Jigsaw were an English pop music group, fronted by the singer-songwriter duo of Clive Scott and Des Dyer. In Australia the group was called "British Jigsaw" due to the existence of a local band of the same name.
Formed as a six-piece band of musicians in Coventry and Rugby by Tony Campbell in April 1966, they scored a number of hit singles around the world, and released thirteen albums. The group was partly influenced by fellow British musicians The Beatles, at times sounding Beatle-esque, especially their ballads, which show leanings towards Paul McCartney's musical and vocal arrangements.
The early days:
The original line-up consisted of Dave "Biffo" Beech (vocals and drums) (born David Beech, 25 September 1945, in Rugby, Warwickshire, died 7 June 2007); Clive Scott (keyboards and vocals) (born Clive Kenneth Scott, 24 February 1945, in Coventry, died 10 May 2009); Barrie Bernard (bass guitar) (born 27 November 1944, in Coventry); Tony Campbell (guitar) (born Anthony Campbell, 24 June 1944, in Rugby); Tony Britnell (saxophone) and Kevin "Beppy" Mahon (tenor saxophone). Biffo left in the first year, and was replaced by Des Dyer (drums) (born Desmond Roy Dyer, 22 May 1948, in Rugby), who took over lead vocals.
Scott had been in Scott and The Antarctics; Dyer had played in The Surfcyders and Clockwork Shoppe; Campbell, Mahon and Beech had worked together in The Mighty Avengers; and Bernard had been a member of Pinkerton's Assorted Colours, whilst Britnel had worked with The Fortunes.
Campbell named the band after a Manchester nightclub called "The Jigsaw Club", but the way that he 'pieced together' the band from other members of existing groups also gave added credence to the name.
In 1970, the group were given the opportunity of turning fully professional by being the backing band for Arthur Conley, on his European tour. Most of the band did so, but Kevin Mahon decided to keep his day job and left the band. In 1974, Tony Britnell became seriously ill and left the band. After his recuperation he became a member of The Sunsets, the backing band for Shakin' Stevens.
Change in musical direction and commercial success:
On stage, Jigsaw were a wild rock band who had a high energy live show: drum kits were set on fire, explosions were set off as an effect, Tony Britnell performed fire eating and Clive Scott would make his Marshall stack explode and disintegrate. However, during the early 1970s they began writing and recording more mainstream pop.
Jigsaw's arrangement of the Johann Sebastian Bach tune, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring was featured on their 1970 debut album Letherslade Farm.
The group gives credit to their producer and manager, Chas Peate, for inspiration to get songs completed. As Jigsaw toured a lot, Scott and Dyer would write snippets of songs separately in their spare time, but, as Dyer said in an interview in the 1990s, "it was Chas who would say we're recording an album soon, you'll need 10 songs by then". The two would then combine their work together for the planned recording sessions.
As songwriters, the duo had a hit song with "Who Do You Think You Are?", which was covered by the UK band Candlewick Green in 1974. The song was further covered in the U.S. by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (this version made the U.S. charts), and again in 1993 by Saint Etienne. The song was also on Jigsaw's 1974 album I've Seen The Film, I've Read The Book. However, the band's own single from the album "You're Not The Only Girl" was not a chart success and they were soon dropped by their recording label, BASF.
Wanting to carry on, the group continued to make music and signed a new deal with independent UK label Splash, which was founded by Chas Peate himself. Their first single for their new label, entitled "Sky High", was recorded for the film The Man from Hong Kong, a 1975 martial-arts action movie starring George Lazenby. Splash pressed a couple of hundred promotional copies and reaction to the song was good, especially from Radio Luxembourg which began playing the song with high rotation during its nightly English pop music broadcasts to the UK. "Sky High" subsequently made the UK Top 10 in November 1975. Chelsea Records released it in the U.S. (where Splash had no pressing plant) and it was a hit there, going to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and to #2 Adult Contemporary. The song also charted all over the world and was #1 in Japan. A famous Mexican wrestler called Mil Mascaras used "Sky High" as his theme tune. He would walk to the ring with the song playing in the background, and his popularity in Japan helped "Sky High" to become a hit twice over in that country in consecutive years.
