Wednesday, 1 February 2017


Hello you Musos, Brummies and chummies,

Well here we are in February, freezing our nuts off and all feeling depressed after the Winter celebrations.   Towards the end of last year we saw a cluster of deaths in the music field, it was almost like a flurry of grief that blew in but found itself eclipsed by other events.   I thought all that was behind me for a while but it came as a real shock then to hear of the passing of Spooky Tooth drummer Mike Kellie in January.

Mike Kellie Left (standing). Luther Grosvenor Right.
Mike was a lovely man, and I really mean that, a lovely guy.  I can almost picture myself meeting up with him at The Elbow Room back in the day as the bands would cruise back into town after gigging somewhere to have a beer and talk about music.

Mike's music pedigree is fantastic and the coolest of the cool dudes would search him out to give their music some nice rythmns.  

I know for sure that there will be many Brummie tears shed for this guy.

Why not visit the Mike Kellie website by clicking below.

We also said goodbye to:
A couple of days after I heard about Mike another musicians death was reported.  Bassist for Mott the Hoople, Pete Overend Watts died of cancer. Although regarded as a London band, Watts was born in Yardley then moved out into the Herefordshire area before moving to 'the smoke' and making it after David Bowie gave 'All the young Dudes' to them to record.

Overend Watts second from right.
The rest was history as they say.  Shortly after this Guitarist Mick Ralphs left Hoople to form Bad Company with Paul Rogers.  Luther Grosvenor, guitarist for Spooky Tooth, pictured on the Spooky Two LP cover with Mike Kellie joined Mott so I guess there was some old connectivity there.

I'm sure that, like me you have tuned into Radio 2's Sounds of the Sixties with legendary presenter Brian Mathews.   Brian has presented this show for the past 26 years and I have enjoyed hearing some old rarities on the show from time to time, even my own!  The great thing about the programme is that it answers the call to the many listeners who requested significant tracks from the 60's alongside those rarer recordings that had been made by regional British bands.   
Brian had been the host on  ATV's Thank Your Lucky Stars which was one of the first TV shows dedicated to youth music and was the voice of Saturday Morning Saturday Club on the Radio which was the radio show that ALL teenagers of the day listened to and where we were treated to bands playing live sessions in the studio, it was the best show on the Radio.

Well Brian has decided at 88 years old he has had enough of this malarkey and is stepping down from broadcasting, although a little bit of ill health has been the prime mover I'm sure.   

He has done a stirling job for British music of the 60's and I would like to thank him for his dedication.

I wish there was a bit more riveting news to throw your way but there's not a lot of anything going on, to go on about.   However it is the month for lovers so give her indoors a nice present, you might actually get one back yourself, although in my case that's never been the case.  Am I disappointed? am I bollocks!  Why should I expect something..."You're so difficult to buy for" is the excuse that us blokes have heard a million times, or perhaps it's just me? 

My mate bought his wife a really nice gift for Christmas, I remember him going on about it in the pub and "How chuffed and surprised she'll be when she opens the box".
That isn't always the case my friend.   This advert appeared two weeks after Christmas.


This is lulu, she is an 8 week old labrador

I bought Lulu as a surprise for my wife but it turns out she doesn't like dogs and is allergic to them.

We are now looking to find her a new home.

She is 64 years old, an attractive and caring woman who drives, is a great cook and keeps a clean house.

That's it from me maties, see you next month and hopefully with some news that is a little more 'warming'.

Love the one your with.


Copyright Bullsheadbob

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Bulls Head Bob. Jan 2017. The BULLS HEAD BOB 10th Year Limited Edition Anniversary Special.

Hello Brummies, Muso's, Brummies Abroad, The Brummettes Foundation for the Preservation of the Bigger Girl and all aquaintances. including you Plooki!

Well I'm flippin' flabbergasted at the amount of people who died during December, some real icons that had been a part of all our lives musically or artistically and in particularl, I was choked to hear the news that Henry Heimlich had died. (exit stage left).

There's a line in the media and politics about certain times "Being a good day to bury things", normally in relation to bad announcements, tax rises, pension cuts and the like.   I'm sure that some of that bad news was quietly slipped in behind the various masks of tragedy and we will, no doubt, be paying for it sooner or later. 

Mrs Bob and I, without any of the Bobettes had a lovely warm and cosy Christmas and it was sublime and I thank you for your Christmas messages too so, on with the motley!!

At this juncture I should say that for reasons beyond my control certain passages of this blog have decided to appear in differing colours! 

