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David St John presents:
CALL UP THE GROUPS 6
*Loads of pics - let it load*
Please note that many images contained within this
website may be subject to copyright, although many have been kindly sent to
me and intended to be shared on this non commercial outlet. If anybody
wishes to use any of the same, then please get in touch as well as possibly
giving credit where due as well as setting up reciprocal links if relevant
to the actual content on any webpage. Please note that I am able to monitor
any image-copying and if published on other websites. I would appreciate any
contact to report broken/outdated links and any corrections to the text that
accompanies any images herein. Thank you and enjoy!
QUIZ QUESTION: Can you identify this
Answer - see bottom of this page
Yes folks - another new page of memories which
take us all back to those far off days of the Swinging Sixties! This is yet
another webpage containing info and photos sent by a wide variety of people from
all over the world as more and more surfers find this website which started life
as a one page promotional effort to publicise my main professional comedy
career! Over the years, it has grown into a modern history archive of the
Southampton area and its music makers of yesteryear so it has provided so many
people with the chance to wallow in nostalgia. Please have a good read
across this whole website and perhaps YOU have just discovered it and maybe
involved in some way? If so, please get in touch and I may be able to add your
own contribution at a later stage?
Also, I have often had mail from many people
who have kindly corrected or added more info to whatever band I have featured so
please keep it all coming! A major spin-off from my website can be looked
at on the new 'Movie' webpage- just go to Site Map to learn about an exciting
documentary project now in pre-production.
I have been adding info on so many Southampton
based groups over the years and I hope you have enjoyed reading these various
pages. It's been hard work but worth it when getting feedback from fellow
musicians and new contacts who find this new way to hook up with former band
members and long lost pals. You will have hopefully read my pages based on
the legendary Concorde Club and this top venue hosts many great acts of all
varieties, including a recent visit by one of the very first r&b bands to
perform at the old Bassett Hotel during the early 60s. None other than the
Manfreds, although no longer associated with Manfred Mann but fronted by the
multi-talented Paul Jones who was born in Portsmouth. Paul used to sing
and play blues harmonica with several jamming bands on the London scene
including the seminal Alexis Korner band from which the Rolling Stones sprang
from - in fact Brian Jones wanted Paul as their frontman but Mick Jagger was
Fellow members of the early Manfred Mann
line-up were Mike Hugg from Andover and Mike Vickers from Southampton so at
least Southampton could boast some success along with local lad Paul Jones!
You can find loads of info by clicking on this photo-link:
The Manfreds 2009!
L-R Rob Townsend Marcus Cliffe Tom McGuinness Paul Jones Simon Currie Mike D'Abo Mike
Paul Jones website:
The Manfreds 'Let 'em Roll' tour visited my
local theatre and I managed to contact Paul Jones as I was hoping to have a
quick chat about my Southampton music project as well as catching the show.
He very kindly called me and arranged a visit so I was able to meet up
with him during the interval - here are a couple of photos:
Backstage + harmonica!
'Let 'em Roll' tour poster
The show featured a great mix of classic
Manfred Mann hits plus terrific blues tracks which got the whole place jumping -
the musicians were superb plus Paul's showmanship and harmonica work to the
fore. We chatted about the early days around the Southampton music scene
although Paul had moved up to London to make headway and the rest is history.
He looks and sounds great - it's amazing how much enthusiasm and passion he
exudes after some 45 year at the top but this business keeps some of us young,
whilst others fall by the wayside and become victims of the excesses that go
with the job! It was also great to meet with Shirley who runs the Manfreds
merchandising side on their tours and she was kept busy with selling the CDs,
DVDs posters which were all signed by the band as soon as they came offstage.
They stayed for some while, chatting with many fans and posing for photos - many
of them bringing old LPs to sign, not having had a chance all those years ago
when the band had to be smuggled out of venues to avoid being mobbed!
I also saw the
Manfreds Autumn Tour back in 2008 on a fantastic tour, featuring Paul Jones and Mike D'Abo
plus guests Alan Price with Maggie Bell at the Birmingham Town Hall! The
audience was a great mix of ages and the atmosphere was amazing as well as
proving that the Sixties is still valid in these modern times. Great
commercial hits plus authentic blues - what more could you want? This is
the autographed programme:
MANFREDS 2008 TOUR
Jones also hosts his own Radio Two Blues show on Mondays at 7pm and well worth
catching it - anywhere in the world via the BBC website if you are not in the UK.
