The Ollie Halsall Archive
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Ayers on a G string
Market Square Records
Kevin Ayers


Shaw Theatre

28 April 1992

KEVIN AYERS Lady Rachael
Belgian TV

May I

Palau Gran, Barcelona

Shouting in a Bucket
Palau Gran, Barcelona

Run [Take It Easy]
Palau Gran, Barcelona

Everybody's Sometimes

Palau Gran, Barcelona

Didn't Feel Lonely

Palau Gran, Barcelona


'Tal Cual'
Spanish TV 1982

Shouting in a Bucket Blues

'Tal Cual' 1982
Spanish TV 1982

Am I Really Marcel

'Tal Cual' 1982
Spanish TV 1982

Another Saturday Night

Tal Cual' 1982
Spanish TV 1982

Flying Start
Spanish TV 1987

Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes
Spanish TV 1987

Another Saturday Night
Spanish TV 1987

(Teen Voices)

Belgian TV 1975

Full video here

Why Are We Sleeping
Dortmunnd 21 April 1992


Musical Express

Spanish TV 1981
With John Cale,
and Andy Summers


Uncut magazine
November 2008

Ollie Halsall is one of the most under-rated guitarist in the world - he played the shit out of people like Clapton and Jeff Beck. He was really adaptable and could go from the gentlest song. really listen to the song, not just like a guitar player, but sensitive to a piec of music. But he could also be as had a rocker as anyone. My favourite Ollie quote is: "There are only two people I'd play free for: that's you and Randy Newman." It was an enduring collaboration: It was love at first solo. At the time, I had a nice big house in Mallorca, and he and his girlfriend [Zanna Gregmar] moved in - and we did a lot of work in and around Spain. We'd started collaborating and writing songs. It was like the musical equivalent of having a partner. I don't want to give everything away, really, but he started working with Spanish bands, as I didn't have enough going on, and they were paying him loads. And he hated it, and he fell into bad ways . . . and died of it. It was a massive loss of a friend and a great talent."

- Kevin Ayers
Uncut magazine, December 2008


The Confessions of Doctor Dream 1973

Dr Dream album cover

Didn't Feel Lonely

While Tempest were recording Ollie's song Dream Train, [at Air Studios, London with Geoff Emerick] Kevin Ayers was in the next studio working on his album, Confessions of Doctor Dream and invited Ollie to play on one of the tracks. Ollie enjoyed himself so much, he decided to de-camp' to the Ayers band

June 1 1974
Ayers Cale Nico Eno

Live at The Rainbow Theatre

June 1 1974 album cover

May I

Shouting in a Bucket Blues

Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes

Everybody's Sometime

Two Goes Into Four

Although he is present on them, titles in italics do not feature Ollie on lead guitar]

Similarly, he doesn't play any lead guitar on the John Cale Nico and Eno tracks.

Until 1998, the only official live Ayers/Halsall release - and then only three tracks. The solo on May I earned Ollie a place in Terry Theise's 'Top Ten' [see below] nearly three years later (Guitar Player magazine, January 1977)

Top Ten

Sweet Deceiver 1975

Sweet Deciever album cover


Guru Banana

City Waltz

Toujours la Voyage

Sweet Deceiver

Diminished But Not Finished

Circular Letter

Once Upon an Ocean

Farewell Again

Titles in italics include OH only on bass, acoustic, vibes or vocals]

Elton John piano on Guru Banana & Tojours la Voyage

Yes We Have No Mananas 1976

Mananas album cover


Mr. Cool

The Owl

Love's Gonna Turn You Round

Help Me

Ballad Of Mr Snake

Everyone Knows The Song


Mr Cool features Ollie's only known use of wah pedal! I have long regarded these two albums (Sweet Deceiver & Yes We Have No Mananas) as amongst Kevin's finest achievements. Apart from some superb guitar, Ollie also provides most of the Deceiver bass parts.

Rainbow Takeaway 1978

Rainbow Takeaway album cover

Blaming It All On Love

Ballad Of A Salesman

View from the Mountain

Rainbow Takeaway

Waltz For You

Beware of the Dog

Strange Song

Goodnight Goodnight

Hat Song



Buy Stiil Life With Guitar CD NOW!

That's What You Get, Babe 1980

That's What You Get album cover

That's What You Get

Where Do We Go From Here

You Never Outrun Your Heart

Given And Taken


Money, Money, Money

Miss Hanaga

I'm So Tired

Where Do The Stars End

Titles in italics include OH only on bass or vocals



Buy Stiil Life With Guitar CD NOW!

