The Modrox
The Puzzle
Royton

Info courtesy John Richardson and Alan Stone


Modrox line-up included
John Richardson lead
Steve (Boltz) Bolton rhythm
Phil Fletcher drums
Mick Green drums (replaced Phil)
Alan Stone bass
Puzzle line-up included
Brian Cochrane Singer 1967-69
James (Jimmy) Litherland Lead Guitar/vocals 1966
Steve Bolton - 'Boltz' Lead Guitar 1966-69
Johnny Wrigley  Drums 1968-69
Paul Smith Tenor Sax 1967-69
Alan Stone Bass 1966-68

The Modrox formed in Royton in 1963.Line up was John Richardson - lead guitar, Steve (Boltz) Bolton - rhythm guitar, Alan Stone - Bass guitar, and the late Mick Green on drums.

At that time our manager was Dave Cunningham (don't know what happened to him), and we played the Oldham/ Saddleworth/ Manchester areas - Twisted Wheel etc.

Even went as far afield as Colwyn Bay and Huddersfield!

In a previous incarnation as "The Dominators" we had played Shadows stuff, but when we had a change of drummer andbecame the Modrox, we played rhythm and blues numbers popular at that time.

Eventually I had to leave the band, as I was training to be a Radiographer at the local hospital and had to concentrate on that.

Jimmy Litherland (who I knew slightly from school, and was a friend of Steves, took over from me and that led to a name change to "Puzzle" as well as a change of manager I think.

They all went on to other things from there.

  • I eventually ended up in charge of the X-ray department at Rochdale Infirmary, I retired 6 years ago.
  • Alan Stone has his own photographic company along with his wife, a fashion photographer.
  • Steve Bolton is still gigging down south.
  • Mick Green sadly died about 6 years ago.

I wonder if anyone reading the page has any photos they may have taken, I certainly would be pleased to see them. I have an email address you could put on for this : modroxoldham at aol.com (change the at to @)

John Richardson

Although we started off as The Dominators, we toyed around with band names - in particular The Phantom 4.

Our very first gig, (for nowt of course),was at St Johns Methodist Chuch Hall in Royton, with original drummer, the late Phil Fletcher who was replaced within weeks by Mick Green and we quickly went on to our first paid gig at St James's C of E Church Hall on Barry Street in Oldham where we got a quid to cover our expenses!


The Dominators with the original line up at the first gig at St Johns Methodist Chuch Hall in Royton - Phil Fletcher on drums.

I'm suprised St James's isn't listed on the site on the Oldham venues page. St James's was a serious hot bed for groups in the early '60s where many a listed band on your site certainly would have gigged.

Things picked up quickly after that, we changed our name to The Modrox and became a regular group all around Oldham, Saddleworth and Manchester playing our brand of R n' B/Blues a tplaces such as Salford Tech, Rochdale Kubi Club, the usual auditions at Ashton Palais and Oldham Astoria and places like Oldham Catacombs and Delph Youth Club.

Both then big Oldham venues with the Catacomb sbeing originally a coffee bar on the corner of Shaw Rd. & Huddersfield Rd. in Oldham, and Delph Youth Club being another serious gig staging many a Liverpool band, and certainly Wayne Fontana, The Hollies and more.

1964 ended for us with two gigs at the Pier Pavillion at Colwyn Bay - one on Boxing Day and one on New Year's Eve of which we got £20.00 each for - big money for 1964.

Oldham was a cool place to be in 1964 with the highlight of the year being the Oldham 'Beat' Contest held at The Empire Theatre.

There are already references on Manchesterbeat about this with ten bands battling it out to be Oldham's best beat group - happy days!

 


Inside of the program for the 1964 Oldham Beat Contest
   

Amazingly, five of the band seem to have disappeared without trace as they are not on your site (until now), they being TK5, Missing Links, Voodoos, Headliners and Exiles 3, but along with Ven Tracey and The Diablos who won.This is probably the first recorded existance of The Keepers who of course morphed into Barclay James Harvest with huge success.

For the record - although this maybe contested - I remember The Modrox coming second in this beat contest, for what it is worth.

During all of this, our agent was Dave Cunningham who ran the Oldham Entertainment Agency from his home in Greenfield, Saddleworth,

The name Modrox Ltd I recall being one of his PR stunts to get us publicity as a 'Limited Company' and the only recorded photograph of him I know of is with us in the photo below.

 

Modrox bookings - 1964
 

Modrox 1965

As 1965 progessed, lead guitarist John Richardson left The Modrox to persue his career as a Radiographer and we replaced him on lead guitar/vocalswith James (Jimmy) Litherland, who was an old school friend of rythmn guitarist Steve at Chadderton Grammer School.

James had previously been with The R & B Sect from Hollinwood and we swiftly added a host of Motown and The Who type stuff to our sets, got mod hair cuts, checked shirts, changed our name to The Puzzle and became a pretty decent mod outfit playing the likes of Manchester & Rochdale Cavern Clubs, Kubi Club, Golden Door (Ashton -U-Lyne), Bury Palais, Jungfrau, all the Oldham clubs and we were genuinely one of the first bands to play the Lower Chambers Club under Rochdale Town Hall.

