Monthly Archives: February 2020


KATS at the Blacksmiths in Barwell, Mike Clifford, Kathy Boorman, Harry Heppingstall and Jeff Lockett

Before Kats
I had stopped playing the guitar live for many years.

In the 70s I had played with a few ad-hoc local bands such as Beans On Toast and Mad Gran and several other weird and wonderful concoctions at places like the Union Hotel and John Cleveland. Members included people like singers Alan Bates, Brian Webber, Alan Poole, drummer Gordon Hayes (of Nervous Records) saxophonist Stu Price and many others, too numerous to mention. I played in a rock band in Brighton for a few months.

On my return to Hinckley in 72, I had a friendship with a pianist/ organist Keith Brown (nick-named Kipps) who played with recording band Spring. As a result of this pro contact I played a few jam sessions down at Rockfield Studios with Spring, including Pique Withers (later to join Dire Straits) and Ray Martinez  (Who joined many an impressive global tour and eventually joined Shawaddywaddy). Pique and Ray came over to Hinckley quite often.

In 73 I went to art college and stoped gigging – it didn’t bother me much. My great obsession was song writing. My top level heroes here were the Beatles, Gershwin, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beach Boys – not in any particular order -there were so many – so many! – good songwriters out there. However while I was at Art College it was suggested we form a band for end of year party so the Jean Creamers were formed.

Many, many moons later – jumping from the early 70s to the mid 80s – I had came back to Hinckley from a teaching job in Oxford. A friend, Mick Tynan, came over from Leicester, for a chat and a beer. We headed up to the Queens Head to play pool.  On the way we stopped at Bentley’s wine bar, where they usually had some music on. Although they had some gear rigged up nothing was happening on this occasion. I was drinking a beer when someone asked me if I wanted to play guitar, I  said ‘Yes’ for some reason. Immediately a volunteer bass player and a singer came up. We just played a long 12 bar blues in E, See See Rider.  Wow. I had a bit of fun playing the blues. Hadn’t done that for a long time.

Later I said to Mick Tynan that I had forgotten how stimulating it was playing live. And that got me back on the road again. I was the age to give it up, not take it up: 37.

The Extremes
The following week, it was arranged that the bass player market trader Mick Sullivan and rookie-singer never-in-a-band-before John Pickering and myself would meet on the Sunday morning at Bentley’s Wine Bar in King Street with a view to forming a covers band for fun. Another friend, Ken Haken was there as well, and I think one of two other musos. After an hour, all our combined talents produced was a shambles. I put my guitar down and retired to back of the room and got happily inebriated. Nevertheless I was interested in pursuing the project.

It was agreed that we would give it a month or more to get about 20 songs together, and then to see if we could get a gig. It was a fun project with lots of laughs. I insisted: “We must have a back beat: somebody must get a drum machine.”

Mick Sullivan obliged. Mick, when younger, had played in a band before in Coventry with his brother, Patrick. Mick was keen, dependable – he would always turn up — he wasn’t exactly Mr. Funk Rhythm but he was solid. At least he was in the beginning!

John Pickering was a good singer, with great stage presence but didn’t have the vocal range (not a tenor!) for the R&B numbers I thought it would be good to do.  However, since those days he’s used his range to good effect over the years, having gigged consistently with Volcane and Maverick. He now  performs solo.

Ken Haken could play a few basic guitar chords, and keep in time. He had also been on stage with a guitar a few times. However rumour had it that he never managed to play a note because of stage fright. Allegedly he had once been so frightened he had turned his back on the audience.

And, myself, I was not so hot. I hadn’t played live for over ten years, and even though I had some reasonable guitars I had no stage kit, no amp.

Could I take such a motley crew and make it work as a band I asked myself?  I found the idea at the time highly appealing for some reason.

Anyway this was how ‘The Extremes’ were formed, (Note: this was many years before the band called Extreme came on the scene). We decided on this name because we all came from different walks of life.

After weekly five hour sessions on a Friday afternoon in the hot house June heat of Mick Sullivan’s garage. Mick, John, myself and a drum machine had sorted out about 20 numbers.

But some were finding the pace too difficult. The first to leave the band was Ken. After a few Stella’s Ken couldn’t tell which end of his guitar was which. His preferential interest at the rehearsals in Sullivan’s tomatoes as opposed to Route 66 did not inspire confidence, so we became a three piece with a drum machine.

Ken eventually left Hinckley to go back to his home town, York. Sadly I discovered recently he died in 2009.

As a three piece (and drum machine) our first gig was at the Blacksmiths in Barwell. We played six numbers between the sets of a duo consisting of Alan Baggott and Pip Clark. We went down surprisingly well. We did Beatles, Rolling Stones and Elvis covers. I didn’t see how this could go far wrong with any audience and that was indeed the case.

Our best gig was on Boxing Day 87, where we played for two hours at the Weavers and then immediately afterwards we did it all again at Down’s Football Club. The latter gig we almost cancelled: John had lost his voice and I felt chronic with the flu but we did it.

We did a lot of gigs. We had a matinee residency every Sunday in one pub. Ken videod us there. I’ll try and find it. What a dive that was!

But after five months there were problems. Our bass player occasionally turned up a little over-refreshed at the gigs, and the possibility of him playing in time was not an option. Also it was becoming known that John hated Elvis and most of the rest of the repertoire. He was into macho rock stuff – and I’d had enough of all that fuzz box stuff in the 70s. Musical differences I think they call it.

Our worst gig was at the Central Club on Comic Relief day. With Mick playing a bass line out of tune, the drum machine going off on an uncontrolled wobbly, and John desperately singing Knock On Wood acapella, I crawled around the stage on knees and elbows, in a fog of bronchitis, a penguin tea cosy on my head and a red ball on my nose, trying to figure out why smoke not sound was pouring out of my amplifier. It was utterly mad. There were difficulties though. I quit.

About a month later John and Mick found Charlie Higgins to replace me and practised for about six months. Later they became Volcane playing much heavier rock material.

I think the claim to fame of the Extremes was that we were the first local covers band to play Spencer Davis’s Gimme Some Lovin’. Within a year or two it was on every local band’s repertoire. I had never heard anyone play it before that.

The Extremes had given me a taste of playing live and now I felt more confident to handle it. I didn’t go around looking for another band immediately because I I had other issues, like moving house, moving jobs and other stuff.


So months later I was asked if I wanted to play bass in a three piece. I said I would have a go, but then Keith the guitarist musician said he would play bass if I would play guitar. Yep.

Kathy, the singer, being female had a much higher range than John, and she had a impressive power to her voice which could cut through really well (she didn’t need amplification!). This now meant now that rock, rhythm & blues and the soulful numbers previously denied in the Extremes could be on the repertoire. In fact, we used quite a few of the Extremes repertoire to fill out our set, but pitched them much higher. Kathy was very keen: it was the first time she had ever fronted her own band.

Then we found a drummer and a bass player.

Keith Bennett and Kathy had been the former members, but it didn’t work out with Keith. He was a good musician but there were some issues he had. He left after about six months.

Not long after we welcomed in ex-double glazing window salesman, Dennis Harvey, as our bass player, who had previously played with singer Jojo Hale and guitarist John Booth on the folk/ country circuit.  Dennis was mad keen. Or at least he gave that impression until the third practice, when he rang to say he had problems; three sorts of problems: memory problems, mental problems and lodger problems. Dennis would learn something quickly, religiously, and play it confidently. However a week later he would have forgotten it. Such is life.

Nevertheless he was a nice guy and naturally musical. He got a good sound on the bass, and he had a great feel, and with some support he got it together. He became a good friend.

We also welcomed in East Midlands Electricity man Harry Heppingstall as our drummer, who was good to work with, especially when we started putting original numbers in. He was an ex-pro, having been in bands: The Matadors, The Magazine, Money Jungle and having worked with a variety of top professionals. I think he jammed unawares in a Birmingham nightclub with Stevie Wonder once.

Kat’s having fun in Argent’s Mead

Original numbers
I said my great fascination was song writing. I had written a song, Motorway Driving, for the Extremes so now it went into Kat’s repertoire.  I started adding original numbers to Kat’s repertoire with the agreement of the band. After Motorway Driving, cane Kathy and the Kats followed by Save Me, Our Man in Tehran, Foxhunter and Katwalk. All of these numbers went through modifications – being pitched for the vocals and arranged for bass and guitar – before completion. Only having three instruments is quite a sparse line up, unless your cranking it all up for heavy rock. It all went down well.

But it wasn’t Dennis who played bass on these. Dennis had decided he couldn’t take the strain after six months. He was having a classic lodger problem: his two female lodgers had locked themselves in their rooms for a week, refusing to come out after he caught them stealing £5 out of his jacket.

Jeff Locket – who came from a Country & Western duo that used to play in the Francis Arms – became our new bass player. I really appreciated the fact that Jeff played the bass lines I had written as a part of the arrangement. These often suggested the unusual  chords in the songs which I couldn’t state overtly because I’d often be playing single notes. Many bass players would insist on their own lines, but Jeff played them as written and played them well. When Jeff joined we started to rehearse down at John Cleveland College in the Languages area, a great place to practise. The caretaker showed his appreciation!

We did a lot of local gigs. The Feathers, The Queens Head, Kiwi, Cherry Tree, The Bell, The Charnwood, The Tom Thumb, The Three Crowns, Stoney Cove, The Bluebell, The Spreadeagle, The Barwell Queens Head, The Sweet Pea, The Tin Hat, The Three Pots, The White Horse, The Wentworth Arms, The Nags Head, The Central Club, The Greyhound, The Black Swan, The Bird In The Hand, The Three Tuns, etc. etc. Our  furthest gig afield was at Great Yarmouth.

We did a lot of charity gigs. In fact we hardly made enough money to sustain our travels – which is probably why Jeff departed when he did. Any money that we received was offset by petrol and expenses, repairs and equipment.

Many of our arrangements were difficult and complex but after about 12 months we were certainly tight. There was room for a lot more improvements in the band, for instance – we never used a PA mixer – we were always playing through a backline. But in terms of the rhythm section locking together it was probably the tightest rhythm section I’ve contributed to and played with.

Even though Kats were bass, guitar and drums based we weren’t a heavy band. We were unique in a way and had an unusual sound, I suppose we were ‘progressive’, the term used at the time. With one guitar making all the running, it’s difficult to fill out the sound when you are playing lead unless your playing blues all night, or you turn up to ear bleeding Hendrix volumes.

Our strength was the rhythm section of the band. If we had stayed together I imagine we would have brought in a sax player to do a lot of solos. Tight rhythm guitar was much under-rated in those days – brought back into focus by the likes of people like Nile Rogers. It’s actually what happens between the drums, bass and guitar that motivates me musically. This is what really moves the audience  physically and emotionally at the core.

Kats was a band that did original songs, which obviously gave us a bit of creative credibility, but we felt we need to mix them with cover songs that people liked. Also, instead of doing all 12 bar three chord blues, we played a range of more harmonically complex blues ‘covers’. And we had a singer, Kathy, who was perfect for it.
We played Aretha’s Franklin’s arrangements of Drown in My Own Tears, Change is Gonna Come, and her obscure Colombia recording It won’t be Long . And Kathy had formerly sung Billy Holiday’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do at a cabaret and we all thought that was a great number to arrange on guitars.

We didn’t take a song and try to copy it from a recording, we interpreted it, and tried to make it fit the band. For instance we took ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby‘ (made famous by John Mayall and Led Zepellin) and made it a  ‘Kats’ female blues song. We took a number and tried to express ourselves within its arrangement. That’s the only way to do covers.

Splitting up
Yet I think it was our complex arrangements and our attempts at originality that actually created our demise.

I believe the band ground to a halt for the following reasons.

I wasn’t doing the work and booking enough gigs at the end; mea culpa. Jeff was getting itchy feet, and showing it in the way he was behaving. It transpired that he was feeling he could make some money gigging four nights a week in a club band. Jeff had conquered the challenge of Kats in his own fashion – he learned all the bass parts and executed them excellently, and now he was looking for another challenge. However his first challenge wasn’t one I expected. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again: No relationships in bands! I won’t go there.

He became reluctant to attend practices because of arranged darts matches or whatever and then refused to play a local charity gig against the poll tax because he claimed it was political. (Political? An anti poll tax gig? Ok then). We got Dennis to play on that one (he had eventually paid his lodgers to leave by the way). The final straw was when Jeff failed to turn up to a booked gig. (Allegedly he had got drunk with some lass in a stable and after a bit of horse play fell off to sleep). After setting up all our kit up the gig, we had to cancel. We couldn’t have used a dep, because nobody (except maybe a drummer) could have sat in on the arrangements in such a short time.

So – now Jeff had gone – where could we find a good fluent bass player? Who would put all that work in?

We auditioned lots of other bassists, but eventually went for a guy called Stevie Two Rivers of the Arapaho. No kidding that was what he called himself. He had worked with John Otway. He had a singing voice, much like Joe Cocker, but he was not an oil painting. His three 5 string bases and Trace Elliot were top kit. He played slap bass like he had just left Level 42. He was about five foot tall. He was talented and quite unusual.

