5th July 1965
DOUG GIBBONS & THE OUTSIDERS
Gibbons is something of a mystery man with information regarding his career not only scarce but slightly contradictory. He was born in Shepherd’s Bush and during the period 1965 to 1967 hob-nobbed with some of the industry’s major movers and shakers but his career, despite a change of image in 1966, never really took off. He was initially signed to Decca Records and in 1965 released his debut single, “I’ve Got My Tears To Remind Me”, a ballad written by Jackie De Shannon & Jimmy Page. The Page connection was strengthened when Gibbons backing band The Outsiders also recorded two of the guitarist’s compositions, apparently with the participation of Page himself. Despite the failure of Gibbons’ single, it drew him to the attention of Rolling Stones svengali Andrew “Loog” Oldham who duly signed the singer to his roster, but there appears to be some uncertainty as to when this actually happened. Oldham re-negotiated a new contract for Gibbons with CBS in 1966, but at the point of playing The Town Hall in July 1965, he was already under Oldham’s wing. Interest appears to have been generated by what was regarded as a passing resemblance to Mick Jagger in the vocal department (which, on the evidence of his debut single, I find hard to understand) but it wasn’t long before The Loog considered Gibbons to be excess baggage and his rather short career as a member of The Rolling Stones entourage soon came to an end. To his credit, Gibbons used his CBS contract to good effect, re-inventing himself as a soul singer under the alter ego Thane Russal. As Russal, Gibbons released two singles that were produced by Paul Gadd, also known as Paul Raven but better known in the mid-70’s as pop star Gary Glitter. The first was an arrangement of the Otis Redding/Etta James song “Security”, which was extremely popular in Australia. In fact the identity of Thane Russal was a matter of great speculation “down under” with suggestions that it was Jagger himself who had provided the vocals. A second single, “Drop Everything and Run,” appeared during the same year, but neither made any impression on the British charts. Russal/Gibbons fared much better on the continent however, as he next turned up in Italy, where he cut the single “Adesso Tardi” for the Italian branch of CBS in 1967. Apart from a follow-up single released during the following year, Doug seemingly discovered a whole new audience during his time spent abroad, and subsequently fronted two bands in Italy called The Electric Heart and Beggars Farm respectively.
12th July 1965
A hard hitting R&B band from Watford in the Downliners Sect/Pretty Things mould, they were named, like so many bands from this period, after a Rhythm N’Blues song, “Cops And Robbers” by Bo Diddley. The band were picked up by the same management team that had signed Donovan (who was apparently a friend of the group) but they issued just three singles and a French-only EP during their truncated career. Signed to Decca (wasn’t everybody back in the mid 60’s?) – versions of “St.James Infirmary” in 1964 and Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” the following year were well received but after the band’s failure to get arrested (apologies), they moved to Pye and whilst on this label released a bizarre, ill-chosen cover of the My Fair Lady standard “I Could Have Danced All Night” (which no doubt quickened their departure from the music scene.) Their chief claims to fame were a great reputation as a live band and writing and recording the original version of “You’ll Never Do It Baby,” a song that was covered by the Pretty Things on their second album. Upon their demise, drummer Henry Harrison became a founder member of The New Vaudeville Band, which was akin to Jimi Hendrix joining The Bachelors, such was the polar opposite in musical style from his previous group.
19th July 1965
The Measels were another fair-to-middling band from Manchester whose particular strain of R&B-inspired music was immune to the general record-buying public. After 4 singles released during 1965 and 1966 had failed to infect the music charts, they slowly disappeared from view before finally calling it a day in 1968. Formed in 1964 by singer Stan “Red” Hoffman (real name Stan Dulson) they landed a record deal with Columbia and issued their first release, a Mickie Most-produced version of Johnny Otis’ “Casting My Spell On You” on March 18th 1965. After subsequent singles “Night People” (August 1965) – “Kicks” (April 1966) (a No.4 hit for Paul Revere & The Raiders in the USA) – and finally the half decent “Walkin’ In” (October 1966) had all failed to induce an outbreak of Measle-itis, the group relied on their reputation as a live band to sustain their career for at least 2 more years. Like a lot of groups with a lack of original material, concert performances included a wealth of cover versions with the odd “cabaret” moment thrown in for good measure. A typical Measle gig might feature versions of Roy Rogers “Four Legged Friend” and George Formby’s “Leaning On A Lamppost” (see below) alongside the proverbial Beatle and Stones songs. During their career, they maintained a strong connection with a number of other Mancunian bands with Peter Cowap from The Country Gentlemen not only appearing on their records, but composing the “A”-side of their final 45. Other musicians who also enjoyed life as a Measle during the latter part of the band’s career included fellow Country Gentleman Leo Laherty on drums and Paul Young from The Toggery Five on vocals.
DIFFERING TASTES OF TEENAGERS
Do the popular music tastes of Bridgwater’s teenagers differ from those of young people living in the big cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester? The Measles, in the town last week for a show, were the right group to supply the answer since they appear in both the populated areas and the provinces. “Their preferences vary so much that we have to work out a completely different programme to the one we do at the London clubs” their singer Red Hoffman revealed at the “Top 20” Club. “For Bridgwater, we find, that “rock” songs go down best, whereas the London audiences prefer something deeper and more jazz influenced” But even though it was mostly express-speed items The Measles performed, the Club supporters were able to catch an excerpt of thir dynamic act that is the talk of London town at the moment. Who would expect a group like The Measels to do a George Formby routine singing “Leaning On A Lampost”? This, however, is the interesting factor about the group – their stage show is unpredictable, uninhibited. I am quite certain that this electrfying group of Northerners will soon be the most sought-after act in the country, probably with their next Columbia single “Night People” which comes out on Friday and those who witnessed their “Top 20” Club appearance on Monday will be able to boast that they were one of the first to catch the fever of The Measles.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury (who, like me, could not resist a Measle pun or two)
26th July 1965
MONDAY BEAT SPECTACULAR! – Bridgwater Town Hall
THE REMO FOUR plus special guests – Pete Vicki & The Sabres
3rd August 1965
A CHANCE TO BEAT THE BEATLES!
Attention all budding beat groups in Bridgwater! If you are an amateur group that has not yet made a public appearance, the manager of the Odeon Theatre (Mr.James Thorne) will give you the opportunity of taking the stage at his cinemas between screenings of The Beatles second picture “Help!” which he has booked for the whole of the August Bank Holiday week. He is anxious to hear from any young “pop” musicians living in Bridgwater who play for their own enjoyment, but are still waiting for the big break. His idea will give them the exciting chance to play before hundreds of cinemagoers who will undoubtedly fill the Odeon to see this much-publicised picture so soon after the London premiere. Groups will be required to give a performance lasting for approximately five minutes prior to the final showing of The Beatles film in the evening. If the response is good enough, Mr.Thorne hopes to put a different group on stage each evening. Interested groups – they can choose their own material and be large or small in number – are asked to contact Mr.Thorne before the week in question.
9th August 1965
Despite the fact that this band can boast of owning it’s own web-site, information regarding their history is practically non-existent. Their origins date from 1956 when Kevin Heywood & Barry Langtree met at Secondary School but I still have no idea regarding their geographical location, though I think it’s safe to suggest that they were not from anywhere within 200 miles of the capital city. The two school mates started practicing and eventually ended up in a band together though Langtree had a head start on his chum as his first group The Deltones were formed in 1958. Heywood & Langtree finally teamed up to form The Heartbeats who became Tommy Hart & The Heartbeats, who became Barry Langtree & The Heartbeats after Hart left and finally The Heartbeats once again. After appearing on both local TV and performing at summer shows they were introduced to Shel Talmy and signed to Pye Records. From this point onwards it becomes an all too familiar story. Talmy produced 6 singles for Pye altogether. Gale Garnett’s “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” appeared in 1964, during 1965 a cover of the Jay & The Americans single “Let’s Lock The Door” was swiftly followed by “There’ll Be No More Goodbyes” and “Lonely Man” and finally in 1966 the fine “The World Keeps Going Round” (donated to the band by Ray Davies) and the not so fine “The Ballad Of The Green Berets”, was the sum total of their output, none of which charted. Jimmy Page and sometime Stones keyboard player Nicky Hopkins were notable musicians that Talmy utilised on The Lancastrians recording sessions but it was all to no avail. After a disastrous tour of Germany which left the band with less money than they had started with, they were immediately asked to set off on a tour of France but disillusioned and no doubt skint decided to split up instead. The Lancastrians re-formed in 1991 and, as far as I am aware, are still going.
NEW SERIES OF TOP 20 CLUB SESSIONS
There is more to running a dance than just setting up a record player in one corner of a hall and bringing along a few discs. The organisers of the “Top 20” Club regard their weekly dances at the Town Hall, Bridgwater, as more of a show, adding visual effects for impact and good presentation. The club opens at 7.45 p.m. but the Graham Alford Agency will have put in some seven or eight hours work by then – spending the whole of the afternoon arranging the expensive p.a. system, testing it, deciding the most suitable discs to select from the 50 released each week and arranging the stage. In fact it is a delicate and painstaking operation. The agency will be delighted to learn that all their preparation does not go unnoticed. Praise for excellent presentation came last week from Robin Hibbs, road manager of The Lancastrians, who opened a new series of “Top 20” Club sessions. He said it was the best he had seen in any ballroom in the country, and this is indeed high commendation coming from one of today’s most prominent groups. Looking back on the artistes who have appeared at the Club, it is surprising to discover how many have since become top acts, although the Agency has always had the knack of bringing tomorrow’s stars to Bridgwater. During the coming year the “Top 20” Club will continue to keep it’s local supporters abreast with the new trends, and plans for the Autumn and Winter shows are even more spectacular than ever. The Lancastrians act was one of the most polished sen at the Club in a long time, and undoubtedly this is due to the experience they have gained from cabaret engagements in the Northern clubs. Comedy and impersonations mixed with good songs and fautless harmonising made their performance memorable. Formed in Cheshire, the group – it’s average age is 20 – consists of Barry Langtree, lead guitar; Kevin Heywood, rhythm; Terry Henson, bass; and John Fluery, drums.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
16th August 1965
The Riot Squad
23rd August 1965
Another Merseybeat band though this one holds the distinction of getting a single into the Top 10 of the British music charts. They first got together in the early 60’s as The Nomads and were a little different to a lot of the other Liverpool groups in that their first love was American blues rather than R&B, consequently their repertoire was always likely to include material by John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters rather than Chuck Berry or Little Richard. Originally a 4-piece consisting of Stuart James, Adrian Wilkinson (later replaced by ex Faron’s Flamingos guitarist Nicky Crouch,) John Konrad and Eric Morecambe – sorry Keith Karlson (see pic below), they added roadie Terry O’Toole as a keyboard player on George Harrison’s recommendation after the “Quiet Beatle” had heard O’Toole play jazz piano at a club, and had suggested that they make him a full time employee. The Nomads first appearance on record was a track entitled “My Whole Life Through”, included on an album called “This Is Merseybeat” released on the tiny Oriole label in July 1963. Recorded live at the Rialto Ballroom by Oriole’s John Schroeder, the album’s marketing hoopla suggested that the LP was an historical document capturing a moment of great musical invention. In fact out of all of the bands that took part, only The Nomads (who were the first artist’s to be recorded) and The Mersey Beats succeeded in securing record contracts, with the remainder being of bunch of no-hopers that, outside of Liverpool, no-one had heard of and were not interested in. After being told to sharpen their song-writing skills, Oriole’s Schroeder apparently predicted a big future for The Nomads who, sometime afterwards, were forced to dispense with their name after a London band had claimed earlier ownership.
