| Neil Levine
ex Richard Kent Style
| John Needham
| Josephine Levine nee Musaphia ex Hemlock
| Kenny Anders
ex Chosen Few
| John Hajok ex Boogaloo Band
JC Heavy was formed in 1969 from five Manchester bands Richard Kent Style, Chosen Few, Money, Hemlock and The Boogaloo Soul Band.
After several months of rehearsal and a few gigs it was off into Europe with the intention of working for a few months around the clubs, to tighten up the band. However, things didn't turn out that way.
We had only been in Germany for a few weeks when we were approached by Hauke Management in Frankfurt. Peter Hauke became our manager and we were persuaded to stay and make Frankfurt our base. The gigs started to roll in, taking us far and wide throughout Germany and beyond. At first it was mostly club gigs, like, Club 45 Frankfurt, PN Hithouse Munich and similar venues in Hannover, Cologne, Stuttgart etc. etc.
Things really got interesting after we were signed to Bellaphon Records, by that time we'd only been in Germany for a few months. Following the release of our first record we were booked to appear at the Cologne Sporthalle Festival alongside Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and The Nice.
The funny thing was that the other bands on the show assumed that we were German, it came as big surprise for them to find out that we came from Manchester.
Other large festivals came quickly after Cologne. Frankfurt Rock Circus, where we shared the stage with The Byrds, Bo Diddeley and Chuck Berry and Nurnburg Messehalle with the likes of T Rex, Spencer Davis Group and Chicken Shack. At the end of some of these gigs it wasn't unusual for all the bands, or most of them, to get together on stage for a mass jam, during these jams you could find yourself playing next to some of finest and best known players in the world. This, for me, was an unbelievable experience, just a few short years before I was semi pro with National Grid, now here I was rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest and best in the business. These are just a few of the more prestigious gigs which JC Heavy were priveliged to be part of, the whole story would probably be enough for a book in it's own right.
Around the same time and just before the release of our second record, we were invited onto the German equivalent of Top of the Pops, which was broadcast live from Hannover. On the show with us was Elton John, Judith Durham, Hot Chocolate and a couple more British acts plus two or three German artistes. During the show, which everyone played live, a set had been rigged for Judith Durham. It was a twenty five foot long silver coloured ramp set at a fairly steep angle. The idea was that Judith should appear at the top of the ramp and slowly walk down as the intro to her song was being played. Oops half way down she lost her footing and fell flat on her back, sliding the rest of the way down on her backside, legs in the air and her dress around her neck, embarrassing for her, hilarious for us and pure panic for the TV crew.
Soon after the Festivals and TV slots, some bright spark at either our management or record company thought it would be a good idea for us to branch out into Eastern Europe, or to put it another way behind the Iron Curtain. As far as I know we were one of the first British rock bands to play in a communist country, although I'm fairly sure that we were the first band from Manchester to do so. Anyone who knows differently, please let me or Manchesterbeat know. Anyway off we went for our first taste of communism.
We arrived at the Italian border with Yugoslavia on our way to Rovinj on the Adriatic coast. The Italian border guards had viewed us with a bit suspicion, and the Yugoslavs, I'm sure, would happily have shot us on the spot, given half a chance. You could hardly blame them they had never seen anything like us before. An English rock group in an old Bedford ex ambulance which smelled strongly of highly suspect substances. At this point it perhaps should be mentioned that we also carried a life sized skeleton with us called Malcolm. The Yugoslav guards, all armed with AK47s, made us unload every piece of gear from the van and searched every bit of it until they had their bit of fun with us and eventually allowed us to be on our way, big relief.
Finally, we made it to Rovinj, a beautiful place, right on the coast. The first couple of gigs went well enough, everything seemed okay, apart from the local police not being too happy to see us. The only real problem came when one day we went for a couple of drinks in one of the town bars. After about an hour we found ourselves involved in an altercation with about thirty of the local Croat male population, they had realised who we were and decided they didn't like us very much, the police looked the other way as things started to get quite ugly. The whole situation with these cretins was getting out of hand when a young Serbian woman called Senka pitched in and basically told these yobs to stop behaving like arseholes and grow up, all in fluent Serbo Croat of course. Apparently her surname alone was enough to scare the shit out of these idiots. It turned out that this young woman was the daughter of a high ranking Yugoslav diplomat, and she became our unofficial translater for the rest of our stay.
For our day off Senka suggested we go to a place called The Red Island, a few hundred yards off the coast, a great place to relax, we thought. What she didn't tell us was that it was a nudist colony. We headed straight for the beach. Ken decided he was going in the sea and promptly stood on some wierd spikey sea creature, within minutes his foot swelled up and started to turn black. Something was needed to clean the wound until we could get medical attention. That cost us a perfectly good bottle of vodka. Cheers Ken.
