Biography: The Band

a new elias hulk band picture
  • Elias Hulk
  • from left to right:
  • Bernie James,
  • Phil Clough,
  • James Haines.

James "Jim" Haines - Bass/ 'Rhythm' guitars

Jim hails from Bournemouth/Poole area on the South Coast of England. Inspired musically and driven to pick up a guitar by the massive excitement and influence of the 1960's music led by The Beatles and rock 'n roll. First band was FREELOVE which led to forming ELIAS HULK with drummer Bernie James and original guitarist, Grenville Fraser. Then came Pete Thorpe on vocals and Neil Tatum on lead guitar. ELIAS HULK toured playing their own material and played venues such as Klooks Kleek, The Granary (Bristol) and Eel Pie Island. Played the Manchester area as well as South Coast home territory. The band cut their defining album, Unchained on Young Blood Records, in 1970. It did particularly well in Germany!

To follow a 'rockier' path, Bernie and Jim left ELIAS HULK and formed ELIAS with frontman Phil Clough. This was a strong energetic and driving three piece unit which produced electric live performances but sadly disbanded in 1971. Jim returned to formal education and a career in the commercial property business before re-engaging with live music in 1990 when he joined a successful 7 piece function band called CHEQUES IN THE POST. Extensive gigging at a large variety of big venues went on for over a decade.

More recently Jim has played with ex session musicians as MAGPIE in and around London and in 2008 reformed ELIAS HULK with Bernie and Phil to make brand new music and original songs based on our joint experiences... what a journey so far and what a joy and privilege to reform a rejuvenated and stronger ELIAS HULK. They're back!!!

Bernard "Bernie" James - Drums

After ELIAS HULK finished in 1971, Bernie joined the CLIFF BEKETT BAND. Cliff, a madcap singer, a cross between Norman Wisdom and Ozzy Osbourne, is a great frontman. The line up varied between a four piece up to an eleven piece, depending on who turned up and sometimes featuring two drummers and a four piece bass section. Total madness and great fun to work with. He later worked with the Portsmouth based band EYES. He was mainly working in Germany and Denmark. Bernie even gave up full time music for a few years until he returned with the band FLYER. They did all the usual German tours for a couple of years, after which he opened a music shop in Bournemouth, but he still continued to play in a band, ECHOES. This was a club function band. ECHOES was made up of ex-pro players. This project ran for 12 years in various forms.

When Bernie moved to Spain he continued to play with several Spanish and English bands. Currently he plays with the Spanish rock trio E'S CULPA MEUA and of course ELIAS HULK.

Philip "Phil" Clough - Guitar and vocals

Back in the early 1950's and before, according to my Aunt Lucy, there were signs of a musical journey. My aunt tells the story that I would beat perfect time to music when sat in my high chair at meal times. How true this is I'm not sure, but she has repeated it to others on many occasions. My grandfather on my mother's side allowed me to play his piano (no other siblings were allowed to do this, much to my sister's annoyance) and I remember experimenting with melody listening to the effect of the chosen notes. I never did show any interest in the piano and was pushed towards the violin, which again I was not interested in till much later in life when I learned fiddle tunes and some Cajun style country tunes. However, composition was there at an early age.

Inevitably I heard Bill Haley, singing Rock around the clock and was hooked on the wild American sound, something which to this day I still love. This comes out in the lyric of 'Heroes' for it is still an exciting music to play. School saw me away from home for 6 weeks at a time and quite miserable at first though as I got older I found it to be a bonus as I shared musical tastes with my school mates. My first group was formed at school where we played the instrumental 'Shadows' hits. Rock n Roll music was frowned on and forbidden, but we smuggled in little transistor radios and spent late nights in the dormitory listening to Radio Luxembourg, on pain of the confiscation of our transistor radios. I spent my school time with two real interests, playing football and playing the guitar.

I left school and was told I should get a real job even though I always said I wanted to play the guitar. The group I formed at school did one paid gig for £2, which I thought was a huge sum of money at the time, but that was it. I took to playing in a duo being the rhythm guitarist but it stopped when the guy who played the melody parts realised I was a lot better at it than he was and he didn't want to strum the chords.