I don't believe that even Old Moores Almanac could have predicted that I would still be doing this blog after 10 years but its a fact...I'm now officially an anniversarial statistic.  Ten years of talking bollocks, bringing the news about anything to do with that time frame of the musical innards of Birmingham and it's environs during the most active and exciting music times of the century, the 60's.   The greatest days of art, fashion, literature and live music ever!!  

When I turned up for my first day at Brumbeat Towers, John Woodhouse allocated me a small cupboard space in the far corner of his palacial office and said "Bob, say what you like but don't upset anyone" followed by "There'll be no 'goings-on', going on or off, not on or off my watch!".   I forgave him his poor 
grammar and got stuck in.

Now it may not have gone un-noticed that I don't say much about Carl Wayne and The Vikings, The Move or ELO and thats because every fibre of their story is well covered by the ELO fraternity.    It did however, give me a chance to highlight some of the lesser known but still great bands that careered around the West Midlands in their vans night after night and doing that has been a real pleasure.  Many of those bands deserved greater fame than they got and if not for a twist of fate here or a touch of bad luck there, they would have 'made it' plus of course, if you were'nt in London your chances were slim.  Music is a tough business to be in no matter what era.  

Anyway in the time honoured tradition of anniversarial bodies I thought it appropriate to reminisce a little and re-visit a couple or three of my favourite blogs in no particular order, because they were just fun to write.  Click on the title links:





I had the great pleasure of interviewing two icons of British Rock history, namely Alex Wharton and Brian Gregg about the recording of two of the best British recordings of the early days which, even now, stand the test of time, both of them raw and soulful in their own way.  Alex for his tenacious production of one of the best Brummie R&B Bands of the day, the awesome Moody Blues with their massive hit 'Go Now' and Brian for his part in the writing and recording of Shakin All Over.  Both of these  'In the Snug'interviews are available to read by clicking below:
In the Snug Interviews.
It is pertinent to note that both of these brilliant guys were among the first founding fathers of the British Rock scene and both emanated from the legendary 2i's coffee bar in Soho London.

Alex along with Mickie Most were known as The Most Brothers and Brian Gregg with Les Hobeaux and later the first power trio band Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. 

Guys like this were my inspiration at the birth of rock and roll.  It all started there and I was a goggle eyed disciple. It may have been musically simplistic but any kid with a cheap guitar could stand in front of a mirror and become their 6.5 Special heroes, or at least try.   

Les Hobeaux with Brian rear left.

I thank them both from the bottom of my heart for being so accommodating.

One of the best things about writing the blog has been that I have managed to reconnect some people with each other who started off as young lads playing together in groups that emerged from the introduction of the electric guitar, which started the age later to be called Brumbeat.  They were the happiest days of my young life and of many others too.  I'm equally pleased to say that I am still in contact with those who I forged my early musical alliances with and played all those fantastic gig's during our heady Group days.  Driving from Birmingham through thick smog and driving snow to get to some Black country gig was all part of that journey we went through, in all manner of vans and buses, no heaters, probably no windscreen wipers, doors that fell off, engines dropping out, dodgy managers.

I'm happy to say I'm still playing and enjoying the fruits of my musical labours over the many years

I don't know how much longer I can carry on trawling through stuff to write on a monthly basis but am glad I started it.

Many thanks to John Woodhouse and all you guys who have contacted me over the past 10 years.

Have a brilliant 2017 and don't make resolutions you can't keep.


Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Thursday, 1 December 2016


Ho Ho Ho! you Brummies, Brumettes, brumeteenies, Musos and a special "Merii Kurisumasu" to Plooki my Japanese loft boy follower and another for those Brummies Abroad.  I love Christmas which means I love you all and now I'm officially EXCITED!! So let the snow fall and the merriment commence.

Seasonal greetings to all from the bloggery and its "all go" at the Bob household. This Christmas me and Mrs Bob are going solo, that is to say, we are having Christmas without any of the Bobettes and their offspring.   We have a list of traditional things that are obligatory to do over the festive season and we have already been able to cross off "Have family argument" as being surplus to requirement!  

Mrs Bob has been my right hand man this year, even through the Villa's bad times.   Unlike me she didn't sit around moping like a kid, she went ahead and finished the garage extension despite the shocking weather.   A bout of pneumonia slowed her up a bit until I came up with the idea of her putting on an extra cagoule which would make her sweat a bit more she obviously had to increase her work pace to get the full effect.   She loves it though you know? the challenge of hard construction, which for a 65 year old with a bad back and a knee that keeps dislocating itself, certainly keeps her on her toes and no need for costly Gym Membership there, I'm proud of myself for making that saving, whilst improving her health.   I chuckle away to myself sometimes watching her through the window, manhandling those sacks of cement, if only she concentrated on improving her stance a bit more, she wouldn't fall over quite so much.   Women eh?  

