Colin Carter began his musical odyssey in the UK, singing with various local Portsmouth bands, and eventually playing the length and breadth of the UK in venues large and small. That led to tours in mainland Europe playing numerous gigs in Germany and Switzerland.
At one point, Colin’s band, Mushroom, drew notice from the Beatles label, Apple Records and one of it’s producers, Mike Berry. While no record deal from Apple was forthcoming, it led to Colin and his bandmates getting regular recording session work with Berry as the house band, constantly commuting up from Portsmouth to studios in London, and getting valuable experience that would serve Colin well in his later endeavours.
Mushroom gigged with many well known acts of the time including David Bowie, Deep Purple,The Move, Fairport Convention, T. Rex and more. Mushroom had a couple of other notables in the line up, with lead guitarist Barry Paul, who later joined Savoy Brown and bass player Mick Feat, who played and recorded with many major acts including the Dave Gilmore Band and Tina Turner.
Around 1970, Colin was recruited by keyboardist Peter Bardens, and he became the lead singer and front man of the London based Peter Bardens Band, helping them promote Bardens’ new album, “The Answer”. Colin made the move north from Portsmouth and quickly found himself thrust into the centre of the action in London.
Peter Bardens was well known for his driving, bluesy, Hammond organ sound. He had been the keyboard player with Van Morrison and Them, fronted bands with Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Peter Green, and was part of The Shotgun Express Band with Rod Stewart. Although Bardens was renowned for his keyboard skills, he still counted on having the power and the delivery of a lead singer to carry his songs live, and Colin easily rose to the challenge.
Also with Colin, in the Bardens’ lineup at that time, was drummer Reg Isidore, who later went on to drum with Robin Trower on the classic album Bridge Of Sighs, and record the album “Truce” with Trower and Jack Bruce. Colin fronted multiple gigs with the Bardens band, including several at the legendary Marquee Club in Soho, before they parted ways. Bardens later went on to form the band Camel.
Adrift in London, but with a clear direction in mind, Colin tracked down guitarist Peter Banks, who had recently departed from the band Yes. Coincidently, they were born within hours of each other, the same year, and the two became fast friends and began songwriting together, while searching for other band members and business support. Fortunately, the missing pieces fell together fairly quickly. Colin and Peter were soon joined by Mike Hough on drums and Ray Bennett on bass guitar, and the band, now
named Flash, began recording the first album of the same name.
After much rehearsal of the complex material, Flash hit the road in the UK on January 14th 1972. They gigged almost non-stop, promoting the new record, and also made several trips across The Channel to mainland Europe, packing in live gigs and recording TV shows in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.
FLASH IN THE USA
Meanwhile in the US, unbeknown to Flash or Capitol Records, their American label, a US East Coast radio station had edited down the album’s opening song from a nine minute epic, to a three minute single. So many people called the station to request the song, and asked where they might buy a copy, that it forced Capitol Records to produce it’s own authorised shorter version as a single that could now get radio airplay. That song was named “Small Beginnings”. It was written by Colin, complete with chords, lyrics and melody. Pete Banks then added his solos and instrumental links weaving in and out of the arrangement. This song launched Flash in the USA, landing in the mid 20’s of the Billboard Top 100 chart for 12 weeks.
On July 14th 1972, Colin’s birthday, exactly 6 months to the day after it’s first gig, Flash flew to New York, arriving just after midnight on July 15th 1972, Pete’s birthday, to begin their first US tour. The stars had aligned !
Flash then began the first of four extended coast-to-coast tours of the US. They played in packed clubs, and theatres large and small, at outdoor festivals and in huge baseball and football stadiums. Their biggest gig was playing at the 3-day, Bull Island Soda Pop Festival in Indiana, in front of an estimated audience of 300,000 people.
THE EARLY 70’s was a high point in music history for touring rock bands.
Flash were on the bill, playing alongside, or headlining gigs with countless internationally known acts while touring the UK and the US. The list below reads like a Rock N Roll, Who’s-Who of that era.
Here are some of the acts that Flash gigged with:
Genesis, Stone The Crows, Nazareth, Badfinger, The Chambers Brothers, The James Gang, The Raspberries, Uriah Heep, Long John Baldry, Wishbone Ash, Santana, Black Sabbath, The James Cotton Blues Band, The Jeff Beck Group, Argent, Savoy Brown, Rory Gallagher, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, J Geils Band, Flo and Eddie with Aynsley Dunbar, Jo Jo Gunn, The Kinks, Dr Hook, Captain Beyond, Foghat, Focus, Humble Pie, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, Steve Miller Band, Quicksilver, Earth Wind and Fire, The Byrds, Beck Bogart and Appice, Lou Reed, Joe Walsh, Black Oak Arkansas, Blue Oyster Cult, The Pretty Things, and many others.
