A cutting from the October 2017 edition of HEM Life publication.
I used to rent the upstairs room every Tuesday, proclaimed that Tuesdays is Bluesdays, and named the venture Henry’s Blueshouse, after a particularly handsome Afghan Hound that lived in my street. From 1968 until the early 1970s a steady stream of emerging UK bands played at Henry’s, including Black Sabbath, Status Quo, Rory Gallagher and Taste, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull and many more.
The image of Henry that we used on tickets, T-shirts, posters and flyers was a jokey caricature which, to this day, I believe met with the absolute disapproval of the actual Henry. I’ve been asked about Henry a zillion times by Sabbath fans over the years, and have always had to lamely reply that I don’t have a photograph of the celebrity cur.
That was, until last week, when I had a message from Australia. It was from Alice, youngest daughter of Barry and Jean, my erstwhile neighbours and owners of the actual Henry. And what’s more, she sent me a photograph of him, looking poised, elegant and extremely bored as he posed with the members of Tea and Symphony, the somewhat strange, hippy, thinking man’s rock band from Moseley.
So, at last, there’s a photograph of Birmingham’s Rock and Roll Afghan Hound that is now circulating among Sabbath fans worldwide.
Tea and Symphony were prog rockers, a funiosity, absolutely eccentric, probably the first band to truly reflect the hippy Moseley lifestyle of the time.
One of that early stable of Birmingham bands signed to Big Bear Records, alongside Locomotive, Bakerloo Blues Line and Black Sabbath, the title of their first vinyl album, released through EMI Harvest, probably said it all – An Asylum For The Musically Insane.
If the first album was unusual, which it most certainly was, then the follow-up removed any doubts that may have still lingered. Entitled Jo Sago, it was one of the very first of what were known as concept albums. This was wholly dedicated to a very musical take on Moseley’s Ladypool Road and the confused life of the immigrant Jo Sago. Theirs was a very special form of musical madness that without doubt was touched with genius.
Tea and Symphony enjoyed a successful career gigging throughout the UK and Europe, particularly on the then-flourishing University circuit. They had a modest hit with their version of the Procol Harum song “Boredom” which was BBC Radio One Record of The Week and they appeared on TV in the UK and Germany. It all ended tragically when guitarist/songwriter Jef Daw died of a heart attacked on a French beach after swimming. Leader, guitarist and singer James Langston later featured with Birmingham band Hooker before retiring to the West Country and pianist Nigel Phillips resumed his teaching career and reportedly still gigs in and around the City.