Wednesday, 1 July 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB JULY 2020. Mrs Bobs back. SHOCK NEWS! BOB buys his first pedal!! Marshall Bluesbreaker2 Overdrive.

Hello World, Turkmenistan, Chums, Brummies, Story tellers and incence smellers.  
Gather round whilst I regale you with things you never knew you needed to know but before that HELLO Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia, a couple more countries with regular readers who I have forgotten to mention.  Have a great day you guys!!!

Mrs Bob is back in the house, hooray! It was nice to see her pass me  in the hallway as she went up to her bedroom to self isolate for 14 days.   I can tell she's happy to see me because shes started to chant "I cant wait to get my hands on you" and lately it's become  'mantra like' so I've passed her some incense sticks under the door to enhance her spirit.  I cant wait for her to be more ready meals eh?

Joking apart, I sincerely hope that all of you of "the Brumbeat age" are well and have been unaffected by the horrid virus.   My condolences go out to those who may have suffered.   It certainly makes you more aware of how fragile we are and just how quickly someone can be taken from you so please be extra thoughtful to do something special for the someone you love whenever you can.   Time is fragile. 

Following Turkmenistans continued large readership, I've been doing a bit of research with a view to playing to a sell out crowd there.   
I'm pleased to announce that I have discovered that the President of the country is also it's best selling Rock star, Rapper and DJ.     Just say the word Mr President and I'll get the band pumped up and ready for action to come and lay down some serious hard blues rock to get the crowd leaping Turkmen Style.  Normal Rider applies,  Hotel Suite overlooking the city, lashings of good food, heady perfumes being wafted around by veiled Turkmen beauties and a bit of dosh!

Thats just how easy it is to get  Me and the Boogie Band.   I love to Rock, Relax and be heady in a place I've never been to, and I have travelled the world my friends.

In the days before Venue Sound Rigs and large PA band systems we turned up for gigs with our 30 watt amplifiers, 50 watt, 4 input PA, solely for the vocals which we would normally balance on chairs and a drummer who could keep time well, if you were lucky, if they couldn't you could try  turning up and drowning him out until he catches up again.
There were no such things as "guitar rigs" but at the time mine consisted of instrument plus lead, strap and case and an obligatory EL34 valve.  As I gained in expertise and experience I played in a better band with a back line of Park amplification provided and as I was earning more dosh I made a major upgrade to my " Rig" by buying a second guitar and more than one set of strings.  That was it, there was nothing else gimmicky until the Watkins copycat came along, the first one being purchased by Johnny Kidd and The Pirates from Charlie Watkins shop.   

Some of us heavier guitar players learned early, the importance of playing close to your amp and thereby balance your Pick-up to amp sound, on the edge of "feedback" to get the rough edge and sustain that soon became 'the' sound of rock especially with the introduction, to the public ear, of "Satisfaction" with
Keith Richard's early distortion pedal.    
In no time at all, distortion devices became cheaply available and, indeed I bought one myself but found its use to be limited in that, you couldn't use much volume with it.  For the Stones live gigs Keith Richards overcame that by being able to switch between two separate amplifiers during the performance, its sound change is recognisable by its clunky, early tech during early shows.  There are some Youtube clips available.
Anyway I gave up using mine straight away and, apart from trying out a wah wah in 67, by which time I was playing through a load more speakers and greater volume.   I hated its gimmicky duck sound, Roy Wood used the wah-wah a lot during The Move's time.    I have never used a pedal on stage.   

In my band, effect pedals are banned.  If you have reverb and or Tremelo as part of your basic amp build they are perfectly ok to use, just not something you need to "engage", that costs more than your instrument, or needs a degree to set it up.   We are loud and I still embrace the close amp proximity style if I can which is fine for medium sized gigs but you lose that close relationship with your guitar once you hit the bigger stages and you look stupid standing next to a 30 watt amp in the middle of a big stage, or more importantly, the intimate venues where you can't use that volume without blasting your audience to pieces.  I don't like intimate venues by choice but sometimes the best gigs happens in small places!

I said to a mate that perhaps I should now drop the volume a tad and venture into the purchase of an Overdrive pedal to be more audience-friendly after playing at The Duck and Crumpet where the local rag, The Bilston Free Ads, Entertainments Review section stated we were "Rocks answer to an enema (I think they meant to say "enemy") and that we emptied the capacity 16 seater of The Dumpet faster than Weasel Poo.   

That conversation with my mate spread like wildfire amongst the local musos "Bob has Come Out! and is going to buy a pedal". That was in February. Assisted by the lockdown, and a stubborn streak that has lasted for 55 years I have gradually overcome my shame and moreover, my fear of actually owning one for several months but I have now bought, through , a cheap and battered Marshall Bluesbreaker2 foot pedal and its coming to me through the post as I write.  Nothing in life is guaranteed so if it's bad Karma it won't arrive.     I have a friend of a friend who said that it was the best pedal he had bought for a little money.  Well that was good enough for me but unfortunately they stopped production so new models weren't an option.  I thought they would be cheap but was shocked to find some people selling them for silly money, totally inflated.    I won the auction, paying 22 pounds.  Not bad.

Ha!  Karma indeed, it has just arrived 30 Jun.   It is used, has obvious signs of use which is what I expected and was described perfectly by the seller, highlighting a missing rubber mat underneath which is easily repaired with a bit of old car mat.  I popped in a 9v battery and off we went.   It does what it does well, its foolproof technically, its build is superb,  almost tank-like which is highly impressive for this old soldier.

