Michael Ralph Foster
22 December 1944
|Alma mater||University of Sussex|
|Spouse(s)||Kay Morgan (married 1985–present)|
|Parent(s)||Charles and Ethel Foster|
|Awards||BASCA Gold Badge|
|Labels|| Commercial labels |
Mo Foster (born Michael Ralph Foster, 22 December 1944) is an English multi-instrumentalist, record producer, composer, solo artist, author, and public speaker. Through a career spanning over half a century, Foster has toured, recorded, and performed with dozens of artists, including Jeff Beck, Gil Evans, Phil Collins, Ringo Starr, Joan Armatrading, Gerry Rafferty, Brian May, Scott Walker, Frida of ABBA, Cliff Richard, George Martin, Van Morrison, Dr John, Hank Marvin, Heaven 17 and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has released several albums under his own name, authored a humorous book on the history of British rock guitar, written numerous articles for music publications, continued to compose production music, and established himself as a public speaker. Foster is an assessor for JAMES, an industry organisation that gives accreditation to music colleges throughout the UK.In 2014, Foster was a recipient of a BASCA Gold Badge Award to honour his lifelong contribution to the British songwriting and composing community.
Mo Foster grew up in the post-war environment of Wolverhampton, a large town in the industrial English West Midlands. Although not having any music in the home, he picked up the recorder at school when he was about nine years old and taught himself. 1–2:
When he graduated from his primary school in Wolverhampton to the grammar school in the village of Brewood, Staffordshire, there was no music department. He could study Latin, art, science, english, mathematics, and agriculture – but not music. 2:
In 1959, Foster and a group of school friends formed a band called The Tradewinds.Their repertoire initially consisted of American guitar instrumentals, skiffle, and excerpts from The Goon Show.
The band needed a bass-player, so Foster set out to convert a cheap acoustic guitar into a bass guitar. The pickup consisted of two ex-military headphones squeezed into a transparent plastic soap-dish, which was then connected by TV aerial cable to a socket marked "gram" at the back of his Dad’s large Murphy radio. 67 It worked, but failed to impress his friends.:
In June 1959, the ban on the import of American musical instruments into the UK, which had been introduced by the British Board of Trade in 1951, was lifted and such instruments (notably Fender and Gibson guitars) became available soon after that. 112Foster had become a fan of the bass playing of Jet Harris of The Shadows, but had not seen the actual instrument until 1961, when Jet was revealed casually caressing the iconic headstock of a Fender Precision Bass on the cover of The Shadows LP. Foster wanted one, but had to settle for a Dallas Tuxedo Bass, the solitary bass guitar hanging in the window of the local music shop, the Band Box. :
In the early 1960s, there were no college music courses available for electric instruments, so Foster followed a scientific path, electing to study physics and mathematics at the University of Sussex. 125 But the university’s pop band, The Baskervilles, and later the University of Sussex Jazz Trio (known as the US Jazz Trio), needed a drummer. :126–127 So Foster set aside his bass, and for the next three years he played drums at university dances and balls, supporting major acts such as Cream, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Who, The Graham Bond Organisation, The Zombies, Jimi Hendrix, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and Steampacket with Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. :126:
Foster's first professional success came in 1968, when the US Jazz Trio morphed into the progressive jazz/rock band, Affinity, with singer Linda Hoyle, Hammond organist Lynton Naiff, guitarist Mike Jopp, drummer Grant Serpell, and Foster, now back on bass guitar. Affinity played numerous London gigs 131 Scott secured a record deal with Vertigo Records who chose John Anthony, who had produced albums for Genesis, Queen and Roxy Music, to produce their one, eponymous album. Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones wrote brass and string arrangements for the collection of self-penned tracks and cover-versions. The album was released in 1970, to a strong reception from the press and broadcasters. However, despite television appearances, and concerts across Europe, the album didn’t sell well, and Linda Hoyle chose not to continue in music. Soon after, the band dissolved, leaving Foster to seek employment as a freelance bass guitarist.and radio sessions, attracting the attention of jazz club impresario, Ronnie Scott, who became their manager. :
After Affinity played their last gig in 1970 Foster decided that rather than being an over-educated but unemployed musician he needed to join another band. He placed a classified ad in Melody Maker magazine stating "Bass Guitarist: ex-name group, wishes to join established Family/Colosseum/Traffic type group".He expected no response, but a music producer called Christos Demetriou (i.e. Chris Demetriou) unexpectedly called and offered him a job with ex-Manfred Mann singer Mike d'Abo's band. After touring with the band both in the US and in the UK, Foster's name started to get around. In 1971 he was hired to do a studio session for a Russ Ballard song, "Can't Let You Go" at Lansdowne Studios. "I knew nothing and turned up with a flask and sandwiches because I didn't know how long I'd be there for. There was Clem Cattini on drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, Mike Moran on keyboards, Ray Fenwick on guitar, all fine players and nice guys who thought my naiveté was amusing! That was the beginning of a word of mouth situation which gradually mushroomed." The European disco scene was growing and session work was increasing and Foster was hired to play on a lot of the popular hits of the time including Jimmy Helms' "Gonna Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse" and Cerrone's hit "Supernature".