They became the Mojo’s, no doubt in homage to the Muddy Waters song “Got My Mojo Working”, a staple diet of many a beat group back in the early to mid 60’s. With Merseybeat swamping the charts and the airwaves, Decca Records, a label not known for signing bands from that particular part of the globe, added the group to it’s ever increasing artist roster after they had won a songwriting contest sponsored by publishers Carlin Music. It has been suggested that as Decca had already turned down the most famous Northern band on the planet, they were making up for lost time by signing anyone who were half decent, though in The Mojo’s case, they were far better than a lot of the unknowns that had put pen to paper and who probably should have been left well alone. Their debut single “They Say” was released in 1963 and was perhaps an example of the band’s sound being deliberately sweetened in order to manufacture a chart hit, a move that failed miserably. But the follow up, recorded in early 1964 at a studio in Germany whilst The Mojo’s were playing at the Star Club in Hamburg, seemed to suggest that their potential was finally being realised. “Everything’s Alright” was a group original, and reached No.9, spending 11 weeks on the charts. It even earned a U.S. release, a rare occurrence for a relatively new artist. Unfortunately despite the promise of this single they were never able to follow up that success, and were forever destined to be one of those proverbial “one hit wonders”. 2 ill-fitting “poptastic” 1964 releases “Why Not Tonight” and “Seven Daffodils” reached No 25 & 30 respectively in the singles chart but the group’s inability to find another sizeable hit meant that Decca began to lose interest though the band did succeed in making an appearance in a post-Hard Day’s Night cash-in film, called “Seaside Swingers”, that sounds more like a 1970’s English porn movie rather than Beat Music flick. But with none of their 1965 releases getting anywhere near the toppermost of the poppermost, Messrs Konrad, O’Toole, and Karlson left the band to pursue other opportunities. Stu James kept the outfit running – towards the latter part of their career the band’s name was adapted to give James star billing – and among the replacements he recruited were bassist Lewis Collins, the son of their road manager, and drummer Aynsley Dunbar. It was this version of the group that recorded some songs for Decca in 1966 that suggested a distinct lack of interest all round with a pointless cover of the World War I song “Goodbye Dolly Gray” in particular echoing the sound of several barrels being scraped together. One final single on Liberty Records appeared in 1968 before the band split for good. Two members of that final line-up became well known for vastly different reasons. Drummer Anysley Dunbar went on to a successful career as a session drummer via John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation whilst Lewis Collins eventually took advantage of his acting aspirations, appearing as Bodie in the ITV drama “The Professionals”. The Mojo’s are quite rightly remembered for their one big hit but it is arguable that had it not been for a cover of “Everything’s Alright” by David Bowie on his “Pin Ups” album in 1974 (a cover that ironically included Aynsley Dunbar on drums) no-one would know, or indeed be interested, in this group.
“TOP 20” CLUB’S BIG NEW PLAN
Sensational plans concerning the weekly “Top 20” Club shows have been revealed by Mr.Graham Alford , head of the theatrical agency running the presentations at Bridgwater Town Hall. Coloured cine films of top recording artistes are to be introduced using the method known as back projection, as seen in the B.B.C. television programme “Top Of The Pops” Although in theory the scheme could be put into effect immediately, Club supporters will probably have to wait until next May or June before they can see it becuase of present difficulties in installing the giant screen to be erected on stage. It is thought likely that this will be the first ballroom in the country to feature back projection. “We shall shoot the films ourselves” Mr.Alford told me. “This will probably meant travelling to London and many other places to see the artistes, and we expect them to co-operate with us. We shall take casual shots of the stars, for example, driving in cars or walking about in the streets – the aim being to show teenagers their idols in off-duty moments” While the fans watch their favourite stars they will hear them singing on disc. The enterprising Alford Agency will shortly carry out improvements to it’s amplification equipment in the Town Hall by fitting two new cabinet speakers, eliminating distortion and increasing fidelity. The Mojo’s, of “Everything’s Alright” fame, made a guest appearance at the Club on Monday, and showcased their distinctive style of powerful ballads-with-a-beat singing. They also included a preview of their next single, their sixth, to be issued by Decca shortly, “Wait A Minute”.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
* The Mojo’s were one of those bands who underwent a major change of personnel during their career though it seems that practically 99% of the groups that graced us with their presence at The Town Hall either changed their name or had a major upheaval in the employee department. Depending on which band history you believe The Mojo’s line-up changed either in 1964 or some time during the latter part of 1965. Even though it’s a shame that Mike could not supply, as he had done in most of his reports, a roll call of band members, on this occasion one is not required. I am indebted to Stan & Terry Barnett for allowing me to look through Stan’s Autograph book from this period as it proves conclusively that both tough guy Collins and super session man Aynsley Dunbar did indeed play the Town Hall.
31st August 1965
LOCAL “BEAT” GROUPS AT THE ODEON
Three local amateur “beat” groups are to get a major break this week when they perform on the stage of the Odeon Theatre, Bridgwater between screenings of the Beatles film “Help!” They are the Hell’s Angels (formerly The Tridents), The Atlantics, and The Venturers (a Salvation Army group). The idea was that of theatre manager Mr.James Thorne, and it is the first time that “live” entertainment has been presented during the evening at the Odeon, although the stage is frequently used for contests ay the Saturday Morning Boys and Girls Club. Mr.Thorne has invited the three groups to each play on two evenings, so that there will be a group appearing every evebing during the week. Coming on around 9 p.m. every night, they will be introduced at the Odeon’s peak hour for audiences, playing a five-minute stint prior to the final showing of “Help!” Two bumbers can be presented during this time and the groups are now selecting material. The Hell’s Angels were the first to perform last night (Monday), and the running order for the rest of the week is, The Atlantics tonight and Saturday, The Venturers Wednesday and Thursday, and The Hell’s Angels again on Friday. A full review of the groups’ performances will appear in next week’s issue.
6th September 1965
THE BO STREET RUNNERS
Having already booked the runners-up of “Ready Steady Go’s” “Ready Steady Win!” competition (see The Toggery Five) it was hardly surprising that The Town Hall should get the opportunity to see the group that had walked away with the first prize. Formed in 1963 in Harrow, Middlesex, The Road Runners, as they were originally called, consisted of John Dominic, Gary Thomas, Bob O’Brien, Dick Connor and Nigel Hutchinson. Dominic and Thomas were old school mates and after initially playing as a blues duo, they ended up in a London-based jazz combo called Group Indigo along with drummer Hutchinson. The threesome began to incorporate rhythm n’blues into the band’s repertoire by playing it during the interval at Group Indigo’s gigs and after it became apparent that this short set was generating more audience response than Indigo’s jazz, the trio decided to break away to play R&B full time. In November 1963, despite having only been together for a matter of months, they were offered a short-term residency in the “Boom Room” situated in the basement of The Railway Hotel in the band’s home town of Harrow. The Railway Hotel is, of course, synonymous with The Who’s early career but as a venue it had been part of the live blues circuit since 1961. The Road Runners were given a Friday night slot at The Railway but their tenure was short lived as the plug was pulled on their weekly appearances sometime during the following month. But it wasn’t long before they returned to the venue and by doing so they were partially responsible for the formation of the R&B club that The Who later made their name from. The Bo Street Runners as they were now known had been booked to play at a New Years Eve celebration for the Wembley branch of the Young Communists League and due to the success of this gig, they were approached by two of the YCL organisers with the idea of setting up a weekly music club. A deal was agreed that the proceeds would be split evenly, with half the door takings going to the group and half to the YCL and the venue of choice was The Railway Hotel. By February 1964 the club was up and running and soon the core audience of the YCL’s party faithful had been replaced by scores of suburban ‘Mods’, filling the hotel’s car park with their Lambretta and Vespa scooters. The “Rhythm and Blues Club’ as it was imaginatively called, was run on a membership basis, with a card costing 6d and entry 3s 6d. Within one month of it opening it’s doors to the public an average of 200 people were appearing for the Bo Street Runners Sunday night residence as witnessed here by the YCL monthly magazine “Challenge” ” ….soon the group announces its arrival with a vigourous tuning-up session, with amplifiers booming, humming and screeching and the electric organ erupting with cascades of chords that vibrate around one’s head……………a hypnotised crowd fills the floor in an incredibly short time; Skip-dance, floog and good old fashioned shake are demonstrated to the full……….. ”. (Incidentally, if anyone would care to enlighten me on what the “floog” was, please do so) With the band gaining an extremely healthy reputation amongst it’s Mod audience, they decided to self-finance the recording of an EP which was then sold at their gigs for the princely sum of five shillings each, though only 99 copies were made in order to avoid the payment of Purchase Tax (as it was then called). Recorded at R.G.Jones studios in Morden for the local “Oak” label, this release was very much a DIY job with the band painstakingly pasting photos of themselves onto the plain cardboard sleeve before flogging the vinyl to their adoring public. This (extremely rare) disc, a mint copy of which is now rumoured to be worth £1500.00, featured 3 proverbial Blues/R&B covers plus the band’s “theme tune” “Bo Street Runner” penned by vocalist John Dominic. It was during 1964 that the Bo Street Runners started to share the Railway Hotel stage with another group of young hopefuls known as the High Numbers who held a mid week residency at the same venue. Whereas The High Numbers went on to achieve considerable fame and fortune, the opposite can be said of The Bo Street Runners who, once out of the sweaty confines of The Railway, were swallowed up by the fickleness of the record buying public and the endless competition from literally 100’s of other R&B artists. Yet it all started so well. When Dave Cameron’s mother sent a copy of the band’s “Fan Club” disc to the producers of ATV’s “Ready, Steady, Go!”, the Runners were added to the list of competitors in the show’s talent contest, “Ready, Steady, Win!”