Happy Christmas to my Feminists pals The Tattooed Sisters of Revenge Feminist League Biker Gang.  I love you cuties to pieces.

Happy Christmas to the Skiffle King and his cohorts, hearty eating, warm log fires and affection.
The City council cancelled the Christmas parade again through lack of funds but when I was a little sproglet I would be taken, at night, to the city centre where I would stand on the pavement in New Street or Corporation Street to watch Father Christmas come by on his sleigh, heading for the John Lewis department store where he would be in residence.   It was nothing spectacular and was over in flash but it was one of the most exciting times, it was put on for next to nothing and I seem to remember that it was funded by the British Lions Club so wouldn't have cost much but it meant a lot to all us tiny tykes in post war GB because Father Christmas was here, in person!  Of course you get what you pay for and times were tight back then so sometimes Father Christmas would be more like Nosferatu.....No wonder I couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve

Look at those creepy fingers
Now if you have youngsters or music fans in the family, a
nice little stocking-filler gift idea might be to give them the Beatles DVD Eight Days a Week, The Touring Years. 
 had heard that there was much fresh footage of them being Beatles and was really looking forward to seeing it and after having watched it, I have to say, I felt a little disappointed but that is probably because I have watched everything there is available to watch on the band more than once or twice as well as having lived through the whole age of The Beatles.   However for the uninitiated the phenomenon of The Beatles impact on the world is always worth a visit and for those who are fresh to The Beatles this would be a nice taster DVD if you haven't watched the Anthology before.  

Kind of like reading the Hobbit in preparation for Lord of the Rings.

This is a fact, there are 619,000 multi millionaires living in GB today, probably a few more have been added to the list since this figure published in Aug 2016. So for those here's something that might be on their Christmas list.

PRICE  52,500.00 Dollars
This guitar has to be one of the most beautiful things I've seen.  It is One of a kind and will not be produced again thereby protecting it's value as a collectible.   

This paint job is reminiscent of the 20's Art Deco movement with its angular sun ray lines
emerging from the back of the tail piece and each one of those orange segments is painstakingly painted giving it the look of a quilted headboard, you could just sink into it.

The beauty doesn't stop there though.  When you turn the guitar over you find it has been meticulously inlaid with many different woods to continue the art theme and has lines that remind me of a Kandinski painting.

Do you want to buy it?   Too late, it has been sold and I guess is now locked away in some bank vault.   A treat for the eyes though.  A cat can look at a King.

Over the years I have searched hither and thither for anything remotely concerned with this temple of Brumbeat music that was The Bulls Head on the Coventry Road and I can tell you there is not much around because, at the end of the day, it was just a pub to those who went there for a drink, for muso's in the 60's however it was the place you wanted to play at.   Along with Mothers and the Plaza, it was a John Singer promotion and loads of famous bands played there.

I played there a lot as did other well known Brummie acts.  It's only after some years that you crave for the resurrection of those times but alas it ain't gonna happen, the times have gone and the pub too which makes finding anything to do with it a little more special.   The great Lee Tonks has, over the past few years, found little snippets about the Bulls Head, including the blog side-bar picture, of this great beat venue for which I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Lee does have a personal interest though, he lives practically next door to where the pub stood.

This year, and as a Christmas gift to all you Musos and dancers who frequented the place Lee has excelled himself and found, from a photographer friend some new shots of the pubs interior, in colour.   The shots were taken in 1983, just before the pub was demolished.   If you were in a band who gigged there these views will be a heart warming memory
Copyright B Mathews
The stairs to the dance floor, humping kit up those was no joke.  The door to the right of the stairs was the snug to have a half time beer or three

copyright B mathews
In the snug all red velvet and murals.  

copyright B Mathews
This was your perspective if you were in a band playing at the Bulls Head, mine was normally a little more to the right.  The dance floor was always crowded from the stage, right back to the bar from the Rock and Roll days of the 1950's through the 'summer of love' girls in their swirls of colour and beyond and I just know that some old Brumbeat survivors will be looking at this with fond memories like I am so, on behalf of all those who loved this place , thank you LEE TONKS. I know we are all grateful for your help in restoring this memory. Happy Christmas to you and to all those who wielded some kind of musical instrument on the stage of this great place.  This place used to throb at times, I can almost hear the music and feel the heat.  If only I could get into those ball hugging velvet flares I could step back it time like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Very nostalgic Christmas gift for us Brummies.


