Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Zodiacs (Coventry band)

From Broadgate Gnome "

circa 1962 - now - Beat group - Line up: (early) Maurice Redhead (vocals), Terry Wyatt (guitar), Graham Peace (guitar),
Nigel Lomas (drums).Wyatt joined The Sabres. Recorded 4 tracks at Midland Sound Recorders. Also associated Steve Jones, Olly Warner. They appeared on New Faces in 1977 singing the Steve Jones / Rod Bainbridge number Last Night We Called it a Day. The Zodiacs are still a going concern after all these years."

From Pete Chambers - Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat
" One of the hardest working bands in the area. They have been together nearly 50 years. Were one of the first few rock n roll bands in the city."

Pete Clemons has been consulting the stars again and has traced an alignment of Coventry musicians from the birth of Coventry music scene that appeared on TV in the 70's via New Faces. His latest article in the Coventry Telegraph takes a look at the music of the Zodiacs - a Coventry band that legends tell.of....

The Zodiacs 2009

From Pete Clemons - Coventry Telegraph
The ZODIACS were formed in 1959 by singer Maurice Redhead and Nigel Lomas. Also in the band were Terry Wyatt and Graham Peace.

Maurice and Nigel had met at a rock ‘n’ roll club during 1958 called The Drumbeat Club on Lockhurst Lane railway bridge on the Holbrooks side. It was a cellar club beneath a coffee bar.

Nigel would get up and sing there and have an occasional go on the drums. The only people I remember who also performed there were Mick Van de Stay, a singer and guitarist Jim Smith.

At this time there were only a few coffee bars that had music. The Milano on Radford Road and The Domino, Gosford Street, were two of them.

In 1960 when Eddie Cochran appeared at the Gaumont Cinema during January, he actually called in at the Milano after the show. The Zodiacs, incredibly, still perform today.

Nigel Lomas takes up the story: “I played drums for the Zodiacs from 1959-1962. The venues we played included: Collycroft Club, Bedworth most Thursdays; Newdigate Club, Bedworth, most Tuesdays; St George’s Hall, Nuneaton, most Saturdays, the Ritz cinema, Longford, on the odd Friday night or Sunday afternoon; the Stag and Pheasant, Lockhurst Lane, Sunday lunchtimes for about one year, maybe more, I cannot remember.

Other groups sharing the bill during these times were: Vince Martin and The Vampires, The Atlantics, who played at the Domino coffee bar, Gosford Street, Johnny and the Rebels, Max Holliman and the Guitarnos who were from Nuneaton.

“I left the Zodiacs in 1962 and was replaced by a very good drummer called Ron Cooke."


19th Feb 2009 Coventry Telegraph

LOOK around at today’s bands and can you really imagine them still together in 50 years time?

Can’t see it myself, but back in 1959 some budding young musicians probably would have laughed at you if you had asked them the same question.

The amazing thing is those youngsters are still together and still called The Zodiacs.

Half a century on and two of the original members of the band Maurice Redhead and Terry Wyatt, are still out there playing, along with Terry Rye and Brian Bayton. Tomorrow night at Christ the King club, Coventry, Vince Holliday’s annual Backbeat Call up the Groups concert will be dedicated to the Zodiacs.

The band will perform a special set, that will include former members.

Terry said: “It’s been a great 50 years and we are looking forward to the next 50.

“We have made some good friends along the way and played with some top people. We are really looking forward to seeing many of the people we have played concerts for. We are hoping to have a lot of the past members on stage and take it from me, there’s been a few over the years.”

The band got together in 1959 when Cliff Richard was beginning his career as Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly died and Eddie Cochran was riding high with C’Mon Everybody.

Meanwhile, The Zodiacs who were Maurice Redhead, Nigel Lomas, Olly Warner Terry Wyatt and Graham Peace in those days, just had their first proper gig at the Stag and Pheasant on Lockhurst Lane.

They earned ‘50 Bob’ plus whatever was they had collected on ‘The Tray’ from Sunday lunch time sessions.