I still sound like I sound, only quieter.   It has its place in the world and I am happy with the purchase and with the obvious quality of the pedal.    I can see its attraction to those who havent been through the old fashioned method of feedback control.  There is sustain aplenty for those who want it, I used just enough effect to make it dirty and it worked well.   So thanks to my mate and his mate too for advising me.  I have no desire for other things to make me sound different, this is what I class as a Consideration for others Pedal and I'm pleased I took the plunge....eventually.

Well the worlds going through a rough patch at the moment in every direction
I dont want to be another Joe with another opinion so I'm giving it all a slip in the hope that Common Sense will prevail and we will rid the world of traitors, racists, corporate greed and warmongers.     I bet none of the above have a Marshal Foot Pedal, wankers........

Take Care of Each Other



Monday, 1 June 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB Jun 2020. Hello Turkmenistan!! THE FABULOUS LITTLE RICHARD. Danny Gallagher - Frosty Moses interview. WORLD EXCLUSIVE Mrs Bob lock-down Photos.

Hi Brummies, Brumbeat survivors, Musos, Blues freaks and, Ladies and Gentlemen.. the nation of Turkmenistan!!

"Hello Turkmenistan ...Bloguma hos geldiniz".   It's nice to add another country to the BHBob readership.  Fantastic, spreading the word about old Brummies and the greatest music adventures ever during the days of Brumbeat, the 60's.  I've been "Big in Japan", having entered the charts there in 2004 so maybe I could be "Terrific in Turkmenistan" next?  it could be a future gig for me and The Boogie Band?  Dramatic backdrop or what?

Well, he's Gone man, Real Gone.   
The incredible, rockinest human on the planet, larger than life and physically larger than his Stage name implied.    I was a 7 year old when I first heard him on our wind-up 78 rpm record player and was hooked from that moment on, I'd never heard those falsetto Ooohs sung in such a full throated manner before in music, words came out of his mouth like bazooka rounds, blatting against your ear drums.   Not a bit like the clean country sound of "Rock Around Clock" for example, Little Richards harshness, shouting out the lyrics was accentuating the rebelliousness of the day.   

This man was a vocal giant.  This man was a piano great.  This man wrote outrageous songs that, had the censors of the day realised just what he was singing about, would have had him banned everywhere around the world, such were the social standards of those days.   He did all that and he was Black and Gay!!!!!!  Never was there such a thing, he couldn't get a hit himself in America but the pretty, cissy,  all American white pop stars of the day like Pat Boone sang, devoid of soul, or knowledge that"Tutti Frutti" was a song about oral sex.  Even now the thought of it makes me smile.  Early on in the 50's Little Richard was better known and appreciated in the UK where a black person didn't get treated like they did in the USA, there was no segregation. So his records sold well here.  From the moment I got my hands on a guitar I learned his songs first.

He was one of the acts featured in the film "The Girl Cant Help It" and there wasn't a better sight than him rocking out with his band.

The Beatles played some gigs with him too, in the UK and Germany with Paul McCartney saying that he was taught how to do those high Oooooo's by him.  John Lennon has always said 
that he was the greatest of the Rock and Roll singers.

In 1964, as The Beatles were ascending to Mega stardom
and Rock and Roll music was in its decline, the BBC put on a "Special" show "Its Little Richard" backed by The Shirelles and British band, Sounds Incorporated.   Little Richard walked onto the stage and put on a show that has become legend in the Rock world.   I was now 15 and I saw what it could be like if I upped my game and performed with the same enthusiasm and rocket powered energy that he displayed that night, it wasn't just about the music, it was showmanship and I didn't know a man could sweat that much and not collapse, he was unstoppable and the crowd were HIS!.
He shone brightly for years and then, as with everything, music style changed and he became one of the "old rockers" but once upon a time he was the innovator, the inspiration, the grandest professor of stage performance with a plethora of hungry students trying to follow in his footsteps.      You know, I could quite confidently say that probably every band from the 50's right through to at least 65, played at least one of his songs.
In 1968 there was a short Rock and Roll Revival going on in the charts and he shone again!! He has always been around though, playing and telling everyone HOW GREAT I AM!!   I taught The Beatles everything they know!

I was chatting recently to old friend Brian Gregg, Bassist and British Rock and Roll Icon ( Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Eden Kane, Terry Dene, Billy Fury, The Tornadoes and many more and if that wasn't enough, the co writer of Shakin All Over).   He told me the following story about his meeting with Little Richard.

" I went to the Apollo to see my mate Mickie Most, I was standing in the wings of the stage watching The Everly Brothers when Little Richard came and stood beside me and asked me if Buckingham Palace was close to the theatre, I told him it was about a mile away and he said he was going to see it after the show.  There was a young kid sat outside Mickie's dressing room with a shiny new guitar "That's nice" I said, "Yes, I've just got it" he replied, "Are you learning how to play then?" He replied "No" and said that he was in Little Richard's Band.   I read some years later that the guitarist in Little Richard's band that year was Jimi Hendrix. 
In 2004, I was taking part in the 10th Anniversary Eddie Cochrane Show in Chippenham which also featured Little Richard in the line up.   I spoke to him and told him we had met in 1963 and said that I'd talked to his young guitarist at the time and asked him if it was Jimi.  Little Richard said "Yes it was Hendrix.....everything he knows he got from me!!".  I remember thinking to myself "Well I dont know about that??"  Brian G.

