The Complete Blackberries                                                         by Iain McGonigal

Documentation of the lady singers in Humble Pie. The history of the Blackberries - before, during and after Pie - Personnel, Music Bio’s, Pictures, Discography & More.

Pt One   Pt Two   Pt Three   Discography   Pics

PART TWO

  Billie Barnum, Vanetta Fields, Clydie King

The Raelettes


Clydie was possibly best known, at least in the UK, as part of Ray Charles Raelettes. He had formed his backing group a decade earlier, from a girl group called the Cookies - and named them The Raelettes - in legend, so called because they 'let Ray'. Certainly, their ranks included a number of his wives, on the road girlfriends and the mothers of his children.

Clydie joined the group in 1966, along with Merry Clayton and Minnie Riperton, and not long before he recorded "I Don't Need No Doctor". She left in 1969, splitting along with Merry Clayton, to form Sisters Love at A&M , together with other Raelettes Vermetta Royster, Gwen Berry and Alexandra Brown.
 
As previously mentioned, Clydie never became a permanent member of Sisters Love, who in turn went through various personnel changes, before moving to Motown without Merry Clayton.
 
 
 The Raelettes HITS AND RARITIES * * * *

A fine album.

As it says on the cover, this is a combination of most of the Raelettes singles, plus curios like a Margie Hendrix solo single  with "The Vocals".

Quite a number of the CD's 26 tracks are from the early 70's, which is in the Mable John years, and way after Clydie had left. Listening to it for the first time, it is a weird sense of like listening to a Ray Charles album, but without the voice of the genius - such is the sound of these tracks.

Further on into the CD, things get a bit funky - before becoming more like standard 70's soul tracks towards the latter part of the CD. There are good highlights throughout - some with Mary Ann Fisher on lead vocals, some with Margie Hendrix, some with Mable John. The Raelette's hit "Bad Water" is strangely reminiscent of Humble Pie's "No Way" which was released on the Thunderbox album a few years down the line. The single "You Must be doing Alright", with its call and return vocals is very reminiscent of Ray Charles himself.
 
Clydie's lead singing can be hearad on some of the CD's strongest tracks, such as the excellent "You have a Way with Me", with her voice over a slow electric piano backing. "After Loving You" is perhaps the standout. It's a cross between Clydie's solo albums and the Humble Pie Blackberries material - with a bit of pop thrown in. "one Hurt Deserves another" is also very good, with a slow gospel organ very prominent.

All in all, a very worthwhile compilation, and a good showcase for what a strong and talented group the Raelettes were in their heyday.

 
 
Now,having talked about Venetta Fields and Clydie King. These two may well have been Steve Marriott's reference point when he was looking for girl singers, and these may well be the names that an average music fan would come up with - but enter into the story the multi-talented Sherlie Mae Matthews - who was arguably the real driving force behind the Blackberries
 

 
SHERLIE MATTHEWS

Apart from a five octave voice, and producing multiple gold albums, Sherlie can count amongst her skills keyboard playing and percussion, dance, comedienne, athletics and latterly computer graphics and animation.

Sherlie was a child singing prodigy in every sense of the word - "I began to perform solos in church at the age of two. Then, at age four, I began harmonising - vocal duets with my two year old sister. My grandmother, who was an accomplished musician/composer recognised my musical talents and was my first piano/voice teacher and mentor"

There followed years of singing at local events, weddings, shows, community meetings etc. before starting to set bible passages to music at the ripe old age of ten !

"I began setting bible verses to music to help children learn bible texts. Several years later I submitted my idea to the church organisation I belonged to. They stole my idea !"

Anyway, after progressing all aspects of the performing arts through school and college Sherlie earned her living for a few years as a Medical Social Worker. She dated and fell in love with Frank Wilson, a fellow singer and potential record producer, whom she had known for years. The wrote songs together, and Frank recorded one of their efforts "Long Long Road to Happiness" on the local label Power Records under the pseudonym of Sonny Daye.

They performed together as an act, and Sherlie made her first record when Power Records released a single by "Sheri (sic) Matthews and Sonny Daye" titled "Come Back to Me".

Frank got a break by joining Motown as a writer and producer, when it moved West to LA, and he subsequently introduced Sherlie around and she was signed up as a singer/songwriter/producer.

She was to forge an extremely successful Motown career - with record production and songwriting for The Jackson Five, Martha & the Vandellas, Diana Ross. Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and The Supremes.

