Footnote Archives: Blast off with Ramases and 'Space Hymns'

Rock ’n’ roll and Egyptology have long been fairly substantial companions. Both Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and former Hawkwind mainstay Nik Turner’s Sphinx have dallied with the topic to greater or lesser extents: Turner once recorded an entire album from atop the Great Pyramid of Cheops; Rundgren contented himself with giving away a free cardboard model of the thing.

The Glastonbury Fayre festival in England was staged from within a giant pyramid, and then, of course, there’s Rolf Harris’ “Tutankhamen,” a fine contribution to the theme from the man who also brought us “Sun Arise” and “I’ve Lost My Mummy.”

There are others.

Not one of them, however, ever shared the convictions of Ramases, a central heating salesman from Sheffield, England, who believed himself to be the reincarnation of an Egyptian god and who, in the heady days of late 1960s England, found a lot of other people ready to believe him as well.

Ramases’ actual biography (the 2,000+ years preceding his rebirth notwithstanding) is sketchy, to say the least. 
In 1968, this very distinctive looking, bald-headed gentleman and his wife, Selket, simply appeared on the London underground scene, recorded a one-off single for CBS, “Crazy One”/”Mind’s Eye,” and then vanished.

Certainly they perplexed CBS. “Crazy One,” an impossibly rare single today, was as distinctive as its maker, albeit in a very sketchy, weird kind of way, and had Ramases and Selket never resurfaced, psychedelic archivists at least would still remember them.

In 1971, however, Ramases believed the time was right for his second coming. Discouraged by the London music scene, however, and presumably unwilling to take too much time off work while he pursued his dream, he contacted the nearby (Manchester) management company Kennedy Street Enterprises. Graham Gouldman, one of Kennedy Street’s clients, a part owner of the Strawberry Studios complex in nearby Stockport (and, apropos of nothing, one of the greatest British songwriters of the sixties and beyond), picks up the story.

“Ramases sent a tape to Harvey Lisburg (one of the Kennedy Street team); Harvey liked it and played it to us. We liked it and he got them a deal with Vertigo.” It was as simple as that.

Ramases and the newly truncated Sel were booked into Strawberry, to record their first album. They would be accompanied by Strawberry’s own in-house band, bassist Gouldman, former Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders lead guitarist Eric Stewart, drummer Kevin Godley and rhythm guitarist Lol Creme, four men who would eventually become 10cc, but who were now biding their time as jobbing sessioneers.

Ramases and Sel arrived at Strawberry with the barest outlines of an album, trusting to the team spirit to piece together what would become Space Hymns.

Gouldman enthuses, “it was great. It was a really fine album to make. We would sit down on the floor with acoustic guitars, that kind of vibe, very hippie and mystical.” 

He admits, however, that Ramases was “a very strange and interesting man… he was always strange, he was fascinating.
“I remember one night we were at my house, Kev, Lol and myself, Ramases and his wife, and we just sat there for hours and hours, and he explained everything about Egyptian mythology, and it was just brilliant. He was totally convinced that he was the reincarnation of Ramases, quite genuine.

“He was actually a central heating salesman from Sheffield, but that was just his day-to-day job. He had to earn a living! He really believed it, and if you sat down with him, you’d believe it. He had a vision; he had ideas about songs,

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