It doesn't really mean anything significant, Hendrix was a jobbing musician at the time playing with many different people, however, I imagine that plenty of Little Richards showmanship rubbed off on him later on, as did Otis Rush with his stage moves and guitaristry.    There couldn't have been 2 better teachers to learn from.
One of the great joys of writing this blog is getting people together and such was the case when I put Heavy Metal writer Rob Horrocks in touch with Frosty Moses bass player Danny Gallagher 11 years ago. Rob interviewed him for an article.
Danny sadly passed away a couple of years ago  Rob contacted me to say he still had the audio interview on CD and offered to pass it on, courtesy of the internet, into the hands of Danny's son Leon last month.   I knew Danny in our early youth and boy we had some fun, beautiful Irish warmth to the man!!   I learned from him everything that was bad for me too.
For those of you Brummies who like your music delivered by steam roller
Rob Horrocks can be found at his new website.  Click on the Link  WWW.HEAVYTOURISM.COM

Phil May (75), frontman for the Pretty Things has sadly passed away following complications after hip surgery.    In Birmingham in 1965/6 one of the best gigs of the day was in the cellars of the Siver Beat Club which is now where The Ramp is.   The gig was packed out to see the promoters inventive line up of The Pretty Things Vs The Uglys.   

A nice little competitive night not only musically but also London Vs Birmingham.   Everyone won that night, two great bands and an enthusiastic audience.   

I have received more than a couple of emails enquiring about Mrs Bob's unfortunate lock-out I mentioned in last month's blog.    Mrs Bob is managing well but alas, she's still stuck out in the garden shed.  It's amazing how she has coped since not making it into the house on 'lock down' day.  I had received a letter from Boris saying I had to stay indoors and not have any visitors...even family!     By day I've been watching her pottering about in the flower borders, well when I say pottering I think she's been thinning-out some of the flowers and do you know?  I never knew a person could eat such a variety of blooms, she appears to be doing well on it though, apart from a slight yellowing of her skin after the Nasturtiums disappeared one day.    

She has been keeping herself active though and has recently become interested in sprinting and isn't doing bad for a 69 year old.
I became aware of her new love of running everytime I opened the door to let the cat out.  Half running, half stumbling at first, she would set off from wherever she was in the garden towards me, arms outstretched, but it was clear she was out of practice.   She mastered jumping over the cat after taking some real falls, one of them being the sort that makes you say Ohhh! out loud.  I gave her a round of applause through the window as she pulled some gravel out of her chin after that one, I'm sure I must have kept her spirits up.
I think her wellies were proving to be a bit of an impediment to her straight line speed
and that was an issue I could help with!  Being a "new man" I like to support her new found sporting hobby so firstly, to give her a hint about time improvement without being condescending, I sellotaped the four principles of aerodynamics to the cat and as a further aid to stamina training and as a bit of an encouragement for her, I wait until she is at the very bottom of the garden then I step out of the back door to take a well deserved breath of fresh air and at the same time, give her a wave and a brief opportunity to actually see me in the flesh, happy, and eating a bacon sandwich.  

Fuck me, she can run!!!.  

She hasn't quite made it to the rapidly closing back door yet but I have faith that she'll do it pretty soon.   She tries to encourage me to join in by carrying a baton even though she knows my running days are over. 
She also keeps shouting something about me coming from Kent but all those years stood in front of a Park 100watt stack means I can't hear her too well through the double glazing. 

Sadly, we don't have outdoor lighting either so it can a bit scary at night for me when she suddenly feels appears out of the gloom, scratching at the window like Danny Glick but Rules is Rules.   

I managed to take some photos of one of her runs in stages so you can see how she's doing.  In Pic 1 she spots me and goes for the standing start, she hasn't caught the cat yet so aerodynamics are still her main problem as can be clearly seen in Pic 2 by the way her wellies are flexing and in Pic 3 she suffers total loss of downforce.

2 metres from the door.

Ok, Take Care all you folks in Covidville.
and Look after the One you Love


Copyright:  BullsheadBob

Thursday, 30 April 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB May 2020. Rare Guitar Solo!!! The Band..documentary. Robert Plant...what a good man.

Howdoo you Brummies,

I won't bother going into whys' and wherefores of the virus thingy, suffice to say that Mrs Bob and I have been secluded in our humble abode thanking our lucky stars for what we have had and have enjoyed throughout our life together, being locked down does nothing to dent that because we have been joined at the hip for 48 years and dont need anyone else, and I dont need to go out to make me happy.    When the lockdown was announced, I being one who takes notice of Goverment Orders shut the doors straight away "I WILL OBEY AND SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE, NO EXCEPTIONS".   
If only Mrs Bob had heard that same radio announcement whilst she was in the backyard!   She was up to her armpits in raw sewage following a blockage occasioned by too much Guiness over a 3 day period.  She had to choose that precise moment of the broadcast to pop her head into the drain cover for a closer look, how could she be expected to have heard it?  She couldn't have possibly made it indoors by the time I'd locked up. 

After I'd given her a good telling off for not being alert in times of emergencies I passed her my best sleeping bag and a gorilla mask I'd been given by one of The Bobettes for Christmas, out of the window, just in time for her to get out of the cold rain and into the shed.  That was 3 weeks ago, I see her now and then, particularly in the dark, creeping around the garden looking for food and hiding from the Police.  What really pisses me off though is that the drain is still blocked!!  Still,  dont worry about me, I've found a large bucket.
As I have some time on my hands, gig wise, I started writing out a new set list of songs from my past that I hadn't played before with the band, or in some cases, ever!    When I was a sprog I knew all the Shadows tunes mainly because, in those early days I didn't sing and had no desire to either.   However, I soon realised that if you sang a romantic song you became more popular with the girls, it spurred me on to open me gob hole more often, so bollocks to guitar solos I thought.

I mastered the art of harmonising and always sang the top harmony on our string of Everly Brothers songs like "Let it be Me".  A guaranteed tear jerker for the young girls at The Mermaid, Sparkhill or some youth club in Gornal, my name would be written in lipstick on the van with hearts and kisses.....Let it be ME!!!   

