This not too clear photograph was taken in 1966 at The Stamford Arms, Lymm in the upstairs room which as you can see was called The Hideout.
This was a new line up for The Answers with Dennis Shuttleworth replacing Graham Wray as bass player and John Davies going from guitar to Farfisa organ.
From left to right are: Dennis Shuttleworth, Tom Casey, Brian Gibbs and John Davies.
The compere was called Maurice (Johnson I Think) and was a bit of a Dennis Norden look alike, he was very tall with glasses and a real character. His party piece was to get up on stage with us and sing Unchained Melody, brilliant.
The room was covered with Dayglo posters and fluorescent paint with a few compulsory (for the time) ultra violet lights. It was a great place to play.
The Answers first van, a Ford Thames 15cwt at Broadgate near Millom, Cumbria in July 1966.
On the left is Brian Gibbs and on the right is Graham Wray. This was one of two 2 week tours we did of Cumbria clubs which included The Tow Bar Inn at Nethertown, Millom County Hall and Silecroft Village hall amongst many others.
On the left is Brian Gibbs and on the right is John Davies,
same place & time.
The cottage at Broadgate, near Millom we used to hire for two weeks, it was a magic place to stay.
On the left is John Davies and on the right is Graham Wray.
On the left is Brian Gibbs and on the right is John Davies.
Our second van which was another Ford Thames 15cwt, hand painted again in the groups own chosen livery. The first photo was taken of Tom Casey on top of the van at Broadgate, near Millom, Cumbria in July 1967 during our second 2 week tour of clubs in that area.
Brian Gibbs in the van at Bolton Gate Company, his place of work
at the time, with David a fellow worker.
The hand painted masterpiece in all it’s glory.
Two pictures taken outside of Millom County Hall in front of what I thought was our third van. After speaking with Tom Casey, it turns out that this was our second van before the luxury paint job.
Tom told me the funny story of how the paint job came about. After a gig one night, Dennis dropped us all off at Tom’s house and then drove himself home to Farnworth in the Ford Thames with it’s standard green factory finish. Next day Dennis decided that the van needed a bit of a face lift and set about it with numerous pots of paint and brushes. When he came back with the van, it was our faces that were lifted, we couldn’t believe it.
The Answers rehearsing just in front of our billiard room/rehearsal room behind Tom Casey’s house, Guilded Hollins, in Little Hulton, in 1965. There was always something magic about playing outdoors.
The line up from left to right is: Tom Casey (Srixon drum kit), Brian Gibbs (Burns Black Bison guitar), John Davies (Eko Florentine guitar) and Graham Wray (Framus bass guitar). The P.A. system was from Fradan Radio in Leigh and consisted of two 2 x 12” speaker cabinets with a 30 watt amp. Guitar amps were 2 x Vox AC 30’s and a Selmer 30 watt amp. Mics were Shure Unidyne 3’s.
This was my first Manchester club date and it was at The College Club in 1965, I think the compere was Jack Diamond. I remember clearly Graham Wray was singing a heart wrenching rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Old Shep” in this picture. We had no van of our own at this time so we used to go to gigs in taxi vans, obviously not much change from the gig money if any. A labour of love if ever there was one.
Here is The Answers third van which was a Morris J4 ex-police van. You may notice that it is a little bit out of shape, and it is. The picture taken from inside the van shows a very knackered looking Brian on the left and Tom on the right. There is a very interesting and hard to believe story behind these pictures which is well worth telling. However it’s a long true story which I will have to cut down a bit as the full version would fill a small book.
It’s Friday, mid winter, 1967 and The Answers are booked to play Millom County Hall that evening.
Brian finishes work at dinner time and attempts to drive the Ford Thames van with the funny paint job from Bolton Gate Company to Tom’s house so we can load up and get an early start for the gig. Tom is waiting for me having also finished work at dinner time.
