Kenny - Biography
By Eric Brightwell
Kenny were a Bay City Rollers-styled glitter rock act that associated who recorded on Mickey Most’s RAK Records. There success arrived as the end of glam drew near and, after parting ways with songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, Kenny soldiered on unsuccessfully for a few years before calling it quits.
Ross Pringle worked in a cold storage unit of a banana warehouse but dreamt of fronting a prog rock band. Improbably, he and his friends Enfield residents Yan Style (guitar), Chris Redburn (bass), Chris Laklison (keyboards) and Andy Walton (drums) practiced in the warehouse locker room, calling themselves Chuff. Chuff played the Windsor Pop Festival and a few venues in London, sharing stages with the likes of Hawkwind and The Edgar Broughton Band. One of their bigger gigs was as support for The Troggs at Middlesex Polytechnic College. After that gig, a representative from Starlite agency approached the band about joining their stable, which at the time also included Hot Chocolate, Katie Kissoon and Marmalade. Starlite were looking for a band to record songs by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who’d scored several number one Eurovision hits, a world cup song and with Bay City Rollers. They’d also recorded a song “The Bump” as Kenny (after their successful collaboration with Irish singer Tony Kenny). The song, a gloriously stupid stomp of prime bubblegum, featured Coulter on vocals. The music was provided by The Bay City Rollers, who’d recorded the tune as a B-side before splitting with the songwriters. The re-recorded, re-released version sold over 250,000 copies and almost topped the charts. Martin & Coulter desperately needed a band to promote the song on Top of the Pops. Chuff fit the bill and signed a contract with Peter Walsh in late 1974.
The first order of business was the sacking of Pringle. The songwriting & production duo favored former child actor Keith Chegwin but he declined. After auditions, they settled on one of Stile’s schoolmates, Rick Driscoll. They followed up “The Bump” with the similarly styled “Fancy Pants,” “Baby I Love You OK” and “Julie Anne,” which included uncredited Chris Spedding and Clem Cattini and were included on their debut album, The Sound of Super K (1975-RAK Records). The album only reached #56 at home although it also performed well in Germany. After the record’s release, Kenny released one more single from the album, “Nice to Have You Home,” which was only moderately successful – again in Germany. The B-side featured the Driscoll and Stile-penned “Happiness Melissa.” In 1976, Kenny went to court to sever their ties with Martin & Coulter and RAK Records. Martin & Coulter transferred their efforts to Slik, who re-recorded and had a hit with Kenny’s “Fancy Pants.”
Kenny next signed with Polydor, who release “Hot Lips” and “Red Headed Lady” which stuck to formula right as Punk was emerging. They were hits in Germany and China and Kenny released their second record, Ricochet (1976-Polydor) in Germany only. Their final single, “Old Songs Never Die” failed to chart. By the time of its release, Kenny seemed like artifacts even in their Teutonic stronghold and Redburn and Lacklison left and were replaced by Dave Bowkers and Ian Culey, respectively. Defying the odds, the new line-up lasted until 1979, when they released a non-charting cover of Reach Out (I’ll Be There).” That year the members also provided the backing for Dennis Waterman’s theme for the hit ITV series, Minder. After Stile was seriously injured in a car accident, Kenny finally called it a day and have never reformed. However, years later a band calling itself Kenny toured the nostalgia circuit, although it contained none of the original band’s members.
Rick Driscoll went on to appear on the game show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Stile runs a PA rental company, Canegreen, whose clients include self-described Kenny fan and former label mate, Paul Weller. Redburn (in addition to launching Redburn Transfer) and Walton still play together as The Legendary Old Brown Growlers.