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 kenneth joseph

 So you want to know who is Kenneth Anderson Joseph of Hi Tension and how did I get started in my musical career?  

Well, I was 14yrs old when my parents rented a room in their house to a man and his wife. His name was Maurice and he was a reggae bass guitarist. He played in a band with a charismatic drummer called Charlie. I say this only in passing as we i.e. Lloyd, Paul, David and me were fascinated by this drummer’s style! I was fascinated by the bass guitar and its sound and Maurice used to show me how to play certain songs on it. Thereafter, my interest grew but I didn’t know to what extent.


Whilst at School, my brother, David Joseph (keyboard player) approached me after having a conversation with Lloyd Phillips, another school Friend who played drums. We all went to Aylestone High School in North West London but the truth of the matter is we knew each other since Anson junior school under the age of 10. They had an idea to have their respective brothers i.e. Paul Phillips and me to be involved in their venture so when I was asked whether I was interested, I naturally said yes. But when I was asked what instrument I wanted to play, it wasn’t difficult for me to say the bass guitar. Accordingly, Paul decided to play rhythm guitar. 

My first guitar was a Baldwin bass guitar. As a result of agreeing to form a band with 2 sets of brothers in it i.e.
the brothers Phillips and the brothers Joseph, not (Brothers Johnson – smile)
I then approached my mother who then bought me my first bass guitar.
I remember that well. 

 kenneth joseph hi tension bass







When we all had our instruments we studiously practised our scales, copying songs and rehearsing, that’s when we created the name, Hott Wax. Shortly afterwards, we entered local talent competitions to determine whether we were as good as other talented acts in the North West London and our immediate area. To our humble surprise we won every local competition we ever entered. This was reported in local news papers thereafter news soon got back to our school of our accomplishments.

  Needless to say, our school were extremely proud of our accomplishments and invited us to do our first performance before the entire school during an assembly. I remember feeling nervous but I was confident that we would pull it off because we were diligent and rehearsed hard. I remember me doing a kind of shuffle on stage on the spur of the moment during one of the funky songs we performed and the school kids appeared to like it and that was the birth of me doing something more on stage than just playing the bass. 

  Mrs Hutchinson was a music teacher in our school and she came from Trinidad.  In 1972, she introduced us to a band called Earth, Wind & Fire (EW&F) and their album ‘Last Days And Time’.  To be honest, at that time they were too avant-garde for me and I didn’t connect with their sound at all except for the track ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’.   However, by 1975, EW&F changed my whole outlook on music with their ‘That’s The Way Of The World’ and ‘Gratitude’ albums together with all their subsequent albums that followed ‘Last Days And Time’.  In hindsight, it’s amazing how EW&F’s subsequent albums allowed me to go back and connect and appreciate their earlier recordings which I know love.  
Learn more as you read on!

Whilst still learning bass and developing as a musician, I remember Lloyd Phillips (our drummer) introducing me and the other members of my band to an American drummer / artiste called Harvey Mason. Harvey Mason’s technical prowess together with the other musicians on that album was such that I tried to learn every ‘lick’ that bass player played. I had never heard anything like that before. More correctly, I never listened to or analysed music like that before. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the bass player or that album but both were amazing. However, I do recall that it was a jazz funk album! 

Old Hott Wax Pic 

In my formative days, I was influenced by the popular contemporary funky music of James Brown, Fatback Band, Ohio Players, Black Birds (Places and Spaces), Brothers Johnson, Barry White (which is soul) and The Commodores (Brick House) which we played at various clubs like 100 Club, Apollo Club and upstairs at Ronnie Scotts. In addition, we performed at the Nottingham Carnival many time and various festivals. During that period our band had incorporated the talents of Karl, Keeling, Phil Fearon and Alex Bruce. Later, those members decided to leave Hott Wax to pursue their own ventures but not necessarily at the same time. My understanding is Lloyd Phillips, our former drummer together with Phil Fearon and Alex Bruce decided to join another band Called Kandidate but I was not aware of this at that time. Therefore, I can’t say whether they joined Kandidate immediately after leaving Hott Wax or whether they joined at a later stage because the name Kandidate was not known to me until they had some chart success some years later. I guess anybody interested to know the specific details of this will have to ask them directly! Smile! 

 New Hott Wax Pic

  With this new development, and after various discussions with Paul and me, my brother, David Joseph approached other local talented bands in our area with a view to them joining our band Hott Wax as it was then called. It was a delicate situation because all the members of the others bands Paul and Patrick McLean of ‘M Lights’ and Jeffrey Guishard, David Reid and Leroy Williams of ‘Feedback’ were known to us and we were friends. Naturally, not all the members of their former band were required so when the offer was proposed the decision was left with them with them to deliberate with an open window i.e. with no time limit and come to a decision. In hindsight, we were really excited at the prospect of them joining us. After some time had elapsed, Paul and Patrick McLean, Jeffrey, David and Leroy decided to join us as the new Hott Wax band.

My other soul and R&B influences were: Teddy Pendergrass, Four Tops, The Jacksons, Aretha Franklin, Marvyn Gaye, Ashford & Simpson (Solid) album, Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight and the Pips.

What people do not know is that I also listened to Dizzy Gillespie (Jazz Trumpet) and Ray Brown (Double Bass Jazz musician) after seeing both of them perform in the jazz section of at Ronnie Scotts. I even bought a Ray Brown bass music book and learnt some interesting Jazz and blues bass lines. Herbie Hancock (Keyboard Jazz and Jazz funk musician) and his supporting musicians were first brought to my attention by my brother, David who ‘cut his teeth’ on Herbie Hancock’s rhythmic style of playing and the Head Hunters album. As you can see Hott Wax had diverse musical interests that we shared together. Other bass guitar influences for me were Stanley Clarke (Piccolo bass guitarist extraordinaire), Louis Johnson (Bass Guitar - thunder thumbs) and Marcus Miller. All those musicians helped shape and develop my style of bass playing to a greater or lesser extent. I was extremely studious when it came to learning my bass guitar and embraced the task and my role from practising my scales daily, listening to different musical styles and learning different bass techniques such as slapping the bass, popping and or the hammer technique. I was always striving to improve and this was equally true of each member of Hott Wax at that time.

So now you know! Hott Wax was formerly made up of 3 distinct bands: Paul and Patrick McLean of ‘M Lights,’ Jeffrey Guishard, David Reid and Leroy Williams of ‘Feedback,’ and David Joseph, Paul Phillips and me Kenneth Anderson Joseph the nucleus 3 remaining members of Hott Wax. When we converged it was a combination of those styles alongside with the external influences that created our unique sound. At that time, we were an average age 19yrs.

As mention earlier, Ronnie Scotts was our regular gigging club for many years and we would appear there at least once every 2 months to perform a 2 hour set with new repertoire. Whilst performing there one particular night, we were recognised by a talent scout from Melody Maker who said that we were going to be “The Best New Act” for 1976.