Among Sherlie's oldest friends, from Los Angeles, was one Marva Holiday - herself to become a talented singer, lyricist and author - and who would become a lifelong friend to Sherlie and musical collaborator at several points in their careers.

In fact, at one stage Sherlie became her Manager. And she (Marva) was to have a part to play in the Blackberries story.

Sherlie also started on what would be a prolific and successful career as back-up singer on TV and movie soundtracks, on singing and voiceovers for commercials, on stage performance and on multiple prime time TV show appearances.

She joined the Mirwood label, and became a real powerhouse behind the scenes of this household name label. "Bob and Earl" were responsible for 12 of the 36 single releases - either jointly, separately, or under pseudonyms. But Sherlie was also responsible for a huge chunk of the labels output in 1966 and 1967, both from her own group The Belles, and through writing for and producing Bob and Earl, Jackie Lee, The Mirettes, The Olympics and Bobby Garrett.

She was responsible for some of the biggest hits on the label, such as the Olympics "Mine Exclusively" and "Baby do the Philly Dog". And she had the ability to write not only great melodies but fabulous lyrics too. Often, the words Sherlie used were simple and straightforward - but the wordplay was great - in fact just like Steve Marriott at his best!

However, every syllable would hit on the rhythm of the song - to great effect.

Take, for example, the Olympics single "Same old Thing"

"If I had a new house on the same old street
wearing new shoes on the same old feet
a new car driving round the same old town
singing a new song with that same old sound"

Sweet wordplay!
 
 

THE BELLES


Sherlie was lead vocalist, songwriter and star for this Mirwood group. According to the label they consisted of Sherlie plus Debra Dion, Rose Marie Bailey and Patricia McElroy.
 
Their record "Don't Pretend" / "Words Can't Explain" has been called "two sides of soul heaven"

In fact the single that was released was actually recorded by Sherlie together with the legendary soul sisters Brenda and Patrice Holloway, who were both contracted to other labels as solo artists in their own right.

The record sold diddly squat in the US. Even later releases in other countries sold only to real soul afficiando's.

Yet many people revere these two sides to this day. If you stumble on to some of the UK's message boards and chat rooms for soul fans - you see mention of these tracks often.

But, although the group were used as backing singers for other Mirwood acts, and they recorded additional tracks, nothing more was ever released.

The intricacy of having two group members who were contracted to other labels as solo artists saw to that !

However, the Belles were definitely more than just a studio proposition. They played together as a live act, including at least one billing with Clydie King and the Sweet Things, and they remain a legendary soul band.

 
THE BELLES REVIEW * * * * *


Don't Pretend * * * * *
Absolute classic. This is an up tempo dance number revered by Northern Soul fans (and written by Sherlie)

"Don't pretend cos you know that
you don't ever have to spare my feelings
I'm a big girl, I face facts
I don't have to put up with all your double dealings"

 
Words Can't Explain * * * * *
For me, better than the more revered Don't Pretend. Great song - has shades of Burt Bacharach in among the normal soul stomping (also written by Sherlie).

There's a classic line of "Webster's dictionary can't say enough" . No ordinary songwriter here!
 
 
After the Belles and Mirwood, Sherlie continued with her multiple activities of record production, songwriting, appearances as backup singer etc. She worked for Jobete publishing as a contract songwriter (mainly for Motown) and had Marva Holiday join her there for a while.

She also was heavily involved in a couple of group projects - reacquainting herself with Clydie on the project "Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles" who released a couple of singles, and an album of Bob Dylan covers in 1969 - as well she took a prominent role in the "Caney Creek Reunion" on lead vocals, keyboards and percussion.

Caney Creek Reunion released a bunch of singles, including "Under Your Spell Again", "Sister George" / "Back to Georgia" and "Come With Me" / "Break My Mind". Those single releases were also used to feature soundtrack songs provided for films like the cult classic "The Killing of Sister George" and "Whatever happend to Aunt Alice"

But she also began to find herself working more and more with Clydie and with Venetta as they in turn became more and more the backing singers of choice for the music fraternity - just at the time Humble Pie were making their first tours of America and playing in LA at the Whiskey-a-go-go.