If you pass a Salvation Army brass band playing carols or if you see someone collecting for the Salvation Army, please donate something if you have a few coppers.  This fantastic organisation has no barriers in their continuing support of less fortunate folk, of which there are too many.  
It doesn't matter if it's only a few pence...Every penny counts and this organisation can do a lot with a little but can do more with more.   Happy Christmas to them and their great work.  Thank you for what you do.

OK It's Christmas and Oggie will be preparing to be a miserable git as usual by boycotting Christmas Day and spending it at the pub.   Nonetheless, we grew up together and I have always given him a card so nothing changes. 

Last year I gave him a hand warmer and it seems that it has started a viral thingy with everyone wanting one, even Prince Charles, of course he gets his supplied by the Government!.. Happy Christmas Oggie.
Happy Christmas to John Woodhouse for doing such a great job with Brumbeat.Net.  

Happy Christmas to Steve Bruce who has taken a bunch of shambling wankers and returned them to a great team again. UTV
Happy Christmas to you all, thanks for reading or visiting the blog.  I shall now be hibernating until the New Year.....ZZzzzzzzzzz

Copyright Bullsheadbob

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

BULLS HEAD BOB NOV 2016. Bob Dylan, Chuck Berrys New CD. Echolette PA System. Spinal Tap

Did I ever mention to you guys that Steve and Bruce are two of my favourite names?  No? 
Mrs Bob has said that I am a changed man all of a sudden, can't understand why?  
Well what a 'to-do', if one of my mates had said to me "Bob guess who's releasing a new album?" I never would have said CHUCK BERRY!!, my goodness me, he's 90 who would have guessed that?  but it's the truth!!  It has been 38 years since his last LP release so a lot of today's youth wont have even heard of him.   It is true to say that without Chuck Berry there would have been no brumbeat sound or merseybeat and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Not only did we all play that Chuck Berry riff, that he allegedly stole from his
pianist Johnny Johnson, but we all copied his intros, outros, the duck walk and for the more energetic of us, the splits.  Brumbeat-wise there is the story of George Harrison being taught the intro to Johnny B Goode by Chuck Botfield of Brums Rockin Berries, it is a great intro indeed, in fact Chuck Berry himself stole the intro from Louis Jordans 1948 track  "Ain't that Just Like a Woman" note for note.  Funny then that such a prolific music thief should have successfully taken the Beatles to court for using the opening line of "You cant Catch Me" for "Come Together".  Chuck won that one!!

Now Chuck is a cantankerous old son of a gun and could well change his mind so, just to help keep his mind open I thought it might be a good idea and a tad "de-riguer", as they say at the Sparkbrook Club for Gifted Swearers, to suggest that he does a Covers album of songs that have been big hits in the past for some huge names and some Brummies too?  This would be perfect for Christmas, us old knackers, stomachs bulging, top button of your trousers opened, slippers on, in front of the fire picking nuts out of your dentures with an old pipe cleaner and your new Chuck Berry CD..."geein it sum" on your Phillips mini stack.   

Here's a few for him to choose from.







Chuck has said it will be all new material and definitely be his last CD.  He said it was dedicated to to his wife..... frankly I don't care whats on the recording, or who its for......I'm going to buy it.


Well that's something ain't it?  Bob Dylan getting a Nobel prize for literature, amazing.  The world held their breath while Bob kept his mouth shut and didn't acknowledge the prize until a couple of days ago.  He said he was shocked and speechless at the news and couldn't think of an appropriate answer but feels highly honoured and plans to go the award ceremony to collect it in person.   He must have been shocked if he was speechless for all that time until the day before yesterday? 

I tried to think about my favourite set of lyrics of his and I ended up arguing with myself and came to no resolve as to which was best because they all have their various merits, he is a special person without doubt.  "Girl from the North Country" certainly is in my top 5 even just for the line "where the air hangs heavy on the borderline" and Positively 4th Street with its bitter and scathing lines is easy to associate with some bad relationships of mine and probably everyone elses too in the past.   "You got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend, when I was down you just stood there grinning".

I couldn't be happier that this has happened to someone so deserving and I'm thoroughly pleased that Bob has accepted it with the correct amount of awe. 

If you have never listened to Bob Dylans radio shows I really recommend that you try and get your hands on them they are a library of fantastic songs that are not common hearing.