Local clubs beckoned and the band began to play the likes of The Stanton, Cox Street and The Limetree Walsgrave.

In 1977 the band were spotted by the producers of TV’s talent show New Faces. They appeared on the show singing the original song “Last Night we Called It A Day” composed by band member Steve Jones and late Rod Bainbridge of the Fortunes.

The show was full of problems, including a light failure during their number.

When they did get to play the show’s producer liked the way front man Redhead played the tambourine between his legs!

Against the band’s better judgment, the producer persuaded them to all do it and predictably they were savaged for it.

The comments they received that day did nothing to diminish their enthusiasm and the band continued to go from strength to strength.

Tomorrow’s concert starts at 8pm and entrance costs £1. Also on the bill will be 60s favourites Woody Allen and the Challengers, Johnny Ransom and the Rebels and the Mad Classics and the Phoenix Rock n Roll band.

Zodiacs 1964 Memorial Hall

Sound clips from a gig in 1981 featuring Terry Wyatt, Maurice Redhead, Steve Jones and Jim Wallace.

Comment from youtube 

"They bring back great memories from Fiday nights at the London rd club,Cov. O' happy days !!!"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Coventry's Rock n Roll Cafes

Pete Clemons winds down with an 'Expresso' and the Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran style) for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph. This time around, he takes us on a tour of the Rock n Roll Coffee bars and cafes in 1950's Coventry - but don't tread on his Blue Suede Shoes!!

Two sugars and a gig please!
Pete Clemons 

THE coffee bar boom began in Britain during the early 1950s with the arrival of the first espresso machine in Soho, London.

Essentially cafes, they were Italian or American themed and full of amusements like pin ball machines.

Eventually coffee bars became an alternative to the teenage youth club and were ideal for use as meeting places for the like minded youngsters who would hang out in them.

In greater London alone over 500 of them sprang up during the early Fifties and throughout the rest of the decade. And they did not just stay in London as coffee bars continued to spread throughout the UK.

They were mainly independent which gave them that individual and unique touch. They were furnished with the cheapest Formica or plastic products available, they were rough and ready and yet, for more than twenty years, coffee bars were full of life, music, humour and were incredibly popular places.

They touched all the major towns and cities the length and breadth of the country seemed to have them. And Coventry, with its apparent abundance of coffee bars, was no different.

Despite a negative attitude towards them, by the elders at the time, coffee bars and cafes became significant places and played an important role in the birth of, firstly skiffle, then rock 'n' roll and also the mod/rocker culture within the UK.

In fact the arrival of rock 'n' roll in the UK led to a lot of coffee bars becoming exclusive to and revolving around that genre of music. Some began to set aside an area for a juke box in order to play the new hit singles. There may even have been an area for dancing and maybe even one of the many bands that were now springing up influenced by this exciting form of music would get up and perform live in one.

In Coventry during the late 1950s and early 1960s there was quite a variety of cafes and coffee bars along and around Gosford Street. A good few of them were sympathetic and supportive of this up and coming music scene. Some that spring to mind were The Domino, The El Cabana, The Rendezvous, Gigi's, La Tropicale and The Sorrento.

Other significant coffee bars about at that time, and in other parts of the city, that also catered for music included The Beaker on Beake Avenue, The Portofino Expresso on Primrose Hill Street, The Godiva in Jordan Well, The Corner Cafe and The Dreadnought both on Radford Road.

And then there was The Bridge Cafe on the railway bridge where Lockhurst Lane and Holbrook Lane meet. It has been mentioned that it was in this venue that one of Coventry's earliest bands, The Zodiacs, were formed in 1959 by singer Maurice Redhead and drummer Nigel Lomas. A cafe with a similar name still exists on the bridge today.

The pair had met there in 1958 at a rock 'n' roll club held at the Bridge Cafe called The Drumbeat Club. The club itself was situated to the rear and downstairs under the bridge and it was an incredibly music friendly place as it attracted musicians and singers.