As the sixties ended, some of the first examples of the three ladies working together was in 1970 on albums by BB King and Mylon, and into 1971 on albums by Graham Nash, Cass Elliott, Shuggie Otis and Rita Coolidge.
They worked together well. They complemented one another - and the seeds were sown for the Blackberries (pun intended)

 
THE BLACKBERRIES


Sherlie was the main driving force behind binding the ladies together in a semi-permanent entity. Although, they all did some arranging, they proposed using Venetta as the vocal leader, Clydie as the main arranger and Sherlie as songwriter/producer.
She took the group to Motown, where she named them "The Blackberries", "to note our colour" and in deference to label boss Berry Gordy.

The earliest credit on record is when 'Pacific Gas and Electric' made their hit single "Are You Ready" and the credit "with The Blackberries" appeared on the single release.

They also worked on, and got official "Blackberries" credits on quite a number of albums, including Larry Murray's "Sweet Country Suite", on Barbara Hill's "LA Getaway", on Captan Beefheart's "Spotlight Kid" and on the curiously titled Crabby Appleton's "Rotten to the Core".

The Western Branch of Motown was called MoWest records, and in July 1971 the Blackberries were heavily involved in a fine release by Tom Clay - who was outspoken on topical events of the day, such as Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement.

Their first major project, however, was a Clydie King solo album released in 1971 on the Lizard label. Lizard was a short lived label which operated for a while during 1971.
 
 
REVIEW - CLYDIE KING DIRECT ME * * * *


Obviously, this is less multi-dimensional than The Blackberries, given that Clydie's voice is always the lead. Nevertheless "The Blackberries" are officially credited as back up singers, and are very much to the fore - giving an excellent idea of what they sounded like at the time. Arguably, this album contains some of the best "Blackberries" music ever released.

Although the album reviews at the time weren't universally favourable, listening now, there are some slices of absolutely classic soul and funk.

The first two tracks for example..... Direct Me (written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper) is an absolute top notch infectious cut - the best on the album, followed by a great rendition of the Mirette's single (and written by Sherlie) "Ain't my Stuff Good Enough".

Other examples are the uptempo "Never Like This Before", reminiscent of the title track, and the first single from the album, while "I Can't go without Love" produces a great blues vocal from Clydie and guitar licks from David "T" Walker.

Side Two kicks off with the second single "'Bout Love", another uptempo top drawer affair, and there's a couple of tracks like "you Need Love Like I Do" that wouldn't sound amiss on the funky stuff Mr Marriott was doing around the time of the A&M solo album. Long and Winding Road at the end is a bit disappointing - but all in all really first class album.
 
 
Meanwhile, Sherlie and her partner Deke Richards set off to write and record the Blackberries debut album proper, with some additional lyrics from Marva Holiday - remember her ?

The resultant album is reputedly "a killer", although at the time of writing its whereabouts now is unknown.

What is for certain is that it wasn't released.

This was for "political" reasons at Motown.

Sherlie : "we represented a huge threat to the popularity of The Supremes, and secondly we were the first girls group to record using all three of us, alternatively, as lead and back up singers. Motowon didn't have enough faith in our new concept to take a chance. Today it's the common denominator ! We had a dynamite album, with several potential Top 10 singles....anyway some things are just not meant to be"
 

                                            

HUMBLE PIE


So this was how things stood as 1972 came to a close and Venetta got the call in September with an invitataion to come to London, and to bring another two singers.

As you can see, by now, Clydie and Sherlie were the natural choices.

Venetta - "when we first met Humble Pie we weren't called The Blackberries. We were just studio singers, and if we needed a name for the contractor we would just pick one. Although there was/is a group called the Blackberries, originally me, Clydie and Sherlie, who was the one that started the Blackberries"

Steve waited with some trepidation for Venetta's answer. "I was worried that she would look down on us for trying to do RnB" says Steve. " but she was just like a bubble - so bubbly on the phone, and so full of vibes. She couldn't believe we wanted HER. I expected the reverse.

Steve also recalls "I thought the black backing vocals would be good for the band. The instrumental side was virtually tied up at that point, but I thought we needed something else. As soon as I find a formula I want to break it " said Steve, ......which would hold true throughout his career.
 
The girls arrived at London Airport in gloomy November. Soon work began at Clearsounds Studios on the tracks which would become "Eat It", and on dubbing background vocals onto the live Greens Playhouse tracks recorded during Humble Pie's 1972 Autumn Tour, on which live dates the Blackberries didn't appear.

When the Blackberries walked into his studio Steve was overwhelmed with joy. "They walked in the door and everyone friggin cuddled each other, it was like we'd already known each other."

