Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Happy Christmas Brummies, Associate Brummies and Brummies Abroad,

Ding-Dong the Christmas spirit is upon us and I LOVE IT !!!!  

Brian Gregg is an icon in the world of Beat Music and I was more than pleased to have a chin-wag with him about the recording of the BEST beat song ever written.   He's a fabulous guy.......   Geographically speaking, Shakin' All Over is outside of our bailywick but in musical terms, we Brummies shared and relished the massive impact of it's heritage.  Every night in every bar, and probably twice a night -  this song was played by every Brummie Beat group - guaranteed.     A record and recording that stands as a model of what a great band should sound like and it's impact affected every red blooded musician from it's first release in 1960 to the present day.  I just know that some young band, probably at this very moment, have just discovered Shakin' All Over and are thrashing it out in a garage.


Click Here to Read on!!

If you were a popular Brummie band during the 60's your Christmas Gig List would have been full to bursting for a couple of months already.  If you were 'canny' though you always held New Years Eve open for a bit longer,  to get a better price, and could normally play a 'double' that night.  These days you would be lucky if you got two gigs for the whole of the month.   

One Christmas, maybe 67', New Years Eve to be precise, we played at The Bulls Head, finished there at 10.00 - I think the Idle Race were on then up till midnight, I'm not sure - we then drove over to The Carlton to play up to midnight there and then straight on to the Elbow Room to play till 2.AM.   Every gig at The Bulls Head was great, but playing to a jam packed house with everyone in party spirits on New Years Eve was extra special, even the bouncers smiled, or maybe it could have been some wind!  They always seemed to grimace at me, I think they could sense my fear!!    It proved a little difficult to leave the place though, with several high spirited girls demanding New Years kisses before we left - naturally the part that all musicians had to suffer!!  I always felt exploited....suffering at the hands of women.

On arrival at The Carlton we made for the entrance whilst the roadie did his thing, carting 4 x 12 cabinets up those metal stairs at the side, it must have been back breaking, particularly having just humped it all up and down the stairs at the Bull.  We went through the front into the downstairs foyer where Phil Myatt was holding court and and there was much 'Happy New Year-ing' between us all.  

The Way of Life were playing on stage as we arrived.  Apart from the Jones brothers I'm not quite sure who else was in the line up at that time but they were a fine band.   As you walked up the stairs the sound of the band got louder and louder, then it hit you full in the face as you cleared the top stair.

There was always a good atmosphere at The Carlton and on New Years Eve the place was HEAVING, the air was a blue haze of cigarette smoke, the smell of perfume and beer pervading everything.   The heat that night, inside the venue was incredible, all those hot bodies leaping around and the stage lights contributing their own share of therms.  We headed into the bar area and spent some time chatting to the group of girls who always followed us around and bought us christmas gifts.  They were great and loyal fans.

Having warmed up at The Bull, we were 'up for it' that night and had a really good time on stage getting the crowd going, it was twice as hot upon the stage as it was down on the dance floor.  We played our set and did the 'Midnight Countdown' thing then finished. We were all soaked to the skin with sweat - with still one more gig to go.  The roadie meanwhile, was humping the kit back down the two flights of steel stairs.

We arrived at The Elbow Room in that sweaty condition too, but now physically drained, after the 'sauna' at The Carlton.  The Elbow Room was always good to play at though, with some 'groovy' clientele. 
We must have looked like drowned rats and smelled like drains as we entered, but we joined in the ongoing fun whilst the roadie humped our kit up yet another couple of flights of stairs.  He was a real hero and all round good guy, not with us any longer I'm sorry to say.  After the last gig of the night, we 'wound down', partied and left our gear there to be picked up the day after.   We must have paid him a good bonus for that night.  A triple was never a recommended thing to take on but on New Years Eve was always worth the money.   

I'm sure this scenario will bring back memories for some of you guys who went through the same sort of thing at exactly those places and I know that if you close your eyes you can definitely picture it, almost hear it but thankfully not smell it!!.....Christmas at The Carlton, Happy Days when Live Music was King.  (For you download freaks, the photo used in NOT the interior of The Carlton - sorry)

Paul McCartney seems to have spent his life fighting for equal recognition with John Lennon - criticised wrongly, in my opinion as a 'lightweight'.   I believe that he was the greatest driving influence in The Beatles, aside from his awesome output of songs.  It was he who had the project ideas, he wrote and played some of the best remembered guitar solo's - ie. Taxman - he was by far, the best bass player on the planet and he also wrote some thundering rockers.   I have always been and will always be influenced by him musically.  
But why is it he seems to lose the plot completely?  When he does that, he falls right into the hands of his worst critics.

He doesn't need any more money.  He is a hero of rock music beyond comparison and  I'm elated that he spends the time touring.  The Beatles were the most innovative and creative bands of all time who struggled for years to become a great little R&B group, as every other band in the UK did - only the strong survived.   He doesn't need any publicity either, everybody knows who he is.

So what the heck is he doing kow-towing to juvenile Corporate Music show - X Factor!!  It is this very show that has been the downfall of independent music, it's packaged tripe - week after week, playing to the Grannies and tinytots.   So it's surprising that he would come out with a gaff like:   "Its a tribute that The Beatles are having their songs sung by the X Factor contestants" - WAKE UP!!! MACCA, for F***'*'s people like these who think, and state, that The Beatles were a fabricated boy band!  Now I don't watch the show personally, but I have read some stuff in the newspapers that suggests 'One Direction" a boy band on the show are the New Beatles. I don't have to watch the show to know that it's all..... BOLLOCKS!!, what a pile of crap.  

He's done it because of the business deal that will have the songs on the show available on i Tunes but the question is? 

