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Interview by John Hellier

jh: Starting right at the beginning, how did you first arrive in England?

ppa: I came over with the Ike and Tina Turner Review. 'River Deep Mountain High' has become a big hit and they came over in 1966 to tour with The Rolling Stones. I was an Ikette.

jh: What was it like working with Ike and Tina Turner?

 

ppa: It was great, quite an experience. I started in 1964, it was the first big opportunity for me. When I met Ike and Tina I was seventeen with two kids. I was pregant at 15 and my daddy pulled out a shotgun!  It wasn't a happy marriage, neither of us wanted to be married. OurWith Ike and Tina parents forced us into it. It was quite an abusive marriage. Basically I woke up one morning and prayed to God to help me. I had had to leave school which I loved, if I had become a legal secretary my dad would have been the happiest man in the world. My husband, David Arnold, wouldn't so I had to take two jobs to feed the kids. During the day I worked at a clothing firm, in  California, as a clerk/typist. In the evening I would pick up the kids from my mum, cook their dinner, put them to bed and then it would be out on the night shift. I worked in an egg factory where I seperated the egg white from the yolk for the bakery. It was awful! That was my life. On Sundays I would do all the scrubbing and housework, I was a real life Cinderella! My dad said I has made my bed so I should lie in it. So I was doing just that. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from my brother's ex-girlfriend and she knew Gloria Scott, one of the Ikettes. Ike and Tina had teo sets of Ikettes, one that went on the road with them and another set that they would send out on tours with Dick Clarke. Gloria was one of the Ikettes on the Dick Clarke tours. She knew that Vennetta was leaving and she and Maxine were trying to get the gig. They asked me to go along with them, I had only done one session previously and that was with Bobby Day, the Rockin' Robin guy. In order to go to the audition with Gloria and Maxine I had to tell my husband a lie, he would never have allowed it. Anyway, the next thing I knew I was at Ike and Tina's house for an audition. With Ike and TinaTina loved us because we were all like little motowny looking girls, so she said yeah you got the job. I thought well not me there's no way I can go on the road I'm married with two kids, I only came up here to get out of the house. Tina insisted that she wanted all of us and invited us to see the show before we made up our minds. I went to see the show, it was absolutely incredible, totally mind-blowing, but when I got home my husband, David, was waiting for me. As soon as I got through the door he hit me hard. But it seems like when he hit me that time he knocked some sense into me, because from that minute I was gonna do it. I saw it as an opportunity to get out of the situation that I was in. I asked mum and dad for their help with the kids, I hadn't told them previously about the abuse but now I just blurted it all out. Four days later I was on Columbus, Ohio at my fitst gig with the Review. I toured with Ike and Tina for a couple of years and one night in 1966 while playing at the Galaxy on Sunset Strip in walked these two English guys. It was Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, we were told that these guys were in the Rolling Stones. They dug the show so much that we were invited over to England to tour with them. So there it was. Out of the Chitlin Circus and into the Albert Hall!

 

 

jh: How did you first come into contact with the Small Faces?

 

ppa: Well that was at Immediate, in the office at 69, New Oxford Street that's where we allWith Small Faces used to hang out. Immediate were really happening, it was one of the first independent labels. The first time I met the Small Faces, I loved them. We were all the same age, same size and into the same music. Even though I was close to all of them, my relationship was with Steve. We has a strong bond, we had a lot of love. We were like mates, I was the new black girl in town so everybody was trying to get it on but there are only certain people that you connect with. Mick was one and Steve was another. I was also very close to Jimi Hendrix, who was also a black American in London. We had a lot in common, he was like my brother. The enthusiasm at Immediate was marvellous. One big happy family. Yeah it was great we'd all meet up in places like Speakeasy, Bag O'Nails or Cromwellian.

jh: How did you get to record 'If You Think You're Groovy' and do the Small Faces play on the records?

 

ppa: That song was written for me and yeah, the band were on it. I had done 'Tin Soldier' and 'Itchycoo Park' with them. I was going to do 'Afterglow' but then Steve took it back, he liked that one. He liked 'Groovy' too but I wouldn't let him take that back. I remember doing a video on a beach somewhere near Brighton with the Small Faces and my own band The Nice. We had planned on doing a lot more stuff together but Immediate went bust and everybody went their own way. It was a shame because we were trying to make Immediate a bit like Motown in England where all the artists work together and collaborate together but had their own seperate scene as well. It worked.

jh: Can you hear the Small Faces influence in today's contemporary bands?

 

ppa: I've worked on different projects and with different bands such as Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller and Primal Scream. I've been on tour with Ocean Colour Scene and I done a 25 Publicity Shotminute set of my own with Mike Talbot. When I was on stage I'd look out into that audience and I thought 'My Babies'. They were so into those songs. They made songs like 'First Cut', 'Angel Of The Morning' and 'Groovy' new for me. Those songs have held me in people's hearts. There were times when I justed wanted to do new material, but those songs are my legacy. The kids in the audience really made me love that stuff again. Some of the old material like the 'Kafunta'  album was never performed live. When years later, I listened to the album I realised just how good some of the songs are. I was listening to 'Welcome Home' just yesterday with Chip Taylor, what a beautiful song. As for influence, Yeah its great. I can hear the influence of The Small Faces, Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Kinks and The Who in it. I can hear the influence of the era. Yeah, the influence is there. They can't get rid of it can they. There's no generation gap anymore.

 

PP Arnold still possesses THE best female soul voice around and I know there's still lots more to come from the First Lady.

 

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