In a flurry of creativity, and in his home studio environment, Steve and the Pie laid down the basis for a double album in just over two weeks - working at least twice as fast as on any album previously.

Steve remembered "We played 'em the cuts we'd already laid down, and they said 'wow, freaky, yah'. They got their pieces of paper out. Clydie waved her arms about (because she was the Arranger) and they went out and friggin' sang 'em just like that. One after the other. I just could not believe it!"

Looking back now, there are slices of magic on this album. Tracks like "Is It for Love", "Black Coffee" and "I Believe to My Soul" provide a perfect fusion between an English rock group and American roots that has never been rivalled.
 
So, as it quickly became clear that the marriage between the group and The Blackberries was working, and that both sides could benefit, and Steve asked the ladies to tour with the band.

As Clem said "I was very happy. We'd always used backing singers anyway, and when Steve suggested they come on the road it seemed like a good idea"
 
Sherlie's partner Deke Richards, though, wasn't keen on her being away from home for so long on the road. So Sherlie concluded that because of this, and given her family commitments with two small children, she couldn't commit to the touring.
She then handpicked her own replacement, Billie Barnum, to join The Blackberries at that stage. Billie got the credits on the "Eat It" album cover - although it's actually Sherlie's voice that we hear on all the studio tracks !

Sherlie - "When Humble Pie invited us to tour with them, I elected to stay in LA because I had two children that I didn't want to leave, and also a jealous boyfriend, the Motown Producer Deke Richards. I chose Billie Barnum to take my place on the tour"
 
 
BILLIE BARNUM


Sherlie's choice was spot on - for like the other Blackberries, Billie Barnum was an absolute top notch singer, who would go on to sing with Taj Mahal, U2, Teddy Pendergrass and Neil Diamond as well as Lionel Richie on his megasmash album "Dancing on the Ceiling".

Billie moved from her hometown of Houston, Texas as a toddler, to Los Angeles, and thinks of herself as a "total California girl"

She was also like the other Blackberry girls, in the sense of singing from an early age, and becoming a bit of a young singing protege.

Billie then paralleled Venetta and Clydie's careers with the Ikettes and the Raelettes respectively, by working with Nat King Cole.

She also had a very famous brother in music circles - HB Barnum, who was an in demand songwriter / arranger / producer / musician around LA in the late 50's and early 60's.

He played live too - a mixture of jazz, soul and bebop - mainly for dancing.

Given that HB was hiring people for these dates, and for making records and demo's for record companies, a tight group of people began to emerge as part of this early 60's LA live and studio scene.

It included Carole Kaye, who became THE session bass guitar player over the next 40 years. It included the legendary Jack Nitzsche, who joined as HB's right hand man, and paid his music business dues, way before his fame as a record producer. And it included backing singers Billie Barnum and Jack's (then) wife Gracia.
 


The Apolla's


In the mid sixties, Warner Brothers decided to react to the popularity of Stax and Motown, by opening its own RnB label, which it named Loma records.

They signed girl group The Apolla's to a record deal, and the ladies eventually made eight singles, four on Loma and four on Warners.

None of these singles troubled the charts for even one week - very largely because Warners/ Loma had no clue whatsoever of how to market to an RnB audience !

Nevertheless, those in the know, absolutely idolise The Apolla's.

The group consisted of Billie Barnum, Ella Jamerson and Leola Giles, and they opened their account with "Lock Me in your Heart" / "You're Absolutely Right" in 1965. Their single releases continued for two years until 1967, in which time they released a number of gems, including "Mr Creator", and the classic "Who would want me now", which was written by the Everly Brothers

                                              

THE APOLLAS SINGLES

Lock me in Your Heart * * * * *
Absolute classic girl group release. Deserved a Number One
 
You're Absolutely Right * * * *
Debut Apolla's single. Reported as Motown style. Classy start to their career. The brass production is superb too.

Who Would Want Me Now * * * * *
Fabulous. Billie excels herself on this up tempo blues. I don't know if Steve Marriott ever listened to it, but I hear all sorts of phrases that later ended up in the Marriott stylebook. Excellent stuff

Mr Creator * * * *
this single release heralded 1967, and the Apolla's being released on Warner Brothers proper. Jaunty song, with many of the ingredients that made the above classic tracks

Jive Cat * * *
released c/w "I'm Under the Influence of Love". Jive Cat goed down a funkier route than the rest of the Apolla's material, but neither track here is quite at the level of their classics.
 