Driving down Manchester Road, half a mile from Tom’s house Brian notices smoke coming from the internal engine cover, still driving he lifts the cover to find a raging fire in the engine compartment caused by a fuel leak. Brian jumps out of the van and runs to Tom’s for help.
Tom phones fire brigade who turn up and put the fire out but the van is a write off.
We have a spare van in Tom’s garage, a Morris J4 which Tom has been doing up ready for us to use when the Ford Thames packed up, it had. The J4 was nearly ready to use but still needed work doing on the brakes plus there was no spare wheel, no MOT, no tax and no insurance.
Tom phones Dennis who rushes over from Farnworth in his Ford Popular that he had just bought for £10, same as we paid for the J4, to help Tom finish off the breaks on the J4.
With the brakes repaired Tom and Dennis realise that there is no spare wheel and still no MOT, tax or insurance.
They dash to Farnworth in the Ford Pop and borrow a spare wheel from the bakery where Tom works.
Back at Tom’s we load the J4 with 2 x Vox Supreme amps with 4 x 12 cabs, 1 x Vox Foundation amp & 2 speaker cabs, 3 x guitars, 1 x Vox continental organ, 1 x set of Ludwig drums and a Selmer PA system plus our clothes. The van is a bit full and there is only enough room for me and Tom in the front.
We decide to go in convoy with Dennis, John and Tony, our roadie, in the Ford Pop and me & Tom in the J4.
It’s getting late and there is a long way to go but still we have no MOT, no tax and no insurance. Tom sorts the insurance over the phone, was unable to sort the tax and said stuff the MOT and off we went, Dennis, John & Tony first in the Ford Pop with me & Tom lagging behind in the J4 with all the gear.
Whilst stopped at the traffic lights in Chorley, a tanker runs into the back of the Ford Pop and squashes it a bit but nobody hurt.
At Broughton-in-Furness the J4 gets a puncture and Tom says it’s a good job we borrowed that spare wheel. Dennis says did you bring a jack? So we took a few large stones out of a nearby dry stone wall and manually lifted the van up onto them and changed the wheel.
At last we got to Millom County Hall only to be confronted by 2 policeman who spotted there was no tax on the van. Tom managed to reason a way out of this because he was really good at stuff like that.
The gig went really well with not too many fights and only one person shot, thankfully only with an air rifle.
We loaded up and set off back home. When we reached Broughton-in-Furness it started to snow quite hard and Dennis was flashing us from behind so we pulled over to let him past. As he came past us the Ford Pop went into a skid and hit the stone wall on the left, bounced off then hit the wall on the right. This car was getting smaller by the hour.
Dennis said his wipers were not clearing the snow very well so we messed around with them, got them working a bit better and set off again, J4 in front.
The snow was getting really heavy but we were doing ok until we got to Beetham. After a long hard eventful day, driving a springy J4 with snow flakes coming towards you like a rash of space invaders for an hour or so can be a bit mesmerising, and it was.
Brian falls asleep at the wheel rounding the left hand bend at Beetham. The lads following said it looked really spectacular as the van veered across the road, hit a thick hedge, turned side on then rolled over 3 or 4 times spilling musical equipment all over the road.
Dennis, John & Tony rush over to see if we are ok. Tom is still asleep in the van and has a badly gashed knee and Brian is in the middle of the road eating snow but unhurt.
Police turn up and question Brian and Tom, I think we said something like you’ll never believe this but! They eventually let us sit in the back of the Ford Pop which is now facing the other way so we could keep warm.
Whilst we were sitting in the back of the Ford Pop, a car coming up behind us lost control in the snow and ploughed into the back of us, nobody hurt but the Ford Pop is looking a bit worse for wear now!
Ambulance arrives and takes Tom and John (it should have been Brian but John was a quick thinker) to Kendal hospital and Tom gets his knee stitched but they both have to spend the night there.
A friendly local offers to store our equipment in his garage which was about 250 yards up the road so we carried it all to his garage, then Dennis, Brian & Tony spent the night in the Ford Pop with the heater running all night, luxury.
