Monday, 7 January 2013
Rock 'n' Roll Archive - The Disc May 1964 1964 was the year when the term Beatlemania was coined. The Liverpool boys had their rivals though and heading the list were London's Rolling Stones. They've been called everything from great to outrageous. Now Disc tells you what the Rolling Stones are really like. The Stones were the main feature with a full page photograph on the cover and a double page feature inside. Keith; 'People think we’re wild and unruly. But it isn't true. I'm not a great raver by any means.' Mick; 'I hate petty people. I'm not over fond of being hungry either. Particularly when we're travelling and the only place to eat is a transport cafe' Bill; 'Thing I hate most about playing one-nighters is the fact that I don't get home till three or four in the morning. It's all grey dawn and cold and horrible and I'm tired. The playing is great it's the aftermath ad driving miles home.' Brian; 'A two tone Humber hawk is my favourite possession but the trouble is, I can't leave it outside the flat or theatre and in a way, it's an awful lot of trouble.' Charlie; 'I can't drive and don't particularly want to learn at the moment. I could change my mind in a couple of weeks though.' The Beatles were working on their very own TV Special with producer Jack Good. 'It has been a terrific thrill to work with them' Jack said while stating he is convinced the boys are the natural successors to the Crazy Gang. 'Take the Shakespearean sketch; the Beatles are acting a six minute sketch in full costume from A Midsummer’s Night Dream with Paul a Bottom, George as Moonshine, John as Thisbe and Ringo as the Lion. Thing is when they first saw the script they didn't like it. Thought it just wasn't funny. I had a hard job persuading them to do it. I was amazed at how quickly they picked it up and learnt their lines. At the start of the show they wear herald’s costumes to play a fanfare on the trumpets. They all had their costumes on and once they got hold of the trumpets it was riotous. All four of them started busking Cant Buy Me Love - it sounded like a street band down on the Shaftesbury Avenue!' Away from the stage Ringo was rumoured to be engaged to Dusty Springfield! This apparently was doing the rounds when Dusty arrived in the Hawaiian Islands where Dusty arrived for a few days holiday. The islands were buzzing with the news. If that left Ringo bemused, in America news was breaking that he was engaged to actress Ann-Margret! Disc wrote 'Ridiculous American publicity reaches new heights of absurdity with Hollywood claiming the song Anna on the Beatles' debut LP is dedicated to her! Top of the charts for this week were The Searchers with Don’t Throw Your Love Away. with the Bachelors on their tails at number two with I Believe. New releases included a Tommy Quickly record titled aptly, You Might As Well Forget Him. Interestingly from other music papers Disc included the top ten charts from other countries. Top in Spain was If I Had A Hammer by Trini Lopez, In Holland it was Vous Permettez Monsieur by Adamo and Norway's number one was La Meg Vaere Ung by Wenche Myhre. Gerry Marsden says he's been flying around that much, every time he sees a plane his elbow starts flapping! His brother Fred hates flying as Gerry reveals 'he just sits there very quietly when we're taking off and looks straight ahead. All the way until we land. Then he looks pleased - and surprised. The Letters page included a couple of interesting observations;' surely its time your readers realised what a 'gimmick' is? wrote R.F. Mattews, 84 Gofenton Drive, Oldbury Court, Fishponds, Bristol. ‘It seems obvious to me that a 'gimmick' is something used by artists to attract attention to their act and should be something easily removed by an artist on leaving the stage. Johnny Kidd and the Pirates with their pirate rig have a 'gimmick' but to say that the Rolling Stones' long hair is a gimmick is rubbish, since they don't remove their hair off stage!' C.Redmond, Northfield, Birmingham wrote; 'The great raving rocker Jerry Lee Lewis has shaken, bopped, and battered his way round England leaving a trail of lifeless pianos and breathless fans. Anyone who has seen his act must agree when I say it's now time for a welcome chart comeback.' Also happening this week.... This same week around the globe there was news of a £500 ransom demand for the return of the head of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen made to Danish newspaper BT. The paper's response was 'we don't know if the ransom is genuine or nonsense but we have forwarded the letter to the Copenhagen Homicide Squad as you would have expected, but if you don't want to talk to the police you may call us by telephone.' The head was severed in April and the police believe the job of cutting the head off was done in stages over several days. The headless statue is now in the workshops of the Royal Danish bronze foundries where a new head is being made. The well known tourist attraction was made by sculptor Edvard Eriksen in 1912 and placed by the waterside of the Copenhagen harbour in 1913. Britain's obsession with the weather was illustrated with over 500,000 telephone calls between October and April from people wanting to know if it was going to piss down. Two men walked into the Turkish Baths in Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, London, snatched the spectacles off the desk attendant and then robbed his till of £76. On television this weekend was a 90 minute Big Beat Show on Midlands TV starring Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Dave Clark Five and many more. Sunday Night at the London Palladium boasted the Dallas Boys, Lena Horne and comedian Don Arrol. As well as the regular 15 minute Beat the Clock game which gave compere the idea for his later huge success with the Generation Game. Z Cars, The Flying Doctor and Armchair Theatre provided this weekend's drama. A brand new Volkswagen 1200, advertised 'this is the car that asks to be abused, only then you will appreciate its durability and longevity'. Yours for only £625. The Austin Mini would have set you back £493 while if a Triumph Herald 1200 was your fancy, this was on sale for £579.7s.1d. How they came to adding 7/1d is anybody's guess! After you've bought a brand new car you may have wanted to smarten yourself up with the latest 'you can't beat style' suit from Burton's Tailoring at the cost of £11.19s 6d. Greville Wynn the businessman arrested in Russia in 1963 admitted to the Gordon Hospital, Westminster suffering with 'a disturbed mental state'. He was said to be making good progress. 'What's On Around the local Clubs and Pubs.' Kettering Windmill Club has Reg on the organ. The Working Mens Club in Wellington Street had Otto on the organ with Albert the compere. Town Band advertised a Free and Easy Night with Baz, Ray & Dodie. Ye Dun Cow, Wellingborough had Sing with Madge at the piano while The Globe Inn over at Raunds had Florence on piano and Bert on drums.