Another important coffee bar venue was The Milano on Radford Road. I have it on good authority that Eddie Cochran visited the venue after the concert he and Gene Vincent had given at The Gaumont on the January 28, 1960.

The Milano had a very lively music scene with regular live appearances by bands like Ronnie Wilde and the Wildcats, Clive Lea and the Phantoms, The Zodiacs, The Vampires and The High Cards.

It used to advertise regularly as 'the cafe bar with a difference'. The place even had a house group named after it, The Milano Rockers.

But where this cafe would really excel was when, for example, a name artist was visiting the city. The Milano would get them to appear at The Milano during that afternoon prior to the main gig that they had been in the city to play. This happened when Georgie Fame, for example, was due to play an evening show at The Rialto and when Johnny Gentle played at The Banba Club and I understand that this happened on several other occasions.

Don Fardon remembers well, a cafe, which used to be up on Ball Hill. It was called Margaret's and was across the road from St Margaret's Church. In fact the building now known as the Churchill Hotel, the Old Ball Hotel and Margaret's Cafe were all owned by a Greg Rogan. This one stayed open late and was frequented by a lot of groups used to frequent Margaret's.

I mention the word cafe as opposed to a coffee bar. The best way I can describe the difference was that a cafe sold full meals as well as tea, coffee and sandwiches where as a coffee bar was more of a specific business where you could only buy coffee along with maybe cakes, pastries etc.

Another reason for mentioning those distinguishing features was because, as Mod culture took hold of the country in the early 1960s, it made a great deal of difference with the Mods tending to prefer the coffee bar while Rockers generally preferring to hang out in cafes, in particular transport cafes.

The landmark roadside transport cafe known as 'Bob's caf', out on the A45 at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, was a particular favourite with the bikers. Always open until the early hours it attracted bikers from far and wide. Abandoned for almost twenty years, it served up a great atmosphere as well as a tremendous breakfast. Now flattened and currently with a new building project in progress I bet it holds a lot of memories for some.

A few years ago the Coventry Transport Museum reproduced London's iconic biker's cafe, 'The Ace Cafe', for a summer exhibition it was running. It also defined what cafe's meant to teenagers of 50 years ago.

And even today the cafe culture still exists. Maybe not so many of them but they are still there. The indoor market has several and the 2-Tone centre on Ball Hill is even one that combines music and good food.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Porcupine Tree

Well, Pete Clemons has chalked up 50 articles for the Coventry Telegraph with this article!!! Well done Peter.

This is not a Coventry band but Coventry comes into the picture at some stage and is favourite band of Pete Clemons, who has chosen to focus on them for this landmark article. It's an amazing musical story as the band didn't even exist at first but....(no spoilers I'm afraid - read the article..).

Porcupine's Steve Living his Fantasy.
 Pete Clemons 

IT may have escaped some people that British band leader, song writer and producer Steven Wilson recently received his fourth Grammy nomination in the "Best Surround Sound Album" category for an album called 'Storm Corrosion', an album he jointly collaborated with Mikael Akerfeldt of Swedish rock band Opeth. In fact all of his previous three nominations were in the same surround sound category.

Steven Wilson is a pioneer in the field of 5.1 Surround Sound, commonly used by cinemas, but nowadays being preferred by a lot of music listeners. He was previously recognised for Porcupine Tree's 2007 album 'Fear of a Blank Planet', their 2009 release 'The Incident' and the magnificent 'Grace for Drowning' album that Steven released under his own name during 2011.

My own introduction to Steven was around 1989/90 when he was creating music and releasing cassettes of his work through a magazine called Delerium. The roots of this music actually date back several years earlier. A lad who I worked with back then had recommended the tapes to me by initially lending me his copies. I was immediately hooked and subsequently ordered copies of the tapes for myself.

The cassettes came with pamphlets that introduced you to the various band members of a legendary band called The Porcupine Tree. They gave you a brief history of the band, information about where the tracks had been recorded and what festivals the band had performed at. However, it soon became apparent that all this information was a complete work of fantasy and The Porcupine Tree were in fact a fictitious band.

