The Ferris Wheel

From: London, England

The Ferris Wheel are said to be “one of England’s great lost musical treasures of the mid-late ’60s” and “one of the most popular club acts” of the time. They released two albums, Can’t Break The Habit (1967) and Ferris Wheel (1970), the later featuring singer Linda Lewis. The band formed in late 1966.

Original singer Diane Ferraz was born in Trinidad, and had previously performed in a duo with singer Nicky Scott. The two had been paired together and promoted by manager and record producer Simon Napier-Bell. Ferraz and Scott released three singles on the Columbia label in 1966, and toured with a backing band, Simon’s Triangle. The band included Mike Liston (keyboards), who had previously been a member of the group West Five and backed The She Trinity. Ferraz and Scott did not have much commercial success together, however Napier-Bell’s promotional skills on their behalf allowed him to move on and manage the Yardbirds. Scott soon left, and the group was briefly billed as Diane Ferraz and Simon’s Triangle.

Ferraz and Liston then formed The Ferris Wheel, bringing in Dave Sweetnam (saxophone), George Sweetnam (bass, vocals), and Barry Reeves (drums). The three had all been members of singer Emile Ford’s backing group, The Checkmates. Lastly, the band added Mike Anthony (guitar), who was later replaced by Keith Field. Vocals were shared between Ferraz, Liston and George Sweetnam.

The Ferris Wheel quickly became a popular club act in London. They were signed to Pye Records by producer John Schroeder, who recorded the album Can’t Break The Habit in 1967. The record drew on psychedelic pop and soul influences. The album’s three singles, “I Can’t Break The Habit”, “Let It Be Me” and “The Na Na Song”, all failed to reach the UK singles chart.

The group continued touring before Ferraz decided to leave the music business and raise a family. She was briefly replaced, in 1968, by Marsha Hunt, before she in turn left to be replaced by Linda Lewis. Reeves was soon replaced by Dennis Elliot and in 1969, Field left to be replaced by Terry Edmunds, who was in turn replaced towards the end of the band’s career, first by Bernie Holland and finally Jim Cregan. With Lewis at the lead, the band signed with the Polydor label, who issued the single “Can’t Stop Now”, which was produced by Ian Samwell. The Ferris Wheel released a self-titled album in 1970 on the Uni label in the US, but was not successful. They separated in 1970.

After The Ferris Wheel, several of the band’s members went on to other projects. Liston wrote Georgie Fame and Alan Price’s UK hit single “Rosetta”, and performed with Colin Bluestone and Doris Troy, among others, before moving to Nashville in 1973 to work as a song writer and producer. He recorded with Dennis Locorriere and released three Irish-influenced albums.

George Sweetnam became a session musician, and worked with Welsh singer-songwriter Meic Stevens, Doris Troy, Medicine Head, Peter Skellern, and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel among others. He was featured on Al Stewart’s album Year of the Cat and played with Cliff Richard and The Shadows, before moving to Canada in the ’80s. He worked with Long John Baldry among others while in Canada. He died in 2007.

Barry Reeves became a member of Blossom Toes before moving to Germany, where he worked as a percussionist and songwriter with the James Last Orchestra. He married singer Madeline Bell in 1988, and died of pneumonia in 2010.

Linda Lewis and Jim Cregan later married, and subsequently divorced. Lewis worked as a solo artist from 1970, recorded nearly 20 albums and having several UK hit singles. Cregan worked with Family, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart, among others. Marsha Hunt appeared in the musical Hair in London, and worked as a model, actress, and as a solo singer in the late 1970s. She later became a noted writer and novelist. Dennis Elliott later played in bands If and Foreigner.

Artist Info: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1967 album Can’t Break The Habit

  • I Can’t Break The Habit