The bands I’ve been in

1968 - Pushbutton Banana

A Christian youthclub 3-piece became PB when Martin Shead and I were joined by Ray Monk, Mark Yeomanson and Tony Boyce. I had been playing drums (2 tom toms and a cymbal) but I donated these to Tony, who was a “real” drummer, and they made up part of his first hybrid kit. I took up bass while Martin continued on guitar, with Ray on the organ and Mark Y as lead singer. We had quite a lot of success on the pub circuit and got as far as the South England finals in a national talent contest, as well as going for an audition for Opportunity Knocks - we weren’t chosen, but I remember Hughie Green saying to us “Nice harmonies, boys”. Oh yes... we were a harmony group, playing standard pop and quite a lot of original pop material.

After a couple of years, Martin left to join another local group, including Phil Martin (q.v. Galleon/The Record Players), so we morphed into...

c.1970 - MABY

which increasingly became MAB, as Yeomanson lost interest leaving Monk, Addison and Boyce to pursue some interesting directions. However, Ray was increasingly being pulled in the direction that eventually led him to be musical director at Granada Television (Stars in Their eyes et al), so eventually the group just fizzled away.

1972 - Galleon

Phil Martin, a local musician of some note, asked me to join this band - I think their bass player had just left. He was on guitar, with Dave Smith (q.v. Back Seat Driver) on drums, Pete Robinson on keyboards and some used-to-be-famous lead singer for about a year. This was a more rocky band, playing the pubs and clubs a little further afield - Dave was from Canterbury and Phil, as a travelling rep, got around a fair bit.

Dave and Pete left to join a real Canterbury band, Origin (with another Pete on guitar (q.v. Back Seat Driver)), so Tony Boyce joined on drums, Ray occasionally played on keyboards, with Louis Balestrini eventually joining on lead guitar. He brought along his friend Andy Crockett, also on guitar - too may guitarists, so Phil was dropped in a very ungrateful way (he had founded the band and organized all the bookings, etc.). We continued as Galleon for a while, eventually changing our name to...

c. 1975 - Deuce

enjoying quite a lot of success as a rock band doing covers - we more or less had a residency at the Ship Inn in Margate. Then Tony left to go to university and after a while with the replacement drummer, I left too, being replaced by Martin Horne (q.v. the Record Players).

In the interim, I teamed up with Phil Martin again (he’s a very forgiving friend) and the brothers Larner: Frank on keyboards and Gordon (q.v. the Record Players) on drums. We occasionally played gigs, but most importantly, with the onset of punk, we developed into...

1976 - the Record Players

initially as a 3-piece, Phil, Gordon and myself, but soon joined by Martin Horne on bass, leaving me to experiment as a guitarist. We were more new wave than punk, but our limited musical abilities (in particular with me on guitar) often identified us as the latter, though we often got bookings in the East Kent working men’s clubs as a 60s band (modifying our repertoire only slightly).

The inspiring thing about the Record Players for me was that we did either originals or heavily modified/arranged covers, so it wasn’t surprising that we started recording as well, producing 3 7-inchers and appearing on a couple of compilations. We had some success in the alternative charts in those days (we got into the top 10), largely because of Phil’s astuteness as a marketing wizard (which was instinctive rather than learned). The Record Players was definitely the most rewarding band I’ve been in, but I was also playing with...

1978 - Back Seat Driver

a Canterbury-based band with Dave Smith on drums and Pete on guitar (both from Origin, from which this group developed), joined by another Dave Smith (what are the odds?!) on guitar and Robin on electric piano. To an extent, BSD was everything that the RP wasn’t - a technically very proficient band, always popular live, before long playing regular and well-paying gigs. What the two groups had in common was that both ended up doing inspiring original recording work and... they both took up a lot of my time. While I was working at Hadleigh School, this didn’t prove to be a problem (though once I gave up the chance to play with The Record Players supporting Sham 69 at the Sunshine Rooms in Margate for a simple practice with the Canterbury band). However, as soon as I was taken on at Churchill House School, I realized I couldn’t have too many evenings taken up with music, so I chose to stay with the less-busy group and left BSD. I don’t regret it, because despite their limits the Record Players had more to contribute to original music. So back to...

September 1978 - the Record Players

went through various changes, doing more recording, eventually losing Martin, who decided to change his style of life, gaining a keyboard player for a while, with myself back on bass, then losing Gordon too - he was not replaced. Sadly both Martin and Gordon are no longer alive. Phil formed a folk duo...

the Explorers Club, with whom I occasionally played bass and had a lot of fun, but that was the end of my semi-professional music career. Phil went on along the folk path and became hurdygurdy man Drohne (along with other instruments), while I concentrated on home recording by myself. Sadly Phil died in 2014.

To hear an example of this DIY music and for a Record Players track, go to Music.