Spinal Tap the "art imitating life" mock rockumentary film that exposed all the actual frailties of being in a band in such a comic but truthful manner has been delighting us musos for years now and various bands claim that some of the stories portrayed in the film relate to them, Black Sabbaths claim about the Stonehenge set being uppermost in my mind.   On top of the huge success of the film there were concerts, record sales and T shirts and things.  It was a big deal and volume controls started to be marked up to "11"

It showed a bands decline from headlining arenas to playing at a children's puppet theatre for a few dollars, it now appears that like all real rock band histories, the actors portraying the band Spinal Tap have only been paid 88 dollars between them for their merchandising royalties and are in the process of trying to claw their money back through the court process.

As you get a bit older in life you tend to create patterns in your week.  A mate of mine, lets call him Oggie, used to get the bus to Bilston every Wednesday to buy some sausages and, as he said, he "made as day of it" you know, Bus to Bilston , get off bus walk to Butchers...."Hello Oggie, come for your sausages then?" "Yes thanks Eric" buy sausages walk to pub, have a couple of smooth ones while chatting to the locals.  Get the bus back cook and eat sausages while watching Countdown.

I've just read in the local rag that it appears that us Brummies have run out of sufficient quantities of the "white stuff" and the famous Birmingham Sperm Bank is officially closing its doors.  Now that might not really concern many people but I can tell you that like Oggie, my weekly pattern for Tuesday consisted of brisk walk through the park, stop at the bookies to put a tenner on the Villa to win on the Saturday then pop over the road to my regular afternoon wanking session or "donation exercise" as they like to call it.  It was great all the blokes knew each other, they had a great selection of magazines and you got 35 quid a shot!!  

Now here's something to get you drooling, you lovers of old kit.  During a recent trawl of EBay I came across this Echolette combination amp and echo with some interesting PA speakers.  I'd never seen this before but it looks gorgeous even if only from an aesthetic point of view.   Its currently on sale so hurry if you're interested.


OK take care you guys.  I'm off to do the first of the Christmas shopping.


copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Saturday, 1 October 2016


Autumn is upon us Brummies no matter where we live and ain't it glorious?
It's my favourite time of the year when I can sit back in my rather nice outdoor chair and watch the blackbirds hopping across the lawn, searching under bushes for tasty little morsels to take back to the little ones in the nest.  

Sometimes when I was a small kid and my sisters used to shout at me to stop playing the same thing over and over again on my, and this has to be said, shitty little guitar.   I would go out of the french windows into the garden if it wasn't too cold and annoy the neighbours instead!  I could hear them slamming their windows in time to the music, I would consider it as a token of support to console myself from the harsh reality that I was an outcast from suburbian life.
However listening to various instrumentals spurred me onto greater challenges and here's some that I liked/loved.
I remember distinctly that it was on one of those misty days that I got inspired to learn "Ghost Riders in the Sky" a song which had been around for a long time and had been a recent hit by The Ramrods in 1961.
From my french windows in Aston!

 TThere were probably a million other spotty toads who were all sat out in their gardens too?   I never had The Ramrods records so I would hear it played on the chart show on Sunday afternoon and then annoy everyone in hearing distance with my continued practising until I had it right, then would play it another twenty times to iron out the curves and then a hundred times just to enjoy it. 

I played it again, out of the blue, the other day whilst doing my daily finger exercises and really enjoyed reliving that moment for a short while which brought me to this blog subject.    This is no definitive statement, merely some of the instrumentals that I enjoyed learning as a kid but have merit.

Naturally we British had The Shadows, the cream of instrumental groups and were spoiled by the amount of Shadows music to learn.  I for one, learned every track.  Little did we know what great training this would be for the future.  I am discounting The Shadows from this though because I consider all their work equally as good.  If pressed though I think I would choose The Savage, Perfidia and naturally Apache to be in the list oh! and NIVRAM and.....oops thats enough!

Ghost Riders sounded an awful lot like the Duane Eddy twangy guitar with tremelo.   I never liked Duane Eddy but someone rightly said about his playing of Peter Gunn was that you could go out buy a guitar and if, by the end of an hour or so you can't play the incredibly easy riff then you had no future and it was a great rock n roll riff. On the other hand it could have spurred you on to learn something more.

It was played by loads of groups at dance halls and especially if they had a sax player.