Unfortunately, in the band world, talent is not everything. He stayed with us for about three weeks. He could slap and funk til the heifers came home, but every time he played it would be different. If he had to learn and memorise a precise bass line, he either lacked the inclination or the ability. After wasting a lot of my time especially, he left. A few weeks later he joined the Travelling Riverside Blues band (hardly funk country) but didn’t stay with them for long.

Every bass player we found was either musically competent and personality-problematic, or the reverse.

Every band needs to keep on improving. It needs to jump through more hoops, conquer more territory, build up its following etc. If you are not going forward, then you are going backwards, and in some ways that’s what happened.

It wasn’t the loss of Jeff that finished Kats off – although it was a serious blow – it was having to go back a 100 squares with another bass player, and spend time spoon-feeding them the complex arrangements.  This was a chore left entirely to me because I knew all the musical stuff and having to teach it to someone who despite the lip service was always going to improvise the parts was soul destroying.

What excited me about the band was putting in new material. The thought of having to teach old complex arrangements to new recruits was so tedious I didn’t spend perhaps as much time looking for a new bass player as I should.

About a year later KATS were asked to play a gig in Barlestone, and the four of us, (including Jeff) went in, without rehearsals, and did three sets.

We reformed one more time in 1992, at my suggestion, at the Greyhound for a video of our original material. Even though the sound is poor, and there are bits missing in the tape, I’m glad we did it. There had been an earlier video done at the KIWI (The Ashby Tavern) but someone later rubbed the entire contents off.  Ouch! The Greyhound video is the only existing video of the band that remains. Here’s to KATHY & THE KATS, I was proud to be a member.

Michael Raftery and the Hinckley Folk Scene

Compiled from an interview with Michael Skywood Clifford

I was learning to play the guitar through the ‘folk boom’ of the mid-Sixties. My heroes were Dylan, Donovan, Paul Simon, Bert Jansch, Jake Thackray, Peter Paul & Mary (she was a heroine of course) and the Incredible String Band. I learned finger-style before I could do barre chords.

I was playing things like Needle of Death, Anji, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright and 59th Street Bridge Song, before I could do a simple rock n roll 12 bar riff, although I’d been listening to rock n roll riffs since I bought my first record. (Bill Haley’s ‘See You Later Alligator’ on 78 rpm). It’s ironic, considering the sort of stuff I do now, that at that time I had no desire to play electric guitar. In fact I used to think that solid electric guitars looked ugly.

The best investment I ever made was in a record and tutor book by John Pearse which predated his Hold Down A Chord series on TV. I learned acoustic blues and clawhammer from that and never looked back.

My first ever public appearance was in December 1965 at the 1500 Club in Barwell (Queens Head). I stood behind Chris Bee (who was very tall and played twelve string guitar) and timidly added some finger picking to Mr. Tambourine Man.

The 1500 (later the Bar-W) was one of our favourite haunts in those days. I have so many fond memories of the place, but the fondest, I suppose, was the night Steve Cartwright and I did a sort of Incredible String Band tribute. This was in 1967 or 1968 when the club was being run by Terry Sharrott (later Terry St. Clair). Between us we played guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, kazoo, recorder and various percussion devices, including a tea chest bass drum painted up in psychedelic patterns. The place was so packed that night we had people’s elbows in our faces as we played.

I had met Steve at a folk club at Hinckley Grammar School in 1965 and we worked up a few songs together. The only one I actually remember us doing was Jagger and Richard’s Play With Fire. We weren’t exactly folk purists, you understand.

Steve and I and a few friends from the Grammar School started up our own folk club at the Youth Centre in Bowling Green Road (now a college gym) which we called ‘Sing-Sing’. Through ‘Sing-Sing’ I met John Stubbs and Jane Briggs and we formed ‘The Amethyst Trio’, basing our repertoire on Peter, Paul and Mary. John Stubbs (from Barwell) had a particularly good voice. He left the area and went down to London. The last time I saw him was in the early 70s when he was in a South London band called Sykes.

In May 1966 we moved the folk club to the Weavers Arms in Derby Road. We were the resident group, but we sometimes shared the honours with a guitar/ double bass jazz duo who were residents at a club called the Chameleon in Leicester.

The Chameleon was a late night coffee bar and in those days any late night place where you could hang around for the price of a tea or a coffee was likely to be invaded by a bunch of adolescents with guitar cases.

The greasy spoon on the A5, which is Hanover now, was another favourite.  I think the jazz duo latched onto us more for the fact the bassist fancied Jane than for any musical reason. I remember we teamed up to do a version of ‘Big Noise From Winnetka’, which, with a following wind, could go on for weeks.

The folk scene was brilliant in those days. There were so many clubs you could play at, every night of the week. Not just clubs, either – everyone wanted to book folk acts – women’s institutes, churches, schools, colleges – usually for something they liked to call a ‘hootenanny’, whatever that was.

We were the acceptable face of young people with guitars. And there were so many good local acts around at that time as well. Some of the ones I remember were the Couriers, who ran Leicester’s biggest club at the Victoria on Granby Street and later at the Saracen’s Head in the Market Place (they once had Paul Simon as a guest); Lyn and Candy, who were gorgeous and sang great harmonies into the bargain; Mark Newman, who was Leicester’s Bert Jansch, the finger-picker to check-out; and George Kaye. Especially George Kaye.

George was a phenomenon. He played fiddle and twelve-string like someone digging a trench. He had a voice that could open gates. Everyone in those days was in awe of George Kaye. He had a brother, Taddeus, who was a great flat-picker, probably the best in the area. George left Leicester to play over in Ireland. I remember I was on holiday there in 1969 and played a solo spot at a club in Athlone. I got talking with some

people afterwards and I happened to mention that I knew George Kaye. The reaction I got was like someone in a bar in New York in 1964 just happening to mention they knew John Lennon. By chance I got to hear him again sometime in the early 80s when I was working at the Reference Library in Leicester. George and his electric band (including Thaddeus on lead) was playing in a trailer in the Town Hall Square. They did a great version of ‘The Battle of New Orleons’.

Anyway, back to the Sixties. John Stubbs left the trio and he was replaced by Pete (later Geoff) Richardson. Pete was a very talented musician, even in those days. He had a good voice and played twelve string guitar, though he switched to 6-string when he joined us. In August 1966 we changed our name to the Springhill Trio.

We moved the Amethyst Club to the Black Horse in Upper Bond Street for a final fling that lasted until December. The trio folded about the same time. Pete and I did a couple of gigs together (one of them at Steve Cartwright’s Doll’s House Club in Shilton) before he went off to Canterbury Art College. It was while he was there he met and joined the rock band Caravan, playing electric voila, and he toured the world and made three albums before they disbanded. Since then he has played with The Penguin Café Orchestra (which ceased before Christmas last due to the death of their guitarist – Ed). In my opinion Geoff Richardson is the best rock musician to emerge from Hinckley.

I was at University in London between 1969 and 1972. In the summer break of 1971 I teamed up briefly with Steve Cartwright’s Chicago Cottage. We did a session for Radio Leicester in the old cattle market studios. I don’t remember what I played on, but I do recall sitting in the Radio Leicester outside broadcast van parked in the yard listening to Steven and the girls (with some double-tracking) doing a great version of Chinese White, the Incredible String Band number.

After university I met up with Steve again and I was immensely impressed with what he had achieved in the meantime. He had written songs. He had a studio. He had a rock band, Wellington, which sounded terrific. I was a fan, I went to all their gigs. Then their lead guitarist, Keith Krykant, left and Steve invited me to step in. This, frankly, was a bad move on his part.

I was a folk guitarist. I had never played electric guitar in my life and this was the age of the guitar hero. Wellington needed someone like Brian May and it got me instead. I have to say this of Steve: in the matter of music he has often put heart before head and has not always chosen the best people for the job. I have known him play with people who couldn’t play at all, just because he felt right with them. For me, Wellington was an enjoyable mistake, but in spite of the fact that the mix in the band was wrong, we were popular and got plenty of work, doing Steve’s original material on the college circuit and covers in the clubs.

Steve hated the covers; he would always want to do his own stuff, which was not usually what a club audience wanted to hear. We were also accused of being too loud at times. I remember playing a gig at Hollycroft Park which, apparently, was heard in Burbage. As a result of that, I’m afraid, the council ruled out any further ‘rock’ concerts in the park for a good many years afterwards.

Wellington split in April 1974. Apart from the odd solo spot I was off the scene until late 1978 when I formed ‘Dumb Waiter’. This was an acoustic string trio with Rick Butterworth on classical guitar and Rob Taylor (ex-Loxley Hall, future Oakenshield) on mandolin. We made a nice sound, with a repertoire based around a dozen guitar instrumentals I had written. We managed a few floor spots before Rick and Rob decided they didn’t like each other enough.

I languished until March 1985 when Steve Cartwright, who must have been at a loose end at the time, suggested we put together a band to play the clubs. It has always amazed me that it was Steve that suggested it, given his views on playing covers. But we went ahead and put together ‘Earl & The Shiltones’, with Harry Heppingstall on drums, Steve on bass and me on guitar

Our repertoire was built around Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, because I could do that stuff in my sleep and it was the quickest way of putting a set together.  We went down very well wherever we played. Remarkably well in some places. I think it may have been to do with the fact that there were fewer ‘nostalgia’ bands around at that time and our repertoire sounded different.

Of course, we had Harry, who is a brilliant drummer, and Steve and I sang good harmonies. We played from March 1985 until November 1986. Then Steve left. Harry and I auditioned a few people, but nothing worked out. In November 1988, Steve decided to give it anothe shot. We lasted until the following March when Harry left to join ‘Kats’.

I would have put money on that being the end of the road for me. In fact it was, until October 1996, when I met three guys from the Gilmorton/ Market Harborough area and joined them for a gig at Whitemoors in Shenton.

It was just a one-off play-for-your-mates sort of evening, and it has to be said that as a group we were pretty rough. But none of us wanted it to end at that. We are all of an age to recognise an opportunity when it arises, so we stuck it out and formed ‘Stranded in the Sixties’.

Dave Laurence (drums) started in the early Sixties in a Leicester band, Tony Bart and the Strangers. His next outfit, The Renegades, included Trevor Oakes, later of Shawaddywaddy. In the 70s he joined an esoteric, Moody Blues-inspired seven piece called Exodus, which had Dave Dolby as a vocalist. Dolby started way back in 1958 in a Leicester skiffle group, ‘The Offbeats’.  In common with many skiffle groups, The Offbeats discovered electricity in the early Sixties and started doing rock n roll material. 

Dolby has a nice story about a talent competition they entered which was organised by Gerry Dorsey’s agent. Gerry, of course, later changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck, but at that time he was recuperating from a bout of TB in Groby Road Hospital. The Offbeats won the competition with their rendition of Shaking All Over (which is partly why Stranded in the Sixties still do a version of it) and were invited by Gerry to do a gig for his fellow patients. They turned up with all their gear only to find there were no electricity points in the ward. Gerry saved the day by crooning a few numbers in his silk dressing gown.

Mick Bailey (bass) started his career in the Kettering area, playing with ‘The Junkies’  (who were actually banned at some venues because of their name). He later joined ‘The Senators’, who were the No. 1 group in the area at that time and supported most of the big visiting acts, which included The Walker Brother and The Hollies. In 1968 he joined the Police (the force, not the group, unfortunately) and effectively quit the scene until 1989 when he joined a Lutterworth band called Eclipse.

As Stranded in the Sixties, we have done about 30 gigs so far. We seem to appeal most of all to people having 50th birthdays or 25th wedding anniversaries. We all sing, so we tend to make a feature of harmony numbers. We do a whole range of material for the 50s and 60s, especially the Beatles, The Crickets, The Searchers, The Kinks, The Hollies and the Beach Boys.

I joined Stranded in the Sixties, when I was 50. It’s the band I have most enjoyed being in. There’s a moral in that for any of the Musical Time’s younger readers.  



Interviewed by Michael Skywood Clifford

How do you relax from the pressures of being famous?

Yes, there’s a lot of pressures in this business and you need to find ways to unwind and relax. After all the incredible fantastic days of 1965 when we appeared on the Royal Command performance in 1965 and had “How do you do it,” our first number one hit record at the same time, you might think life has slowed down a bit now – but I’m busier than ever.

For example, I’m currently working on a new LP which should be released next June. The problem is that there’s little time for recording because we’re so busy all the time. We’ve recently been touring in Australia, the United States, Canada, and Singapore. I like to spend two days a week between writing and being with my kids. The problem with recording is when you’ve finished touring the last place you want to be is in a recording studio.

What’s the worst thing about touring?

Not looking after yourself and eating regularly. You end just living on sandwiches, so I always make sure I get to the hotel early and get a good meal. Of course I love touring. Although I rarely do any partying at the end of the night these days. I always tend to arrive at a gig about fifteen minutes before we go on. I get a little nervous for about two seconds before I go on stage but when I’m on it’s great fun. Then I drive back. I find driving is a good way to relax.

But what keeps me really sane is to soak in the bath for half an hour with a book and then get out and clip off all my toes nails. I really enjoy that. I don’t think I’ve every told anyone that before. After I’ve done that I feel I can conquer the world. 

