Marmalade facts: Scottish pop rock legends' songs, members and legacy explained

11 September 2023, 16:06

Marmalade in 1968: (From left: Pat Fairley, Dean Ford, Alan Whitehead, Junior Campbell, Graham Knight)
Marmalade in 1968: (From left: Pat Fairley, Dean Ford, Alan Whitehead, Junior Campbell, Graham Knight). Picture: Alamy

By Tom Eames

Marmalade are a Scottish pop-rock band that have been making music for over 50 years.

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They are best known for their catchy melodies, harmonious vocals, and international hits such as 'Reflections of My Life', 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da', and 'Rainbow'.

The band were formed in 1961 as the Gaylords, a name inspired by a notorious Chicago street gang. The original members were Pat Fairley, Billy Johnston, Tommy Frew, Pat McGovern, and Wattie Rodgers.

They soon added Junior Campbell on guitar and vocals, and replaced Rodgers with Dean Ford as the lead singer. They also changed their name to Dean Ford and the Gaylords, and started to gain popularity in the Scottish music scene.

In 1966, they moved to London and signed with CBS Records. They also changed their name again, this time to Marmalade, a suggestion from their producer Mike Smith.

Marmalade (L-R): Patrick Fairley, Dean Ford, Junior Campbell, Alan Whitehead and Graham Knight
Marmalade (L-R): Patrick Fairley, Dean Ford, Junior Campbell, Alan Whitehead and Graham Knight. Picture: Getty

They released their first single as Marmalade, 'It's All Leading Up to Saturday Night', which failed to chart. However, they soon found success with their next single, 'I See the Rain', which was praised by Jimi Hendrix as the best cut of 1967.

Marmalade's breakthrough came in 1968, when they covered the Beatles' song 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' and took it to the top of the UK charts.

They became the first Scottish band to achieve this feat, and also gained international recognition. They followed this with more hits, such as 'Lovin' Things', 'Baby Make It Soon', and 'Wait for Me Marianne'.

In 1970, Marmalade released their own composition, 'Reflections of My Life', which became their biggest hit ever. The song reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 10 in the US, selling over two million copies worldwide. The song was a poignant reflection on life and mortality, featuring Ford's soulful vocals and Campbell's guitar solo.

However, the success of 'Reflections of My Life' also marked the beginning of the end for the original line-up of Marmalade. Campbell left the band in 1971 to pursue a solo career and produce music for other artists.

Marmalade - Reflections Of My Life (1969) 4K

He was replaced by Hugh Nicholson, who brought a more rock-oriented sound to the band. Marmalade continued to have hits with songs like 'Cousin Norman', 'Back on the Road' and 'Radancer', but they also faced creative differences and financial troubles.

In 1973, Marmalade left Decca Records and signed with EMI Records. They also dropped the definite article from their name and became simply Marmalade. They released a new album, Our House Is Rocking, which featured a more diverse range of styles and influences. However, the album failed to sell well and received mixed reviews.

The next few years saw more changes in Marmalade's line-up and musical direction. Nicholson left the band in 1973 and was replaced by Mike Japp. Fairley left in 1974 and was replaced by Joe Breen. Whitehead left in 1975 and was replaced by Dougie Henderson. Ford left in 1975 and was replaced by Sandy Newman, who became the new lead singer and guitarist.

Newman brought a new energy and vision to Marmalade, who reinvented themselves as a more contemporary pop rock band. They released several albums in the late 1970s, such as The Only Light on My Horizon Now, Hello Baby, Doing It All for You, and Heavens Above. They also had a comeback hit in 1976 with 'Falling Apart at the Seams', which reached No. 9 in the UK.

Marmalade in 1971
Marmalade in 1971. Picture: Getty

By the early 1980s, however, Marmalade's popularity had faded and they were dropped by EMI Records. They continued to tour and record sporadically throughout the decade, with various members coming and going. In 1987, they were joined by Dave Dee, formerly of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich fame.

In September 2010 Graham Knight, the last remaining member of the original band, departed. Drummer Taylor also left to join The Fortunes.

Since then, Marmalade have continued to perform as a nostalgia act, playing their old hits and some new material. The current line-up consists of Newman, Alan Holmes (who joined in 1980), John James Newman (Sandy's son, who joined in 2011), Jan Robinson (who joined in 2016), and Chris North (who joined in 2015). They also released a new studio album in 2013, called Penultimate, which featured six new songs and re-recordings of their classics.

Dean Ford died at the age of 72 in 2018, while Pat Fairley passed away in 2020. Mike Japp died in 2012.

Junior Campbell is also known for composing music for film and TV drama, and as an arranger and producer for many musicians. He is also known for co-composing the music and co-writing the lyrics for 182 episodes of the children's TV series Thomas & Friends.

Marmalade - Ob La Di, Ob La Da (1968)

Marmalade are a band that have endured many changes and challenges over the years, but they have also created some of the most memorable songs in pop history.

They have also been honoured with several awards and accolades, such as the Ivor Novello Award, the Tartan Clef Award, and the induction into the Scottish Music Hall of Fame.

Marmalade are a band that deserves to be celebrated for their achievements and contributions to music. They are a band that has made millions of people happy with their songs. They are a band that has rocked all over the world. They are Marmalade: the Scottish pop rock legends.