My first real band was with two other guys Richard and Terry, bass and drums. Richard (Dicky) is still one of my closest friends but sadly we lost Terry to cancer (he chain smoked right up to his death), he was a terrific drummer and a natural on percussion. Then I left to join a band called CLOCKWORK SHOP which featured the drummer Dez Dyer of JIGSAW ('Sky High' hit single) and Dave Hagen, where we made a three piece which I still regard as the best sounding vocal line up I worked with. Dez still plays with Steve Fern of FERN BRASS FOUNDRY, they perform as FINGERS AND FUMBS. At around that time I became a full time singer/guitarist and committed to earning my living through music.

When Dez left to join JIGSAW, I joined up with a Progressive Rock band called BIG IDEA, that featured a drummer named Mick Bradley, who later left to join STEAM HAMMER a band which was big in Germany and produced a number of solid prog/rock albums. Sadly he too died and I don't know who replaced him in STEAM HAMMER. We never found out what he really died from. BIG IDEA ran for around two years and in its latter stages my old friend 'Dicky' joined as vocalist. We came up with some really good songs but the guys didn't want to make the band a full time commitment and I had made contact with a certain Bernie James.

ELIAS HULK had an album recorded, an impressive track record, a persuasive drummer, who could talk the talk and walk the walk, plus an amazing bass player. My association with these two people was to survive around 40 years, though at the time I had no idea it would. I had auditioned for the band before they recorded the album and they decided that their best course of action was as a 5 piece, so my details were put on hold. On joining up again with Bernie and Jim we went into a village hall, set up the drums and our amps, then without any fixed notion about what to play, began a jam session which lasted two hours. By the end of the jam we knew we had something very special and ELIAS (the trio) was born. It was a great time to be in a band and we travelled the country playing our brand of music, sadly we never recorded enough of it to release another album. The only two songs we recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport were 'Milkman' and 'Heading Back Home', both of which were lost or are gathering dust on a shelf somewhere or at the bottom of a trashcan. Pity…!

Again I knew, when the gigs started to dry up and we could not get financial support for a new record deal, I needed to push on and with regret, returned home to Rugby in Warwickshire to seek work. I briefly recorded some songs with a singer songwriter called Julian Brooks-Smith at Polydor, but there was no real chance of a band being formed and I never got paid for the sessions anyway. Lesson learned…...! Tony Newman of the then FLYING MACHINE needed two new players to complete his group after a split came about with Stuart Colman (bass) and Steve Jones (guitar) leaving the group. Stuart went on to record artistes in Nashville and currently resides in Manhattan and writes for the music industry, he also had a Rock n Roll radio show on the BBC before leaving for the USA. Steve Jones, one of the best unknown rock vocalists, gave up playing all but the odd few gigs. I always rated Steve both as a singer and guitarist, he was a contender…!

It has not all been performance and in 1994 I went to Leeds University to become a teacher, gaining a BA (HONS) degree and following it up with a Music Masters (MA). This sent me into secondary schools (12 – 16 year olds) were I taught curriculum music. Most of my family had taught at some stage and feel I have justified myself by conforming to their best hopes. Teaching is good, but so second place to performing.

FLYING MACHINE / PINKERTONS COLOURS, still perform on occasion and there is another whole chapter to the story of the antics we got up to, the grind of a band on the road, our success on the Country Music scene in Europe and much more. Just a couple of years ago though, there came a message via the internet from Bernie James, who, resourceful as ever, tracked down this old guitar picking SOB. His proposals and enthusiasm were as ever magical and without really any persuasion was hooked and picked up from where we left off in the early 70's. Needless to say, the last chapter of this story has yet to be written but you only have to listen to the songs and the energy to realise that the best is yet to come.

Old Elias Hulk band picture.
Elias Hulk pose for the camera.
New Elias Hulk band picture.
Elias Hulk playing live.
Elias Hulks Phil resting.
Elias Hulks Phil rocking it live back in the day.
Elias Hulk promo flyer from Bournemouth.
Elias Hulk Buxton 2nd Sound 70, also Ginger Baker.
Elias Hulk play at Buxton Festival Sound 70
Elias Hulk play at Buxton Festival Sound 70
Elias Hulk flyer from april 1970 Buxton.
Elias Hulk live at the Sunday Beat Club, paper cutting.
Elias Hulk play at Christmas party live back in the day, paper cutting.