The show can also be heard for seven days through the same site.
27 May 2009
Received this e-mail from John Bickell and
copying it straight onto this page as it revives memories of one of
Southampton's finest 60s bands The Countdowns/Daisies. Many will recall
the Daisies' old jalopy of a van painted with the flowery emblems that
advertised the long haired lads as they cruised around the local streets!
The basic information from my copy of 'Southern Roots' that amazing compendium
of information started back in 1980 shows the following information on this
The S.R lineup shows:
Ray Taylor (vocal/harmonica)
Roy Perry (gtr)
Graham Medley (bass)
Mike Rowthorn (keys)
Tony Taylor (drms)
'Formed from the remains of the old Countdowns
by Taylor,Perry and Medley- they were a long haired 'underground' outfit that
were Southampton's answer to the Pretty Things! In fact, Phil May of this
terrific London based r&b band gave them their name. Taylor later went on
TV and had his flowing locks shorn off for a publicity stunt"
Here is John's mail:
Brilliant website, great work! It's brought back some memories I can tell
you! I came across the site while trying to trace what happened to Roger
Pope since I last saw him at the Mojo Club in Sheffield when the Steam
Packet were just starting up. As you'll see, Rog & I go back a long way.
I'm sure you and I must have crossed paths at some time as I also used to hang
out with Rog at his Julian Road bungalow. I can clearly remember Diane and
their Dad who I think had been a dance band drummer in his day.
Anyway, reading your comprehensive notes has
prompted me to provide some additions & corrections to the Groups 2 page:
The Countdowns started life in 1960/61 when I was still at school . The
line up was Rog Pope, me, Duncan Campbell, and Chris Tappin. I remember
playing (mostly free) at St Mark's Institute in Woolston and some Bitterne /
Sholing venues - mainly instrumentals only as we only had one mike and
couldn't sing anyway!
The Countdowns (early days)
Around 1962 we evolved into the smarter
line up with suits and vocals in the other photos: Ray Taylor (vocals -
don't recall him being able to blow a harmonica!), Rog Pope (drums of
course), John Hatch (guitar), Mike Rowthorn (electric piano) and me on bass
(not Graham Medley). Like most, we ended up on Avenue Artistes' books. We
eventually rebelled against the suits and went for the paisley shirt /
leather waistcoat look as The Daisies.
Countdowns 1962 (Avenue Artistes
The 1964 poster in your biography
page reminded me that I think Ray Taylor wanted us to be The Fairies but the
name was already in use - just as well, "Daisies" was bad enough. Around
this time Rog Pope was nabbed by the Soul Agents (backed Rod Stewart) Also Johnny Hatch left,
possibly to join The Missing Links as in the 2nd photo on your page - he's
2nd from left in that. Johnny Hatch was replaced by Roy Perry (sad to read
that he died). Rog Pope was replaced by Tony Taylor from Winchester,
although I think we must have had some guest drummers in the meantime -
hence Ron Allen in 1st photo (can't remember him at all) and I'm sure
Cuddles (Martin Smith) did some gigs with us. So the lineup in the Avenue
Artistes photo is: (Sitting:) Mike Rowthorn, Roy Perry, Tony Taylor.
(Standing:) me, Ray Taylor (who must have been feeling the cold that day).
As noted somewhere, the highlight of the Daisies' brief existence was
supporting the Pretty Things at the Bure Club in Mudeford and getting
encouragement from them. I'm not sure that Phil May gave us the name - I
think we were already using it by then......but hell it's a long time ago!
I left the Daisies eventually to turn
"pro" (a misnomer if ever there was one) with a Guildford based group called
(very originally) the Surreys. It's possible that Graham Medley took my
place in The Daisies or that they broke up around then - I certainly
remember Graham being around. The Surreys spent a couple of years driving
up and down the M1 from the London / Guildford area to the Sheffield /
Doncaster clubs and then in Germany before I decided to call it a day and
rejoin (or maybe leave) the real world after coming back home to watch the
World Cup in 1966.
As an aside, Ray Taylor was affectionately known as "Banana Fingers"
reputedly because he had worked for Brown & Harrison washing milk bottles
and his fingers had adapted to the shape of the bottles.More when and if I
can remember it.