It had an amazing vibe when you played it, kind of insistent.  I'm going to include this as one of the greats for that reason and also because I saw Duane Eddy and his band at The Cedar Club in the 60's and whilst I was unimpressed with his guitar playing, his sax player was phenomenal

This is a 'no brainer' to put it in the American parlance.   The sound of this
record being played through a juke box was just so good to hear and So American as we sipped our froffy coffee in huge cups with tindy handles.  
It was a bit of a step up in playing style, trying to emulate the sound of a double pedal steel guitar on a Hofner Colorama or something similar but I heard some killer versions of this from various groups.  

The Shadows did an extremely similar instrumental calling it Midnight.

The'd buy a used car from one of these
Once again on an Autumn evening, I can picture myself walking towards Moseley village with this tune in my head where a bass player lived who had the record.  We were going to learn it together and I was very excited at the prospect, it had that tremelo rich, high speed picking run-down on the damped E string as an opener to quite a haunting melody I was very impressed by this and as this band was riding on the wave of Surfing songs, I mentally visualised the group as being 'cool dudes' but the American bands always had a look of being 'quite old' in those days which was a tad disappointing but this instrumental is not only a great track but is very well recorded and still holds its own I think. 

You hadn't 'made it' if you hadn't been on 'Ready Steady Go', live bands in the BBC studios giving it some hammer at 6 oclock on Friday night was the most iconic music TV show of the 60's with the best bands of the moment and some incredible live performances.  There were some lip synched clips as well.

"The Weekend Starts Here" was the shows opening line and it wasn't wrong.
The music chosen to open the show was another surf inspired instrumental called Wipe Out by The Surfaris, an incredibly simple repetitive melody line and a catchy drum roll 'riff'.  Incredibly popular.

Yet another surf inspired instrumental hit by The Ventures were considered by some, to be better than The Shadows...none of those were in my group of friends thank you very much.   However this is a truly great instrumental with its run down during the first few bars setting the tone.  It was first recorded by Chet Atkins.

Biggest selling instrumental hit ever, this Joe Meek inspiration was played on a clavioline with his resident group of session group who melded into The Tornadoes and had a massive success for many a years in cabaret and playing at the various seaside resorts.
The phase of instrumentals had their day, probably with the advent of The Beatles but we all learned a lot about phrasing and developing skill sets in the art of getting sounds from your guitar without the aid of pedals.  It was more simplistic than the music of today for sure but was an enjoyable part of being in a group then and the above songs added to the rich mix of the face of changing music but have become classics.   Long may they survive.

Sad news that Jimmy Powell has passed away.  He was a dynamic and forceful personality on the scene in Birmingham and always put on a staggeringly good show.  I recommend a quick visit to the main Brumbeat.Net site by clicking the link below for more information and access to an interview carried out by John 
Woodhouse with this old Brumbeat hero.

So anyway you cool cats, although it's been a bit short and sweet this month I hope this has given you a little bit of yearning to get your guitar out and relive your early learning days by getting back to some of those beautiful instrumental melodies.  Give em' a go, I bet you'll enjoy it.

Hug your other half at least once a day.

Keep warm

Copyright:  Bullshead bob

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Hiya Brummies, Brumbeaters, 60's music fans

There are great days and no so great days.

A couple of months ago I received the news from Will Hammond (The Uglys) that one of Brumbeats finest musicians had died.  That person being the great Jimmy O'Neil.    He also told me that, later on in the year, there was going to be a get-together in Birmingham of those who knew Jim.  Well that event happened a couple of weeks ago and I was a guest at a small gathering of Jimmie's old friends and family members at the house of Dave Morgan.   

A classically trained pianist, Jimmy O'Neil was an extraordinary pianist and organist, and had also played as a bassist. He started playing with some young musicians at The English Martyrs School at Sparkhill on the Stratford Road when he was around 14 years of age.

I believe his first band was The Jon Carter Image.   Jimmy had then struck up a musical friendship with Will Hammond and Malcolm Palmer and joined their band, The Yamps with whom he experienced a bit more success, playing R&B music around the country and at all those well known Birmingham venues.   

Will H:   "Although Jimmy was one of The Yamps, he only played with us if there was a piano available on the stage, we used to stick a mic inside the lid and put it through the Selmer PA, however, on those occasions he really lifted the sound of the band.  When the VOX Continental arrived on the scene Jim wasted no time getting one and we all met at Bob Stylers house (Yamps vocalist) to see and hear it.  I think we played about four more gigs with Jims VOX and then he turned up one day at my house and said "Right I'm leaving"  "I'm joining The Walker Brothers".  I was flabbergasted, The Walker Brothers were incredibly famous at the time with The Sun ain't gonna shine Anymore and other massive hits.   He never let on that he had been for an audition and in fact I don't know how he found out about it, maybe from the ads column in the NME or something I suppose".   I was surprised that I knew nothing because we were quite close but as time went by this trait of his 'private self' would re-surface a few times.
The Walker Brothers with Jimmy O'Neil right.
When the Walker Brothers decided to have a backing band instead of playing themselves Jim was set free and returned to Birmingham  The Uglys were riding high on their success with Wake up My Mind and had their sights set on recruiting Jimmy in to their fold.   Uglys drummer Jimmy Holden said "We set up an audition to see how he would get on with the group but in fact it ended up that he auditioned US!!" 
The Ugs 66, Jim second from right.
He joined the next day.   