Their album also entitled Sky High sold very well too, especially in Japan, and the next single "Love Fire" was another hit, although not in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, "Love Fire" was followed by two new albums, one for the British market called Pieces of Magic and another for the American market simply named after the band, Jigsaw.
In 1977, the band recorded their album Journey Into Space in Los Angeles. Years later, Clive Scott revealed in an interview that the record label (Twentieth Century Fox) paid for the band to fly out to make the album, paid for their accommodation, and gave them cash advances (or, as Scott called it, "pocket money") to live off for three months while making the record. The album was produced by Rick Jerrard who was the producer of Jose Feliciano and the person responsible for putting together Elvis Presley's Las Vegas band. However, the album was never released, much to the frustration of the group.
Jigsaw returned to Britain and scored another hit with the single "If I Have To Go Away", after which they recorded ten original songs for the film Home Before Midnight.
Bernard left the band in 1978 and was replaced by Jon Fox. Campbell also left the band in 1979 and was replaced by Rod Godwin. The band ceased touring in 1981 but Scott and Dyer continued to record using Tim Stone on guitar and Pete Dennis on bass. This new group lineup recorded one album for Elektra. The album, a disco influenced set (that was never released in the United Kingdom) was issued in the United States the following year. A final single under the Jigsaw name was released by Splash in early 1983 called "Love Isn't At Home".
Following the group split, Scott and Dyer continued to be successful songwriters, having their work recorded by Nicki French, Bad Boys Inc, Boyzone, Jon Otis, Bobby Rydell, and many others. After leaving his music career behind when he quit Jigsaw in 1979, Tony Campbell went back to his first occupation, ophthalmic engineering. He had a family. One of his daughters created and manages the Royal Academy of Dance dance school in Rugby, Warwickshire. Barrie Bernard continued to work in the entertainment business, running night clubs and being an active magician. Though no new studio albums have been issued, eight newly recorded songs were included on a 1995 compilation CD, entitled The Best of Jigsaw, just one of the collections of their music released. Dyer has twice attempted to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, taking part in the 1983 and 1985 A Song For Europe competitions. In 1983, he placed third as lead singer of the group Casablanca with the song "With Love". Two years later, as a soloist, he took "Energy" to fourth place. The song from 1985, "Energy", was reworked to become the album track "Voice of America" and sung by Nicki French for her first studio album "Secrets". In 1988, Dyer provided backing vocals at the Eurovision final alongside Julie Forsyth and Dominic Grant, both formerly of Guys 'n' Dolls, for the UK entry performed by Scott Fitzgerald, "Go". This song placed second in the contest held in Dublin on April 30. The UK lost by one point to Celine Dion, representing Switzerland with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" (Don't Leave Without Me).
Much has also been made about their lack of success in the UK charts, where only two of their singles made the Top 40. It has been suggested this was because BBC Radio 1, the most popular station in the UK at the time, gave little or no airplay to their singles after "Sky High" in 1975. However, the group lasted a long time and were big stars in Japan, as well as having four Billboard Hot 100 hit singles in the U.S. Their music is also still in print on compact disc, enjoying healthy sales. The sleeve notes to their 1998 Greatest Hits collection, The Very Best of Jigsaw stated "A look at Jigsaw's songs reveals the innovative work of its creators: the advanced song structure, the clever use of classical techniques like counterpoint and a novel approach to using sound effects - leaving the listener with a sadly-overlooked-but-very-impressive catalogue of melodic pop songs".
Founding member Clive Scott died on 10 May 2009. He had an accident at home two weeks earlier and never recovered, despite having brain surgery. He was 64 years old and is survived by his widow and son.