Lifeline of Splinter

The Lifeline of Splinter

Billy Elliott and Bobby Purvis both hail from Newcastle Upon Tyne, in the North East of England, In July 1972 Bobby married his girlfriend Marilyn, they were renting a basement flat in London and Bobby was working with Mike Gibbons from Badfinger on a solo project. Billy was lead singer in a band called The Truth in the North of England – sadly musical differences and personality problems reared their ugly head and Billy decided to leave the group.

Rob Hill was Billy’s Manager (and also a very close friend of Bobby)  and he was staying with Bob and Marilyn in London. Rob explained things were not working out with The Truth and that Billy was available. Bob invited Billy to come down and stay. Bill and Bob were both natural singers totally in sync with each other musically. They had worked together in 1970 as a duo called Stone Blind singing and writing songs, so they knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They found that the magic was still there, and too good to pass on it, and so Splinter was born in August 1972.

This was the beginning of Splinter leading to the world famous duo we know and love today, and within a short time they were offered a deal with Threshold Records primarily, and some other fashionable labels began to take notice of their undoubted talent and put various packages on their table as well.

Mal Evans was one of those gifted people, and wrote a song with Bobby with a working title of “Another Chance That I Let Go”. This link opened a door for both members as they were offered a part in the George Harrison production of “Little Malcolm and his Struggle against the Enuchs”. The song was used as the main-score for this offering, and Splinter also sang it in the film. For the record, the film starred amongst others the superb actors John Hurt and David Warner. (It is now available on Blue Ray and DVD).

After George met both members of Splinter and listened to their catalogue the plan of producing and releasing a single was shelved. The talent that Splinter possessed was now going to be geared up for a full album.

George by this time had formed Dark Horse Records, and Splinter were duly signed to the label. The resulting album was called “The Place I love” and a huge selling single “Costafine Town” was clipped from it and sold in great quantities around the world. “Splinter” was indeed the only act to have major success on George’s label. Today in 2020, that album still stands out as a truly remarkable debut album, having lost none of its musical direction, vision and outlook. It is excellently produced by George Harrison and has a stamp of true quality all over it. The harmonies and melodies ring close, loud and true and the lyrics speak for themselves.

With this album safely tucked under their belt, their lives changed completely and world-wide travel, and tours very soon came along. Over the next few years they somehow found the time to make two more albums for Dark Horse Records.

Both members of Splinter recognised that this was truly a magical time, and yet they always seemed to have their feet firmly on the ground.

By this time Billy had married Yvonne (his childhood sweetheart), and was living back in the North of England.

Working with one of The Beatles is not something that comes along everyday (if hardly at all), yet both Billy and Bobby were able to use their talent to be offered this opportunity, and they responded in the best way they could by becoming the only hit making act for George’s Dark Horse Records. A truly superb achievement!!

Some 6 years later the parting of the ways occurred, and Splinter carried on touring, making some more albums, and becoming extremely popular in Japan. (More of that will be revealed at a later date). Another album came out in 1981, but things somehow were not quite the same. They carried on until 1984, when they both went their separate ways. They have continued in this vein keeping their lives separate, and even living in different countries. Bobby resides in North East England, and Billy lives in the sunny climes of Portugal.

From 1984 until 2020 there had not been any new Splinter releases, and perhaps both of them felt that they would not be in a position to be able to do just that. However in 2019, things somehow clicked in a far, far away, place and slowly paths were made to both members, and by diligence, patience and the understanding of many things that happen, we find ourselves here today.

Billy and Bobby are very grateful and thankful that you, the true fans out there not only remember Splinter, but there has been a genuine feeling that the both of them have not had the recognition that they truly deserve. Now with these new and recent developments, beginning to join together, that situation shows every sign of changing, and I am very glad to have been able to play my part (so far) in that.

With the Legacy Project now fully established, Billy Elliott sadly passed away in June 2021, and has left a huge hole that simply cannot be filled. He was always 100% behind the project, and we will carry on with our aims of releasing quality recordings of unheard Splinter material, so that not only his , but Splinter’s talent is recognised completely.

Nigel Pearce – Presenter/Producer,

  • ‘Groove Britain’ Future Radio Norwich 107.8FM
  • Swindon 105.5FM
  • Radio Stockton FM
  • UK Radio – Licensee New York City/USA/SoundCloud
  • Author of – “The Apples of our Eyes” Published March 2020 Novum Press


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