In the summer of 1956, Vinnie Ward, Arthur Ashton, Noel Wilson and I played in a skiffle group. Vinnie used my Aunty Louie's washboard and I used a tea chest with string and a mop stale as the double bass. The other older lads played guitars and sang Lonnie Donegan songs (Rock Island Line, etc, etc).
A lad called Ray Finley, who was approximately 3 years older than me, heard us playing. I forged a friendship with Ray because we had the same musical tastes and interests. In the summer holidays I would go round to his house and listen to his collection of Rock & Roll vinyls and be in awe of his guitar playing.
That was until I heard another older guy named Trevor Sheppard. Trevor was a genius on the acoustic guitar. He was the catalyst that made me want to be a musician.
I didn't care what the instrument was, I just wanted to play.
In 1959, Vinnie Ward asked me if I would be interested in playing drums for a new group being formed. I was to meet Ian Drybrough, John Lawton & Frank Kershaw to see if I liked the idea and would be interested.
The CON BRIOS were born. It was my suggestion for the name Con Brios - Music with Fire.
Just one problem! I didn't have a drum kit! Ian lent me an Eric Delaney 14 inch snare with a 4 inch cymbal attached to the tripod stand.
We practiced solidly for 12 months behind closed doors before emerging ready to gig. I had a red glitter Premier drum kit. Ian Drybrough had a Fender Stratocaster, John Lawton a Gibson Jumbo, Vinnie Ward a sunburst Fender bass and Frank Kershaw on clavoline piano.
We entered a talent contest at Pendleton Co-operative rooms and were presented with a cheque for £25.00 by the actress Betty Albergh who played the character Florrie Lindley in Coronation Street on Granada television.
For the Con Brios, this was the beginning of an eventful career playing many well known venues of the day.
An early gig was at Broughton Assembly rooms. Also on the bill were Ricky & Dane Young. The singers being Harold (Hadge) Clarke, later to change his first name to Alan and his friend Graham Nash.
During a backstage chat, I asked Graham if he would ever consider music as a full time career. His reply was - "NEVER!" Thank God he changed his mind or it would have been a sad loss for music history and the Hollies.
The drummer with them was Tony Bookbinder, later to drum with the Dakotas of Billy J. Kramer fame. Listening to Tony's drumming inspired this young Brian Redshaw to practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
Seeing Ricky & Dane on stage was the first time I had ever seen anybody wearing stage make up. Quite a shock!
As the number of gigs we played grew, so did the musical experience. We went on to play all the large pubs and clubs in Salford & Manchester areas.
However, one thing was still missing at this time for our instrumental group. A vocalist!
Trevor Platt went to school with us so he was recruited. Now with a vocalist, we were on the road 7 days a week. Brilliant!!
Talent contests followed. So did gigs at
- New Century Hall supporting Dave Berry & the Cruisers.
- Pendleton Co-op alongside a young fresh faced comedian called Jimmy Tarbuck.
- The Jungfrau with a nutty young Freddie Starr,
- The Three Coins as Jimmy Savile's resident group.
- Her Majesty's, Salford as resident group.
- The Academy, Salford.
- The Top Ten Club with well known hit group Sounds Incorporated.
The House of Bamboo,
- The Naval Club,
- Crossacres Club,
- Sale Locarno,
- Stamford Hall.
- The Wishing Well, Swinton.
- Resident group at Joe Pullen's Talk of The North. The Moss family empire cubs of The Devonshire, The Princess, The Domino.
- The Essoldo,
- The Cumberland Club.
- The Northern.
- The Southern.
- Blackpool North Pier
- and many, many others too numerous to mention or long forgotten. Age and memory lapses, I am afraid.
You name them. We played them! we did them all during the height of Salford/Manchester music explosion boom of the early to mid 60's. A wonderful time.
Think the memory lapse is finally due to booze, women and Rock & Roll finally taking it's toll. Thank God!!!!!
In 1960 we cut a disc for Decca but never heard any more from them. In 1961, a record called Telstar by the Tornados was releasd.
This was the exact sound we had created and honed to perfection. Disillusioned by the cut throat industry, we all began to think this was the beginning of the end for the Con Brios.
In 1965 the group played it's last gig and broke up, mainly due to females. All the lads went their own way and I carried on with my apprenticeship as a commercial artist. After serving my time, I became another kind of artist when I went into the licensing trade where I remained until 2002.
Ian and Trevor still gigged for a good few years as a duo until eventually calling it a day.
Vinnie Ward came to my surprise 40th birthday party but I haven't seen him for 24 years since.
John Lawton moved to London after the split. Frank Kershaw was only in the group for the first 12 months and have never seen him since.
I wonder where they all are now?
Long live ROCK & ROLL!
Information kindly supplied by Brian to Dave Anderton & Terry Irvine (Brian's cousin) of the BeatLeague and for ManchesterBeat history annals.