In 1970, In The Summertime shot to No.1 in the second week of release in the UK, became the biggest selling single of the year, and went on to shift over 23 million copies worldwide.He was also heavily involved in the production of the Paul Daniels children’s TV show, Wizbit with Ray providing some of the music played.
Barry sadly passed away in 2021.
In 1997, Derek Wadeson spoke with Barry Murray, Mungo Jerry’s producer about his professional involvement with Ray Dorset.
I started off working for London City Agency with Harry Simmonds, a very innovative agency for its time with a good mixture of jazz, blues and soul.
Among the artists on our books were The Artwoods, Jon Lord’s first band and The Five Proud Walkers, who later went on to become Hudson Ford.
Then I was headhunted by the Brian Morrison Agency who managed Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and The Pretty Things.
When I started, I looked at the date book to find Pink Floyd only had two forthcoming bookings, Bedford College and The Imperial Ballroom, London. When I asked how come, the reply was, “What do you think we got you for?”
In the past, I had held auditions for bands at the Ken Colyer Club in Leicester Square on Sunday
afternoons, seeing new bands like Fairport Convention, Wishbone Ash and Arthur Brown.
Meanwhile, Pye Records had set up the Dawn label, but really had no idea what to do with it. When Tony Macaulay left Pye, I was offered the job of in-house producer.
At this time, I formed the Red Bus Company as well working on the production side. The idea for the name, Red Bus came about when I saw a red bus bombing down the Great Cambridge Road at about 80 m.p.h.
I saw The Good Earth (who became Mungo Jerry soon afterwards) at the Middle Earth Club and wanted to sign them to Dawn with Donovan and John McLaughlin.
I still had some old demos from Ray Dorset from earlier days and we cut some demos at Pye and I could see the potential straight away.
Pye weren’t too keen, but as I was the new man brought in, they let me have my way.
Our Red Bus offices had The Temple, (formerly The Flamingo) in the basement. They weren’t going too well at the time, so I persuaded them to hold some all-nighters to promote some of our artists. A sort of underground scene.
The Good Earth used to come on stage at about 3.30 a.m when it was getting really mellow and they would tear the place apart – it was infectious, real energy!
We offered the band a complete package at Red Bus, management, publishing, agency and got the Pye deal signed.
I wanted to issue In The Summertime as the first single. The band and record company weren’t too keen at first, agreeing only afterwards when I told them that if they didn’t issue it, I would get someone else to cover it.
I remixed it after hearing the acetate and could see it wasn’t quite there yet after playing it to several people, including John Peel. I knew I was right!
Just before its release, we added Mungo to the bill of the Hollywood Music Festival in May 1970, that we were organising to promote our acts. We brought the Grateful Dead in from the U.S that cost us £10,000 and several others as well – Free, Jose Feliciano, Black Sabbath, Ginger Baker’s Airforce and Traffic.
Well Mungo just blew everybody else away, it was amazing! We issued the maxi-single, calling them maxi’s because we getting the maximum amount of music that we could, and it went crazy! I got a call from Pye Records head Louis Benjamin to say that he had a telex from the distribution centre – they had taken orders for 71,000 copies over the weekend. Gloating a bit, remembering that they weren’t too keen to sign the band, I said, “What does that mean?” “We’ve got a smash!” He shouted!
When we took so long in issuing the follow-up, Baby Jump, they started panicking, especially when The Mixtures issued The Pushbike Song. Louis thought we’d blown it, I didn’t, I knew that the band and the product were strong enough, we could afford to wait.
With Baby Jump, I remember Pye having a pressing problem and I threw a wobbler about it, stocks came up from the factory quickly, then it re-entered the charts and did the business…No 1 again!
IN MAY 1971, THE GROUP’S THIRD MAXI-SINGLE, LADY ROSE WAS TEMPORARILY BANNED BY THE B.B.C BECAUSE OF THE INCLUSION OF HAVE A WHIFF ON ME. IT WAS WITHDRAWN AND SHE ROWED, A TRACK FROM THE BAND’S SECOND ALBUM, ELECTRONICALLY TESTED WAS SUBSTITUTED FOR ‘WHIFF’.
Lady Rose, what a great song, and you know it was going to be the third No.1 until some pillock stood up in the House Of Commons and said his piece. What got me was that the ‘Beeb’ had played Have a Whiff On Me five times in the last year from live sessions, before they shit themselves.
Pye wanted to change the track listing for the maxi, they just lost their bottle. I thought it should have stayed, after all, it was a traditional song but the time in repressing cost it dear, as it does in this business.
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep stepped in and that was that! We could have got an awful lot of coverage from the press and media and turned it to our advantage. Look what Frankie Goes To Hollywood did in the ’80’s.
A FEW MONTHS LATER, DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RAY,PAUL KING AND COLIN EARL CAME TO A HEAD.
When the band came back from Australia, I got a call from Paul and Colin. They wanted to see me at my Pye office. I used to commute between Pye and Red Bus as I was needed. They wanted Ray out of the band.
I thought they were out of their heads. I was totally frank with them. I told them to ride the storm, you’re near to cracking it on a very big scale, the band could be huge worldwide if it sticks together. If you don’t, well it could be the end for you.
But, they wanted to keep the Mungo name. I told them you can’t do that, next time you turn up at a gig without Ray, the promoter will say, “Where’s Mungo?” That says it all!
They went away and came back not long afterwards. “Ray had to go”. I said, OK let’s call a meeting but I will stick with Ray and the rest of the management and record company will want to as well. So the band split at a time when I wanted them to tour the States over and over and crack it. Savoy Brown did it, so could they and with album sales instead of singles.
Anyhow, I thought the best thing to do would be to get a single out quick. Ray was not 100% there in his head, because of all that was going on around him, he was concerned about the state of the band. I said, look at it this way, you don’t split the money four ways now, just pay everybody a salary. That seemed to cheer him up.
