For Me on the collectable Saydisc label released in 1968 which also featured a well-known session guitarist of the time - Diz Dizley. In order to supplement the somewhat infrequent club and college bookings Mike was not averse to reverting to his busking past and could often be seen in and around the Notting Hill area of London where he lived. It was during one such session that Patrick Campbell-Lyons of the group Nirvana spotted him and he was offered a deal with the legendary Vertigo label. His self-titled Vertigo album appeared in 1971 and featured an early Roger Dean designed fold-out sleeve based on the content of Mike’s songs and was produced by Campbell-Lyons. It contained material based on drugs, sex, police corruption and politics humorously encapsulated in Mike’s unique brand of storytelling poetry set to acoustic guitar.
As background to understanding Mike’s material it is important to remember that his formative years were in the swinging sixties and his audience was largely students. His work is full of essentially British-style humour and looks at the lighter side of drugs, sex, the church, politics and conflicts with authority which was well received on the college circuit. Mike’s long hair, tall hat, hippie attire and engaging grin became a fixture in the early seventies.
On his Vertigo album Mike created a series of characters for his drug-based tales including Ernie Plugg, John the Bog, Suzie Grapevine, Pusher Joe, Peaches Melba and Constable McLagan. As well as his drug-based material Mike also penned some serious folk songs based on love and life and also a humorous tale of the Arab/Israeli conflict (Gaza Striptease) and a tale of telephone tapping (Don’t Tell It On The Telephone).
Mike continued this formula on his fourth album which came out on the Philips label in 1972 entitled Hector And Other Peccadillos. On this he introduced Hector the dope sniffing hound, W.P.C. Sadie Stick and Flasher Jack as well as performing songs about a novel way to deal with the Taxman, his views on the Church and a song about the ancient Britons.
Press ad for the Philips LP
Mike Absalom may be an acquired taste but he is a taste worth acquiring. He followed in the long tradition of humorous music hall story-telling acts such as Flanders and Swann but took the genre into the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll era of the seventies. His songs repay repeated listening as clever rhymes, puns and amusing storylines abound.
From my Horror Shock Folk Review "Drugula" 1974
He appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972 performing songs from the Hector… album along with his band which consisted of Ray Fenwick (ex-Quiver), Eric Dillon, John Perry and Mike Weaver and continued on the college circuit until the mid-seventies. His Vertigo album, which is by far the strongest, has been released on CD by the Repertoire label and is available from here.
Caricatures from 1976 or 77 by Jane Davis
Homepage | Biography | Paintings | Music Shop | Archives | Photos | Harpist | Children's Entertainer | Contact