Steve Ellis` initial interest in playing music only extended as far as bashing some biscuit tins, whilst two brothers strummed Kay`s catalogue guitars in their mum`s front room,. He was about 12 or 13 and wanted to be a `proper` drummer, but his pleas to his father for help to buy a decent drum kit failed, so he got fired from that particular embryonic beat combo! A few years later, Nigel, another friend of his, who used to bring his guitar to Steve`s house and play, whilst Steve sang along, dragged him off to accompany him on an audition in Tottenham, North London for a band who`d taken out an ad in Melody Maker. Steve, then aged fifteen, sang at the audition, was offered the vocalist vacancy and a career was born!
That band were called Soul Survivors and they played in various clubs in and around London for the next couple of years. They did the rounds and paid their dues, got a record deal with Decca and recorded a cover of The Rolling Stones `She Smiled Sweetly`, but it did nothing chartwise and the band played on! The band then switched to CBS Records and got offered the chance to record a cover of the song “Everlasting Love”. The song had recently been a US hit for Robert Knight, the band went for it and were packed off to record it under the guidance of Muff Winwood at Island Studios. They recorded a group version of what was, on the original recording, a big production number, but the results didn`t find favour with the powers that be at C.B.S. . This was no bad reflection on the band`s musical talents, as they were more than competent, even though they were so very young at the time! The decision was then taken to put Steve in the studio with a bigger “band”, an orchestra in fact, and the results, along with a name change to (The) Love Affair, catapaulted them to the top of the UK charts by the early days of 1968.
Suddenly, they could do no wrong, (despite some press furore over the fact that they`d admitted, quite innocently, on primetime TV, that the rest of the band had not played on the song) and subsequent hits kept them in the charts through `68 and on into `69. They gigged all over the UK, Europe and Scandinavia, but were lumped into the teenybopper bracket and were screamed at by young girls wherever they went.
In the U.K., Europe and other territories, their version of Everlasting Love has become one of the defining songs of that era, with Rainbow Valley only slightly less so, both songs being written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden. Their other hits, “Day Without Love” , “One Road” and “Bringing on Back the Good Times” were written by Phillip Goodhand-Tait, who effectively became a non participating band member and stand up well against the first two hits and despite reaching lower chart positions in the U.K. demonstrated that they were a capable self contained musical unit. The songs that were the chart hits for the band, were shining examples of a late 60`s trend towards big production values on single releases, whilst, in the main, the B-sides and album tracks were recorded by the band themselves and show a much more raw sounding angle to their music.
As a live band, they were able to compete with the best of them and, in concert, displayed their Mod roots to great effect, with Steve`s souful voice being a standout feature. Steve was the pin up poster boy of the times, (along with an equally very young Peter Frampton) and although all this success and adulation seemed to be all a band could ever want, it started to ring hollow with Steve and contributed to his decision to quit the band and opt for a solo career as 1969 wore on. He left in December 1969: “We never really made it big anywhere but Britain and I think that if we had started to happen in America, I wouldn`t have left”. A song, recorded for release as a Love Affair single, “Time Hasn`t Changed Us” remained unreleased and forgotten until writer Phillp Goodhand-Tait discovered an acetate copy, whilst having a “clearout” at his home. The song is included on the CD Love Affair release, “An Affair to Remember”. Steve, then aged 19, was heading out into the big world as a solo artist!
First, there was a guest vocalist appearance, along with Peter Green, on the Peter Bardens solo album, “The Answer”. Then came a couple of singles for CBS, produced by Chas Chandler, then the soundtrack album to the film of Joe Orton`s “Loot”, directed by Silvio Narizzano. There were also extensive recording sessions for a proposed solo album, but the idea was shelved and the songs finally saw the light of day as an album called “Rollin with the `69 Crew” more than forty years later. After this, Steve decided that he was missing playing in a band and so, with Zoot Money, set about putting together the band that became known as simply Ellis (despite the bands wishes to be known as Kin). Other members included ex-Peter Bardens guitarist Andy Gee; ex-Fat Mattress bassist Jimmy Leverton, later replaced by Nick South; and drummer Dave Lutton. Two (recently re-issued) albums were released, “Riding on the Crest of a Slump” and “Why Not”, before the band, lacking any real record company support, ran out of steam and split.
Steve then joined up with Widowmaker, at the request of Luther Grosvenor (ex Spooky Tooth/ Mott the Hoople), who were a much more hard rocking outfit and with a newly released album, “Widowmaker” under their belts they toured the USA supporting labelmates E.L.O., and were both managed by Don Arden. The grind of the tours and bad chemistry within the band caused Steve to part company on their return home from a particularly extensive tour playing large festivals and arenas. The “Widowmaker” album has recently been re-issued by Angel Air, with the inclusion of some live tracks.
The next move was to record a solo album and “The Last Angry Man” was recorded, but it didn`t get to see the light of day until 2001. It is now re-issued as “The Love Affair is Over” and includes tracks from 1983, known as the “Basement Days” recordings. The non appearance of this album was Steve`s cue to quit the business and get a job that would pay regular wages so he could support his young family properly. The desire to make music eventually returned, along with some lucrative enough work offers to make it all financially viable again, so Steve handed in his notice at his job in Shoreham docks, but on the last day at work he suffered an horrific accident that would have him in and out of hospitals for the next eight years, whilst he learned to walk again. Eventually, he managed enough mobility, through studying martial arts, to be able to gig again. Whilst in the process of assembling a band that would have to be known as Steve Ellis` Love Affair (after some legal skirmishes with the then current, non original member version of Love Affair), Steve was offered the opportunity to front the German rock band, Scarlet. An eponymous album was released in Europe, but this was only a minor diversion and Steve hit the road in 1991, with Steve Ellis` Love Affair and had a ten year stint playing in the U.K. and across Europe.
Steve Ellis` Love Affair recorded a charity single “Step Inside My Love” in aid of the NSPCC, with Paul Weller guesting, which raised a substantial amount of money for the cause.
Steve also found time, along with boxing promoter Dean Powell, to organize a tribute concert in memory of the late Steve Marriott, at The Ruskin Arms in East Ham. This then morphed into the annual Small Faces convention that runs to this day and in 2001 Steve made a memorable appearance at the Steve Marriott Memorial Concert, along with Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Ian MacLagan, Jerry Shirley, Peter Frampton, Zak Starkey, Midge Ure et al, at the London Astoria. Aside from a guest appearance at a similar concert, at the Royal Albert Hall, in aid of the family of the late Ronnie Lane, who had then recently suffered a serious house fire, that would Steve`s final involvement with the conventions.
Work began on another solo album, but progress was halted when Steve`s son became seriously ill. The album “Best of Days” finally appeared in late 2008 and garnered favourable reviews. Steve began gigging again and has subsequently recorded another album called “Ten Commitments”, which was released in late 2011. Following on from that, he is in the process of recording an album of songs featuring collaborations with some of his many musical friends, which should see the light of day in 2016. A biography is in the works too, as is a documentary dvd, along with more gigs, a 64 date tour, commencing in October 2015 and more music.