Philip Goodhand-Tait has come close to stardom as a performer on a painfully regular basis since the 1960s without ever achieving it, but still finding success. He's an established producer, songwriter, and musician whose work has benefitted artists ranging from Roger Daltrey to the Lords of the New Church, without ever quite becoming a marquee name himself -- sort of England's answer to Al Kooper. Born in Hull in 1945, his father was a trade unionist and his mother taught piano. He was a natural musician and quickly acquired a skill in the same instrument, as well as showing off considerable talent as a singer. When he was 12 years old, the family moved to Guildford, Surrey. It was while living there that he became enamored of rock & roll, which was sweeping the British isles at the time in the hands of visiting American stars such as Bill Haley and Buddy Holly, and through homegrown talent such as Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard & the Shadows. In his early teens, he started singing in local groups, working under names like "Phill Tone and the Vibrants." He and his three closest friends -- Ivor Shackleton (guitar), Kirk Riddle (bass), and Paul Demers (drums) -- coalesced around a quartet lineup that, in 1961, took the name "Phil & the Stormsville Shakers"; the band name was appropriated from the Stormsville album by one of their favorite groups, Johnny & the Hurricanes. The Stormsville Shakers spent the next few years building a serious live reputation, on their own and, for a time, working as the backup band to Larry Williams, but they never managed to get a hit record. Their sound was a mix of rock & roll and American-style R&B, highlighted by a pair of sax players who joined their lineup -- overall the group's music stood midway between the jazz-based R&B of the Graham Bond Organization and the punchier rock & roll work of the Undertakers.
Goodhand-Tait was writing songs on a steady basis by then, and got four originals onto their debut release, an EP issued by EMI Odeon in France. The record never charted, but the results of his four-way hat-trick were good enough to get Goodhand-Tait a contract as a songwriter with Dick James, the publisher. Even as the group struggled along, working from gig to gig and never quite advancing, he was able to hone his songwriting. And by 1967, as the public taste began to move away from the soul-flavored material that the group favored, Goodhand-Tait was finding success through his compositions -- the Shakers were rechristened Circus for a time, to try their hand at psychedelic pop before calling it quits. Meanwhile, one of his songs, "Gone Are the Songs of Yesteryear," was put onto the B-side of the single "Everlasting Love" and recorded by Love Affair, which became a huge hit in England. And even as the B-side, the song generated the same royalties from sales as the "play" side -- Goodhand-Tait took this sudden bout of good fortune as his cue to pursue composition more thoroughly and he was rewarded with a hit in his own right, through Love Affair's version of his "Bringing on Back the Good Times." He emerged at the start of the '70s from the orbit of Dick James Music as a recording artist as well, on their DJM Records imprint, with a string of albums: I Think I'll Write a Song, Rehearsal, and Songfall. 20th Century Records picked up his contract for one release, a self-titled album wherein they tried -- in Goodhand-Tait's own words -- "to turn me into the next Elton John" (who was, with no small irony, a labelmate of his at DJM).
He moved on to Chrysalis Records in the second half of the decade, but his most notable musical achievements came working for other artists, writing songs that were recorded by Roger Daltrey ("Oceans Away," "Parade," "Leon"), Gene Pitney ("You Are," "Oceans Away"), and playing on Chris De Burgh's Spanish Train and Other Stories. Starting in the '80s, he moved into production, both in music and video, and he produced live albums by Magnum, Venom, the Climax Blues Band, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, and the Lords of the New Church. In more recent years, he also revived the Stormsville Shakers with the surviving original members, and is still involved in music and video production, as well as recording in his own right, in the 21st century. ~ Bruce Eder