Early Days.... Hugh
In early 1958 my brother bought a guitar and learned to play a couple of chords. I would rush home from school and try to play his guitar myself while he was still at work, although I was under threat not to touch it. Eventually he caught me, (and didn't explode,) but decided to show me what he had learned. I was being taught Music Theory in the first year at grammar school which I applied to the guitar, and consequently we both learned more and more. I got my own guitar in late 1958 and then there was no stopping us. I played in a few groups/bands at school and joined my first paying group in 59/60. I then joined 'Lennie Tombstone and the Skeletons'... they just don't have names like that anymore! I played with various groups and bands over the next decade, including Ian King And The Classics; Four of Clubs; Gloria Mayne; Triangle and an organist called Cutty Short. I moved to Leeds in 1973. I joined a group called 'Craze' named after the lead guitarist/singer called Des Craze (real name). That lasted through the 70's and I finally joined a hotel gig band in 1980 which saw me through to 2000 when I finally packed it all up as I had lost interest in the whole scene.
Playing with Cutty Short was an experience... he played keyboards and was regular at a pub on Barnetby top. He had a load of contacts and would accept gigs for any number of musicians... consequently I found myself playing (bass at the time), in a trio/quartet/ and everything up to a twelve piece band. All he would do was to phone round until he had the appropriate number... it didn't matter what the mix was, so I once played in a eight or nine piece band with a tuba, two sax's, a trumpet and a banjo..... all experience.... I seem to recall that Mick Strangleman also played with Cutty. All good fun.
In 2002, after two years in the musical wilderness and being badgered (long distance) by my brother, I bought a computer and began writing music, and this has gone from strength to strength. I have had several CDs published now..
I have read with amusement all the tales about moonies and problem vans.... and I believe them all. I recall one foggy November Saturday with Ian King & The Classics; we had a gig at a pub in Maltby, South Yorkshire and because of the weather decided to set off at 3.00pm. The fog was REALLY bad, and at times some band member got out and ran in front off the van, as it was faster. We got to Doncaster at 7.00pm, and decided to phone the pub up...no mobiles in those days... only to be told that there was already a group there and we weren't booked!!!! So turn round and go home... I got home at 11.30pm, all for nothing...Happy Days!
And also the gig we had in Leverton, near Boston...AT A GIRLS' SCHOOL. So five normal teenager lads, who were always looking for girls, had to play at a girls' school...heaven. We were told quite forcefully that girls were not allowed anywhere near us without a teacher... well I ask you. I mean what did they think we were going to do???? It did all end in tears and we never got a return booking there... thank goodness we got paid!
And the Grimsby gig with Gloria Mayne... she was a real trooper, and had asked some man in the audience to wear one of her ties, so that she could come down from the stage and cut it off. Corny but it always got a very good laugh.. when she tried to do this, the man was at the bar getting served and she cut his brother's tie of by mistake (so she said)... that got a double laugh when the chap came back from the bar.
Playing with Triangle... Don Lee, Rod Clarke and me, and sometimes with Roy Emmerson (what a lovely voice he had), was always a laugh. We were a comedy band and I recall the night it all went wrong; Don came to hit me with the microphone, (all part of the act), except this time he did hit me... I went backwards and knocked my mike over, Rod tried to catch my mike and knocked his mike over, Don tried to catch everything and fell into the drums. The drums went everywhere, all three of us were on the floor and everything was flattened...we brought the house down; they thought it was all part of the act.
It's party time
Early Days... James
My earliest memories have always been about wanting to play guitar. As a kid I remember trying to make one out of a piece of wood and a wooden box, the strings were bits of fishing line, not a great success. I eventually got a guitar after I started work, I was about 16yrs old, it was a Spanish style guitar with a neck as wide as a bus, still I thought I had the earth. I bought it out of the paper, Headquarters and General was the firm, I believe. My dad had to sign as guarantee, and I paid for it weekly by postal order. (under threat not to miss a payment). After several attempts to learn to play from the Bert Weedon Play in a Day Book, I finally gave up, and put it in a cupboard. It wasn’t until my younger brother Hugh started playing, that I took an interest again. Together we managed to learn a few chords and eventually a few songs.
I joined a local Scunthorpe group called the Jesters, my enthusiasm to play was not matched by my ability so I was given the job of rhythm guitarist. The equipment we used was unbelievable by today’s standards. The lead guitar, rhythm and vocals all went thru a 30watt valve amp, RSC I believe. The speaker cabinet was a kitchen table, turned on its side with 4x12” speakers and a curtain draped over it. The bass player, played thru a 15 watt Linear valve amp and I think a 15” speaker. The two mics we had, would give you a massive electric shock, if you were unlucky enough to touch them with your lips, while singing. We all had great respects for those mics. The setup was laughable, but most of the other groups, were in a similar situation, mainly no money, those were hard times. It was not unknown to find someone playing thru a tape recorder, using an ex wd set of earphones as a pickup for their guitar. I blew a Dansette record player up, by wiring an earphone to the stylus and playing guitar thru it. Happy days, but my girlfriend was not best pleased, she had to pay for it to be repaired.
