Updated 26 June 2013

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This page is mainly centred on the Southampton area and gives an insight into the 60s/70s music scene plus some rare photos of my 'apprenticeship' Please feel free to let me know if you have any personal memories of anything below - I may publish it!

 

DAVID ST. JOHN – More than a comedian!

 

THE STORY BEGINS:

THE ROYAL PIER PAVILION

Please click on this picture below and it will take you to my new page (Call Up the Groups) all about the pop music scene from 50s onward!  It contains memories of the Royal Pier and much more..........                                          

                                                                                                                                                                     

Sadly, only this facade of the Royal Pier Pavilion still remains close to the famous Southampton Docks which were once packed with ships and liners from all over the world and gave the city its great position and profile. People walked through the main entrance and booking hall, before taking a leisurely stroll along the wooden decking or just sitting in the sun and watching the busy activities of the docks on both sides.  Back on April 10th 1912, the whole Pier must have been packed as onlookers gasped at one of the most magnificent liners ever built slowly glide out of its berth, on its way to a tragic end - the Titanic.   She sailed from a berth about half a mile away, but would have been seen by those crammed onto the Royal Pier as she steamed down Southampton Water into the Solent and onto the watery grave that lay undiscovered until 1985.

 

I was weaned on Fifties Rock and Roll - in fact I was born on the very same day as one of my favourite musicians- Rick Parfitt of Status Quo!  Growing up in Southampton meant that everybody was talking about the new breed of American stars that only had the option of sailing across the Atlantic on such famous ships as the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and many more.  I was aware that some new 'dance' band  called Bill Haley and his Comets caused a mini riot when passing through the docks and onto the London bound train as they pioneered this new sound called Rock and Roll kicking off with an amazing hit back in December 1954  called 'Shake Rattle and Roll'  I was hooked!

 

I eagerly awaited the next single which didn't exactly set the charts on fire at first - another terrific song called 'Rock Around The Clock' - what one calls a 'sleeper' hit.  It was originally a B-side and used on the opening credits of an American film called The Blackboard Jungle. This groundbreaking film told the story of high school problems  which is credited with kick starting the teenage rebellion along with the films of James Dean and other 'angry young men'.  This saw the rise of Teddy Boys (and Girls) who pioneered teen fashion with their smart Edwardian ('Teddy) drape jackets, tight jeans and 'Blue Suede Shoes' etc.  When the film was shown in cinemas around the UK, the kids went wild at the movie and rock and roll soundtrack which saw them jiving in the aisle!   When the officials tried to move in and break this up, it sparked riots in which seats were slashed and punchups on a massive scale which caused a feeding frenzy with the establishment and media of the day!   

 

 

At the far end of the pier stood the famous ballroom, as well as cafes and amusement centres long since gone as the structure fell into disrepair and later catching fire some years ago.  Southampton was heaving with people, looking for a good night out and the ballroom was constantly in use as a dance hall plus staging the popular Wrestling nights during its early Sixties boom and TV profile. During the late Fifties, the ballroom hosted many dance nights featuring  big bands, later followed by the rock and pop groups that were now emerging throughout this exciting period which saw  a new word emerge - the 'teenager'.  My mum used to love her dancing nights out, and also worked at the ballroom which was run by a well known local promoter and my first 'manager'  by the name of Len Canham -  a popular flamboyant character who also dealt with many top names in the entertainment business.  She casually mentioned me to him, as I had been singing pop songs from an early age and he was intrigued at the idea of a ten year old Rock n Roll singer appearing on these new teen dances that were packing the Pier Ballroom.  My parents were a great help to me as ours was a musical home, with a piano in the lounge and I soon discovered a natural ear for music, along with learning some guitar as well - the early skiffle years also providing a chance to make music with a few pals.

I can still recall the thrill of my first night, as I went backstage for a musical chat with one of the bands who were to back me - the Three Stars.  I  recall that the guitarist  was  Johnny Watson who later emigrated to Australia, plus drummer 'Big' Brian Ferguson  (Fergy) double bass was  Alan Fraser.  Thanks to Peter Broyd who recently contacted me with more information on this. He also mentioned that Johnny also played drums and during a tour of Hamburg with one of his successful groups, he was approached by another British band who were starting to make some progress during the early 60s. Johnny turned this offer down as he was quite happy with his own established outfit - can you guess who the 'other' group of scruffy Scousers were??

