SHE is one of the iconic singers of the 60s, whose voice resonated through the decades as a reminder of how great the decade was – and she is still belting them out.
PP Arnold came to the UK in the mid-60s as an Ikette (a member of the Ike and Tine Turner Revue), then went solo.
As a soloist, she recorded two of the most memorable songs with a female pop voice: The First Cut Is The Deepest (on which The Nice provided musical backing) and Angel Of the Morning. Not long after that her record label – Immediate – folded and since then she has been totally independent.
About to start a short tour to promote her latest CD – more about which later – Arnold tells me how she came to the UK in the first place.
“It was quite by chance, really. I was at my home and I said a prayer to God to save me from an abusive teen marriage I was in. Within an hour I had a phone call from one of my friends.
“It transpired that the girls with Ike and Tina Turner’s Revue show were leaving and Maxine (my friend) and Gloria were going to be Ikettes but a third girl had let them down at the last minute.
“I told my husband that I was going shopping and went up to Fresno to see them. I sang Dancing In The Street and another song at the audition and Tina told me straightaway that I was in.”
Then she had to break the news to her husband.
“Yes, let’s just say that I had an ‘altercation’ with my husband, but I realised that God had answered my prayer. My mom helped me with my kids – after all $200 a week was a lot of money.
“Five days later I was on stage singing, wearing Tina’s shoes – which were two sizes too big but stuffed with toilet paper.”
Music is the easy part of the business, there were a lot of politics going on, and they got The Bee Gees back together. Robert Stigwood concentrated on them and my recordings got put on hold.PP Arnold
Of her time with the Revue, Arnold mainly enjoyed it.
“The music side was great, up till the audition I had never thought of being a professional singer; but it was very hard work –I think we worked 87 days out of 90 on the tour.”
“I loved Tina, she really was ‘simply the best’ and I was on a great learning curve.”
When the Revue came to the UK, PP decided to go ‘solo’ and with help from Mick Jagger she was signed to the Immediate label with whom she had a handful of hits – but then disaster struck.
“Between 1968 and 1970 Immediate Records went under and all the fabulous artists scattered and went to different labels. Artists like Humble Pie, Chris Farlowe and The Nice; it was a great shame.
This is where Arnold’s new album comes into the story. ‘The Turning Tide’ was recorded around this time and was produced initially by Barry Gibb and then Eric Clapton. It is her great ‘lost’ album.
Due to music industry politics these recordings were left sitting on a shelf until recently.
Arnold tells me the story of how the album was recorded.
“I met Barry (Gibb) through Jim Morris who worked with Robert Stigwood and The Bee Gees. I’d recorded a version of To Love Somebody which he liked.
“Now, I needed a new record and The Bee Gees were apart at this time. So Barry agreed to work with me on the album and he wrote some songs. It was supposed to be the next development in my career. So we recorded about ten songs, six of which are on the album.”
But then politics in the industry reared its ugly head again.
“Music is the easy part of the business, there were a lot of politics going on, and they got The Bee Gees back together. Robert concentrated on them and my recordings got put on hold.”
There was a twist in the tale.
“Robert also managed Eric Clapton and he got me on the Eric Clapton, Delaney and Bonnie and friends tour.
“We had a great time, there was George Harrison, Billy Preston and Steve Howe who later joined Yes.
“After the tour Robert booked some studio time for me to finish my album and asked Eric to produce. So we recorded the three cover songs from the album – Medicated Goo, Brand New Day and The Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Arnold continues: “The people on the tour were on the album so it was really the first recording by Derek and The Dominoes. But Mr Stigwood didn’t like the recordings and didn’t really want to manage me any more. I had to find a new direction and he didn’t support me.”
There then followed some years of relative obscurity.
“The 70s for me are ‘the lost years’,” she says philosophically. “My autobiography (published soon) tells why I regard them as such. I went in lots of directions and made a lot of mistakes; then I lost my daughter [Debbie, in a car accident] in ’77.”
But she bounced back.
“I’ve been back since the 80s when I joined Starlight Express and since then I’ve carried on being independent.”
And finally the great ‘lost’ album is being released.
“Yes, I’m really excited about it. It was through Barry Gibbs’ manager who contacted Bill Levenson at Universal and with help from my own manager Sally Cradock, he helped me find the masters to the recordings.
“Some were on London, Germany and LA, and it was thanks to a really good support system that we were able to get everything.”
And will some of these songs be featured on the tour?
“Yes, I’m doing six from the album – Medicated Goo, Spinning Wheel, The Turning Tide, Born, You Made Me So Very Happy and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
“I may also do Tin Soldier (a Small Faces hit that she sang on), and the songs that my fans like.
“And, as well as my book, I hope to have a new album of new material out next year. I can’t wait.”
PP Arnold will be appearing at The Wardrobe, Leeds on Monday October 16. www.pparnold.com