Where's his sense of pride and self respect? 
Can't he see how vulgar these actions are when people are being thrown out of their homes through poverty?   Paul, you don't need any more money....give it a rest man.  A Working Class hero??
A Happy Christmas to him anyway.

I would sincerely like to wish all the Brumbeat surviviors and the blog readers a truly Happy Christmas, these are uncertain days with the crisis and cuts in full swing.   Nonetheless, this is a time for us all to reflect and appreciate the things that we have, and have had in our past.  Be good to each other.

Wishing a speedy recovery and kisses to Maggie Crandles and a Christrmas 'Thankyou' to Judy Adkins for her patience.

I would further like to send a special greeting to any of you who have family members in the UK Forces serving on operational duties.   It is hard enough being parted from those who are dear to us at any time, but doubly so at the festive season.   A very special Happy Christmas to the guys in Selly Oak too.

Thanks for your e-mails of support concerning some Brummie traitors I mentioned.

OK, Here's Oggies Christmas Card, he's in California this festive season.  Last year I published a photo of scantily dressed females.  I have learned my lesson and decided that it was exploitation to ask girls to pose with just a pair of pants on........

.....................problem solved!!!


Brian Gregg photo (Copyright Brian Gregg)
Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Monday, 1 November 2010


Hiya Brummies and friends around the globe,
Howya gooin?  

This very day, you find me showing my extremes...not in the testicular area I hasten to add, that would just cause pandemonium.  It's more anger, at the feeling of being socially and geographically snubbed by a bunch of W*****'S.    But don't let me prejudge on and make your own mind up who the W*****'S are.   thats how serious I am today!

On the other hand... you will findWARMTH and respect oozing out of every pore.
Now, I'm known locally as 'Joe Placid' but here we go....I might as well start with the angry bit -
The office at BRUMBEAT Towers has been a hot bed of disagreement over the last month.
John is the type of guy who doesn't like to ruffle anyone's feathers too much because he's such a nice man, however, on my side of the office indignation rules and the word of the humble Brummy speaks out. 

Whilst I seethe with rage, he guardedly keeps his thoughts to himself.   Why do I seethe?  Well, it's because he gave publicity to that group of brummie musicians and their promoter Brian Yeates on last month's Pie Stand Page, who think that "referring to themselves as being from Birmingham, is a hindrance to them"!!  Johns editorial response was ("It should really enhance the appeal in my opinion! JRW"). That was John at his angriest.

I don't even want to mention their names, because to do so would give them more publicity, although I'm guilty of doing that very thing now.   I would have binned the whole thing and saved us the embarrasment of having been associated with a show that's ashamed of admitting they're from Birmingham.  

Needless to say the Gang of Four at the boozer are ****ing fuming.   Nobber launched himself into 'abuse mode' with an assortment of conjoined swearwords I'd never heard before, but all of them ended in -ers!

I now give you the lowdown on a recent result of a vote from 'A selected voice' of the inhabitants of Aston who were in the pub at the time.... "Mon dieu, Gerard" -UTV.

(Quantity of 'gender blend' will be supplied if requested but will be resisted by certain elements of the brotherhood/sisterhood (or vice versa) of the 'fra/materinity' if certain issues arise pertaining to a percieved derogatory word or insinuation OR insult by any party in the world whatsoever, and their Mum.) dum de dum de dum......

1. Question One. Are They Wankers?
 answers ......YES 38 - NO -0 )
2. Question 2.   No further questions.

If there is an 'up' side to this sorry tale, then it's because I am pleased to see that at least Gibbo isn't a part of this.  It's probably just the same material served up under a different name anyway, so if you saw Brum Rocked, or The Move or Bev Bevans 'Move' or any of those other permutations of the same group of people, I imagine there'll be nothing new apart from a bit of Froggy's stuff.  Go and see them if you want, but be careful not to speak, they probably won't understand your accent....  I imagine GT thought he wouldn't be having a pie in the face any longer? - welcome back. 

Perhaps Roy Wood was right when he talked in such a derogatory manner about the Move reformation..... flogging a dead horse.

Now for every low point there is a High.   Ladies and Gentleman, here is a real hero, who has done masses to promote Birmingham, is proud of his heritage and asks for nothing in exchange.  I also know that he would quake at the thought of anyone writing anything about him.  Particularly me. 

Just because he doesn't seek any publicity, doesn't mean that he isn't going to get any - not as long as I'm around that is! 

Ten years ago, bassist John Woodhouse, was thinking of a little hobby to entertain himself with.  He remembered some stories his uncle had told him about the days of being a musician during the 60's in Birmingham, the incessant sound of beat groups and Chuck Berry rhythms, the gigs, the night clubs and band hangouts.  John was already a fan of the music from the West Midlands and has a great record and CD collection of all the bands.  He thought that he could create a personal website about that subject.  Little did he know, or envisage that 10 years after, the website would be such a huge success.  From early beginnings, people started contacting him with details and accounts about groups they had played with, a small trickle soon became more of a constant flow.    A lot of stories were passed on, often contradicting each other but this is hardly surprising, as all the events had taken place 40 years prior to the website being launched.  

As time passed and information grew, some clarity began to emerge and group biographies were amended to amplify or remove some stories that were "Imaginative" and in a couple of cases clearly fabrications - Elvis never played with a band from Small Heath!!

There are now a massive amount of biographies archived on the site and although John receives some biog's sent in written form, they all need to be edited to fit the BRUMBEAT bio format, checked for inaccuracies and then re-written in his own inimitable style.  When I say that written bio's were sent in, they mostly consist of  "I played with this group, then this one and then the other" and from this undetailed information John has written full pages of relevant information about the bands activities and line-up changes.  The construction of these bio's are really time consuming affairs and can be made even more difficult in some groups cases, as the line-up changes were on a weekly basis.   The whole concept of this small army of Brummie musicians swapping groups and changing names was incredibly complex and in some cases unfathomable.  I know of one bass player who could have had a hundred notches on his guitar to indicate how many bands he had been in.  Of course John doesn't just write biographies, he has conducted reviews and interviews with a host of names from Birminghams illustrious musical past. 