As we progressed, Dave Cunningham got us an interview in London with Micky Most trying to get us a recording deal and we met him at The Marquee Club.  It all sounds pretty fab, but nothing came of it as he was also there to see Birmingham band Jimmy Powell & The Five Dimensions playing live - which took up most of his attention. Amazingly enough though, this led to us being known to Jimmy Powell who crops up again later.

However, not to be put off,we did cut a demo at a studio in Liverpool on which Jimmy Litherland took the lead vocal on the James Brown classic Please, Please, Please, which we had high hopes for, again alas, nothing possitive transpired.


The Puzzle 1965, l to r, Steve Bolton, Alan Stone, Paul Smith,
James Litherland and Mick Green.

 

Around this time - especially playing more Motown stuff, we were joined by Newton Heath sax player Paul Smith, which we all thought gave us at last a pretty good sound.

By the end of 65/early 66 James left the band and joined another band The GoGo, (know nothing of them),but he was determined to make it big as our visit to London earlier impressed him.

We lost track of him until 1968 when he became a founder member of Jon Hiseman's Colosseum further playing, recording and touring with other bands.  I am still now in contact with James. He lives in North London, has his own small recording studio, sessions and gigs still and releases his stuff on the web. (See www.jameslitherland.com for his bio, discography, pix & music).

After James left, Me, Steve, Paul and Mick still carried on as The Puzzle.  Steve and I shared the vocals and we looked to add an (Hammond) organist - but that wasn't easy as they were few and far between and always with bands anyway.

Out of the blue in the Spring of 1966, Dave Cunningham got a call from Jimmy Powell.

He was looking for another band to be the 5 Dimensions and remembered us from the year before at The Marquee Club.

After a practice session, we jumped at the chance and joined him and turned pro.

We upped sticks and moved to Birmingham and lived, literally, in Powell's demo studio that had been set up for him by Strike Records to demo bands.

We continued to look for an organist but it just didn't happen, so we were always billed as Jimmy Powell and The Dimensions as opposed to the 5 Dimensions.

JP had a single out with Strike Recordsat this time called 'I Can Go Down', so we stepped right into decent regular gigs across the country at least five times a week with a regular Saturday night gig on theUniversity circuit, either as the main band, or as support to the then well known band such as The Searchers, Dave Berry etc., and I recall vividly playing Liecester University with The Spencer Davis Group the very week they topped the charts with 'Gimmie Some Lovin'.

Unfortunately though, with a non-materialising record deal, a cancelled European Tour and finding out we were being conned over gig monies, we abruptly left JP at Christmas time 1966, skint, but with great memories! (There should be mention of us as The Dimensions on the Brumbeat website www.brumbeat.net as I've sent all details but as yet their webmaster John hasn't updated the site since October last)

Back home, the four of us from the original Puzzle never played together again, but The Puzzle were quickly reformed as Steve and I teamed up with Brian Cochrane (singer) and Johnny Wrigley (drums), Paul Smith on sax joined us briefly but moved on and afterwards we were joined for a while by Kevin Bowden.

I remember briefly meeting up with him in Portsmouth around the early seventies when he was in Alvin Stardust's band.


The Puzzle 1967-69

As already on Manchesterbeat, The Puzzle then lasted a good couple years and as all Manchester bands did, we gigged all over the city and surrounding areas and further afield - amazingly Colwyn Bay again - Chester/North Wales, Sheffield and upto Workington once, I further recall.

In late 1968 I wrapped it all in and joined the Royal Navy in early 1969.

The band certainly kept going with another bass player, but I was long gone travelling the world by then, so am unable to complete the rest of The Puzzle's bio.

Click here for info on later The Puzzle

Finally, as already accounted for on The Puzzle page, Steve Bolton went on to be with Atomic Rooster and was with Paul Young at the height of his career in the 80s and further played with The Who on their 25th anniversary tour etc. (see full bio on Steve on www.angelfire.com/ar2/vincentcrane/steve.htm

Alan Stone
6/2/09

 

 
All suited up, Steve doesn't look to impressed with the choice of music!

Above: John Richardson - some people may just remember the pullover, it was like a wasp!

left: Alan and John


 
Steve Bolton and John Richardson (circa 2005)
 

The text explains what is already referred to on The Modrox section of Manchesterbeat as a PR stunt by our then manager Dave Cunningham in us becoming a limited company.

When this was re-published in 1999, John Richardson (lead guitarist) took on the quest of trying to trace us all. It took a while, but he eventually found me over in Yorkshire and after a phone call to our old sax player from The Puzzle, Paul Smith, who I had kept in touch with for years, we traced Steve in London and the three of us (John, Steve, me), met up for a 'reunion' at my photography studio here in Leeds, amongst other things, we came up with the great idea of re-shooting the two shots of us, which were taken in Royton Park on Rochdale Road, Royton which was literally opposite where I used to live with my parents in those days.

The Oldham Chronicle thought this to be a great idea and were prepared to re-shoot the shots and do a 'where are they now' type update on us, amazingly enough it took us months to trace Mick Green our old drummer which we finally did, in of all places, Shaw near Oldham. John and I met up with Mick in the Waggon and Horses in Shaw, (as yer do), for a few pints and he was quickly up for doing the re-shoot.

However, we struggled to get it all on mainly because Steve was committed to trips and gigs both over here in the UK and in the States. Many a month passed and then out of the blue Mick sadly died suddenly in 2000 which of course meant the re-shoot etc., could never be completed. A sad end.

 

 

 

 



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