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Two brothers who had paid their dues were twins Mick and Tony Haselip of Weldon. Tony had originally replaced Rhubarb Tree bound guitarist Graham Henderson in the Pacifics in 1966 before forming Magnetic Storm with his bass playing brother Mick. After a brief affair with the Lykes of Witch, they were now together and turning pro with another set of brothers, Stuart and Jimmy Irving and Kettering drummer Steve Short under the name of Alas Jon Smith, embarking on a tour of United States army bases in Germany beginning at Wildflecken in Bavaria. The base was originally a training centre for the Wehrmacht, the German Army 1937-39, and now a military training camp used by all NATO partners. One of its most famous residents was Elvis Presley back in 1958. Tony; 'Mick, Stuart and myself all completed apprenticeships with British Steel Corby before going to Germany with Alias John Smith. It was our first job as professional musicians, it said so on our passports and we were proud, but as events unfolded it turned out to be a real eye opener. It seems unbelievable now but we had to play 5 x 45 minute sets each night and we were working 6 nights a week. We were always broke, the deal was that we got paid 25% of our wages + expenses out in Germany and the 75% balance was sent back to the UK for safe keeping, we were told that this was the only way to avoid paying tax in both countries. It seemed logical at the time and we gave it no more thought. Later on, after returning to the UK we had another adventure trying to trace our money, we went to see the agent Harry Goldblatt (honest it’s true) in Bournemouth, but he had disappeared. We never did get the dosh, but that’s another story. I remember on one occasion shortly after arriving in Germany we played at a US base (pre re-unification) at Wildfleken on the border between East and West Germany. It was where the Americans had their crack ski-troops, just in case the Russians decided to attack across the mountains. It wasn’t only the war that was cold; it was the middle of winter with temperatures down to -20c. We got to the base easily enough, but that evening the snow was relentless and at about 8pm the guardroom told us that the main Autobahn was closed. The Officer in charge of entertainment kindly offered to put us up in the sergeant’s quarters, a decision which he was later going to regret. They were basic amenities a bunk and a sink but we had little choice and gratefully accepted his hospitality. That night the club was packed, a captive crowd as there was nowhere else to go, we finished as normal at about midnight and it was then that the CO suggested a game of poker, the deal being that if we lost we played a song and if he lost he bought a round of drinks, that went on until about 3am, we stopped when the drummer Steve Short fell off his drum stool, we were all totally bladdered. The kindly Officer then offered us a lift to quarters in his 2 cars, he had a 4x4 pickup and a gleaming Cadillac saloon, both cars were parked outside the club at the bottom of a small hill, we helped him to ‘gently’ clear away the snow so that he could show off the paintwork, he told us the story of how he had managed to con the Army and got them to fly them both out from his hometown in Texas, they were his pride and joy. He drove the pickup with Stuart Irving and me sitting up front and his Sergeant drove the Cadillac with Mick, Steve and Jimmy checking out the drinks cabinet in the back. The road was total whiteout and so slippy that even the 4x4 struggled to get up the hill, his first attempt failed he slithered to a stop just short of the crest, so he reversed back down the hill, couldn’t stop and wrote off both his cars in one hit. I often wondered afterwards what his insurance company would have to say about that. Whilst in Germany we were based in the Hotel De France at Wiesbaden near Frankfurt, it was a good central location and most nights we managed to get ‘home’ to the hotel, but some gigs were too far away. On one occasion we played at a base in South Germany that was very close to the Swiss border. It was too far to travel back to Wiesbaden so during the evening we arranged to stay overnight in the officers lounge, the local hotels were much too expensive but fortunately one of the troops we met had a girlfriend that worked in a local hotel and he arranged for her to get us some bogus receipts, the agent paid us extra for overnight stops, nice one. We finished the gig, packed away the gear and settled down for the night in the Officers lounge. It was a large room with about seven sofas and a dozen armchairs. I got comfortable and quickly fell asleep. The next thing - I was abruptly woken and heard shouting and screaming, Stuart was dragging me off the sofa towards the door I could hear him saying ‘come on Tony be quick’, I shoved him away, ‘what’s going on?’ I was confused, I turned and saw two US marines both drunk, they were shouting something about smelly feet, one of them kicked the plate glass door which smashed into pieces I then noticed that they had guns and were pointing them at us. We legged it. Driving became more and more difficult the longer we stayed in Germany. The old Ford transit was struggling with the extra mileage and extreme temperatures; it wasn’t long before it took four of us to drive it. One person on the steering wheel, another with a piece of string connected to the carburetor (the accelerator cable had snapped), another on the windscreen wipers (the motor had packed in) and another de-misting the windows (the heater didn’t work). Still we had all that money waiting for us back home, we could buy new gear, take a holiday, it was nice to dream.' Steve did most of the driving down, he was more knackered than the rest of us. I remember traveling down an autobahn when Steve suddenly dozed off and veered over onto the other side of road, with a big artic Italian wagon coming