We later progressed and bought better guitars and amps. The bass player bought a new Fender bass and I bought a Harmony guitar, the lead guitarist bought an Italian guitar, I don’t know the make. It seemed to be more plastic than wood, but it had a lovely action on it, and sounded great. Unfortunately the playing didn’t improve with the new gear, but we got thru, and were kept quite busy. Every pub and club had a live band on, most nights of the week. Most of the money we earned,(which wasn’t much), was spent on beer and transport. We would get back to Scunthorpe in the early hours of the morning, after playing somewhere in a Yorkshire club, followed with a midnight start at RAF Lindholme Sergeants Mess. There was a pub in Scunthorpe called The Queens, which catered for the nightshift steelworkers. It opened from 6am til 8am, we would often call there after a nights playing and drinking. It would be going full swing, singing, dancing, fighting etc. unbelievable.
The group eventually disbanded, and we went our separate ways, most of us forming or joining other groups. It was certainly an experience, but a very enjoyable one, and one I would not have missed. The Jesters consisted originally of Dave Churchman,bass Dereck Hodson Lead guitar,Johnny Goldthorpe Drums, myself on Rhythm guitar and Ian King vocalist. Ian eventually left to join Ian King and the Classics, my brother Hugh played rhythm guitar for the Classics. We then got Lennie Tombstone as Vocalist. John the drummer moved to Manchester so we then got Malcolm Hatton on drums. To finish of the lineup, we got Angela Tidswell as female vocalist. Lennie was later replaced with Jimmy Shield, who had the range to sing Roy Orbison songs. For a time we really were a showband, (although we didn't know it then), we had a male volalist, a female vocalist and most of the band sang and did vocal backing, with so many singers, we could cover a large spectrum of music.
My next group was the Four of Clubs, the group consisted of myself on rhythm guitar, my brother Hugh on lead guitar, Terry Huish on bass guitar and Colin Hatton on drums. The group originally was the Three of Clubs, but after a short time we decided to add a drummer and Colin joined us. We mostly played in working mens clubs and nightclubs, hence the name, The music was influenced by the Beach Boys and we covered quite a few of their songs,we did a lot of harmony numbers with lots of vocal backing. We played regularly at Titos Club at Arrow Bowling,and a couple of Titos other Nightclubs.Colin Hatton our drummer emigrated to Australia and was replaced by his brother Malcolm. Malcolm was originally our drummer with the Jesters.The group disbanded in the late 60's and most of the members went on to form or join other groups. Colin Hatton returned from Australia after several years, and went on to play in numerous other bands. His brother Malcolm, sadly died a few years ago.Terry Huish continued playing in numerous other groups. Hugh moved to Leeds and continued playing in groups up to a few years ago. I called it a day, and never played live again, (much to the relief of music lovers everywhere).
The Four of Clubs Van
We bought the van from the garage opposite the Pied Piper pub on Riddings. It was a Bedford Dormobile, it had sliding doors on the driver and passenger side and double door at the rear.
The thing was a shed from day one. It had 3 forward gears and reverse,with a column change. We had been playing at the Mariners club at Grimsby, after packing our gear away, we tried to set off,
that was when the gear lever broke off. we got our tool kit out, which comprised of, a hammer, a screwdriver and a pair of molegrips. We found that by attaching the molegrips to the gear rod, we could
get 2nd & 3rd gear. We later discovered, if we lifted the molegrips and rod, we could get all the gears. problem solved. The next thing that happened was the bottom of the front doors rotted away, this meant if the doors weren't closed properly, they would flap out like wings when cornering. If you opened the doors too quickly, they would jump off their runners and fall off. Which is actually what happened in Doncaster one night. We had called for petrol, there was a cop car parked at the filling station, and the damm door fell off. Malcom Hatton our drummer, calmly got out of the van and rehung it. The cops just sat there open mouthed. Then the thing wouldn't start and we had to push it off. All this time the cops just sat there, they must have thought, they would be writing mountains of paperwork if they booked us, so they turned a blind eye.The next mishap, was that the wipers packed up on a rainy night, returning from Lincoln. We went to our magic toolkit and found some cord. We attached the cord to the wipers and fed it in through the side windows. By pulling the cord left and right the wipers were repaired, sorted.
While returning home from Barnsley, the back mudguard fell through the floor,we stopped, got out and dragged it from around the rear wheel. Because there was a huge hole in the floor, where
the mudguard had been, we all got covered in black mucky spray.The next day we made a mudguard out of an old speaker cabinet, and set it over the hole, we found it doubled up as a seat, sorted.
If you used a vecihle like that today, you would be locked up, but these were different days, and we got away with it. I can't recall what happened to the old van, but when it died, it was well past it's sell by date. R.I.P
After playing in various bands in the sixties, I drifted away from music for many years, especially in the late eighties up to the present day. On retiring, I looked around for a hobby, and decided to take up songwriting. The result is after a couple of years I have written about 60 songs. They range from country to folk to pop and a couple of light rock songs thrown in as well.