Every artist has a story about touring. Tell me one of yours 

Some crazy things can happen when you are touring. I was gigging at Churchill, which is a small place near Melbourne, Australia, and I was late changing into all my stage gear. Eventually I got all my stuff on and rushed on stage in front of an enormous audience. Suddenly after three numbers one of my team called me over and informed me my flies were very noticeably undone. No wonder why they were screaming and laughing.

Do you do anything else to offset the music ?

I also need to have creative hobbies. I’m a bit of an outdoor man. I do clay pigeon shooting, archery, scuba diving and play a lot of tennis. I also love Jetski-ing. I like being outside and I get a good variety of landscape. I’m lucky enough to have a home in Spain, Anglesea and Chester.

What about writing songs?

Besides writing my own compositions for the next album the boys in the band are writing too. The Pacemakers are all different to the original line-up, but nevertheless they’ve all been with me for ten years. On bass: Andy Cairns, On keyboards: Kevin Jackson, On drums: Sean Fitzpatrick, and yours truly on guitar.

How would you describe your music?

Although we were a famous part of the Liverpool sound in the 60s, you can’t pigeon hole our music as Liverpool any more, it’s too varied. We’re quite up to date with modern technology, using sequencers and the works on tour. The whole show is enormous.

How do you remember the 60s? 

The 60s were an incredible time and people have asked me which musical act was the greatest of the 60s. It must have been John Lennon. He comes first. He had fantastic stage presence. He was also a great mate. Paul was number two but John was definitely number one.

The star that would come next – even though not from the 60s – would have to be Phil Collins. A tremendous talent. Sometimes the public just don’t recognise real talent to the extent it should be.

(Gerry Marsden appeared with the Pacemakers at Hamilton Nightclub to a packed audience)



In an exclusive interview with Musical Times editor Michael Skywood Clifford, Simon ‘Honeyboy’ Hickling, local blues singer of the DTs, composer and harmonica player, talks about the three years when legendary Small Faces & Humble Pie genius, Steve Marriott, worked with his midland’s blues band, the DTs. Three years that preceded Marriott’s untimely death. 

The DTs comprised of myself, Simon ‘Honeyboy’ Hickling on harmonica and vocals, Craig Ring on bass, Steve Walwyn on guitar and Chas Chaplin on drums. We had been gigging semi-professionally for the last half of the 70s. In the 80s we went professional and gigged all over England. Consequently we found ourselves on the same bill as Steve Marriott and the Packet of Three on a number of occasions.  

Steve Marriott had come back to England from the States and was down on his luck. In America, after the collapse of Humble Pie – which had been even bigger after Frampton had left – with about four or five big albums over there – Marriott’s solo career had not got off the ground. He also had a bit of personal trouble and he was in some management deal he couldn’t get out of.

He told me he hadn’t been paid. He said he should have been a millionaire three or four times over but when he came back from the States he didn’t even have a guitar – he didn’t have anything at all. So he phoned up his old roadie who had a guitar under his bed that Steve had previously given him. So equipped with a guitar, and an invitation from Joe Brown, he did a few gigs with Joe Brown and his band, and then he started using some of Joe Brown’s guys and doing a few gigs on his own. And then The Packet of Three was formed. 

The DTs and Marriott
In 1986 we, the DTs, went down to see the Packet of Three and had a drink with Marriot at JBs club in Dudley. This was the first time we got talking to Marriott. We used to headline at JBs ourselves occasionally and sell out as well. We went for a drink, me, Steve Marriott and DT guitarist, Steve Walwyn. We went back to Steve’s hotel until about five in the morning. A memorable evening. A session!  

One night we were all at the old Five Bells in Northampton. It was a big gig, a very large room and we were used to play there once a month. I’d recommended The Packet of Three as a main act, and they were there. We’d all had a drink before hand, and there was much larking around, and in the middle of our set Marriott leapt up on stage and began singing with us.

Anyway after that gig, In September 1987 I rang Steve Marriott to see if he would jam with us in Leicester. I said you’ll have to come to one of our gigs as a special guest down at the Shearsby Bath Hotel – a big regular gig for Leicester musicians up until about ten years when most local bands played there about once a month. It was arranged for him to do a special guest night, however, he didn’t turn up there. In the end we arranged for him to gig with us at the Charlotte in Leicester.

He came to the Charlotte. I picked him up at the station. He was out of his tree. He did the gig – he played great. We all went back to the holiday Inn. We were drinking all night. Everyone had a lot of laughs and everyone made a bit of money. He went home on the train.  

He had just left his wife and gone walkabout, so at this stage he would have been at Safron Walden, in Essex, near where he later died, in another house he had rented. 

Anyway I didn’t hear from him for about a couple of months but apparently he fell out with his band, The Packet of Three – now called The Official Receivers. A brilliant band: bassist Jim Leverton – who had been in Humble Pie at one stage, keysman Micky Weaver, who’d played with everybody including Joe Cocker and Joe Brown, and drummer Richard Newman, son of Sound Incorporated’s drummer. 

Steve Marriott, now without a band, rang me up and said “Do the DTs wanna be my band?” I said, “yeah, if we can do it at weekends and then we can keep our own career going during the rest of the week, so if we just do Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with you, the rest of the week we’ll just try and keep our own gigs going ’cause we were busy.”  

That’s what we did, and we became Steve Marriott and the DTs. As singer and harmonica player of the DTs, I had no problems stepping to one side to allow Steve Marriott to come in as front man.

He asked us to tour with him internationally from February 1988.

What was he like? Hugely talented, larger than life. He was a natural pub entertainer. He could have been in any area of show business he wanted to be in. Tell jokes, stories, reminisce, have you in stitches, sing, dance, act. He talked about his past – but with all the alcohol you never knew how much of it was true and how much of it was coloured to make it a better story. If he did exaggerate, he did it to make it funnier. He would have you in fits. And you can’t tell any story about Marriott without swearing.

You’ve got to imagine, he saw us and said, “I’d like you to be my band and he said we’ll be going to a lot of places you’ve never been before.” Well that put us in a kind of pecking order if you like. We knew he was leader and that stopped any conflict. Apparently he had had conflict in other bands. We were happy with what we got. 

His agent, Mickey Eaves, booked the gigs. We used to cart his gear around in our van. Steve and his wife, Toni, would turn up in their car and book into a nice hotel. We would have all the gear set up, he would walk in and do the gig. He rarely did a sound check. We’d have a laugh and a joke and then Steve and Toni would jump in their car and drive home. It amazed me when we were professional how so many semi-pro outfits would have more equipment than a music shop and need a four hour sound check. Not for us. 

Two years with the DTs
To my mind, he had got sick to death of doing his Small Faces and Humble Pie stuff. He said, “I just wanna do rhythm and blues with the DTs and have a bit of break,” which he did. He used to take it fairly easy. He used to often take second guitar.  

Annoying tendencies
The most annoying thing he used to do was phone up and say you were going to do a tour of Scotland, or somewhere, and then just at the last minute cancel it because he didn’t fancy it. It used to piss everybody off, because we’d have all our finances organised around the money that was to due to come in and then he’d phone and say, “No, I don’t fancy going to Scotland.” 

Personality: time off
What did he do with himself when he wasn’t drinking and playing? He had a beautiful rented cottage which later burnt down, which was in Claverdon. Me and my wife used to go down to see him and Toni, and stay at weekends. His wife’s still around and now lives in Kent. 

It was really great. He used to enjoy going out in the car, doing the shopping, and especially used to enjoy planning the meals.  

He had a forty foot narrow boat down on the canal, which I think was at Saffron Walden. His mum and dad lived about two villages away. He had bought his mum, a very attractive and friendly woman, this place in Essex. My wife’s been there. His dad’s a little cockney man.

Now every year there’s a big reunion in May in the Ruskin Arms, where the Small Faces came from, in London. His wife, mother and sister, and lots of the old crowd including Kenny Jones and all his fans get down there. They could even tell me the dates when I played with him. They know absolutely everything about him. 

Regarding the fees he charged the venues, I know how much he paid me. I know how well I was treated. If he made a packet fair play to him. He told me the best years of his life in a band was when he was doing them with us. His wife organised the gig side and then we got paid. Steve and Toni worked it out between them. 

He said going back to the pub circuit was the best thing they’d ever done. They were being paid cash at pub gigs, and when I say pub gigs places I mean big pubs like the General Wolfe where you have an audience of 300. Some pubs take up to 600.  

They’d charge a hefty wack on the door. Marriott would get the vast majority of it, but he would pay the band well. He said there was nobody else involved: no management, no record company. The agent had booked the venue and they’d agree a fee, and then Steve’s wife would sort it all out when they got there. He wasn’t that bothered about doing it himself but Toni would sort things out. He was nobody’s fool.

After gigs we’d have a laugh. We’d always have a drink. Maybe a bit of the old weed. Drink could affect his performance. If he had been on the brandy all day it would affect his performance. While I was with him Toni was always telling him to watch it. Do the drinking afterwards, she would advise. I can only remember a few gigs when he was woolly through the drink. There was only one time I can remember where he played badly through drink. And I did hundreds of gigs with him – I must have done.  

At some gigs he’d just drink Perrier water to lose some weight. This might go on for a number of gigs. Another time he’d turn up and you could see he’d had a head start. 

Reliability? He only let us down once and then he phoned to let us know. This was one night in London, He rang up to say that the fan belt had gone on his car. He had been drinking – you could tell – and his car didn’t have a fan belt – but he did turn up an hour late. We’d already started the show. Had it not been a situation where we couldn’t do the gig without him I think he would have turned up. I mean there was no pressure for him to turn up because we could handle it. We did the gig and we enjoyed it.  

Alter ego
There was another side to Steve that was rarely seen, and Jim Leverton used to describe this part of his personality, his alter ego, as ‘Melvin’. Melvin was a nasty little man who used to put in an appearance sometimes when he had gone over the top on the drink. When he went ‘beyond’  and had a real drink, he could turn in to a very unpleasant man. I couldn’t remember the amount of times we got drunk together but I only saw Melvin a couple of times, and what he got up to as Melvin is best forgotten about. Melvin was a very frightening little man. 

It would have completely horrified him to go out as another version of the Small Faces or the Faces. He was a musician, he wasn’t going to go out doing cabaret. He didn’t need to. He could get up with anybody and perform and steal the show. He was where he was, playing the pubs, cause that’s what he wanted to do. But he always chose the music. He never gave into requests. 

We went to Iceland with the DTs and the gig manager asked him, “Hey Steve, you do Sha-la-la-la-lee?” 

“No, sorry mate, don’t do that one.” 

“Ah! But you must do it! It has been a hit in Iceland. All the people coming to see you in my club.” 

“I’m very sorry mate we don’t do it. Booked as seen. Rhythm and Blues.” 

So we do the gig and we get all these people demanding, “Sha-la-la-la-lee.” And Steve’s still good humoured and says “Na, na, we don’t do it.” 

But they are still going on shouting, Sha-la-la-la-lee. 

“Why don’t you f***ing listen, I don’t do it.” 

Several songs later this guy leaps up on the stage and says,  “Steve, why don’t you do your hit, Sha-la-la-la-lee.” 

The response: “Why don’t you f*** off you knob-headed little eskimo.” 

The rest of us could hardly play for laughing. 

Recording with Steve
Steve Marriot and the DTs made no studio recordings. Fans recorded us at gigs. We’ve took some live stuff off the desk which I’ve got. I don’t feel inclined to release it. We didn’t put original numbers into Steve.

Nevertheless, while Steve was in the DTs he made an album called Thirty Seconds to Midnight which was full of drum machines and synthesizers. You might ask why did this great raw blues singer use synths and drum machines? 

It all came about because of a phone call from his agent. He wanted him to do some singing for an advert, so Steve went down and sang for a PUMA sports clothes advert or something. They gave him something close to £5000. Expletive deletive! The air was turned blue with Marriott swearing “I can’t believe it,” he shouted in his broad cockney, “It only took me half an hour!” And then they booked him to do another advert.  

Some days later he phoned me up hours before we were due to play in Birmingham at the Breedon Bar on the Pershore Road. He said in his ‘Landan’ accent: “Si, drop everthing! You gotto come down to Birmingham, mate!” I told him the gig wasn’t for hours. “No, come down,” he said. “I’m at the Albany Hotel and guess what I’ve done.” With his five grand for the second advert he’d hired the entire top floor of the Albany hotel.  

I got there about 3pm and walked into a huge suite of several bedrooms and he’s sitting there with Toni.

Have a walk round, mate. Like a drink?” I said I’d have a lager. “Do you like them, do you? Hang on a minute.” He gets on the phone: “Can I have a crate of lagers for my mate.” So the guy comes up with a crate of lagers. “Should keep you going for a little while, mate.” He sits down with his feet up. “We used to stay here with the Small Faces…..” he begins to reminisce… 

After we had done the gig and returned to the Albany, he decided it was time to celebrate. “I think we’ll have some thing special.” 

“Which would you like sir?” asked reception. “The Moet & Chandon at £30 a bottle or Bollinger at £60 a bottle?”  

“We’ll have four bottles of Bollinger.” 