PS Yes, I met my wife at the Pier too (1974)
Within days of John Bickell's great e-mail, I
received another amazing message so have copied it straight into this page
My name is Mike Hanks and
I have recently discovered your excellent websites on Southampton’s Royal
Pier and the bands and groups and venues of the 50s and 60s. I must
congratulate you on compiling such a wonderfully informative and nostalgic
look back at the music scene of that time. Makes great reading and brings
back terrific memories, so I thought I would send you a contribution
recounting my memories of the Royal Pier from a slightly different angle.
Hope it is of interest to you.
I am a musician, and
played in several bands during the 60s and 70s (more of which later) but
also had a particular connection with the Pier from the age of about 7 as my
father worked down there. Whilst my name might not be familiar to you from
the band scene, you might possibly remember my dad, Alf Hanks, as he was in
the Southampton Harbour Board Police, the country’s oldest private police
force consisting of 6 constables and a sergeant and whose jurisdiction
included the Town Quay and Royal Pier. My father joined them in about 1950
and served until the force was eventually disbanded in 1980.
The police patrolled the
pier and Town Quay and were always present at the Royal Pier gate whenever
there was a dance in the ballroom. In the days before Mecca took over the
running of the Pavilion and employed their own bouncers to deal with any
trouble in the ballroom, it was part of the job of the SHB Police to keep
the peace. So my father knew Len Canham and all the staff of the Pier very
well and was often called in to deal with any incidents in the dancehall.
There was rarely anything serious, usually nothing more than a couple of
blokes fighting over a girl, or someone trying to get into the dance after
having had rather too much to drink at the Sun Inn opposite the Town Quay.
There was no alcohol in the pavilion in those early days so the young lads
had to get their “Dutch courage” at the pub before going to the dance and of
course if the police on the gate thought they had had too much they were
In the course of his
duties my Dad came in contact with many of the local performers on the Pier
and some of the more famous names such as The Chris Barber Jazz Band when
they had Lonnie Donegan on banjo and of course he was great friends with Gil
Hulme, the resident bandleader at the pier for over 40 years, and many of
the members of his band and the his singer, a then teenage, Shirley Morgan.
Shirley still sings in the Mouldy Fig at the Concorde Club on a Tuesday
night and occasionally fronts a big band led by pianist and arranger Tony
story my father used to tell involved one of the teenage idols of the time;
the star of the show on this night was Billy Fury and dad had gone into the
pavilion at the end of the gig to check that every one was gone and to lock
up for the night. There was just one person left in the building and that
was Billy still up on stage tinkling away on the piano and apparently in no
hurry to leave. After some attempts to persuade Billy that the evening was
over and that he wanted to lock up, my father lost patience and had no
option but to give Billy a helping hand off the stage and out of the
dancehall. My father was never a great fan of Billy Fury’s anyway although
they did have one thing in common; they both suffered from asthma!
occasions, I used to go down to the police office (which was at the head of
the Town Quay) when my father was on duty and he would take me across to the
pier to watch the wrestling. As he knew all the staff, they used to take me
up a steep wooden staircase into the limelight room (where the stage
spotlights were) so that I could watch from there. Preferential treatment
for me! I also used to see the Gil Hulme Band play occasionally and later
when I was 13 and pestered my parents to learn to play the clarinet he
naturally got Gil to give me lessons for a couple of years.
would often take me with him when he did his rounds on the pier, checking
security etc. Another duty of theirs was to switch on the transit beacon on
the end of the pier (and on the end of the Town Quay) when the big liners
were coming up to the Ocean Terminal. The pilots navigating the ships used
the beacons to line themselves up for the turn into the dock. Naturally I
got to throw the switch on many occasions!
got married for the first time in 1968 naturally I had my reception in the
Mecca function room adjacent to the Pavilion.
SHB Police were eventually disbanded and its five remaining constables were
“retired” in 1980 soon after the final closure of the pier. Without the
pier, half their jurisdiction had gone and the responsibility for the rest
was taken over by the Docks police. Between them, the constables had a
combined total of 150 years of service with the Force, the youngest being 58
and the oldest 64. It was the demise of a private police force that had
been in existence since 1847.
words about the pier itself:
two pictures of the pier that I took in 1954 when I was 10 with a Brownie
127 camera (remember them – the original point and shoot camera, just a box
with a button on top)! You might like to include them in your Royal Pier
site so I have managed to digitally clean them up a bit!
