Articles

1st November 2003
ROGER SCOTT CRAIG
THE OTHER HALF OF LIVERPOOL EXPRESS

By Michael Cimino of Cottage Views Magazine (www.cottageviews.com)

Reviewing the notes I scribbled down while listening to The Best of Liverpool Express or the first time I now openly admit that my original convictions were not only correct but have intensified with each additional play.
I wrote, that The Best of Liverpool Express contains an overabundance of McCartney-esque melodies balanced by Harry Nilsson wistfulness, 10CC buoyancy, and a little “White Album” wit. If these songs popped on the radio, and you didn’t know better, you’d believe that they were long-lost Beatles tracks. Any Beatles-fan, or Anglo-music-phile, should not be without this collection. But I couldn’t have said it better myself, but then again, I did, didn’t I?

Cottage Views: I can’t believe that Liverpool Express was never big here in the states. What happened?

Roger Scott Craig: We were in the European charts, and we were slated to do the US tour in 1977 with Rod Stewart and something happened with our manager. Somebody at Warner Brothers was sleeping with our manager’s wife and our manager went into Warner Brothers, threw a few tables, and tried to kill the guy. We were abruptly taken off the tour (laughs). At least, from my own memory, that’s what happened at the time. That incident was what ruined our chances of doing well in America.

C. V.: How did you originally hook up with Billy Kinsley to form Liverpool Express?

R. S. C.: I had joined the Merseybeats when I first moved from Ireland, and being in the Merseybeats his name would come up all the time; Billy used to be in the band, I knew Billy was a great singer, and then I heard the song “Annabella” on the radio and I just loved this guys voice. I loved this song and
then I realized he’s the guy who is playing soccer with me every week! I hadn’t really put two and two together. At the time the other two guys and myself who ended up being Liverpool Express were working as a three piece band and we really needed a good singer so Billy and I started chatting. That’s how Liverpool Express came together all through football, or soccer as they call it out here.

C. V.: Is it true that you were asked to join Foreigner at one point?

R. S. C.: Yeah. After I left the UK and came to the states the guitar player Robin LeMesurier, who played with Rod Stewart, called and said, “There’s a band in New York called Foreigner who are looking for a keyboard player”, and I had never heard of Foreigner (laughs). I had no idea who they were, so I
got their album and learned a few of the tracks and auditioned. I was almost offered the job to do the Foreigner 4 tour, but the guy who had done the sessions on the album, I’ve forgotten his name now, changed his mind and decided he wanted to do the tour after all. They’ve called a few times since but I’ve never ended up working with them. I really admire those guys, Mick Jones and Lou Gramm.

C. V.: I understand that you’ve had some success in other bands while Liverpool Express had been on hiatus. What are they?

R. S. C.: When I first moved to the states I had a band in L. A. called Fortune, on MCA, that did quite well, but in the early nineties I put my own recording studio together and started writing music for TV commercials and started doing some work for Warner Brothers scoring movies. Then a few years later somebody approached us and asked us to do another album. As it happened we really couldn’t put the old band together so we started a new band – the original singer from Fortune, Larry Green, and myself – called Harlan Cage. He’s also known as L. A. Green. He sang on the Top Gun soundtrack. That was in the middle nineties and I’ve since then done six albums. We’ve done pretty well in Europe and Japan.

C. V.: How would you describe the music?

R. S. C.: I’d say it’s Foreigner Mark II (laughs). It’s melodic. It’ harmonies, good arrangements, that’s what I’d like to think.

C. V.: And then there is yet another band you have called 101 South?

R. S. C.: Yeah. We had done three Harlan Cage albums and the singer and I decided to do separate projects. He was working with Ritchie Zito at the time so I decided I’d do my own project and I found a great singer whose name is Greg Lynn Hall. It’s a very similar style to the Harlan Cage albums but just a different singer, so that’s called 101 South.

C. V.: When did you get the inspiration for the new Liverpool Express song “John, George, Ringo & Paul”?

R. S. C.: .: I actually wrote that way back in the Liverpool Express days. We did a version of it but at the time I didn’t have the tools to make a production of it. Now that I have my own studio I thought of it as a round about way of Billy and I getting back together again and doing some songs.

C. V.: I can’t wait to hear the new stuff. I’ve been listening to the Best of disc non-stop and the material is just fantastic.

R. S. C.: It’s very Beatle-ish, isn’t it? That is one of the strengths in Billy’s writing. A lot of people say he’s just like Paul McCartney. In fact McCartney said he’s more like McCartney then he is himself (laughs).

C. V.: Yeah. It reminds me of Wings.

R. S. C.: Yeah. It was the Band on the Run era, actually. I have a good story about that. I was working in Liverpool with Mike McCartney, Paul’s brother, during the Band on the Run era. We did some tracks and Mike sent them down to London to a couple of companies, and the A&R guy at one of the companies said, “The tracks are pretty good, but if I were you I’d fire the drummer.” And Mike says, “├╣Funny. That drummer is the drummer who’s playing on the top selling album in the world this week.” And the guy says, “├╣Well, who’s that?” and Mike says, “My brother Paul!” (laughs).

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