the other way. Steve panicked, just in time! and avoided a collision but we ended up facing the wrong way. The lorry chased after us, with a wee Italian driver going nuts. It didn't help when Stuart Irving gave him the finger! He managed to hem us in and jumped out threatening like a wild man. We were crapping ourselves but Steve started backing up and we escaped from the scene! Crazy!' Alas Jon Smith survived their many escapades in Germany and on their return auditioned successfully for legendary British Rock 'n' Roll star Marty Wilde who was set for a tour with his mate Joe Brown. John Grimley, who had joined Alias a month into the German tour when Mick and Tony Haselip returned home, recalls their first meeting with Wilde. "We were actually auditioning for a Jersey gig at a place in Derby, which we lost out on but Marty's manager Hal Carter, a well known figure who counted the Kinks amongst his clientele, just happened to be there and invited us to audition for Marty. We traveled up to Hull for this, set our gear up and Marty asked us to play a rock and roll song, a ballad and a pop song while he walked around this big hall in his sheepskin listening to us. At the end he asked us, "Have you got any stage gear?” We showed him our suits and that sealed it. “I like your sound, you'll do for me." It was the start of a terrific few years for us, leading to a three year gig for me with ex Move bass player Ace Kefford. Strangely, Marty asked which one of us was Jon Smith. "None of us" I said. "Who's Jon then?" I told him my name was John and he replied, "Do you know what my real name is?" to which I said no. It's Reg Smith, call me Reg from now on!" “Our first rehearsal was at the Corby Bowling Alley, soon to become the Stardust Centre, where we ran through Marty’s hits Sea Of Love, Bad Boy, Teenager In Love etc. with me and Stuart providing the backing vocals. That was the day when Shafts opened its doors as the Exclusive Club and we were supposed to be playing along with Boot Z. Then all of a sudden, we were told we were making our debut with Marty that same night in Bedford at the Royal County Theatre Club as a late replacement for the Peddlars who called off because their drummer had fallen off his drum stool and fractured his arm!' Nevertheless, despite the short notice, the band received an encouraging report for its debut in the showbiz page of the Bedford Chronicle? 'It was memory lane once again at the cabaret presented by the RYTC when Marty Wilde came on stage and did his thing. His backing men are the Alas Jon Smith Group and they presented a few numbers on their own before the top of the bill. This group was a little slow starting but once they got into the swing of things were really quite good and interesting to watch, particularly their lead singer, a very versatile funny young man by the name of Stewart. It has been said about Marty,, and quite truthfully too, that the basis of nearly all pop music is rock and roll and listening to the big voice of Marty you could see why. It was a pleasure to see a male entertainer who didn't have a tiny wasp waist and dainty little black patent leather dancing shoes. He was a big man, full of masculine charm and he turned on more than one female in the audience. Marty and his group had a right old go at Blue Suede Shoes and a Red Indian chant that had to be heard to be believed. The bawdy Old Bazaar In Cairo was done with much wit and laughter all around. Many old hits made the rounds, among them Teenager In Love, Rubber Ball, Donna, Singing The Blues. There was a great deal of variety and one of the best numbers was Joni Mitchell's Woodstock. Very nicely done and the Jon Smith backing group really outdid themselves with it.' John; 'Next day, without Marty, we drove up to North Shield for a gig. That was a sign of things to come. We played two gigs a night for two weeks with Marty and then two weeks gigging without him. It was a hectic schedule playing venues such as the She Club in Liverpool and the following night a Working Men’s Club in Bristol. One week we played in Barrow In Furness and the next night in Welwyn Garden City! Two years of living out of a suitcase, some of the digs weren't particularly brilliant either. If you were booked into what they called 'theatre' digs, tbat was fine, you would get a breakfast at lunchtime. Even the sleeping arrangements were iffy at times. We played in South Wales a lot, Swansea sticks in my mind for a joke we played on Jimmy Irving. The landlady showed us our room and told us there was one double bed with nylon sheets, and two single beds, one with nylon sheets and the second with cotton. Jimmy immediately spoke up and said "I can't sleep under nylon sheets, I'm allergic to them, I'll have to have the single bed with cotton sheets. He then went to the bathroom - and we all jumped into the single bed with the cotton sheets before he came back. Just then, the door opened - and who should be standing there but the landlady! "Well I never!" she exclaimed in that lovely lilting Welsh voice, "what do we have here then?" She thought we were a bunch of queers!."No, you've got the wrong idea!" I said. Jimmy came back in, wondering what the hell was going on and we explained to the landlady it was all a bit of a laugh. She saw the funny side of it thankfully. It was in Swansea me and Steve Short had an altercation. We'd finished playing this club and had a few drinks. Steve was having a go at me about something or nothing and we ended up fighting each other! Marty intervened, just as the bouncers turned up and threw us all out. "I've never been thrown out of a club in my life!" Marty shouted. "You have now" I said. Normally a gig began with Alias Jon Smith playing a couple of numbers before Marty casually strolled on, walked up to the mic, say “Good evening” and then without looking, stretch his arm out behind him, where I would then pass him his Gibson semi acoustic and we'd go straight into Elvis's Burning Love. It was corny but good crack. One night, I passed him a cheap plastic Woolworth’s guitar! He took it all in good fun though! I’m glad he did for he was a big bloke! Ricky Valance, the one hit wonder star, (Tell Laura I Love Her) overstepped the mark one time, making a sarcastic remark about him on stage. When he came off Marty pinned him up against the dressing room wall by the throat, threatening to do him over. Probably the highlight was a short Rock ‘n’ Roll tour we did with Billy Fury, Billy J. Kramer and Heinz. Both Fury and Kramer were nervous wrecks, used to drink a bottle of whisky before going on stage. Joyce and his kids Ricky and Kim would often show up at gigs, this was long before Kim became a huge star! 11 year old Ricky was signed up by Jonathan King as a hopeful answer to Donny Osmond and we played on a few sessions with him for his album. We finished playing with Marty when we eventually got tired of being ripped off by his manager Hal Carter.