Incidentally, the entrance fee to go on the pier in those days was 3d. (for
those who don’t remember pre-decimalisation that is just over 1p)
may be interested in this piece of information regarding the longevity of
the pier structure.
Although the pier is indeed a sorry sight today it is interesting to note
that even after the fires and the ravages of the weather during the years of
neglect since the pier closed, the decking itself by and large still
survives. The reason for this is that it is made of Jarra, an Australian
hardwood which is indeed one of the hardest woods in the world. I know this
for a fact as my father brought a piece of the spare decking home once. I
decided to use it as a gatepost and it turned out to be anything but a
simple job. It was only 4” x 3” in cross section but I remember it took me
about an hour to saw it to length (one cut) with a handsaw after which the
saw was useless, and to put the hinges on I had to drill perfectly accurate
pilot holes otherwise it was impossible to tighten the screws, and in the
process of doing this I burnt out three twist drills and there was a lot of
smoke! Tough stuff indeed the Royal Pier decking! Not surprising then that
it is still there.
you I think it is a pity the old pier was not preserved as it was a superb
example of its type and would still have had appeal today if it had kept up
with the times.At least the gatehouse remains and has a new lease of life.
musical history goes like this:
said I am a musician originally learning clarinet (with Gil Hulme) and later
taking up tenor sax and baritone and soprano saxes and also flute for a
your CALL UP THE GROUPS 3 site there is a contribution from Sid Carter in
which he gives a mention to the Bert Turner Quintet, his first band. Well,
when Sid left them I took over from him in that band in I think 1962, which
then became the Cliff Turner Quartet with personnel as follows:
Mullins……………Alto Sax/Clarinet/bass guitar
Although we were not professional you may be interested in a bit of
information about us.
were not a “group” in the pop sense but a rather unusual phenomenon – a
teenage dance quartet! Strict tempo that is! And an unusual line-up to
boot – two sax/clarinet leads and no bass! We were only ever semi pro,
playing at weekends, as we all had jobs and music was a hobby and a bonus.
Anyway the line-up worked as we played in this format for about 8 years.
In those days the Clubs and other establishments still held a “dance” on a
Saturday night (in the days before discos). We must have played all the
local Working Men’s Clubs and Social Clubs as well as hotel dinner dances
and the usual weddings, birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs etc etc. Not that we
missed out on the pop scene. As you know the early 60s was a great time for
pop music and our leader Cliff was a guitar player and vocalist as well as
drummer and used to do Elvis, Cliff Richard, Shadows etc numbers. There was
nothing for me to do on clarinet for those things so I sat in on the drums
and did harmony vocals and eventually Mark, not wanting to be left out,
bought a bass guitar and hey presto we turned into a group able to cover
most of the current pop stuff. I think this was why we were so popular with
the clubs because we were so versatile and could do anything from the St
Bernard’s Waltz to the current top of the pops with a swap round of
instruments and so cover dances for the oldies and pop music for the
youngsters. I remember we even played some gigs purely as a pop band when
required, and all we used was a 25 watt Vox and a 15 watt Watkins
amplifier!!! How times have changed!
Cliff Turner Quartet at one of our regular gigs Bitterne Park Social Club in
L to R Mark Mullins, Cliff Turner, Mike Hanks, Paul Baker
Here Cliff is on guitar and I have swapped to the drums
Note the 15 watt
Paul Baker left the band (not sure exactly when) I roped in a chap that
worked with me called Adrian Taylor who was in fact a classically trained
pianist who could read anything but couldn’t busk or improvise. What he had
to say about some of the pop music was scathing but he would often surprise
audiences especially in the social clubs by treating them to an impromptu
concert of Beethoven or Rachmaninov whilst the rest of us took a break. Not
always appreciated but very entertaining. Adrian would eventually audition
to play on the boats and did as far as I am aware spend several years on the
cruise liners as a lounge and concert pianist. I don’t know of his
whereabouts these days but the last I heard of him (many years ago) he was
driving a van for the Southern Evening Echo. I hope he is still playing the
1965 Mark left the band to go to catering college and we needed a new alto
player. Another Gil Hulme pupil at the time was Jim Beckett (Junior). He
was working in Beckett’s other branch in Bedford Place at the time so I went
to see him. He took a bit of persuading but eventually decided to join us
and was with the band until we went our separate ways in 1968. As well as
alto sax and clarinet Jim acquired a baritone sax which added a different
bass voice to the band for much of the pop music. Years later I would buy
the baritone from Jim and still have it now.
