The MATADORS

The MATADORS
circa 1962 - 1967 - Sources Broadgate Gnome / Rex Brough / Pete Chambers / Tim James

Beat group

Line up: Neil Tyson (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Dave Finlay (organ, vocals), Dave Colkin (bass, vocals), Harry

Heppingstall (drums).

Formed 1962 , they were a hard gigging and well respected band who were based in Coventry, but who actually came from Hinkley.

In 1964 they signed with Joe Meek as their recording manager and cut a number of sides with him.

"Joe twisted our sound up, he speeded us up so we sounded like chipmunks" said Dave Colkin recently.

After a delay Their first single was leased by Meek to Columbia in 1965 and local sales proved healthy. They released a second single, but dissaffection was setting in with Meek's techniques and they shopped around for another recording manager, and both Tony Hatch and Andrew Loog Oldham both showed interest around May 1966.

By 1967 they were being courted by Polydor, but as the label had a low profile in the UK then,but they never released any singles.

They became Magazine in 1967 with the addition of a brass section, a reflection of the tastes of the time.

Single:

As 'The Four Matadors'

A: A Man's Gotta Stand Tall/ B:Fast Cars And Money (Columbia DB7806 1966)

Their single A Man's Gotta Stand Tall can be found on the album Joe Meek - RGM Rarities Vol. 2: The Beat Group Era 

Mentioned in NME 1966 as The Four Matadors http://www.skidmore.edu/~gthompso/britrock/NME/nme6601.html

YouTube Video


YouTube Video



The winners of the Express poll, the Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stagework and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday" - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The "Mats" do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick." Via Tim James Site From Coventry Express, Friday May 28th 1965

Citybeat by Paul Connew 



From Rex Brough

"Stuart Colman tells me they were from Hinckley. from an article that Tim James posted up , Matadors had an organ player. The Matadors put a great deal of emphasis on stagework and their material ranged from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers was a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday". The "Mats" did some of their own material and hoped to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick.

Stuart also tells me The Matadors cut one single for Columbia entitled "A Man's Gotta Stand Tall". The record was issued in January 1966 and had an excellent band original on the flip called "Fast Cars & Money". The single was issued as being by The Four Matadors and is now highly collectable as it was produced independently by Joe Meek. He remembers another of their own songs they performed on stage called - "The Sun, The Sand & The Sea".

Memories from Tim James

"I always thought they were an ace band in the early 60s, they looked good and played hard biting rock & roll of the day at the youth club dances where I first saw them. But but by '64 they were old hat, hadn't changed with the times, and went on to look more like a cabaret act before they folded."

From Pete Chambers - Backbeat - Coventry Telegraph

This fine "Coventry" band had a secret, they weren't from Coventry at all. They in fact hailed from Hinckley in

Leicestershire, formed out of the enter-level band the Rapiers in 1961, one of the first bands in the area. 

Original drummer Graham Baker had the misfortune of working shifts, so missed various bookings. His temporary fill-in was Harry Heppingstall and after some soul searching Graham was asked to leave and Harry took over the "skins" on a permanent basis. By early 1962 they had re-branded themselves The Matadors. 

"The Beatles came and changed everything," confesses Dave Colkin. "We had a vocalist Larry Spain, but he was asked to leave and we found ourselves as a four piece band. The line-up was that of The Beatles, bass (Dave Colkin), lead (Neil Tyson) and rhythm Dave Findlay (guitars) and a drummer (Harry Heppingstall). We also shared the vocals like the Beatles and would often indulge in three-part harmony again like the Fab-Four. 

"We even got called the Midlands Beatles. We were playing the same songs as them, but up to that point we hadn't heard them so it wasn't like we were copying them. Larry Spain's brother worked on the American Army bases and got hold of the latest stuff coming Stateside, records like Twist and Shout and Chains, so we used them in our act, as did the Beatles. We went to see them when they played at The Co-op Hall in Nuneaton October 1962 and we all turned to each other and declared that they were doing our act!" 

