Georgie B

“As Second Image we worked with Frankie Beverley and Maze for two years, 1982 and 1983…There’s a great image of Maze standing in front of Hammersmith Odeon and the billboard says, ‘Sold Out! Maze feat. Frankie Beverley with guests Second Image.’ It’s a great shot.” – George Bromfield (Georgie B)

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Producer, singer, entertainer and writer George Bromfield aka Georgie B has been a constant in and around the music industry for the past thirty-five years. Georgie B first came to prominence in the 1980s as one of the founder members of UK Jazz Funk band Second Image, playing numerous gigs alongside his Jazz Funk peers Incognito, Central Line, Beggar & Co and Light of the World among others. He has an impressive musical resume having worked with Soul, Jazz, Funk, Reggae and Pop luminaries such as Maze, Jean Carne, Womack and Womack, Janet Kay and Paul Weller. Now Georgie B is back as a solo artist heading up a funky new collective, The Groove Association. Michael J Edwards caught up with the charismatic front man prior to The Groove Association’s effervescent and entertaining performance at Under The Bridge, London to talk about his colourful career thus far and the exciting times ahead in the future.

Michael J Edwards: Greetings Georgie B. Do you come from a musical heritage?

Georgie B: I wouldn’t say we were heavily musical, but it’s a church thing, we come from a church background. I was in the church choir, however I wouldn’t say we were overly musical, but definitely that church influence comes through. It teaches you how to keep harmony and stuff like that. I was only seventeen when I started, so I started at a young age. I was still in college, but I was living the dream really.

Michael J Edwards: Where did you grow up?

Georgie B: I grew up in Wood Green, North London, in and around Turnpike Lane and West Green Road.

Michael J Edwards: How many were you sibling-wise?

Georgie B: There are six of us, three boys and three girls, and my brother Junior ‘Sam’ Bromfield; he was actually the bass player and a founder member in Second Image as well.

Michael J Edwards: Why the name Second Image?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Georgie B: Well, it’s very simple actually. Originally we were called ‘Stateside’, and we just thought, “You know what, I know we love America but that’s a bit of a naff name”. So we kept on going and said, “We need another image, what’s going to be our Second Image?” So Second Image which was like a working title just became our name. The band was formed in mid ’79 and our first single as Second Image was in 1980. It was imaginatively titled ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’. We had such a great time playing the pubs and clubs and then the venues started getting bigger and bigger, till we ended up selling out stadiums like the Hammersmith Odeon in london.

Michael J Edwards: What was it like being a part of the Brit/Jazz Funk scene?

Georgie B: We were right in it, right at the start of the Brit funk explosion. We signed to Polydor records in 1979 when I was a young seventeen year old. You could almost say that signing to a major label at such a young age provided us with our musical schooling. It was a wonderful time. We loved all the American soul acts at that time; so we loved that big band sound, the Earth, Wind and Fire’s and the Philadelphia All Star sound and that kind of stuff.

Michael J Edwards: How many people were in your band Second Image, I understand you had quite big entourage?

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Georgie B: We started off with an eight piece band, which included our original keyboard player (and one of the founder members) Remo Fiore, but the line-up that most people know is a seven piece. Georgie Bromfield, Junior ‘Sam’ Bromfield, Weston Foster, Frank Burke, Simon Eyre, Lloyd Dwyer and Mark Fisher. We used to have two guitarists, a rhythm and a lead guitar. But when Simon Eyre joined he was so good we just didn’t need two guitarists. So we we’re a seven piece band with a horn section; the full works. We learned our trade the hard way. And before you know it, we started getting a really good following. It wasn’t like nowadays with social media, it was just hard work and gigging.

Michael J Edwards: I understand you knew things were growing when you were approached by a colleague who quizzed you about your extracurricular activities?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Georgie B: Remember I was really young; I was just finishing Six Form College when we started, so we were working and releasing music at the same time. But we loved what we were doing, it wasn’t about the money. We absolutely loved what we were doing and we just kept going and going, and before you know it we started playing places like the Dominion, Leicester Square and selling that out. So we did it the hard way. It’s a little bit like football, we came through the leagues and we didn’t just go straight into the Premier league (Laughs). There was no real money in it, so you just had to love it.

Michael J Edwards: The hard graft paid off and led to your collaboration with high-profile figures such as Womack and Womack, Rod Templeton and Maze. What was it like working alongside artists such as Frankie Beverley?

Georgie B: As Second Image we worked with Frankie Beverley and Maze for two years, 1982 and 1983. We were the support act at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1982 and we got on so well that he asked us back in 1983 as guests; so we weren’t support anymore. There’s a great image of Maze standing in front of Hammersmith Odeon and the billboard says, ‘Sold Out! Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – with guests Second Image.’ It’s a great shot. And then with Womack and Womack myself, Weston (Foster) and Simon Eyre from Second Image were in their band; we were in Womack and Womack’s band for two years. Also I was a vocalist in Jean Carne’s band for her European tour, so that was good. So yes we played with lots of distinguished artists.

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Michael J Edwards: I believe that you play keyboards and sing – is that correct?

Georgie B: Yes, I also play guitar and drums. I was actually a singer/percussionist in Second Image. But I was a drummer first and then a percussionist. And we were humble in those days; when I started Second Image as a drummer, Weston (Foster) joined and he was just better than me. It was a case of, “You know what, let’s put him there and then you can go there.” There were no egos.

Michael J Edwards: So then you focused on vocals?