What does he get out of it? financial terms nothing.  BRUMBEAT is a 'not for profit' website run by someone with imagination and a resolute determination to map the years when Birmingham throbbed with the sound of a group in every bar, pub or dance hall during the years that saw unparallelled changes in society, fashion and the arts in general.

Only those who lived through those days can truly know what a mind blowing experience it all was, at its climax.   Without a person like John, that experience, starting from the very start of the Group phase would never have been passed on and this archive would never exist.  As such, his contribution to the preservation of a generation of Brummie musicians is incalculable.  This website has aided the most familiar glossy music magazines with research into their stories and has assisted record companies with information and helped them to gain contact with group members, more often than not without any form of acknowledgement at all.

John has another tremendous asset.  He is a good, enthusiastic musician who likes to play rock n roll and plays with a couple of bands, the main one being PASSPORT.  He has had a load of gigs and has rewarded himself with a new Fender Jazz Bass.    Just where he finds the time to hold down his job, look after his family obligations, fulfill his commitments to the bands AND write stuff for the website is really something to be admired.

About 5 years ago, I suggested that we pool our resources, promising that "We wouldn't regret it". Well we have had some opposite views at Brumbeat Towers but mostly we are of the same mind and its great to work together, we just approach things from different angles.  The folk who were a part of the BRUMBEAT scene are becoming fewer and each time that happens, it only elevates the importance of the work undertaken by one of the nicest men about and I personally thank John for his dedication.

Ten years is a long, long time and I know for a fact that I speak for all the musicians and anyone else with any form of connection to the BRUMBEAT era, when I say thanks and rightly applaud him for keeping those days, the spirit and the history alive.  

I give you
John Woodhouse,
Happy 10th Anniversary 

I believe that the Birmingham City Council should take note of John's achievements and think positively about Birmingham's Broad Street, 'Walk of Fame' star allocations.  I would certainly like them to give great thought to giving John Woodhouse or even simply BRUMBEAT some just recognition for 10 years of unpaid and incredibly important service to the history of Birmingham's music scene - in the years when it was proclaimed that the sound coming out of the West Midlands was called
Here's to another 10 years....

Bulls Head Bob's Christmas Bonus to all the BRUMBEAT readers.  Fantastic "In the Snug"  interview with BRIAN GREGG, Bassist for Johhny Kidd and The Pirates.   The story and "The Recording Session of  'SHAKIN' ALL OVER' - amazing stuff!!  Exclusive to BULLS HEAD BOB and BRUMBEAT, the worlds greatest BRUMMIE partnership - and proud of it!!
copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Friday, 1 October 2010


Winter approaches, time to start thinking about how miserable the festive season will be after the goverment have deprived me of some more of my assets, come the Budget later this month.   Is this the real winter of discontent?

Thought I'd take the opportunity this month to put out messages for some people looking for old mates and to feature some more of our 'Brummies Abroad'.  Now I can't actually confirm that the next Brummie is actually living abroad because I don't know... but I know somebody who does.....
I recently wrote an article about the VOX Continental organ and in that piece mentioned the name of Jimmy O'Neil as being an organist of some standing.  In the absence of much written material about Jimmy, I think it right that I should try and give some more information about this fine Brummie musician of the sixties.  I write it in the context of Brummies Abroad, as it's believed that Jimmy lives in the States these days.   I am not in contact with him but as I had spoken with Will Hammond last month I asked him about Jimmy - they had been musical mates for years.

WH:  Jimmy O'Neil? great bloke and a brilliant musician, he was from an Irish family from the Yardley Wood area.  I think he started his musical career playing piano with the Jon Carter Image, playing the youth clubs and small dance halls scattered around Sparkhill in Brum.  I could be wrong though. 

I got to meet him when I was around about 14.  I think Jimmy must have been 17 or older because he had a motorbike, a nice one too.  I had been used to talking music with friends who, like me, had grown up teaching themselves how to play but Jimmy was on another level completely, he was an accomplished, trained classical pianist.    We 'hit it off ' from the very beginning and started playing music together round at his parents home where there was a piano.  He used to come and pick me up on his motorbike and I would balance myself and my guitar on the pillion which was no mean feat with the wind hitting the guitar case.  There was always a bonus of going to his house - getting some of his Mum's Cherry Pie. 

Early on, his name had been mentioned to me as someone who could play the piano 'a bit'.  I was knocked back on my heels when I actually heard him play.  His fingers used to float effortlessly, across the keys, an absolute joy to watch.  We talked for hours about music and particularly about things like, structuring discordant harmonies and the like, we both had great enthusiasm.    Sometime later we both found ourselves working at the Wholesale Food Market in the City centre, I was a junior salesman on a fruit pitch and Jimmy worked as a salesman in the Fish Market.  The working hours were 5am to 11am which suited the life of semi-pro musicians. 

The VOX Continental came out and he bought one straight away.   We played together in the same group -The Yamps - for a short while, doing things like House of the Rising Sun and a load of R and B things by Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Howlin Wolf and their like.  His skills as an organist were amazing and he played with loads of passion, we worked very well together.

Jimmy came by one day to say that he was going to London to join The Walker Brothers, I was flabbergasted, I wasn't bothered about him leaving the group so much, as I was excited for him.  He was a mate as well as a musical partner and I was really pleased he was joining a famous act.  I didn't see him for about a month, then one day he turned up at my house looking like a star, wearing fabulous clothes, sporting the Walker Brothers type hairstyle, driving a new red Triumph Spitfire and not smelling of Salmon!!   I was very impressed and happy for him. 