Royal Pier Pavilion Southampton 1958

The band picked up my musical keys from a few classic songs such as 'Jailhouse Rock - Tutti Frutti- Rock Around The Clock' etc and I then entered the spotlight to massive cheers from the teen audience and proceeded to knock out some good old rock and roll which went down really well.  On other occasions, I appeared alongside the Brook Brothers - Geoff and Ricky, a local duo in the style of the Everly Brothers who had a few hits in the early Sixties (Warpaint - Ain't Gonna Wash For a Week etc)   I did a few of these dance nights as well as a couple of other venues around Southampton but word soon got round to the ears of the school authorities.  They  quickly jumped on me and my parents, for appearing in public under the age of 12 so I then had to take an early forced 'retirement' for a few years, until the next stage of my life in the spotlight. If you check out the Site Map page, you will see that I organised the first of several 60s shows at the refurbished gatehouse- now Kutis Thai Pier Restaurant. This was some thirty odd years since the old pier ballroom and jetty were destroyed by fires, so quite  a nostalgic return to this 'Mecca' for many bands, singers and teen dance fans who used to attend many shows at this landmark location.  Many locals also met their future partners as they danced under the mirror ball lights that spun around the ballroom- maybe YOU were one of them?

Offstage at the Royal Pier -  jiving with a couple of teenage fans!  

('Teddy Girl' Sisters - Janet and Barbara Appleton - where are they now?)

 

26 June 2013- email:

Dear David

My name's Tony - I live In Perth, Western Australia. Great website - love the photos. Just to let you know the sad news that Johnny Watson passed away today after suffering a massive heart attack and a stroke last week.

I was privileged to play music with Johnny on a number of occasions. He was a great musician and a true gentleman. I will miss him. Just thought I'd let you know. Please pass the news on to any other UK based folk you know of. Thanks again for the great website.


Tony Bennett

 

If you are interested in a historical view then click on this link below:

ROYAL PIER MEMORIES

 

THE SWINGING SIXTIES

 

When the pop group explosion of the Sixties reared its head I then launched into the next stage, and spent several years as lead singer & frontman with many top Hampshire based semi-pro bands, along with being a well respected blues harmonica player, influenced by the early R&B styles.

My  first successful group were known as the Abdo-Men (!) followed by The Unforgiven, Earth Angels,  and the Cellars of Sound, until staying with my last group - The Script, who finally became The End. We had a very successful residency at the old Railway Inn - later named The Woolston, before this eventually changed to the Bridge Inn, and now is known as the New Bridge Inn. This popular venue witnessed some amazing shows, as our band provided audiences with terrific music along with crazy onstage antics and comedy (see below) and this was a springboard for the next stage of my career as I decided to go solo in 1972. I also appeared at the well known Juniper Berry pub close to the Southampton Docks, a notorious and  infamous local hotspot, but giving me  a chance to try out my new ‘adult’ comedy routines which were a springboard for the next stage of my showbusiness career. This venue is now a more sedate pub known as the Bosun's Locker - the walls could tell some stories.......

 

The infamous Juniper Berry - now the Bosun's Locker

 

THE GROUP YEARS

THE ABDO-MEN 

Formed in late1963, comprising myself on lead vocals with newly discovered blues harmonica skills. We played all over the Hampshire area, and the band lineup also included Dave Sothcott and Mick ‘Cockney-Boy’ Young on lead/rhythm guitars, Jeff Baker on bass, plus Glenn Lee on drums. Mick was replaced by a great character, still well known on the Southampton music scene to this day - Dave ‘Beau’ Dinnage, and we all had a great time playing at various clubs and dancehalls, including the legendary Casbah on the London Road, down in the hot noisy sweaty cellar - Southampton’s answer to the Cavern Club! Our music was a good mix of pop cover songs, plus some earthy R&B in the style of the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Pretty Things etc, and this band lasted for a couple of years, before splitting up, which then led a couple of us into the next group.  Unfortunately, I have very few photos of the early bands but I have dug up this rare shot of Jeff Baker on 'pot'.  Sex drugs and rock n roll eh?

 

Our first group van - times were tough

THE UNFORGIVEN

This was an Eastliegh based band, managed by another real ‘character’ Tony Cook  a well respected drummer and who sadly passed away in November 2005. Tony was totally devoted to this group and drove us all over the South Coast, beaming with pride as we stormed audiences everywhere. We usually travelled in Tony's Ford Consul 375 with a small trailer on the back although I sometimes went on my motorbike to local gigs.  This was still the time of Mods and Rockers and I confused people by wearing Mod clothes but riding a bike - I was a Mocker!   I recall that a few of us spent Christmas day 1965 at Tony and Jean Cook's house and most of the day was spent by a marathon of joke-telling which went on for hours - Tony mentioned that I should consider being a real comedian when I eventually 'grew up'!  This stuck in my mind and I never forgot his encouragement, although it took another few years before I realised that I needed to make a solo break away from what was then becoming  a stagnant music scene in 1972. We had so much fun on the road and had several near misses as Tony was laughing so much and not concentrating on the road ahead! I still laugh at some of the memories when we were playing at the Stonehenge Inn on Salisbury Plain - a regular group venue and often ended up with drunken squaddies having punch-ups between themselves or with the local lads who had  a go!  We just kept on playing as bottles, chairs, tables and soldiers came flying through the air in front of us - luckily they never bothered with the band and they encouraged us to keep going in case the noise attracted anyone outside of the building!