is a picture of the band at a gig in the Mecca Ballroom in about 1967? (not
sure of date)
recently renewed my acquaintance with Jim after not seeing him for many
years, as a result of a different activity altogether, a walking group. He
has now sold the music shop but still does brass and woodwind instrument
would later play at the Mecca again in the mid 70’s with the Ron Jones Set
where we were resident support band to the John Peters Progression on a
Tuesday evening for the Over 21s Night (or sometimes rather unkindly
referred to as Grab a Granny night) where again we provided the strict tempo
sessions at the beginning, middle and end of the night.
Incidentally I always thought the Mecca was a great place to play. I
thought the acoustics were better than any of the later venues including the
Top Rank which was a purpose built dance hall and certainly better than the
Guildhall which was awful. I don’t suppose acoustics were much thought of
in 1833 when the pier was built but it certainly turned out fine. It must
be something about the design of pier buildings because another place with
fine acoustics is South Parade Pier, Southsea. Perhaps it is the fact that
they were/are wooden buildings.
Ron Jones Set photographed at the Mecca Ballroom
L to R Mike Hanks, Kenny Harrison/drums, Hazel Bell/bass guitar, Ron
Jones/Hammond Organ, vocals
played in several bands in the 1970s including a twelve piece showband, the
Jeff Thomas Selection, and an IBM based jazz rock band called Baroque
getting involved with the Southampton Jazz Society and turning my attention
to playing jazz including running my own jazz quartet called Forum.
don’t play now but wouldn’t dream of parting with my clarinet and saxes.I
hope you find the above interesting. I shall keep watching your web pages
for any more additions. Keep up the good work.
the way, reading about the Brooks Brothers reminded me that I have their two
hit 45s “Warpaint” and “Ain’t Gonna Wash for a Week” given to my dad by Len
I've also had a mail from Soton DJ Chris
Golden who emigrated to Canada many years ago but often makes the trip back home
- including the first Concorde bash. He recalls Jon Peters and co plus the
Ron Jones Set and their regular Tuesday 'Grab A Granny' nights! Chris
stood in a few occasions when they were unavailable and had to play strict tempo
discs to start off but then managed to slide into light pop stuff later in the
What a fantastic piece! Please
keep coming back to this and other webpages as I'm getting 'hits' everyday and
am sure that many more memories will come flooding in- especially with the 2009
developments as outlined on the 'Movie' page. A 90 minute film is now in
pre-production and much of the archive material has been gleaned from across my
many webpages and illustrate the wealth of musical talent that sprung up around
the mid Fifties.
Yet again, within days of the above piece
being uploaded, I received the following e-mail from drummer Cliff Turner who is
featured, grinning out to the camera!
reading the entries by Sid Carter (Bert Turner Quintet), I thought you might
like to add these two photographs of the band from around 1958.
were all around 15 at the time, so my father (Bert Turner) offered to
manage us. In the photographs, as Sid has already stated, the band
consisted of Peter Dawkins (acoustic guitar, later alto sax), Sid Carter
(clarinet and vocals for skiffle numbers), Cliff Turner (drums and guitar
for skiffle numbers), Paul Baker (piano and washboard for skiffle numbers),
John Betts (Trumpet and skiffle bass [tea chest with a bass string]) and my
father, Bert Turner who attempted to keep us in order! The first photograph
was taken in our back garden in Totton and the second taken when we played
at the 1958 Eling Fair in Totton. Did we ever look that young?
THE BERT TURNER QUINTET 1958
After the Cliff
Turner Quartet broke up I joined a trio in Fareham called "Les
Bonamis" (The Good Friends in French) However, one not very bright
club committee member asked us once "Which one of you is Les?" which
tickled us. After that, in around 1974, I joined a band called "The
J4 Set", formed by 3 members of the old Peter Medsen Band who were
resident at the Pier for many years. We consisted of Ted on tenor
saxophone and flute, Dave Slaughter on drums and vocals, Peter
Pemble on Trumpet, Flugelhorn and conga drums, Me on Bass or Guitar
and Denis Price on keyboards.