The Walkers were then a four-piece outfit with Scott Walker on Bass, John on Guitar, Gary on the drums and Jimmy O'Neil on the organ.   They played one night at the Brum Cavern (or should I say the scout hut), around the time of 'Make it Easy on Yourself'  where I popped down to see him.   They were doing the normal 'Reagan double' and went from there to the Plaza Handsworth for the next show.  He told me, at that time, that the group would be using a full blown backing band and his tenure as the 'fourth Walker Brother' would shortly be coming to an end.  I hoped he'd be coming back to Birmingham to rejoin my group but he got an offer from The Ugly's which he took.  We continued to play together socially.

I joined up with The Uglys myself a little later on but was disappointed that Jimmy then switched to playing the Bass instead of the organ, and though he was a good bass player, I thought it was a real waste of great keyboard talent.   We were playing a gig at some Town Hall somewhere and there was a Bechstein grand piano on the stage, the support band were setting up their gear and various town hall employees were 'doing their thing' preparing for the night when Jim strolled across to the piano and started playing a piece by the Norwegian composer, Christian Sinding - 'The Rustle of Spring', an evocative, melodic piece - everybody just stopped doing whatever they were doing and stood 'open mouthed'.  You could have heard a pin drop, everyone burst into applause, recognising his enormous talent.  I think Jim felt embarrassed by the attention, he was more focused on the music.

In 1968 Jimmy left The Uglys, joining as the bassist for The Mindbenders, then left The Mindbenders, got married went into the antiques world, did something else then went to the States.  I haven't heard from him since 1970 when we had a brief musical encounter for a while but I was in another place at the time so it was doomed to failure.  I believe he lives in America permanently now.  I have some fond memories, I'd love to play music with him again" WH.

This is a call going out to find a long lost mate of Norm Crandles (Lee Stevens), another Brummie abroad, who is looking for old band mate Jimmy Alexander.  Norm makes the occasional trip back to the UK from Canada to see his beloved Aston Villa and has taken the opportunity to renew some old friendships with Johnny Neal and some of hs band.  If you are reading this Jimmy or if anyone knows of his whereabouts, an e email to the address at the bottom of the page will set the ball rolling to reunite these two old musical mates.
and whilst we're on the subject of Johnny Neal....................

Whilst other Brummies are still doing their thing across the globe, Roger 'Moon' Shaw has just returned to the midlands from his life abroad, having lived in Turkey for the last 40 years.   Roger hailed from the Great Barr area and was lead guitarist with The Zeniths and The Silhouettes before featuring in several line up's of Johnny Neals band.  From The Starliners right through to the Johnny Neal Sound.  Roger met up with some of his old band mates recently.  Johnny's band all seemed to have had nicknames and Rogers was because of his round face, like the moon.

Pictured below from left to right, Johnny 'Noga' Neal, Roger 'Moon' Shaw and 'Tiny' Tim at their recent re-union.
Roger, like most guitarists of the era, listened to the blues and was also influenced by Chet Atkins during his formative years.  Such was his dexterity that when Johnny Neals band backed Gene Vincent at The Carlton, Vincent himself said that he was the best 'picker' he'd heard outside of the States.  

So a happy Brumbeat survivor is welcomed back into the fold.  Roger now lives in Telford, where he continues to play and has a home studio.  Anyone wishing to make contact with him should simply e mail me at the normal address.

OK you metal freaks.  Remember Henry's Blues House?   If you were or still are, a Metal Head why not take a look at the 'Home of Metal' website, set up to honour Birmingham as the birthplace of that type of music.  What did we call it before "Metal' - loud, I think!!  Still in its infancy, the website is just the place to visit to swap your thoughts or contribute a memory.  Rob Horrocks is the guy to speak to. 

Well guys, happy hunting. 

Still no new about The Executioners....

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob


Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Hi Brummies and friends abroad,

Much credit has been claimed by many different bands, including The Beatles, for having made the first music video to accompany a current song release.  George Harrison, with his normal and irreverent attitude to all things 'Fab' said, jokingly "So we invented MTV".

Well I'm here to state that the credit for having made the very first music video belongs to one man, ALEX WHARTON, ex-manager and producer of  Birmingham's, The Moody Blues.  In my 'In the Snug' interview with him last year we discussed, in some depth,  the recording session for Go Now.  I wanted to centre the interview on that particular subject for the publication but during our discussions we had talked, in passing, about music and the visualisation of songs as an art form.   Following the recording session of Go Now, in a developing Marquee Studios on Wardour Street (a half re-monted garage), Alex put up a black curtaining back drop, positioned some minimal lighting and filmed The Moodies miming to their current hit. 

Filmed in black and white, half illuminated faces of the band, with Denny Laine's position in the line up being moved from the foreground to the back left of the shot through the course of the song, are perfect for this ethereal piece of film, I would say video but of course there was no such thing then.   The half illumination reminded me of the 'With the Beatles' LP cover that was out in 1963 so perhaps there was a possibility he had also been influenced by this striking LP cover art.  I didn't ask him if that was the case. 

After filming the first session Alex superimposed another film of a girl, wandering aimlessly down a pathway, over the top of the Go Now film.   It's effect is hypnotising, giving the whole thing an atmosphere and helping to portray the sentiments of those very moving lyrics.   He brilliantly kept the superimposed girl 'shot' to the left side of the band video and her blonde hair appears to be floating around the heads of the band towards the latter part of the song as if she were in their minds.  Alex's creativity and artistic originality has either been intentionally forgotten, stolen, blatantly ignored or claimed by others who were a part of his life at the time.  I choose not to use their names because to do so would be to give them some credit. 

