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Cherry Pop

'80s - Imagination   (2010) '80s - Imagination (2010)

'Re-Imagined!'

Errol Kennedy, is one of the three original members of the 80’s funk/soul trio band, IMAGINATION. The Band’s first UK hit single, “Body Talk’ spent 18 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in May 1981, and was quickly followed by two other chart topping singles; "In and Out of Love" and "Flashback".

With three hit singles reaching the charts in less than 6 months, Imagination were soon making numerous BBC Radio and TV appearances, including “Top of the Pops’, while gaining notoriety for great hits and outrageous on-stage costumes.

Errol began his music career as a drummer with the jazz-funk band CENTRAL LINE in 1976, and three years later as a member of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS - who went on to support Ronnie Laws during his UK tour. Unlike most drummers, Errol took a central role in the band IMAGINATION: he sang, danced and co-wrote some of their greatest hits, and became one of the most photographed members of IMAGINATION.

“Body Talk” became the title of Imagination’s platinum selling first-album, produced by Tony Swain and Steve Jolley. This was followed by the release of what became Imagination’s signature hit, “Just an Illusion” which was taken from the band’s second album, “In The Heat Of The Night”.

This single became a classic all time hit from the 80s, and reached no 2 in the UK singles charts in 1982. It also topped European and other international singles charts and was later used as the title song to the 1986 movie, “FX - Murder by Illusion”.

ERROL KENNEDY’S IMAGINATION band was formed to compliment Errol’s passion for performing live so now – with the help of his band - he is again ready to meet the demand of his audience by performing the greatest hits of IMAGINATION - together with other songs, which emanate joy to those who appreciate live soul-funk music.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Errol Kennedy about the early days, about the new line-up, a new CD, and, of course, penguins!

Taking it from the top, and the band Imagination had an incredible four platinum discs, nine gold discs, and over a dozen silver discs around the world - JUST between 1981 and 1983! My God, man, the band was on fire - but, in reflection, was it too much too soon for such a new musical ensemble to handle? "No, not really. We were hard working and went with the pace of it all. Also, when you are in something good happening you count your blessings."

With you guys in different bands at the time, at what point did yourself, Leee John and Ashley Ingram become Imagination - and who came up with the idea for the bands name? "When I met Leee and Ashley I was in a band called Midnight Express. Indeed, they came to audition for my band which had just finished touring in the UK with Ronnie Laws. I was at that time about to leave Midnight Express. The three of us hit it off really well and Leee phoned me about getting a new band together. Which we did and recorded Body Talk."

"It was Morgan Khan who then was the A&R for R&B records who thought of the name Imagination - in rememberance of John Lennon."

Your debut album, 'Body Talk' was a smash hit out the gates - featuring hit single after hit single. How surprised were you all at the time that you seemingly could not put a musical foot wrong, or were you being (unknowingly at the time) puppeteered from behind the scenes by creative businessmen, perhaps? "Yes, we were surprised at the success of each record. Our aim was to record songs each with a different flavour from the last one and it seemed to work. The collaboration of Red Bus Records, us and Tony Swain and Steve Jolley became a well oiled machine. Very professional and hard working."

As the appearances on TOTP became more and more frequent, you guys seemed to love your Roman senators apparel, complete with harem orderlies and slaves! What was the idea behind all those flowing robes and old-fashioned power stances? "Again, just an idea. Something different from what other bands were doing."

The band was also known for their esoteric album sleeves notes - who's idea were they to write and was everyone in the band ok with them? "They were Leee John's idea. Some of the content a good and meaningful, but I have to admit he did go over the top!"

OK, here's a fun one, looking at the cover artwork for these two (2) albums, please describe in just 5 words or less each per cover, what was going through your mind at that time - 'Body Talk' and the animated 'In The Heat of The Night'!

'Body Talk' - "Outrageous, different, eye-catching."

'In The Heat of The Night' - "Macho, sexy, different."

Do you still talk to Leee and Ashley, or have the years separated you all too much? "We have all lost touch which is a bit of a shame. After all the three of us made some great music together - plus brought a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of people worldwide."

Will you, the original Imagination ever record a new album, perhaps? "You never know. I did approach Leee about the idea, but he declined as he said he wanted to concentrate on his solo album and other projects."

These days you are currently touring with 'Errol Kennedy's Imagination Band.' With regard that name, were you not allowed the rights to simply the band name Imagination - and are you still performing all the original hits for the audiences though? "In the last few days we have changed the name from Errol Kennedy's Imagination Band to quite simply IMAGINATION BAND featuring Errol Kennedy. To be honest I did not want to mislead fans old and new as my band was not the original three. So I thought it correct to change it slightly."

"To me, 'Imagination' is Ashley, Leee and I. Yes we do play all the hits and some new songs too. Currently we are working on a new album."

Fun Five - OK, it's now time to fire off some quick questions - to allow those that think they know Errol Kennedy to perhaps think again!

a) Can you remember your very first TOTP appearance? What song/year was it and at what level of nervousness were you at that whole day? "'Body Talk' in 1981 and I was totally blown away with the whole TV production experience. A real learning curve!"

b) Is there one of your songs that you look back on and would today change the title to, or a line/lyric from it - and if so, which one, and why?! "Not one!"

c) Do you have a recurring nightmare or dream - and if so, how does it usually end? "Dream - record company finally paying all my royalties!"

d) What is your sweetest, guiltiest pleasure (food wise!) late at night? "Eating leftovers from my Mother's cooking. Real Jamaican Cuisine."

e) If you could meet any deceased celebrity, who would it be - and what would be the first question you would ask them? "Nat King Cole - Why did you have to smoke so much? Because you went too soon!"

If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' - because I like having fun with the opposite sex!"

And will the USA ever get to see Errol Kennedy's Imagination Band over here? There's the Here & Now, Rewind and Regeneration tours, but we never get to see you named on the bill for the American side of things. Is there anything we can do to change this? "I would love to play in the USA again. Because we have just formed the band I have not had time to concentrate on the US. But I am definitely up for doing something in the States soon. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated!"

Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the flightless bird, not the chocolate bar!) ...do you? "Yes, I love penquins! They are so cute."

Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

www.imaginationband.com

So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of an Imagination CD, and you think you know all there is to know about the band's music, just answer this easy question: 88-Keys sampled an Imagination song for his hit song, 'Stay Up! (Viagra)'! But, which one was it?!

Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful SIGNED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: IMAGINATION SIGNED CDs to: exclusivemagazine@flash.net