The J4 Set
After a couple of
years we decided to get a girl singer and rename the band "Spectre"
after the band members' initials. The colour photo was taken at the
Top Rank ballroom. We went through 4 girl singers up to 1978, when
the band broke up.
I then formed my
own band, called "Solid Gold" which were doing gigs up to 1990. As I
said in a previous e-mail, I now play keyboards, rhythm guitar and
vocals in a charity band called "Mid Life Crisis".
Hope you find
A good pal Pete Broyd was one of the first
Royal Pier singers and has been another good source of info, photos as well as
taking part in the Concorde ReUnion shows. I have outlined the fact that
many venues sprung up to accommodate the mid Fifties surge in live bands around
the city, including the cinemas such as the Gaumont and then the Atherley Cinema
in Shirley. Recent research led me to tracing Arthur Hawkins who was the
manager from 1958 to 1974 and he has a wealth of memories (see my Venues page)
Pete B did have an old handwritten account of
his early days when skiffle came along and was the precursor to later groups
such as the Shadows followed by the Merseybeat boom and much more. Despite
attempts to dig it out, he has racked his brains and come up with yet another
great piece and I have reprinted it here. Once again - enjoy!
promised to try to find my story of the Atherley Skiffle Competition for you
but so far I can't find the hand written piece of rock history. I will
try to remember what I can: As far fetched as it may seem every part is as
true as I can remember.
Atherley Skiffle Competition must have been held back in the 1958/9 period. The
necessary elements had come together to provide the birth of amateur bands.
First the ability:
Lonnie Donegan put together a 'Skiffle Group' with members of the Chris
Barber Jazz Band. They played this 'home made music' from the Southern
States with the simplest of instruments, guitar, washboard, tea chest bass. We
heard such records as 'Rock Island Line',John Henry' etc., and realised that we
could produce a similar sound at little cost or the need for music lessons.
same time Bert Weedon brought out his 'Play in a Day' guitar tutor, which
inspired every struggling guitarist from Hank Marvin through to John Lennon
and Paul McCartney in later years. Now we
could do it.
'n Roll had burst on the scene led by Bill Haley and followed by Elvis who
brought the glamour and introduced the desire aspect for the budding
beginner - screaming girls!
had the ability and the desire.
we needed was the opportunity and the need.
Rock 'n Roll appeared on the scene it was viewed with contempt and ridicule
by the established musicians of the time. The polished, strict tempo dance
bands, their middle aged leaders looking like models from a Littlewoods
catalogue, immaculate, safe .... and boring, came to realise that perhaps
there was a demand for this new American Jive stuff.
top twenty at that time was based entirely on the sale of sheet music.
Amazing as it seems the sale of records didn't enter into it. The
dance bands bought the music and produced a safe and clinical version for
the approval of the proper dancers.
weakness became our strength. We couldn't read music so we bought the
records, listened to them and reproduced the sound as closely as we could.
the public was getting what they really wanted to hear and dance to - the
raw and rough atmosphere of the original record, often recorded almost live
- mistakes and all.
third element was in place, the need.
could we get out and break into the stronghold of the Dance Bands? We had
played at the Youth Club Social evenings, at birthdays and parties but how
could we get into the big time? In our
case it came through the enterprise of the manager of a cinema in Shirley,
the Atherley. He had
run a couple of Talent Competitions in between films on a Sunday night and
now looked towards the new craze. This was also in line with the cinemas
being able to reduce their Entertainment Tax bill by featuring 'live'
entertainment so quite a shrewd business move too!
guitarist noticed a poster outside the cinema advertising a 'Skiffle
Competition' and inviting entries. We went along and put our name down. No
worries at that point because that's what we were - a skiffle group with a
drummer. It was
spread over three weeks with a final on the fourth. We
went along on the first night to see what the competition would be. A
couple of skiffle groups, 3 or 4 piece, (not very good), a five piece group
with two Indian lads very young but full of energy and enthusiasm none other
than 'Ricky and the Hi-Lites' - the Brown Brothers with their own
first venture into the spotlight). The heat finished with a band from
Portsmouth called The Leopards.