. The group, as we know, won the coveted first prize, and secured for themselves a contract with Decca Records as part of their booty, but in the process they also turned down a golden opportunity of working with Brian Epstein. (At the celebratory shindig directly after the competition’s completion, Mr.Epstein enquired about the possibility of becoming involved with the band but for some reason his offer was ignored.) Decca wasted no time in promoting the group and the Glyn Johns produced “Bo Street Runner” duly became their debut single, but it was precisely at this point in their career that the band started to flounder. Despite the publicity that the competition had brought and an appearance on “Ready Steady Go’s” New Year’s Eve special (their only TV appearance), the single failed to chart and what follows is the proverbial tale of unsuccessful attempts at stardom and countless personnel changes. Hutchinson and O’Brien were the first two to leave after both had decided that a professional career may be too risky. The original line-up nevertheless stayed together long enough to play some prestigious gigs (including The Albert Hall) and some important radio slots but by early 1965 Decca had already decided to cut their losses by promptly “selling” the band’s contract to Columbia. The band’s introduction of Glyn Thomas & Royston Fry, musicians with a jazz background, saw the Bo Street Runners temporarily change their musical style and with their agency having access to the back catalogue of James Brown, the Runners first Columbia release “Tell Me What You’re Gonna Do”, produced by Mickie Most, featured Brown songs on both the “A” and “B” side. Despite, or perhaps because of the band’s radical change in style, the single failed to capture the public’s imagination and despite securing a residency at the famous 100 Club in Soho, disillusionment within the band was already taking hold. More personnel changes saw the arrival of two important group members. Keyboard player Tim Hinkley answered an ad in “Melody Maker” whilst drummer Michael Kells Fleetwood was added after placing a personal ad in a Charing Cross music shop. “Baby Never Say Goodbye”, the band’s third single, was the first to be issued with Hinkley and the only single released featuring Fleetwood on drums. Written by Tommy Moeller and Gregg Parker of the band Unit Four Plus Two, the two groups shared the same agency and after “Concrete And Clay” had become a huge hit for the songwriters, The Bo Street Runners were offered another composition by “Concrete’s” originators. It got favourable reviews and even reached No.36 on Radio Luxembourg’s “Big L” chart but just as it seemed as if the band had secured themselves a national hit a strike at Decca’s pressing plant effectively stopped the single from reaching important retail outlets and The Runners missed out again. Fleetwood left soon afterwards and was quickly followed by founder member John Dominic who, by this time, had obviously had enough (though he continued as the band’s co-manager). Dominic was eventually replaced by Michael McCarthy (or Mike Patto as he became known) after his band The News had supported The Runners at a gig in Norfolk, and this next version of the newly re-shaped band released an unsuccessful version of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” in January 1966. Despite their 4th successive single failure, The Bo Street Runners ploughed along without reward and, with regular appearances at London’s Marquee Club, slowly succeeded in re-building their reputation as a fine exponent of soul and RnB. But in October 1966, having left behind a small legacy of erratic single releases, the band finally split. For a group that promised so much, they eventually delivered very little though their career was not helped by changes of musical style that was 2 parts opportunism and 1 part desperation. They nevertheless provided the world with three exemplary musicians. Tim Hinkley became an in demand session player, having played with The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Tom Waits, Bad Company and Joan Armatrading amongst many others, the vastly under-rated Mike Patto went on to front the bands Patto and Boxer during the 1970’s and finally drummer Mick Fleetwood went on to become a founder member of that little known blues band Fleetwood Mac.
The photo above, may, or may not have been the line-up that played The Town Hall with the distinctively tall figure of Mick Fleetwood taking centre stage. Their 3rd single, the only Bo Street Runner release to feature the lanky percussionist, reached it’s highest chart position on Radio Luxembourg’s “Big L” on the 25th July 1965 but I understand that it is common knowledge that Fleetwood left the band “soon after”. Apart from the fact that The Runners one and only concert appearance at The Town Hall occurred almost 2 months after the single had charted, the Bo Street Runners web-site offers a family tree of the band that backs up the evidence that Fleetwood had departed by the time this gig was played. However……Stan Barnett’s autograph book shows quite clearly that along with Dominic Lewis, Dave Cameron, Gary Lewis and Tim Hinckley (who signed his name “Tiny Tim”) – in the top left hand corner there appears the Christian name “Mick”. My thanks to web-site proprietor and ex-Runner Gary Thomas for confirming that the scrawl does indeed belong to Mr.Fleetwood, another to be added to our increasing list of “Top 20 superstars”.
7th September 1965
BEAT GROUPS ON STAGE AT THE ODEON
The three beat groups who played last week at the Odeon Theatre are the beginnings of a new era in the development of the Bridgwater music scene. Founder groups like The Pressmen and The Bluebeats, formed in the pre-Beatle period, have now made their mark and opened the way for newer outfits, with fresh ideas, to follow. It is these up-and-coming groups who have to be supported and admired for keeping the local beat alive. To put it mildly, the opportunities for an amateur group to get engagements in the area are practically nil. To get any worthwhile work, groups have to look farther afield, to Weston or Bristol. This is a discouraging state of affairs, which is killing local pop talent, and there is plenty of it in Bridgwater. Someone who is determined to rectify the situation is Mr.James Thorne, manager of the Odeon Theatre. By letting these new groups have the use of his stage every evening to introduce the new Beatles film “Help!”, he has given them the chance to perform before large audiences, and , it is hoped, helped them to become more widely acclaimed. Hell’s Angels had the difficult task of opening this little Beat Cavalcade on Bamk Holiday Monday. This is a four-strong combo consisting of Michael Burnett (15), the leader and engineer of the group; Adrian Clark (17) rhythm; Trevor Howard (16) bass, an apprentice hairdresser by day, and another 16-year-old, drummer Malcolm Carr. they purposefully set out to be weird and off-beat in their approach. String vests, black mohair jumpers, and white sneakers are the order, rather than stage suits, while a devilish character stares out frrom a drum skin and “L” plates adorn their equipment! Hell’s Angels combine the styles of two national groups at present, but with their potential they will soon find their own brand of playing. With strident tones, the group are bang up-to-date with the current popular sound. They soon had a slightly sceptical audience under their spell. Value of their equipment works out at almost £200, and they are extremely well amplified. They decided to call themselves Hell’s Angels after they had seen the words on the back of somebody’s leather jacket. They are to be included in the Bridgwater Carnival Concerts, and should go down extremely well! One would not at the outset expect a Salvation Army group to enter into these proceedings but The Venturers are no ordinary group. This is a beat organisation moulded on similar lines to that famous Salvation Army group The Joystrings. Dressed in full uniform, they have exchanged their conventional instruments for guitars and organ, to bring the Gospel message to young people in a form they can more easily assimilate. Born only six months ago, The Venturers – there are nine of them – have mostly played at their headquarters The Citadel where their great success was probably predictable. But this was the first time thay had tried the experiment on a cross-section of people. Their courage and obvious talent was more than rewarded. The Venturers are up to professional standards, with their negro spiritual-Gospel-folk mixture. Vocalists Andrew Lewis (17) and John Parsons (25) stand on one side of the stage to sing the melody lines and girl vocalists Christine Crawford (22), Helen Lewis and Valerie Mounsher (both 16), do the responses on the opposite side: then they sing in unison. The result is exceptionally good. Rest of the line-up is Alan King (21) on Hammond Organ; Michael Elson (20) lead; his brother Brendan (16), drums and 15-year-old bass player John Cornish. The instrumentalists saved up to buy their own equipment which is worth over £400. Each member is also either a member of the Salvation Army Band or The Songsters, and the idea has the full support of the officer of the Salvation Army, Gordon Stacey. This ultra-modern approach to their work is to be warmly commended. Bad luck dogged The Atlantics. Only hours before their first stint on Tuesday, Bev Lockyer (drummer) went down with influenza, by which time it was too late to find a replacement. So the act had to be cancelled. By Saturday however, a stand-in was found. Mike Dennison, a 16-year-old, was given the chance to prove his capabilities: he drummed so well it was difficult to tell he was not a member of the group. Having finally got on stage The Atlantics were still faced with obstacles. During the opening number some leads came out severely affecting the vocals, but the boys continued undaunted. In true tradition the Saturday night audience was the most receptive, and for the first time there were loud cheers and appreciation from them. Becuase of the electrical trouble it would be unfair to comment on the vocals, but instrumentally The Atlantics are very sound. Guitars blend well together, giving a smooth sound. The Atlantics, co-managed by Martin Hamber and Robin Coombes, are also in this years’ Carnival Concerts. This “beat week” was a highly interesting venture, and it is to be hoped that it can be repeated again in the future. Meanwhile these three groups will be striving for absolute perfection, and in their claim to fame they are wished every success.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
11th September 1965
BRIDGWATER TOWN HALL – BIG BEAT DANCE
Presenting “The Rage Of The South” – TWO PLUS TWO
13th September 1965