 
After The Apolla's disbanded, Billie found work back in the LA session scene. For example she worked with Van Dyke Park on his 1968 album "Song Cycle".

Perhaps not working as prolifically as Clydie, Venetta and Sherlie - Billie would still have run into them - and in 1969, along with Clydie and Sherlie she was part of the Brothers and Sisters of LA group who, as previously mentioned, released a couple of singles on A&M.
 
So Billie joined The Blackberries in place of Sherlie and, it would seem, Humble Pie and the Blackberries never missed a beat - in fact Billie became synonomous with The Blackberries from that point.
 
Jerry Shirley - "we all loved the girls. Steve especially. We loved them being part of the band. We loved them being friends and everything.

Steve said "you see it's a new dimension for us, it really is. It's like getting down to what we've always wanted to do. It's like LUDO if you like. We're nearly home !

We found the girls when they were coming out of Motown. I knew of Venetta way back from the first Tina Turner live album. She was the standout vocalist of the Ikettes. I got hold of her and found she was already singing as part of the Blackberries with Clydie King - but that was all right because they'd already done stuff with Junior Walker and Tumbling Dice.
Now they're adding another layer to what we're doing. Like we're not a soul band as such, but then they're not just soul singers. They can adjust their feel to anything.
I mean we were worried at first because we're a loud band and we thought these chicks would only be used to quiet funky sections. But they got the power to get over it. Yeah, it's the chicks that bring me out. I've got a lot more confidence now. These chicks don't half make you sing ! "
 
 
There was an early chance for UK TV viewers to see the new line up when they appeared on BBC's "Old Grey Whistle Test" on March 20th 1973, right around the time that "Eat It" was released.
The results are spectacular. Packed into a tiny studio, there are a lot of close up shots of the three girls in action during "Black Coffee". In fact, probably the best advertisement for the Blackberries in existence. Just wonderful.

Jerry Shirley is out of shot, but Greg and Clem play away, while Steve gies a masterclass in vocal performance - clearly inspired by his new bandmates, and playing off of them, just like he had been saying !

You can find this wonderful testament on the "Best of the Old Grey Whistle Test Volume 2" DVD released by the BBC.
On the programme, the Blackberries also featured their new single "Twist and Shout", although it doesn't appear on the DVD.
The single was released on A&M records, and featured "Twist and Shout", plus "Don't Change on Me" on the flip side - but it didn't do anything commercially.
 
Before long they were all out on the road for long periods of time, with several tours of the US, as well as a springtime trip to Japan, and a UK tour later in the year. Along the way, in May, they made one of the finest (if not THE finest) live albums of all time at San Franciso Winterland, for the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

In the US, Pie were now headlining at major venues coast to coast for the first time. May also saw them headlining Madison Square Gardens for the first time, a fact clebrated by bringing the band's families over to New York for the concert.
The live itinerary didn't vary too much during 1973. It centred around the King Biscuit Flower Hour set from May

Up Our Sleeves
Four Day Creep
C'Mon Everybody
Honky Tonk Woman
I Believe to My Soul
I Want to Take You Higher
30 Days in the Hole
Roadrunner
Hallelujah I Love Her So
I Don't Need No Doctor

Earlier in the year, "I Wonder" was still part of the set, with the Blackberries encoring on "Twist and Shout". Later in the year the band would do "Oh La De Da" for an encore.

Basically, the group would play the first three songs, and then the Blackberries would join for Honky Tonk Woman, and the rest of the set. The band had a full state of the art light show, and Steve had a Las Vegas style catwalk out into the audience, as part of the stage set, which moved around with them from venue to venue.

Steve would always introduce the girls, one by one. Listening now to old tapes of these shows, he would invariably introduce Clydie as "The Killer", Billie as "having more balls than I ever had in my life" and Venetta as "my hero".
It was an absolutely spectacular show - the finest I have witnessed in all of my years - and I've seen a few, believe me.

Life on the road had its compensations too...

Clem recalls "Before the Blackberries joined we'd started to use a Lear Jet, and that was a lot of fun because we used to get these Vietnam pilots that would do all kinds of tricks for us. And we had a wonderful time. So when the girls joined we had to get a bigger plane. but that was boring as the bigger plane couldn't do stunts. So we decided the best thing was to hire two Lear Jets. But we didn't want to split up because we'd have such a great time singing together and stuff. So we discovered that if we put all the bags and equipment in one jet we could just about squeeze into the other one"

During some down period earlier in the year, the Blackberries were flattered by interest from Pink Floyd to come join them on some tour dates too. Steve was none too impressed about his ladies being poached, and was not at all agreeable. However, Jerry told the girls that he would find a way to work round it. Jerry knew the Cambridge/London musicians well (inlduing Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmour), and sure enough he convinced Steve that there would be no harm done, and in the event Venetta went and played the dates, along with another girl singer Carlena Williams.