Jimmy was not only a staggeringly great musical talent - he also had the looks and was a firm favourite with the girls.   An article in Melody Maker had described him as "the Dishy Jimmy O'Neil", from then on he was known in the band as The Dish.

Time went by with The Uglys on the road continually.   Over the next year there were a couple of personnel changes. In came Roger Hill and Dave Pegg for a few months then they were replaced by Will Hammond and Jim switched to Bass.  The band later recruited Dave Morgan to fill out the vocal sound.  The following photo would be the last one to feature Jimmy with The Uglys.

Uglys R to L Jim, Dave Morgan, Will Hammond, Jim Holden
Will H:  The day after this photo was taken, he called round to my house and said "I'm leaving the band"..."When?"......."Now" he said and he walked out of the door and joined up with the Mindbenders.  We were in a state of shock but a little bit of re-organisation in the band and we carried on regardless.  His time with that band wasn't a long one and he returned to Brum and played with a couple of  bands before departing to New York to try his hand there.   It is from there that he did his now famous disappearing trick and lost contact with his family and friends, occasionally re-surfacing for a day somewhere or other and then disappearing again. I would hear rumours of his whereabouts, at various places in the world and tried to trace him, as did Dave Morgan but we both had little or no success at all. 

Jimmy passed away whilst in the Philippines in January but it took a long time for the news to filter back".

After I had been given the invite to the get-together, a series of small, uncanny events occurred.   On BBC4's "Arena" there was programme called "1966 The Year the Decade Exploded" a documentary of the book of the same name by Jon Savage.  9 minutes into the prog, whilst talking about the nuclear holocaust threat, The Uglys track Quiet Explosion started.  The day after I was looking through the Guardian and in the middle pages was a review of the programme and a piece specifically about The Uglys.   A friend from the North phoned me to ask if I'd seen it too?   How strange I thought, not a word about the band and then along come four instances within two days.   

As I arrived at the house, on the night, there was one car parked in the street and I was shocked to see its number plate..... talk about good omens.

The get together was a small affair for those who specifically knew Jimmy.  The Uglys were there though, including Will and Keith Smart who had flown in from Spain for the occasion.   Dave Morgan and his band played a few songs including one written for Jimmy called "The Queen, The Prince and The Dish".   

Following Dave's set, Will Hammond got up with the band to play a couple of tunes to be followed by Steve Gibbons, Steve asked Will to stay on and, unrehearsed and quite frankly unexpected, they cracked into Chuck Berrys "No Money Down".  The call then went out for Jimmy Holden to join the other 3 Uglys and although he had only the Cajon to play instead of a drum kit, for the first time since 1967 The Uglys line-up that Jim had left were up playing Summertime Blues together....  There were a couple of kit problems but it was nothing short of a miracle and a joy to behold.  A fitting finale to their old band mate.

THE UGLYS - 2016
The Uglys 2016 L to R.  Steve Gibbons, Dave Scott-Morgan, Jimmy Holden, Will Hammond

There were loads of Jimmy stories and a lot of affection in the air as we all said goodbye to him...God Bless you Jimmy.



John Fox emailed 2 days ago to say that there is going to be a reunion of Brummie muso's from the 60's  (and others?) on 10 September.  Unfortunately I don't know the venue or who's going but am informed that some bands will be playing.  Sorry to be a bit vague but its the first I've heard of it.  However, if you are interested in going you can call Big Al Johnson on 0121 360 7051 for further details.

Take Care and keep your memories warm.

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Monday, 1 August 2016

BULLS HEAD BOB AUG 2016. Reg Calvert's Stable Reunions. New Age Oldsters - Tom Lane. Death of a Prince.

Hello you Brummies, Brummettes, Rockers, Rollers, Shufflers and Strollers.

