Unsung Heros Georg Kajanus

WHO?

Well lets give the man his full name; for a start we are talking about Prince Georg  Johan Tchegodaieff singer, guitarist, artist,  composer, songwriter, inventor of the Nickelodeon and all round renaissance man. Most importantly for the purposes of this blog he was the leader of ‘officially in the Top 40 of the most popular artists of all time’* band… Sailor.

The son of a Russian prince and a Finnish/Norwegian sculptress Kajanus was raised in Norway, Paris and Canada before journeying around Europe and the Middle East at the end of the 60’s. It seemed unlikely he was destined for a career in the civil service. The young Kajanus was the product of a highly bohemian upbringing. The first outpouring of this was the folk/prog/rock group Eclection. The only British member of the band was drummer Gerry Conway later to play with the likes of Cat Stevens before washing up as the long term drummer for Fairport Convention. The other band member of significance was Trevor Lucas, at this point a bass player but later to become a Fairport member and husband of Sandy Denny.

Eclection were pretty good, largely due to the interaction of Kajanus and fellow singer Kerrilee Male which gave them a very nice west coast feel rather like the sort of thing that Fairport were peddling at the time

The ever ambitious Kajanus was soon off in search of new opportunities and wrote Flying Machine for Cliff Richard, no I haven’t heard of it either because it wasn’t a big hit but it exists, here it is.

By this time Kajanus had met up with Phil Pickett who has had a similarly eclectic upbringing and had been encouraged to follow music by no less than Duke Ellington. After a tentative album as a duo they recruited keyboard player Henry Marsh and drummer Grant Serpell to form Sailor.

It was Kajanus who had the idea for the band to have a concept based on his days in Paris. So we are talking about sailors on leave rather than splicing the mainbrace. Confusingly however their first single was the vaguely environmental Traffic Jam.

After a shaky start (Albeit a good single) the band hit its stride, songs about girls, drinking, shore leave and..well that’s about it really.

Sailor could be a bit irritating but they were unique. The aforementioned Nickelodeon (apparently actually six instruments) made of plinky plonky pianos and a farty synthesiser bass formed a good focal centrepiece to their live shows. Serpell played the drums as if the last 30 years hadn’t existed and Kajanus plucked a twelve string guitar just as he had with Eclection. All of them sang, rather well.

There was nothing transatlantic about the music it had a very European flavour and naturally was very popular in Europe especially, as we have already discovered, in Germany.

Their big hit, #2 in Britain was the catchy and slightly irritating Glass of Champagne. The pleasure Henry Marsh derives from hitting that bass drum is always worth the price of admission though!

Perhaps realising there was a limit to the number of songs he could write about Sailors Kajanus split the band in 1978. As he approached the 80’s he became involved in electronic music with DATA and then soundtrack music.

The original band reformed in 1989 and this time set their sights more firmly on Europop, the sort of music designed to be played round swimming pools. Luckily it didn’t last too long

To date Kajanus has been working on ‘Sailor The Musical’ where he can explore his original concept possibly in the format it deserves, but it seems a long time coming.

Of course by now you could guess what happened to the band Sailor. Pickett and Marsh continued with a variety of sidemen which as soon as it was legal would include Marsh’s sons. Somehow I cant help but feel that recruiting your own children to keep your rock and roll dreams alive should be some sort of human rights violation but that’s just me, most of Germany would probably disagree.

But in 1976 Sailor were on Top of the Pops providing a bit of light relief and a fair degree of originality. So to sum the band up here’s the band singing about sailors going in to town; on German TV

 

  • in Germany
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