They enjoyed the experience very much, and set themselves up for work on the next Pink Floyd Album, "Wish You Were Here" as well as future dates with the band.

In fact, Carlena was to be in the studio during the making of the song for Syd Barrett "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", when the madcap himself appeared unannounced in the studio.

When Venetta Fields first heard Pink Floyd, she didn't even consider them musicians.

"They were more like technicians. They all had college degrees and everything. They really didn't come from the same place as most musicians I knew."

"It was the whole package, even their personalities. They had the airplanes, they had the smoke, the movie. It was just absolutely fascinating."

Dave Gilmour, master of the band's trademark guitar solos, had a guitar board with about 36 different buttons, according to Fields. At the time she'd never seen anything like it.
 
"We were in a little tiny motel in Epping where Robin Hood's forest used to be. Dave Gilmour brought the tape over for us to learn the songs. We just laughed when we heard what we had to sing. We thought we were kind of cluey in the business. We didn't have a clue. The tape was absolutely different from anything I had sung."

Gilmour invited Fields to a concert and it didn't take long for her to recognise this band was in a class of its own. Touring with Humble Pie at the time, she couldn't believe the contrast.

"Humble Pie were a hard rock 'n' roll band. They had the audiences raging and pumping their hands and everything. With Pink Floyd you'd be mesmerised and you'd float out of the concert so quietly and so peacefully. Definitely entranced."

When she joined the Dark Side of the Moon tour through Europe and America , Fields became part of the phenomenon. The album was the second highest selling rock album of all time, behind Michael Jackson's Thriller, and it was a whole new experience for Fields.

"I'd been playing large auditoriums but they sold out football stadiums with 85 000 people."

Before signing up, she'd noticed Pink Floyd's back-up singers would come onto stage only for the occasional song during a show, many of the numbers not requiring backing vocals.

"I said to my girls, 'When we get on that stage we're not coming off'. And we made backing vocals to a lot of those songs. We made up things to do - harmonies and stuff. We were on stage the whole time."

Another thing that set Pink Floyd apart was their shrewd business-mindedness.
 
"They were very smart. I saw ..(other bands).. lose their fortune and I saw Pink Floyd gain and keep it and that's because they told their managers what to do. They controlled everything. They were very, very clever people."
 
Meanwhile, Steve Marriott set out to record a Blackberries album at Clearsounds Studios, with Humble Pie as the backing band. The first tracks were laid down, featuring one or two Clydie King lead vocals, before Clydie decided around midyear 1973 to go back to LA to pursue her solo career and session singing.

Her most immediate project was to front a group under the title of "Brown Sugar featuring Clydie King", who quickly released an album.

Venetta brought in Carlena Williams to join the Blackberries, and work continued on the Blackberries album, with Carlena contributing to the remainder of the tracks.

The progress of the album, which was never officially released, was tracked and mentioned often in the UK and US rock press, with release dates getting vaguer as time progressed. It was still being asked after in the UK press a year later at the time of "Thunderbox" release in 1974. Finally, Steve was quoted as saying that the girls had taken the master tapes back to the US, where they were being worked on by Billy Preston.

Whatever the truth, the tapes gathered dust for many years.

There was an excellent (and final) single released by the Blackberries on A&M in 1974 called "Yesterday's Music". It was indeed produced by Billy Preston - the "A" side was in fact co-produced by Jerry Moss - which indicates the attention right to the top of the house.

But again, unfortunately, the record didn't do anything commercially.
 
Finally, and many many years later, one day a friend who was visiting at Steve's house asked him about the lost Blackberries album.

"Nah, mate, it weren't all that great", said Steve, indicating that he hadn't done the girls justice - but then disappeared a few minutes later and was able to produce a cassette copy from his bedroom drawer.

In an interview at the time, in Beetle Magazine, Venetta said "the album will probably be produced by the guys. It'll be like a Pie album, but we'll be in the foreground a bit more"

I would say that is spot on.
                                              

More - Part Three - Click here

The Complete Blackberries

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