I guess the top song for me then, that included some vocals and a guitar solo was the 1958 song "Move it" by Cliff Richards, the best Rock song by a British artist pre "Shakin All Over" a couple of years later   So I wrote Move It down on the set list which made think of other Cliff songs, during his early years till I got to1962,
"It'll be Me", a Jerry Lee Lewis cover but with a much more fiery arrangement.   I'd forgotten all about that one, a fine song although the lyrics are a bit stupid at times I crossed Move It off the list.    I then read a bit more about the song and discovered to my amazement that the guitar solo had been played by Bruce Welch!!    What?? Bruce Welch?  The rhythm king.    

The solo is not really worth mentioning in the context of Rock musicality but I was amazed why not Hank?  I still don't know why, perhaps one of you guys could help with he answer to that?

I spent time scouring social media looking for a clip of them playing the song and the only one I found had Hank doing the duties.   It's not a world changing event but it is one for the pop quizzers amongst you.

THE BAND documentary.
From the earliest rock and pop to the latter end of the 60's and we arrive at probably the best band of that decade The Band.   From Bob Dylans backing group to massive stardom in their own right,  "Music from the Big Pink" being idolised by a host of musicians including Eric Clapton who flew to Woodstock with the intention of trying to join the group.

Their second album "The Band Played On" is and was the best release they had and would have been hard to better.  It was probably the first themed album based on the
difficult days of rural America and particularly the Southern states.    The Bands main songwriter Robbie Robertson was Canadian and had no knowledge of those days but having a sidekick like drummer and main vocalist Levon Helm who had lived through those difficult times, was like an awakening and he shared events that gave ideas, truth and inspiration to the music with which they scored such a massive success.   The archetypical Classic Album.   There wasn't, in truth, much more to come from the group and their later Albums didn't set the world on fire.  They were just individual songs lacking reality.

Well The Band broke up with a farewell concert and documentary "The Last Waltz" where Robertson stated that they couldn't continue because "they were a casualty of being on the road".   

Robertson released a solo album and went back out on the road on his own.   

Many years of hurt then followed with Levon protesting that all the royalties for that classic album, largely inspired and narrated by Helm, went to Robertson and he got
nothing.    Something he had an artistic right to complain about but was never recompensed, sadly Levon, the brightest star of that group passed away a few years ago,
So, now there is another documentary about The Band except it is now called "Once were Brothers" - Robbie Robertson AND The Band.   I imagine that Robertson timed this  to make his excuses without the worry of being contradicted from the former members that have now passed on with the exception of Garth Hudson.    I have no intention of seeing it..  

The title in itself is sufficient to show what a cowardly, ego soaked tit, Robertson is.

I want to give Robert a thankyou for his personal help in his neighbourhood
during this lockdown.   Heros dont need publicity.
As if by magic I just saw that Planty and Co did a version of "It'll be Me".  How the wheels turn.....

We will be back on the streets soon enough if we all pull together.  Keep Safe
Especially you Brumbeat musicians.


Copyright BullsHeadBob

Friday, 3 April 2020


Hello Playmates, Brummies, Mates Abroad especially in Spain right now,

"The blog's late","Where are you Bob?" "What no blog?"..... thankyou for your emails!!  Yes the blog is late.  It has nothing to do with the virus, I'm glad to say.   I would like to say that it's late because I've been busy recording with McCartney on a new project called 'I Wish I was Bob".   Mmmm, no that's a lie.   It's very boring but I'm afraid to say that 4 days ago whilst getting up out of my chair my back went wonky, just like that.   " "Ah young Bob, you have Wonky back" said the Dr.     So, since then I have been flat on my wonky back waiting for it to get better.  I am still in that position today and right now I am typing this on a tablet suspended above me.  Not the best thing but I always try to get the blog done no matter what!

Billy Fury was probably the most exciting of the 50's Rock Stars, he must have been the greatest because my Dad used to say he was "filthy" and "scum". Probably like the parents attitude to the Sex Pistols during the punk days.  Anything that pushed against the staid moral principles and attitudes of those early days of R and R, bearing in mind that in those days too it was considered unlady-like for a female to whistle in public, how funny.    I bought his LP The Sound of Fury which I still have and like a lot.  It never occurred to me then what a ground breaking achievement he had made by getting an LP made full of his own material, something that never happened back then.   Quite incredible.    I met Billy Fury on a couple of occasions when we were on the same bill  and he was a really nice guy, sexy, charismatic and good looking.  

I have mentioned this before but wanted to bring to your attention the book 'Halfway to Paradise' by the great partnership of Brummies David and Caroline Stafford who give us the fine detail of this great Rockers life.   Highly recommended read to pass some time away these days.

So, Mr Dylan has released a new single "Murder Most Foul" as a way of thanking his loyal Fans who have followed him for all these years, its 17 minutes long about the death of JFK or should I say his thoughts on the death of JFK.   Bob Dylan has written wondrous songs crafted and considered, forged out of torment and disappointment with society or soul searching to explain his lost love for the various women who have passed through his life which, in turn, we have adopted as unwritten diary entries in our own existence, our special song that we play endlessly in our times of melancholy.   "North Country Fair"  or "Just Like a Woman" for example.      

I am somewhat perplexed at Murder Most Foul in many ways.  The Press announced it as his first original song in 8 years, but read on a little and you find it's something he wrote 'some time ago' and it sounds like it too.   To me it sounds like he recorded an idea for a song that he might return to another day when he would either consider its potential merits of just dump it.  The backing is demo quality, no melody line to speak of and the lyrics are dolloped out like cold porridge.   

I think its mediocre at best, no I don't,  I think its rubbish.  How this can be considered as a gift to his fans escapes me? perhaps he doesn't like his fans too much and is fed up with the constant questions about what a certain line "really means". There is no ambiguity here, it's simple text.  A mate said that it's full of code and needs interpretation.  I think it's full of shit and with all that's wrong with the world today I simply don't want to waste my precious time on it.......  it will probably feature in Steve Gibbons set list which will give you time to take a nap.