Percussion [film soundtrack 1983)

Dr Dream album cover

The Howlin' Man

From the album As Close As You Think
[See below]

Deia Vu 1984

Deia Vue album cover

Champagne and Valium

Thank God For A Sense Of Humour

Take It Easy

Stop Playing With My Heart

My Speeding Heart

Lay Lady Lay

Stop Playing With My Heart

Be Aware Of The Dog

OH plays guitar on only Champagne and Valium and My Speeding Heart but appears to play bass on everything else

As Close As You Think 1986
'Kevin Ayers featuring Ollie Halsall'

As Close as You Think album cover As Close as You Think album cover

Stepping Out 

Fool After Midnight

Wish I Could Fall

Only Heaven Knows

Too Old To Die Young

The Howlin' Man

Never My Baby

Budget Tours (part one)

Budget Tours (part two)

Kevin Ayers Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Ollie Halsall Guitar, backing vocals*
Poli Palmer Fairlight programming
Pat Crumly Saxophone and flute

*Lead vocal on Never My Baby

The riff on Too Old to Die Young (in fact another version of Champagne & Valium) was later ressurected on Another Rolling Stone from Falling Up. Ollie-freaks should take especial note of this remarkable album.

The credit 'Kevin Ayers featuring Ollie Halsall' could almost be reversed - such is the balance of the collaboration. Indeed, Never My Baby is, to all intents and purposes, a Halsall solo performance.Busine.

As Close As You Think



Falling Up 1988

Falling Up album cover

Saturday Night in Deia

Flying Start

The Best We Have

Another Rolling Stone

Do You Believe

That's What We Did

Night Fighters

Am I Really Marcel?

Marcel features quite possibly the most elusive solo of Ollie's entire career, even remarking on it himself in a 1988 interview. Quite how he achieved the final note will remain a mystery


Still Life With Guitar 1992
Extended version 2002

Still Life With Guitar album cover Still Life With Guitar album cover

Ghost Train

I Don't Depend On You

Don't Blame Them

It's getting very near the end and if Ollie's composition Ghost Train isn't now one of the most poignant pieces of music you've ever heard I'd like to know what is. What a shame the live 'Another Year Goes By' chorus came too late for the album version.

Ollie plays just acoustic on Ghost Train and Don't Blame Them and vibes on I Don't Depend on You.

The 2017 album The Happening Combo includes Ollie's original demo of Ghost Train.


Market Square Records

£7.99 plus postage

Buy Stiil Life With Guitar CD NOW!

First Show
in the Appearance Business

The BBC Sessions

BBC Sessions  album cover 2 BBC Sessions  album cover


Another Whimsical Song

Lady Rachel

Stop This Train

Didn't Feel Lonely

The BBC Sessions, 1973-76 is a double CD with earlier Ayers tracks, so probably a better buy.

Too Old to Die Young 1998

Too Old to Die Young album cover

Didn't Feel Lonely


Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes

Farewell Again

BBC radio sessions 1975 with Zoot Money keyboards.

'Starvin' Marvin Siau

The Happening Combo 2017

The Happening Combo (CD)

Issue Is or Issue Ain't*

Speeding Heart

Somebody Mean*

Lay Lady Lay

Leaving It All Behind*

Gimme a Little Bit

Ghost Train*

Another Time Before

* Halsall solo demos for Kevin Ayers 1988 album, Still Life With Guitar. Other tracks are alternative versions of songs from the Kevin Ayers album,Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain, four songs by Lady June Cramer and Marvin Siau's origina demo of Another Time Before, which became Another Rolling Stone on the 1988 Kevin Ayers album, Falling Up.

Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain

Diamond Jack album cover

Madame Butterfly

Lay Lady Lay

Who's Still Crazy

You Keep Me Hangin' On

You Are A Big Girl

Steppin' Out

My Speeding Heart

Howling Man

Give A Little Bit

Champagne And Valium

The 2017 album The Happening Combo includes demo versions of the following tracks:

Lay Lady Lay
My Speeding Heart
Give A Little Bit

The Happening Combo (CD)


I still remember quite clearly the first encounter with Julian Ruiz at the Audiofilm studio in Madrid. Juan de La Cierva- Kevin's manager, a wonderful gentle and very generous man who kept us all on retainers during this time, Kevin, Ollie and I arrived in a group into the rather big control room where most of the music was recorded.

The studio room itself was huge carpet clad and free from any natural resonance, rather sterile as was the chilly atmosphere… A few months earlier we had all been in New York to record some demos for CBS. It had been a fantastic experience recording in the historical building on Manhattan where Screen Gems once had had its offices and studio.. where people like Carole King and Neil Sedaka once had been composing/recording some of their most famous stuff, like the Tapestry album and Oh Carole… in small rooms next to each other.

The producer was a most wonderful being, a big jovial warm man with a great sense of humour with the utmost respect for everybody's musical and personal integrity- Bert de Coteaux who had worked with a lot of giants in American music history. We all loved him instantly. The rooms were big and open and resonant and there was very little carpet in sight. We were all positively amazed to see that here the drums were recorded in a wooden room with plenty of natural echo...not a carpet in sight.

The drum sound was fabulous. The recordings were wonderful. Everybody had a say in the process and the atmosphere was warm and creative, we shared lots of laughs and every morning Bert would greet me and Ollie with new names like Oh here comes Beauty and the Beast, Grim and Gorgeous and so on haha. The musicians were some of the top session guys in New York and they were all very friendly and interested in especially Kevin and Ollie and when the time came for Ollie to record his solos all the other musicians stayed behind to listen and spontaneously broke out in applause after some of Ollie's takes and musical jokes… Bert also showed great appreciation for my and Ollie's back up vocals and I think they were recorded in a way that framed Kevin's voice harmoniously.

