out playing with Johnny Hawke & The Falcons in Sheffield, Yorkshire West Riding
in 1962, a group [they were called groups in those days] which we formed in the
youth clubs at that time, ie. St. Vincent's. St.Patrick's. St.Catherine's &
The Sacred Heart, we played at all these youth clubs regularly.
a mixture of Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Billy Fury, Shane Fenton & the
Fentones etc. My early influence was Jet Harris, bass player with The Shadows.
It was at this point that I bought my first Fender bass at a cost of £129:00
which was a fortune then. It was a 1959 Fender Jazz Bass in Salmon Pink. I don't
have it anymore [ouch!]
The Falcons eventually became The Four Corners & through 1963 played similar
material plus stuff from The Searchers and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. The
Pirates became another of my influences, they were perhaps Britains first "rocky"
rhythm & blues group and we had occasion to gig with them one night at Loughborough
Town Hall. Great Stuff !!!
In 1964 I joined local group Dean Marshall &
The Deputies who later changed their name to The Lizards at a request from Pete
Stringfellow who became our manager. He dressed us up in green leathers which
we bought from Toggery in Stockport, all the Liverpool and Manchester groups bought
their stage gear from there, [so we were suddenly " cool " and "
on our way " ]. The Lizards did some quite unusual numbers, away from the
pop scene, for example
The Coasters, Mose Allison, Lowell Fulson, Little
Walter, Muddy Waters etc. We were all influenced by these artistes.
Marshall and myself eventually went on to do a spell with another local group
called The Square Circles, that was about 1965/66 time, they were a " mod
" type group, playing Small Faces and other such like numbers. I remember
that being lots of fun, what with everyone trying to sound like Steve Marriot.
Barry and I moved on again and joined forces
with The Mike Stuart Quintet to form the basis of Jigsaw, who were soon to become
Bitter Suite. 1968 /69 saw the advent of Bitter Suite and in 1970 we augmented
the band to an eight piece to include Trumpet, Tenor Sax & Baritone Sax, with
Tenor Sax doubling on Flute. We played hits of the time including lots of soul
and Tamla Motown numbers.
My favourite bass man became James Jamerson although I didn't know his name at
the time. He played on all the Tamla stuff. His ideas were extremely original.
I don't think his name was ever credited to any of the work he did on those albums.
Donald " Duck " Dunn, bass player along with those other M G s, Steve
Cropper [ guitar ] Al Jackson [ drums ] and Booker T. Jones [ Hammond Organ ].
Collectively known as Booker T and The M Gs. They were house musicians for the
Stax record label and they were all a great influence.
. . . . . . . .
Bitter Suite did all manner of things over the next ten years from doing
eight sets nightly in Hamburg's Top Ten Club, to the constant touring
of the UK and Europe, to securing two recording contracts, to securing
a contract with the BBC, which ran for about 3 or 4 years, which meant
that we were on all sorts of shows daily for that period of time, to
supporting Shirley Bassey for 3 weeks at the Batley Variety Club. How
did we fit it all in?
I don't know. All I can remember is either being in the van or being
on stage or in a recording studio.
. . . . . . .
early eighties saw me swotting at college full time for a couple of
years. I also found the time to help put another band together called
The TNT Band which was quite successful and ran for much longer than
I had first anticipated.
I joined " The Blues Brothers Tribute Band " around 1996 along
with John Crookes who was the tenor sax player in TNT and stayed with
them for about 5 years. We did a lot of travelling with this band, distance
was never a problem with The Blues Brothers. They went from The Falkland
Islands to The Ascension Islands. South America. Middle East and Far
East. Scandinavia. North Africa. Spain. and Greece and a few more places
in between. John Crookes and myself were on most of those gigs.
Late 2001 brings me almost up to date as this is when Phil, Neil and
myself decided on putting a three piece band together playing a "
bluesy " " rocky " format, which is tremendous fun.
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