Next day we pick up Tom & John from Kendal hospital and the five of us head home in a very battered and smaller than normal Ford Pop.
Next day we arranged to collect the gear in a friends old Bedford van and bring it all back home.
Rock n Roll, when’s the next gig then.
Over the years we played at many famous venues with many famous artists but, being Beatles fans we were over the moon when we first gigged at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
We were even more over the moon when The Answers were remembered on the Cavern Wall of Fame. The Answers brick is dead centre of the picture.
This is a collage taken from four separate pictures from The Answers Flower Power period. All apart from John’s picture (top right) were taken during a gig at Wharton Presbyterian Church Hall, Little Hulton. Our clothes were hand made by Tom’s sister, Barbara and the bells & beads were from wherever we could find them. John’s picture was taken in The Answers rehearsal room behind Tom’s house in Little Hulton. The waistcoat John is wearing was hand made for him and Tom still has it to this day.
Sadly, many photographs of The Answers that had John Davies on them were misplaced shortly after his untimely death, aged just 24. We think they may have been gathered together and given to his widow, Sandra with who we have all lost touch with.
The Answers spent many hours in the recording studio, something I think we all really enjoyed and realised was the elusive passport to success, not that we got any.
Like many other bands we were massive Beatles fans and we would wait eagerly for their next record to come out.
The Beatles were a big inspiration to us along with Jeff Lynn’s Idle Race and we were drawn to the fact that both wrote their own songs. It wasn’t long before we were writing our own material and performing it on stage along with the covers of the day. Our first recording session however didn’t involve any of our own songs.
We would often gig at The Southern Sporting Club, and it’s sister club The Offerton Palace. Whilst playing The Offerton Palace one night we were approached by the compere, Kevin Kent (one class act) who wanted us to rehearse and record 4 songs that had been written by a friend of his. Kevin came over to our rehearsal room in Little Hulton with his friend and we got the songs worked out and a recording date was set.
The recording was to be done in a studio which was above an electrical shop in Stockport, I think the shop was called Neald and Hardy. I also think that there was some connection between Eric Stewart of The Mindbenders/10CC and the studio. The session was great fun and as I recall we did a good job of some OK songs and picked up the recording bug along the way. It wasn’t long before we were booking studio time and recording demos of our own songs. We would in fact build and open our own recording studio eventually in Farnworth which we called Sirius.
Our first demo’s however were done at various small demo recording studios and it took many songs and many sessions before we finally got offered a recording contract. After a final session in Spark Records basement studio in Denmark Street, Tin Pan Alley, London W1, we were on our way. We only managed to have only two singles released on the Spark label and neither of them charted and we only managed to secure the B side for our own songs. However, the experience was unbelievable and we were very lucky to work with great people in the best studios in London.
Our first record, THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO HOLD ME/SUNSHINE, SUNSHINE was recorded in Spark studio and Lansdowne studio, London. It was released in 1970 and the ‘A’ side was written by John Worsley and Brian Potter. John Worsley aka Johnny Worth aka Les Van Dyke was born in Battersea, South London in 1931 and went on to write several hits for Adam Faith including What Do You Want (reached number 1 in UK in 1959) and Poor Me (reached number 1 in UK 1960). He also wrote Well I Ask You for Eden Kane (reached number 1 in UK 1961).
While were working with John on our record, first at the rehearsal room in Little Hulton and then in Spark & Lansdowne studios, John had success with Clodagh Rodgers and his song Jack In The Box which was the UK’s entry for The Eurovision Song Contest. The song was placed 4th in the song contest and reached number 4 in the UK charts. The ‘A’ side of our first record was sung by Brian Gibbs and the ‘B’ side, our own song was sung by John Davies.
Our second record GIVE ME ALL THAT I NEED/TAWNY WOOD was released in 1971 with the ‘A’ side being recorded at the fabulous Trident Studios just off Wardour Street, London W1.
