The Ollie Halsall Archive
Ayers on a G string
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Kevin Ayers


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© Ian Carpenter

© Roy Wood

© Marvin Siau


Uncut magazine
November 2008

"Ollie Halsall is one of the most under-rated guitarist in the world - he played the shit out of people like Clapton and Jeff Beck. He was really adaptable and could go from the gentlest song. really listen to the song, not just like a guitar player, but sensitive to a piec of music. But he could also be as had a rocker as anyone.

My favourite Ollie quote is: "There are only two people I'd play free for: that's you and Randy Newman." It was an enduring collaboration: It was love at first solo.

At the time, I had a nice big house in Mallorca, and he and his girlfriend [Zanna Gregmar] moved in - and we did a lot of work in and around Spain. We'd started collaborating and writing songs. It was like the musical equivalent of having a partner.

I don't want to give everything away, really, but he started working with Spanish bands, as I didn't have enough going on, and they were paying him loads. And he hated it, and he fell into bad ways . . . and died of it. It was a massive loss of a friend and a great talent."

Kevin Ayers
Uncut magazine, December 2008

Exceprt from Stylus Magazine interview by Mike Atkinson

Mike Anderson: It was round about this time that Ollie Halsall came onto the scene. He then stayed with you, as your closest musical associate, for the next eighteen years. At a time when an awful lot of collaborators were constantly coming and going, what was it about Ollie that led to the two of you sticking together for so long?

Kevin Ayers: [long pause] Gosh, that’s a really hard one. I think it was just instant empathy. I met him while I was in the studio doing Dr. Dream; I think he was working with members of Colosseum at the time. I needed a guitar solo for “Didn’t Feel Lonely Till I Thought of You.” I opened the door, and there was this guy walking along with a white Gibson. I said, “Do you fancy doing a guitar solo?” Sure, he said… and then came in and did this stunning solo, after listening to it just once. That was it. That was love, you know?

MA: Ollie worked with you closely on the next album, Sweet Deceiver [1975]. This is a problematic one. I listened to it again this week and absolutely loved it—I had forgotten what a good album it was—and I really do think that it’s one of your most underrated albums.

KA: Well, thank you for saying that. [emphatically] Thank you very much for saying that.

MA: Still Life with Guitar came out in 1992. Shortly after its release, Ollie Halsall tragically died—and then you didn’t release another album of original new material for fifteen years. It’s very tempting to draw certain conclusions from that.

KA: Well, you’ve got it, yeah. [pause] I mean, you’ve answered… it’s a rhetorical question.

MA: OK. Well, I could delve further, but I kind of don’t want to.

KA: No, I don’t think you should.

Full interview


The Confessions of Doctor Dream 1973

Dr Dream album cover

Didn't feel Lonely

June 1 1974 Rainbow Theatre, London

June 1 1974 album cover

May I
Shouting In A Bucket Blues
Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes
Everybody's Sometime . . .
Two Goes Into Four

With John Cale, Nico & Brian Eno. Until 1998, the only official live Ayers/Halsall release - and then only two tracks, the solo on the former prompting Terry Theise's respected appraisal nearly 3 years later (Guitar, January 1977). Andy Summers plays lead guitar on this version of Everybody's Sometime.

The BBC Sessions 1970-1976

BBC Sessions  album cover BBC Sessions  album cover 2

Another Whimsical Song
Lady Rachel
Stop This Train
Didn't Feel Lonely
Stranger in Blue Shoes
BBC radio sessions 1975

Previously issued as First Show in the Appearance Business, 1988

Sweet Deceiver 1975

Sweet Deciever album cover

[Guru Banana]
[City Waltz]
Toujours la Voyage
Sweet Deceiver
[Diminished But Not Finished]
[Circular Letter]
[Once Upon an Ocean]
[Farewell Again]

[Tracks in brackets include OH only on bass, acoustic, vibes or vocals]

Elton John piano on Guru Banana & Tojours la Voyage

Yes We Have No Mananas 1976

Mananas album cover

Mr. Cool

The Owl
Love's Gonna Turn You Round
Help Me
Ballad Of Mr Snake
Everyone Knows The Song

Mr Cool features Ollie's only known use of wah pedal! I have long regarded these two albums (Sweet Deceiver & Yes We Have No Mananas) as amongst Kevin's finest achievements. Apart from some superb guitar, Ollie also provides most of the Deceiver bass parts.

Too Old to Die Young 1998

Too Old to Die Young album cover

Didn't Feel Lonely
Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes
Farewell Again

BBC radio sessions 1975 with Zoot Money keyboards.

Rainbow Takeaway 1978

Rainbow Takeaway album cover

Blaming It All On Love
Ballad Of A Salesman
View from the Mountain
Rainbow Takeaway
Waltz For You
Beware of the Dog
Strange Song
Goodnight Goodnight
Hat Song

'Starvin' Marvin Siau

That's What You Get, Babe 1980

That's What You Get album cover

That's What You Get
Where Do I Go From Here
[You Never Outrun Your Heart]
Given And Taken
Super Salesman
[Money, Money, Money]
Miss Hanaga
I'm So Tired
Where Do The Stars End

[Tracks in brackets include OH only on bass or vocals]

[Percussion (film soundtrack) 1983]

[Howling Man]

Diamond Jack & the Queen of Pain 1983

Diamond Jack album cover

Madame Butterfly
Lay Lady Lay
Who's Still Crazy
You Keep Me Hangin' On
You Are A Big Girl
Steppin' Out
My Speeding Heart
Howling Man
Give A Little Bit
Champagne And Valium

Deià Vu 1984

Deia Vue album cover

Champagne and Valium]
[Thank God For A Sense Of Humour]
[Take It Easy]
[Stop Playing With My Heart]
My Speeding Heart
[Lay Lady Lay]
[Stop Playing With My Heart]
[Be Aware Of The Dog]

OH plays guitar on only My Speeding Heart but appears to play bass on everything else

As Close As You Think 1986

As Close as You Think album cover As Close as You Think album cover

The riff on Too Old to Die Young (in fact another version of Champagne & Valium) was later ressurected on Another Rolling Stone from Falling Up.

Ollie-freaks should take especial note of this remarkable album. The credit 'Kevin Ayers featuring Ollie Halsall' could almost be reversed - such is the balance of the collaboration. Indeed, Never My Baby is, to all intents and purposes, a Halsall solo performance

Falling Up 1988

Falling Up album cover

Saturday Night
Flying Start
The Best We Have
Another Rolling Stone
Do You Believe
That's What We Did
Night Fighters
Am I Really Marcel?

Marcel features quite possibly the most elusive solo of Ollie's entire career, even remarking on it himself in a 1988 interview. Quite how he achieved the final note will remain a mystery

Still Life With Guitar 1992
Extended version 2002

Still Life With Guitar album cover Still Life With Guitar album cover

Ghost Train
I Don't Depend On You
Don't Blame Them

It's getting very near the end and if Ollie's composition Ghost Train isn't now one of the most poignant pieces of music you've ever heard I'd like to know what is. What a shame the live 'Another Year Goes By' chorus came too late for the album version.

Ollie plays just acoustic on Ghost Train and Don't Blame Them and vibes on I Don't Depend on You.


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