Just before we were due to leave Yugoslavia we discovered that it was illegal to take the currency out of the country, problem, considering all of our payment had been in dinars. With no time to do anything about it all the dinar notes were stuffed into a bag and hidden in the van. Luckyly for us on the way back into Italy the border guards were nowhere near as thorough as when we went in, I think they were glad to see us leave. The rest of our journey back to Germany was fairly straight forward, apart from, after leaving Italy into Austria starting to descend the Alps, the brakes on the van failed. I was driving at the time, "We've got no f***ing brakes I can't stop". At that moment I was sure that we'd all had it, even our skeleton must have crapped itself. As luck would have it just before the next sharp bend, of which there are many in the Alps, there was a run off track. We hit the track doing about 60mph and managed to stop, just. Change of underwear all round. Finally we managed to get the van down the last two miles or so by having it in reverse gear and letting the clutch in every two hundred yards or so. We were in Austria at last. Now with the brakes fixed it was back to Frankfurt.
After several more months touring and gigging around Germany it was decided to return to England and try our luck with a record producer who had worked with Deep Purple. However, things didn't work out and the band split up.
Neil Levine carried on in the music business for many years working with 10cc, UFO and Duran Duran on their American tours.
Ken Anders also carried on in the game with various outfits including The Mindbenders before going solo, Ken had a great voice as well as being a very good bass player.
John Hajok left music behind and went on to become a successful chartered accountant.
I too carried on for many years in the music business working with quite a few different bands in London and Manchester before getting involved more in studio work and music publishing.
Several years after JC Heavy split our lead singer Jo Musaphia sadly passed away following a long illness.
The years spent with JC Heavy were some of the best I've had, with some of the best people I've ever known. Good Times, Great Times and, okay a few hard times as well, but what the hell it was worth every minute.
THE SIXTH MEMBER OF JC HEAVY ... OUR ROADIE TOMMY ANDERS
What a guy Tommy was, for a start he didn't drive, normally a pre requisite for a roadie. However, what Tommy lacked in driving skills he more than made up for in other ways,he saved our arses on more than one occasion. To my certain knowledge several other bands would have taken him on in a heartbeat. Tommy was liked by everybody.
One incident stands out in my mind. During a show, I think it was in Bad Pyrmont, every drummers nightmare happened. I'd put my bass drum skin through. Tommy was on the stage in a flash, spare skin in hand, had the old skin off and the new one on within two minutes. That was some achievement, and we played on through. Also he was the only roadie I ever knew who could set up my kit exactly as I liked it night after night.
A few years later whilst at a gig with Sam Apple Pie in Leeds we were talking about gigs we had played together in Europe, and both Sam and Andy admitted that they would have loved to have Tommy with them. They reminded me of the time that we were staying in a Schloss ( German castle ) near Heidelberg. Tommy was challenged to an eating contest by Sam's two roadies, to cut a long story short Tommy won hands down, and then asked what was for dinner, after all he was a good Wythenshawe lad.
I don't think Tommy ever realised how well liked he was. He could easily have been taken on by bands who were more successful than we were. But instead he returned to England and went on, so I'm told, to set up and run a his own firm in the building trade. Good luck Tommy and thanks, I'm sure, from us all.
Single release on Amiral/Bellaphon 'Mr Deal c/w That Womans Mind'. Released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
This first single was later released on various other labels throughout Europe, for instance, Pink Elephant Records in Holland and Explosion Records in Spain.
In a couple of countries the A side was flipped and 'That Womans Mind' became the A side.
|Second single release in 1971 was 'Do What You Like c/w Is This Really Me'. This record also had the A side flipped in some countries. Main release once again was on Admiral/Bellaphon label.
Oct 1969 in Manchester
L to R Ken Anders, John Needham, Jo Musaphia on stage at Koln Festival in front of an audience of 25,000.
L to R John Needham, Jo Musaphia, Neil Levine. Photo was taken at Nurnberg Festival in front of an audience of over 20,000 but used for a different event some time later.
I was reading the recent additions to the JCH site which triggered some memories.
Due to the weight of all that equipment, and no doubt because of its age, the ambulances suspension suddenly gave way whilst we were driving along the autobahn. The rear of the vehicle dropped onto a tyre and boy could we smell it! What to do? Our crazy drummer came up with the perfect suggestion [perfect to people who hadn't been in their right minds for some time, that is]...
We pulled into a roadside picnic area where he asked people sitting at a wooden picnic table to "move up", produced a wood saw, and proceeded to saw the end off the table. He then jacked the rear of the vehicle up [their jaws hung open in amazement] and he inserted the wooden buffer into the suspension. We drove around the country from picnic table to picnic table - refreshing the suspension as we went!