The Birds are generally regarded as one of those hard-luck outfits of the Mid 60’s R&B boom, a fine band that never got the breaks that they so richly deserved. They are also well known, not for their music, but for two other, entirely different reasons. Firstly they were the group that gave us Ron Wood, he of Faces & Rolling Stones fame, secondly they shared a name with an American band of considerable prominence, a band that electrified Bob Dylan, popularised the Rickenbacker guitar (along with George Harrison) and almost single-handedly invented the musical genres Folk Rock and Country-Rock. They are, of course, The Byrds (with a Y) but as for the British version of The Birds (with an I), their total recorded output consisted of fewer than a dozen songs but any band that boasts Ron Wood as a founder member is worthy of notice, if only from an historic point of view. It was hardly surprising that young Ronald (born 1st June 1947) should be interested in music as both of his older brothers were keen musicians with the middle sibling Arthur “Art” Wood being heavily involved in the early 60’s R&B scene. He secured a stint as vocalist of Blues Incorporated, probably the most influential British Rhythm & Blues band around at that time. Musicians such as Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Danny Thompson and Charlie Watts all passed through Blues Incorporated at one time or another, and with group leader Alexis Korner encouraging a communal spirit at their Ealing Club performances, many other aspiring musicians such as Mitch Mitchell, Long John Baldry, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Paul Jones, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger were all given the opportunity to “sit in” on the band’s gigs. Having rubbed shoulders with such luminaries, Art’s input seems to have been undermined somewhat by the exemplary satellite talent that revolved around the band but perhaps this is hardly surprising under the circumstances. Younger brother Ronnie’s enthusiasm for music eventually resulted, in 1964, in the formation of a band of his own that consisted of local mates, most of which lived within a block of each other. Tony Munroe and Kim Gardner lived just down the street from the Wood family home in Yiewsley and along with another local lad, Ali McKenzie they formed The Thunderbirds, named after the Chuck Berry song “Jaguar & Thunderbird”. Wood reminisced about the early days in his best-selling book “Ronnie” “We played Motown, Bo Diddley, The Beach Boys and Jimmy Reed, all in the one set. We’d rehearse in whoever’s garage was free and jam until we were moved on. Eventually we got another rehearsal venue when a really polite old gentleman who ran the Rainbow Record store next to the Nag’s Head said we could rehearse in his shop window. Anyone who walked past that shop got a free gig from us”. They started playing a local hostelry called “The Nest” (which was probably nothing more than a community centre) but as word spread, they built up a serious following. Wood & Gardner were even given the opportunity to back travelling American Blues pianist Memphis Slim at a venue called the Ivy League Club, Slim having arrived in the UK without a backing band. The pioneering blues pianist caught The Birds at either their regular Friday or Saturday night “Nest” gig and even though Wood admits that he didn’t know who Slim was at the time, he was observant enough to notice that “he played piano real sweet”. They did not earn any money from this experience, Slim paying the young whippersnappers “with a bottle of whiskey and a big hug!” The Thunderbirds acquired a manager – albeit an extremely dodgy one called Leo De Klerk, a “South African businessman” who turned out to be a wide boy from East London and a part-time actor. If nothing else, De Klerk did succeed in introducing the band to some new venues, mostly clubs that he apparently “owned” and they started to play regular gigs at places like Hounslow, Windsor & Reading. The proverbial name change occurred round about this time when Chris Farlowe’s backing band, also called The Thunderbirds decided, in time-honoured tradition, to re-claim what they thought was rightfully theirs. Wood claims that Farlowe’s entourage “got angry” when they discovered that someone had pinched their monicker but added poignantly, “I took that to be a good sign because it meant someone had heard of us”. Wood’s Thunderbirds duly became The Birds and manager De Klerk instantly put them on the road whilst drawing up the proverbial “sign here and I will rip you off mercilessly without you realising it” contract which the band and their parents innocently added their signatures to. They toured the UK in a beaten up old van, “paying their dues” as so many other groups had done before and since. Life on the road was certainly not glamorous whilst the pay (between £5 and £10 a week) was exceptionally poor but De Klerk finally got The Birds a residency at the 100 Club in Soho where their mixture of hard, edgy R&B got themselves noticed still further. Wood and the boys befriended Bo Diddley, backing him on a number of occasions when the Mississippi Gunslinger was in town whilst bigger and better gigs arrived, culminating with an appearance at The Glad Rag Ball with The Kinks, The Who and The Hollies all of whom were established recording artists at the time. Getting their own recording contract was the next logical move though there appears to be some uncertainty as to how this was obtained. The Birds certainly took part in “Ready Steady Go’s” previously mentioned “Ready Steady Win” Beat Group competition and it would appear that it was their performances on this program that secured them a deal with Decca Records. But Wood seems to think that it was a demo recorded at the tiny Tony Pike studio in Putney that got them noticed, with their Beat competition appearance occurring after the band had released a couple of singles. This seems unlikely however as one of “Ready Steady Win’s” rules was that competitors were not allowed to be contracted to a record label. Whatever the true order of events may have been, The Birds didn’t win the coveted TV prize, but they did release their first single in November 1964, a Ron Wood original entitled “You’re On My Mind” (which Wood admits was based on The Yardbirds “There’s A Certain Girl”). It didn’t chart, but the follow-up “Leaving Here”, originally an Eddie & Brian Holland Motown creation, reached No.45 and at this point it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before the big breakthrough. Enter the band with the Rickenbackers. In the spring of 1965, The Byrds debut single, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” released on the newly-established CBS Records label, was burning up the British charts, whilst “Leaving Here” by the Birds was indeed left there, on record shop shelves across the UK. That summer the American imposters toured England for the first time, and De Klerk, sensing an opportunity, decided to take legal action. The idea was that as those damn Yankees were invading “Bird” territory by visiting UK soil, he would issue a writ upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport suggesting that the band change their identity (he eventually issued 7 writs in total.) It was a bold but subsequently futile gesture — the spellings were different, and both groups claim to the name were equally good. De Klerk never stood a chance, though one imagines that he probably knew this all along. Wood admits that the scam provided the band with some publicity, even to the extent of appearing on the front cover of the leading music publication “Melody Maker” but despite this The Birds could not get a hit. The ultimate irony is that The Byrds UK tour fell apart when several band members were taken ill and in the wake of this, Wood & Co. appeared on both “The Millicent Martin Show” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars”. A third Decca single, a Birds-eye view of the rare Marvin Gaye song “No Good Without You Baby” appeared in late 1965 but it was to be their last single with Decca and also the last single released with manager De Klerk at the helm. After being booked to play a 1965 New Year’s Eve show at The Starlight Ballroom in Sudbury, De Klerk failed to show up. When the band went to pick up the takings at the end of the concert they were astonished to discover that they had been paid as much as £1,000 for the performance, most of which would have ended up in their manager’s pocket. After De Klerk had been given the push, Robert Stigwood, the larger than life Australian impresario, signed them and instantly moved the band to Reaction Records. Stigwood wanted this to be a fresh start, in more ways than one, and decided for some inexplicable reason to re-name the band “Birds Birds” though no-one quite understood why. They recorded a cover of “Say Those Magic Words” an American hit for The McCoys, but it’s release was delayed for almost a year due to a contractual dispute and when it finally came out, no-one seemed to care about the band any more, least of all the record buying public. They cut a version of Pete Townshend’s “Run Run Run” which inexplicably remained un-released and made a delightfully bizarre film appearance in an instantly unforgettable horror movie called “The Deadly Bees”, performing a Ron Wood/Tony Munroe song, “That’s All I Need” which was also never issued. But time was about to run out for the band. Wood’s persona as a “likable geezer” meant that he was now rubbing shoulders with some heavyweight British musicians and with Ron spending more time in such exalted company this unsurprisingly made him tire of The Birds almost non-existent career. One memorable session that took place in 1965 practically mapped out Ron Wood’s future. He was asked to play bass guitar on a Mick Jagger-produced session for P.P.Arnold and Rod Stewart that also featured Keith Richards on guitar and either Keith Emerson or Nicky Hopkins on keyboards. Wood however, was not the first person to leave the band, Tony Munroe claiming that distinction, though Ron followed soon afterwards in 1967 to join the Jeff Beck Group. Of the original band members only Kim Gardner successfully maintained his career, becoming a founder member of Ashton Gardner & Dyke in the late 60’s.
A number of people that I have spoken to that attended The Top Twenty’s concerts are still under the false impression that it was in fact the American Byrds that they saw strutting across The Town Hall’s stage. Apart from the fact that booking such a prestigious American band was probably beyond even Graham Alford’s abilities, it has also dashed my vision of a caped David Crosby queuing up at some local eatery for a pre-concert manchip.
BRIDGWATER – IT WAS ONE BIG DUMP – WE WERE INTERVIEWED THERE BY SOME SILLY LOCAL REPORTER – BUT SURPRISINGLY ENOUGH, THE DRESSING ROOM WAS PACKED WITH GIRLS. Ron Wood (From “How Can It Be? – A Rock & Roll Diary”)
Another group in the news appeared at the Club on Monday – The Birds. They were still upset when I talked to them in the dressing room over the confusion that was caused when an American group, formed only recently, chose the same name, but spelt it with a “y”. Our Birds come from London. Vocalist said “There are no hard feelings between us and The Byrds, but we were formed 18 months ago and have always been known as The Birds. The group – All (vocals), Ron Wood (lead), Kim Gardner (bass), Tony Munroe (second guitar), Pete McDaniels (drums) – make and design much of their stage gear. They featured some Tamla-Motown material and their last Decca discs “You’re On My Mind” and “Leaving Here”. Large and enthusiastic audiences are anticipated at the Club meeting on October 18th, when the “hottest” group of the moment. The Small Faces, from London’s East End, whip up a storm. Next Monday, The Cymerons bow in from Manchester, then the Club is discontinued forthe following two weeks becuase the Town Hall will be used for the annual Carnival concerts.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
The Birds – That’s All I Need (from the film “The Deadly Bees” – 1966)
“THE WHO” THIRD IN POP POLL
Congratulations go to a group presented earlier this year at Bridgwater Town Hall’s “Top 20” club by promoter Graham Alford. The group – The Who – have just been voted into the third position of the 1965 “Melody Maker” Pop Poll by readers of this weekly music paper. It was on April 26th that the insight of Graham Alford brought to the town The Who, a Southern outfit virtually unknown at that time, but a group which many people, including Mr.Alford, knew would soon become widely popular. That evening saw near-record crowds at the Town Hall for an act that has not, as yet, been equalled. Those young people in the audience on that occasion were really the first outside London to witness their distinctive, almost frightening act, now referred to as “pop art” and copied by numerous other groups. Their style caused much controversy when it was seen in Bridgwater because it involved the massacre of their instruments to achieve this sound: the use of feedback on amplifiers to make a whining sound, and the rubbing of expensive microphones on cymbals. Their next Decca disc is to be “My Generation” written by group member Pete Townshend.