Friday, 4 January 2013
The first Corby band to gain a Top Twenty hit was St Cecilia with Leap Up And Down (Wave Your Knickers In The Air) in June 1971. Written by bass player Keith Hancock, inspiration for the song came during a holiday on the East coast with singer Les Smith. Keith: "We rented cottage in Norfolk where we met some French girls and during the time we spent with them the phrase ‘Leap up and down, wave your knickers in the air’ came into my head. Maybe I was being optimistic! But for some reason it stayed in the recesses of my mind”. A week later I phoned Ricky Moss and told him I was going to write a hit record called Leap Up And Down. He started laughing. Two hours later I phoned to tell him I’d done it. Later in the week I played it to the rest of the band and they thought it was OK - so we started featuring it in our stage act. The song went down so well with the fans that we booked time at Derek Tompkins’ Beck studio in Wellingborough to record a demo of it. The recording session went smoothly and we emerged with a product I felt sure some enterprising record company would be certain to take. We had a lovely raucous, ballsy, brass sound on it and what I thought was a great bass line. Our manager sent the demo to several companies but they all seemed reluctant to take it on due to its lyrical content.” John Proctor: “Wherever we played the song, people asked if it was available on disc. Eventually we started selling individually cut acetates for £1.50 a time - a huge amount of money, in 1971, when a 7” single cost only 35p. This fact alone convinced us that, if we could get a record deal, the song would sell. In due course Jonathan King heard the song and recognised the humour in it. King decided he could make it into a hit record and arranged a recording session for us at the Marquee Martin Studios in Wardour Street, London. We re-recorded the song along with an absolutely dire ‘B’ side called How You Gonna Tell Me - which King provided. This ensured that if the record was a hit, he would reap equal royalties! King also informed us that he didn’t like the bass line, insisting that it was too similar to the Beatles’ Ob La Di. We didn't agree but he changed it all the same and as a result, in our opinion, all the guts were taken out of the recording. It changed the sound totally. As soon as the recording was done we had to rush off to the South coast for a booking later that night - which meant that we had nothing to do with the final mixing. Jonathan secured a deal with Polydor Records and three weeks later we were summoned to their offices to hear the finished product. We were distraught. It sounded awful when compared to the original demo but there was nothing any of us could do about it. Fortunately and despite our reservations, the record was a success and spent seventeen weeks in the charts that summer - peaking at number 12. Looking back on the whole affair, I sometimes wish we had recorded a cover version of What Have They Done To My Song, Ma? - Melanie's big hit of that summer - as a response to King’s interference.” The boys received a boost when Peter Jones reviewed it on his 'new singles' page in the Record Mirror. ‘This is blatantly commercial and could easily make it. Pretty straightforward stuff, at a breakneck tempo, and the frequent use of the word ‘knickers’ is no hardship. Could click.’ Guitarist John Proctor: “Unfortunately, it labeled us as a sort of dirty picture postcard band. Polydor released the record in April 1971 - but it was a struggle to get radio airtime. The lyrics appear tame now but, at the time, they caused us a problem”. The opening verse was: I once knew a girl, who was very, very shy, Who never ever seemed to catch anyone’s eye, She hit on a theme that made all the boys stare, She leaped up and down and waved her knickers in the air. Bringing his considerable resources to bear, Jonathan King promoted the record relentlessly. Interviewed in Reveille in July, he explained what had caught his imagination. ‘When I set out on this road I decided that my own formula for success was to be different. My formula is so different that when producers hear my product it stands out, they programme it and the housewives who listen have to notice it. ‘Knickers’ is a perfect example. When I first heard the song it made me sit up so I guessed it would have the same effect on others. It was ghastly, but different. It had a common, catchy bouncy enthusiastic quality, rather like a seaside postcard.’ Initial Sales were sluggish - mainly due to the BBC’s reluctance to broadcast a song about knickers. With DJs such as Tony Blackburn refusing to play the record on Radio One, it came as a surprise to everyone when Jimmy Young eventually decided to give it a spin on his show. Entering the charts at number 49 on June 19th, the song received the following review in the ‘New to the charts’ column of the NME: ‘That little number advising the ladies to jump about waving their undergarments is in the NME chart for the first time at number 28. It’s another production from that man behind a million hits, Jonathan King. According to bass player Keith Hancock, “We did it to shock people. Everywhere we played, we found the audiences in a kind of coma, hypnotised by the so called progressive groups. When we performed, we really shook them up and we found we could sell the acetates around the ballrooms. A copy fell into the hands of Mr. King. And the rest is history, as they say". John: “The BBC refused to let us perform the song on Top Of The Pops - which was a huge blow! A coach load of our fans from Corby travelled down to London and protested outside the BBC studios - but to no avail. Auntie BBC was not to be swayed. Mel Cornish, the producer of TOTP, stated; 'I simply made an editorial choice to leave this number out of the programme bearing in mind the time it went out and the very young audience we attracted. I just didn't think it was appropriate.'" Adrian Rudge, a spokesman for Polydor Records, spoke out against