Alex has never asked for any recognition, he is not fuelled by his own ego, there are enough people out there who have enough ego to fill a lake, dropping names and make spurious claims - a smokescreen for mediocre talent.   However, I truly believe that Alex deserves to be recognised as a real ground breaker.  I said in the last article that his handling of the 'Go Now' recording itself was a masterpiece of production and I still stand by that belief.  Others may disagree, but they would be the people who recorded Hermans Hermits or some other disposable music like that, clinical and sterile pap.

There have been some remarks about the similarities for the much acclaimed Queen video for  'Bohemian Rhapsody' and the Go Now shoot, particularly the latters closing shot.  Who is to say who or what influenced peoples artistic decisions.  Life is full of  subliminal images stored and re-utilised sub-conciously in some other form, music is based on that same formula.   What is true though is that Alex Wharton did it first!

The Beatles made their 'video' for the record 'Hello Goodbye' in 1967. Alex Wharton filmed the Go Now session in 1964. I don't believe that there was anything before that.    Alex has never recieved one penny for that piece of history, we on the other hand are all the richer for his efforts.  So for what it's worth, thanks Alex.

Was it The Gorillaz that bored you to death at Glastonbury? 
Had all your food nicked out of your tent?
Caught a dose of crabs "from the toilet seat??"

Big Name festivals are humungous by reputation and that being the case, anyone with a sense of fashion thinks they should be seen THERE because it's the place TO BE SEEN.   However, it doesn't mean that during the Festival season it was the best PLACE TO BE....Basic ticket prices for Glasto this year were 195 pounds!!....each!!   Now I'm a frugal sort of guy but love great music so I had an alternative Festival season and went to:

Firstly, Gorillaz didn't make an appearance.
There were no tents.
There were slightly less fashionistas...but
There was a girl that SOLD crabs!

and top of the bill were

Tony Russell (left) had been featured here on the BHB Blog last August in the Hank Marvin/Fender Stratocaster piece.  Now he's a headline act with his band Shindig.  "We owe it all to Bulls Head Bob" says Tony, one mention and here we are, in a park".  Shindig showed their versatility and rocked their way through their set.

The band are a very much sought after act in the 'club' world where they bang out early sixties hits blended with a few of The Shadows instrumentals.  A real inclusive package for those who are into that period, what's more, these guys lived through all those times learning their craft with the changing times so there's no band more authentic than this one.  Look out for them.   

In the true tradition of Festival spirit, guest artists make surprise appearances with featured acts.  At Glastonbury Kylie Minogue teamed up with the Scissor Sisters.   Not to be outdone, SHINDIG  attracted the NETHERBURY debut appearance of the Black Country's hottest young guitarist 'Lil Charles.....or as he's better known 'Ar Kid'.  Armed with his luthier made guitar he laid down some hot gritty licks with Shindig providing him with a rockin' backing.   His sheer presence and confidence on the stage, struttin' his stuff was enough to have the crowd roaring their approval.
Go-Go-Go little Charlie!!!!!  
Way back when, it was impossible to buy a solid body guitar and even when they became available they were either built in Italy, Germany or Czechoslovakia and imported and badged under different names for sale in the UK.  Those were the days when a 'solid body' electric guitar was simply seen as a faddish thing that would be short lived.  The Futurama III was made in Czechoslovakia by the Resonet factory and imported by Selmer.  It was called the Futurama III because of it having 3 pick ups.  It was an excellent guitar, given the competition from other guitars on sale at the time was limited and, although it's looks wouldn't have knocked you out too much, the electrics were really excellent.  George Harrison famously spent time drawing pictures of this guitar in his schoolbooks whilst daydreaming about success.

The guitar itself was quite well put together with 3 pick ups, volume and tone rotary controls and three  Rocker switches for tonal selection.  An uncomplicated tremelo arm assembly gave the opportunity to bend some notes, long before the physical finger bending of strings was a known thing.  Nice sunburst finish and natural fingerboard.  The strap button on the upper cutaway was not placed very well but apart from these little imperfections it was quite a stylish option for a budding guitarist and many, many blossoming guitar heroes chose this model as their first solid body instrument.

With the lifting of the UK importation bill, guitars flooded into the country from the USA and with the likes of Fender, Gretsch and Gibson models becoming desirable, those earlier guitars found themselves on hooks in second hand shops.  However guitars from the US were costly and with the enormously popular solid body Hofners and Watkins Rapier models selling fast at the budget end of the market Selmer introduced a new range of re-modelled Futurama guitars to increase it's share of that market but this time made by Hagstrom.

I remember very well passing Jones and Crossland and seeing, for the first time, the new Futurama models (II and III) hanging on the wall.  The body shape of the Stratocaster had been adopted, like its competitors, but that was the only thing that had anything going for it.   Cheap, tacky plastic covering, screwed onto the guitar itself was hardly impressive in my eyes.  Nonetheless, curiosity got the better of me and I went in and had a closer look.  The build quality was horrible and this guitar would probably have been better placed to sell in Woolworths department store, not a serious music shop.  It was like a toy.  I know that these days folk like to think that any guitar from the 60's has a collectable value, well if you are into kitsch and tacky memorabilia then this is the very thing for you.  But with guitar dealers asking silly prices of around 400 to 500 pounds for something that is only suitable to hang on a wall and look at, I have to say that they are incredibly over-priced.  If you really want a Futurama from the 60's for your collection that is worth having as an instrument and not as a design disaster, then the Czech made Futurama III is the guitar to get.   These comments purely reflect my personal opinion but I have watched some Youtube clips of this guitar and they tend to reinforce that this guitar sounds as bad as it looks - dreadful. 