It wouldn’t have made any difference to me – they might as well have sent up a bottle of Strongbow as far as I was concerned because we’d been drinking for hours.  

Anyway there were loads of people in there by this time. No end of people had been invited back.

I woke up in the morning and I wondered where I was. I’d got all this furniture piled on top me. He had stacked all the chairs and the settees in a pyramid on top of me. “Well you were getting f***ing boring mate,” he said. 

And it was because of these sports adverts that his album came about. This guy who had commissioned the adverts said to Steve come along and do an album and all you got to do is sing and I’ll do everything else. He was promised a high fee up front, so he went and did it, and he enjoyed it. Two of the DTs, myself on harmonica and Steve Walden on slide guitar were asked to play on a few tracks. We were paid session fees. 

The singing on the album is good, but the use of drum machines and synthesisers I don’t care for. Marriott should have made a really brilliant album.

Our repertoire in the DTs consisted of Rhythm & Blues covers. Steve chose the ones he sang and I chose the ones I sang. 

Steve did some of his favourite chuck Berry tunes, such as Don’t You Lie to Me. We always used to start with Junior Parker’s Watch Your Step. Work Together by Canned Heat was always included. We also used to regularly do Before You Accuse Me and Hi Heel Sneakers.  

DT guitarist, Steve Walwyn, was offered a job with Dr. Feelgood who are renowned for their work load, and he was on a percentage, and it just worked out that he would be earning a lot more money than he would have been earning with us. He took the job. Our bass player went as well. 

Marriott got Phil Anthony, a friend of his, to come in on guitar and it was musically a bit of a disaster.  

Steve Marriott and the DTs carried on for about two years and then he sacked the DTs.

The Next Band
Marriott then formed another band called The Next Band with me on harmonica. 

The New Band eventually comprised of bass player, Jim Leverton, myself on harmonica and vocals, Cofi Baker, Ginger Baker’s son, on drums. Basically a rhythm section, a harmonica and two voices.  

On playing the guitar, Steve Marriott was underrated. Steve’s rhythm, lead, timing was phenomenal. He used a Gibson 335. He had great feel. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Previously Marriott had shared the guitar breaks in the DTs. He was very generous and wasn’t bothered about hogging the lime-light. He was very confident in himself so he could stay back. Now he took all the guitar breaks in the New Band. 

Jim Leverton wasn’t happy about our name ‘The Next Band’  saying ‘that sounds as if it’s going to last a long time’. And it didn’t. Cofi Baker got offered a well paid job in job in the States and he was off. We did a really good tour of Germany which lasted over a month about 30 days. The Next Band lasted about eight months. 

In the Next Band we did a lot more of Steve’s own songs in to the set. We did quite a few Humble Pie and Small Faces tunes, whereas with the DTs the only song we ever did from Marriott’s past was All Or Nothing for a finale, his favourite own composition. We still did this, but also included What You Gonna Do About It and Tin Soldier amongst others. When people used to request Tin Soldier, he’d shout, “No mate, it’ll give you lead poisoning.” 

Having listened many times to desk recordings of The Next Band, I doubt if Steve had ever sung any better in his life.   

I believe Steve’s widow is putting one of these live concerts out on CD sometime this year on Millenium records. He’s got five albums in the can apparently which she is arranging to release in various orders.  There’s one album of songs he used to write at home on his four-track as well as half a dozen cassettes with good songs on. And Jim Leverton has gone into the studio with some really great people and finished them off and put drums on them and got Dave Mason from Pink Floyd to add some guitar.

The end
The last time I played with him was about five months before he died. He went to the States to do some recording with Pete Frampton and Jim Leverton told me that Marriott had rang him up and told him he was coming home. 

“Frampton can’t sing, can’t write songs and is f***ing useless on the guitar,” said Marriot, “I can’t wait to get home, so pick me up at the airport.”  

Jim responded, “I’d like to but I’ve not got a car anymore because of you.”  

When Marriott had cancelled all The Packet of Three gigs to go off the States, Jim had lost his income so the car had had to go back to where he had bought it from.  

Marriott had phoned Leverton to say that he wanted to start doing the Packet of Three again. This was fantastic news. Jim was a brilliant bass player, great singer, so as long as the two of them were there, provided they had a good drummer, they had a great set up.

I hadn’t spoke to him for five months. When Steve stopped working with musicians he broke complete contact, and then after a while he would start to get in touch again. I had three or four phone calls from people he had spoken to. He would have got in touch again, because that was his pattern. He used to drop people and then he’d get back in touch again when things had calmed down a bit.  

When I found out that Steve had died in a fire at his country cottage, my first thought was that he had done very well to stop alive as long as he had.  


Simon ‘Honeyboy’ Hickling


From an interview with Michael Skywood Clifford.
Originally published in the Musical Crocodile 1993

The band started way back in late 72, early 73, the amalgamation of two bands.

I was in a professional band called The Choice that was doing a resident gig at a pub called the ‘Fosse Way’, on the outskirts of Leicester. Another band, comprising mainly of mates and fans, used to come over. Eventually we amalgamated to make the Shawaddywaddy production. We started off with eight members. We only lost three in all this time.

Malcolm Allurd was originally with us. What did he play? He was half a drummer. He hasn’t played in the band for twelve years. The main drummer was Romeo Challenger then – as now. Malcolm went on to run various pubs, such as the Crazy Horse in Nuneaton, the Traveller’s Rest at Griffydam and now I believe he’s got a pub in Osgathorpe, near Loughborough. We’ve lost complete contact.

We also lost Bill Buddy Gask. He was the other lead singer, with all his 30 or 40 flashy suits and Elvis type delivery. He was fired about eight years ago. There were a few personality clashes and problems. He lives in Whitwick somewhere, I think.

One day in Germany he was setting up one of his explosions for a desired stage effect. In those days, to do this, you poured powder into a small tray and lit it. On this particular day, while pouring out the powder into the small tray, there was one thing he had overlooked: the cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Whoosh! The whole lot went up. He went into a German hospital with ten toasted digits, but a couple of nights later he came out with a new pair of hands. He was fine. His new hands were as good as his old ones, but I don’t believe he’s done a days work since!

In those days we used to have a 40 foot trailer, now it’s bigger: it’s a 45 foot trailer. Even though the size of equipment has diminished over the decade, we’ve got more kit now than ever.

Recently we’ve been completing a national tour. A nostalgia package with Shawaddywaddy topping the tour, complimented by Alvin Stardust and Rubettes.  

A Roadies Tale  
(Edited from a chance encounter with Mike Stainton)

I was employed as a member of  Shawaddywaddy’s road crew from 1978 to 1979, together with another seven or eight technicians. Shawaddywaddy owned a 40 foot trailer, where they stored their equipment. (In those days the lighting rig impressed me with its 120 bulbs). A pick up would be hired to haul it all to the gigs.

Our itinery

Mid-day:  Arrive and off-load the equipment from  trailer.  
1.00pm:            Garg would set the fireworks and explosions.  
5.00 – 600:    Sound check.  
7.30:          Support group would go on stage and perfom.  
9.00:    Shawaddywaddy would go on stage and perform. (They’d go on later if it was a club gig)  
10.10:     The band would finish with one encore. (Usually ‘Hey Rock and Roll’.)  

One night the band did a gig (at the Alex Palley) for the 18-30 C.lub. Was it wild? After the second number, a can of larger hit Dave on the head. The band finished the number and walked out.

I almost remember my Birthday. Dave got me drunk (in Baileys at Watford) on pernod and lemonade and I ended up drinking three pints of the stuff!  In the morning Dave gave me a glass of water and I collapsed.

I eventually left the band after an argument with sound man Do Dah Day.

The ultimate 60s drummer DOUGIE WRIGHT

Interview created and compiled by Michael Skywood Clifford
First published in the Musical Crocodile 1993

I sit here at 56 years of age and you ask me how I started drumming?

There’s both music and longevity in my family. My mum 90 now and she still plays the piano and that was how I started. I played for a couple of years and I must have been quite good as my music teacher used to parade me about as part of a PR job for her department. My grandfather used to work at Leed’s Empire, the entertainment theatre, so he was very musical. The only one out of the family who wasn’t especially musical was my father.

A Yorkshire lad, I left school at 15, in 1952 and went to work cutting ladies costumes in a factory. I was there for six years.

I was really interested in trad jazz which was the pop music of the day. There had been a big revival in the Forties of trad in London which was still circulating around the country. Most of the trad bands were seven piece – like Chris Barber’s band used to be. I used to watch jazz concerts and educate myself that way.    

I watched a lot of top well named drummers and thought – with that precocious arrogance born of youth – that I could do just as well. So having decided to prove myself, I went to a second hand music shop and bought a snare drum. It cost 30 bob, or £1 – 10 shilling, which was a week’s wages. I still have a replica of it to this day, and it’s a great favourite of mine. I then sent off to Boosey and Hawkes in London for a pair of brushes and sticks for 1/ 6d and I’ve still got them. They remain in mint condition because I quickly escalated to flashier sticks quite soon after.

I found a drum teacher and had 18 months of drumming lessons. Alick (Alec?) Sidebottom – a great Yorkshire name – was a good face with a handle bar moustache. He was a good teacher and a good drummer and he helped me a lot. Sadly he died a couple of years back.

While I was at the factory I got a few gigs with the odd dance band and a few small outfits. I soon had a regular number of gigs going and as people got to hear about me they increased.

It was too expensive to own a telephone in those days so people used to phone the factory or more usually pop round the house and say can you do this gig tomorrow night for 35 bob? Of course I could: I could buy a second hand cymbal or drum with that. So the more I gigged the more I built up my kit.

It was 1955 then, and I was eighteen, something of a late starter. I gigged like this for three years. During those years the new rock scene was just starting but I didn’t go for it at the beginning. It was the jazz scene that I was aiming for, yet it was for the pop scene I was destined.

A phone call came through one morning to the office from a young guy called Jimmy Stead. He asked me if I wanted to join the John Barry Seven? The John Barry Seven was an all Yorkshire Band of note, so I said yes immediately. John Barry was changing the band little by little, because the original band before 1958 weren’t good sight readers. He was getting a lot of backing work so he wanted readers.

After a quick rehearsal we were off. In late 1958 I joined the Seven and went to London in a van jogging for six hours down the then Great North Road. When I got down there I was knackered, having picked up a tummy bug on the way. I had to go to a week’s rehearsal at Barry’s flat feeling absolutely shattered. This was the first time I had been away on me Jack Jones – and I felt exhausted and slightly homesick. I almost packed it all in then, but somehow I stuck to my guns and what was to happen, happened.

I gained  a lot of experience from this move for later session work, for now I had become one of the three new faces – together with Clem Clatimmi of the Tornados, and Brian Bennett – on the London scene playing rock and roll. We were the new stylists after the big band drummers of the fifties.

After my initiation we went out on tour in late 58.

John Barry
John Barry was getting well known. He was something of a delicate theatrical performer. He was originally a trumpet player of little note but he wanted to arrange and compose for the band so he eventually took backstage and did just that. Taking a Bill Russo arrangement course from America, John used to arrange for Johny Dankworth and many others. We were featured in many magazines, the cuttings of which I’ve still got. When we got into the top league John Barry took out a œ10,000 insurance policy against any of the band getting married within the next year because that was how much it would cost if the team were to break up. A lot of money in those days.

Backing Stars
The Seven used to do their own spot, but were now doing  a lot of backing work and had just been in the limelight backing Paul Anka in Sweden after his Diana hit. Simultaneously they also backed a guy on concert performances called Jackie Dennis who was a Scottish pop kid who wore a kilt – the original Bay City Roller. He was flavour of the month for a while.

When I joined we were backing people like Marty Wilde. In the Empire Days, Marty Wilde had had his own band, the Wildcats, but we took over as Marty’s band. A star, he always had a good quality voice. A nutcase as a character – but then we were all barmy.

We were with Marty for about three months doing regular jobs each in a different place. Norwich Theatre Royal, Cardiff New Theatre, Sunderland Empire, and the Metropolitan Theatre, Edgewhere Road. When seven guys (and all their kit) travel around non-stop in a Dormobile they  soon get to know each other. We had a reunion three years ago, and it was magic day.

All this new rock and roll music coming from America was magic, unbelievable. These were the halcyon days. We had a great band in the Seven. Put up the music and we could play it. We were one of the link bands – and there aren’t many – between the jazz big bands of the 50s and the rock bands of the 60s. We had excellence in every department.

A new boy is discovered
Then Johny Worth, the songwriter, discovered a guy in the cutting rooms of a film studio called Terry Nelhams. Together with John Barry they wrote him some songs and changed his name to Adam Faith. Adam was a good down to earth guy, a Londoner, upper working class. We had some laughs together.  We backed Adam then in 1959/ 60.

It was the TV series in 1959 which put Adam on the concert stage. The Seven originally did 65 special before I joined. Don Lang (who passed away last year) his Frantic Five, Lonnie Donegan, Wee Willy Harris and Joe Brown starred on the show.

