Within a few months of the formation of this Brighton-based quartet, original guitarist Nigel Langham fell to his death after leaping through an upstairs window whilst under the effects of LSD.
Organist Ashley Potter was also replaced early on by Jon Poulter.
The band secured a recording contract with EMI, after recording the Hobday penned Work-Out, but it was a Drifters number, Come On Over To Our Place, that was selected as the A-side for the band’s debut single in November 1966 on the Columbia label.
The B-side was a Hobday original called Still Nights.
Their second single was a Cat Stevens song, Dear (June 1967), backed by a Mike D’Abo song, Invitation. Both singles were unsuccessful and EMI dropped the band.
This forced the Span to dismiss the horn section, with keyboardist Poulter also departing shortly afterwards.
Test recordings with Decca failed to secure a recording contract so the group decided to fund and record a single independently. Only 500 copies of Children Of Tomorrow b/w Concerto Of Thoughts were pressed. The single is now feverishly sought by collectors and changes hands for more than £250.
Subsequent months brought a cameo appearance in the Italian film, Better A Widow (1968), successful tours of Germany and Belgium, a support appearance with Cream in the UK, jamming with Jimi Hendrix at the Speakeasy and the performance of a 20 minute science fiction fantasy entitled Cycle at London’s 100 Club.
Following a session for John Peel‘s Top Gear show in May 1968, the Span was chosen as the featured group in the 1968 BBC TV documentary A Year In The Life, which charted the band’s progress over twelve months.
Along the way they dismissed their manager and – thanks to a series of demo recordings reaching Clive Selwood, head of the UK branch of Elektra Records – the Span was duly signed to the label early in 1969.
US label boss Jac Holzman immediately commissioned an album, but insisted on a change of name for the group – and so the Mike Stuart Span were re-christened Leviathan.
Elektra issued two singles simultaneously in April 1969: Remember The Times b/w Second Production and The War Machine b/w Time.
Neither release was a commercial success, but work continued on the band’s debut album at Trident Studios.
As a taster for the LP, a further single was recorded in the summer – Flames b/w Just Forget Tomorrow. By the time that it was released in October however, Leviathan had split up.
Gary ‘Roscoe’ Murphy