boys had it all, the flash clothes, the latest instruments, electric
guitars, this wasn't skiffle - this was Rock 'n Roll and they
walked it! We
came away totally dejected and called into the managers office to withdraw
our group from the competition. He talked to us for some time, gently
reassuring us, encouraging us, building us up until we agreed to stay in. I was
impressed at the time, thinking he was being supportive but I realise now
that he was protecting his shows - no group/no show.
obvious that we couldn't survive as a skiffle group so we went to an
electrical shop in Shirley, told them of our plight, and they gave us a home
made amplifier which we could pay for over a period of many weeks. Many
thanks to them. We all
had black trousers so by buying black shirts we than had outfits and a name
The Blackjacks. A
change of songs from the genuine skiffle to the out and out Rock numbers,
two Elvis and two Buddy Holly, much rehearsing and two weeks later we were
second heat had been won by another Southampton group Brian Fisher and the
Strangers, equally dressed up and electrified.
arrangement was for groups to show up in the morning, rehearse on stage and
get the feel of the theatre. The
term 'stage' is a bit grand for the 3 foot walkway between the footlights
and the pit which separated us from the screen. This pit allowed the
curtains to sweep in front of the screen at the end of the film - we didn't
have the luxury of curtains and had to carry our instruments down the
gangway at the side of the cinema seats and up the narrow steps to the
honestly can't remember any of the other groups with us apart from a trio
called 'The Worried Men' I have
never heard of a more appropriate name for a group because not only did they
only have one song 'It takes a worried man to sing a worried song', but they
obviously hadn't done the research that we had and realised that they were
totally out of their depth.
rehearsed, packed up and went home for dinner. I
arranged to meet up with my guitarist in the pub opposite the cinema to have
a drink before we went in.
we went into the bar we found that the Worried Men had been drinking there
since the rehearsals and were far from worried now, in fact they couldn't
give a **** !.
crowds gathered, the manager announced the first group and one by one we
filed onto the stage, performed and filed off again.
Several times he called the Worried Men but they failed to answer. He was
just about to call it a day when there was the sound of crashing and
shouting from the back and the Worried Men ran down the aisle carrying
guitars and tea chest bass. They climbed onto he stage, set up were
introduced and started to play their song. It
consisted of one verse, repeated over and over.
that wasn't bad enough they started very slowly but the drink and the cheers
of the audience inspired them and the tempo increased and increased, hands
were becoming a blur and words were running into each other. Lord knows what
would have happened if the bass player had not had a rush of blood to the
head and tried to emulate Bill Haleys bass player by leaping onto his tea
result was inevitable. He went straight over the top and disappeared into
thoughts of the competition went out the window as the manager was more
worried than the Worried Men in case he had damaged the screen. They fished
him out and the Worried Men left the building. The
judging was conducted by the audience. One representative from each band
stood on the stage and the manager asked for applause for each group in
order. It was
my job to stand there and receive the accolade of the audience. Not only did
we receive the vocal acclaim and clapping but also a hail of ice-cream
cartons, cigarette packets, drink cartons and anything else that came to
absolute carnage and in the wisest decision of his career the manager picked
on the biggest youth in the crowd and asked him to pick the winner. Looking
up and down he pointed to me. We
final was a similar story in respect of the missiles and ultimate judge but
we were soundly beaten by the Strangers.
Strangers decided to capitalise on their success and went down to see Len
Canham at the Royal Pier. He was trying to introduce the Teenager Party
Nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They were immediately taken on as one of
the featured bands. If
they could do it so could we so after a visit to Len we also appeared on
stage at the Wednesday Party Night. He seemed impressed and told us to learn
some more numbers and go back and see him again.
it was only later that I realised he needed groups more than we needed
venues. We now
had the opportunity.
elements were now in place and away we went on the roller coaster ride of a
Pete Broyd -Royal Pier
What a terrific piece that offers another
great insight into the birth of rock n roll bands in the late Fifties! My
thanks to Pete and everybody who enhances this website which can be shared with
the world! Keep 'em coming!
ANSWER TO THE QUIZ:
The photograph at the top of the page?
No- not a Fender amp but this is the actual store front of the Guitar Store
in Commercial Road Southampton - very clever idea but has resulted in a few
near collisions as passing motorists (usually musicians) spot this image for
the first time! If you go back to the photo, then click on the image for a
link to their own website
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