In 1959 Barry came up with a series for BBC television in opposition to Oh Boy on the commercial channel, called Drumbeat. The regular cast included Bob Miller and the Miller Men, (the big band), The John Barry Seven (the small band) Adam Faith, Danny Williams (of Moon River fame), the Raindrops, the Kingpins and Roy Young (a white Little Richard), and Sylvia Sands the singer. At the onset of the series we all went into number 2 studio in Abbey Road with a live audience and we cut a complete album in a day. Drumbeat began in May, live, and went on for six months, right through the summer.

At six o’clock on Saturday night,  with the crazy studio audience, the red lights would suddenly come on and we were live. Millions of people were  looking at us on their TV screens. The adrenaline was fantastic. There was no room for mistakes.            

Playing both channels
Over on the commercial channel on Oh Boy they had Lord Rockingham’s Eleven. At one stage in the series Jack Good the producer and Harry Robinson had a big argument over internal band policy and there was a split. Some of the guys stayed with Jack and some stayed with Harry. As live TV needed deps (replacements) for the imminent show, three out of the John Barry Seven were drafted in to play because we could literally read fly shit. So I took over from the drummer, and Vic Flick and Mike Peters took over guitar and bass respectively. (Vic Flick incidentally did all the James Bond playing for John Barry’s arrangements).  So for a week or two we became part of Lord Rockingham’s Eleven.

On Drumbeat our backing group was the  Raindrops whereas over on the commercial channel, on Oh Boy, Cliff had the Dallas Boys and the Vernon girls. There was obviously rivalry, but we made good friends from both series. The Dallas Boys from Leicester became good buddies. Some of them have retired recently, or are just about to do so. They’ve been gigging and doing cabaret for many years.  

Joe Brown, Adam Faith and Marty Wilde were all good mates. Joe is a great country guitarist. They were all great characters.

Incidentally around this time Barry wrote the Hit and Miss theme for a programme called Juke Box Jury. The record is now a collector’s item like a  lot of those early records.

Royal Command Performance
We did the Royal Command Performance at the Victoria Palace in 1960 in front of the Queen. They put a package deal together with us Cliff and Shadows and Vernon girls to represent the younger generation of that time. It was the only time we all had to wear top hat and tails hired from Moss Bros and I looked a right prat. It just didn’t suit me because of my size.    

Bud Flannigan was on the show and was doing his song Strolling. Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Junior and Liberace were all top of the bill. Freddy Cole, Nat’s brother is still doing he rounds as is Natalie Cole.  

The Hippodrome
In 1962 Adam and the Seven did a summer season in Blackpool at the Hippodrome. We shared top of the bill with Emile Ford and the Checkmates. We worked from Monday to Saturday in Blackpool and often did session in London on Sundays. We had a great summer season for five months but there were some complications.

Married life on the road
Even though I had a flat in Blackpool I also kept my flat in Fulham going. My Daughter was now on the way and my wife had to keep going back to London by train to have checkups. So I had to pay for two places. It’s never easy for a lady to be married to a musician because of the nature of the job. The musicians in the Seven were on a good wage but because we were only employees the royalties were in John Barry’s name, and that was that.

Reforming the Seven
In fact I tried to restart the band four years ago and wrote to John Barry to ask if I could use the name of the band, but he didn’t reply, which didn’t surprise me. He’s a good business man, and has made a fortune for himself. He wrote and arranged a lot of the numbers and all the royalties were his.  He did very well for himself and that’s what the business is about. Another reason why the reformation was still born was the sad loss of one of the guys  last Christmas. The tenor player, Dennis King, had battled with Leukemia for two years. A great face, and a great sax player. 

Anyway during this time in Blackpool I could have been happier. I was aware that things were changing, other styles were coming in. I said to Vic – the now surrogate leader because Barry remained in London to write – ‘We’ve got to become a vocal band or we’ll get left behind.’ My advice was not taken heed of, yet, now we were regularly having dates cancelled. I saw the light: the writing was on the wall: I said to myself, “Do something and do it now.”

All these discontents culminated in a telephone blow up with Barry over upsetting my wife. So I said, “Thank you and goodbye.” A  few days later I gave official notice to quit the band.

Who cares?  

So I hit the big wide world in late ’62. And guess what. Nobody wanted to know. I couldn’t find any work. I suddenly found I had a daughter to keep and a wife and rent to pay. This was the toughest of times.

I came down to earth with a huge bang. I had gone from being a star musician signing autographs every day of the week to an unemployed Joe. All I could do was plunge into the twilight world of the small gig scene in London where I knew absolutely no one.

Before I had always had regular dosh coming in from the Seven. Now I couldn’t get money from anywhere. We were having to sell our records to eat.

There was (and is) a street in London called Archer Street where all the musicians collected. Having  no choice I went down one Sunday afternoon, to be engulfed, pavement to pavement, in a flood of all these these middle aged old fashioned musicians swapping gigs. There were thousands of them. It was the stock exchange for musical work and I didn’t know a soul. I had just come off the top rock and roll scene and here I was in the middle of all these hard bitten musicians of twenty years grind. I went in the street pub, the Red Lion, walking round like a headless chicken, wondering where do I start?

Then my eye caught a familiar face by the bar. It was Dave Allen, we had been backing him on tour – an unfamous comedian at that time. He was talking to Art Morgan from London, a drummer I knew. I was so pleased to see these two guys having a drink. I explained my predicament and Art pointed out a guy called Les Dawson (not the comedian) who was giving out gigs. I went over and secured a few gigs in the West End. Small stuff but it paid the rent. I got more laughs out of those gigs than I had for months and I needed that. That was the start of my gig scene in 1962.

I was at home one night and piano player, Brian Hazelby, whom had followed Les Read into the John Barry Seven popped in to see me. “Ted Taylor’s drummer is leaving the quartet,” he told me. The Ted Taylor Four were a popular band. Until a couple of years ago Ted Taylor was the musical associate for the Benny Hill Show. Ted had augmented some of the Seven’s records with electric keyboards,  so I knew him.  I gave Ted a ring. “I hear Bobby’s leaving the band going to America. Any chance of me joining?” “I know you can play the parts,” he said, “but I need someone who can sing too.” Well I had never sung before, apart from a talent competition as a kid.

So I went for an audition and sung. And I cracked it! Suddenly life took a whole new turn.

….So, where were we? Yes, it was 1962 and I had a regular job again. Great! I was now resident drummer at the Jack of Clubs nightclub in Brewer street, Soho. It was situated opposite Paul Raymond’s Strip Alley, although I believe it’s a piano bar now. It was run by the son of entrepreneur Jack Iseau. A restaurant was on the ground floor with a club underneath. And here’s where I began my second apprenticeship.

Having done one apprenticeship with the John Barry Seven on the road, I was now doing a second apprenticeship in a night club backing artists every week. Cutting rhythms with cabaret artists, comics, jugglers, Cossack dancers, Spanish dancers, everyone. I would drum the arrangements and sing the harmonies off whatever sheet music was put in front of me. The Bachelors came in, Dave Allen came in, Val Doonegan came in. None of them had made it then.

Four nights a week I would be there until three in the morning, and Friday and Saturday until a quarter to four. Sunday I had a day off. I was also doing session work in recording studios during the day.

So I was finishing and getting to bed at four in the morning and getting up again at seven, doing session work during the day. I didn’t get much sleep but I could do it: I was in my twenties and I was in good shape. I gained great experience with Ted Taylor and Bob Rodgers – singing experience especially – doing four part harmonies. We did a lot of broadcasts like that. It was all written out: I was reading the drum part and the singing part at the same time. It was no place for passengers.

The club had a regular talent spot every week in 63/64 and we had all the Liverpool bands coming through. The Beatles, Gerry and the Piss-takers (as we used to call them), Billy J. Kramer, The Tornados, The Hollies, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, they all came through that show; that was one of the great shows.

 The Beatles
I remember the first time I ever saw the Beatles. They fell out of a Dormobile in lower Regent Street into the Paris cinema where we were all working. The door flung open and they all marched in scruffy as armholes, straight from the Pool, having just come back from the Star Club in Hamburg, making a big name for themselves. Now they were trying to hit it big in England having just done ‘Love Me Do’.

Andy White was on drums. It wasn’t Ringo. Andy was a mate of mine who had been with Bob Miller on Drumbeat with us. Ringo had just joined the band but he hadn’t got the feel for it yet, so they got this session guy in until Ringo got it together. Andy is now in America teaching.

In walked John Lennon wearing his NHS glasses and our guitarist Bob Rogers looked at him and said, “Every band has got its Hank Marvin, hasn’t it.”

We got to know them, we (the Ted Taylor Four) did a couple of live concerts with them. They were top of the bill. They were getting quite well known and Brian Epstein was pushing them hard.

I had never seen them live because we were usually having a break while they were on stage. The first time I watched them was from the wings at the Embassy at Peterborough (the building is still there) in 1963. They utterly amazed me. McCartney and Lennon were singing this number from America by pianist Bobby Scott, ‘A Taste of Honey’, a jazz number, yet the Beatles were doing it in an astonishingly jazz-orientated way. I had never seen a pop group doing things like this before. They had a great music quality.

The kids in the audience were going potty. I said to Jimmy from the John Barry Seven later, “I just seen a band called the Beatles and I’ve never seen anything like it man. The Shadows might be top group at the moment but the Beatles are going to knock them for six.” And they did. Yet nowadays in 1993 the Beatles are not together and the Shadows are. Full circle again. Strange business isn’t it?

Oh yeh, I talked to them. We shared dressing rooms with the Beatles occasionally. Seth got all their autographs – something I regret not having done now. I could have got them collectively and individually – they would be worth a damn fortune. I could have got so many autographs down the years but I didn’t get any. None. And you’ll see what I missed as I go on.

I met up with Paul and Ringo later in the Seventies when the Beatles had split.

 The Session Scene
I left Ted in 1965 because my individual connections were building up very rapidly as a session drummer in the studios. It was really going mad, crazy. It was four sessions a day sometimes, not just three. Try and get a day off on a Sunday if you can – although I shouldn’t knock it – it was great money. Hot line, hot line. With more people getting to know me as a reliable guy who could do a reliable job, I was becoming very much in demand for freelance session work in London’s west End, so I decided I had built up enough connections to go freelance, and in early ’65 I quit the club.                        

Session playing was the ultimate; the height of a musical career at that time. Everyone was coming in to town. It was the place to be: London. Not LA, not New York. The Beatles were helping the industry a great deal.

The rock groups from the fifties were meeting up with big band players of ten years earlier and something special was being created. The hooligan rhythm sections like us were playing along with these tremendous musicians, the old big band players and the combination was fantastic. We were kicking them alive, replacing the plod of the old-fashioned swing drummers.

Almost as soon as I quit, I had a call from probably the top fixer in London, Charlie Kats.

A fixer (or contractor) is the person hired by the recording studio (EMI, Decca, etc.) to book an orchestra or a session band for each session that’s going on. The fixer is the go-between between the studio and the musicians so it’s similar to an agency. A record company (with their own studio) would contact a fixer, who has a number of musicians on his books. From these, he then puts a band together and gets a percentage for doing it. He’s an agent between the hierarchy who are paying the money and producing the record and the musical employees. He gets to know exactly what musicians are especially suitable for each type of session.

TV Show 
Anyway, shortly after I had turned freelance I had a call from Charlie saying he had booked me for a pilot TV pop show. A session band for the programme was being put together to back the few solo artists who didn’t have their own band, and they wanted me as drummer. We did the pilot programme at Lyme grove, from the old ATV studios, Wembly and we had no idea if it was going to take off, but it did. The commercial channel wanted to screen a pop show to oppose Top of the Pops. It was called Ready Steady Go.

We all had to turn up every week. I did 76 programmes over about two years. I was on the pilot show and all the shows that followed during that time. I was employed as drummer in the Ready Steady Go Orchestra, lead principally by Johnny Pearson, the musical director, who has written a lot of quality music down the years. We backed hundreds of stars, including many stars like Sandy Shaw, Lulu, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Diana Ross and the Supremes. etc.- basically, any solo artist who didn’t have their own backing band. There’s too many to remember. Although I recall clearly when Diana Ross heard the band on rehearsal and said, “Gee! I knew there was something in London we had missed.” That was a nice compliment.

Due to the boom in groups – at that time – and the decline of solo stars, sometimes we would have to sit through the whole day and end up only playing one piece of music. But we had to be on call in case we were needed. So we used to go and have our hair cut , or a coffee, or take a kip in the cupboard or something, you know. It proved to be a very lucrative little job because it enabled me to put a down payment on my first house. I also established a reputation then as being one of the better younger players on the scene. From then on, the phone kept ringing, day by day. The contractors, people like Charlie Kats, David Kats, Harry Benson, Sid Sacks, Alec Firman, Bernard Monchen continually booked me for the different studios in London. I was well established on all their lists. So things were lucrative, very, very good.