The whole time in New York was wonderful, filled with much good food which was always very important in Kevin's world and also in Juan's, music, many meetings with various musicians and it was with a considerable amount of disappointment we had to return to Spain when nobody wanted to pick up the possible album project… Juan de La Cierva, Kevin, Ollie and I arrived in a group into the rather big control room where most of the music was recorded.

The studio room itself was huge and rather sterile… It was a very strange experience because the atmosphere in the room was instantaneously encompassing … Julian Ruiz in his own little domain with his private crew of obedient musicians ready to bow to his every need… Julian had here created a commercial "hit-factory" where the same musicians were used for every project.

The chill reached out to us…as Ollie and I were to learn later, Julian was a "One-Eyed Man in the Kingdom of the Blind". A sports journalist who had decided to become a music producer and I understand he returned back to sports journalism some years later. He was mastering the art of sterile music making, cloning successful songs from the British charts at the time and turning it into hits on the Spanish radio… We felt like invaders into a dictator's private territory… It was to take quite some time for the atmosphere to thaw.

Julian introduced himself and the musicians, Javier De Juan Drums, Manolo Aguilar Base, Joakin Montoya Keyboards and Carlos Garcia Vasos who was a captain in the Spanish Army on Guitar and together with Joakin formed the very successful top ten techno act Azul y Negro. They were all very skilled session players, which Ollie and I later were to form friendships with as we during the following two years were pulled in on several of Julian's recording projects always laced with disrespectful undertones and Julian and I constantly fought verbally like dog and cat as I refused to take his chauvinistic approach to me.

It quickly became very obvious to us that he had no need nor respect for either of us as far as our musical abilities were concerned since we weren't sounding "Moderno" one of Julians favourite adjectives. He proudly started playing the already recorded tracks for us and we were all quite shocked as these arrangements didn't seem to have very much to do with the songs we had been playing and we all instantly hated what we heard…

"Look what they've done to my song Ma" – Kevin sang later that day when we left the studio. Kevin tried in his humble way to suggest a few "humanizations" of the tracks, but they all fell on stony ground…

In Julian's (later nicknamed Dracula by me and Ollie, since he sucked the life out of all he touched) opinion we were nothing but a bunch of hippies and he'd rather not have had us there at all. He reluctantly allowed Ollie to play some guitar but it was quite clear he'd rather have used Carlos as he had no understanding at first for Ollie's original style but as the work progressed the other musicians started to show admiration for him and gradually Dracula defrosted a little bit.

Kevin limited his visits to the studio to what was absolutely necessary. Kevin was reluctantly allowed to sing on what now was Julian's project as opposed to Kevin's Original music. It felt as if there were no longer any place for Kevin's voice in all this synthetic sterility, it seemed like an unsuccessful attempt at merging two completely different worlds.

I too was allowed to sing, but not to touch any piano… Julian could only appreciate the obvious instantly commercial sound and "poo-pooed" most true artistic expression… Nobody had envisaged this result Juan and Kevin had after our return from New York visited a night club and heard a "modern" Spanish band playing and Kevin had expressed to Julian that maybe some of his songs could work well with some of that treatment, and that's when Julian was (regrettably) contacted.

Zanna Gregmar 2014

Exceprt from Stylus Magazine interview 2007 [?]

Mike Atkinson: It was round about this time that Ollie Halsall came onto the scene. He then stayed with you, as your closest musical associate, for the next eighteen years. At a time when an awful lot of collaborators were constantly coming and going, what was it about Ollie that led to the two of you sticking together for so long?

Kevin Ayers: [long pause] Gosh, that's a really hard one. I think it was just instant empathy. I met him while I was in the studio doing Dr. Dream; I think he was working with members of Colosseum at the time. I needed a guitar solo for "Didn't Feel Lonely Till I Thought of You." I opened the door, and there was this guy walking along with a white Gibson. I said, "Do you fancy doing a guitar solo?" Sure, he said… and then came in and did this stunning solo, after listening to it just once. That was it. That was love, you know?

MA: Ollie worked with you closely on the next album, Sweet Deceiver [1975]. This is a problematic one. I listened to it again this week and absolutely loved it—I had forgotten what a good album it was—and I really do think that it's one of your most underrated albums.

KA: Well, thank you for saying that. [emphatically] Thank you very much for saying that.

MA: Still Life with Guitar came out in 1992. Shortly after its release, Ollie Halsall tragically died—and then you didn't release another album of original new material for fifteen years. It's very tempting to draw certain conclusions from that.

KA: Well, you've got it, yeah. [pause] I mean, you've answered… it's a rhetorical question.

MA: OK. Well, I could delve further, but I kind of don't want to.

KA: No, I don't think you should.

Interview by MIke Atkinson originally published by Stylus Magazine 2007[?]


Read full interview here

Ayers on a G string

> Kevin Ayers archive

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