 

Another memory was as we finished playing and packed the gear up along with chatting up the local girls, although watching out for jealous boyfriends hanging around the door.   We sometimes needed the bouncers to escort us out of the pub car park on several occasions as well as keeping an eye out on return shows.  Tony backed  the car and trailer up to the front door in readiness for the equipment to be carried out but he was often left there waiting as we were still on the pull inside.  I can still see him on a cold stormy winter night with the rain lashing down on him as he stood there soaking wet and swearing at us lazy b******s inside!  Priceless.  

 

TheUnforgiven  were formerly known as The Planets, fronted by a very talented lead guitarist/vocalist Eddie Harnett, along with Steve Newman and then Graham Medley on bass, plus Dave Bunney the drummer, later replaced by the extrovert Ronnie Allen. In fact, Beau from the previous group was asked to join this new lineup but would only do so, if I was part of the deal! They didn't really need another singer in the group as Eddie was a terrific vocalist/guitarist but my harmonica playing brought a new dimension to the sound.   So it was onto another couple of terrific years in one of the best bands around and we played all over the South Coast, as well as a residency at the well known Junction Hotel Eastliegh, adjacent to the railway station but long since gone. The Unforgiven name came from an old John Wayne movie but I'm not sure who came up with that name.

2009:   Finally made contact with Dave Bunney - original drummer who has sent loads of great photos see 'Call Up The Groups 5" via the Site Map.  This is a rare photograph of the old Junction Hotel where we practised and played as resident band in amongst travelling all over the South.

JUNCTION HOTEL EASTLEIGH- mid 60s

No idea who the wedding party are but it shows the left side of the main building that led to the pub carpark.  The Eastleigh railway platforms were behind the Junction and we had to put up with noisy trains and vibrations whilst playing!  Not that good on slow quiet songs but provided laughs.  The pub was demolished a few years later to provide a larger car park for the station and I am hoping that more old photos might surface some day?

 

September 2007:  I have just been sent this rare 1964 clipping by Steve Newman who played bass with the old Planets and sat in with our new Unforgiven line-up on a few nights.

 

September 2009

Steve Newman dug up some more rare stuff and has mailed the following business cards- he played bass with the Planets before they restructured into the Unforgiven. Here are two old handouts that were dished out at every booking or dropped off at venues, agents etc.

 

                                                 

 

This rare photograph was sent to me by Beau and shows the Unforgiven playing at the Carousel Club Southampton (in the heart of the red light district!)     We must have been a 'pro' band by then!  This was Xmas Eve 1964

 

                                                                                          L-R        David        Beau      Graham           Eddie                     Ronnie

 

Just a few months into this new line-up, we made the front page of the Daily Echo by winning the Big Beat Contest at the Town Hall as part of the 1965 carnival celebrations.  This is a rare photo of the winning group below:

                                                                                                         Eddie          Beau               Graham         David        Dave

 

 

       Dave Bunney-original drummer at the Junction

 

Eddie Harnett 2006!

December 2010- Eddie was rushed into hospital in Las Vegas and sadly passed away in January 2011

Read this for more info: www.davidstjohn.co.uk/blog2010.html

 

Back in 1965, three of the Unforgiven joined Tony and family for a great holiday break in North Cornwall and this old photo has finally surfaced! Taken on a beach and shows me pointing at the camera with Jean Cook and children (Clive/Lesley) in front.  Then drummer Dave Bunney next to Eddie Harnett with Tony looking away to his right (I think there was a nudist beach next door)    We stayed in a caravan and adjoining tent and had so many laughs including Eddie being chased along the beach by some girls - they thought he was Dave Crosby of the Byrds!

 

Tony Cook also played drums with several dance bands/duos etc and I have been sent a couple of recent photos of the man in action - see below.

                                                             

Tony Cook - Eastleigh's answer to Brian Epstein!  Taken a few years before he sadly passed away in late 2005. Thanks for the memories Cookie!