20th September 1965
THE MEDDY EVILS
In the early days of the Top Twenty, Graham Alford extensively used a selection of artists from the Southampton area, almost all of which were contracted to an agency called “Avenue Artists”. As the singers of the early 60’s were taken over by Merseybeat, bands from provincial cities like Manchester and Birmingham became the norm, but Southampton was about to make a comeback! Roy Roberts had learnt to play the guitar at Southampton Art College and formed an instrumental band called The Skylanes that included brother John. The Skylanes became Tony Benson & The Skylanes after the acquisition of a vocalist and via more proverbial personnel changes that included the addition of drummer Martin “Cuddles” Smith, they left their Shadows days behind them to embrace the modern day beat culture. But they initially struggled to find a suitable, snappy name that would set them apart from the rest of the crowd. During a rehearsal in the basement of a local pub called The Black Dog, the pub’s landlord, remarking on the band’s unkempt hair suggested that the lads looked like a bunch of medieval serfs, with the accent on the word “evil”. Problem solved. The Meddy Evils played their first gig under that name at the Bannister Ballroom in Southampton on the 6th June 1964 and after the resurgent Avenue Artists had signed them up to a roster that already included The Soul Agents, Les Fleur Des Lys, Dave Dee and his pals and apparently Rod Stewart, The Meddy Evils began to tour the UK.
The band turned professional in January 1965 and on the 2nd June successfully auditioned for Pye Records at the Marble Arch studios with Tony Hatch at the controls. In just over a week, Pye had confirmed the band’s signing but they didn’t release their first single until October which means that at the time of appearing at The Town Hall, The Meddy Evils were something of an unknown quantity. “Find Somebody To Love” duly appeared and on the strength of their first release, The Meddy’s embarked on the usual giddy mixture of concerts and TV/radio appearances. Having signed a 9 single, 1 album deal, their 2nd 45 “It’s All For You” appeared in April 1966, but whilst Pye’s belief in the band was strong (the contract seems a little extensive for a “new artist”) The Meddy Evils were soon to suffer a major blow. In 1966, founder member Roberts left the band to form a graphic design company called The Owen Agency and despite brother John maintaining the group name for a little while, The Meddy Evils released no further records. The Roberts brothers briefly re-united to re-form the band as a trio in 1968 but after deciding to move into the supper club circuit, changed their name to the more “up market” Mayfair. Of the ex-band members, only drummer “Cuddles” Smith achieved rock n’roll “fame”. By 1969 he had joined The Simon Dupree Big Sound and consequently became a founder member of Gentle Giant, a colossus of the prog rock genre. *photo courtesy of David St.John
NEW GROUP LAUNCHED
A brand new group was launched on Monday by the “Top 20” club at Bridgwater Town Hall. Normally it is the club’s policy to present up-and-coming groups rather than unknowns, but this chance for members to do a bit of speculating on whether the group will or will not make the grade proved so popular, these “prediction nights” could be held more frequently. the group call themselves The Meddy Evils, and I predict they might well be in favour very soon with record buyers. Their gimmick-ridden name gives completely the wrong impression about the boys, because they are four well educated and neatly dressed lads, who take a good deal of pride and care about what they are doing. Once again club members have been able to savour something before anyone else. They heard The Meddy Evils run through their debut disc for Pye “Find Somebody To Love”, released this Friday and experienced the group’s “clean” sound – modern and full – which incorporates a saxophone. The Meddy Evils hail from Southampton, not the usual area that produces groups, are managed by Avenue Artistes Ltd. of Southampton, and recorded by Tony Reeves, a member of the wonderful Sounds Orchestral outfit. They came into being one year ao and turned professional on New Year’s Day. This was their first performance as a recording group outside of their home town, and it showed them in a very good light. The boys, by the way, are Tony Benson, brothers Roy and John Roberts and Martin Smith, who at one time was a member of the group supporting “Stars and Garters” singer Tommy Bruce. Between them they handle vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums and that saxophone. Their material is best described as being in the American negro vein, and they say they have acquired much of their inspiration from their visits to the London clubs where many of the coloured artistes play. How did their first recording session go? “Very well” replied Tony. “We had an all-night session at Pye. The disc was made in four stages. First we did the backing, then the vocal backing, and on a different day we went back to add lead vocals and acoustic guitar” It is quite common for discs to be made in this way. Graham Alford of the “Top 20” Club tells me the new amplifiers and other equipment will be installed at the Town Hall in about six weeks time.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
27th September 1965
18th October 1965
THE SMALL FACES
Outside of The Who, The Small Faces are undoubtedly the 2nd most famous band to play The Town Hall and somewhat like Townshend & Co before them, were booked by Graham Alford during the band’s infancy with their debut single nestling comfortably in the Top 20. The Small Faces story begins with Stephen Peter Marriott (born 30th January 1947). As a kid Marriott was an aspiring child actor who had attended the Italia Conti Drama school in Islington, North London for two years. Apparently, the reason for being sent to this school was simple. He had burnt down his previous one. Marriott’s mother had taken the decision to give her son an artistic education in the hope that it would keep young Steve out of trouble. Her foresight was rewarded when at just 14 years of age, Marriott successfully auditioned for the role of the Artful Dodger in the London stage version of Lionel Bart’s “Oliver”. Apart from the fact that the role seems to have been written for him, Oliver writer Bart apparently recognised Marriott from the days when the youngster used to busk with his ukulele amongst the bus queues of East London. Marriott’s first appearance on album therefore was on the World Record Club release of the “Oliver!” stage show singing ”Consider Yourself” “Be Back Soon” and “I’d Do Anything” alongside such acting luminaries as Ian Carmichael (who played Fagan) and Joyce Blair. The Drama school provided Marriott with a workable career and he made a number of appearances in TV productions and low-budget British films such as “Mr.Pastry’s Progress” “Night Cargoes” and “Dixon Of Dock Green”. After “Oliver”, two significant moments occurred in the fledgling musical career of Steve Marriott. He formed a band either called The Moonlights or Moonlighters and, on the strength of his Oliver appearance was signed by Decca for a one-off single in 1963 – the Buddy Holly-inspired “Give Her My Regards”, a song that finds Marriott in fine hic-cupping fettle.
Marriott continued to make movie appearances with two films appearing in the same year as his debut single, the most significant of which was “Heavens Above”. Primarily a vehicle for Peter Sellers, the film tells the story of an evicted family who are “adopted” by the local vicar. Marriott played a small part as the eldest child Jack and the film, which is highly regarded, also starred Eric Sykes, Irene Handl, the aforementioned Ian Carmichael and Roy Kinnear. The 2nd movie, “Live It Up”, was a forgettable beat music flick featuring David Hemmings and Heinz Burt of The Tornadoes. The film was deemed marketable enough for a sequel entitled “Be My Guest” which appeared the following year but by now Marriott was getting tired of bit-part acting roles and started to develop a keen interest in music. He succeeded in obtaining a position as harmonica player in the Andrew Oldham Orchestra, a loose aggregation of musicians that the Rolling Stones manager had hastily assembled to perform orchestral versions of Jagger/Richard compositions. From here, Steve then formed his first “real” band called The Frantics (or Frantic Ones as they were sometimes known). The Frantics betrayed Marriott’s love of soul & R&B and eventually mutated into Steve Marriott’s Moments, a 5 piece based in the singer’s beloved East London and featuring, amongst others, future Eric Burdon & The New Animals and Family employee John Wieder, Capability Brown’s Kenny Rowe and Jimmy Winston on bass. More significant is that the band were managed by Pete Meaden, the same London “hustler” that eventually took control of The Who. The Moments did manage one single release, a version of The Kinks “You Really Got Me” issued whilst the original was still in the charts. In order to avoid any competition with The Kinks version, the single was only issued in the States but, unsurprisingly, failed to take the country by storm. At this point, Marriott’s career stagnated. The Moments had split, whilst his film work had practically ceased. He took a job working in a music shop called The J60 Music Bar situated at 445 High Street, Manor Park and it was whilst working there that he met Ronnie “Plonk” Lane. Lane (born 1st April 1946) had quit school at 16 and had formed a band called The Outcasts that also included drummer Kenney Jones (born 16th September 1948). Lane had walked into the J60 with his Dad in order to buy a new bass guitar and instantly recognised Marriott from his Moments days. The two aspiring Mods hit it off instantly and Lane asked Steve if he would like to make an appearance with his then band The Pioneers at a boozer called The British Prince in Ilford. Legend has it, that the teenagers got blind drunk on whiskey with Marriott trashing the pub’s piano in the process. The boys were duly thrown out and suddenly Lane’s band, who held a residency at the establishment, had nowhere to play. Kenney Jones had followed Lane into the Pioneers and was somewhat shocked by Marriott’s unruly behaviour initially, but the three agreed to form a band, with ex Moments bass player Jimmy Winston (real name Jimmy Langwith) becoming the fourth member of the group after reluctantly agreeing to switch to keyboards, an instrument he was not particularly adept at. Langworth, like Marriott, had been a teenage “actor” and had appeared in two TV commercials, and a couple of films. He was a wise choice as, despite his lack of ability as an organ player, his parent’s ran the Ruskin Arms, a pub situated at the top of Marriott’s street. This gave the band some much needed rehearsal space and a van that Jimmy’s brother Frank owned. They managed to secure a residency in the Starlight Room, situated somewhere on Oxford Street. Elkie Brooks also worked there as a singer at the time and was apparently impressed by Marriott’s vocal prowess. She informed the Starlight Rooms boss Maurice King who instantly became the band’s manager. Like The Who, the band had swallowed the “Mod” image hook, line and sinker though it’s important to remember that whereas Daltrey & Townshend adopted “mod-dom” as part of their image, Marriott and Lane were already heavily involved in the scene and had embraced the culture independently. Marriott admitted that any money that the band had was spent on attire obtained from Carnaby Street, which, at the time, was not the fashion icon that it later became. They started to gain a healthy local reputation amongst young Mods and soon had obtained the perfect name with which to launch their career. Marriott explained “The term “Face” was a top mod, a face about town, a respected chap! The name came from a girl called Annabelle I knew from Chelsea. I didn’t know many from Chelsea but I knew this one! Anyway, she signed the hire purchase agreement for my amplifier. We were trying to think of a name and she said call yourselves the Small Faces coz she said we were all little and had little boat races. It was great for us because it fitted in with wanting to be faces anyway” Well at least three members of the band epitomised “small” though keyboard player Winston was considerably taller than the rest. Maurice King set about getting the band some gigs but made a huge geographical error with their first performance which was in, of all places, a working man’s club in Sheffield. The club’s clientele – men in flat caps, hard-drinking coal miners and middle-aged teddy boys were expecting a cabaret-type band but ended up with a bunch of teenage bouffant-haired smartly-attired nancy boys from London instead. The band lasted about three songs before the plug was pulled on their performance. Dispirited, dejected and ejected from the building, the band came across a local club called The Mojo that seemed more to their liking. Having asked the proprietor whether they could play that evening for free they succeeded in tearing the place up with the local crowd of teenagers going absolutely crazy. They were paid £5 each for their troubles but the evening still ended badly as their van ran out of petrol on the return journey. The individual group members were still holding down jobs at this time, Jones and Lane both worked at Selmers – a musical equipment factory. Marriott & Lane spent a few days washing dishes at Lyons Corner House whilst Plonk, seemingly unable to hang on to any job for too long also worked as a messenger for the Ministry Of Defence. But turning professional was the next natural step and with Marriott, much to the chagrin of his parents, dispensing with his acting career once and for all, Maurice King got the band a resident gig at the Leicester Square Cavern in the West End. With Jagger & Richard and of all people Sonny & Cher huge fans of the band, The Who’s manager at this time, Kit Lambert was quick to show an interest, and made an attempt to sign them. Rumour has it that Lambert got The Scene Club’s hugely influential disc jockey Guy Stevens to supply the band with rare soul and American R&B 45’s so that they could be included in their live set but despite courting the band’s favour, Lambert did not capture their signature, whereas Don Arden did. Ex-Gene Vincent manager Arden was a man with a fierce reputation. He was the nearest that the music world had to a mafia gangster and was not averse to using similar tactics that the Cosa Nostra had once used. Having handled Elkie Brooks affairs he secured The Small Faces contract by persuading Marriott’s mother that he was the man for the job. He met the band in his Carnaby Street offices sometime during 1965 and within half an hour had signed them from under Maurice King’s nose. He offered the boys £20 a week (a fairly decent wage at the time) and perhaps more importantly secured for them personal accounts in every clothes boutique in Carnaby Street. And that’s not all, he also got them a record contract with…….of course, Decca Records. But Arden also screwed the band for every penny by trousering the substantial amounts of cash that they were earning on the road which meant that by the time he had sold their contract to Andrew Oldham in 1967 they were virtually penniless. One of the most famous Arden stories occurred in 1966 when Robert Stigwood dared to suggest that the Small Faces needed a change of management. Arden turned up at Stigwood’s office with a bunch of heavies and threatened to throw the Australian entrepreneur out of the window if he messed with his business again. Don Arden is also Sharon Osbourne’s father…..which maybe explains a lot. As Marriott & Lane had barely begun their incredibly under-rated song-writing partnership, Arden commissioned Ian Samwell, author of Cliff Richard’s “Move It” to come up with a snappy title for their first single. “What’cha Gonna Do About It” released in August 1965 may have featured a riff nicked from Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody” but it was memorably punchy and was a fine start to their career reaching No.14 in the charts. It has since been suggested however, that the record’s lofty position within The Top 20 was achieved under false pretences, Arden paying the princely sum of £12,000 to “fix” the single’s chart placing. Arden was known to comment “I had a saying, you can’t polish a turd. In other words, if the record’s no good to begin with it still won’t be any good after you’ve wasted your time and money getting it played.”
