Paradise
Stockport

Info courtesy Steve Collins

Line-up included
   
John Kitchen vocals
Bob Lee guitar
Steve Collins drums
Graham Braddock bass
   

This story follows on from Nottingham Green

With the increased number of gigs and, obviously, increasing travel a new van became essential and we purchased a double wheeled, long base transit van.

The van had lots of writing on it, groupies etc, really sexual stuff, and we loved it.

Dave Hague was usualy knackered from driving up and down the country and packing up gear after the gigs so rarely joined in, he kept away from joints and drink when we were on the road, due to always being stopped by the cops to search the van for drugs, or "drink driving". We only used them occassionaly anyway " GOOD BOYS" 

New Clothes
We were kitted out with new flash togs. care of George Best’s Boutique, Bridge Street, Manchester.

The band bought three lace shirts, one each in red, white and black and black pants and we were served in the shop that day by George Best and his wife.

A great DJ and friend, George, who helped us immensely to promote Paradise in youth clubs and church halls around the Preston and Blackpool area.

DJ George had one of the biggest set-ups, speakers and equipment, that we’d ever seen, plus two assistants. In my experience,

DJs don’t usually like bands and vice versa and it’s always a fight for stage space. However, George loved the band and we loved him.

Paradise did a great gig with DJ George one year just before Christmas and we said to him, “what’s with the silly hat?” and he took his hat off and showed us he was bald as a coot. Poor old George told us he woke up one morning with literally all his hair on the pillow. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! He had alopecia. What a shame.

The promotional photo ( right) was taken by Frank of Shutterbug Studios, Deansgate in Manchester. Frank insisted the photos were done in black and white and, for some unknown reason, placed me in the middle and people then assumed I was the singer. It was a great photo session.

Bev and Sue ran the band's fan club. Fan mail was delivered to our flat in Heaton Moor, Stockport. Bev and Sue would reply to them and the band would just sign photos etc.

Some of the girl fans came to the flat occassionaly, usualy at weekends, but we had to be careful, we told Bev and Sue we were away on those weekends because me and John were going out with them at the time ( NAUGHTY )

Dave Hague decided we needed a second roadie. Sue Marshall’s cousin was dating a guy called Barry who really wanted the job, and he got it. He was a really nice guy, thin as a rake and wore a French beret. The beret trademark won him the nickname Barry from Paris, more poetically became and stuck with Barry from Parry.

Barry used to play and sing Uriah Heap and Spooky Tooth records in the van. Barry and Dave built a wooden console which was placed at the back of gigs and worked all the equipment.

This section is based on the low cost demo EP disc the band did, it was poor quality. The producer was ex guitarist with Freddie and the Dreamers and wore a very obvious blonde wig. They were good songs penned by the singer, John. The songs were as follows:-

  • Freedom
  • All Come Together
  • Scorched Earth (fades out on the drum fills – Nice!)
  • Spider and the Fly

Opportunity Knocks
I don’t really remember how it actually came about but suddenly Paradise had a date to audition for the TV talent show, Opportunity Knocks, in Manchester. There was no Hughie Green, just a Jewish woman and a gay guy on the panel of judges.

Every time we fired up, three times, the judges complained we were too loud. Eventually the volume levels ended up so ridiculously low we were asked to leave the stage.

We were followed by an awful, awful cabaret band who were twice as loud as we had been. The band was called Candlewick Green who went on to win the show for three weeks and have a hit record.

The Smokie Story
Paradise often played equal billing gigs with a band called Kindness, as they were called then. They looked great and could sing better than Paradise but they couldn’t play better than us. Kindness, from Frodsham in Yorkshire, had a great following. I remember being in a dressing room with Kindness before a gig and they were telling us all their money was going into recording songs. At the time we just thought great but nothing more of it until we saw them later on Top of the Pops with hit after hit under the new name of Smokie. I last saw and played with them at a pub in Blackpool called Jenks Bar whilst on honeymoon with my first wife, Lynn. I had a great night. Later, Lynn, realized just who they were when they became famous and on TV.

Smokie (nee Kindness) also shared the a lot of the same groupies with Paradise.

Dave Hague Tale
One night driving back home from a gig in the north east in the early hours of the following morning, Dave Hague fell asleep at the wheel. The van crashed, luckily for us, into a small tree. With steam pumping out if the van’s radiator, in the snow, Dave lost the plot and started picking up broken branches as the police arrived but let us off without charge.

I was in the back of the van and on impact, the van’s front double seat lifted up and came back down on my legs with the added weight of three of the band sat on it. My legs really swelled up and I had to be taken to Stockport Hospital. The nursing staff had to cut off my gorgeous, knee length suede boots and kept me in overnight. After two days in hospital x-ray showed a fracture but not broken and I was allowed home. My dad used to carry me to the bathroom.

One day the singer, John, rang me with a very important gig for the coming Friday with Kindness/Smokie at Frodsham Youth Club. I had to decline as I was unable to walk, never mind play drums. There followed phone call after phone call and I eventually agreed to do the gig but Dave Hague had to carry me onto the stage. I had to play with no feet, so no bass drums. It was awful and Smokie really felt sorry for me but we still got a great reception from the audience and a great night. It was a very busy dressing room.

Here’s a couple of Paradise memories I couldn’t leave out ...

The band regularly played a fantastic venue, in the middle of nowhere in Seahouses, Northumberland. It had a ballroom, two bars and a restaurant. Many famous chart bands played there almost every week and Paradise supported them.

When we supported the Troggs and the singer, Reg Presley, took us into the restaurant for a meal.

The Troggs had just returned from America and he told us some fantastic tales. One in particular, was about the band going to a famous groupies mansion, ‘Cynthia the Plastercaster of Chicago’ to see all these phallic symbols displayed across her mantelpiece. These were plaster casts of famous pop and rock star penis’ and Reg added his to her collection.

 

One of the venues Paradise played in the North East was the Coatham Hotel in Redcar. One night we shared equal billing with a local band called Government, featuring singer David Coverdale. On the night of the gig, Government’s drummer had disappeared so they asked me to do the soundcheck for them in his absence. It was a night of nights! Paradise came off stage at the end of the night and later at the bar, David Coverdale told me he’d recently seen Led Zeppelin in London and that he thought I had just performed a better drum solo than John Bonhams. I laughed profusely because I couldn’t believe what he was telling me but he really did mean what he said. No way, I thought! Better than genius and god John Henry Bonham. Sorry I lost touch with David Coverdale - missed him as a friend and the proverbial boat, yet again. Who knows? Mr Coverdale wore glasses and you can see the rim marks on his nose on some of his rock videos.

Happy Days. Forever Paradise!

After four and a half years, the band became tired and disillusioned and singer, John, grew increasingly peculiar and fell out with all the band’s agents. Eventually, Paradise called it a day. We briefly reformed to try a horror show act which didn’t work and we couldn’t get anyone to back us. RIP Paradise!

Steve Collins




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