There are songs that disappear into the past then, all of a sudden, pop into your head and you think how good it was and one of those for me is "That's What I want" by The Marauders.

The Marauders hailed from Stoke on Trent and were lucky to get this early Carter/Lewis song to record which was a minor hit, reaching 43 on the charts of 1963.
It was really perfect for the times and its production by Peter Attwood and arranger Mike Leander was superb, even now it sounds good especially the bass and drum sound.  A medium paced rocker, this would gave been a massive hit had it been recorded by The Searchers for example.   It is probably one of the first records to feature a 12 string guitar albeit an acoustic and the hook line of the chorus Thats What I Want is punchy and memorable.

There were great groups around the Midlands but at that time everyone was focussed on the bands coming out of Liverpool courtesy of the Fabs which unfortunately had a diminishing effect for the midlanders.  They had three more releases and called it a day in 65.  There were so many bands then that you had to be very lucky, have a brilliant agent or exceptional talent to get recognised and unfortunately it just wasnt their time.  Give it a listen.

We old brumbeaters are in the danger zone, age wise, from this terrible virus and no doubt some aren't going to make it through this thing, including me   However we can all do things to lessen that possibility by being sensible, you all know about the distancing and particularly remaining indoors etc so I wont harp on about it but I think constantly about the musicians that I knew and loved back in the 60s in Birmingham and I hope that I have been able to highlight some of those bands who otherwise might not have not got a mention at all.    I wish you all well for the future.

I received a phone call, late at night, a couple of days ago from a dear friend who had been on the same musical adventures with me right from our school days.  We had both struggled, coming from financially poor families.   He phoned to say he was now getting short of breath and was close to death and wanted to take the opportunity to thank me for being a friend and for doing some things for him in the past.  He didn't sound breathless though so the next day I asked another mate to check on him.
It turned out he had suffered an attack of Jamesons disease, the whole bottle in fact, this had been aided by that rarest of infections, Boddingtonsitis.    Luckily for us both he has made a total recovery, I'm glad he's still alive and treasure the fact that he had called me to say goodbye, a true friend indeed.

Sorry there are no images in this blog, just too difficult to do on yer back!!

Take Care out there, I promise I shall be doing my best to stay alive too!



Copyright: BullsheadBob

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Bulls Head Bob Mar 2020 - GROUP INSTRUMENTALS OF THE 60's, not adapted by Jeff Lynne.

Howdeedoo Maties,

Well we've had some weather haven't we?   you watch, in a couple of months they'll announce a hose pipe ban.   Of course if the water companies hadn't stolen all the natural water to make more money then the old rivers wouldn't have silted and dried up everywhere which, in turn would have permitted the massive downpours we have suffered to flow through the river systems and out to sea.    It's not simply climate change, its unending greed and million pound bonuses for the fat cats who have created a lot of the damage.  When I was a kid you could swim in the River Cole now you'd be lucky to see any water in it at all.   But those were better, honest times.

Once in a while there are instrumental records that get into your head and then the charts and don't leave for a while, however, in the 60's there were more instrumentals in the charts than at any other decade.  It's probably because of the electrification of guitars which had become the instrument of the youth of the day.  The Shadows had their first hit with Apache in 1960, I read recently that they were the first "proto-surf rock band" whatever that means.  I would argue that, as we Brits didn't surf in the 60's let alone swim in the freezing cold waters of GB except for the last week of July and first week of August,
that assumption is a tad wide of the mark.    Nonetheless The Shads were our "go to" band for instrumentals. The surf assumption is probably based on the fact that US act Santo and Johnny's "Sleepwalk" (1959) was played on the pedal steel guitar which of course had that Hawaian feel and Hank was the master of  the tremelo making his Strat sound like a hawaian guitar.

There were many orchestral instrumentals from films and TV series that I wont count in this blog and I'm only counting hits by Groups here and although there were many more, these are the ones that really stood out for me.

Newly formed groups were beginning to widen their horizons musically and of course every group had their own version of Hank Marvin who would be busting at the gills to show how good he was and attract a few of the girls in the audience, so there was a hunt to find your own piece of music to transform into an instrumental with a beat. 

One of the first of those that attracted my and many others attention was a record by Nero and The Gladiators called "Entry of The Gladiators".  This band had been formed in London just after returning to the UK from Italy where two of them had been members of The Cabin Boys, backing Tommy Steeles brother Colin Hicks.  They wore gladiator clothing that they had bought from a sale of stage wear from the film Quo Vadis.

There was a follow up 45 too "Hall of the Mountain King" and Joe Moretti was bought in as lead guitarist, Moretti would later go on to play the solo on British rock anthem Shakin All Over.    I think we all played this instrumental, and not too long ago some guy wrote in announcing that it had been a young Jeff Lynne who had adapted it, that of course is plain Bollocks although Jeff probably believes he did. 

American guitarist Duane Eddy had preceded these bands by having an instrumental in the British charts as far back as 1958 with Rebel Rouser followed by The Peter Gunn Theme and specialised his tunes to be played on the lower strings of his guitar, normally a Gretsch Country Gent or something big and horrible.  I was not a fan.
They called him The Rebel Rouser but when I saw him live at The Cedar Club I said to myself that I shouldn't be predjudiced because he could be stupendous, after all he'd been around a long time but I thought he was average at best, he didn't Rouse any Rebel in me and was never one of my guitar heroes, his sax player was incredible though.   Eddy wasn't a guitarists guitarist by any means but I did realise his great value a little later in that because of the simplicity of the tunes he played a major role in encouraging those who were learning because of, at the end of a couple of hours practice, you couldn't play his tunes you were never gonna learn!  