We've all kind of settled back and accepted our Brexit fate or fortune, Dave the Rave has exited No 10, George Osborne has been sent to the Pointless Forest to sulk and Jeremy Corbyn is hated by the Labour Party for being a gutless wonder, he still purports to be the leader.  Crazy as it may be, these British events, apart from Corbyn the Insignificant, have been totally eclipsed by Pokemadness. Now when I was young I was always one for a good poke and I was mostly mad for it but now it is the "must have" fodder for semi-intelligent techno tossers running around the streets with their smart phones in the hunt for something that only exists VIRTUALLY! least in my day things actually existed and you got something physical out of it, even if it was a dose of crabs.
 YES THEY ARE ADULTS!!     copyright ExpressandStar

This insanity has really ramped up my grumpy level one hundred fold and I am now declaring my bit of Brum independent and free of NOTHING VIRTUAL or is that ANYTHING VIRTUAL? or VIRTUALLY NOTHING?

Enter the zone at your peril, I've got a loaded zimmer.

Reg Calvert's name is well known in Birmingham and the West Midlands by those of us who were around in the 60's.  An entrepreneur who signed and managed his own 'stable' of acts.  He did things his own way, promoted his own concerts and made himself someone to be reckoned with.   ´The Fortunes, Pinkertons Assorted Colours, Tanya Day, Danny Storm, Johnny Neal, Robbie Hood, Jon Washington were all part of his gang and he did an excellent job in promoting them all with varying degrees of success.

For some of you, those names will be just names without faces but I'm glad to report that Susan Moore, the daughter of Reg Calvert has, for the past 5 years at least, been organising re-unions of some of these great musicians at her home, including live performances and, no doubt sharing a plethora of war stories.

Susan has a website dedicated to her Father and the stable of artists that went through Clifton Hall under Reg's tutelage called Reg Calvert Plays.   There are some great photos of the re-unions where you may be able to spot some of your old friends and group members.  Click on the link below,

If you were one of Reg's gang then why not get in touch with Susan through the website. Get to see your old colleagues before its all too late.

Susan Moore has also written two books, the first being 

Popcorn to Rock
n' Roll and the second
Clifton Hall School of Rock n' Roll.

I'm sure they will be good reading of how things were then and how the business operated.

When us young brumbeaters got the urge to go electric back in the early 60's we all thought that we would be playing for a few years, until we died young and became legends, there was no way we would get old, that was only for our parents.   Being 30 years old was an embarrassment and 40 was unimaginable as we swaggered around in our skin tight jeans and winkle pickers.   George Harrison famously said of the Beatles "We can see ourselves being popular for about 4 years and then I'll probably open a shop or something".   Well that generation seems to have gone on forever.  Some of the folk who were never going to get old and play till they die have got very old and a lot of them have died, sadly having stopped playing music before that final event but luckily some haven't succumbed to Doctor Death and are still playing gigs.

One of those older youngsters, or Oldsters if you will, has featured here occasionally and he is Tom Lane, drummer for several bands throughout his life, notably the Tuxedo Junction Blues Band and Luddy Sammes Soul Band pictured below, minus Luddy Sammes, who'd have thought that a singer would miss an opportunity to be photographed?  Checks, tweeds and stripes were all the fashion then.

Tom recently emailed to let me know that even now, at 69 years young, he is still getting offers to play with younger bands.   He is not the only one either..............there is a message here and that is we oldsters paid our dues playing nearly every night at pubs, clubs, dives, cellars, births and marriages for years.    One gig is worth twenty practise sessions and this experience or apprenticeship, equipped us all with a depth of experience that you don't forget and certainly will not be matched in today's climate of very little live music.
Sticks covered in blood! Tom Lane
Tom tells me that his band The Acemen have recently reformed and are now playing gigs again.  Their next will be at the Bird in Hand, Measham on 12 August.  Why not take a cyber stroll to the Facebook page courtesy of the Acemen link below, where you can find out about forthcoming gigs and other stuff.


I for one am not surprised that Tom continues to receive offers....class tells!!

Well Prince, the Artist formerly known as "The Artist formerly Known as Prince" has put on his Raspberry Beret, climbed into his Little Red Corvette and has disappeared into the firmament, well in his case the lift.  Pretty sad given what a prodigious writer of good songs he was, allied to his killer shows and musicianship.   There's certainly one thing we can depend on following a famous persons demise though and that is the grasping insanity of the Americans with a host of people coming forward to claim their share of his fortune, so far six alleged Fathers have been disregarded along with another 24 so called family members.   

Hope you have a lovely summer the weather report is on the up!  Best stay home though as the pound is not worth as much as before in hotter climes.

Cheers for Now

copyright:  Bullsheadbob