Sweet Memories

My oldest memory is sitting on the carpark wall of the Jubilee club on Stanley Grove, Longsight, about 1959  with my friend Ken (his father played double bass in a dance band with John Mayall’s father) taking to this guy called ‘Gene Vincent’. He had been performing at the club that night.

If only we had known who he was.

Keith Fairhurst, Fitz and Startz/Chosen Few

VANecdotes
(idea from Les Hall)

A place for all those little anecdotes.  Although most come under the heading "you had to be there", some of us were and will remember.

Gigs | Gear | Food | Roadies | Fans | Band mates | The Van |


Gigs

Rumble Fat Band at Liverpool University with Traffic and Pink Floyd

What a buzz, the place was totally psychedelic and everyone looked very "trippy". Watched Pink Floyd and we thought, what the hell are they going to think of us. All of the bands were like Floyd and we stuck out like a sore thumb. Needn't of worried as we went down a storm. The real treat was meeting Steve Winwood and having a chat backstage and the performance by Traffic was incredible.

Stuart Bunyan, Rumble Fat Band



Rumble Fat Band at Belle Vue with The Who

Probably the premier gig of our time. We had just started working for Kennedy St Enterprises and got this gig at the last minute. Life 'n' Soul were on the same bill, (along with 6 other local bands), and we were determined to get our gear on stage before them.

Couple of us took the afternoon of to get "pole position" on one of the 2 stages. When we got there the Who's roadies were just setting up and I thought it was a bit odd that all the speaker cabs had the backs held on by the minimum number of screws, (usually 2 or4), and they had removed them all to check if any speakers were "broke", due to Pete Townsend lancing the cabinet. At the back of the van there were boxes and boxes of new speakers and they were furiously swapping the "duff" ones.

Also in the van was a stack of cheap Japanese copy guitars. These were the ones that PT smashed up on gigs that weren't being filmed or of a high profile, (Belle Vue hardly qualifies). Still the punters didn't know the difference. The other odd thing was that although all the gear was HiWatt, the speaker cabs were battered to death, but the amps were rack mounted at the side of the stage and in pristine condition. Turns out the Cabs were leased, but the Amps belonged to the Who!!!!!!

Had a good chat with Pete Townsend and John Enti after the event.


July 1968

Stuart Bunyan, Rumble Fat Band




Roadie stories

For a long time,  the Phoenix roadies were Graham and Clarence.  Clarence's claim to fame was his performance at Knutsford services, where he discharged a starter's pistol in the restaurant, because he thought they were all snobs.  The motorway police stopped the van as they were driving away and enquired who had the pistol.  Their question was met with stony silence until the officer said that they would all be taken back to the police station and stay there until the matter was resolved.  

After a resounding chorus of " It's him", Clarence was led off to the cop shop and the band went on their way home.  Clarence spent some time with the police and had to walk home to Rochdale, where he and Graham lived.

Paul, Phoenix City Smash

I remember when I was with the Powerhouse in the mid-sixties, we were driving one day in the wilds of Northumberland or somewhere. Johnny Dean was our roadie at the time and he was driving. There were seven of us and a lot of gear in the van including a Hammond organ. It was pouring with rain and cold and windy and we came to the top of great big hill and behind a massive traffic jam. A lorry had jackknifed at the bottom of the hill on a bridge and nobody was moving. We had a great big box-like van at the time, with faulty sliding doors (something like Cheech and Chongs van in 'Up in Smoke'.

Johnny gave us a wink and a grin and pulled out on wrong side of the road. We picked up speed and were racing down, past this mile long traffic jam. The drivers were hanging out of their windows, jeering at us and cursing and giving us the impression that we were real stupid for risking certain death. I think we came to a point where we could'nt have stopped if we wanted to, and we w ere tearing around bends, in the driving wind and rain lashing through the open sliding door,(which would'nt close).

Johnny had a maniacal look on his face, but he was driving like a race car driver, with his long ginger hair flying in wind. At last we saw the bridge, and we knew it was now or never. We hit the bridge. Johnny made some lightning moves and we were round the lorry and up the other side. He leaned out of the door and swore and shook his fist at the other drivers and then we all started laughing and didn't stop for quite some time. I think we were laughing at the sheer craziness of it all and the fact that we were still alive.