 

October 2010

Received yet another e-mail from Tom Fosberry, who played bass with the newly formed 'Unforgiven' and has added this to the information:

Hi David,

I’ve been searching through websites trying to find Eddie Harnett’s website. I am sure I located through your own website sometime back. Do you have any current information on him or any contact details?

 I found your site very interesting but not totally correct.  I played bass in Unforgiven prior to Graham Medley, who took over from me.  I originally joined The Planets to replace Steve as bass player and it was around that time that the name changed to Unforgiven.  That line up was John Drever as lead vocals and guitar, Eddie Harnett as lead guitar, Dave Bunny on drums and me on bass.  We originally practised in the Family Room of the Stoneham Arms in Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh but when Dave Bunny started dating the daughter of the licensee of the Junction hotel we moved there as residents Sunday night band and gave up the Sunday night residency at the Stoneham Arms.

I remember the Consul and trailer.  If Cookie was tired, I used to drive it for him.  I didn’t pass my test until some four years later.  One particular gig remains in my memory and that was at Bulford Camp Sergeants Mess. Cookie being Cookie had forgotten to fuel up the Consul and as a result we ran out of petrol on the top of Pepperbox Hill near Salisbury.  Dave Bunny and I walked to Romsey railway station and managed to hitch a ride on the milk train and got back to Eastleigh around four in the morning.

I have lots of other memories that I could update you with sometime.

Regards

Tom Fosberry

................................................................

 

 

My first ‘day-jobs’ after leaving grammar school were quite a varied mix, and my first employment was as a trainee service engineer at the Top Rank tenpin bowling alley next to the old Ice Rink and Speedway Stadium in Banister Road, not far from the Hampshire Cricket ground. This followed on from my love of this American sport which took off in the early Sixties, and I was part of the Southampton Junior Bowling team, competing at various centres around  the South, before my next job as a service mechanic on amusement machines. I enjoyed this interesting work, mostly self-taught, like my first job, and passed my driving test, then being able to travel around the area, fixing pintables, fruit machines and jukeboxes, many of which would now be worth thousands as classic collectors items!

Other jobs followed, including delivery driver, in which I also enjoyed the freedom of travelling around the South Coast area, as well as a very unusual, but short-lived employment of being a trainee steeplejack! My dad had always been a great influence on me, and he took many snaps throughout my childhood, which later turned into a hobby of mine, which then resulted in a couple of years as a professional photographer, although this small business eventually folded, leading me onto one last job as a delivery driver. Back to the groups........

Due to various reasons, I left the Unforgiven in 1966 and spent a short while with a great Mod band called the Earth Angels (named after a rare record by the Penguins). June 2008 - just received an e-mail from former bandmate Ernie Fagg who sent the following photo of the Earth Angels before I joined them, replacing Melvyn Day as lead vocals + harmonica.

THE EARTH ANGELS

SOUTHERN ROOTS INFO:

Line-up:

MELVYN DAY (previous voc)

ERNIE FAGG (bass)

BARRY MORROW (gtr)

DEREK EDMONDS (drums)

ROY COOPER (gtr) replaced by

MELV McRAE (gtr)

 

This photo supplied by Bob Pearce-looks like same photo-shoot

SOUTHERN ROOTS INFO:

''Young R&B band from mid Sixties who played obscure soul numbers picked up from import 45s,  a few blues  plus some Who songs.  They built up a fair following on the youth club circuit before disbanding. Day joined John Drevar's Expression and later worked the Northern clubs.  Edmonds and McRae also joined Expression and Fagg went onto the Midnight Movers and Bob Pearce Blues Band" Bob Pearce tells me that Melvyn Day now lives in Sheffield and is forming a new R&B band!

 

I enjoyed my year with the Earth Angels as we featured unusual numbers mixed with Who style numbers and had a good sound during the Mod era although I was riding motorbikes at the time instead of the obligatory scooter!  This did confuse people as I wore Mod clothes but rode a 250cc Francis Barnett with 'Harley' handlebars so everybody asked me "Are you a Mod or a Rocker?"  I replied "I'm a Mocker!"   Here I am posing with my small 'chopper'

 

Ernie's mail:

Hi Dave,

I have just come across your web site, excellent work, really brings back the memories. First let me introduce myself to you I am Ernie Fagg, I played bass in the Earth Angels. The rest of the band were Melvin Macrae, lead guitar.  Barry Morrow, rhythm guitar. Derek Edmunds, drums. As far as I remember Bob Pearce who was our manager got you to take over from Melvin Day. We had some good times you could certainly play that harmonica and you were a good laugh. Anyway when we broke up,  Derek,and Melve Macrae  joined John Drevars Expression with Colin Engel taking over on bass, but I  cant remember who else was in the band.

