Wizard

Fight For My Country: Balls, Wizard 45 , January 1971
Janie Slow Down: Balls, B-side of Fight For My Country, sleeve reverse

Tony Secunda was in the major Loog-Oldham  / Napier-Bell management league. This is the man who set up Procul Harum to record A Whiter Shade of Pale, but his label, Wizard, failed to match their success. It was distributed by EMI. It’s collectable now, I suspect largely because of its design. It’s one of the six 45 company sleeve designs on my office wall.

Perhaps he wasn’t double barreled enough. Secunda was one of the hippest managers, counting The Move, The Moody Blues, Procul Harum, and T Rex, among his clients. Later on he moved to manage Motorhead, Marianne Faithfull and The Pretenders.

Secunda was a wheeler-dealer and schemer. His stunt for a rude cartoon of Harold Wilson lost The Move all their royalties for Flowers in The Rain (a charity nominated by Wilson is still picking up the cheques). 

Bev Bevan (The Move drummer): The biggest stunt of all just got out of hand and caused us to part company. That was the Harold Wilson postcard. We didn’t even know he was going to do it, and while the other stunts were fun, this was beyond a joke and we were terrified. We were taken to the High Court and he got Quintin Hogg to defend us. Roy Wood was particularly pissed off with him because the settlement was all the royalties from `Flowers in the Rain’, and the songwriting royalties, too, which are still going to charity. We were frightened of what Secunda might do next and we split with him.

The Move tried to get the rights back in 1995 after Wilson had died, but failed.

Secunda was behind Balls, a Birmingham-biased supergroup formed around Trevor Burton of The Move and Denny Laine, once of the Moody Blues (Laine had left in 1966, long before their prog success). Add Steve Gibbons from The Uglys. Rumour has it that Brian Jones was going to join them before his death. Balls was a revolving door band with Alan White and Jackie Lomax joining a second incarnation, and Mike Kellie of Spooky Tooth a third.

Balls were the first release on Secunda’s Wizard label, and no expense was spared, with Traffic / Blind Faith /Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller brought in to produce Fight For My Country, the single (WIZ 101). Distribution was by EMI. The sleeve design was suitably Tolkienesque with the intertwined lizards suggesting Escher. Most of the records online are European in picture sleeves.

Steve Gibbons also recorded for Wizard with Alright Now (not that one), and Trevor Burton repeated Fight For My Country solo. Denny Laine released Find A Way Somehow, but was already in Wings.

Secunda went on to help Bolan set up the T-Rex label, also with EMI.

Roy Wood doubled the ‘z’ and appropriated the name of the label for his band.

Wizard singles discography:

cataloguetitleartistyear
WIZ101Fight For My CountryBalls1971
WIZ102Alright NowSteve Gibbons1971
WIZ103Fight For My CountryTrevor Burton1972
WIZ104Find A Way SomehowDenny Laine1973
There weren’t a lot of releases, spread over two years

Wizard albums

Ahh Laine! Denny Laine, Wizard LP, 1973

Just the two:

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