In his early days as a session player Foster, having been self-taught, could not read music and freely admits that he bluffed his way through a lot of sessions. Finally at a session at Abbey Road Studios, playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it got so difficult to follow the music by listening to the drummer and guitarist that he vowed to teach himself. This he then did.
As a session musician Foster claims he has played on over 350 recordings including artists as varied as:
As a sideman Foster has toured the world or played concerts with:
During his time as a session player, Foster was asked to work on many film soundtrack sessions including:
In 1975 Foster pioneered the teaching of bass guitar in Britain by founding the first-ever course at Goldsmiths College, University of London.[ citation needed ] As of mid-2007, along with guitarist Ray Russell and drummer Ralph Salmins, Foster is embarking on several music seminars at different educational establishments around the UK, the most recent (September 2007) being held at Leeds Metropolitan University. The trio have also been invited to give a similar seminar at the famous Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts music school which was started by Sir Paul McCartney. He has also contributed several articles to bass playing specialist magazines.
One of Foster's most memorable bass lines was in the theme tune to the late-70s UK TV show "Minder" starring Dennis Waterman. The tune, "I Can Be So Good For You" started out life as a track on Waterman's solo album, it was then re-jigged as the show's theme tune. He achieved the atypical bass sound by using an unusual bass slap technique on an aluminium Kramer 650B bass guitar.
Foster has cited several well known bassists as being the inspirations to both his playing and his compositions, including Carol Kaye, Jet Harris, Jack Bruce and Stanley Clarke.
In the mid to late 80s Foster was the 'M' in the jazz/rock trio called RMS with fellow session musos, Ray Russell and Simon Phillips. They released (originally on Peter Van Hooke's then at the time fledgling MMC record label) an album called Centennial Parkwhich was remastered and re-released in 2002 on the Angel Air record label. This in turn prompted the release of a live album from 1982 that had never been heard publicly before RMS: Live at the Venue, 1982.
As a result of the success of these two CD releases, a DVD (which featured guests appearances by Gil Evans and Mark Isham) was released a year later. RMS: Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1983.Both the CDs and DVD were produced by Foster and Ray Russell.
In the mid-1980s, Foster joined up with comedy writer/actor Mike Walling to form the core of the imaginary, but tragic RJ Wagsmith Band. Together they wrote a chart topping song for Roger Kitter (aka "The Brat"). They also penned what became one of the few one-hit wonders that never actually made it into the charts. "The Papadum Song" was about two losers who go into an Indian restaurant for a meal after a football match. The song got quite considerable airplay and Walling and Foster appeared together on the BBC children's programmes Blue Peterand Granada TV's Get It Together. Unfortunately there was an industrial dispute at Phonogram Records and no records actually got to the shops.
At the latter end of the 1980s Foster decided that he would like the freedom to perform, produce and record his own music rather than that of someone else. He was able to call on some of his many friends who happened to be some of the UK's foremost session musicians to help him. Since 1987 he has released five solo albums.
Apart from his five solo albums Foster has produced – or co-produced – albums for Deborah Bonham (The Old Hyde),Dr John (Such A Night), Maggie Bell (Live at the Rainbow), Affinity (Live Instrumentals 1969, 1971–72, Origins 1965–67, and Origins Baskervilles 1965), Survivors (Survivors), Maria Muldaur (Live in London), Adrian Legg (Fretmelt), RMS (Centennial Park, Live at the Venue 1982), RMS with Gil Evans (Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1983 DVD), The RJ Wagsmith Band (Make Tea Not War).