the ban, “The programme is supposed to reflect public taste but if Top Of The Pops are not going to use this song, somebody is acting as the arbiter of public taste, namely Mr. Cornish. He is also denying the group their right to appear.” Though generally scorned by the music establishment, Leap Up And Down remained in the British charts for over three months. Decades later Hancock defended his number: “Knickers may have been saucy twenty years ago but not now. In retrospect, the publicity we gleaned from the ban worked wonders for the sales but five lads from Corby were distraught that they weren't going to be on the telly!” However, out of adversity comes fifteen minutes of fame. John Proctor: “Suddenly St Cecilia was in demand and playing one-nighters all over the country. We acted as support, on the Top Rank circuit, to established acts such as the Alan Price Set and the Sweet. Of course, all this meant saying goodbye to our day jobs and turning pro. We employed two roadies - Jim Smith, a bass player who had worked with numerous local bands and Dougie Wilson, a local DJ and former Butlins, redcoat. Jim and Dougie drove the equipment to the venues and set it all up while the band members followed in Ricky’s car. We made a point of always being at the venue by mid-afternoon for a sound check - before retiring to the local hostelry for a bevvy or two. That autumn a mini-tour of Scotland gave us some great nights in Hamilton, Hawick, Ayr and Dunfermline. I loved every minute of it. The travelling didn’t bother me at all.” An unforgettable night occurred at the Belfry golf course near Sutton Coldfield. John Proctor: “We were headlining supported by a local rock ‘n’ roll band. They opened for the first forty-five minutes and then we did our sixty-minute spot. Imagine our surprise when, out of the blue, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne from the Move joined us on stage for our last set. We were also featured in most of the teen magazines - which sold in huge numbers in the seventies. Articles and photographs appeared in Romeo, Mirabelle, Valentine and Jackie. Fame at last! Looking back, I’m sure there was a little bit of resentment, from some of the older, more established Corby bands, over our sudden ‘leap’ to prominence. Nothing was ever said to me directly but one could sense that certain people were thinking, 'It should have been me!'" John Proctor had developed a keen interest in hypnosis around this time and practiced on his fellow group members whenever he could - at times with near catastrophic results. John: “Jim Smith was my best subject and I could put him in a trance very easily. One night we were playing at Alconbury Airbase and, while the equipment was being set up, I put him under. Shortly afterwards he disappeared in the van and apparently woke up at a set of traffic lights in Peterborough! When Jim regained his senses he returned to the airbase, grabbed me by the throat and threatened to knock the crap out of me. Of course, everybody thought it was hilarious!” Jim Smith: “Dougie and I were full time roadies on £20 a week. Dougie was the sound engineer and in charge of the mixing desk - with about four knobs to twiddle! I was mainly involved in repairing anything that broke - amplifiers, guitar strings, whatever. The band was working four or five nights a week, all over the country - an example of the schedule being: Sheffield, Glasgow, Nottingham, Penzance… all in a matter of days! St Cecilia was a top rate outfit who on their tours, surprised a lot of critics. That song didn't do them any favours. We couldn't believe it when Leap raced up the charts. St Cecilia covered material such as the Stones' Honky Tonk Women and tracks from the progressive rock band Yes. Harmonies on numbers like Beyond And Before were brilliant. They would spend four or five days rehearsing new songs until they got them exactly right.” ‘Maybe pop music is taking itself too seriously’, suggested the Melody Maker in July, ‘if so the tendency is reflected in record sales. St Cecilia's Leap Up And Down being typical. Its droning lyrics and limp melody have little to commend them unless in the context of a reaction against the droll complexity and pretension that constitutes the worst of ‘progressive’ rock. Essentially it’s a fun record.’ A booking at Barberella’s in Birmingham, reviewed in the Melody Maker by Denis Deatheridge, perhaps summed up the media’s feelings towards the band: ‘They didn't exactly get everybody up waving their knickers around in the air but they succeeded in making the title of their current hit seem like something from a Sunday school song book compared with some of their material. The Girls From Roedean was introduced by lead singer Les Smith as “a filth spot”. By the time they'd got through this drawn out routine featuring drummer Graham Smith in drag, no one was likely to dispute the accuracy of this description. It all seemed innocent enough at the start as pianist Ricky Moss, top hat aloft, led the band into Nutrocker. They also put across Delta Lady, No Matter What, Joy To The World, Travelin’ Band with a healthy vitality. Perhaps they should have saved the smut for the next stag do.’ Keith Hancock and Ricky Moss were being encouraged to write more songs whilst on the road and went back to Beck Studios on several occasions to record demos. Keith: “I had a couple of songs - another saucy number called The Village Bicycle. Ricky had a novelty number called He’s A Collector and John had written a skiffle-style song called Don’t Want Women, Don’t Want Wine. The recordings for these numbers took place in one 8-hour session in September 1971. We decided that John’s number would make an ideal choice for the lucrative Christmas market and we recorded the master at Polydor Studios - complete with clinking glasses and a singalong party atmosphere. Ricky’s He’s A Collector was chosen as the ‘B’ side. A release date was tentatively set for mid-November but, unfortunately for us, Polydor had other priorities and our ‘Christmas single’ was delayed until January 21st! ‘Wine’ made the NME ‘breakers’ of the week on release.’ With all due respect, many people were attracted to their recent hit by the ‘forbidden fruit’ aspect of its lyric. Auntie BBC shouldn’t have anything to frown about with this new one. It is however, a tremendously happy affair which looks set for healthy sales.’ Sadly, in spite of the encouraging exposure in the music press, ‘Wine’ evaporated as soon as it hit the air waves. John: “Ricky and I were still writing and decided that the next single needed to be another controversial one. We came up with a ditty which we felt could be an anthem for the fast-growing women’s liberation movement. The song was called C’Mon Ma, Burn Your Bra! and, as John Peel pointed out when he reviewed the disc in the music press, it established us as an ‘underwear’ group rather than an underground group!" St Cecilia made a rare appearance in their home town on Valentine’s Day 1972. Dougie Wilson, acting as booking agent for the Corby Bowl, forewarned fans “this is the only chance Corby will have of seeing their heroes this year" .Dougie was helped on the promotion by Tom Haworth, whose main recollection of the event was of “walking around the town’s Market Square - distributing paper knickers to advertise the performance!” “We travelled the length and breadth of the country throughout early ‘72" said Keith Hancock, "sometimes in ever decreasing circles! On a mini-tour of Wales we spent a lot of time driving around with no idea of where we were going - thanks to the Welsh Nationalists painting out all the English road signs, turning the signposts round or removing them altogether!” Eight members of the Welsh Language Society later found themselves in the dock at Swansea Assizes charged with plotting to steal and destroy English road signs. Following an unsuccessful attempt by the accused to have their case heard in Welsh, two women in the Public Gallery were thrown out of court for chanting ‘Justice for the Welsh language!’ They were later jailed for three months. Keith continued his story; “One booking particularly sticks in my mind - after a long journey north we arrived at a rather scruffy miners’ social club and were told that there were no dressing room facilities available and that we would have to make do with the Gents toilet. Following a quick inspection of this hellhole we decided that we would probably die a slow and torturous death if we were to change in there - so we hatched a plan. After doing a sound check we sloped off to a nearby pub for a few beers, arriving back at the club just as the audience was being let in and, in full view of the assembled crowd, proceeded to wash, shave and change on stage!" More controversy followed at a Hunt Ball in Tiverton, Devon. During a performance of Leap Up And Down, Wave Your Knickers In the Air, one of the women in the hall did just that! The Daily Mirror was on hand to report the incident: 'Sporty types roared with approval, but not all were amused. Local councilor Bill Jones complained: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! This quite attractive lady of about twenty-four took off her knickers. My wife and I will think twice about going to a Hunt Ball again.” Dougie has clear memories of life on the road with St Cecilia, believing that in common with many artists in the spotlight, the band was ripped off. “St Cecilia only received two per cent of the royalties for the records written by Keith Hancock and Ricky Moss. Leap Up And Down, with its full brass section was a great production. Jonathan King decided to tone it down or - in his words ‘desimplify it’ - but it sounded crap compared to the original acetate. However, because of the contentious lyrics - which were a bit lewd, the BBC refused to give it airplay and, in a roundabout way, gave the band all the publicity it required. The follow-up wasn’t as controversial as Leap Up And Down but everybody thought it was going to be a smash. C’Mon Ma was released on 21st April but, despite our optimism, did nothing to raise a few eyebrows.” To promote the release the band spent a day on a photo shoot in London’s Carnaby Street, accompanied by two well-known ladies (brunette Della Mancini and blonde Brandy de Franck) who were predictably waving their bras in the air! A copy of C’Mon Ma, Burn Your Bra! was sent to Germaine Greer, one of the leading protagonists of Women’s Lib. Keith: “In the late spring of 1972 Ricky and I decided that we should cover Gone Fishin’ - a Bing Crosby classic. We felt that such a gem of a song was due a revival, so with the rest of the lads from St Cecilia, a few local brass players and a tap-dancer, we ventured once more into Beck Studios to record the song. I thought that the idea of using a tap-dancer was a brilliant wheeze at the time but after a while I had to concede that it wasn’t going to work. We did, however, get a deal with Polydor and we released the record under the name Sunny Daze. It did receive some airplay on the radio - but not enough for record buyers to cause a stampede at the shops!" As the year progressed it became apparent that the writing was on the wall for St Cecilia. Bookings were drying up, money was tight and the constant travelling was becoming a chore rather than an exciting adventure. Although in June they did support The Sweet on a 10-day tour of the Top Rank circuit. In 1985 a series of programmes, hosted by Noel Edmonds called The Time Of Your Life, were broadcast on the BBC. The format (along the lines of All Our Yesterdays) - showcased a different year each week. John Proctor recalled: “The show’s producer contacted me and explained that they were going to showcase 1971 and wanted to know if it was possible to reunite the band for a one-off performance. Only Ricky Moss was unavailable. We found ourselves sharing a bill with round-the-world sailor Chay Blyth and former Prime Minister Ted Heath! None of us had any desire to go back on the road and attempt to relive past glories, but one thing that came out of it was that Graham Smith and Keith formed a duo called the Wright Price, and made a record entitled Come On Down." (Taken from Alive In The Dead Of Night, by Clive Smith and David Black. Published in 2009)
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