I also recall barreling down the road in Belgium during a blizzard - we were going as fast as the vehicle could go as we were late for the ferry. Then disaster - the windscreen wiper motor packed up and the snow immediately built up on the windscreen so we couldn't see a thing. We quickly tied clothes together as makeshift ropes and tied them to the drivers wiper. Then one of us sat on either side of the driver alternately pulling the rope to keep the snow off the windscreen. Amazingly no one died and, as a bonus, we made the ferry!
I was reading about JCH adventures in Yugoslavia and recalled how, when we were driving down there by these amazingly circuitous routes, someone would suddenly call out we seem to be heading into Venice - is that right?.
There'd then be a break from building Christmas trees from detritus off the floor of the ambulance [I told you we weren't in our right minds] and we'd consult the map invariably arguing about whether it was upside down or not.
We came to a critical point where we had to pass through what we took to be a tiny village called Murgia to ensure we were on the right road. The ambulance slowly labored up the side of the mountain we were on till we got down the other side but hadn't spotted the village. So we turned around and repeated the exercise but still hadn't spotted the village. This went on for some time before someone realized that Murgia was the name of the mountain we'd been driving back and forth over most of the night.
After Yugoslavia we made it all the way back to England with sackfulls of Dinars, divided them up and thought we were rich. There'd been enough to comfortably live on in Yugoslavia for months. But when we took them into the bank we were told they were controlled currency and would be worth less than a fiver!
While we were living in Frankfurt our producer took us into the studios to play on sessions for various German artists signed to Bellaphon. We'd be on the studio floor laying down backing tracks and would look through the control room glass to see Jo calmly doing her ironing in there before coming in to do backing vocals in German [which she did phonetically and had no idea what she was singing]. We'd then get into the ambulance and go do a gig that evening.
This went on until the ambulance became a casualty of the severe German winters. Actually it was self inflicted we'd not put antifreeze in. We'd parked it outside a club in which we were doing a week long gig and after the week when we started the ambulance it gushed water all over our feet. So we simply called ADAC and had them tow us to the next gig. Then we, sadly, abandoned the old ambulance. It had doors which hinged inwards so we sat Malcolm the skeleton in the drivers seat, jammed the doors closed and left it in the town square with a skeleton at the wheel - sorry!
Eventually, I retired the trusty Gibson SG and moved on. I took some of the skills I'd gathered around the studios in Germany and went to work for 10cc as an audio engineer - based at Strawberry Studios in Stockport.
From there I went on to engineer for many groups, all over the world, and produced or co-produced several albums. I also worked in artist management and publishing for some time. Eventually I became more and more involved in theatre and galleries - during the nineties I worked as head of arts programmes for the city of Glasgow and I eventually wound up living and working in Florida where I'm the chief exec of the arts council here.
Quite different from Manchester but I get back to visit each year. I know that Kenny now owns the Legends Live Music and Sports Bar in Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands and that Noj is an accountant. Maybe they'll have more memories to add.
We used to play at a club in Frankfurt called 'Club 45'. We got to know a German guy by the name of Micky, a real hard nut, he had a mohican haircut and had scars either side of his mohican where he had been hit with beer bottles etc.
After every gig he would ask us if we would like to go back to his place to smoke his 'water pipe'. Now in those days we all used to like a good smoke, but we kept refusing him because we didn't really trust him....(he used to carry a pen-gun and up until then I had only seen something like that in a James Bond movie!!).
Anyway, one night we decided to take him up on his offer, as well as ourselves there was also an American army guy with us. We all piled into the van and went off to Mickys apartment. We got into his apartment and there in the middle of the floor was this enormous home-made water pipe, the bowl was about the same size as a saucepan with a long piece of bamboo coming out of it, probably about 3 foot long, and there in the bowl was about half a kilo of cannabis, at this point we realised Micky must have been a dealer!!
Of course, you only needed one 'belt' from the pipe and you were well and truly stoned!! When it came to the American army guys turn, he blew into the pipe instead of sucking and completely ruined the whole pot, so what did Micky do????......He just took the cannabis out of the pot to dry out and replaced it with another half kilo.....Wow, what a night!!!
From then on, we became good friends with Micky, he used to come over to our place now and again, but we always told him NOT to bring the water pipe!!!!
Re-united after forty two years JC Heavy Bass player Ken Anders and
drummer John Needham.
Enjoying a drink or two in Ken's Legends60s bar in Caleta de Fuste
John and Ken together with ex Casuals and Manchester musician Al Morris.
Ken and Al perform together at Legends as Baktrak playing great 60s music,
recreating the sort of atmosphere of the old cellar clubs around Manchester
John, Kelly ( Ken's partner ) Ken and John's wife Kath.
left to right: Neil Levine, John Needham, Jo Levine,
Kenny Anders, John Hajok.
Released in Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg
Released in Spain and Portugal
Released in Spain (with flipped A side)
Released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
The group's famous van(bulance) - taken just outside Frankfurt
Ken and Al Morris on stage at Legends doing what they do best.