In addition Foster has composed and produced hundreds of titles for the major Production Music Libraries, co-wrote with Ray Russell the instrumental "So Far Away" for Gary Moore, co-wrote with Mike Walling the comedy hit single "Chalk Dust" for The Brat, co-wrote with Kim Goody the song "Sentimental Again" which reached the final in the Song for Europe Contest in 1990, and co-wrote with Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and Kim Goody the main song "In My Car" from Ringo's album Old Wave .
In 1997 Foster authored a semi-autobiographical and anecdotal bookabout the birth and rise of Rock guitar in the UK during the period 1955 – 1975.
The book's title is Seventeen Watts?, the title having arisen from the school band member's quandary of "do we really need that much power?" when a 17W Watkins Dominator Amplifier was acquired as a replacement for the 'aging' 5W amp they had previously been using. The US edition of the book was entitled Play Like Elvis and had a different foreword, this time written by Duane Eddy.
The first half of the book covers the emergence of a new breed of the rock guitarist. It features many anecdotes describing the efforts of now prominent guitarists to not only learn chords but to work out how to build their own guitar because they could not afford the ones in the music shop window. There are stories and quotes from guitarists such as Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Brown, Clem Cattini, Eric Clapton, Lonnie Donegan, Vic Flick, Herbie Flowers, Roger Glover, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, Hank Marvin, Brian May, Gary Moore, Joe Moretti, Pino Palladino, Rick Parfitt, John Paul Jones, Francis Rossi, Gerry Rafferty, Mike Rutherford, Big Jim Sullivan, Andy Summers, Richard Thompson, Bert Weedon, Bruce Welch, and Muff Winwood.
The second half of Seventeen Watts? is devoted to the rise and eventual demise of the London studio session scene. Foster seeks to present an insider's view of this creative world, and to convey a sense of the absurdist flavour of musicians' humour.
Most recently Foster has worked as an archivist/interviewer on the recent UK Channel 4 series Live From Abbey Road ,which involved interviewing musicians and bands who were performing live sets at EMI's world-famous Abbey Road Studios.
Foster now concentrates on producing albums for others, composing music, session work (he recently[ when? ] played with Brian May and Brian Bennett on a 12-hour session at Abbey Road Studios for a re-make of Cliff Richard's 1958 hit "Move It"), writing, researching and remastering his back catalogue (not only for his solo projects but also for other artists).
Foster has also resumed playing concerts with his band RMS, featuring Ray Russell, and Gary Husband – notably with Gary Moore at a recent charity concert Vibes From The Vines.
In April 2012, he performed at the Jet Harris Heritage Foundation tribute lunch with The Shadowers and Daniel Martin on Nivram and Diamonds
The bass-players who have influenced Foster include:
Foster has played on hundreds of commercially released recordings and soundtracks. The lists below represent only a small fraction of his recorded performances.
|Mike d’Abo||Down at Rachel’s Place||A&M||1972|
|Olivia Newton-John||Music Makes My Day||Pye||1973|
|Roger Glover and Guests||The Butterfly Ball||EMI||1974|
|Jimmy Helms||Gonna Make You An Offer!||Cube||1975|
|Fancy||Something To Remember||Arista||1975|
|Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice||Evita||MCA||1976|
|Mike Smith & Mike d’Abo||Smith & d’Abo||CBS||1976|
|Ray Russell||Ready Or Not||Angel Air||1977|
|Andy Bown||Good Advice||EMI||1978|
|The Walker Brothers||Nite Flights||GTO||1978|
|Chris Rainbow||Looking Over My Shoulder||Polydor||1978|
|Gerry Rafferty||Night Owl||UA||1979|
