Mike Stuart Span

Mike Stuart SpanFrom: Brighton, Sussex, England

Mike Stuart Span were a 1960s pop/rock band consisting of Stuart Hobday (vocals), Brian Bennett (guitar, vocals), Roger McCabe (bass, vocals), and Gary Murphy (drums). The band’s reputation is almost entirely based on the quality of a handful of unreleased recordings, before briefly changing their name to Leviathan in 1969.

Hobday secured a publishing contract with Lorna Music in 1965. The Mike Stuart Span was then formed. Hobday and McCabe had been in the group the Mighty Atoms together, and the two recruited Nigel Langham (guitar), Ashley Potter (organ), and Murphy, who was still a teenager at the time. The band began working with promoter/manager Mike Clayton, and as a result, Potter with Jon Poulter and a four piece horn section. Economic issues presented themselves, so the four piece horn section was reduced to two. At this time, Mike Stuart Span focused on American-derived soul music. After only a few short months, Langham fell to his death when he leaped through a window during an LSD trip. The band became relatively drug-free at that point in time.

Mike Stuart Span landed a record contract with EMI after recording Hobday’s “Work-Out.” The B-side was a cover of the Drifters’ “Follow Me.” It would be another Drifters cover, “Come On Over To Our Place” that ended up being the A-side for the band’s debut single. This single was released on the Columbia label in November 1966, and was backed by Hobday’s “Still Nights.” After the band’s second single was unsuccessful, EMI dropped them from the label.

The decision by EMI forced Mike Stuart Span to make some changes. They got rid of the horns altogether, and Poulter left the band shortly after. Bennett was recruited thanks to an article in Melody Maker. This line-up was more focused and began work at Decca Records with Dave Paramor, the producer for their singles with EMI. Three tracks were recorded, but Decca eventually decided that they were not commercial enough, and did not sign the band.

With no contract signed, the band decided to take control of things themselves. They privately funded a single that appeared in February 1968 on the Jewel label. “Children of Tomorrow” / “Concerto of Thoughts” was recorded at R.G. Jones studio in Morden. Only 500 copies were pressed and the single is now considered a collectors item. Despite their limited commercial success, Mike Stuart Span landed a cameo appearance in the film Better A Widow. They also had successful tours of Germany, Belgium, a support appearance with Cream, and jammed with Jimi Hendrix.

After a session for the John Peel’s Top Gear programme in May 1968, Mike Stuart Span was chosen as the featured band on a BBC series. The episode, titled A Year In The Life, charted the band’s progress over a twelve month period. Over this period in time, the band let go their manager. The program reached the head of the UK branch of Elektra Records, Clive Selwood, and the band was signed to the label in early 1969. American label boss, Jac Holzman, made immediate plans for an album, but insisted the band change their name. Mike Stuart Span was now called Leviathan.

After splitting up, the members went in very different directions. Bennett became a building site labourer before joining the final incarnation of Jason Crest, and McCabe left the music industry entirely. Murphy would join local blues progressive outfit Hellmet. Hobday found success with BBC as a music producer. By the 1980s, the band had become a cult name among collectors. In 1996, the CD Timespan was released.

Artist information sources include: Wikipedia

2013 Update from Stuart Hobday: “the previously unreleased Elektra album, made following the name change to Leviathan, finally saw the light of day thanks to the magazine Record Collector. The quality of reproduction on the vinyl is superb, as is the artwork”, for information visit Mike Stuart Span / Leviathan website: mikestuartspan.moonfruit.com
Record Collector Order Page:

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1996 album Timespan

  • Children Of Tomorrow
  • Concerto Of Thoughts
  • Second Production
  • Remember The Times
  • My White Bicycle