John Haskins lived at Lees in Oldham. He studied music in a guards regiment as a bandsman.
On leaving the guards he made a living as an organist and salesman in the music department of a major store in Manchester. In about '57/'58 he teamed up with a drummer/percussionist called Mel Fisher. Mel was an accomplished drummer, a classically trained percussionist, his father being percussionist for Billy Smarts Circus.
They formed a duo called the Johnny Haskins Duo and played mainly for dances, parties, weddings and country clubs. John played a Hohner reed organ through a Bird amp which gave him a very distinctive sound for that time. Mel lived round the corner from me and knew I played guitar and bass. I was invited to form a trio with them called the Johnny Masters Trio.
I doubled on guitar and bass and we played mainly '30s, '40s and '50 standards. Soon we began to introduce a rock and roll interlude into our program, which went down very well. So well, in fact, that it was decided to find a guitarist to join us to enable me to concentrate on bass which was becomming more prominent in the rock format.
The young, novice guitarist who joined us was Alan Doyle from Royton near Oldham, later to play with the Country Gentlemen, The Rainmakers and numerous other bands. Thus was born "Johnny Masters and the Mastersounds".
We were a busy band playing 2-4 gigs a week with some doubles on the fridays and saturdays. Alan's playing came on in leaps and bounds as he was very enthusiastic and once he was introduced to Pete Cowap of "Deke Bonner and The Tremors" (a band we all knew well) there was no holding him. I remember the night when he first got his Harmony semi accoustic, he was so proud and got a great sound out of it.
Transport in thoes days was a 1947 Armstrong Sidley Typhoon with the organ and drums stacked on the roof. Later we got a high top Bedford 5 ton truck.
I remember doing a sat night/ sun morning "all nighter" at the "House of Bamboo"in Manchester. I wonder if anyone remembers this venue. Mel played the whole gig with just snare and high hat.
Another of our favourite gigs was the Railway Inn, besides the gas works in Stockport. Many good nights we had there, we really packed the place every friday night. We had a punter who used to get up and sing a couple of numbers with us, we called him "whirly bow" as he always wore a bow tie and we could imagine it spinning round whilst he sang, but he always brought a big crowd of fans with him.
In the early '60, the band split up, this was the night Alan joined Pete Cowap and Nick (bass player with the Tremmors) to back Susan Maun (Bobbie's Girl) on a local tour. Later I did get together with Alan and Mel to join Collin Smithies (Deke Bonner) to reform the Tremmors but it only lasted a short while.
I moved away from Manchester in '64 but returned in '71 where I joined country and western band; Frank Yonco and the Everglades. Frank knew Johnny and told me how to contact him. He was living and working in Blackpool, so seeing I had some time off, I arranged to meet up. To cut an hilarious story short, I finished up playing a gig with him in a strip club in Fleetwood. Next time I ran into him was in '74 on St Pancras station in London. He took me on a tour of the good music pubs in London, we had a good couple of nights. He had formed a new band - an all girl band- with him on keyboard. That was the last I saw of John.
So ends the story of Johnny Masters and the Mastersounds. A great and very versatile band, a good time was had by all and I have many pleasant memories of that time. God bless her and all who sailed in her.
As for myself, I went to Africa and the Middle East, had a restaurant in Norfolk, had a smallholding in Cornwall, built up an electrical contracting business, went back to study at university at age 59, joined a rock and roll band playing '50 rock and roll aged 68 and now aged 70, I am fully retired concentrating on my collection of clasic British motorbikes, still living in Cornwall.
I would love to here if anyone else remembers The Mastersounds.
I remember this band and Geoff (he lived in Harpurhey). They had a drummer; Brian Howard.
Johnny (Haskins) later played with us, The Hi -Five in 1963 along with Brian Howard.
I caught up with John in 1984/5 in South Wales, he was resident organist at a WMC. He came to Cheshire to see me 1986/7. Sadly whilst playing the organ in the WMC in South Wales in 1987 he keeled over and died at the keyboards. Those who knew Johnny would know that if he could have planned his exit then this was the way he would have wished it.
A funny man, many funny stories, many happy memories.
Thanks for the info Bev. So that's what happened to Johnny! You are right, It would have been the way he would wish to go. Hope you enjoyed playing with him as much as I did.
By the way, did he ever get you to do any gigs at Strangeways prison? A fantastic place for a gig, believe me; with a captive audience to boot!
I couldn't at first place the name Bev Oates and then a dim and distant memory surfaced; I recall two brothers that lived near Failsworth Pole who started a band in the early '60s and I seem to recall that one was called Bev. Could this be right?
Your memory recall is perfect. Unfortunately we did not have the pleasure of a "Strangeways" gig, but I can imagine Johnny would have had quite a few comic banters with the audience! I believe somewhere in storage I have a photo of Johnny taken in 1986 at Manchester Airport. I will try and find this and let you have it.
Anyone wishing to contact me can send their contact details to my filtered server at email@example.com and I will get back to them. Why don't you post some info on the Hi-Five?