Some memories
The stones came on Ready Steady Go when I was drumming in the orchestra but I didn’t talk to them. Jim Sullivan and some of the other guys did. For what they did they were a good group. They were in their own ball park. They created a sort of white English R&B and they made a lot of money with what they did and I admire that. Nevertheless I once worked with Bill Wyman on a session to record some film music at Olympic Studios in Barnes. David Whitiker was the musical director, an excellent musician who wrote, arranged and conducted orchestral music. The producer was a bit of a whiz kid and he requested that he must have Bill Wyman on the session as he got such a great sound. Well Bill came in and he sat amongst a bunch of highly-skilled, hard bitten (not me as I new to the scene then) session players. Having grown used to working with ace players, I was first surprised to find Bill couldn’t read music – as it soon became apparent he couldn’t handle the piece of music he was given. Then, worse, it became obvious  he couldn’t tune his instrument either. No matter how he tried, he just couldn’t get in tune with the rest of the band.

And worse to follow. With a nickname for excellent timekeeping in the business, I know when a guy can’t keep time. And Bill couldn’t. So – no doubt to save embarrassment – the piece of music was recorded but then scrapped. I watched him as he floundered through the session. So if you had take Bill Wyman out of the Stones and put him into something else the guy didn’t make it all.

Dave Clark
Dave Clark was a good enough business man, although an egomaniacal editor of his later acquired Ready Steady Go programmes, which he sliced up to give himself a lot of undeserved glory. In fact he never played on any of his own records. Clem Clattini who went into sessions after the Tornados split up used to drum on them all. (The Tornados are gigging again incidentally.)

Walker Brothers
Similarly, Gary Leeds of the Walker Brothers never drummed on any of their records. I should know, because I did them all. Gary Leeds the drummer in the band used to drum at the concerts but I did all the studio tracks.                                    

Scott Walker had a fantastic voice and they used to use the most massive orchestras in sessions, with people like Reg Guest arranging and conducting. Scott was well respected by the musical fraternity. He was a nice guy,  quite a loner, and very interested in Surrealism. He’s still bombing around in London these days.

Of course as well as being on all their hit tracks (which I noted at the time in a diary) there hundreds of stocking fillers, the BCDE tracks, and album tracks so numerous they would stretch from Broughton Astley to London if listed. Scott and John would usually do about three tracks, (sometimes four) in a session and from these they would chose an A and a B side. I was the regularly guy for the Walker Brothers, but on the odd occasion when I couldn’t make a session they would use Clem Clattini. Between us, we played most of the records of that period, doing more commercial hit parade sessions than anyone else in the business.

Making sessions
It was a fast, varied and spontaneous lifestyle. I rarely had a clue what I was going to be doing on the way to a studio. The team I would be going to work with could have been anyone. I’d perhaps walk in and find some session guys I’d played with last week. Hi, I didn’t know you’d be here. What we doing? No idea. Who’s the MD? Suddenly in walks a musical director. Oh, we didn’t know it was you today. Sometimes we’d go over the pub at lunch, and by the following fortnight the track would be in the charts. It was complete guess work as to who you would be playing with.

What’s happening today? 
One particular track I did in 1964 is a good example of how many sessions worked. Booked at EMI studios, I turned up with my kit, and was directed into the small studio, number three, at Abbey Road. Jeff Love – at that time a a staff arranger for EMI and later Max Bygraves musical director – was there. We exchanged a few niceties. What are we doing today? I enquired. “There’s only you and bass player Eric Ford. We got two new guys coming in, playing guitar and singing a song by Lennon and McCartney. There’s no music so you’ve both got to make it up,” he explained.

So Jeff starts putting a few dots and quavers down on paper while I was getting a drum sound with the engineer. One of the two young guys was plonking out a sort of rhythm on an acoustic guitar as Jeff continued writing bass lines down on staves for Eric to play. I was just going along with the rhythm of the thing in my own innimitable way. Then the other guy comes in and we are introduced.

As we were putting it together, Jeff literally writes down what we are doing to get  an impromptu score. Vic Flick was called in to put twelve string guitar sound on, Harry Sternam was called in to put an organ sound on.

The track was issued a week or so after and it soared up the charts. It went to number one here, and it went to number one in the States! Big money. It was Peter (Asher) and Gordon (Waller)’s, ‘A World Without Love.’ Vic, Harry, Eric and yours-truly built the rough song up into a recordable arrangement that made the song work and all we got was a session fee, yet it sold millions. It was the same old story over and over again.

That’s a good example of how many sessions went. Putting a record together without any music was quite common.

Hi Ho Silver Lining – Jeff Beck
To be honest, I don’t remember this too clearly. Jeff was an okay guy. It was at number two studio at Pye. All the groups used to record there. The rest of the band were Jeff’s regular line up and they called me in just to hold the thing together time wise. Bringing a session guy (or guys) in saves time, and time is money. To me it was just another record. I thought, “that’s nice, ” and I went on to the next session.

Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse
A record that went to either number one or two. That was at Les Reed’s studio, Wessex Sound in Highberry. Les was an old mate of mine from the John Barry Seven days. He organised himself as a musical director – did a lot of arranging for Tom and Engelbert, people like that, and he got himself an old church and turned it into a studio. I used to do a lot of sessions out there. He also recorded the Fortunes there, ‘You’ve Got Your Troubles’, and all the others. I was on all of the Fortunes stuff. 

Studios then
Studios were very busy then. You wouldn’t  believe it – it was an incredible community. It’s good that the Hinckley Musician is writing about the session community of the Sixties and the Seventies because no one else has. They’ve always written about the artists but the not the session players.

Brilliant players like guitarist Jim Sullivan, Bass player Dil Cats. Both Jimmy Page and John Baldwin (John Paul Jones who also went on to form Led Zepellin) were just ordinary session guys at this time. I used to work with Jimmy Page every day. He was just one of the guys. A fantastic player, although he couldn’t read music, but he did have a fantastic sound. Terry Britton was another one – he was on the Alvin Stardust stuff. I was on all that too. A lot of stuff was written and then given to session musicians to record and then the proper band would learn it off the record. Time is money. If you put a piece of music in front of a session guy you’ve got it recorded in ten minutes. Played as well as it can be played.

In time many of these session players went off to form or join there own bands.

John McLoughlin the guitarist did this. He was just a string plonker when I knew him. What was he like? Terrible. Bloody awful when I knew him.

He wasn’t booked as a lead solo player – the better players were booked for that, people like Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick and Richard Tattersall. Chris Spedding was another one. He had a hit single with ‘Motorbiking’. I used to work with him a lot. Great player, good sound and good rocker.

A lot of the guys who made it big later were backing artists at that time. Elton John was a backing singer and I worked with him as such. Most of the time, these people would just politely say good morning to each other and just put a product together and move on to the next session. Then we would see each other again in maybe a couple of weeks when we were booked together again. Often we used to go for a pint across the road, but whereas the musicians would usually drink with the musicians, the backing singers would go off to their own scene in a different pub.

The pubs and studios
I went to literally hundreds of studios.

At EMI studios, the session player pub was the Alma in St. Johns Wood, at the May de Vale Studios we used to go in the BBC club (people used to go in there sometimes and get smashed – I don’t know how they played at times – sometimes they used to live in there!). The Olympic Studios had the Red Lion at Barnes. The Decca studios at Broadhurst gardens have closed down now. Decca didn’t have a pub as such but it had a chinese restaurant across the road where we could get some food and wine.

There were lots of little studios floating around in enthusiast’s front room, like Denmark Studios, and Regent Sound, the one Joe Meek had. Joe Meek’s claim to fame was that he created the Tornados. He was a homosexual, and he was renowned for being a bit nasty with it as well. I had a shout up with him one day and that was the only time I ever worked with Joe Meeks. He didn’t like the way I played and I wasn’t keen on him.

But the session scene was gradually changing in the late sixties. At that stage you would record tracks as long as there were hours in a day, but the Beatles were changing the approach to studio work – they were given carte blanche by their record label, Parlophone, who would book out a studio for three months (or more) at a time for them.

They weren’t the saints they’ve been pictured to be either. They used to work through the night, have meals sent in and have a smoke etc. They would get so high they’d chuck the plates and everything else against the walls and break the place up. When the tracks were finished they would take it out on the studio – not unlike Keith Moon with his drum kit.

Occasionally I would follow them into a studio (for a booked session) the morning after they had left. The job of the studio porters was to help clean out the studios and help the next musicians in with their gear. “Can you get my stuff in Terry while I go and park? “I’d ask. “Take as much time as you like,” he’d say, “we had the Beatles in here last night and they wrecked the place.”

Mind you, I must point out that the hooligan element is not confined pop music. Not at all. Leonard Bernstein made a habit of wrecking his hotel room before he left it.  Some of the biggest hooligans in the business are in the classical world. But that’s excepted because it’s the respectable side of the business. One law for working class culture and another for middle class culture. That cuts no ice with me. I judge a potato by its skin.

Dusty Springfield
I was involved in quite a few things with Dusty Springfield, if you pardon the expression, although she wouldn’t have been inclined in my direction anyway. I had worked with her in 1958 (before the Springfields had formed) when she was the singer in the centre of a group called the Lama Sisters. None of these three girls would have been inclined in my direction if you get what I mean. Three of them together – can you imagine! They were allegedly known be somewhat devious and they gave the John Barry Seven a ****ing hard time when we backed them. I was continually being told my timing wasn’t right here, that was wrong there, etc. etc. I was just a young guy coming into the business and I hated them.            

Anyway I worked with her again when she had moved on to the Springfields. She was more mellow by that time. She has a bit more up top at that point. She had learned a bit and she now accepted I could make the scene. But she always gave drummers a terrible time, even the top quality drummers. She tried it on with Buddy Rich in America but she was firing off at the wrong man and he shot her down in flames. Touchy, temperamental; very temperamental. Nevertheless an excellent singer.

I remember a session where we were doing the flip side of a number called, “In the Middle of Nowhere,” a ballad, the name of which I can’t recall, recorded at Phillips Marble Arch. She had her own backing rhythm section for that session string players and brass players. I always felt uncomfortable at her sessions.

In the early Seventies I did a lot of library music because it was a big deal money wise. I was booked as first call on the Reader’s Digest library music with Decca and I’d be out there every week at Decca Studios. Then, due to illness, I had to go into hospital for a couple of weeks. Of course when I came out I had lost my bloody connection, hadn’t I? That’s how fickle the music business is. If you slip up then you can be assured that somebody else will move in. Nobody is unexpendible. Inevitably, you build up this barrier against being let down. It’s easy to become sceptical, hard bitten, cynical, everything, yeh. If you say you can do it, you’ve got to go and do it to survive. This is learning the hard way. Nevertheless I’m 56 now and still surviving.         

For all budding musicians
There are two things I have got to get across on this interview. Firstly, to get a continual stream of work as a musician you have to be reliable. That’s the way you survive. Doing the job musically is one thing, but if you can’t turn up on time and keep your nose clean you won’t be working long.

If you have a professional attitude people will enjoy working with you. You have to be compatible with other people. You’re doing a job and getting paid for it. If you don’t provide the product they’ll book somebody else. And you’re up there doing something a lot of other people want to be doing – so don’t blow it!

Secondly, you can’t play music properly when you’re out of your tree. I’ve tried it. When I’m high I can’t think straight. It’s a mug’s game. I’m too relaxed. I went to Japan for three weeks in the Seventies and I went out with two or three guys before the show and I had too much Saki. Lethal. When I got back I went on stage in front of two thousand people and I was drunk. I was trying to get it together. My muscles were tired. I couldn’t move myself. Move yourself, you brat! You got two big drum solos to play! Yet I couldn’t put it together. I was getting paid quite a lot of money for this and I couldn’t produce the goods. Bad news.

Anyway this takes me up to the time when I had a boat to catch.

All at sea
I had a great time in 1970. I was booked on  an extensive cruise for a couple of weeks in the Med on the Cranberra with Ray Davis (not the Kink’s singer) and the Button Down Brass: a session band specialising in Herb Alpert type music. Not marijuana music but Tihuana music: a Mexican style of music which was all written out so it was an easy job.

A BBC outside broadcast team came with us. Travelling first class we had our own cabin stewards who looked after us. We didn’t get a lot of money from the trip, but it was free, as was all the food and drink we could tuck into. All you needed was a little pocket money for when you went ashore in Palma, Naples or Athens.

From the BBC we had ‘Saturday Club’ and ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ compere Brian Matthews and producer Pam Cox and sound engineers with us as well. They had come to broadcast the band live from the high seas.

Sixties & Seventies
At the end of the Sixties different kinds of music were coming into vogue. Reggae and Ska, Country and Western, and Brazilian Bosanovas were becoming fashionable. Bacharach’s music was especially popular.

The whole period was good for me. It was lucrative from the beginning of the Seventies right through until the mid-period when it began to tail off. From then on you had all the Punk and the Glam Rock stuff coming in, Bowie, etc. Although that was great actually: it was good fun.

The scene was changing all the time, different ideas were coming into music and the session players were having to change with it.

Song Writing
It struck me that songwriters were making a lot of money so I decided to have a go at writing songs myself. I started early about 1966 but even though I had a lot of my songs pressed I never had any hit records. Vic, John Barry’s guitarist, and I used to write songs together.

Vic used to be involved with Francis Day & Hunter publishers, and because of this he had his own little publishing company which was a subsidiary of the main company. A lot of the stuff we used to write we used to plough into Vic’s company.

There were artists looking for material, although we used to get somewhat
non-descript artists. A little bit recorded here a little bit recorded there. One excellent singer I wrote for was Mike Readway, a great singer on the London Scene.