The ‘B’ side was recorded in our own studio in Farnworth and we were all chuffed that we had been able to do that. GIVE ME ALL THAT I NEED was written by Eric Woolfson, who was co-creator of The Alan Parsons Project and Brian Potter.
Eric Woolfson also produced the song and Junior Campbell of The Marmalade was musical director and sang a harmony on the chorus.
The recording engineer on the session was Roy Thomas Baker who went on to work with Queen, The Who, Rolling Stones and more. We were very lucky to have worked with all these incredible people but sadly with no success. Brian Gibbs sang both songs and wrote the ‘B’ side.
Members of the Wigan band Rainbow Cottage were guests on the ‘B’ side and played acoustic guitars and sang backing vocals.
Our two record releases received limited plays on BBC Radio’s 1 & 2 with more frequent plays on most of the local radio stations. I can remember clearly GIVE ME ALL THAT I NEED being played on Radio 1’s Round Table and Annie Nightingale slating it.
However there was one regular radio job that we seemed to fall into during the 70’s and it involved sessions at The BBC Playhouse in Warwick Street, Hulme, Manchester which had been taken over by The BBC in 1956 and used as a Radio, Television Production Studio. Here we would record 5 songs in about 6 hours. We would set up our gear on the stage which was just like a giant recording studio with sound screens, microphones, stands and instruments all over the place.
At the back of the theatre was the control room with a big window looking up to the stage and in between rows and rows of plush red upholstered seats. The equipment was mono and looked very old but sounded fantastic, I can remember the monitor speaker which looked like a Wells Fargo safe with a speaker grill. We were working with John Wilcox who was the producer and I think the engineers name was Richard, the sessions were great fun and we couldn’t wait to come back and do more.
The recordings were used on Radio 1 with one song being played as a live band track each day, we must have done at least six or seven of these sessions, happy days.
SIRIUS MUSIC Demo Recording Studio
Sometime in around 1970 we took over an old shop premises in Market Street, Farnworth which we converted into a recording studio/rehearsal room and a luxury flat for Dennis, well it was a step up from his caravan.
The work required to do the conversion was a little more than we bargained for and took months to complete. We grafted every spare hour we had using new and second hand material (mainly second hand) to finish the studio as soon as we could. It was well worth the effort and though it was never any more than a modest little demo studio, it was a great place for us to rehearse and create our music. The other major advantage was that Dennis didn’t have far to go to work!
The studio was open to other bands and we did have quite a few paying sessions but mainly it was for The Answers own use. We wrote and recorded many of our own songs in the studio and although they were of good quality we never had another record released after 1971’s GIVE ME ALL THAT I NEED.
We did however have a batch of five songs which were used by BBC’s Radio 1, recorded in our studio instead of recording them at the BBC Playhouse as we had done previously. The pictures show Tom, Dennis & Brian in the control room and Tom in the drum booth which had false walls filled with sand, it was a brilliant sounding drum booth/vocal booth.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
Just as our second record was due to be released in 1971, John Davies decided that he wanted to leave the band.
This was a bombshell for us and a shock as John was such a massive part of the band and we knew his leaving would create a big hole in the band.
John had been part of the band from the very start, was Tom’s soul mate as they had grown up together, lived just across the road from each other, they were very close, we all were very close. I don’t remember why John left the band, maybe I never knew. Was he not into the studio thing as much as we were or did he not enjoy the recording process, I don’t know. John certainly loved performing live, something he excelled at and to me he was as much a star as anyone could possibly be, God bless you John.
Anyway leave John did and the rest of us were left with the question, what do we do now. I don’t think we made a conscious decision to try and replace him or not replace him, I think we probably thought that he would come back sooner or later.
Anyway we suddenly became a three piece band, just like that, and from that moment something special started to happen which I think is summed up beautifully by Dennis in an article he wrote about his bass set up and playing in the band at that time.