Now don't get me wrong, this was not fantasy of the sinister kind. This was simply a couple of young lads from Hemel Hempstead, Steven and his school friend Malcolm Stocks, who both had incredible imaginations and who probably never imagined or realised at that time the huge interest all this stuff would create.

Promoted by word of mouth those early cassettes soon sold out and Delerium quickly realised they had something rather special on their hands so Steven set about remixing and re-recording some of the tracks from those early cassette tapes. The result was that in July 1991 Porcupine Tree released their debut album 'On the Sunday of Life' on the Delerium record label.

It was a lavish double LP complete with gatefold sleeve.

This was followed up in May 1993 by the 'band's' second album 'Up the Downstair'. Apparently this release was also to have been another double LP release which was due to include the 34 minute CD single called 'Voyage 34' that had been released during 1992.

But in the end it was released as a single LP. Up the Downstair also included other musicians other than Steven. Namely Colin Edwin on bass and Richard Barbieri on keyboards Talk began of the possibilities for the band to play live. Late 1993 saw them recruit drummer Chris Maitland and on December 4 Porcupine Tree made their concert debut upstairs at The Nags Head pub in High Wycombe. The event sold out very quickly pulling in people from all over the country.

A free monthly magazine, that existed at the time in and around Coventry called Deliverance, had picked up quite early on the band and had taken a keen interest by publishing album reviews and conducting an interview with Steven Wilson. Whether this led to the gig or not I do not know but a week after the High Wycombe gig, on Saturday December 11, Porcupine Tree appeared in Coventry at Antics Club, formerly known as the Tic Toc Club.

However, the band had hit a problem in as much that keyboard player Richard Barbieri was unavailable for the gig. So the show went ahead as a three-piece lineup, Rather than play their expected set, the band simply improvised, by performing their ambient/techno/trance track Voyage 34 for the entire evening. This was a time when Coventry was gripped by rave music and venues like the Eclipse nightclub were at the very forefront of that scene. The crowd lapped it up and the evening was a great success. To my knowledge this was the only occasion the band has ever played as a three-piece.

1994 saw the band establishing itself on the live circuit and further gigs ensued, not just in the UK but also on the continent. It also saw the band record their next album 'The Sky Moves Sideways' which was released in February 1995. This was the first Porcupine Tree album to involve the whole band and the first to include real drums.

April 1995 saw the band return to Coventry. This time the gig was at The General Wolfe pub and this time a full set was performed that was built around and showcased Porcupine Tree's recently released third album. It was a stunning gig which again played to a large enthusiastic audience.

To date Porcupine Tree, albeit with a slightly different line-up, have released a total of 10 studio albums along with many live recordings, special editions and other spin-offs. They also have a different record label and management. Porcupine Tree gigs have spread too far off places like the US, Australia and India. In the UK they have performed in grand venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.

Steven Wilson has just released his third critically acclaimed solo album 'The Raven That Refused To Sing'. Another world wide tour has been announced. Over the years he has been involved in many other bands and musical projects, both as musician and producer that include No-Man and Blackfield.

He is also incredibly well respected in the field of re-mixing and has been entrusted with the back catalogue of classic 1970s albums such as those by King Crimson, Caravan, ELP, Family and Jethro Tull.

Having followed Steven Wilson's career as best I can for over 20 years, watching his rise from the humble beginnings of producing and selling homemade cassettes through to the grandeur of today's special editions that accompany each of his releases, has been fascinating.

His dedication to, and the risks he has taken for his art which in turn is for those who enjoy it all, have been truly inspirational.

Surly that illusive Grammy award is not too far away.

It all leaves me to wonder if those pamphlets that were given away free with those early cassette releases, that spoke of this legendary band, do now seem to have been some kind of prophecy as they appear to have turned into reality.

Much more from Porcupine Tree and Steve Wilson on youtube.......