 

I don’t know what became of Barry Morrow. I settled down and got married. The strange thing though, after about a year or so I joined a band from Eastleigh/ Fair Oak area,  called the Midnight Movers, Pete Rackam was lead guitar.  Graham ??? sax + keyboards.  Ritchie? Sax.  Me, bass.  I can’t remember the drummer name.  The singer …….was     Dave Drevar , Johns brother!!! 

We used to practice at the Clock Inn,  Fair Oak. It was ok for a while, but in the end  we went our separate ways.

 

I didn’t have any more to do with playing for about 10 years or so,  when out of the blue Bob Pearce  got in touch and asked me to  join him in his Blues Band,  we played mainly at the infamous Onslow pub in Bevois Valley. This went on for a while, it was a great place, lots of atmosphere  too, but gradually as Bob got more bookings I decided to call it a day as I didn’t want to play as much as that.Hope some of this is of interest to you,and if you have any other info perhaps you could email me when you get time. Keep up the good work.

                                                                      Ernie.

 

 5th October 2009 Another e-mail from an Earth Angel!

 

Hi David,
My name is Dave Ward. You don't know me personally but I have just come across your webpages re Southampton Music Scene. ...I was knocked out to read all this stuff. God it has brought back so many memories. And I certainly look forward to your book being published. Is there by chance a I could be added to a list of people you can notify when it is published?
 
I came to live in Southampton from Portsmouth when my dad left the navy. We had The Bridge Tavern at Six Dials in St Mary's Street right next to The Shirt King. I remember buying a lot of my clothes in there as well as Sydney's and Henry's Record Shop was a favourite haunt of mine.
 
When I was at school, I met Ernie Fagg and he became my best mate. We hung around a lot together going to places like The Checkpoint, and The Kasbah in London Road, a venue for mods... always loads of scooters outside! Ernie and I each bought an acoustic guitar and started to teach ourselves to play with the idea we would form a group. It transpired that I was the vocalist and rhythm guitarist and Ernie took up bass. I remember Ernie bought a Hofner violin bass like Paul McCartney's { really cool} while I bought a Rickenbacker. We had a drummer for a short spell but he never turned up to practice songs so that was short lived, however we did play a couple of gigs using the name The Locking Chains. Once at The Broadway Bingo Hall and a 21st birthday party at The Royal Hotel in Winchester.


After trying to get other musicians to join us Ernie decided we were not going anywhere and told me he wanted to find another band. At that time I was distraught. Ernie made it clear to me that it was only the band he was breaking up, not our friendship.... I was in a position then, that I had a Rickenbacker that was breaking me financially to keep up HP payments and no amp to plug into. {I always plugged into Ernie's} I realise now that I was not mature enough to realise that Ernie was a damn good musician and I was holding him back from getting on in the music scene, so through no fault of Ernie we split up...... This is something I have regretted for years.  When he joined the Earth Angels in 1966 I saw him with the band at The Railway Hotel in Woolston {now The Bridge} I was doing some 'roadie' work for some of my other school mates who had a blues band. I don't recall what they were called now but in the line up there was Tony Curtain on vocals,harmonica and sometimes lead guitar. Ivor Elliot on bass and Pete Hunt on Drums, can't remember the lead guitarist. That was the last time I ever saw Ernie but I remembered how knocked out I was by his bass playing.... he was amazingly fast. He had certainly became a very talented guy. 
 
Several times over the years I have tried to locate Ernie with the view of meeting up again to catch up.... I have tried Telephone Directories, Friends Reunited and Facebook but up to now have been unsuccessful..... My hopes were certainly uplifted when I saw your webpage and the email Ernie sent you.
 
Now David I would like to ask you a very very big favour...... It would really mean a lot to me to meet up with Ernie again. Could you EITHER let me have Ernie's email address so I can contact him.  {I do realise and understand that you may not want to do this for reasons of confidentiality.} OR would you be so kind as to forward this email  to him with the hope that he would want to meet up with me again after all these years.I would be really grateful if you could do this for me.
 
Sincerely
Dave

Once again- I have been able to put old pals in touch on my MUSOS REUNITED pages!           (©MUSOS REUNITED=copyrighted)

Hi Dave


Thanks for passing the email on to Ernie. I hope he answers it, it would be fantastic to see him again and talk about the old times. About my Rickenbacker..... as I said I was being financially crippled paying HP instalments and I had only paid off the interest so I still owed the full cost of the guitar which was 169 guineas at the time, I bought it from John Beirnes Music Shop in Shirley. But it was a fantastic guitar... it had a tremelo arm and an 'F' hole as a opposed to the slash shaped soundhole that was more common. Because I still owed the full amount of the purchase price, obviously I couldn't sell it so I had to give it a way to someone who would continue the HP instalments.... something I have always regretted.


