Kim Gardner

LOS ANGELES--Kim Gardner, a rock 'n' roll bassist who found early fame in the "British Invasion" band The Birds and later blossomed musically as part of the group Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, died here Oct. 24, 2001, of cancer. He was 53.

MSTies will recall his brief appearance, alongside Rolling Stone-to-be Ron Wood, during a musical number in episode 905- THE DEADLY BEES.

London-born Gardner and his neighbor, Wood, first played guitar together as teenagers. While the two were attending art college together, they joined with Ali McKenzie, Tony Munroe and Pete McDaniels to form the Thunderbirds in 1964. By the end of the year, they'd been signed by Decca Records. In 1965 the band's name was shortened to the Birds and they released several singles, including "Leaving Here" and "No Good Without You Baby." The singles didn't fare well on the charts however and adding to the difficulties was a legal battle with the American group The Byrds, challenging the bands new name. The Birds left Decca late in '65 and signed with Reaction Records under the name Birds Birds, but a breakup soon followed.

Gardner and Wood then joined the mod band Creation, a band little known outside of the U.K. but which, within Britain, was seen as a competitor to the likes of The Who and The Kinks. A lack of mainstream success in the U.S. doomed the group, however and by 1968 both Gardner and Wood were going in new directions: Gardner joined with Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke to form jazz-rock band Ashton Gardner & Dyke in 1968, (while Wood went on to The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces and eventually the Stones).

The Ashton Gardner & Dyke song "Resurrection Shuffle," from the group's first album, was an unexpected hit in 1971. Their second album featured guest performances by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. They produced a third album before disbanding.

Gardner spent the rest of the '70s as a journeyman musician. He moved to Los Angeles in 1973 and became an oft-requested session man, working on 27 albums for artists ranging from Clapton to Bo Diddley. He also toured with the band Pacific Gas and Electric and other bands.

In the late 1970s, while still dabbling in music, Gardner began a career as a successful pub master and restaurateur. In 1982, he opened the 50-seat Cat & Fiddle Restaurant and Pub in Laurel Canyon, which proved so successful it was moved in 1984 to larger quarters on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The spot became a favorite destination for British rockers and notables such as Robert Plant and Rod Stewart often made a visit when in Los Angeles.