Having said all that The Peter Gunn Theme written by Henry Mancini is still played by bands today including Mr Jeff Beck and occasionally me too when I'm playing to Bikers.  It is a dramatic tune to play and hypnotically heavy for a band to get into so perhaps I've been wrong about him all these years...well maybe just for this one tune, so thanks Duane.   He is still performing today!!

The Surfaris 1962
Now this was definitely "proto plasm surf dudeastic rock at its surfiest man"
I just loved this and so did every drummer on the scene as they featured so heavily in it with its surftastic pounding floor tom-tom throb.  The track opens with someone laughing and shouting "Wipe Out" then they let the drummer out of the cage and..whoosh! bedlam for 2.30 minutes.   The guitarists would have worked out a stage routine of holding their guitars at certain angles at the many breaks in the tune as was the way we did things then without a hint of embarrassment at all, after all, the girls would think you looked the part, Percy the Perfect Pop Star.

It became the opening song for the iconic Friday night rock show "Ready Steady Go", the weekend starts here, great stuff, full of youthful vitality.  The Surfaris looked like nerds.

Joe Meek became a household name along with The Tornadoes after releasing this Instrumental worldwide hit starting with whirling special sound effects and then feeding in the music through the whooshing and gurgling.  Written, imagined and recorded by Joe Meek this record flew up the charts both in the UK and the USA both reaching No1.   The clavioline was the featured instrument throughout the tune with a short bridge break on guitar.   It was considered something dynamically new in the sound field but the 1961 hit Runaway by Del Shannon had a clavioline playing the instrumental solo and no-one mentioned how revolutionary it was then.    

The Tornadoes were, in effect, Joe Meeks studio session musicians and included Clem Cattini and Alan Caddy, both original members of The Pirates.   The bass player Heinz was Meeks love interest and he promoted him as a solo act with the song "Just Like Eddy" he was replaced by Brian Gregg who was the third member of the original Pirates to hop on the Tornadoes satellite.

The Tornadoes made a good living for many years from this record.  Sadly Joe Meek killed himself.

1962 could be considered the zenith of Instrumental hits and this one was a
blast to play especially with the run down sequence on the guitar neck where you could pose like a local hero.   This hit had a great sound to it, rich and warm with hints of mechanical tremelo pulsating through the entire track as supplied by a Fender Rhodes piano. The middle eight bars were filled with brash guitar which changed the whole atmosphere before returning to the half note, two string riff.  I recall learning this at a practice with one of my early groups, we loved it.

It was a hit for American band, The Chantays who had the all-american boy appearance that made them all look around 30 years of age.   

I believe this band is still functioning at functions!!

B Bumble and The Stingers got us all rocking with this amazingly good instrumental "Nut Rocker" which was an adaptation of "Flight of the Bumble Bee" by Rimsky Korsakov.   Once again it was recorded by a trio of session men in Louisiana.  

It was a boogie woogie adaptation through and through.  It has been a real evergreen piece of music and was latterly recorded by Emerson Lake and Palmer.    They must have felt "In the Moog" for that hohoho.

It wasn't adapted by Jeff Lynne.

Not to be outdone, Birmingham group Second City Sound had a piano based minor hit with "Tchaikovsky One" in 1966. yet another reworking of a classical piece of work.
In 65 we were all playing a different style of music and I for one had no interest and never saw them live but they did have a couple of follow up singles.  This wasnt written by Jeff Lynne either.

There were many, many instrumental groups around, both in the UK and American with The Ventures being their big band.  However, they never reached the worldwide success of The Shadows, during the early sixties, during 61 to 63 they had 13 singles chart successes and two number one LPs. By far the best instrumental band of all time.   What finished that instrumental phenomenon was the arrival The Beatles in September 1962, once they arrived everything changed and instrumentals went out of the window, although the Fabs did record one instrumental for Magical Mystery Tour themselves and that was "Flying", a bit of a throw away tune really and not anything I rate.

I really believe that the amount of instrumentals through those early 60's years were the basis for the mammoth British guitarists who followed in the later 60's but had all been raised on a healthy diet of instrumentals with which they could hone their skills and Hank Marvin, the best of the best.   I was in the Shadows fan club and went to see them anytime I could.  It upsets me when Hank is berated by some pimply youth these days.  It all had to start somewhere and Hank was the man who did it, bearing in mind he was only 17 at the time of Apache, the worlds greatest group instrumental.

FINALLY...Not Adapted by Jeff Lynne
On the ELO website there is an article about Jeff Lynne suggesting that he adapted Tchaikovskys Swan Lake to a beat tune when in his teenage band The Andicaps in the 60's......once again absolute bollocks.  "Saturday Night at the Duckpond" was an instrumental by Bristol band The Cougars who adapted swan lake, the record was actually banned because music critics said it was "a travesty of a major classical work".  Jeff has indeed written some great songs but Mozart he aint.  Just to keep the record straight you understand?

OK guys, have a lovely weekend and hopefully March will be a beautiful month of spring flowers and the like, well, after the current storm has passed!
Take Care

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Saturday, 1 February 2020


Good Grief!

Hello world!!  

It would appear that I have upset some people around the world by not including them in my salutations from the opening paragraph of the last blog.  So as well as the other countries I mentioned already, I would like to say "hello maties" to New Zealand, Finland, Spain, France, Russia and Ukraine (Zdravstvuyte druz'ya), and lastly Argentina...Hola!  

A couple of months back I did a piece on a chance discovery by a friend, of a CD copy of Moody Blues R&B powerhouse bassist, Clint Walker's biography,"My Life, The Waltz", written under his real name of Albert Eccles. I asked if anyone could give it a good home and I would try to pass it on. 