The follow-up that appeared in the very same month that the band played The Town Hall was a Marriott/Lane original, the dark, introspective and hugely impressive “I’ve Got Mine”. The band were given the opportunity to perform this song in one of those customary “blink and you’ll miss em” appearances in a lost and forgotten film called “Dateline Diamonds”. The song, however, was not a hit and this time Arden was NOT going to fork out another fortune to make it so. The band were getting noticed however with plenty of British TV appearances. One of these, performing “What’cha Gonna Do About It” on “Thank Your Lucky Stars” proved to be Jimmy Winston’s downfall. The band felt that, during Marriott’s guitar solo, Winston was drawing too much attention to himself by waving his arms in the air and in what became a power struggle for the band’s leadership, he was asked to leave. The split was amicable though Winston was obviously reluctant to go. He was replaced by another diminutive musician Ian “Mac” McLagen. McLagen (born 12th May 1945) had previously played keyboards for The Muleskinners, a band that had released one single on Fontana during 1965 and at the time of being head-hunted was with a band called Boz & The Boz People (the “Boz” in question being bassist Boz Burrell, later a founder member of Bad Company). Marriott & Co had seen an interview with “Mac” in the monthly magazine “Beat Instrumental” and had decided that he was the man for the job. His first gig with the band was at the Lyceum Ballroom in London and the band’s next single was the first to feature Mac’s distinctive organ playing. “Sha La La La Lee”, a song written by Kenny Lynch (whom McLagan had backed) and American songwriter Mort Schuman, eventually returned the band to their rightful position in the top half of the UK singles charts, reaching No.3.
SMALL FACES – THEY MADE A BIG NOISE!
Star group The Small Faces gave their most controversial interview yet at the Town Hall, Bridgwater, last Monday, where they appeared for the “Top 20” club. Currently the most sought-after artistes in Britain – their first disc is high in the charts – they admitted that: They are not proficient musicians, they play as loud as possible, and they ad-lib a lot on stage. Further, their lead singer said he did not think the Bridgwater audience was a particularly good one, a remark which many will disagree with. “I don’t think they really appreciated what we were doing” explained Steve Marriott. “In ballrooms the teenagers come to dance not to listen. Up North, the scene is much better”. Certainly the group were loud, in fact deafening. Giant amplifiers were banked up six-feet high and volume controls turned full on so that everything was distorted. The Small Faces produce the most decibels of any group around today. Why do they do it? “It’s our style” retorted Steve “We like to play loud becuase we can get a raw sound that way. We only formed the group four months ago, and things have moved so fast for us that we are only just mastering our instruments” In this short space of time The Small Faces have cut their debut disc for Decca, “What’cha Gonna Do About It”, seen it race up the Hit Parade, appeared on most of the top pop television programmes, embarked on extensive tours, taken part in a thriller film called “Deadline for Diamonds”, now being completed at Pinewood for Christmas release (it is based on the Radio London ship) and have been signed for their first overseas tour of the Low Countries in January. The Small Faces are essentially a “mod” group. They come from the London area and their agency is situated in Carnaby Street, London, the “Mod’s Mecca” because all the clothes shops can be found there. Average height of the group is 5ft 6in, hence their name, and ages of the four members range from 18 to 20. Steve has appeared in Lionel Bart’s stage musical “Oliver”, and he is supported by Ronnie Lane (bass), Kenny Jones (drums), and Jimmy Winston (organ)
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
Rumour has it that Steve Marriott’s reputation for rebel rousing was well to the fore at Bridgwater. Apart from being somewhat intoxicated (which is not that rebellious) he threatened Terry Barnett, Stan Barnett’s 14 year-old son backstage. Terry admitted that he was not too concerned however, as despite being 4 years younger, he was already taller than the “short arse” lead vocalist!
The Small Faces – I’ve Got Mine (from the film “Dateline Diamonds” – 1965)
19th October 1965
Guitarists, you have been warned!
Guitarists and other members of local “pop” groups, would be well advised to heed these words of warning reprinted from an issue of the musical magazine “B.M.G” The Editor of the magazine writes “The electric guitar has been on the market long enough for the instrument to have been developed to such a stage when it is perfectly safe to handle by even the ordinary individual. The electric guitar bought from reputable dealers is safe – if used intelligently – if given proper and adequate maintenance, and is in no circumstances mis-used. Yet once again we read of another guitarist with a beat group being killed when holding an electric guitar in one hand and grasping a microphone stand with the other. Today most players of electric guitars are youngsters. They know it all! One can tell them of the players who have been badly burned and killed through bad electrical connections in amplifiers and guitars. Even if they listen, they appear to ignore the advice. They use apparatus that can become lethal, but like most modern youth today, they treat the matter lightly or even with contempt”. The player of an electric guitar should never connect his amplifier to the mains supply by using a two-pin socket or bare wires. The lead from his amplifier should be permanently connected to a three-pin earthed plug and in no circumstances should he connect it to any other plug-socket but one designed for such a three-pin plug” The Editor adds “It is better to refuse to play the date than never have the opportunity of performing again”
BRIDGWATER MERCURY “Here And There” page
1st November 1965
The Downliners Sect
MOMENTS OF MAGIC AND MUSIC!
