Binky McKenzie

Binky McKenzie
Birth name Michael Keith Winston McKenzie
Also known as Binky McKenzie
Born 1947/1948
British Guiana
Genres Jazz, blues
Occupation(s) Musician
Years active 1960s
Associated acts Alexis Korner’s Free At Last, The First Real Poetry Band, The Electric String Band, Vincent Crane Combo

Michael Keith Winston "Binky" McKenzie is a former musician. During the 1960s he played and recorded with several musicians such as Alexis Korner, John McLaughlin, Pete Brown, Denny Laine, Vincent Crane and Duffy Power. In 1972 he was convicted for the manslaughter of his parents and brother-in-law and detained at Broadmoor Hospital.

Early life

His parents were UK immigrants from Guyana, formerly British Guiana. Accompanied by his mother Edna, he arrived in the UK from British Guiana on 18 April 1950 as a two year old infant. His father, Winston McKenzie, was a jazz bass player. His sister, Candy McKenzie, went on to have a successful music career as a backing singer and recorded with a number of artistes including Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross.[1]

Career

In late 1966, McKenzie joined Hughie Flint as a member Alexis Korner's short lived band Free At Last, replacing Cliff Barton on bass guitar. On 31 January 1967, at Philips Studios, Marble Arch, London the trio recorded ‘Rosie’. It was released as a single on the Fontana record label in April 1967 (TF 817). Flint remembered McKenzie as "an amazing guy, very young and undisciplined".[2]

In the mid 1960s, McKenzie became friends with John McLaughlin. In January 1967, they played together on the Duffy Power composition "Just Stay Blue".[3] McLaughlin recommended McKenzie to Miles Davis due to his bass playing abilities.[4] McLaughlin composed the jazz blues number "Binky's Beam" as a tribute to McKenzie. It has an unusual 15/8 time signature and featured on McLaughlin's 1969 album Extrapolation. McLaughlin states in the liner notes “this is dedicated to Binky McKenzie, one of the greatest bass players."

During this period McKenzie was dating Anne Fraser, sister of Andy Fraser who went on to become the bass player and songwriter with the group Free. McKenzie would often visit the Fraser's home in Horndean Close, Roehampton, London. Fraser would leave his own bass guitar lying around the house in the hope that McKenzie would pick it up and play. Fraser always maintained that Binky McKenzie had a significant influence on his own bass playing. In November 2014, Andy Fraser said of McKenzie:

“He was an incredible bass player. And when I say incredible, I mean incredible. He was like the next Jimi Hendrix on bass. But he had some kind of chip on his shoulder and drugs seemed to make it worse. I would listen to him (at home) from the other room and learn all I could, absorb every little thing. He was literally a genius and he was playing with people like Alexis Korner, taking over from Jack Bruce, and he was like, wow, this guy is something else. His younger brother played guitar and both of them introduced me to lots of other musicians in their area, North London” [5]

McKenzie also recorded sessions with Pete Brown during August 1967 and January 1968.[6] These recordings are held in the archives at the British Library and include an early version of the track "Politician" which subsequently appeared on the Cream album, Wheels of Fire.[7]

Brown later recalled: “I thought he was way ahead of his time. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, because at the time, black musicians had a hard time of it. The openings were so few, it didn’t matter how good you were. But he was such an innovator on the bass. Binky did drugs. Not much, just personal use. But his parents got very heavy about it and called the police in (during 1968) and Binky did time. When he came out of the ‘nick’ (prison), he was one very, very angry young man indeed.” [4]

In 1969 McLaughlin also referred to this initial period of incarceration in the liner notes to ‘Extrapolation’, saying at the time he felt that Binky had been “unjustly jailed with his brother Bunny”.

Siege at Olive Road

On Thursday 29 July 1971 at the family home in Cricklewood, North West London, McKenzie went on a violent rampage. He killed his mother Edna, father Winston, and brother-in-law Richard Sims. All victims were stabbed multiple times.[8] His younger sister Candy was also stabbed and seriously injured but survived the attack.[9]

Shortly after the killing spree the house was surrounded by armed police. McKenzie barricaded himself inside the bathroom using a variety of items including a wardrobe and two double basses.[10] A siege ensued lasting four-and-a-half hours. A police marksman went into the attic with a CS gas gun. He bored a hole through the bathroom ceiling and fired a CS gas shell into the room. McKenzie immediately rushed out on to the landing holding a knife in each hand. Four policemen struggled to overpower him. He was eventually restrained injuring a policeman in the process.[11]

Sentence

At the Old Bailey in March 1972, McKenzie was found guilty on three counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.[12] He was detained at Broadmoor. McKenzie was 24 years old at the time of the sentence.[13]

References

  1. ^ "Candy McKenzie". Trojanrecords.com.
  2. ^ Harry Shapiro (7 August 1997). "Alexis Korner: The Biography". Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7475316-3-0
  3. ^ "Duffy Power – Just Stay Blue". YouTube.
  4. ^ a b Paul Stump (27 September 1999). "Go Ahead John: The Music of John McLaughlin". SAF Publishing Ltd. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-9467192-4-2
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "John McLaughlin 1963-67 Recordings Released Subsequently". Bathedinlightning.com.
  7. ^ "Explore the British Library Search - Binky McKenzie". Explore.bl.uk.
  8. ^ Jan Bondeson (28 June 2015). "Murder Houses of Greater London". Matador Publishing Ltd. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-7846233-3-3
  9. ^ Derek Godrey (30 July 1971). "CS gas ends siege after triple killing". London Evening News. p. 7.
  10. ^ "Register | British Newspaper Archive". Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
  11. ^ "Register | British Newspaper Archive". Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
  12. ^ Archives, The National. "The Discovery Service". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
  13. ^ "Register | British Newspaper Archive". Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.

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