One of the most popular bands in Corby during the 1970s and 80s was undoubtedly the four piece outfit Energy. Consisting of Iain Wetherell, Mike 'Bozzy' Bosnic, Mark Stewart and Stephen 'Flapper' Fulton, Energy built up a great local following who appreciated their driving rock covers of Thin Lizzy, Status Quo and Police material. During an interview at Iain's Premier Studios in 2007, Iain and Bozzy relived their Energy days for inclusion in the third part of the 'Steel Rock and Roll' trilogy 'No Occupation Road'. "When I grow up, I want to play in a rock band," Mike Bosnic told his dad. His response was typically caustic; 'you can't do both son!' The year was 1976. Bozzy took up the story; "We first started playing when we rehearsed in the Nags Head where Iain's brother Bip was proprietor. Then after a few weeks Bip threw us in at the deep end and told us we were playing in the Sunday dinnertime jam session! It was the first time we'd played in front of an audience which was daunting but a great experience. Bip was great, lending us gear when we needed and giving us the opportunity to learn our craft. Our first proper gig came at Corby Samuel Lloyds School on October 2nd 1976 thanks to teacher Frank Holmes, a one time Skiffle man himself, who encouraged pupils with musical aspirations. The dance was packed out. All our school friends were there of course. Iain sang the first song, Bryan Ferry's 'Lets Stick Together' before Flapper made a grand entrance, running in from the back of the school hall with a duffle coat tied round his neck like a cape, as Iain played the theme from 'Batman!'" Iain; "Initially we sorted out gigs for ourselves or with the help of Bip and then decided to sign up with the Concorde Ham Acts Agency. It didn't take long for us to realise that they were booking us in air bases for less money than what we were getting doing it ourselves, so Bozzy took control of affairs. Calling himself Pyramid Promotions he used to phone venues where live music was played and ask if they'd be interested in booking us. He would send them a copy of a collage we'd made of Energy, a record for their jukebox and ask them how much they paid, which was usually around the £100 mark. Boz would give them some bull, tell them we normally played for double that amount but as a favour we'd do the gig for £150 and after a bit of bartering, we'd get the gig! We became probably the most organised self controlled band on the circuit. We had a data base of people who followed the band. We'd phone what we called the ringleaders and tell them we were playing at such and such a place and they'd put the word around and the gigs were often packed out." Self sufficiency extended to taking care of the group van. Before a tour of Scotland Bozzy decided it needed a service; "It was outside Ian's house in Studfall Avenue. I changed the plugs, HT leads, rotor arm, oil, points, everything. Then when I finished, I couldn't get the thing going! I checked everything again, got the set of feelers out to re-check the gap in between the points, distributor cap was clean, etc. Still there was nothing. I said to Ian, 'tell you what, we're on a hill here, lets' give it a push and see if we can jump start it. Well, the van rolled down the hill, failed to kick in, and we were standing there bemused and scratching our heads when a taxi pulled up. The driver, Robert Knight, got out and asked us what the matter was. We told him the story, he said he'd give it a go, turned the ignition key, just a grunt as usual, then he discovered there was no fuel in the tank! That was my last attempt at being a motor mechanic! Mark Stewart would later complain, 'I'm only in the band because a drum machine can't push the van!'" Following this farce the band came up with the idea of joining both the AA and RAC motoring organisations. "We thought it was a good idea." said Iain, "we could use one to tow us to a gig if necessary, and the other one to tow us back home afterwards!' Iain did most of the driving; being the only one who'd passed his driving test. Coming down long lonely highways, like the A1, often in thick fog, or so it seemed, Bozzy would be sitting next to him steering the van while he kept his foot on the accelerator, trying to keep his eyes open and stopping from falling asleep! "When we reached Stamford I'd give him a shake, 'right, come on Iain, this is a bit more tricky from here on in!'" Energy received a great boost with an article featured in 'Musicians Only'. 'It can be argued that a lot of bands in the early stages of their career fall by the wayside, not through a lack of ideas or musical direction, but because they have not got the business end organised properly. That's why, in the light of the unpleasant fact, it was refreshing to meet the four people who make up the Corby based rock band Energy, and to witness for myself not only their unbounded enthusiasm onstage, but also their professional approach to the marketing of their name. Energy was formed out of the remains of two school bands; The Hardly Worthit Band and Lipstick. Mark Bosnic was asked why the band had parted company with their manager (their first and last) to go it alone? His reply demonstrated the band's ambition and self belief; "Well although his opinion was valued in many ways, on many things, we thought we could accomplish more on our own. It’s as simple as that." Certainly if you study the bands track record since they started handling their own affairs, you can see they made the right decisions. Mike handles the booking arrangements and publicity, while Ian sorts out the accounts and insurance. Agents are used as much as possible, the reason being purely financial. Equipment such as the PA, lighting system and the transport are bought out of the kitty. "Basically, it’s the money that's left after gig expenses. Sometimes one of us might dig into it for our individual instruments, but it is always paid back, always," stressed Mike. A new van is the next thing on the shopping list, as the two they have now don't warrant a decent set of spares between them. Turning to the subject of touring, Mike told me that apart from a three day stint in Middlesbrough a while back, the band have never been on a full tour. That's not to say, though, that they have been sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Energy, clapped out vans and all, have averaged two gigs per week for the last sixteen months or so, taking in places like Cinderford in Gloucestershire, Ashford in Kent and Leicester where they were runners up in a national competition sponsored by Premier. They have also been support to big names like Love Affair, The Pleasers and Chairman of the Board. "We wouldn't have done half of this under our old manager" said Steve. Energy will be gigging consistently, but as before, it’s not an organised tour. And although it will take them right through to mid summer, there are no London dates mentioned. I put it to them that it might be a good idea to try and slot some London venues in between the local haunts. "We would love to play London" Mike replied, "but what would be the cost