Just a bit of info about my bass set up. I just loved the sound of a Fender Jazz, but couldn’t get it from anything you could buy at the time. After a lot of experimenting and dozens of burnt out tweeters, we found some old Canadian army telephone speakers in a junk shop in Oldham - there is a point to all this.
By pure accident, and a bunch of capacitors, they became mega powerful re-entrant midrange horns, which were chromed and bolted onto a pair of home made 18” cabs that needed a fork truck to lift. Driven by a Vox Supreme amp, we had the deep bass, and the top end zing that the jazz did so well. After that it sort of “played me”, and I just hung on. Now and again we got it together, Tom running like a machine on his kit, rock steady and powerful, Brian on fire and giving me great cues for bass riffs. Anyone who never played in a small band could never know the cocaine hit of that experience. Brothers in Arms, spoiled for life.
The picture on the right shows The Answers performing as a three piece at The Deep disco in St Helier, Jersey. We were there for two weeks in the winter of 1971 and while we were there we did a spot on an evening Channel Islands TV program which went out live, we performed two songs.
Images below taken in Jersey
Captain Horatio Casey, Tom.
Please don’t feed the animals, Dennis & Tom.
Beautiful harp music, Brian.
Go and get your own telescope, Dennis & Tom.
THE BIERLELLER, KING STREET, WIGAN, 1971
This was one of our favourite small gigs which we played many times. This club was packed to the rafters every time we played there and we really did knock the back out of it. The bar staff used to have to take the glasses off the shelves otherwise they would vibrate off onto the floor. Dennis is playing his customized Fender Jazz bass and you can see one of his two giant 18” with re-entrant horn cabs.
Tom is powering away on his Ludwig kit and Brian is playing his Gibson Les Paul Custom through two Vox Supreme 4 x 12” set ups. The purple horn cabinets on top of the Selmer columns were Dennis and Tom’s creation and were made by stripping the horns from my Vox Supreme cabinets, I didn’t need them anyway and they gave the PA a nice top end sparkle.
The guy who took these photographs said it was The Answers last gig, I’m not so sure but it can’t have been far off. In any case it was the end of a fantastic seven year journey for me and one that I will never forget and I would gladly make again and again and again.
Our umpteenth van, a Red Ford Transit Custom long wheel base which was brand new save for 400 miles on the clock.
These pictures were taken during one of our week long runs on the south coast.
THE LAST WORD ...
The last word in this tribute to The Answers just had to be John.
I said earlier when we became a three piece band that we never really thought about replacing John because we always thought that he would come back, and he did.
Many times John would suddenly appear in front of the stage at one of our gigs, jump up and sing three or four songs then disappear into the night.
One night when we were playing at Rivington Barn, Horwich, John jumped up and sang his three or four songs then disappeared into the night forever.
The Answers original line up was Tom Casey (Drums) Graham Wray(Bass Guitar) John Davis (Rythm Guitar & Keyboards) and Brian Gibbs (Lead Guitar).
Following Graham's decision to leave the group in order to get married Dennis Shuttleworth (from Farnworth) joined the band and we continued with this line up until John decided to leave. Shortly after he left he was tragically killed in a road traffic accident on the way back from Rivington Barn where he had actually got up on stage to join Tom, Brian & Dennis.
Sadly this was his final performance as he never made it through the night. God Bless you John!!!
We used to see The Answers at the Monaco in Farnworth. I can never forget them doing "Hang on Sloopy"...it was all so raw and earthy. They were certainly a very good group with their crazy "jigsaw" van that they drove around in. Ah, Golden days,! !!!
Following on from the Answers, Tom and Dennis teamed up with John Shearer (Sacko) and Kenny Brown both from Banbury to form "Airport".