So I'm pleased to say that my recent contact with Argentina was through an email from Joaquin Jovier, a fan of the blog, The Moody Blues and Brumbeat saying he has a collection of memorabilia and was in contact by email with Clint shortly before Clint's death... but never managed to get a copy of the autobiography.  He asked if I could send him a copy of the CD.   

I am not the owner of the disc in question and I don't want to get into into sending copies of anything out but
have contacted Bob Styler, all round good guy and Brumbeat musician who is currently performing with The Transporters, who has the disc and he has very kindly sent it to me to pass on to you. 

However, Joaquin, I have tried replying to your email but it appears that your email address doesn't accept replies so please try again with an address I can post this off to.  

I'm so pleased that this will be going to a fan of probably the best R&B group that came out of Birmingham in the 60's alongside The Spencer Davies Group. We were blessed in the Gritty City with hard music and soulful singers like Denny Laine and Steve Winwood who were just head and shoulders above the other vocalists of the day.  It was a fantastic music environment, bands in every pub and success waiting on every doorstep....or so we all thought.

More on that in the next blog maybe.
I bought myself a Christmas gift back in October, the incredibly affordable 12 string electric guitar from Harley Benton but, as it was for Christmas, I left it in its box unplayed till Christmas day.   

Harley Benton, the store brand of musical instrument mega store Thomann Germany, launched their budget guitars on the
market a couple of years back and no-one really took much notice of them, including me, after all its just a budget guitar for starters right?    Not quite, is my answer to that.   In certain cases they are more "creators of opportunity" for those who don't have thousands of pounds to spend.  In my case I wanted to own and play, if only for a couple of songs, an electric 12 String but other options start from around 450 up to 5000 pounds and I didn't feel comfortable with paying a lot for it but naturally wanted some quality for my money to boot!  My eyes first alighted on this particular Harley Benton whilst surfing the net one day and when I saw the price of 200 pounds I thought it was a misprint or probably the guitar would be unplayable and you got what you paid for.
However, I thought it was worth taking a gamble to buy this budget 12 string because after all, if it was no good for the stage I could use it just for recording purposes 
where the distinctive sound of an electric 12 string was needed.

I was mega pleased when I first opened the guitar box (which was not packed particularly well I have to add) because the guitar itself was immediately pleasing to the eye.  There is no hiding the fact that it looks very much like a Rickenbacker, a hollow body guitar, very light and although the headstock appears gigantic, in comparison to the small body, my fears of it being a "neck diver" were quickly diminished.   It is nicely balanced, has a neck action that was really beyond my expectations and was in tune and playable directly out of the box.   The overall finish was impressive with nice bindings around the body and the F sound hole too.  I played a solid Fender 12 string a couple of times in the 60's and this felt just the same.  This has a wider neck that a Ricky, thank goodness.

I had been prepared to be disappointed with making a cheap choice but found myself breaking into a nice smile as I started playing it.   The pick ups are good
and there is a reasonable tonal range from the tone pots themselves.   It doesn't have the exact Ricky Ring to it but enough to fulfil all my needs.  I shall be changing the cheap strings but nothing more.     

It did have a couple of tiny cosmetic blemishes but none that make any difference.  One particular cosmetic deficiency is that, if you look inside the F hole you can see traces of the varnish spray inside the guitar body, this recognised blemish features in most of the on line reviews so maybe in the future, if it becomes a trendy guitar one day, it will be a sign of authenticity.....stranger things have happened at sea!!

I don't have an answer to that because my precise need was catered for by this guitar which happened to be massive value for money, and it's a far better choice than buying direct from China, even though these guitars are made there, they are under licence to Thomann so at least there is some level of product control.   I wouldn't have looked at this brand of guitar to buy a principal instrument for stage use I have to say, but neither would I have looked for an Epiphone or a Squier Affinity.  I'm not "dissing" the brands, it's personal choice but it's really the beginners market that HB are at right now, however, they are producing better instruments further up the price range but essentially giving the beginners a good product for the price and that can't be bad can it?  They are the 60's Watkins Rapier of the day.

I think I have got a great deal for little money, the guitar does what it says for next to nothing in real terms.   So if you are a Beatles fan you could get so much enjoyment from duplicating the George Harrison sound without breaking the bank.   If you were willing to pay the extra Four Thousand Pounds to get a real Ricky I doubt you would be able to distinguish a big difference in a live band setting between the two guitars so you could protect your bank account and have some fun at the same time.

Now then The Byrds, "All I really Wanna Do".....
My mate said that playing a 12 string was the quickest way to empty a room!
another said "I bet you play "Stairway" in secret......Not a Chance!

VALENTINES DAY OK Its Valentine Day this month and being an old romantic I am taking Mrs Bob for a 46th wedding anniversary ROCK weekend break to Gibraltar!, "Oh you old softie Bob"....not really, its a lot cheaper than buying concert tickets these days.   I thought it would be interesting to be there on BREXIT Day.   So if you are reading this on publishing day, I will be "Your Brummie at the BREXIT Front".  

Be nice to the one you're with.....


Copyright Bulls Head Bob


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Bulls Head Bob Jan 2020 . Happy New Year. The tale of two Bobs, Bob on BOB WATKINS The Wild Cherries

Woo Hoo, Its 2020!

So firstly a Happy New Year to all you Brummies around the world, the regular readers of the Blog in the UK, USA, Japan, Australia, Germany, Holland, Canada, Africa and to my overseas Brumbeat mates and other friends too.