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bob Jackson's tribute to Badfinger's Peter Ham

Bob Jackson
The latest from the pen of  Pete Clemons - covering Bob Jackson's tribute concert for Badfinger's Peter Ham in Swansea. Bob Jackson was the the leader of the RCA Neon Coventry progressive band - Indian Summer - late 60's early 70's. He went on to play in bands by Alan Ross, John Entwhistle, Pete Brown and eventually, in 1974, joined the Apple label band Badfinger. Pete Clemon's article appeared in the Coventry Telegraph recently.

A celebration plaque and for Pete.
Pete Clemons 

LAST week, a cheque for £2,939 was handed over to PAPYRUS, a charity for the prevention of suicide in young people, courtesy of a recent rock concert 'Celebration for Pete'.

The concert, remembering Pete Ham of 70s chart toppers Badfinger, was held at the Swansea Grand Theatre in April and organised by Coventry's own Bob Jackson, a surviving member of Badfinger.

The concert was put on to coincide with a blue plaque unveiling on the same day, which commemorated Pete for his outstanding services to music.

Among the messages of support received for the event was one sent by Olivia Harrison, the widow of George, with whom Badfinger had been heavily involved with the Concert for Bangladesh held at Madison Square Garden's, New York back in August 1971: "Over the years George spoke about Pete with fondness as a friend and with respect for his beautiful songs...

his lyrics and recordings embody a gentle spirit and tender heart. Congratulations and love on this occasion."

Seating had been placed in front of a small stage, which was to be used for tribute speeches but nowhere near enough for the crowd who had turned up for the unveiling.

The stage was also used by a succession of acoustic acts that paid tribute to Pete by way of performing his songs. And some wonderful renditions of familiar songs were to be heard.

After the formalities Pete Ham's daughter, Petera, along with Swansea council leader David Phillips, revealed the Blue Plaque at a ceremony in Swansea town centre, close to the railway station, and not far from where Peter's first band, The Iveys, practised during their infancy.

The well respected entertainer Mal Pope who is a musician and composer, and is local to Swansea, said afterwards: "It was a terrific day and I had been pleasantly surprised to see how many people attended."

After the unveiling of the plaque the crowd then made their way to Swansea Grand Theatre. A very special, late afternoon, one-off tribute concert was being held there. The concert was fronted by Bob Jackson who had joined Badfinger in 1974. It was to be a fitting way to remember the legacy of his former band-mate.

The first half of the show was given over to local talent. The proceedings kicked off with guitarist Sarah Passmore who was then followed by a host of Swansea musicians, including Steve Balsamo, Mal Pope and Karl Morgan who performed jaw dropping versions of 'Know one Knows' and 'Maybe Tomorrow'.

After the interval Bob Jackson settled at his keyboard and was joined on stage by guitarists Al Wodtke and Anthony Harty, drummer Matt Hart and bass player Eddie Mooney. The set was, almost entirely made up of Pete Ham originals, some of which were never performed previously. The band were then, joined on stage by special guests, including Ron Griffiths and Dai Jenkins, who had both been original members of The Iveys.

Ron, who had not performed for 13 years before the concert, said: "The gig was great; I was on stage and did six tunes. We hadn't had a lot of a rehearsal so it was a bit nerve-wracking, but it must be like riding a bike, because you never forget.".

A particular highlight was a duet between Bob and his daughter Emily. They sang the most incredible versions of 'Moonshine' from the 'Head First' album and 'John Forgot to Sing'.

Throughout the show due credit was also heaped on other Badfinger members, such as Tommy Evans, who had also played their part in the song writing, and success of the band.

Then it was back to Badfinger's big hits. The final songs included Bob's song for Pete, 'I Won't Forget You' and 'Day After Day' where he confessed, referring to the event, that it had all felt as though he had been "walking a tightrope".

He then paid tribute to his former band-mate. "Pete was not only an extremely talented writer, he was also a remarkable player and a great singer with a beautiful voice. Above all, he was an incredibly humble guy who was always thinking of others. He was not your typical pop star."

