New Cross rocker gets record deal – almost half a century after tunes were penned

For most aspiring rock stars, following your dreams means going back to bed.

It’s a recipe for lack of success.

Jeff Ball, raised in New Cross and Catford, knew all about the tiring slog of trying to make it.

He and his band, Grit, toured as far away as Athens to get a break – and appeared on Greek TV with their blend of blues-inspired psychedelia-tinged rock.

But London record labels shrugged and moved on to Brixton’s David Bowie and the likes of prog rock stadium-fillers The Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

The bank split. Jeff jacked in the idea of sex and drugs and rock and roll – and a life on the road.

But 48 years later, the four members of the band have landed a record deal, long after that split.

The hair is shorter and mostly grey, and the trousers more sensible.

Jeff Ball with Grit’s album

The songs they recorded in 1972 have been picked up and released by a Spanish label, virtually a lifetime after they were recorded. Sometimes, overnight success can take longer than you expect.

All the band are still alive, and two of them are still performing, albeit with fewer groupies.

Jeff, now based in Spain, said: “Some of the adventures of that tour were so extreme.

“But now we have this extraordinary ending. There is interest in making a film about it.”

Vocalist and guitarist Francisco Martinez discovered a 1972 recording while he was doing a clear out, and posted it on YouTube.

The upload was picked up by recording label Guerssen Records in Spain a few days later – and the demo has now been released as a full LP.

Now there is a growing group of fans, who have never seen the band, but love the music.

The acetate demo album – of which there are only three copies – will cost you a lot more than the £1 price of LPs at the time.

The original acetate is believed to be one of only three original copies in existence.

A third copy was discovered in a German flea market in 2012 by a scout of renowned record collector Hans Pokora, and featured in his book 7001 Record Collector Dreams.

A Christmas Eve 1972 recording, originally their bass player’s copy, was found by Mr Pokora’s scout in Germany 40 years later.

In the book, Grit’s self-titled original acetates are rated to have the maximum rarity possible.

But you will not hear messages from the devil if you play it backwards. It’s more likely to recommend a nice cup of tea and an afternoon nap.

Alex Carretero of Guerssen Records said: “The music was raw, unadulterated hard-rock with psych and prog touches, fuelled by a powerful vocalist, a killer guitar player and a fabulous drummer.

“Basically, the kind of stuff we crave for. I arrived at the right time, because prior to my interest, Frank was thinking of throwing away everything.”

Grit’s self-titled LP release is €20.00 from Guerssen.

Hopefully, it will not take 48 years to arrive.


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