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Coulam, Roger (21st August 1940-23rd October 2005)

He was a pianist, organist and vibraphonist born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England who studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London in the 1950s.

In 1958 he began playing in a trio at The Grotto Club that was situated in Baker Street, London, where they performed mainly modern jazz influenced material and on occasion were joined by the comic actor John Junkin on the bongo drums, who was later seen performing them on A Hard Day’s Night with The Beatles .  He stayed with the trio until around 1959 and from about 1964 he was a member of The Shubdubs, which were put together by Jimmy Nicol, who stood in for Ringo Starr on the first part of The Beatles’ 1964 world tour.

He also worked as a session musician and as a member of the Leading Figures and towards the end of the decade he hooked up with the singer-songwriter Iain Matthews.  He featured on the piano and organ on his first solo album after leaving Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort.  When Iain was making his next album he decided to call the band he put together Matthews’ Southern Comfort and Roger would return to work with Iain and the group in 1970 for the third album, Later That Same Year.  With them he saw success with the UK No. 1 hit single “Woodstock” which had been written about the festival by Joni Mitchell .

This was not his only musical interest at the time though, as in 1969 he played on Serge Gainsbourg’s/Jane Birkin’s hit song “Je T’aime” and became a co-founder of the popular group Blue Mink with the bassist Herbie Flowers , the drummer Barry Morgan and the singers, Madeleine Bell and Roger Cook.  This would give him further success as they made regular visits to the UK charts from 1969 with hits such as “Banner Man”, “Good Morning Freedom”, “Melting Pot”, “Our World” and many more.  The disbanded around 1973/4 after having released several albums and each member went on to follow their own individual careers.

He continued as a session musician and found himself with Herbie Flowers again when they performed on the No. 1 UK hit single “Barbados” by the duo Typically Tropical in 1975.  Working with countless artists over the course of his career he performed with David Bowie, Paul Buckmaster, Ray Cooper , Barbara Dickson, Don Fardon, Johnny Harris, Nick Ingman, Jimmy Page, Poet & The One Man Band, Alan Price, The Les Reed Combo, Sandy Shaw, The Strawbs and Tony Visconti to name just a very few.

In his solo recording career he released several albums such as Hammond Stereo Sounds to Spoil You and covered pop songs such as “Dizzy“.  He also performed with his own ensemble known as The Roger Coulam Quartet.

He died in October 2005 when he was 65 years old.

Matthews’ Southern Comfort recordings
Woodstock (Joni Mitchell )
Old Gold OG 9795-A (UK 7″)

Here he is on keyboards with Blue Mink on “Good Morning Freedom”…