Next, Badfinger's epic 'Without You' was introduced. At that point Bob reflected "What does this song mean to me? Well, the song was a masterpiece with a universal message, but it came at such a terrible price. So, for me, it is bittersweet." It was something that would live with him for the rest of his life.

Well Bob, you and your friends raised some very important funds for a very important cause. All proceeds from the concert are going to the charity Papyrus, which is dedicated to the prevention of young suicide (appropriate since Peter Ham and Tommy Evans had both committed suicide in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively).

The show finished off with a finale of 'I Can't Take it', 'No Matter What' and 'Come and Get It' and with that, the stage was filled with the performers who had taken part earlier in the evening.

After a successful event, which raised plenty of funds for the charity, Bob passed a cheque for the proceeds to Aanika Dhillon, of Papyrus.

The national charity for the prevention of young suicide, they operate HOPELineUK - 0800 068 41 41, a free phone national confidential line staffed by trained professionals providing practical advice, support and information to anyone concerned that someone they know is feeling suicidal.

TALENTED SONGWRITER: Pete Ham BIG REVEAL: Pete Ham's daughter, Petera, unveils her dad's plaque helped by Swansea council leader David Phillips DONATION: Bob Jackson presents a cheque for PS2,939 to Aanika Dhillon, of PAPYRUS

Peter Ham

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Johnny B Great (Johnny Goodison)

In this post Pete Clemons turns his attentions to one of the earliest of Coventry musicians who made a sizable impact on both the Coventry music scene of the 60's and the music business itself. Johnny Goodison - also known as Johnny B Great. This is that article from the Coventry Telegraph.

Johnny B Great and the Goodmen - 1st two singles available free download here

Johnny Goodison playing If I had a Hammer

One Mistake - Johnny Goodison

According to Dean Nelson
"Johnny B Great (John Goodison) session singer from Coventry
Johnny B Great's real name was Johnny Goodisonalso had the songwriting alias Peter Simons. A later group was Johnny B Great and the Quotations, who backed the Walker Brothers, amongst others. Later he was lead singer in an early line up of the Brotherhood of Man, scoring a hit with "United we stand".
Goodison also worked as a producer and one of the results was the 1968 hit, "Race with the devil" by Gun(Adrian Gurvitz - "We never wanted the laugh on the record at all. We knew it would let us in for a lot of you¹re copying Arthur Brown remarks. Our Producer Johnny Goodison thought it was a good idea so we went along with it.").

Besides that, he arranged tracks for The Love Affair, Johnny and Russell and Sue & Sunny, toured
for some years with one of the orchestras of James Last. He wrote hit tunes for the Brotherhood of Man and the Bay City Rollers (Give A Little Love), as well as songs for A Song For Europe, in 1968, 1974, 1977 and 1980 respectively.
Johnny Goodison died in 1995. Great man.
Acapulco/You'll never leave him - 1964
School is in/She's a much better lover than you - 1964 - Credited to Johnny B Great and the Goodmen
One Mistake/A Little Understanding - 1970 - Johnny Goodison"

From Pete Chambers - Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat

"Part of the Larry Page stable based at the Orchid Ballroom."

" Johnny Goodison was a big man with a big voice. Originally a toolmaker in Coventry, he went under the name of Johnny B Good with his band the Goodmen.

Don Kerr - Guitar
Al King - Sax
Ollie Warner - bass
Nigel Lomas - drums

First single - School is in - Decca 1963 (Backing vocals The Orchids) This was the first single released by a Coventry group although it wasn't a hit. They in return played on the Orchids first single - Gonna Make him Mine.

Johnny performed If I had a Hammer for the film Just for You which featured the Orchids.
They appeared on the B Side of the original Doctor Who Theme.

For a while they went under the name of Johnny B Great and the Quotations, backing the Walker Bros and Little Richard.

More from them on You Tube
Strong Love - Johnny B Goodman and the Quotations

In the Midnight Hour -

Everythings Gonna Be Alright -

Johnny was with the Freemen before going solo - see here

and here