I have since bought another 60's Rickenbacker off ebay but it has the slash soundhole and no tremelo arm.... I might have a photo of me playing it in my back garden somewhere, if you want I'll try and find it.
When me and Ernie used to go round to see different bands, our favourites at the time were The Hobos and Fleur De Lys... do you remember them?

Dave

 

 

I have also copied this mail, info and pics onto my 'Call Up The Groups 2' webpage so take a look!   After this band, I went onto a Salisbury based group called:

 

THE CELLARS OF SOUND 

(get the pun?)

Me and Dave Maggs at the back - can only remember 'Pip' on the left front with Geoff (?) in middle

This photo was taken on Bournemouth beach as we did a two day run in the area.  You can see our luxury hotel in the background - yes a battered old Commer van with the band's name painted on the side (phone Durrington Walls 485)  The group was based around the Amesbury and local area which is right in the middle of Salisbury Plain just by Stonehenge so this gave us opportunities to perform at the many Army bases nearby.  The Cellars of Sound were a nice bunch of lads and managed by another great character- Ted Vaughan who also worked as a bouncer at the aforementioned Stonehenge Inn.  Ted had spotted me on previous gigs with the Unforgiven and was always asking me to join this new band but a major stumbling block was the 35 miles away from my home in Southampton and took a good hour in those days along ordinary A and B roads.  I eventually agreed and many of our shows were all over Wiltshire and the West with Ted driving all the way down to pick me up in the afternoon - back to Amesbury then onto the gig.  Arrived back to drop off the other lads before driving me back home in the early hours of the morning. Ted then drove home for a couple of hours sleep as he had to get up early for his day job at the local Army bases!  He was a gentle giant and a very funny guy too - we had loads of laughs throughout the time spent with this group, not forgetting that nobody dared to mess about with us lads when they saw the size of him!  He also boasted of his younger bachelor days in the area and known as the 'Durrington Stallion'!  We never argued with him......

I can't remember the names apart from 'Pip'on lead guitar/vocals and drummer Dave Maggs eventually going on to join the Troggs and still with them.  This was a great experience, as we played through the golden hippy days of the ‘summer of love’ but finally folded, and then leading me to my best and favourite time of all, with my last group of the Sixties/early Seventies:

THE SCRIPT/THE END

This band was originally fronted by Tex Roberg, another legendary figure on the Southampton group scene, and they had a residency at my local pub then called The Railway in Portsmouth Road Woolston. It was later renamed the Woolston followed by  The Bridge Inn and finally The New Bridge Inn named after the bridge built across the River Itchen in 1977.  This saw the end of the old floating bridges that used to ferry people and cars over to the Southampton side, and you may find some interesting information on these much loved forms of transport by searching on the net.

I often used to jam with this band, and was a natural replacement when Tex hit the trail, leading into my favourite time of all, with a superb bunch of musicians and mates. It featured bassman Graham Medley, of the Unforgiven days, with Tony Burnette on drums, along with Roy Perry on lead guitar, who sadly died a few years ago.

 

                                                                                                                              

                                                                                 David                                    Roy                              Graham                              Tony  

We played this venue for some four years, and rapidly built up a cult following, especially amongst the local bikers, and many a rock and roll night was preceded by me riding a motorbike through the pub, and onto the stage via a ramp -exhaust smoke choking the front row of a packed house! The audiences were also treated to some crazy nights, including a tribute to Screaming Lord Sutch, as I was borne through the crowd, in a coffin carried by a few  Hells Angels, before launching into a mad show, full of blood, guts and all kinds of horror! Other nights saw fireworks being let off and nearly setting the place alight plus all manner of wacky stunts that drew the crowds from all over the area.  We organised talent nights and even booked a stripper on another show - this packed the place out, but got us into trouble with the local authorities when they found out! 

Other gimmicks included me singing 'Jailer Bring Me Water' which resulted in my getting drenched with a soda syphon! Another much-repeated request was for  'The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde' - the finale seeing me get 'shot' all over the stage and writhing across the  floor, and many more daft ideas that used to guarantee a packed room.  Another memorable feature was a tribute to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - another eccentric who had a massive number one hit in '68 with 'Fire'.  This saw me stripped to the waist, with  black cloak and  appropriate facepaint, as I proceeded to knock out this great classic song.  The room was blacked out and lit by a couple of burning cauldrons by the front of the stage, and I then chucked handfuls of gunpowder into the flames, which nearly blew the low polystyrene ceiling tiles off as well as nearly catching the whole building alight!  Many people thought I was on drugs with these crazy stunts but all part of the fun and our need to really entertain the crowd on top of the music.

