While this may be news to Agent 007 lovers, there's more than one Brit named Bond. While that fictional film character with the first name of James may garner the bigger audience, it is another Bond-Graham Bond-who has left a long-lasting impression with his influential music. Although many consider Alexis Korner as the father of the British blues/R&B movement, Graham Bond also deserves credit for its development. "Loud, hypnotic and neurotic" is how Melody Maker reporter Chris Welch once described Bond's music. "It wails, screams and tears at the senses for minutes on end, demanding either complete attention or complete rejection."
Bond was not afraid to experiment, introducing the Mellotron to British audiences as well as being one of the first on the scene to use the Hammond organ. His approach to music was also unconventional, as he boldly mixed elements of jazz into his brand of R&B, a feat unheard of at the time. "It doesn't have to be a 12-bar. Blues can be 9 1/2 bars, or 14 bars, and in any time," he once explained to Melody Maker. "You can play so many different sequences, or no sequences at all. Talk about 'Free Form'-there is a tremendous parallel with the blues, because it's so free. We are playing the blues of today and I can get away with playing practically anything. There is no reason at all why you can't take the blues and put the technique of modern jazz on it."
Graham John Clifton Bond (b. October 28, 1937, Romford, Essex; d. May 8, 1974, London, U.K.) was born a chronic asthmatic and, as a child, suffered constantly from his breathing impairment. He started playing the piano at an early age. "I told my parents I wanted to play organ and they were all going to come up to the Albert Hall to watch me play," he later recalled to Melody Maker. "So they got me a piano and I studied from the age of seven until I was 14." He later joined the school orchestra and became proficient on the cello and oboe. Although classically trained, he developed great interest in Dixieland jazz in the early 1950s, and by 1953 he had joined some school friends in forming the Modernnaires.
At age 14, Bond took up kharma yoga (also known as "breathing yoga"), which led to his interest in the saxophone. "When I was 15 I decided to form a jazz band and because I had chronic asthma, I took up alto sax to help strengthen my lungs and breathing. Now I've got very strong lungs. My father bought me an alto, and for weeks before that I practiced fingering with the stick with the notes cut in. I've got an unconventional approach to saxophone. I never bothered with chords-I just believe in blowing!" However, as the jazz scene was gradually changing, Bond also became interested in bebop. He soon met drummer Terry Lovelock and, along with pianist Colin Wild, formed the Terry Graham Trio.