Start talking with Don Craine, founder member of The Downliners Sect recording group, and after a few minutes the conversation will return to the subject of magic. He is a member of an order which regularly holds ceremonies, but he refused to enlarge on it’s activities when he spoke between performances for the “Top 20” club at Bridgwater Town Hall on Monday. Don believes that this is the fourth generation of life. The other three destroyed themselves, he says, and this present generation is likely to do the same before very much longer! When the group are not playing, Don goes back to his library of books on the subject to find out more about the mysteries of the unknown. Don must top the list for having the most unusual pets. He keeps two penguins, sent over from South America. When one of them fell ill a little while ago he called in the services of a vet from the Russian State Circus. The group (they take their name from a Jerry Lee Lewis number “Down The Line”) were making their second appearance at Bridgwater. Hailing from the Richmond area, there’s John Sutton (drums), grandson of the Music Hall star Randolph Sutton; Gerry Gibson (lead), Keith Grant (bass), Pip Harvey (harmonica) and Don on rhythm. Downliners Sect are resident group at London’s 100 Club. They were formed two years ago from several other well-known groups, and record for Columbia. Discography to date consists of five singles, two L.P’s and one E.P and the group write songs and help produce discs for E.M.I. There seems to be a jinx on the boys in this country. None of their singles have even broken into our charts, despite them all being extremely varied and well recorded. Take a listen to their last three and you find that “Little Egypt” was a comedy number, “The Wreck Of The Old 97” country & western flavoured, and now their latest, the self-written and atmospheric beat ballad “Bad Storm Coming”. It’s a different story in the Scandinavian countries. In Sweden they are the number one British group. Their discs top the Swedish charts for weeks on end. One wonders when is Britain going to recognise this talented group? In Bridgwater they are held in high esteem by club members, quick to spot their talent and individual style. Their “Top 20” Club performances were worth seeing.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
15th November 1965
GARY FARR & THE T-BONES
Gary Farr was the good-looking, blue-eyed, blonde haired son of arguably one of the greatest British boxers of all time, Tommy Farr. Wikipedia offers the following info on Farr Snr. On 30 August 1937 he fought world heavyweight champion Joe Louis at the height of his powers at Yankee Stadium, NewYork City ; gaining much respect despite losing a controversial points decision over 15 rounds. Louis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, had knocked out 8 of his last 9 opponents and proceeded to knock out his next 7, but was fearlessly attacked and hurt by Farr. The 50,000 crowd booed when Louis was awarded a narrow points decision. Farr, who later filed for bankruptcy, settled in Brighton and it was both here and nearby Worthing that Farr Jnr’s band was based. They were formed in February 1964 and after Farr and future manager Robin Beste had made contact with the assistant of Giorgio Gomelsky, the man behind The Yardbirds, they were signed and automatically given a support slot to Clapton & Co at Croydon’s Crawdaddy club. Gomelsky, from this point on, seemed content to use Farr’s group as his “back-up band” using The Yardbirds career path as the T-Bones template for success. When The Yardbirds switched venues to the Richmond Crawdaddy, the T-Bones took over the Croydon residency and when “For Your Love” made the Top 10, Farr’s band took over at Richmond as well. As the upwardly mobile Yardbirds continued to enhance their reputation still further with a series of impressive gigs at the famous Marquee Club, The T-Bones followed suit, playing there every Friday night, billed as “The T-Bones Invasion”. As the “new band about town” they were given the opportunity to back a number of travelling American musicians such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin Wolf and the great white jazzman Mose Allison. TV appearances followed and in August 1964 they enjoyed their highest profile gig to date playing the National Jazz & Blues Festival alongside The Stones, Memphis Slim, The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, Long John Baldry and the Graham Bond Organisation. Unfortunately one vital part of The Yardbirds career that could not be emulated was chart success (another was not having Eric Clapton as their lead guitarist). In retrospect, the band were nothing more than a half decent Rhythm N’Blues band with a Bo Diddley obsession and an interesting but not particularly earth-shattering lead vocalist. Signed to Columbia they issued their first single, the moody, bluesy and completely uncommercial “How Many More Times” in November 1964, and this was quickly followed by the EP “Dem Bones Dem Bones Dem T-Bones” during the same year. The slightly folky “Won’t You Give Him One More Chance” in February 1965 hinted at a different direction, with a backing that would not have been out of place on a Seekers record whilst finally “Give All She’s Got” appeared in June 1965, a Stones-like ballad that was probably one of the better things that they recorded. All failed to chart. Farr was finding it hard to keep the band together and by early 1966 was the only original member remaining. Two notable additions to the band were bassist Lee Jackson and via The V.I.P’s, keyboard player Keith Emerson, both of whom joined in August 1965. The band continued to record with this new line-up but none of their efforts gained an official release and finally the band split in December 1966. Emerson & Jackson formed The Nice and as for Farr, he joined the fledgling Gomelsky-owned Marmalade label recording a couple of discs, the first with Kevin Westlake as part of a duo called The Lion & The Fish. Whilst Keith Emerson was forming the band that took self-indulgence to the extreme, Prog Rock’s Emerson Lake & Palmer, Farr eventually headed for the States, where he recorded the “Strange Fruit” album, featuring Richard Thompson on lead guitar. Farr’s brother Ricky promoted the Isle Of Wight music festivals of 1969 & 1970 whilst Gary unfortunately died prematurely in 1994.
16th November 1965
“Mod” translated to Ballet.
At a recent charity matinee, Princess Margaret specially requested Western Theatre Ballet to perform “Mods and Rockers”. This ballet will be repeated in the show by the company on Monday, November 29th, at the Arts Centre. “Mods and Rockers” is Britain’s first “beat” ballad. It was created by 32-year-old Peter Darrell, choreographer and artistic director of the company. To get the atmosphere of the ballet Darrell spent a lot of time in Mods’ pubs in Battersea and Stepney watching teenagers Twist, Shake, Waddle, Mash and Turkey. A real life mod, Kay Ridgeon from Battersea was his adviser on clothes, dance steps and manners. fashion “musts” for Mod men are Cuban heeled boots, tight trousers, lapel-less jackets, giraffe collars, a touch of pancake make-up, a lot of after-shave lotion and, of course, a Beatle hair-do. The girls are a little dull by comparison. They are for moderation in all things – colours, styles, shoes. They dislike, in consequence, the scruffy exhibitionist Rockers. BRIDGWATER MERCURY
22nd November 1965
It is a good omen for up-and–coming recording artistes when the fans of Bridgwater’s “Top 20” club demand a return appearance by them. This is the sign that a group may be on the verge of a national breakthrough, having won over the highly critical Monday night audience at the Town Hall. Past experience bears out this theory. Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and Dave Berry & The Cruisers are two groups who were asked back by the female pop-lovers after their initial performances – and who went on to become number one attractions throughout the country with an endless number of hit records. If this sequence continues this means that The Measles are in line for several accolades. The Mancunians were at the Club for the second time recently as a result of the impact that they made in July, and they are a group still to break into the chart. Their next Columbia disc should click. It’s called “You’ve Been With Him” and will be available in a few weeks. They should have been acclaimed long ago. The record-buying public have virtually ignored all their discs, including their last release “Night People”, a beautifully sung soul-ballad which deserved a high placing in the parade. Not put out by this, the boys carry on hoping that one day the situation will change and it is only by persistence that it will. Strangely enough, there is no lack of enthusiasm for their stage show – probably because The Measles play numbers the audience wants to hear, adding variety and clever “linking” announcements. Ear-catching drumming, stirring unison vocalising, Barron Knights-type novelty songs, and a fine choice of material made this some of the best entertainment ever presented at the Club.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
29th November 1965
To my knowledge there have been at least three bands called The Emotions. A white American Doo-Wop group from New York, the acclaimed 1970’s female vocal trio that had a hit with “Best Of My Love” and this lot. And who were The Top Twenty’s “Emotions” exactly? Well the only clue comes from the Bridgwater Mercury’s advertisement which lists the band as being “Polydor Recording Artistes” that were formerly known as “Lorraine & The Sabre 4” Any the wiser? No, I didn’t think so. Cue Mike Guy……………….
Last Monday‘s meeting proved that one doesn’t have to look any further than the West Country to find groups to rival even the best. Guesting were The Emotions, who come from just over the county border at Chippenham, Wiltshire. Their professionalism was quite startling and I am going to tip them for big things next year. This group is semi-pro, which means the boys are in regular jobs by day. But rhythm guitarist Des Baker told me their employers are generally sympathetic. The other Emotions are Jock Hammah (lead), Mark Vivash (bass) and Richard King (drums). There’s also a cute little girl in the outfit called Lorraine, who sings her heart out. A certain amount of luck is contained in their success story to date. One year ago they started as The Sabre Four, playing at dances in Chippenham. In the audience one night was London manager Hal Carter. He signed them up immediately, co-managing them with Ronald Bewley and got a recording contract with Polydor. The record was “Lonely Man”, written by Hal and Ronald who have also penned the follow-up, “But I Do” to be issued in the New Year on a major label. Their advice to groups just starting out is “Be original”. It’s gratifying to see the West Country being put on the map pop music-wise and in their claim to fame I wish them every success.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
6th December 1965
The UK singles chart has always been littered with the proverbial “one hit wonders” but during the 1960’s there seemed to be a proliferation of them and Hedgehoppers Anonymous certainly fall into that category. They began life in Peterborough under the finger-snapping name of The Trendsetters but soon changed that to The Hedgehoppers in honour of their “day job”. Apart from one Alan Laud, every single member of this band was based at RAF Wittering and in case you didn’t know, a “Hedgehopper” in Royal Air Force parlance is a Vulcan bomber pilot who has the ability to fly at extremely low altitudes in order to avoid radar detection. In 1965 they fell under the wing (pun intended) of Jonathan King, the pop pioneer /opportunist/irritating tit depending on your personal opinion. King had written the “protest” song “It’s Good News Week” and in his search to find a suitable artiste to perform it happened across The RAF boys. King quickly added the Anonymous bit (the “Hedgehopper” name was retained due to their local popularity) and after Decca, yes Decca, Records had signed them up, King, aided and abetted by Hedgehopper Mick Tinsley and a selection of “musicians” (which included chief session-eer Jimmy Page) recorded the song and were rewarded with a No.5 hit in September/October 1965. Faced with the dilemma of either maintaining their careers as pilots or quitting the Air Force for the glamorous life of a Pop star, 2 band members decided to quit the band. Wise choice. Despite releasing a further 4 singles, one entitled “Don’t Push Me” in 1965 and 3 the following year, The Hedgehoppers truly became anonymous and split towards the tail end of 1966 though Mick Tinsley continued for awhile as a solo artist. In fact Tinsley still performs to this day whilst Alan Laud can now be found running a bar in Torremolinos.
ODD MAN OUT POSER!
The “Top” 20 Clubs offered a pop riddle to members at last Monday’s meeting when they presented the hit parade group Hedgehoppers Anonymous. One of the five Hedgehoppers the fans saw on stage was not really a member of the group. Which one was it? Full marks to those who say the drummer. Glenn Morton was standing in, or more appropriately sitting in, on drums in place of regular skin-basher Leslie Dash, whose non-appearance by an R.A.F. ruling. The picture becomes clearer, when one is told that the nucleus of the group was formed by R.A.F. or ex-R.A.F. boys. Leslie and bass player Ray Honeyball are the two Hedgehoppers still committed to the R.A.F whose applications for release were turned down. “The boys have’ seen their M.P. and it is now in the hands of the Air Ministry” said lead singer Mick Tinsley, himself a former R.A.F. lad, who added that their sound would be unaffected by the different personnel. I was impressed by the way the group managed to reproduce in their “live” Bridgwater stage appearance the sound they get on disc. The biting, forthright singing from Mick came across just like on their records, and a very enthusiastic crowd cheered and .danced as Hedgehoppers stormed their way through numbers like “Do You Wanna Dance?” Hedgehoppers had their follow-up Decca single “Don’t Push Me,” released three days before the Bridgwater engagement.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
13th December 1965
THE MARK FOUR
The Mark Four were originally from Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire and were formed from the ashes of a group called Jimmy Virgo and The Bluejacks towards the tail-end of 1963. The rhythm section of the Bluejacks, John Dalton and Jack Jones re-grouped originally as Kenny Lee & The Mark Four, a band that also featured Norman “Miff” Mitham, the original guitarist with Cliff Richard & The Drifters. In January 1964, after “Miff” was ousted, Eddie Philips from Leytonstone was auditioned at the Salisbury Arms in Hoddesdon, and a new band emerged. Philips was a real whizz-kid guitar player, one of those pioneering musicians who heavily influenced the likes of Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend but who never gained the respect he so thoroughly deserved. The band’s style originally veered between Rock N’Roll & country and was consequently out of step with the R&B leanings of most of the other bands from this period. In March 1964 they paid their dues in Germany, opening a brand new venue called The Big Ben Club in Wilhelmshaven and upon their return released their first single for Mercury in May. Manager Ian Swan inexplicably talked the band into recording a version of the Bill Haley standard “Rock Around The Clock” as their first 45, backed by Larry Williams “Slow Down”. During that same year, the latter song had also been covered by The Beatles, so at least The Mark Four were in good company, but Haley’s tune belonged to a bygone era and was terribly out-of-date. Unsurprisingly, this ill-informed choice for a debut single was ignored by the record buying public. The follow up, a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s “Try It Baby” was chosen by Mercury against the band’s wishes, who preferred Chuck Berry’s “Around And Around”. Inevitably, record company & band eventually parted company and, via a new contract with Decca, The Mark Four succeeded in re-gaining some control over a career that was heading nowhere. Out of either desire or necessity, the band changed their musical direction by embracing R&B with Philips’ influence much to the fore. In August 1965 a song co-written by the mercurial guitarist called “Hurt Me If You Will” became their first Decca single, a significant release if only for it’s “B”-side, “I’m Leaving” which is revered by “freakbeat” followers for it’s extensive use of a recent Philips’ discovery – guitar feedback. One more single, heavily influenced by The Who’s “Substitute” entitled “Work All Day (Sleep At Night)” appeared on Fontana in 1966 but after temporarily becoming The Mark Five with the addition of a second guitarist and releasing a further single “Baby What’s Wrong”, further changes in personnel occurred and the band underwent another major change of direction, re-appearing as a “mod” group called The Creation. The Creation announced their arrival by proclaiming that their music was “red with purple flashes”, but despite being constantly and favourably compared to The Who sadly became a band that should have achieved success but never did, a secret to be shared amongst knowing music enthusiasts, but not the public at large. Of the other original members of the Mark Four, bassist John Dalton temporarily and then permanently replaced Pete Quaife in The Kinks.