|Judy Tzuke||Welcome to the Cruise||Rocket||1979|
|Cliff Richard & The Shadows (live)||Thank You Very Much||EMI||1979|
|Jeff Beck||There And Back||Epic||1980|
|Peter Green||Watcha Gonna Do||PVK||1980|
|Michael Schenker||The Michael Schenker Group||Chrysalis||1980|
|Dennis Waterman||So Good For You||EMI||1980|
|Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Sting,||The Secret Policeman 's Concert||Island||1981|
|Phil Collins, Bob Geldof etc (live)||The Secret Policeman's Other Ball||Island||1981|
|RMS||Centennial Park||Angel Air||1981|
|Phil Collins||Hello, I Must Be Going!||Virgin||1982|
|Frida (Annifrid Lyngstad of ABBA)||Something's Going On||Polar||1982|
|Sheena Easton||Madness Money And Music||EMI||1982|
|Neil Innes||Off The Record||MMC||1982|
|Phil Collins (live)||Live at Perkins Palace||EMI||1983|
|Gary Moore||Victims of the Future||10||1983|
|Ringo Starr/Joe Walsh||Old Wave||RCA||1983|
|Tony Banks (Genesis)||The Fugitive||Charisma||1983|
|Gil Evans (live)||The British Orchestra||Mole Jazz||1983|
|Leo Sayer||Have You Ever Been in Love||Chrysalis||1983|
|Scott Walker||Climate of Hunter||Virgin||1984|
|Russ Ballard||Russ Ballard||EMI||1984|
|Heaven 17||How Men Are||Virgin||1984|
|Dr John||Such A Night/Live in London||Spindrift||1984|
|Claudio Baglioni||La Vita E'Adesso||CBS||1985|
|Kenny Rogers/George Martin||The Heart of the Matter||RCA||1985|
|Elkie Brooks||No More The Fool||Legend||1986|
|Howard Jones||One To One||WEA||1986|
|Virginia Astley/Ryuichj Sakamoto||Hope in a Darkened Heart||WEA||1986|
|Tanita Tikaram||Ancient Heart||WEA||1988|
|Mo Foster||Bel Assis||Angel Air||1988|
|George Martin||Under Milk Wood||EMI||1988|
|The London Symphony Orchestra||Wind of Change||Columbia||1991|
|Nanci Griffith||Late Night Grande Hotel||MCA||1991|
|Toshi (of X)||Made in Heaven||Ariola||1992|
|Gerry Rafferty||On A Wind & A Prayer||Polydor||1992|
|Cher||It's A Man's World||WEA||1995|
|The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra||The Cult Files||Silva Screen||1996|
|Soraya||On Nights Like This||Island||1996|
|Luka Bloom||Salty Heaven||Sony||1998|
|Maggie Bell (live)||Live at the Rainbow 1974||Angel Air||2002|
|Deborah Bonham||The Old Hyde||Track||2004|
|Cliff Richard and Brian May||Two's Company - The Duets||EMI||2006|
|The Shadows||The Shadows Live at the BBC||BBC||2018|
|Mo Foster & Friends (live)||In Concert||Right Track||2020|
|Jimmy Helms||Gonna Make You An Offer||Cube||1973|
|Julie Covington||Don't Cry For Me Argentina||MCA||1976|
|Dollar||Who Were You With in the Moonlight||Trojan||1978|
|Sarah Brightman||I Lost My Heart To Starship Trooper||Ariola||1978|
|Gerry Rafferty||Night Owl||UA||1979|
|Judy Tzuke||Stay With Me Till Dawn||Rocket||1979|
|Dennis Waterman||I Could Be So Good For You||EMI||1979|
|Jeff Beck||Space Boogie||Epic||1980|
|Sheena Easton||Nine to Five (Morning Train)||EMI||1981|
|Frida (ABBA)||I Know There's Something Going On||Polar||1982|
|The Brat||Chalk Dust||Hansa||1982|
|Gary Moore||Empty Rooms||10||1983|
|Ringo Starr/Joe Walsh||In My Car||RCA||1983|
|Elkie Brooks||No More The Fool||Legend||1986|
|Howard Jones||No-One Is To Blame||WEA||1986|
|Toshi (of X)||Made in Heaven||Ariola||1992|
|Cliff Richard/ Brian May||Move It||EMI||2006|
On 14 October 2014, Foster was presented with a BASCA Gold Badge Award in recognition of his unique contribution to music.
Mo Foster lives in London, with his wife, Kay.
Geoffrey Arnold Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of the three noted guitarists to have played with the Yardbirds. Beck also formed the Jeff Beck Group and with Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, he formed Beck, Bogert & Appice.
Level 42 are an English jazz-funk band formed on the Isle of Wight in 1979. They had a number of UK and worldwide hits during the 1980s and 1990s.
