As guns for hire in the French Sixties scene, you couldn’t land a better gig than writing for celebrity superstar couple Sylvie Vartan and Johnny Hallyday. Not only did Micky And Tommy write for these artists but they also played guitar and drums respectively in Johnny Hallyday’s backing band.
Paris, 1967, Psychedelia, Ye Ye girls, playing and writing for the biggest French stars, friends with The Beatles, Micky and Tommy must have thought they had died and gone to heaven. The only thing they weren’t doing was performing and singing their own songs. It wasn’t long before they were releasing their own slice of psychedelic happiness through Mercury Records.
With Love From 1 To 5 is a classic piece of lost psychedelia and the accompanying clip filmed by French TV in 1967 is absolutely priceless. Here they are somewhere in the middle of the process before the orchestra was added and singing along to an unfinished backing track. There’s something of The Who, The Small Faces and other bands of the era but to think that this was all happening in a French studio filmed by a TV crew with two unknown English blokes that had been operating behind the scenes in Paris seems highly unlikely. They seemed to have got to Paris via various coincidences. Both Mick and Tommy had been later members of Nero and the Gladiators. Mike O’Neil (Nero) had been in Vince Taylor’s backing band (The Playboys). Vince Taylor, almost completely forgotten today was a British rocker that became big in France (Bowie allegedly based Ziggy on his rise and fall). Taylor at one point headlined the Paris Olympia, his opening act – wait for it Sylvie Vartan. So all these people knew each other and it isn’t really that surprising that they found each other.
Ultimately, the With Love From 1-5 EP seems to have slipped into obscurity along with half of the band – I can’t seem to find any information about Tommy Brown after the duo returned from Paris to London at the beginning of the seventies – possibly after Sylvie Vartan’s second car crash, or maybe work visas needed to be reissued in the pre European Union era. Micky was of course Mick Jones, his meteoric rise to fame and fortune started with Gary Wright’s Wonderwheel and the eventual reformation of a disbanded Spooky Tooth. Continuing as a session musician, Jones played with Mountain’s Leslie West before playing on Peter Frampton’s Wind Of Change and George Harrison’s Dark Horse album. The rest is history as Jones went on to form one of the biggest bands of the seventies and eighties- Foreigner.
Somewhere in the distant past, two hip kids went to France and had the time of their lives, one of them went on to be a superstar the other drifted into obscurity. If you click on the link below there’s a short piece written by Kathy Etchingham who had a relationship with Jimi Hendrix when he came to London in the sixties. She talks about the auditions for the Jimi Hendrix Experience that included Tommy Brown, but with the Johnny Hallyday gig secured, Brown didn’t make himself available and according to Etchingham, Mitch Mitchell got the gig over Aynsley Dunbar – on the toss of a coin.