of a mini tour down there?" True, in financial terms, (time off work etc) it would be a bit of a struggle. But what about the long term effect? Mike; "Yes, you're right I suppose if we made the effort and the gigs came together it would probably lead to something". One drawback I did note was the playing of non original material mixed in with their own compositions. This is a shame, for their own songs had far more going for them, in terms of depth and style than the bulk of the pop/rock which made up the two sets that I saw them play. That's not a criticism of their playing ability because they played numbers like 'Message In A Bottle', 'Black Betty' and 'Since You've Been Gone' with just as much finesse as the original artists. It would be hard to pick out any particular star in the band; although I must say that at times front man Steve Fulton stole the show with his antics, dashing here and there, offstage and onstage, as though possessed. At the end of the second and highly impressive set I joined the lads backstage, where they presented me with a copy of their EP 'Energised', self financed, and issued/released on the BIPS Record label. The number which impresses me most was an out and out rocker called 'No Go' which reminded me of early Nazareth. Mike; "We have had a thousand copies pressed and we've sold about half. They're available through the local branch of John Menzies and mail order through me." Their immediate plans? Mike; "To keep on gigging. We would move to London as a band, not individuals if we thought we could make a living at it. But at the moment, just one gig and one stage at a time." Energy clearly has the ability but what they need to do is to get right away from Corby and its surrounds. If they made that all important move and wrote and performed more of their own material, their chances of making the big-time would be greatly enhanced. They are the best band I have seen this side of a lucrative record deal. Now it’s a question of finding an enthusiastic producer to channel their ideas into something commercially viable. The bands' reputation continued to grow, thanks to coverage in the 'Evening Telegraph' following a gig at the Rising Sun pub in Kettering... 'Energy need never fear a court action under the Trades Description Act. Their act is so energetic they probably link up to a trickle charger at night to prepare for the next gig! But surprisingly the band's name was not designed to fit their on stage gymnastics. Singer Steve Fulton in his soft Scottish tones;” I feel that if we are there to entertain then that's exactly what we will do - and to do it properly you have to create a buzz of excitement in the audience. We love jumping about on stage because it feels good, and shows just how much we enjoy our music." They write lots of their own material but the gig at the Rising Sun took on rather a pop flavour with the Police being honoured above all other chart bands. The thief who undoubtedly stole the show was bassman Mike Bosnic whose gangly frame practically dwarfed his Guild bass. This man put on a show which should have been watched by the country's bass playing statues. It was refreshing to see a bassist dramatise his playing but it would have been a whole lot more enjoyable if we could have heard what he was playing! He seemed to form a duo of victims with singer Steve Fulton. Both were barely audible above the standard rock offerings from guitarist Ian Wetherell and the awful boomy drum sound which yawned from Mark Stewart's kit. I hold a very old fashioned view when it comes to singers and their backing. As far as I am concerned, the singer and front man is the most important member of any band and he should come across above his backing - he shouldn't have to fight his way through the 'barrage from behind.' But to be fair, playing Energy's brand of music in a smallish pub is not easy - and their hard core of appreciation in the pub was obviously happy enough with what they heard. Energy has been working in its present form for about two and a half years now and seems content to carry on playing the circuit from their base in Corby. The four men have plans to put together an LP featuring mostly their own material and they hope to push the album themselves on their own record label. Steve;” We won't make any money on the record - it’s just a way of spreading our name and music about". He describes their sound as 'commercial rock' and makes the point that his band is not to be confused with a heavy rock outfit. Energy is a great band to watch. Unlike many other local crews they make an effort to provide a visual show and inject some excitement into the proceedings. Sound wise, I wasn't terribly impressed, but then I think the venue, had something to do with it.' Energy's lively stage act did have its embarrassing moments, as Ian admitted: "During ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, the AC/DC number, at a venue in Peterborough, I turned round and wondered what had happened to Boz. Turns out he'd jumped up in the air too much on the one spot and eventually the boards on the stage gave way, and he went straight through it! At Cambridge Corn Exchange when we were support to Eddie and the Hotrods, Boz climbed up onto this plinth at the back of the stage and prepared himself to leap off when he overbalanced, went tumbling and ended up doing a forward roll on the stage. The crowd thought it was part of the act! They roared their approval. Terrific! Corby Civic Centre was yet another cringe making gig. Flapper did his usual routine of jumping off the stage and running around the hall, singing and whipping the fever up. He then ran back to the stage and couldn't get back up! The Civic stage was a bit higher than most of the others. He had to sheepishly walk to the side and get back on via the stairs. Everybody took the piss out of him - as you'd expect in Corby! We used to have an intro, the ‘Thunderbirds 54321’ tune, till one day we decided to change it to an air siren. Unfortunately, the first time we used it, at an air base, it caused a panic and they thought it was an air raid! A red alert! They weren't amused." More sobering was playing at the Royal Navy Base in Faslane, Scotland when the Falklands war broke. Mark Stewart; "That was a strange gig, tense. I couldn't help feeling for these young guys, many the same age as ourselves, preparing to head for a war zone in the South Atlantic and an RAF base in Northern Ireland was similarly a stra