We chose Open Up as the single, it had a good feel but no real hook. I felt that we had a chart single, if not a Top 10 one and was proved right (it made 21 in ’72). We filled a gap, Mungo was still alive.
At this time, I was having my own problems with Eliot and Elias, they had changed and I did what I told Paul and Colin not to do, I got out! I sold them my shares in the company and started afresh with Harry Simmonds with the Simmonds/Murray Management Agency, looking after Savoy Brown and Chicken Shack amongst others.
Later that year, Ray issued the new Mungo album, Boot Power and maxi, and although I am credited with co-producing, I did very little. I felt rather guilty about leaving Ray that way, but I had no choice.
When Peter Prince at Pye let me hear the choice for the single, My Girl & Me, I knew it was wrong. I felt 46 & On should have been the one, it had a much better hook (both tracks, edited from the full length versions on Boot Power, were on the sixth maxi-single released in November 1972, and the first which failed to reach the chart).
I was still trying to get out of my contract with Pye, so kept a low profile. They were never going to be a major company, they tried to be too safe. Sometimes you have to stick your neck out, they never would, but my past involvement with Ray meant I still wanted him to do well.
MUNGO JERRY STILL MANAGED TO CARRY ON AS A LIVE AND CHART ACT THOUGH?
With the live show, we were now busy, busy, busy. Ray always had a double edged sword, he was a great songwriter and a great live performer as well. We issued Wild Love, going with what we had in the can at the time.
It was a feel song more than anything else but with the line-up changes, we were touring or rehearsing all the time.
At a rehearsal in Shepherds Bush one day, I played to Ray on a keyboard, a song I knew by Bob Azzam, an Egyptian band leader, a distant relative of mine had married into his family.
Mustapha was the song, an old traditional Greek (or Jewish) folk song. Ray caught on to it straight away and from the idea developed Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black. It was a big one! (No.13 in 1974).
When it comes to rock’n roll, there aren’t that many English songwriters that can compare to the Americans, writing songs for the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Ray Dorset could, he was the best this side of the water, that’s where the idea for the ‘All Dressed Up ‘Rock’n Roll E.P came from, to show what he could do. The only person I thought could compare to Ray at that time was John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It also took some pressure off, the Pye contract was coming to a close and we wanted to tout around for a bit, try and go to a worldwide company rather than one that just licensed things out and hoped.
Pye wanted us to re-sign but they had done very little for us. They had no vision, weren’t international. Polydor were!
We signed , I thought great, international company, album sales, here we come. But we were to find out that they thought of Mungo as a singles band as well.
Looking back, the two singles with Polydor in 1975, Can’t Get Over Loving You and Hello Nadine came two years too late. They were great songs but just the wrong time.
It was around then that I was getting out for a rest. I had earned the money to do so, and I felt that I was letting no one down. Ray had his new contract with Polydor – he should be going places.
I was having non-music business problems with Harry Simmonds, and thought that the time was right for getting out for a long holiday. I had worked non-stop since 1967 as manager/agent/publisher/producer. Nine years, yes – I was due a holiday.
WHY DIDN’T MUNGO TOUR THE STATES FROM 1973 ONWARDS?
I felt Mungo would have taken the States by storm, the original band, they were playing American music better than the Yanks. But Colin and Paul wanted away so, at a time when they should have been doing it, we were re-building. I surrounded Ray with solid blues/rock players as he was doing his rock’n roll kick at the time we were having all the publishing problems and changeovers. We were in demand in Britain and Europe, so we concentrated on those areas.
My one reservation about the States, had always been our record deal over there. We were licensed by Pye to Janus. Pye had always been unwilling to push it in the States, going for a safe licence deal rather than having a shot themselves. Or giving it to someone maybe, on a lower percentage from them, but letting them work and promote instead.
As management, we did it with Savoy Brown, so we knew Mungo could do it with the talent in the band.
We could even get them to support Savoy Brown, but without a record company putting up the money to get the exposure, radio/advertising, etc, there was no logic in it. I suppose Janus could have done it. They weren’t major and maybe unwilling to risk any money as they would just be making it for someone else.
When our contract as management was coming to an end, things started to sour a little. Ray didn’t think he was getting all he was due, standard rock’n roll stuff. Expensive lifestyle, to go with the image, two wives and kids, that sort of thing. He had a bee in his bonnet about accounts. I told him if he wanted to walk away from his contract, he could do. I had nothing to feel guilty about.
It was messy for a while. A relationship is bound to deteriorate under those circumstances, but all artists go through a phase like this. In the end, Ray withdrew his objections, maybe on legal advice. What did we want to go to court for anyhow?
Songwriters can sustain it over artists only, so Ray could be back in the big league anytime. He has a melodic gift for hooks.
Some of this interview previously appeared in ‘Beyond The Summertime’, The Mungo Jerry Story, by John Van Der Kiste & Derek Wadeson (A & F Publications, 1990) and also John’s ‘Keep On Rocking fanzine. Our thanks to John, Derek and of course, Barry Murray.
In 1977, Ray Dorset and Mungo Jerry as they were then billed, recorded another of his songs, Feels Like I’m In Love, for consideration as a single (Ray intended to send a demo to Elvis Presley’s management as he thought it might be suitable for him but Elvis rather inconsiderately died first).
It appeared as a 45 in several European countries but Polydor declined to release it in the UK. They were saying that punk rock was the only thing that seemed to be selling in the home market.
Two years later, Kelly Marie recorded the song. After breaking in clubs around the country for nearly a year, it reached No.1 in September 1980 for two weeks. Barry Murray said he thought Ray was a fool not to have released it as a single himself. “He needs me back”, was his comment when told the full story.