We were eventually managed by The First House Group namely Dougy Flood & Partners who owned Blighty's, Copperfields, The Broadway Club, Northern Club, Cumberland Club and others. Gerry Slinger ( Managing Director of Blighty's ) was our manager who launched Airport by initially featuring us at Blighty's. We went on to star on "New Faces" coming in 2nd place to Louis Cabelero ( The Greasy Greek off mind your language????. Airport were voted group of the year at Blighty's in 1974 I think Tony Christie ( Male Vocalist of the year ) Cannon & Ball ( Comedian's of the year ) & Linda McMurray ( Female Vocalist of the year ) Linda accompanied Airport to Naples where they both performed for all the Majors & Generals of the US Army.
Tom would be interested to know if Sandie Olive was the same Sandie ( Red Head ) who lived in Queen Street? Could it be the same one? If so write in and I will let you know my E. Mail address would love to touch base again.
I would just like to add that I remember seeing Airport on tv. They were excellent. Also I would love to meet up with Tom and Brian just to chew the fat. It's been along time since I saw them, (too long).
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Hi Brian, what a lovely surprise! Yes, it's been great talking to those two again. Who would have thought we would all touch base again after nearly 50 years! I really loved spending time with you lads and more importantly, I loved your music. Music is still my big passion. Hope you are keeping well and I look forward to seeing your pics. Best regards x
Great to hear from you Sandy and yes we really did have a lot of fun although it's hard to believe that it IS nearly 50 years ago. I am doing ok and like you my great passion is still music. I was still gigging up to last October but have finally hung up my guitars, well I suppose never say never but I think it's time I stopped. I still play guitar and ukulele at home everyday and I meet up with some similar aged guitar/ukulele players and we thrash out the old standards in the village pub just for fun, it's like last of the summer wine. I am still in regular contact with Tom who is still the same as ever and great fun to be with. Over the last 2 or 3 years when I was still gigging (solo)I played several times at Tom's local and he would get up with me and we would do a few songs together, great fun. I haven't seen Dennis for a few years now but who knows maybe we could organise a re-union between us sometime and remember the old days together. Best wishes, Brian.
Hi Brian, thanks so much for the update..yes, a reunion would be fab before we all drop off the perch! Meanwhile, hurry up with those pictures and you can use my email address instead of this site if you want to stay in touch. Very best wishes.
Hi Den, well I was just thinking it would be nice to get as many old friends as possible from The Answers circle together and reminisce over a pint. As for a musical reunion, I don't know, it's been a long time. Best wishes, Brian.
Hi Brian. How are you? I have received an email from Manchester Beat and would love to get together with you and Tom. I have sent a message to Tom as well. I was singing with a band in the 80's/90's but sadly two of the lads are unable to play due to illnesses but they aske me to join them in a local community choir and I have been with them for about 18 months now and enjoying it. I hope to hear from you soon. With best wishes for the New Year, Graham.
Hi Graham, I have just seen your message, I would love to hear that record, I lost my copy some years ago now. I seem to remember one of the songs was called Who is Sylvia? I can remember doing the rehearsals and eventual recordings quite well, what great days. Regarding uploading the demo (I presume you mean the label) just send an email to Paul and attach the scan of your picture. I have a record deck that could transfer the sound recording into iTunes which would be nice. I know people keep saying it but we really should try and get together although I know it's difficult. Nice to hear from you again Graham, best wishes, Brian.
Hi Brian,. I am really thrilled to get a reply from you at last. The tracks are "Gotta Find The Love", "Judy" and "Wandering Around". I have them on tape already and would love to get them onto a digital disc or mp3. As for a get together I would love that. I will email the scans to Paul. Thanks again, Graham.
Just looked at some of your photos when you had your Trixon kit with the Ludwig snare and the cases that were covered in cheeky photos. How did I know? I spent hours getting those photos off the cases. My mum who put me in touch with you - yes the one who worked at Prestwich Parkers canteen- didn't want them in the house covered as they were. That kit served me well and eventually was given to my son's school for their band. Mutual acquaintance - Sandra Halsall - when single dated one of your band.