I had always been telling gags from an early age and was well known for crazy stage antics, so felt  that I needed to branch out on my own to develop the comedy side. We changed our name to its final and prophetic label of....... THE END, and I was now looking to spread my wings after many great  years on the group scene. I left in 1972 to pursue a solo comedy career and the group carried on for a short while, before going their own separate ways, but I still keep in touch with them and other local musos from those Swinging Sixties!

Golden days - Golden memories.  Here are a few rare onstage photos taken by me:

 

                                                                                                

                                                                     Graham                               Roy                                Tony                               Tony & Roy

 

Around this time I was also well into photography and these pictures of Graham are a  couple of favourites:

 

                                              

My best pal from an early age was Peter Phillips - also known as Peter Hampton and he was always into music as he saw how much fun I was getting out of it all.  He achieved some notoriety during the Sixties beat boom with his very long hair which grew some half way down his back - similar to Phil May of the Pretty Things who 'shocked' the older generation more than the Rolling Stones (albeit hyped up thanks to canny manager Andrew Loog Oldham)  Peter used to work in the signal box at the old Terminus Railway Station that served the nearby docks and was always getting flak from all around him, which spurred him into growing it all even more.  He even made the local papers and the Echo ran a feature on him wearing a pinstripe suit with bowler hat perched on his thick flowing locks and carrying a briefcase (containing his sandwiches of course)

 

Peter later joined the Merchant Navy and sailed on many ships out of Southampton and mostly the Cape Run around South Africa and the Transatlantic crossings to New York but had to cut most of his hair to comply with the regulations.  During these trips, he taught himself to play a mean guitar with finger picking 'folk' style as well as developing some good comedy lines and gags etc.  Here are a couple of photos I took at the Woolston pub, where he often got up for a short set and really went down well - resembled Paul McCartney at that time!

 

 

                                                      

 

I lost touch with Peter when leaving Southampton back in 1972 but saw him from time on the odd occasion although he sadly had quite a few problems over the years and could often be seen busking around Southampton city centre, along with another well known guy called 'Maryland' who was also very talented but down on his luck.  The last I heard of Peter Phillips was when he moved down to Somerset and used to busk in Weston Super Mare and other seaside places, so I often wonder what happened to him.......

 

I was also seeing myself as a real pop star by now and here posing with my Jaguar 420G limo

(Well...only borrowed........)

 

November 2012- E-mail from an old Woolston 'regular'

Hi Dave,just been exploring your website.Read most of it,yeah, a couple of well spent hours remembering gigs, players bands etc.My particular interest was the Woolston era.To introduce myself, Laurie. I was one of the crowd who sat at the front on your left with the 'Smokey Boys' and the bikers opposite. We were a happy bunch who's sole purpose was to get as much fun and beer into us as was possible. Never much trouble was there?

As I write this, lots of memories come flooding back and here's a few. I was there for the Bikes and the Horror shows and the talent nights(?).Do you remember a pretty young girl who claimed to have had classical training? Can't remember the song but she slaughtered it. Much to the delight of a hooting audience. Another great memory was  of 'Jailhouse Rock' where the band,after the intro,as you launched into it would change key. Then change a couple  more times during the number.At least they spared our classical girl that, but would she have noticed?

Now to'Pete Phillips'. Always a laugh when he turned up.Years later we became mates,sharing an enthusiasm for excess which often led to a  hasty retreat from wherever. How I hope he is still around somewhere.There's only been one. Finally to 1990,The'Obelisk' was my local at the time and with the weather on our side it was a great day.The only one I got a chance to talk to was Graham. We both had the same 'Wilson' bass but his was stolen. I still have mine but after 40 years lt is not for sale. So here we are at THE END. Great to see you have done so well and still in touch with yer roots.Thanx for some great times and memories.Wishing you all the best for the the future  LAURIE

 PLUS:

Hi Dave Laurie here from recent email. Still living in Woolston about quarter mile from the pub. Memories still popping back from the old cells. 'Lonesome Pine' cafe after gig, Dolly, Charlie the barman flashing the lights at closing. You and Graham singing 'Cinderella Rockefella' to each other. See what I mean ? That one just came back. Just gonna email Reg Mcintyre the spark whose Triton Bonneville you borrowed to let him know about your site,and of course anyone else from those days. Anyway,thanks for the info about gigs and sites etc. will pop in now and then to check it out.