Then we went on to play somewhere that night and Johnny was feeling pretty good.

Kelvin (Spud) Hudson, Powerhouse

Also, nice one Spud, I remember it well. I also recall a similar situation travelling on the A34 in Cornwall when Johnny Dean tried the same maneouver. It failed because a member of Her Majesty's constabulary pulled us over to the side of the road and allowed three times as much traffic to pass us as we'd passed.

Rest in peace, John Dean, you really were a one off.

John Firth, Powerhouse


 

Gear stories

Just like the Beatles, PCS had a local music shop owner come to see them at a gig.  Jim Reno (Reno's Music Store, Oxford St) was not exactly Brian Epstein and his intentions were different than signing up the band for a contract with NEMS.  

After the end of the first spot at St Bernadettes, up stepped Jim to proudly announce that he was repossessing the organ.  He had the manners to stay and see the second half before stowing the organ in his car and disappearing  down Princess Parkway.

Paul, Phoenix City Smash

Bands usually had their favourite shop and we used to use Barratts. Spent most Saturday afternoons in there. They had a fab "bargain basement" and we spent that much money in there they would let us take gear on loan for the weekend on a "try before you buy" policy.

One of the guys, name escapes me but he is now into pub management, was always trying to get me to change my guitar. When Pete Bocking  sold his Fender Jaguar when he was playing for the Country Gents. They had it re-finished in white cause he was convinced I would buy it. (I loved white guitars then).

On another occasion I had taken my guitar in to try a new amp out and he switched it in the case for a Gibson 335 stereo. By the time I found out we were at a gig and I rang appologetic only to be met with, "no problem we have your guitar here. Try the Gibson and if you like it we can do a deal".

The bastard had done it deliberately hoping I would fall in love with the Gibson.

Stuart Bunyan, Rumble Fat Band


When I started with Rumble I was the proud possessor of a Hofner V3, (worth a fortune now). Was walking down Oxford Road one day with Chiz, when A1 had the little shop on the corner. Spotted this Epiphone, (yes it was white), that was completely unknown to me. Went in and had a look and they wanted £85 for it. It sounded great, but A1 new nothing about it, not even the name. Took a guy callled Paul Shaw, (fabulous guitarist who could also read music) and we agreed that it played and sounded great. So I bought it.

Did a bit of research and discovered that it was called the "Beechwood" and had been launched at a trade fare in Germany and 60 were brought into the UK. It was a solid body, similar shape to a Gibson Melody Maker. Mine was number 31. This is what I was playing when Barratts were trying to sell me something else. It was a beautiful instrument and I should never have sold it when I gave up playing in the 70s. In fact it was only my, (then), wife constantly nagging that made me do it and she is a long time down the road.

When I sold my prized Epiphone, the guitarist from Amen Corner ended up with it. Saw them on TOTP and felt really pissed off that I sold it.

Stuart Bunyan, Rumble Fat Band

I was reading a Guitar mag recently that was extolling the virtues of early Marshall amps and the fact that the one I had was supposed to be "the dogs bollocks" and very desirable now. Mine was crap!!!! It was so bassey, I had to use a treble booster all the time. It was only when I took it in to have a valve changed that Barrett's admitted it was a "Friday afternoon" job. Trouble is I stuck with it. If the salesman at Barrett's, (sure his name was Tony something), had been any good he could easily have got me to spend some money on a new amp, cause the Marshall was so bad.

I was at a guitar show in Manchester last weekend and there was a Marshall demo room. Jim Marshall was there and signing posters. I felt like telling about that "beast". Wonder if Ii would have got a freebie????????? 

Stuart Bunyan, Rumble Fat Band


Band mates

Fond memories of Andy and his holes in his socks.  No matter how smart he was, there was always the holes.  I also remember his book,  where he kept a list of "things to do" - these included those little things that everyone does everyday, like polishing shoes. 

Paul, Phoenix City Smash


Fans

The Phoenix City Smash fan club survived a few years and at one time had a membership of over 200 paid up members.  Newsletters were sent out periodically and not too bad a job done - remember no computers, everything done by hand. 

Probably would have lasted a bit longer if those postal orders hadn't have come in so handy for lunch money!

