'80s - The Barron Knights (2010)
'A Knight's Tale!'
The Barron Knights are a British humorous pop group, originally formed in 1959 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire as The Knights of the Round Table. Although they later would simply become the Barron Knights.
The Barron Knights comprised of: Duke D'Mond, Peter Langford, Butch Baker, "Barron" Anthony Osmond, and Dave Ballinger.
Although the Barron Knights undoubtedly have their own style and produced regular 'beat group' recordings in their own right, it was their production of humorous parodies that brought them the greatest success.
Indeed, they started out as a straight music group, then gained success doing these parodies - such as those of the Merseybeat groups of the early '60s - and never looked back.
Their first major hit was 'Call Up the Groups' (#3, 1964), and they made the UK charts with a total of 13 singles through 1983, including 'Pop! Go the Workers' (#5, 1965), 'Merry Gentle Pops' (#9, 1965), 'Live in Trouble' (#7, 1977), and 'A Taste for Aggro.' (#3, 1978)
Their only US chart entry came in 1979 with 'The Topical Song,' a parody of Supertramp's 'The Logical Song.'
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the last original member in the group, Peter Langford about not only their touring schedule, but playing with The Beatles, how their first hit song came about, and, of course ... penguins!
Taking it from the top, the band was originally named The Knights of the Round Table and then a year later become The Barron Knights. Why the complete name change at the time? "We shortened the name so it was easier to put on a poster with bigger letters!"
In 1963, at the invitation of Brian Epstein, you were even one of the support acts on The Beatles' Christmas shows at the Finsbury Park Astoria in London, UK! My God, that must have been fantastic. What are your memories of that day - and did you get to hang with The Beatles before or after, perhaps? "The Beatles tour was great and we had loads of fun with them. Although after the tour we never made contact with them - only to see Paul at an awards dinner."
The Barron Knights actually started out as a straight pop group, playing English dance halls, even making your way over to Germany to tour. So, at what point did you all decide that producing humorous parodies was where the greater success was to be found for you? "I wrote 'Call Up The Groups' on my mothers kitchen Table (Feb 1964) as a fun thing for the show - not thinking it would be our first hit record!"
Noting that you managed to overcome copyright restrictions by parodying a number of leading pop groups of the time - The Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Dave Clark Five, The Bachelors, etc. - by calling a song 'Boots and Blisters' instead of 'Bits and Pieces,' it seems that you were the prototype that 'Weird Al' Yankovic must have worked off of! Do you know who he is, and the fact that he has made his fortune in songs that parody everyone and anything?! "We have heard that 'Weird Al' was influenced by us! If it's true we are very proud 'cos he has done some good stuff."
After a few singles were released, it was 1978's 'A Taste of Aggro' that suddenly threw you all into the spotlight - becoming your biggest hit with sales of over one million records sold! What can you tell us about the creation of that song - and, in your opinion, just why did it take off so big for you? "Butch and I wrote 'A Taste of Aggro' in Tenby, South Wales and had no idea it would be such a big hit!"
You wrote a book, 'Once a Knight' (great title!) about the history of the band, so please tell us (as an incentive to have people buy the book over here in the States), what was one of the most revealing things you, well, revealed within its pages about The Barron Knights?! "The book is no longer available - unless you can buy it on eBay!"
Fun Three - OK, it's now time to fire off some quick questions - to allow those that think they know Pete Langford to perhaps think again!
a) Can you remember your very first TOTP appearance? What song/year was it and at what level of nervousness were you at that whole day? "The first Top Of the Pops was July 1964 and we flew in a frivate plane to Manchester from Gurnsey to record it in the day time - so we could get back to the island to do the show!"
b)Do you have a recurring nightmare or dream - and if so, how does it usually end? "I have no nightmares or dreams, sorry!"
c)If you could meet any deceased celebrity, who would it be? "If I could meet one person who has left this world it would be Elvis."
Being that you are today the only member remaining from the original line-up, do The Barron Knights still tour - and if so, is it only limited to the UK? "We are doing 60 shows this year - 45 in UK the rest in New Zealand and Australia."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the flightless bird, not the chocolate bar!) ... do you? "Yes, I love Penguins. I saw thousands when we were in the Falkland Islands."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
'Funny in the Head: the Best of the Barron Knights' CD Purchase Link