COLIN CARTER- AFTER FLASH.
When the Flash era came to an end, and after some false starts in the UK, Colin made the move to New York. He pulled together a band in NYC that was more mainstream than the progressive style of Flash. The band named Storm had quite a lineup! Colin was on lead vocals of course. Mike Hough from Flash was on drums. On keyboards was Al Greenwood, later with Foreigner when they had their number one single,” Feels Like The First Time.” On bass guitar was Kenny Aaronson, from the NY band Stories when they also had a number one single in the US, with “Brother Louie”. Kenny went on to play with everybody from Lou Reed to Rick Derringer, and Bob Dylan to Billy Idol. He’s currently playing in The New Yardbirds. NY lead guitarist Tony Guarino completed the line up. Storm was managed at that time by famed NY concert promoter Jimmy Koplic of Live Nation, who was able to give the new band exposure at the various concert venues he promoted. Some studio recordings of the band do exist and may yet see the light of day.
NEXT STOP – LOS ANGELES.
Forever heading west, Colin arrived in Los Angeles in the late 70’s. This time working with another British lead guitarist, Martin Pugh. Martin was well known in Europe for his long stint with the blues-rock band Steamhammer, who have recently reformed. Later, Martin was also the lead guitarist with the band Armageddon which featured Keith Relf, former lead singer with the Yardbirds, plus bassplayer Louie Cenamo and Bobby Caldwell on drums. That project was tragically cut short by the accidental death of Relf.
Colin and Martin led the band, with UK bass player Graham Keighley and LA drummer Mike Messer completing the lineup. They played the LA club circuit for a couple of years and also recorded together.
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST.
Having done his time in the big cities of London, New York, and Los Angeles, Colin now headed north, this time for rural Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest. During his time in Oregon, he has recorded a reformed Flash album on Cleopatra Records, with Ray Bennett, former Flash bass player, now on guitar. The two performed as Flash at Mexicali Prog Festival in Mexico in 2005 and again at the Progday Annual Festival in North Carolina in 2010.
Colin now resides near the Oregon Coast. He is still writing, recording and he released a solo CD named “Colin Carter-One” in 2018. Writing and singing all the songs, and playing most of the instruments, he produced an eclectic collection of songs in wide ranging styles. The album became an experiment to test the boundaries of his musical and songwriting and production skills. A learning experience.
TRACKS IN SPACE
A second solo album, titled ”Tracks in Space”, is now complete and is due out in 2023.
This new CD is more polished and focused than the “Colin Carter-One” recording, and if the songs have one thing in common through each of them, it’s a constant pulse. A dance beat! So prepare to get those feet moving and hips swaying!
For the “Tracks In Space” project, Colin has been working long distance with Los Angeles guitarist and session player, George Keller. The album was begun during lockdown so travel was limited and the two worked extensively online. The two clicked musically and the result is quite impressive.
Flash – Capitol Records – USA / EMI UK – 1972
In The Can – Capitol Records – USA / EMI UK – 1972
Out Of Our Hands – Capitol Records – USA / EMI UK – 1973
Flash – (First Album) One Way Records – USA – 1994
In The Can One Way Records – USA – 1993
Out Of Our Hands – One Way Records – USA – 1993
Psychosync- (Live Radio & TV Recordings) – Blueprint Records UK And Resurgence Records NY – USA – 1997
Flash (First Album) Plus “Flash Out Of Our Hands (Third Album) 2 CD, or 2 LP Package – Friday Music – USA – 2003
Flash (First Album) – Esoteric Recordings – 2010
Flash In The Can – Esoteric Recordings – 2010
Flash – Featuring Colin Carter and Ray Bennett – Purple Pyramid / Cleopatra Records USA – 2013
Flash In Public – Live Concert (From 1-21-73) Adequate Sounds USA – 2013
Flash In The USA – 3 CD Boxed Set – Live Recordings 1972-73 Tlik – Music- EU/ USA – 2022
1. Colin Carter – “One” – Colin Carter Music USA – 2018
2. Colin Carter – “Tracks In Space” – Melodic Revolution Records – USA – 2023