Georgie B: Remember there were three vocalists with Second Image – Georgie B, Weston Foster and Frank Burke. So it wasn’t just me, it was three really good vocals. And in fact Weston, who is my Musical Director with The Groove Association tonight, he did more singing with Second Image on lead vocals than me. So there were great singers in Second Image, we didn’t just have one singer – there were three lead singers; and good singers as well!

Michael J Edwards: Who are some of your influences vocal-wise or instrument-wise?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Georgie B: Well bands in general; I love the whole Philadelphia All-Stars thing – Teddy Pendergrass and the O’Jay’s. The Chi-Lites as well, the late seventies, early eighties was my era. Earth, Wind and Fire of course went through the seventies and the eighties. Earth, Wind and Fire were my favourite band because I loved the big stage, I loved the big shows and their production was just second to none – for me Maurice White was just God! And there was obviously Luther (Vandross). I listen to other genres of music as well; it’s not just all about Soul. I love my Lovers Rock; I picked up a lot of different vibes from a lot of different genres. I love my Jazz! That’s why I’m a Jarrod Lawson fan, because he’s a young lad coming through and he’s just touching and hitting all the right buttons for me. There’s many, many more but those are the ones that come to mind.

Michael J Edwards: Moving on to the here and now, was it a natural progression for you transitioning from the dissolution of Second Image to establishing The Groove Association?

Georgie B: It was just a natural evolution; there was no issue with Second Image at all. In fact it was Second Image that kind of got me going here with The Groove Association. There was a big concert in the 02 Arena, London; it was the 30th Anniversary celebration of Brit funk and Second Image was asked to perform. We were on there, incognito were there, Light of the World, Central Line was playing, David Joseph, Leee John was there – So it was a big night. I had put myself out of the business for a while; I was still writing songs but I just needed the break. But when I did that gig with Second Image I just got the bug again. So I wanted to see if any of the members from Second Image wanted to carry on, but most of them said it was just a one-off gig for them.

So I started thinking, I really want to do this thing, but I didn’t want to put myself out as Georgie B. I like using The Groove Association, because I can bring people in and out of that, and discover new talent and bring them in etc. So I set up The Groove Association, started writing, and I released an album called ‘Let’s Break The Ice’. It did well; it got to number five in the UK Soul Chart; and that was my toe in the water album, to see whether or not it was worth doing it; and I thought, “Yessss!”

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Deborah Bell
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

So I threw the kitchen sink at ‘3 AM’, my second album. That was multi-award-winning, number one in two Soul Charts; both the Independent Soul Chart and the UK Soul Chart. It was also a Soul Tracks ‘Critics Pick’ Album of the Year. That paved the way for me to launch Deborah Bell’s career, because she appears on the album. Working with her and bringing her into the live shows; and because the songs are so good people really took to them and It means I don’t have to do any cover versions.

Michael J Edwards: As a result of healthy record sales you built up a loyal following which led to a sold-out gig at the Jazz Café and now you’re here at the impressive Under The Bridge venue.

Georgie B: Yes, we’re stepping things up to Under The Bridge – a proper ‘state of the art’ venue.

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Everis – Guest P.A
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Michael J Edwards: And now you have another UK Soul Stalwart Everis Pellius on board as part of the Groove Association stable, who I believe is performing a ‘Guest P.A’ set this evening?

Georgie B: A lot of people don’t know but one of the tracks on the album was recorded at Everis’ studios. It’s an interlude track called ‘Your Song’. I had worked with him on the 3AM album. He co-wrote one of Deborah Bell’s songs called ‘Close Your Eyes’, so that’s how I got to know him. I then I worked with him on the 3AM album. And now I brought him into my shows and he’s doing a personal appearance tonight.

Michael J Edwards: Please tell me about the band you have on stage with you tonight, starting with the man behind you Weston Foster?

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John Tee (keys), Ian Thompson (sax), Simon Eyre (guitar), Georgie B (lead vocals), Steve Green (drums), Deborah Bell (vocals), Mia Chevais (vocals), Weston Foster (MD/vocals)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Georgie B: The band tonight is brilliant; I used two of my Second Image buddies – Weston Foster, who is my Musical Director for the night. He knows his stuff; he’s a sound engineer and a great singer. I’ve also brought in Simon Eyre; he’s the guitarist from Second Image. On drums we have Steve Green; he’s a left-handed drummer, but he plays a right-handed kit. John Tee is on keyboards – he’s a great keyboard player. Ian Thompson is on sax – fantastic sax player who features on my classic track ‘Jazz funk Heaven’. Ben Hackett is on bass. We have Mia Chevais on backing vocals and Deborah Bell on lead and backing vocals. And of course there’s Georgie B on lead and backing vocals and creator of the Groove Association.

Michael J Edwards: I’ll let you get ready for the show. Thanks for taking time out and I’m looking forward to some awesome vibes tonight.

Georgie B: Thank you very much. No worries.

Michael J Edwards

Essential New Single:

Essential website:
The Groove Association

Essential albums: Let’s Break The Ice

‘3AM’ Album honours:
• No1 in the UK Soul Chart (3 Weeks)
• No1 in the Independent Soul Chart (8 Weeks)
• Indamix worldwide album of the week
• ‘Soul Source’ Magazine Album of the month
• SoulM8′ Magazine Album of the month
• Soul Experience radio album of the year
• Soul Power Records ‘soul album’ of the year
• Soul Tracks ‘Critics Pick’ Album of the year
• Inde Music Network featured album of the year

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Michael J Edwards and Georgie B
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

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