A Voice Louder than Rock & Roll tells the story of Caleb Quaye, one of the finest, but also least-known guitarists of the British Invasion. In London he met and played with keyboard player Reg Dwight, who would later become known as Elton John. He recorded and toured with Elton John on and off for 10 years. Wikipedia tells us that Caleb played guitar, bass and percussion on “Forever’s No Time at All”, which opened I Am, a 1972 album dedicated to Meher Baba also featuring Pete Townshend. Later that year, the song appeared on Townshend’s solo debut Who Came First. And he played guitar on the original demos for Joan Armatrading’s debut album Whatever’s for Us, which was released in November 1972. He led his own band, Hookfoot, for four years, then became the guitar player for Hall & Oates. He played on Daryl Hall’s first solo album which also featured Robert Fripp. As a child of the 70s myself, and a huge fan of Elton John at the time, and of Joan Armatrading later on, I have only just learned that perhaps I had been following Caleb Quaye all along!
But he was not unknown to everybody: during a television with David Letterman some years ago, the host asked the legendary blues rocker Eric Clapton, “So what’s it like to be the best guitar player in the world?” Clapton replied, “I’m not. Caleb Quaye is!” The story of Caleb Quaye is therefore one not only of extraordinary talent and accomplishment, but also of becoming lost, and becoming found again. 9-time Emmy award-winning producer and editor Valerie Tucker has picked up that story in a documentary film she’s producing called A Voice Louder Than Rock:
Last year it won Best Pilot at the 7th annual New Media Film Festival. And we are thrilled that that Manifold Recording helped shoot a segment for the full version of the film.
Ray Williams is a neighbor and friend, and happened to be the catalyst who made the unlikely and most brilliant connection between Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin. And he was in the thick of things when Caleb Quaye was not only playing guitar, but also acting as recording studio engineer, producer, and A&R man himself. Two weeks ago we got the call from Los Angeles that they needed to hire cameras and a location to interview Ray to tell his part of the Caleb Quaye story. It’s good to get work, and it’s better to get work with friends. But the best is learning new things that add important and significant color to things that have always been important. It was an honor to be on Caleb’s video production team!
Here are some stills from the session:
And behind the scenes:
If you’ve read to this point, here’s some good news: Caleb and the team need your help, too! As a work-in-progress, A Voice Louder Than Rock is still looking for funding and investors. If you are inclined to join the team and support the film, please reach out to the wonderful people at GloRoc Productions.