Fan club application form      Fan club welcome letter

Paul, Phoenix City Smash


The Van

I recall in our Bedford van (never left home without a gallon of water for the radiator) travelling home along the East Lancs Road in pouring rain with clapped out windscreen wipers. We took turns in the passenger seat at operating a piece of rope which was attached in a loop to each wiper and passed inside the van through the side windows. By pulling right then left you could just about see enough road to get you home.

An even dicier manouevre was in our trusty blue Thames 15cwt which had a broken throttle cable. By removing the engine cover (between the front seats) the occupant of the passenger seat had to operate the the throttle by a piece of string! Must have got us home though.

The Thames was a great van. When we were on the road away from home for a few days we used to pull off the road after gigs and sleep in it. We had it down to a fine art. By carefully stacking the gear we could arrange enough flat surfaces of sufficient size to accommodate all five of us. I recall one spot was on top of the bass cabinet and was only accessible by sliding into a 15" gap between the cabinet and the roof. We were occasionally disturbed by the law but they only ever flashed their torches around then left us alone.

Don't try crossing over the Wrynose Pass in the Lakes with a fully loaded van with a suspect clutch. I recall approaching the top with a slipping clutch and myself and another band member attempting to ease the load by pushing the van from behind. The clutch wouldn't take it and the van rolled backwards for a few yards and then the driver swung through 90 degrees into a layby. The weight of the van caused it to heel over and the two of us were holding it up from the side and screaming at everyone else to get out and give us a hand. Again, we must have got home somehow.

We once travelled from Carlisle to Newcastle shedding wheel nuts along the way. We lost one and the stud became stripped. We had to stop every couple of miles and jump out with the wrench and tighten up the remaining nuts. We lost another one but made it into Newcastle for the gig at the Top Rank Ballroom - a great gig as I recall.   We managed to get a fresh set of nuts the following day before heading home.

I remember cresting the brow of a hill on the East Lancs Road at some speed in the fully loaded Thames van and finding myself heading straight for a luxuriously wooded (ok - bushed) roundabout with no chance of avoiding it. We went straight over the top of the roundabout but came out beyond it shaken but without injury or damage to the van or gear and continued on to the gig in Liverpool.

Les Hall, Lee Paul and The Boys

Just a little tale about the ambulance we had with J C Heavy in Germany.

The suspension dropped on the front drivers side so we had to jam it up with a block of wood. This lasted for quite a while, until one day driving along the autobahn the bloody thing fell out, worn out. Pulled off the road to look for another piece of wood but could'nt find anything.

Spotted this nice wooden bench, the legs looked perfect. Within 2 mins we had the saw out of the back of the van and went to work. Fitted perfect.

We continued to do this throughout our time in Germany, so anyone in Germany at that time - 1969, 1970 - and wondered what the 3 legged benches were all about, now you know.

Kenny Anders, J C Heavy

Manchesterbeat.com
   

After gigging in and around Manchester I was suprised to get a phonecall offering a booking in Wales which at the time felt like gig abroad.

I seem to think that the club was called Par Bold Miners Club but can't find any referance to it only similar name in Warrington.  Anyway I remember it being the middle of winter and the roads being full of black ice we were just aproaching the welsh border and moving over the brow of a steep hill as we proceded down the hill we hit black ice.

I turned the steering wheel left and right but it didn't make any differance  - we just continued straight. There was a car at the lights at the bottom of the hill turning right as we was meant to do and I suddenly realised that he had stalled.

I said to the lads in the back sitting on amps and speakers "Brace yourselves lads we are going to crash" and we did!  Right up his derry air.

He was luckier than us because his back bumper bar was higher than that of my Austin Omnivan, his bumper bar bent the rods conecting the gearbox, leaving me only able to get first gear.  The driver of the car did a bunk leaving me unable to claim.

As it turned out we made it to the gig and went down a storm, The journey back should have been a nightmare as I couldnt get more than ten miles an hour but it wasn't.  We stopped for chips and with our feet on the dashboard and steering with one finger and giving v signs to all the hornblowers trying to overtaking us in single file stretches it took us about five or six hours to get home but we laughed all the way.

Thats youth for you!

Al Richie
3/5/11





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