I’ve got all the demos but they don’t mean anything now. It’s all old fashioned stuff now, and very twee. You write things according to what style is selling at the time. A lot of it you wouldn’t give house room to these days.

Herbie Flowers
I wrote a couple of things with Herbie Flowers, the great session bass player, who played with many stars, including Elton John, and was the guy who put Sky together. We started working together about 1962.

He came into the music scene from an army band; he played a wind instrument as well as bass. He was a well trained musician and excellent time keeper. A character but a nice one. And very reliable.

Herbie Flowers wrote and had a hit record with ‘Grandad’ with Clive Dunn. So we got together to write a follow up, called, ‘Me and my Dog’. Unfortunately, even though Clive liked it, it never got off the ground. Politics again.

Some Success
I had some success in 1972 with another session guy, Alan Hawkshaw, a great player, who went on to big things later. Alan was doing a lot of writing at that time. One day we were at a session at Delane Ley and Alan said he had a melody he had written and asked me if I wanted to put a lyric to it. Yeh, I said. And we put the song together during the course of somebody else’s session. On playbacks of the song we were recording, he jotted the thing down and gave it to me and I put the lyric together in about two hours. So now we had a song.

Alan was then helping out with the shadows at that time so he had first hand information about Cliff: a door was opened and access was permitted. He went through and was introduced to Cliff and the whole thing was built up that way. Another example of not what you know but who you know. 

It was published by one of the companies in Denmark Street – although I can’t remember off hand which one – and was entered for the Eurovision Song Contest. It passed three hundred songs and got through to the last six. Once again, not what we knew, but who we knew. ‘

The song was called the ‘Days of Love’. Cliff himself didn’t like it much. It was a ballad and he couldn’t sing ballads anyway – he seemed to lack a bottom range to his voice.       

Anyway the winning song that year was, ‘Power to All Our Friends’. Cliff recorded all the nearly-made-it songs and our song was put out on an album and we got some royalties back. Only a few hundred quid each, but it was still worth having put pen to paper.

Top Six
One of the things I used to like doing was producing cover versions of hit records on the cheap labels. A lot of session guys were earning money doing that then. Labels like Top Ten, Top Six, Super Six, the Woolworths brand labels and all that, you know. I used to do a lot of that, as well as library music, background music or advertising jingles for TV. One day it would be Martini the next, double cream. All that stuff, you know. You might be selling a car one day and some supermarket product the next. I did a lot of film music. Once film session I went along to had the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn. Why me? They wanted this hooligan, rock sound for the rhythm section. We were all producing a lot of background music.

I suppose you could say I’ve just been a background musician all these years. Apart from the highlights when I was a bit of a lunatic with the John Barry Seven, when I was top front man with the Seven as a star band.

Some Sessions of the Seventies
In the early seventies Paul McCartney was producing his own stuff in the studio and I was booked on a session with him. I had known him from previous years when the Beatles were doing concert performances so we were on familiar terms. A nice guy is Paul. I can’t tell a lie – nice fella. He was doing his own stuff, a thing called ‘Uncle Albert’, from Ram. I did a thing for Ringo around that time that was a small hit, ‘Sweet Sixteen’.

I’ve done a lot work down the years and I’ve been very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, but that is not the same thing as being absolutely lucky. I’ve had to work at it. I’ve had to produce the goods. I’ve had to become a good player. In order to get a reputation and get the work, and to create the opportunities to work with other great players.

The Worzels
I was doing quite a lot of work for the Worzels. They were a great fun band. We got on so well I was the fourth worzel. They had hits like, ‘I am a cider drinker’, ‘I’ve got a brand new Combine Harvester’ and ‘Morning Glory’. They were all parodies of other songs.

They became a quite big deal in mid to late Seventies. They were already a big deal around the west country and they used to fill the places out. It used to be Adge Cutler and the Worzels but despite Adge getting killed in a motor accident the Worzels carried on. And they had hit records and became a national name. They are still living off those hit records as they are still singing their hits doing their rounds. I did all those sessions. In fact there was no sheet music involved: we just knocked ideas together.

Nevertheless, they were great players. Tommy Banner, Pete Bud and Tony Begis were the three original guys but Tony dropped out. The other two carried on and put bass and drums behind them. They are still doing cabaret around the country. Quite recently they sent their regards to me which was nice.

I helped write a song with the Worzels, ‘Good Old Somerset’, which we put together in a pub around the back from EMI, the Alma. We wrote it during a lunch break from the studios which the Worzels had booked for a day. We wrote it over lunch and then recorded it when we got back. And I’m still getting royalties for it!                       

It was just their kind of stuff. Folk rock pop material. As well as Royalties, the Performing Rights Society people collect a little money on that as well. Sometimes it’s possible to be ripped off with the smaller publishing houses but with the main publishing houses you’re usually okay.

Anyway that was in the mid Seventies.

The scene was beginning to change after the mid-Seventies. A lot of everyday work was dropping off. The session work situation was thinning out. Things were beginning to get more electronic and computerised. Subtly, somehow the keyboard players were taking over. The keyboard session players were bringing in synthesizers and producing bass sounds, guitar sounds and drum sounds on synthesizers. If you wanted something very special you would book a keyboard player all on his own.

Gradually people were beginning to realise that you didn’t need to book a complete session band anymore because synths could produce the sounds of saxes, trumpets and even new noises all together. All this stuff had been coming up from the early Seventies, but now it began to flood in.                        

I saw the light when Herbie Flowers said to me, “In the old days making a record used to be a lot of fun. Nowadays it’s all about electronics, sequencers and pressing buttons.”

As all these changes were going on in the music industry, things were also changing on a personal level in my life at the same time. I was prompted from all angles to make changes and look for something else. My marriage had been rocky for a while but now it was virtually over.

I was forty. I thought I’ve got to get away from London. I’ve seen enough of it. So I left.         

I didn’t used to practice a lot in my session days because I was keeping my technique in shape by playing every day. Later when I moved away from London I started to practice again because I wanted to become a better player in other music styles, especially  jazz. In fact I did quite a lot of jazz work through the Seventies but – as I said – in 1977 I moved from the smoke.

In one way you could say that I’d forgotten how to play. I’d become typecast, stereotyped. I was going from studio to studio playing the same thing because that was all that was required. I had forgotten how to be an adventurous musician – and that wasn’t me at all. I had almost forgotten how to put it together.

Musically, personally and professionally  life started again at forty. As soon as I was out of London I once again started religiously practising every day..

I left my wife behind and my two kids. I regret the latter very much, although I have not lost contact with them – I’ve been in touch with both of them every week since. Of course they are both grown up now.                        

I was looking around for another job while I was contemplating leaving London. The session scene was thinning out and I notified various contractors I was leaving for a place in Leicestershire and I would still be available for work if necessary.

I’ll tell you about what happened to me in Leicestershire next time.     

I was 40 and thing weren’t right. I wanted, and needed, to do something else. Things were happening to me that made me feel I had to get away from London.

In 1977 My wife and I split up. Still in London, I got myself a flat in Morden. One day I travelled through London to visit my mother when quite by chance I made a telephone call in response to an advert.

I spoke to guy called Martin Stevenson, who was the head of the peripatetic teaching staff, at the Leicestershire College of Music.

I told him what I had been doing for twenty years, explaining my lack of formal or teaching qualifications. He said, “The only qualification you need is your experience. When can you start? Come up for an interview in the next week.”

I got the job.

For the first few months in late 1977, I travelled backwards and forwards, coming up to Leicestershire on Friday afternoon to teach in the evening. I stayed over night, taught Saturday morning and returned to London on Saturday afternoon to arrange the session work for the forthcoming week. So, teaching round the schools and colleges, I became temporary staff at Leicestershire College of Music, doing at first up to two days a week, then it was extended to three.

I’d also angled a job with the Coventry School of Music too, doing a day a week for them. I was also doing a day’s teaching over the week in public schools in the area.

It was great! I had some good kids at that time and the numbers built up to about 100 on my register. I began to learn about teaching, about all the numerous skills required, including  the record keeping of what progress is being made with each student and so forth.

I learned a great deal about myself and the world at large by teaching the kids. They would come back with all sorts of comical answers to my questions. I was an amateur teacher, so I learned a great deal from the professionals I was working with. I also learned a great deal about how to conduct myself in – and between – schools.

My bank manager in London raved when he heard about this, he said, “My dear boy it’s the best thing you’ve ever done: you are getting regular money now.”

Teaching was exhilarating because I had to answer the questions the students asked me on any aspect of practice or theory. Now, you can’t do this unless you’ve done your own home work. What is a dotted crochet; what are dynamics; How do you notate; how do you look after your instrument; etcetera, etcetera? Knowing your craft is imperative in teaching. So in the early teaching days I practiced a great deal. I had degenerated into being more a physical labourer than a musician in London. To counteract this I practiced every day to get my technique back in to shape and to find new and more exciting methods of playing. Gradually I developed a technique far surpassing my skills on the London session scene. I was determined to get back on top again – even if it only for myself.

Anyhow, that’s how the teaching started. It just built and up over the years. I was even tutoring privately from home. Anyway it just kept building to the point where it got ridiculous and I had to axe some of it. It got too much. It was taking over and my playing was suffering yet again.

So, eventually with ennui setting in, and my technique better than ever, it wasn’t long before I was playing again.

I’d heard about Roger Eames from some of the session guys in London. “Get in touch with Roger,” they said. He was second in command at BBC Radio Leicester. He knew I was coming to Leicester, so we met up. We had friends and experiences in common from London straight away. He invited me to join the Radio Leicester Big Band, a very popular band at that time and it was going in for the ‘All Britain Big Band’ contest. We won it for a couple of years running. In fact, they were going to give me a drum prize but I lost out. One of the judges knew me from years back and thought I had too much of an advantage over the younger players. Never mind, they only need cleaning and dusting anyway.

After that, I formed a trio called Whiskers, a jazz trio. Electric – not steam piano – bass and drums. I actually rang the pet food people in Melton (Whiskas) to see if we could organise some sponsorship but they didn’t want to know. We did a lot of good jazz, and I’ve got some respectable tapes of that period. We were broadcast on a number of radio stations.

I taught and played until I was 47 and then I did a dreadful gig at the Demontford Hall for a band. I got œ25 and a cheese sandwich and thought I’ve had enough of this and hung up my drums for ever. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time.

So in 1984 I had this dreadful gig with a local band at the Demontfort Hall: 25 quid, a cheese sandwich and half a bitter. I came back and said to my second wife, Judy, “That’s it,  I’ve had enough. I’ve retired from the music world for ever: good bye music.” She didn’t seem too surprised. From 84 to 87 I didn’t strike a bat with any band.

The next three years
Naturally, I kept teaching to pay the rent. I also practised regularly during that time. Even though I’d retired, I spent a lot of time watching live drummers and I saw a lot of rubbish to be nice about it. During this time I had been putting a lot of my rhythmic ideas and scores on paper with a view to publishing a drum tutor, but the London publishers needed something less sophisticated to turn over a large number of books. I’m still adding to this core of  ideas – it’s not student stuff – and I’ve been  advised to try America for publication, in the future.

Anyway, for three years, I was absorbing things, and eventually came to conclusion that I still had something to offer.

The return
So when I hit the big five O in 1987 I went back into the business again.

The first gig I did was for Radio Leicester’s Roger Eames. His Radio Leicester Big Band were backing Madeleine Bell and Dave Bartram (who was soloing away from Shawaddywaddy) at Loughborough town hall.. After a long afternoon session with the big band, with only a half hour break, we went straight into the evening show without any refreshments at all.

It was hell. I hadn’t played for three years with a band. Pushing a big band along, driving sixteen 16 people along is hard work if you haven’t played for three years. Somehow I made it. The first thing I did at the end was to rush over to the pub opposite and put some liquid down me because I’d sweated so much out. Nevertheless it was good to be back.

The Hamelin Band
So, from 1987 for the last 6 years I did a lot of jazz venues with the Hamelin band, run by a millionaire called David Hamelin. That’s where I met the guys I’m working with now. The rhythm section of the big band was so good that eventually we decided to get a front singer and go it alone, as a small function band. Cadenza came into being.

Steve Hession Keyboard, Colin Medlock on guitar, Colin Bilham on bass who has now left and been replaced by Steve Nutter, yours truly and a front singer called John Brenham.

Keyboardist, Steve Hession knew a lot of bookers and agents from his previous days. He started the ball rolling by phoning up various agencies. How much do we charge? What do we do? What kind of band are we? they asked. Soon we were pulling in work and spin offs from other agencies

All the band sing, with four musicians backing and two fronting. Diane, was our first female fronter, then came Jo, whom had a great voice who couldn’t get her act together as a person, and now we have Leslie Anne, who is great both visually and vocally. She’s dynamite; a little miss Tina Turner.

Over the last three years, Cadenza has grown in to a very well respected function band in the midlands area and people are now phoning us from far afield places like Manchester, Essex and the London area.  








Useful tips if you have never made bread before.

