Barrington “Bazz” Ward has left us. He was Keith’s roadie from the earliest days of the Nice (and many other bands) and helped the Nice fans online with crystal clear recall of equipment and gigs. A sad loss.
Here’s an article from the Melody Maker 1970.
A name like Barrington Marsh-Ward conjures up pictures of a country squire riding with hounds on his country estate – but it actually belongs to Bazz – a roadie as well known on the pop scene as the personnel of the bands he has worked for during his nine years of humping amplifiers across stages all over the world.
Dark-haired, bearded, bespectacled, and with great powers of suction when it comes to pints of lagers, Bazz watched the Nice grow from a £25 a night act to £2000 a gig superstars. Now he has the task of handling the many tons of equipment belonging to Derek and the Dominos – and if anybody has to be right – Eric Clapton has!
Ten years ago Bazz was drumming for a group called the Pressmen – and he took to roadying when he discovered their roadie was earning more than he was. Now his long list of employers includes Goldie and the Gingerbreads, Screaming Lord Sutch, Freddie Mac, the She Trinity, P. P. Arnold, Santana, and Johnny Winter. But Bazz’s years with the Nice gave him most satisfaction – “I can remember when we played our first gig on September 1, 1967, and we were booed off stage because the crowd wanted sock-it-to-me music, ” he recalled.
“When Keith (Emerson) used to smash his organs about, it was up to me to repair things. Once he broke a rib while jumping about on and off his organ and he never found out until the skeleton photos were done for the ‘Ars Longa Vita Brevis’ album. At one time I was almost managing the band before they were really well known.
“A good roadie needs patience, know-how and stamina. I go to trade fairs and things to see new equipment, and look around at new vans on the market to see if there are any better ones than those we are using. “Some bands treat roadies very badly, the pay isn’t very good and the hours are terrible. There are fringe benefits though, like birds – and Green Shield stamps on all the petrol.”
Stories stemming from ten years on the road are legion – like the time a guy turned up in a Volkswagon saloon to take the Nice’s equipment to a gig, or like the time Bazz discovered an organ that had been left behind half way across the Atlantic – and he had to go the next day to get it.
“I want to write a book on roadying when I give up”, says Bazz. “Did you know I was mentioned in that book about groupies – I was the roadie called Bert in that and the things they said were true. I guess I’ll keep on roadying until I can’t lift a Hammond any longer.”