The Bridgwater Mercury blurb suggests that the Town Hall was double booked for this gig as there is also an advertisement for The Bridgwater Amateur Swimming Club’s AGM for the same night. Perhaps they were expecting the gig to be a wash out. (I’ll get me coat…)
Playing for Top 20 Club dancers at Bridgwater last Monday was another London group called The Mark Four. They got together from other groups and formed this new outfit. You may recall their first disc on Decca, “Hurt Me” issued in August. Now they have changed labels, and on January 14th we can look out for “Work All Day” on the Fontana banner, which was writen by two of them. How will the stars be spending this Christmas? Well, most of them will not be working on Christmas Day, although many have engagements on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. The Mark Four – Edwin Phillips (lead), Ken Pickett (vocals), Tony Cooke (bass) and Jack Jones (drums) – are going home for a peaceful celebration. Their programme was heavily dominated by “soul” and R and B numbers. Tony Cooke has found a new idea however. On stage he used a violin bow to achieve a different on his bass guitar! They restrict their performances to clubs and ballrooms, but have played on the Continent, in Germany. Graham Alford and everyone who brings you these weekly spectaculars hopes you will have a very bright Christmas and New Year.
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
The comments made in Mike Guy’s report regarding the unusual guitar technique employed by bass player Tony Cooke are of interest. The “bowing” of guitar strings was actually another Eddie Philips invention – two years before Jimmy Page used this method to good effect with both the Yardbirds and, most famously, Led Zeppelin. Philips hit upon the idea of using a bow as his first attempts to play with a saw resulted in too many damaged guitar strings! Also of interest is that the band’s line-up at this point in their history, is only one employee change away from what became The Creation with bowing bassist Cooke eventually replaced by Bob Garner. Incidentally, three Creation facts that unfortunately link the band with the wonderful world of showbiz MOR. No.1 – they released the original version of “Painter Man”, later a hit for Boney M. No.2 vocalist Ken Pickett co-wrote the 1970 Clive Dunn hit “Grandad” and finally No.3, Bob Garner and Eddie Philips obtained notoriety in 1999 as the fictional line-dancing group featured in the TV soap “Emmerdale Farm” And this band are hip?
20th December 1965
Regarded as one of the most overlooked bands of the British Beat Boom, Coventry’s The Sorrows were formed in 1963 from a number of local bands with vocalist Don Maughan having originally appeared in The Hawks and bassist Phil Packham in a group called The Vampires. After obtaining a twice-a-week residency at The Pilot in Radford, they were signed to Pye Records by producer John Schroeder and were teamed with songwriter Miki Dallon who composed their first two singles for Pye’s subsidiary label Piccadilly. “I Don’t Wanna Be Free” and “Baby” (the latter of which was based on The Mojos “Everything’s Alright”) set the template for The Sorrows musical career – R & B infused songs that, whilst lacking in melody and catchy hooks were gritty, drum-laden and riff-tastically uncompromising. (By way of contrast, the “b” sides of their 1st & 4th singles features someone doing a Donald Duck impression) Both songs failed to make a serious dent chart-wise but after briefly considering the option to spilt up their next offering threatened to break the band big time. “Take A Heart” was a song that had originally been recorded by obscure British band The Boys Blue for Parlophone in May 1965 but The Sorrows succeeded where the original had failed, despite their arrangement being fairly close to the original. The song reached No.21 in the UK charts and No.1 in Italy where the band were particularly popular. Adopting the old adage that “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” “Take A Heart’s” follow-up was another Boys Blue record called “You Got What I Want” but this time around, the single failed to chart though bad promotion by a record company who appeared to be showing a distinct lack of interest in the band did not help. The Sorrows followed up the single with a highly regarded and, it has to be said, pretty decent album of the same name, which rounded up most of the A & B sides released thus far whilst adding a few other items of original material which was more than a lot of 60’s bands managed, particularly one with just 3 singles to it’s name. After two further singles in 1966, “Let The Live Live” and “Let Me In” failed miserably, “Pink, Purple, Yellow and Red” (great title – but no cigar) became their final UK single in 1967. The Sorrows continued until 1970 but all of their success was obtained in their beloved Italy where their popularity was such that they relocated there in 1966, albeit without vocalist Maughan who had left for a solo career. They were treated like the proverbial pop stars, releasing several Italian language singles that were unavailable elsewhere (including an Italian language version of Dave Dee’s “Zabadak”), playing concerts in 30–40,000 seater football stadiums, and being provided with their own private villa by their record company. Unfortunately, the band overstayed their welcome and after suffering management problems returned to the UK virtually penniless, unable to secure a foothold in the UK market which by 1967 had moved on to pastures new. In 1968 they returned to Italy to record the album “Old Songs, New Songs” but two years later the band had split for good. After their demise lead singer Don Maughan achieved a No.3 hit in the UK singles charts under the name of Don Fardon with a cover of John D.Loudermilk’s “Indian Reservation” whilst latter day member Roger Lomas eventually became a hugely successful producer, recording Bad Manners, The Selecter & The Bodysnatchers during the 1980’s Ska revival and winning a grammy in 2002 for the Reggae album “ET” by Lee “Scratch” Perry.
The Top 20 Club
Splendid New Year present
Promoters of the Top Twenty Club, Bridgwater have received a splendid New Year Present. They heard recently that seven of the artistes they presented at the Town Hall gained between them 10 major awards in a poll organised by a leading music paper. Every year at this time the “New Musical Express” holds a poll for readers to vote for their favourite pop stars of the last 18 months. The winners then take part in the “New Musical Express Poll Winners concert” at London In the New Year and the concert is nationally screened on television. When all the ballot papers had been counted it was found that the Top 20 Club had gained significant marks in nearly every section of the poll. This bouquet for the Club rounds off their most successful year since they started their beat productions in the town – a year in which the Club has presented big name groups, talented artistes and a commendable selection of the best of the current discs. Out of the 10 awards The Who (they guested at the Club in April) managed to achieve four of them. They were placed joint fourth in the best new group section; seventh British R and B group; ninth best new disc of the new year – “My Generation”; and 12th British vocal group. Instrumental group now under contract with Beatles manager Brian Epstein – Sounds Incorporated – who appeared for the Club some time ago, came second only to The Shadows in the British instrumental unit part of the poll. The Small Faces, an East London “mod” group who played here in October, were voted sixth best new group while The Pretty Things came ninth British R and B group. Hedgehoppers Anonymous did exceedingly well to get tenth placing for the best new group, particularly as they have not been in existence very long and came to the Club only two weeks ago. Sheffield’s Dave Berry has been the star attraction at the Club many times and maintained his popularity in the poll by coming 15th in the section British male singer. Another club “regular” Wayne Fontana, from the North Country was just five rungs below Dave Berry in the same section. A special effort had been made to bring a seasonal appearance to the Town Hall last Monday for the Christmas week meeting. Bunches of ‘mistletoe hung over the dancing area and clusters of balloons and sparkling decorations brightened the stage. There were record requests and a competition. Between the festivities The Sorrows played. The Sorrows have been in existence tor two years but had to wait until their third Pye release, ” Take A Heart” before getting a look-in Hit Parade wise. Their next one did not really make it either. The Sorrows go Continental In the New Year when they tour Germany and France. No need for any sorrows with all this work coming up. The lads should change their name!
MIKE GUY – Bridgwater Mercury
Here’s an interesting one. I know that The Shots played the Town Hall, but when exactly? Thanks to Stan Barnett’s autograph book, it is apparent that they did make an appearance in Bridgwater but I have not been able to find an advertisement that tells me when this event took place. Equally, I had no idea who The Shots were until just recently. From York, they were originally called The Moonshots but upon moving to the capital city, shortened it to simply The Shots. One half decent single for Columbia entitled “Keep A Hold Of What You’ve Got” flopped despite reaching No.8 in Radio London’s Fab Top 20 in 1965. So far, so what? After the departure of one group member the band changed their name to The Smoke (named after their London residency) and released a psychedelic classic called “My Friend Jack (Eats Sugarlumps)” which may have only reached No 45 in the UK singles charts but obtained the lofty position of No 2 in Germany and a cult following amongst aficianados of all things hippy and trippy. The bizarre footnotes to this story? The Shots were apparently managed by The Kray Twins without realising who their suitors were when they signed the contract. Subsequently, various attempts to “free” themselves from this arrangement were made without them realising that they could just wake up one morning with their collective heads nailed to a coffee table. The other piece of useless information regarding this band is that bassist “Zeke” Lund eventually became Boney M’s sound engineer during the sparkly German’s brief period of world domination. As for that “missing” date, an educated guess suggests either October 25th or November 8th 1965 as the band played Chippenham just two days before the October date.