1. take your time – enjoy making it.
This won’t be easy the first few times because it is difficult to know
what the consistency of the dough should be.
I used to panic but I don’t any
more –
if it is too
sticky add more flour – if it is too dry,
have some spare tepid water on hand and slosh it in as you go.

Verging on sticky is better than dry – too dry won’t rise so well and will be crumbly.

2. Buy equal quantities of strong wholemeal flour and strong white flour
and mix it half and half, that way ‘white bread’ people are happy
and they still get the roughage!

3. Allow PLENTY of time. It can take at least 30 minutes for bread to double in size

4. Use the largest mixing bowl you have, you need plenty of room to move the ingredients around after the water is added ingredients makes four 1lb loaves

1.5kg of mixed white and wholemeal strong bread flour
3 sachets fast acting dried yeast teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons linseed
2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 level tablespoon sugar
1 litre of warm to tepid water

Sprinkle the yeast into the warm/tepid water and mix in with an egg whisk.
Add the sugar and whisk again add the oil and whisk again
(if you would like a ciabatta dough, double the
leave to work until if is robustly frothy on the top
Place the flours in the mixing bowl with the salt. Add the seeds.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the litre of yeasted water.
Mix slowly – it will be sticky at first but when the flour has absorbed the water.
ou may need to add more so have ready another 150 ml of tepid water.
Mix until all of the liquid is absorbed and then turn out onto a floured surface and Continue kneading the dough (pushing away with the heel of the hand and bringing back to the centre) for approx 7 minutes.
if the dough
becomes too sticky to work add a light dusting of flour and continue.

Place back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling film and place in a warmish place – I put it to one side on the work surface if the kitchen is warm) and leave it to double in size – this can take at least 30 minutes. turn out onto flour surface and continue kneading for a further 5 minutes.
Oil four 1lb bread tins and divide the dough equally between them.
Again cover with cling film and leave to double in size – this again can take 30 minutes.
Place in oven – temp 175 deg. for 30 minutes.
Take out of tin and tap
the bottom of the loaf. If it does not sound hollow return to oven for further 10 minutes.


6 large carrots
2 medium onions
2 mushrooms
5 ozs (five heaped tablespoons) of red split lentils
2 tablespoons of oil
2 organic (preferably) vegetable stock cubes
pinch of dried crushed chilli
(more or less according to taste)
1.5 litres of water

Slice the carrots and onions
Chop the mushrooms finely
(mushrooms always make the soup taste better whatever sort you are making.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan
Add the carrots, onions and mushrooms,
Saute for a couple of minutes.
Add the lentils and continue for 30 seconds
Add the two stock cubes and one litre of water
And a pinch of dried crushed chilli.
Put lid on pan and bring to the boil
Then turn down the heat
Simmer gently for 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
You will need to add the remaining water
After about 10 minutes because the lentils will absorb the water.
Allow to cool and liquidise the soup, adding salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, February 05, 2003 2:24 PM




Cooking time: 5 minutes

bowl, grater, knife

2 slices of bread
1 ounce of grated cheese
3 teaspoons of tomato puree
1 dtsp of finely chopped green pepper
1 dtsp of finely chopped onion
1 dtsp of margarine or butter
Pinch of chili powder
Quarter teaspoon of celery salt
Quarter teaspoon of oregano

1. Toast the bread on one side.
2. Meanwhile combine all the other ingredients, except the oregano, in a bowl.
3. Spread the mixture on the untoasted side of the bread and sprinkle with oregano.
4. Return to the grill and toast until the cheese bubbles.


Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Knife, baking tray

1 lb of small potatoes
2 to 3 teaspoons of oil
Half an ounce of butter or margarine
1 ounce of cheese, finely sliced

1. Peel the potatoes
2. Starting at one end make slices about 3mm apart all the way along the potato to within 1 cm of the bottom of it. Be very careful not to cut it all the way through.
3. Lay out the potatoes on the baking tray and pour the oil over them. Sprinkle with salt
4. Roast for about twenty minutes, take them out of the oven, and put the knob of butter on top of each one. Return them to the oven.
5. The potatoes will need to cook for about 40 minutes altogether.
6. When they seem to be within 10 minutes of being cooked (crisp and golden brown) and the fans have opened out, carefully place a slice of cheese on top of each potato and return it to the oven to melt



Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes 

wok or frying pan, wooden spoon, knife

2 sticks of celery
2 tablespoons of white cabbage, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot
Quarter lb of mushrooms, sliced?
Half pint of tin tomatoes
Root ginger, chopped
Soy sauce
chili Powder
1 tablespoon of pineapple juice
Small can of bean sprouts
Cooked rice for four

1. Heat the oil until it is  very hot. Fry the onion and garlic for about three minutes, Add ginger.
2. Add the cabbage, carrot and celery. Fry for a further 3 minutes, stirring.
3. Add the mushrooms and pepper and continue to stir.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and spices. Stir for a further 2 minutes.
5. Serve on a bed of rice


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

wok or frying pan, knife, wooden spoon

2 tablespoons of oil
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
I small can of bamboo shoots
Quarter ounce of mushrooms
Green pepper, chopped
3 ounces of egg noodles
2 tablespoons of wine vinegar (or 1 tablespoon of cooking sherry)
Soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
Scrambled egg to garnish 

1. Boil a saucepan of water, add noodles, simmer for 5 minutes and drain
2. Heat the oil and fry the vegetables in it for about ten minutes, stirring.
3. Add the noodles, spices and wine vinegar. Stir to ensure the noodles are coated
4. Turn onto serving dish and garnish with scrambled egg.


Chop 10 -12 oz of potatoes into one inch cubes and boil When cooked sprinkle with/ toss in quarter tsp of tumeric & half tsp salt 

Recipe for the Paste
6 cloves of garlic
1 ” cube of ginger
Chop up and make paste with 3 oz of water

Fry potatoes in 30z of oil remove
Fry 1 tsp cumin seeds and 3 cardamoms in remaining oil for 30 seconds Put in ginger, garlic paste, 1 tin of tomatoes, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp of ground coriander.
Simmer & reduce until the paste is thick
Add the potatoes again only this time with 80z water and 12 oz of mushrooms.
Simmer with lid on for 5 mins. Then simmer until this sauce has thickened  Add 1 tsp garam masala. Stir and serve with nan breads & rice etc. 


8 oz red lentils
2 tbsp oil
half tsp methi seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2/3 cloves
Cinnamon stick
Bay leaf
Chili powder
Half tsp of haldi
2 tsp jeera
2 tsp dhania
Quarter tsp sugar
Half tsp garum masala
tin of tomatoes
lemon juice

1. Wash (thoroughly) and cook about 8 ounces red lentils until mushy (25 minutes on high heat, then simmer forever)
2. Heat 2 tablespoonfuls of oil and fry half a teaspoon of methi seeds, 1 teaspoonful of mustard seeds, 1 teaspoonful of cumin seeds, 2 or 3 cloves, a little cinnamon stick and a bay leaf.
3. Add lentils to this mixture. Bring to the boil
4. Add to this salt, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, half a teaspoonful of haldi, 2 teaspoonfuls of jeera, 2 teaspoonfuls of dhania, a quarter of a teaspoonful sugar, half a teaspoonful of garum masala
5. Stir then add half a tin of tomatoes and a little lemon juice


Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time: Lentils: 40 minutes, sauce and spaghetti: 20 minutes

Two large saucepans, knife, wooden spoon, cheese grater

Half a packet of whole-meal spaghetti
3 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoonfuls tomato puree
Dash of soy sauce
4 ounces of brown lentils
1 tablespoon of margarine
Salt and Pepper
2 to 3 ounces of grated cheese

1. Cook the lentils by boiling them for 40 minutes (20 minutes in a pressure cooker)
2. Peel and chop  the onions and garlic. Fry in the margarine with salt and pepper until soft
3. Add the chopped peppers and fry on a low heat  for a further five minutes
4. Tip in the tin of tomatoes, chopping them with a wooden spoon
5. Add the tomato puree and soy sauce. The taste at this stage should be quite strong. Add  more if necessary.
6. Add the lentils with more water if necessary
7. Top with grated cheese in generous amounts and serve on spaghetti


Serves four
Large saucepan, knife, wooden spoon

1 onion
I clove garlic, chopped
I green pepper, chopped
Half cauliflower in small florets
half a can of tomatoes
half pint of water
Tablespoonful of tomato paste
2 carrots finely sliced
Half teaspoonful Celery salt to taste
Half teaspoonful black pepper to taste
1 teaspoonful of oil
4 ounces of mushrooms
2 ounces of grated cheese
1 ounce of Sosmix or red lentils

1. Heat oil and fry onion, pepper and garlic
2. Add the tomatoes, water, carrots, cauliflower, lentils (if used) mushrooms, tomato paste and spices
3. Cook for thirty minutes and simultaneously cook the spaghetti
4. If using some Sosmix add Sosmix to thicken
5. Serve with spaghetti and garnish with grated chees


Vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
half tsp ginger
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
half tsp cayenne
half tsp cumin
half tsp mustard seeds
2/3 bay leaves
2/3 cloves of garlic
3/4 medium sized potatoes
12 oz sliced mushrooms
2 chopped tomatoes
1 tin of garden peas

1. Peel potatoes and cut into small chunks. Put in small saucepan and cover with water. Put to one side.
2. Put oil in large saucepan and heat spices listed above for about 5 minutes.
3. When mustard seeds begin to pop (and not until) pour in potatoes and water and on full heat cook for about 8-10 minutes.
4. When the potatoes are just about to go soft add mushrooms peas and tomatoes. Stir in the mixture. The mushrooms will gradually reduce in bulk, so do not add any more water if you want a thick viscous texture to the curry. Cook for another 2 minutes and then simmer for a short while before serving. Make sure potatoes break up easily with a fork before serving.
5. Serve with boiled rice, Tarka Dahl. mango chutney and plain yogurt.



Utensils: Very large saucepan, knife, wooden spoon. Cooking time: One hour

2 lbs potatoes, diced
3 ounces red lentils
2 onions chopped
I tin of tomatoes
4 ounces peas
Half a pound mushrooms, sliced
Optional: 2 carrots,
half a cauliflower, or 2 ounces green beans,
1 to 2 cooked aduki beans,
half a small swede,  diced
1 parsnip, diced
2 teaspoons of Marmite
1 to 2 tomato puree
salt and pepper
Half a teaspoon of ground mace
Half a teaspoon of ground coriander
Half a teaspoon of basil
Half a teaspoon of oregano

1. Fry onions in margarine with the salt and pepper until soft
2. Add potatoes, fry a little longer
3. Add the other root vegetables being used and sufficient water to cover. Simmer for five minutes
4. Add dried red lentils and cauliflower; simmer for five minutes
5. Add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and Marmite
6. When potatoes are cooked add peas, beans and mushrooms
7. Turn down and simmer gently. Add mace and coriander and herbs
8. Serve in large bowls to hungry people topped with grated cheese


Cooking time: 45 minutes

Knife, large saucepan, wooden spoon, tablespoon

1 lb of onions
1 clove of garlic
1 and a half ounces of butter or margarine
2 pints of water
3 teaspoons corn-flour
1 teaspoon of marmite
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons red wine (optional)
4 pieces of toast
2 ounces of grated cheese

1. Fry onions in butter, with the garlic and salt for about 20 minutes over a low heat until very brown.
2. Add the water and marmite, simmer 20 minutes.
3. Add the corn flour blended with a little cold water and bring to the boil.
4. Meanwhile place the buttered toast in the bottom of each individual soup dish and cover with grated cheese.
5. Add the red wine to the soup. Pour the soup over the cheese and toast.


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 70 minutes

Knife, large saucepan, wooden spoon, liquidizer or sieve

1 lb of potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 ounce of butter or margarine
2 pints of stock or water
Half pint of milk
2 teaspoons of milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the potatoes, onion and carrot in butter until fat is absorbed
2. Add water and simmer for 60 minutes
3. Rub through a sieve or liquidize
4. Blend the corn flour with the milk, add to the soup, boil
5. Season to taste


Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 70 minutes

knife, large saucepan, electric blender or grater

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Half a cucumber, cubed
Half a red pepper, chopped
Half a green pepper, chopped
2 slices of bread, crumbled
14 ounces of tinned tomatoes
1 pint of water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

1. Place all the ingredients together in an electric blender. Blend for two minutes. (Instead of using an electric blender ingredients can be coarsely grated

2. Heat and serve


6 large carrots
2 medium onions
2 mushrooms
5 ozs (five heaped tablespoons) of red split lentils
2 tablespoons of oil
two organic (preferably) vegetable stock cubes
pinch of dried crushed chilli (more or less according to taste)
one and a half litres of  water

Slice the carrots and onions
Chop the mushrooms finely
(mushrooms always make the soup taste better whatever sort you are making.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the carrots, onions and mushrooms,
saute for a couple of minutes.
Add the lentils and continue for 30 seconds.
Add the two stock cubes and one litre of water and a pinch of dried crushed chilli
put lid on pan and bring to the boil then turn down the heat
and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
You will need to add the remaining water after about 10 minutes because the lentils will absorb the water.
Allow to cool and liquidise the soup, adding salt and pepper to taste

*by Trudi Foggo