Hot news from the office.  The best Brumbeat site in the world is now to be found at   Add it to your list of favourites.  This is the only site about Brumbeat that offers you a 'second to none' list of band biographies AND a monthly blog filled with facts, features on old kit and guitars and of course my inane ramblings.  What more could you hope for?   It doesn't even cost anything.  Bloody miracle if you ask me.  We should be given a star on Broad Street for our services to Brummie rock music.


The ex-guitarist of The Uglys, is currently 'knocking em bandy' in the central part of Spain with his band of Spanish musicians at various blues and rock clubs.  "The club scene here is brilliant and vibrant once you've cracked the market and your name gets around, the audiences are knowledgable and very enthusiastic about music and we're going down very well".

"There are some beautiful clubs to play at and some fantastic musicians here in the land of the guitar.   I really had to lift my game, a bit like the old Brummie scene where you had to work hard and get a reputation to get into the better bands in the City".

"I Still do Shakin' all over but now I sing it as well!!" (see Six of the Best)

(Will Hammond Band: photos courtesy Manuel Jesus Salguero)

OK y'all, that's about it for this month.  I hope you enjoy what's left of the summertime and keep your eyes peeled for another
'In the Snug' interview coming soon.  A real highlight for BRUMBEAT'S 10th Anniversary year.  More importantly thanks to you all out there for your letters of support and encouragement.


Copyright Bulls Head Bob
Contact :

Sunday, 1 August 2010


And we're Off!..........
Hello Gang!!!!, pause for reply - (muffled sound)  -"hello bob".

Time to take stock of one of our Brummies Abroad....
I have heard recently from Graham (Bobby Ash/Brumbeats) who has just returned from his annual six month stint living in Hawai and is back in California, slumming it!....  Graham is hard at work though, recording a 10 track CD of self penned songs for the Hawaian market whilst holed up back at home.  How glum must that be?  Its been hammering down cats and dogs back in the UK. 

I, on the Black Country side of the Atlantic, have been revisiting some of my old West Midland courting places, Bilston Glue Factory, The Ammonia Plant at Sedgetree where me and Mavis the 'Manipulator' experiened some  real chemistry and my favourite of all time.....da-da-dada ......... downwind of the Golden Wonder Crisp factory at Tyseley, Mmmmm it was an olfactory delight on Salt and Vinegar day.   We move in the same circles, Graham and I. To me, of course, he's simply 'G'.   BHB and G - it's the dream ticket.
We'll be makin' music together soon, I can feel it in me waters.  All I need is the air fare and a grass skirt.. 

You may recall me publishing a photo of The Victors sent in by bassist Ken Reeves which I really liked and still do, in fact here it is again: 

This was followed up, a couple of months later, by yet another photo, sent by John Parish, this time of The Fugitives which also caught my eye.

Unbeknown to me at the time, both John and Ken had been lifelong mates and had started out down the rocky, but grand music road together when they were sproglets.

John sent me a couple more photos including one of his earliest groups, which featured both he and best mate Ken who, during the next few years, would be bassist for The Victors, The Yamps and probably a couple more bands along the way.

Ken and John in the centre of the picture.  Hofner Colorama in Johns hands, looking at the body size of Kens bass I'd guess at a Hofner club or Framus, doesn't look big bodied.  Not sure about the guitar on the right, looks a little like a Futurama but has the wrong headstock, could be a Vox maybe - giz a clue someone?.

Here is another of Johns group photos, John on the left. They were very well dressed!! - from Solihull that's why - if they lived where I did, you shared a pair of jeans with the bass player, one leg each. Luckily, mine was a good mate, well the one in the early days was. The last one would have charged me rent. Had an extra pocket sewn onto his 'leg' to hide his stiletto.

Selmer, Bird and Watkins Dominator amps, Hofner guitars and a very early appearance of a Stratocaster.  No microphones are evident, so a Shadows type outfit I guess.   I really think this is quite an amusing photo because generally, in those days, a mark of a successful band (from another groups perspective) was based on their equipment, as it gave the appearance that they were earning a lot of dough.
I just love the way they have lined up their gear, in front of them!!   I just fall about at that, in a nice way that is...very naive and pure, just the best fun ever.  The smallest bands had some of the best times, having a musical adventure combined with energy and the love of playing music.   They were'nt spoiled by the work-like 'professionalism' of bigger groups.  The further you move away from purity, the less the enjoyment is.  I really miss those particular days.   BRUMBEAT was not just about big name groups.  It was that energy and enthusiasm on a massive scale for a while and ALL these guys were a real part of its foundation.
2010 and here they are again, still mates, still playing and now available in colour!! - of course,  nice guitars and matching clothes!!  It's real testament to the bond that musical mates have.  Good on you guys, you have my deepest respect.

Now then, when is it my turn to have the jeans for a whole night Dave?

In the June blog, Hollick and Taylor studios were featured but they certainly were'nt the only studios about in Brum that were popular with bands.   Let's talk about another very well known studio, Zella.   Zella studios had been known as Ladbrokes studios for many a year and the same amount of people who recorded at HandT recorded at this studio as well, which was situated on Essex Street. just around the corner from Jones and Crossland.   Spencer Davis, The Move, The Uglys, Idle Race, Band of Joy and Black Sabbath who made their very first studio recording there, "When I Came Down" (available on some bootleg recordings), were all regular customers along with a host of others.   It was a smallish studio but had some ambience to it.  Tiny control room I remember.  Johnny Haines had been the sound engineer under the Ladbrokes regime but now he was the main man there and did a good job.  When the studio name change occurred it also spawned Zel-La records of which there were many releases, and differerent coloured labels over the coming years.   Heavy Brum band Magnum who had used Zella extensively, ended up buying the studio from Haines in the 80's.

