Mike Baess, former Tourists fan club manager recalls his memories of Edi Chin, bass player with The Tourists, who has died at 74

Mike Baess, former Tourists fan club manager recalls his memories of Edi Chin, bass player with The Tourists, who has died at 74

Written by Mike Baess and reproduced here with kind permission, all photographs © Mike Baess.

Mike Baess recalls his friend Edi Chin, bass player with The Tourists, who has died at 74

FORMER Camden Town pop star Edi (Eddie) Chin, who was bass player in The Tourists, has died.

Edi, who was 74, joined the band in 1977 and was a fixture on UK music shows such as Top Of The Pops, the Old Grey Whistle Test and the kids’ Saturday morning TV show Tiswas, playing on hits like So Good To Be Back Home Again, I Only Want To Be With You and Blind Among The Flowers.

We became friends after I volunteered to run the fan club for The Tourists in 1979.

I was writing the music column for the old Camden Journal in the late 70s but also had an interest in photography. One memorable Saturday morning I went with a journalist friend to interview the band’s singer and lead guitarist, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart – who later found global success with Eurythmics – at their Crouch End flat.

We hit it off immediately and the pair asked me to run the band’s fan club as their momentum gained and they began to get chart success and started playing major theatre venues across the UK.

Luckily I had some spare time on my hands as my colleagues on the paper – all members of the NUJ – and I fought to keep it going after the owners, as part of a general monopolisation of press ownership and greater profits, decided to close the title.

Edi and I became good mates as I joined The Tourists on the road, touring the UK twice where I took many photos of the band on and off the stage. We also lived near each other – he in Albert Street, Camden Town and me just up the road in Belsize Park.

One of the biggest thrills was when the band asked me to join them in Montserrat where they recorded their third and final album at Beatles’ legend, George Martin’s wonderful Air Studios 2 in 1980.

Edi, who was born in Singapore, Malaysia in 1948, was a gifted musician and learned to play the piano and French horn while at school before joining the Singapore Youth Orchestra.

He moved to the UK in 1965 to study at the London College Of Furniture, at the same time learning stand-up bass before switching to electric.

One of his first bands was the amusingly named skiffle group The Pigsty Light Orchestra.

As his reputation grew Camden-based Edi found work as a session bassist, most notably with the French-American disco group Santa Esmeralda who had a massive club hit with the old Nina Simone/Animals hit, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Edi had a striking presence with his long, near waist-length black hair, Fu Manchu-like moustache and slim presence, which made him stand out.

At the time that I knew him he had a girlfriend called Sarah (not Brightman) who was a dancer with the Top Of The Pops dance troupe Hot Gossip and also worked with The Tourists on a dance routine during their final tour of the UK.

Ironically, as amazing as the trip to Montserrat was, it also revealed tension in the band with the main songwriter Peet Coombes growing tired of being asked to write what he considered to be lightweight pop songs.

Coming off the back of a US tour and flying straight into the tropical heat of Montserrat was not helpful in easing tension within the band – the first cracks of splitting up began to appear.

The band played another tour of the UK in autumn 1980 before setting off for some Australian dates where the band imploded. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart began writing their own material and formed Eurythmics while Peet and Eddie formed a short-lived group called The Acid Drops.

They never played any gigs but I heard a four-track tape that they made and am pretty sure that had they kept at it they would have been successful. I’d describe the music as psychedelic pop and was absolutely in tune with bands like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes who were forging a new indie sound in Liverpool.

While Peet was a brilliant songwriter he wasn’t committed to playing endless tours and when the initial momentum ended in early summer 1981 Edi found more session work. The last I heard was that he was working with Mathew Cang, who replaced Zal Cleminson as lead guitarist in The Alex Harvey Band.

I last heard from Edi in February. He messaged to tell me that his wife, Gervaise had died. It was a shock from which Edi never really recovered. He died at his home in New Orleans on June 25.

The Tourists - Edi Chin - Mike Baess 01
The Tourists - Edi Chin - Mike Baess 02
The Tourists - Edi Chin - Mike Baess 03
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