around, Keith and I were playing football for a local
side called "Trovato Football Club". Keith
was dating, me having my first infatuation on some girl,
I’m still practising and loving the music scene.
told me that my cousin Rob played bass guitar. So I
said “Thats good, maybe he can come round and
have a practise one night - so he did, and we kept on
practising all that year. My mate Terry Marshall bought
a drum kit and he started to learn to play, also Barry
Tucker used to come round, and with him I wrote our
first song "E-Type Jag", which we still play
to this day. When my dad and Uncle Ron had a job, they
used to invite Rob and I to do a spot they using there
drummer. This was good experience for Rob and I, but
by the end of 1965 Terry Marshall moved away to Barrow
(on Christmas Day), so now we had no drummer as such.
I wonder who we could get to play the drums!!!! ?
1966. Rob and I are still practising and I have a girlfriend,
(well at least till the summer!). Keith told Rob and
I, that he was going to buy a drum kit, so I think he
had caught the bug. He started practising on his own
at first, then we had a practise together, doing all
the latest hits of the time. It was good fun and we
carried on practising through to the summer of 1966.
Rob decided to call the band "The Parkas"
as he wore one on his scooter, so that was that.
we got an offer to play at the Ascension Hall in Chichester
Road, North End, in Portsmouth. It was club-night for
"Trovato Football Club". We did our first
gig there, with just basic equipment, (photos to prove
it), I’m shaking all over, playing and singing
in front of all my mates. But we did it.
ask why I sing!!! Well I did not intend to!! It was
just that we only had one microphone and Rob said “I’m
not singing”, and Keith said, “No, I have
to concentrate on my drums and anyway we don’t
have the right mic stand for me”, so it was left
to me, which was a bit of a shock!!!!!!! Oh dear, more
every Wednesday at Wimborne Road School when we could,
and we played at one of the youth club nights soon after.
Youth clubs was our main work at this time. We were
trying to sort more songs out that people liked and
we liked, but it was mainly the hits and No.1’s
of the time. We got a job in the summer of ‘66
at the "The Rover" pub in Leigh Park. That
was our first experience of pub work.
summer, I took part in a talent competition over on
the Isle of Wight when on holiday with my parents and
won it! I sang the current No.1 at the time “Sunny
Afternoon” by The Kinks, so that gave a little
boost to my ego.
still working on our songs, playing with basic equipment
and no PA system as yet, so my voice used to be very
croaky after playing. The singing came out of my guitar
amp. Those were the days!!!
we bought military jackets and started wearing a uniform
which looked quite smart except that they were rather
hot to wear when playing. Flower-Power year, music changing
again, but we kept up with it all. We were playing at
Farnham and Yateley by then and had an old Bedford van
with 3 gears, so we were getting about, just for the
experience at least and were still fired with enthusiasm.
got our first PA system that year. All the money we
earned went back into the group for better equipment.
Rob was the one who knew what equipment was best and
I just went with flow. I bought my second guitar at
this time, a Fender Duo-Sonic, with a short neck, but
it was a much better guitar and it helped me to play
So by 1968
things were still much the same, we were doing weddings
and the odd social club, but social clubs and working
mens clubs thought we were to noisy. Anyway we always
have to move a blimin’ great piano off the stage
every time before we could get on because at that time
that’s all they were used to!
of 1969 we began our first regular gig (also the last!!!!)
at the “Good Companion” pub on Eastern Road,
Portsmouth. My Dad and Uncle Ron had been playing there
but said it was not for them anymore, so we started
playing Friday & Saturday nights. We tried to change
the songs every week if we could, putting in new and
old songs - we needed to have quite a turnover of material!
We got a good following there and carried on playing
there for almost a year until march 1970. That was enough
for me by then, and we vowed never to do regular spots
again. But we did save some money, added to the equipment
and got a lot of experience from it. We also made lots
Rob got married to Valerie. One down - Two to go! It
must have been infectious because Keith and I got married
in 1971. Also in that year I won another talent competition
at Butlins, Minehead, again singing “Sunny Afternoon”.
That was my last.
we had no lighting or backdrops. All that was yet to
come, but we had to come up with some ideas, so we could
get noticed,. We left that to Rob - “Mmmmmm, wonder
what he will come up with”!
So by 1972,
with the music scene about to change again, Rob came
up with the idea of putting flashing coloured lights
on the stage floor with timers clicking away and ultra
violet bulbs. We tried it for the first time at Hill
Park Memorial Club in Highlands Road, Fareham. We played
with the lights clicking through our amplifiers and
the other bulbs glowing, not knowing what it looked
liked!!!! We decided that ultra violet bulbs were no
good, so Rob went for two ultra-violet tubes hung from
the PA system, one on each side. This worked well and
Rob also improved the lights as well using bullet spotlights
which gave a more powerful beam. We were gradually introducing
elements of stage presentation that year.
I saw on
T-Rex on Top of the Pops. They had a backdrop of an
eagle and I thought that would be good, so we got a
big sheet, dyed it black and had one of Keith’s
lodgers, Steve Pannell to paint the eagle using fluorescent
paints which glowed in the dark under the ultra violet
lighting. We played at a football dance in the Wegdewood
Rooms and that was the first time we had it all going.
It looked great. We also bought some rope lights which
we got from London. They were unheard of at the time,
so now we really were different and our presentation
was way ahead of anything in the area at the time.
happy with our stage set up and it showed, cause we
good year coming up. In November 1972, for a laugh I,
sent a comedy song I had written to the “Opportunity
Knocks” songwriters contest. It was called “You
Live Near the Gasworks” and by February 1973 I
had received a telegram saying that it was into the
last 7 songs to be shown and would Keith and I be willing
to appear on the show!! Well!! What a shock!! We had
photo of the group in the local paper beforehand and
then in March we went to record the show. Another group
sang it and I wasn’t very happy with the way they
did the song, but anyway it did not win! That didn’t
matter too much to us. We’d had some great publicity
by now!! We were on the same bill as “Frankie
Howard” at the Portsmouth Guildhall that year,
which was great, and the bookings were getting even
better. Most of our work was now working mans clubs,
social clubs and of course weddings and private parties.
So all in all a good exciting year!
On a personal
note. my daughter Hayley and Keith’s daughter
Claire were born.
We had work
and families as well as playing with the band at weekends!!!!
how long could this go on for!!” Little did I