I played my first gig in 1960, I never thought I would be alive to see this year when I was a teenager.  Swingin Sixties, Die young and have a good looking corpse was my phrase of the day.  Live fast, explore the unknown, put yourself in bad company to see the other side of life.
So uninformed were we, it never occurred to me at all during my youth that in the music biz everyone around you wanted a piece of the action, to get a slice of the pie whether it be as a "friend" or whatever.  I guess that was the beauty of youth when musical ambition was greater than anything else at all....the top of the pile was to have a recording contract and see your name on a piece of vinyl "Where do I sign?".

It was a HUGE step up the ladder when you were in competition with so many good bands about in Birmingham during the 60's, the zenith in quantities of groups.

Well here I am now, turned 70.  That idea of a dead but good looking corpse
all disappeared and I now fully embrace the gargoyle look.   I've done all the recording stuff and tolerated unmerited egos which now are things that amuse me.  Gladly though, I am still playing and probably enjoying it all as much without having to go through all that teen angst, these days the punters marvel at how someone who should be in a grave is still stomping across the stage, outplaying most of the youthful musicians around.    Its a paradise, a dream I never knew could exist but am thankful for the privilege.   I doubt if I will be still at it at the beginning of the next decade but you never know.

Being in a band in a large city like Birmingham always started out with playing with people from your own school or area, in my case Hall Green.    Across the other side of the city were other like minded musical aspirants were struggling through the hours of practising The Shadows instrumentals, honing their skills on the new fangled electric guitars.    One of those people was:

Bob, a little older than I, was born in 45 and largely raised in "West Smethwick" as his mother insisted on calling it.  His musical journey started after seeing a skiffle group playing for the 6th form school Christmas party. 
He and some mates formed their own Skiffle Group and he was hooked. It didn't take long before electric guitars got into their hands and they gave themselves the name of The Sabres, and like hundreds of other kids would listen to The Shadows new instrumental, learn it in the afternoon and play it the same night in front of some youth club audience. 
Although young, us pioneers became adept at navigating the fretboard copying Hanks or Bruce or Jet Harris individual parts, learning and remembering melody lines and chord patterns and generally honing our craft.  I wouldn't like to guess how many "The Sabres"
there were in Birmingham either but you can bet there were a few in those early days, most not making it out of the front room of their house.  This one did and got bookings 

As happens, one of The Sabres decided he didn't want to do that any longer but on leaving recommended a replacement...........and it was a Girl!!!  Girls playing guitars? unheard of in my part of Brum although it was later on I heard about Meghan Davis(Applejacks) in Solihull.  
The female replacement for his area was

Christine Hill, who was a local guitar whizz and knew all the chords including Barre chords and gladly passed on her knowledge to him.   What a stroke of luck.
The photo of The Sabres with Christine is so reminiscent of the dance halls we played in the 60's. Christine was not only a great replacement, she had the look, a Burns sonic, a wealth of musical knowledge and also got the band gigs.!  That was like striking the mother lode.

During the following months, with growing confidence and ability Bob persuaded his Mum to buy him a Fender Stratocaster, (Now I know why she insisted coming from West Smethwick.. it was obviously the more affluent area of Smethwick).   Bob was now fully kitted out with a beautiful Strat, watkins copycat, selmer amp, winklepicker shoes and stage dress, everything was in a forward motion. However, good luck doesn't always last though and his mentor Christine left the band for fresher fields.  

The band carried on and did all the usual gigs in Brum for the next 2 years then split up which was "devastating" for him.  In those days being in a band had a different set of rules than today.  You had grown up musically together, had some hilarious times and many bad times, experienced playing on stage together for the first time.  It was an emotional, passionate thing, a bit like losing your girlfriend.

THE WILD CHERRIES Bob played on half-heartedly with a few other groups,as you could do in the day, and was on the verge of giving it all up when he got a call from great bassist Tiny Tim, ex Starliners, a mountain of a man whose playing was unequalled, as was his size.
He asked Bob if he was interested in joining The Wild Cherries as lead guitarist, a group fronted by Nicky James.  Also in the line up was Bev Bevan, Phil Akrill and Tony Lewis.   Nicky James had an incredible voice, fabulous stage presence and the women loved him but anyone who knew him would and could tell you many stories about anything he got involved with, including me.    Bob Watkins thought he had made it at last, in a great band with good players getting good gigs, it was living the life he dreamed of but with Nicky at the helm you could almost guarantee that it would go "tits up" at some time or other and of course the band folded and Nicky moved on.   Its the cruelest of businesses that takes all your aspirations away in a heartbeat.   Last week I was speaking with a well respected musician who knew Nicky in his later life and he had asked him about The Wild Cherries, Nicky said he couldn't remember them.  I think that's selective memory rather than loss of memory.

Bob however had the good fortune to come across ex Brumbeats vocalist, Graham Ashford or, as he was known then, Buddy Ash and continued playing with him on the circuit in the Buddy Ash Sound till making money for a living or "getting a job" became more important.   

The most opportune time to have made it, in a band in the music biz was during the 60's, Bob nearly did, as so many others nearly did but disco had started to rear its ugly head and gigs were disappearing faster than you could think.   The group game was up.

"To everything there is a season"

Bob and this Bob too were the most fortunate of people because we both experienced the best time of all to have been playing, it was all new, undiscovered ways to play the electric guitar, to extract sounds that had never been heard before.  Everytime something new happened it was a FIRST and we were the inventors.  We have something to be proud of, all us musicians of the early days, even drummers! hoho........  

We lived in the best times ever, as musicians experienced the thrill of the pop generation surging forward and we were the tip of the spear.   We might have gathered a few years but have a lot to be proud of and of course, quite a few are still playing and........if you're interested

Bob still has his gear!!

My thumb has now recovered sufficiently for me to getting back to the music.
Thanks for your emails.

Take Care


Copyright Bullsheadbob