Cozy Powell was an English rock drummer, who made his name with many major rock bands and artists such as The Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Gary Moore, Robert Plant, Brian May, Whitesnake, Emerson, Lake & Powell, and Black Sabbath.
John McLaughlin is an English guitarist, bandleader, and composer. A pioneer of jazz fusion, his music combines elements of jazz with rock, world music, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco, and blues. After contributing to several key British groups of the early 1960s, McLaughlin made Extrapolation, his first album as a bandleader, in 1969. He then moved to the U.S., where he played with Tony Williams's group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his electric jazz-fusion albums In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. His 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.
Giuseppe Henry "Pino" Palladino is a Welsh musician, songwriter, and record producer. A prolific session bassist, he has played bass for acts such as The Who, the John Mayer Trio, Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, Jeff Beck and D'Angelo.
Simon Phillips is a US-based English jazz, pop and rock drummer, songwriter, and record producer. He worked with rock bands during the 1970s and 1980s and was the drummer for the band Toto from 1992 to 2014.
Raymond Matthews Brown was an American jazz double bassist known for extensive work with Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald.
Steven Lee Lukather is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer, best known as the sole continuous founding member of the rock band Toto from its founding in 1976 to the present day. A prolific session musician, Lukather has recorded guitar tracks for more than 1,500 albums representing a broad array of artists and genres. He has also contributed to albums and hit singles as a songwriter, arranger and producer. Most notably, Lukather played guitar on Boz Scaggs' albums Down Two Then Left (1977) and Middle Man (1980), and was a prominent contributor to several studio albums by Michael Jackson, including Thriller (1982). Lukather has released eight solo albums, the latest of which, I Found the Sun Again, was released in February 2021.
Dave Holland is an English jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been performing and recording for five decades. He has lived in the United States for over 40 years.
Stephen Paul Motian was an American jazz drummer, percussionist, and composer. Motian played an important role in freeing jazz drummers from strict time-keeping duties.
Nucleus were a British jazz-rock band, which continued in different forms from 1969 to 1989. In 1970, the band won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival, released the album Elastic Rock, and performed both at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Village Gate jazz club.
Andrew Fairweather Low is a Welsh guitarist, songwriter, producer and vocalist. He was a founder member and lead singer of 1960s Welsh pop band Amen Corner, and in recent years has toured extensively with Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings.
Jonathan Mark Thomas Noyce is an English musician. He plays electric bass instruments and is known as a member of British rock group Jethro Tull, and also for his long association with guitarist Gary Moore, film composer Daniel Pemberton, the band Archive and French artist Mylène Farmer. In 2018 he was awarded an ARAM by the Royal Academy of Music.
Gary Husband is an English jazz and rock drummer, pianist, and bandleader. He is also a composer, arranger and producer.
Affinity were an English jazz-rock band, active from mid-1968 to January 1972.
RMS is an English jazz fusion band formed in 1982. It consists of three well known and acclaimed British session musicians. Guitarist, Ray Russell, bass player, Mo Foster and drummer Simon Phillips.
Raymond 'Ray' Russell is an English session musician who is primarily a guitarist. He is also renowned as a record producer and composer.
Henrik Freischlader is a German blues guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer, and autodidactic multi-instrumentalist from Wuppertal, Germany.
Linda Nicholas, known by her stage name Linda Hoyle, is a singer, songwriter and art therapist. She is best known for her work with the band Affinity (1968–1971), as well as for her collaboration with Karl Jenkins on her album Pieces of Me, produced in 1971. Hoyle's latest album, The Fetch, produced by Mo Foster, was released by Angel Air on 7 August 2015. In 2018, she was co-lyricist on a chamber opera, Look! An Opera in 9 Paintings – about a couple on an awkward date at an art gallery – which debuted on June 3, 2018 to sold-out performances at Museum London, Canada.
The Yardbirds are an English rock band, formed in London in 1963. The band's core lineup featured vocalist and harmonica player Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja and bassist/producer Paul Samwell-Smith. The band is known for starting the careers of three of rock's most famous guitarists, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, all of whom ranked in the top five of Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 greatest guitarists. The band had a string of hits throughout the mid-1960s, including "For Your Love", "Heart Full of Soul", "Shapes of Things", and "Over Under Sideways Down".