Indeed, their choice of songs was of interest to some of the big acts they got to support. "We used to play Do You Wanna Dance," Harry Heppingstall told me. "We supported Brian Poole and The Tremeloes one night and they expressed an interest in it, next thing we know they had a number one with the song. To make matters worse we had thought about releasing it ourselves." 

It's worth pointing out at this point that the Matadors (or the Mats), were not your average beat band. They were very professional unit that knew how to work an audience, they had a great stage presence and an exciting set-list that included Can I Get A Witness, Well Alright, Walk Like A Man, Fun, Fun, Fun, Mr Pitiful and Everything's Gonna Be Alright. As you can see an emphasis on good old R'n'B - but not so for their one and only single, A Man's Gotta Stand Tall. 

By 1966 The Matadors had got a chance to record a single with the legendary Joe Meek, thanks to their manager Mick Tiernan. Meek was a loose cannon, a changeling producer who had an original approach to sound techniques. He had produced the first US number one by a British pop group - Telstar by The Tornadoes. He liked to experiment with sound' the easiest and most simple way was never an option for Meek. 

We went down to his recording studio in London. I found him arrogant and not over-friendly," said Dave. "Instead of a normal mixing desk Meek had his in a stack and worked standing up, and he looked like a teddy boy. "He fixed Dan Findley piano keys with paper and drawing pins to get the sound he wanted, everything was very experimental." 

I recall," injects Harry. "How very bossy he was, I put my drumsticks down at the end of a take, and he shouted at me to

pick my sticks up again, 'I'll tell you when you can stop'!" 

The Matadors (or the Four Matadors as they were known at the time of this single), were not happy with Meek, the way he had delayed releasing the record and what he had done to it. 

He had speeded up the whole thing, and the vocals just sounded far too high. That's a shame because at the correct pitch, the song has a great keyboard phrase, and is a fine sounding song. 

After internal wranglings with Joe Meek, the single was finally released by Columbia, and sold tremendously well locally, selling out in Jill Hansons, Coventry, in a matter of hours. 

Sadly Columbia never promoted it enough and the lads left to seek another recording contract. One was with the Walker Brothers' recording manager who wanted them to sound like The Walker Brothers, and even puppet master Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame demoed the band in Birmingham, but never got back to them. 

The lads continued doing what they did best, working as a jobbing band seven nights a week, supporting the likes of Matt Monro. They eventually split up, sadly Neil Tyson passed away. The two Daves formed the band Magazine for a time. Harry joined soul band Natural Gas and now drums in Lonnie Donegan tribute act Paul Leegan and The Legends. Dave Colkin still sings, and does a wicked Elvis impersonation in countries as diverse as Thailand and Tenerife. While Dave Findlay went on to play in the band The Old G's (The Old Gits). 

PopTrivia - MATADORS 

IN 1964 The Matadors played on ATV's TV show, For Teenagers Only alongside The Swinging Blue Jeans. 

THEIR Colombia single A Man's Gotta Stand Tall/Fast Cars and Money is now worth around pounds 80 in mint condition, thanks mainly for its Joe Meek connection. 

JOE MEEK lived a troubled life, particularly towards the end of it. Joe had a crush on Heinz, a member of The Tornadoes, and consequently he built a solo career for him where one was not obviously beckoning. When Heinz formed a close relationship with a woman Meek was livid and shot his housekeeper then turned the gun on himself. The gun belonged to Heinz but a verdict of suicide was later proved beyond doubt."

See Pete Chambers Pop into the Past article too http://www.bbc.co.uk/coventry/content/articles/2006/05/26/pop_into_the_past_28_matadors.shtml


From Pete Chambers - Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat

" The Matadors played so much in Coventry that most people thought they were from the town -( they were from Hinckley). They won the Best Coventry Band Contest. Dave Colkin - " We went down to Holloway Rd, London to the house Joe Meek used as his recording studio. I found him arrogant and not over friendly. Instead of a normal mixing desk, Meek had his in a stack and worked standing up. He looked like a Teddy boy. He fixed Dan Findlay's piano keys with paper and drawing pins to get the sound he wanted. Everything was very experimental."

Coventry Telegraph article by Pete Clemons November 2013




Cuttings from Broadgate Gnome A to Z










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