         Good to hear from you and hope to see you soon Laurie.

 

 

"SCREAMING LORD CRUTCH!"

 

Our most successful theme evening  was a 'Jack the Ripper' tribute to Screaming Lord Sutch -  one of the most flamboyant eccentric entertainers in early 60s Rock n Roll.  He is also attributed as the longest serving political party leader, having formed the Raving Monster Loony Party back in the Swinging Sixties, and hoping to kick Harold Wilson out of Number Ten Downing Street! Our 'Horror Night' used to pack the pub to the rafters and this is a description of a fun-filled evening.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The other three band members kicked off with a few songs, before setting the scene and playing the slow funeral-like  'Death March' as a group of Hells Angels carried me in a black coffin from the back of the crowded room- this took quite a while as they pushed and fought their way through the heaving masses! The bikers  placed me onstage, and slid the microphone into the coffin ready for me to start singing 'I put a Spell on You' from within.  The lid slowly moved open and I rose into view, all dressed in black plus top hat and cloak, then carrying on singing this old classic Screaming Jay Hawkins song - he was one of the old time American blues singers, whose own theatrical stage act contained elements of Black Magic and Voodoo.

I then 'drank' a magic potion,  causing  a Jekyll and  Hyde transformation as I slipped on a gruesome horror  mask and long bony monster hands, before starting to roam around the audience. On a couple of occasions, a few of the onlookers actually ran out of the room as they found it all quite frightening, which gave the others a good laugh.  The next part of the show had me 'selecting' a girl from the audience (Roy's wife Julie!) whom I 'hypnotised' and led to the stage, then laying her down in the coffin ready for the REALLY horrifying climax.  The music switched to'Jack the Ripper' followed by  'The Hall of the Mountain King' as its gradual slow opening saw me pick up a long knife which I then plunged into the body in the coffin, whilst secretly applying some tomato ketchup which I duly licked off in between thrusts of the dagger.  I had paid a trip to the local butcher and obtained some raw offal, kidneys, liver sausages etc, and these props were then used as I proceeded to 'butcher' the poor victim lying in the coffin and lift 'body parts' into the air, before chucking them into the crowd - Boy did they scatter!

Again, a few people ran out of the room as this blood-curdling performance reached its peak, with sheeps eyes being  held aloft and thrown out into the shocked front tables.  It all then wrapped up as we then launched into some of our usual great rock and roll numbers, in between clearing the debris from the stage and cleaning up the blood and gore from before!  I guess Alice Cooper must have called by on one of these nights and given him a few ideas of his own, in the next year or so.........   Here are a couple of photos, although I cannot really publish some of the more controversial images that formed part of this special night I can only mention that it was to do with one of the large sausages....ahem....

 

                                                                                        

                                                                        The coffin lid slowly rises - raw meat ready!                       The monster  hypnotises his victim

 

                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                       Scary eh?

 

 

 

THE END- business card.

Dont try ringing these old phone numbers!!

('Comprehensive'?)

 

 

1990 The Re-Union gig!

 

                                                                                                 L-R       Graham             David          Ronnie                 Roy

 

In 1990 we managed to reform the group for a one-off Sunday afternoon show at the Obelisk pub in Woolston. This was a beautiful hot summer day, hence the shorts!  Many friends, family and fans came along as we belted out loads of old and new songs, just busking away with no prior rehearsals - that's half the fun in music!  Note the bucket on the ground - not  a spitoon - just a collection box for our beer money!   I was also playing electric 12 string guitar, having had to learn to play better when leaving the group some eighteen years before.  Some eighteen years on, I then kick-started a series of annual 'Back To The Sixties' Reunion shows at Southampton's Concorde Club.  Just check out the Site Map to read all about these amazing mini-festivals that see original 60s musicians reform and perform hours of classic hits of that era.

 

THE SOLO YEARS

In 1972 I decided to go it alone, and moved to London followed by summer seasons in the UK and overseas. Since then I have been working solidly in all kinds of venues, alongside many of the top names in showbusiness. I switch my act from night to night, adapting the material to suit the occasion, as well as being able to customise part of the comedy for the audience and surroundings. The  act is a good all round mix of standup comedy, impressions plus occasional  vocals, guitar and harmonica. I have worked all kinds of venues all over the UK and abroad as well as  some cruising work, in the Caribbean and Mediterranean but still remember the early days with much affection and hope that you have enjoyed this insight into one of many thousands of entertainers that you may bump into one day!

 

I will be outlining my solo years with many memories and photos in the near future - everybody tells me I should write a book!  Some say I already have, within the confines of these very web pages.......

 

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