So along with all those better known names there were masses of demos cut there.  Psychotron records have notified me of a couple of demos that have surfaced recently and are currently for sale.  This is a great opportunity to reunite some musician with a piece of their past.  The two are as follows:

organ led pop/prog around 1970?

Early 70's pop ?


John and I were discussing the merits of early 30 watt amps.  There were only two real good 30 watt amps available in the early 60's, the VOX AC30 and the Selmer Twin Selectortone.  I had the latter.  I had gone the normal route of a small 8 watt RSC practice amp, Linear Conchord cage amp and then onto the Selmer.  I can't tell you what a 'step up' this was.  It was like growing up.

Why buy a Selmer over a Vox AC30?  The Vox was the amp of the moment, it was attractive with gold lettering and was used by the Shadows and later The Beatles too.  I bought mine during The Shadows phase. I guess it was probably a choice based on my available funds though and I bought a second hand blue/grey model.  The joy of this amp over and above the Vox was it's built-in tremelo effect which was really good AND also sported a spring reverb.  The Selmer had a great row of push button switches which would enable you to switch between preset tones, from a gentle bass sound right through to ear splitting treble.  I didn't venture much towards the gentler end of the sound spectrum however.  My Selmer had a bit of a dirtier sound to it than the Vox, which may have been the overall virtue of this amp or, quite probably had just got that way through years of me  'givin it some welly'.   It certainly loved playing the likes of 'You Really Got Me' right through to, and including, the Blues phase.  It is worth mentioning that VOX added their treble boost control as standard in 1963 which could well have been their reply to the sound that was already available from a Selmer Twin.

This amplifier was incredibly heavy and built to last.  I recall dropping it down a flight of stairs and would invariably come crashing down off its stand (chair) when we was 'rockin', with the reverb making a hell of a noise as it landed on the floor.  Like all other muso's I carried a couple of spare valves but generally speaking I couldn't fault this lovely old thing.   The Bluey was superceded by the Croc Skin covered model during 64, (although it had been initially launched during the Autumn of 63 at the Music Fair in London) became a favourite of The Beatles and was used extensively during the recording of Revolver.

The Croc Skin model was now called the Zodiac and further, featured a glowing green light in the centre of the amp facia material which indicated the depth of tremelo effect being used.  Pretty gimmicky addition that didn't really serve any technical purpose.  The Selmer badge had now been moved from a small badge in the top left corner to one that spanned the whole width of the amp across the bottom.  Outside of the cosmetic appearance, the amp itself remained practically the same but now there was the option of a 50 watt model being available.  The controls changed little from the original ones. 
It was only some years later that I moved on to Park amps (of which there will be a bigger article forthcoming) when 30 watts just wasn't enough to fill the places we were playing.  In fact most 30 watt amps became a thing of the past at that time.  I can't, for the life of me, remember what I did with that Selmer amp, wish I had it now.

It turned out during our conversation that John had owned a Zodiac up to two years ago when he
- THREW IT IN A SKIP!!!!!!!!!! - for our North American friends - a DUMPSTER!!
I can almost hear you guys fainting out there............I couldn't speak when he told me.   People in the States are scrambling to get hold of one of these wonderful amplifiers so please don't 'Do a John'.  Also the Croc skin amp appears to be favoured above the bluey.   Well listen you people, in my opinion you would be doing just as well to get yourselves a bluey, dont be a slave to fashion.  They are both seriously great amps.  One has different make-up, thats all. 

Until next month........
Keep Rockin'

Copyright Bulls Head Bob. 

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Oh you're back then?.. well I'll begin... "Oh no" you say to yourself.  "Bob's gonna be talking bollocks again..."

   I was mulling over a story I did a short while ago about being a music shop 'window gazer' when I was younger and it made me think about the reason behind it's attraction.  It's a bit like wanking, we all did it but hardly own up to it!... standing for hours just looking at a particular musical instrument.  Why did we do that? nothing stopped me from doing it at all, fog, rain, snow, desperately scraping the ice off the window to get a better view during the depths of winter.   Was it in the firm belief that this instrument would suddenly pass, magically, through the glass into my hands? The fact that there could be nothing to gain from this activity never entered my head, in reality it became almost addictive.  I even recall walking away from a window for about a hundred yards and then returning to have another gander for half an hour.  Nowadays some 'PC' git would say I had Obsessive Compulsive I didn't you tie-dyed tosser, it was called being in love with a Gibson!!  She was young, curvy and attractive, in a cherry red sort of way.  Scrupulously clean and shiny beyond belief with a couple of knobs I would love to get my hands round.
It was a form of masochism though, because you knew, for sure, that one day the guitar or whatever, would be gone and you would experience that ballsaching, heartbeaking sensation as your stomach plummeted to your scrotum with a hefty thunk!.    You found yourself tentatively looking around in disbelief, making sure no-one could see you in your state of shock.  And then... Shit! there's a soddin' trombone in the very place that your guitar stood, lazily resting on its stand, I'm not gonna stare at that thing, a trombone!! of all the things to put in it's place? you're secretly grateful though, that they didn't put a kazoo there, that would have been just too insulting.

Why have they changed the display?, they know I come and look at it everyday.  Panic- stricken, you press your face flat against the shop front window searching the darkness within to see if there was a trace of YOUR guitar.  Where is it?  Your face is contorted into all sorts of unflattering shapes as you drag it down the window.  The disappointment comes flooding through your soul as you realise that it has gone forever and off you go, head down like a rejected lover, trapsing the streets, rabid with rage and swearing your allegiance to some other music shop.  Great big smear down the shop front though, that'll serve them right?

These days I am more than a few years older and a lot wiser than then.  With a mature outlook on the realities of life, I look back and laugh at that aspect of my youth and foolishness - as I find myself, along with four other guys, staring through the window of the 'Incontinence and Walking Aids Boutique'.

I go every day, with Wednesday's off for a spot of  'sexual therapy, wiv' her indoors'...yay!!

I know that one of the 'window gazers' is secretly admiring a strap on, leg-bag, cause he's the only one at the controversial 'Incontinence' end of the shop front.    The other three and me, at the safer 'walking stick' end of the window, had all been musician window gazers too!   None of us, even 'Strap-on man' need any of the services available there!!   It's just that the glass at this particular shop is always washed every morning and we can do some formation nose-pressing in hygienic circumstances, if we have a mind to?  

  "Mmmm! a  new model, three pronged Zimmer!!.   If I ever needed one - thinking ahead - I bet I could walk twice as fast with that model, plenty of grip from those bulbous rubber feet, maybe I could cut some grooves into the rubber, for wet weather conditions, even carry a second set - Slicks maybe for 'warm pavement' situations? They would definitely help during a bit of child-swerving and avoidance techniques at the school crossing chicane!!" 

There could be money in this.  Maybe I could get Lewis Hamilton to endorse a 'Signature" model, he's just perfect in the wet.....?  "OK guys, noses at the away". 


ROY WOOD.......

I am thrilled to hear that Roy Wood has been given a Mojo 2010 Classic Songwriter award in their honours list. Roy is a true Brumbeat hero, great bloke, not full of bullshit like some others. This is great news indeed. I can almost forgive 'Curly'.

MEMORY LANE GIGS...Once again, your man on the street has been rummaging around his cyber drawers to help restore your recollections of the incredible music scene of Birmingham, and its environs, in the late 50's to late 60's.

The building that was The Adelphi in New Street burned to the ground in 1971, however, I managed to find some film recorded inside The Adelphi during an ATV dinner dance in 1962.   I believe that this is the only inside footage available, you lucky people!  It was a little before my time as a proper musician and it's silent I'm afraid but it would appear that even then, in the audience were two Mackeson fuelled revellers who thought it would be 'super' to take their bikes with them.  Also a couple of "swingin' birds" winning a TV.  Brings a tear to my eye........enjoy.  Dancing scene from a 'Bands Eye" view.  A great but short piece of film history.  Click Below:



I played at all three of these places a few times with The Plaza being one of the favourite places because of it's revolving stage which provided a great dramatic entrance, whizzing round as you were announced.  If you didn't have a road manager the last number could be a bit of a nightmare though.  As you finished your set you had to run to take the leads from the back of your PA speakers because as the stage starting to revolve again, in the opposite direction, it would drag them crashing to the ground. The Beatles and Stones both gigged here along with every great band of the sixties.

I've read recently that the place opened again in May for live music though it will never re-live those days when every band, that ever was, regarded this place to be almost hallowed ground.

Now this is a VERY old photo and I've had to take some liberties with it but can't find another picture of the place anywhere. If you look carefully you can see a cart just at the side door.  Five blokes standing around drinking and smoking, they must have always had bands there!!  Loads of people will remember lugging their gear up those two flights of stairs.  This was such a great place to play, I have really fond memories of nights here. It was always packed when we played there, probably when you played there too.
I think most good Brummy bands did gigs here so I won't do any 'naming of names' because I'll get people saying "I played there as well, add me your list".  However don't let that be a reason not to make contact here.  

Goodby to Pete Quaife, co founder and bass player of The Kinks.  Pete had been undergoing  Kidney dialysis for some ten years, although it is not known if this was the reason for his passing.

Liam Gallagher has announced the new name for his band - "Beady Eye".

Coincidentally, at that very moment, the Gang of Four at the pub were playing a game, which was to come up with a name for our band using only descriptive words. 'Gobby Wanker' had us in fits of laughter until 'Swaggering Twot' tipped the scales in it's favour. It would look really good on a poster too. I wonder if Liam needs a support band? doubt it though, he can definitely fill the whole stage with his own 'aura', he is the re-incarnation of John Lennon...... How do you remove 'aura' stains? 

Send YOUR Entries for our Gof4 competition to "Swaggering Twot is Nothing" , if the Lyrics to 'Doris' (Jun blog) don't sell, they could well be on their way to 'YOU' if you win. There will be no other copies made, this is more genuine than 'Frankies Mints' or those other companies that advertise on the back of Sunday supplements. You're probably working away at your entry right now!! Just to show you how genuine I am, "Lucy pass me that piece of paper"...sound of scratchy pen.... there couldn't be fairer, I'm a man of my word.

I'd like to win them myself but competition rules mean I can't - just my luck!!

"Every Morning at the Mine you could see him arrive"....not any longer I'm afraid.  Jimmy Dean, singer and composer of  'Big Bad John' has recently passed away.

Pete Townshends guitar sells for 64,219 dollars.
A Day in the Life lyrics sell for 1.2 million dollars. 
Bob's "Gis a Snog Doris" lyrics remain unsold - unbelievable!!  It's a competition prize of a lifetime.

Honest John Prescott has been made a Lord after saying for years that he would always refuse to enter THAT place.......the Gang of Four think that he's going to be known as Lord Suet Crust of Cowpieland.

HIGHLIGHT OF GLASTONBURY.  Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead playing in a small tent devoid of TV coverage. The audience and those two were 'at one with each other' during their short performance.  Great to see that ONE band who could have quite easily headlined in place of the crap Gorrilaz and got a big earner too, chose to 'Keep it Real' and give something back to their fans.  Absolutely Brilliant!!! 

Still no news from anyone who was in The Executioners...surely someone must have heard of them??

copyright Bulls Head Bob.  Contact at