Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Ow Doooo...

I know this may sound a bit old hat but I really can't believe that it's been a whole year since the last Brumbeat Brummies Abroad blog, it creeps up on you doesn't it?, time, and before you know it you're another year older.   Scary stuff, I best get on with the blog before I pass away.

I can't include information on all our Brummies Abroad but will pass on what I can from those that I'm in touch with and a little info on some of those I'm not.   There's loads of them I guess, including my ukulele playing Auntie Doreen, last heard of canoeing up the Orinoco.  


It's been a miserable winter so let's get ourselves warmed up a bit and jet off to the shores of Hawaii to call on Graham Ashford aka Bobby Ash or Buddy Ash but most of all known as the front man of The Brumbeats.  
(copyright Graham Ashford)
Look at this brilliant photo!  Graham in his Buddy Ash days looking very Gene Vincent with his drape jacket, white socks and turn ups. Couple of nice old Burns sonic guitars and an early Stratocaster and although the photo is in black and white we all know that it was red.

This year sees the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles first LP.   It is also the 50th Anniversary of The Brumbeats, who Graham was the vocalist for, recording an LP of Beatles songs and having it released under the name of The Merseyboys, not a group to miss opportunities of timely name changes.

"There is a load of coverage going on in the USA about The Merseyboys LP even though we were Brummies simply because it was about at the same time."  Those vinyl collectors out there will note that it is also on the VJ label which adds to its collectability

It is pertinent to note that Graham spends half of the year in Hawaii and
Graham Ashford
the other in
 California.  Graham is currently in California and has recently put on his Hawaiian concert in his home town,Temecula.   

Graham is planning a trip back to Birmingham to celebrate his 70th birthday in April.  So if you're an old mate of Grahams he's gonna be buying the drinks.  If you want to make contact with Graham to see whilst he's back in the City simply email me and I'll try and get you in touch.     

Great organist, well great all round musician, Bill Bonham continues to live a nice life in the sunny hills of California and as usual Bill sent me some fotos of his latest visit to NAMM, probably the best music exhibition there is and just like last year, Bill bumped into old Black Country mate Glen Hughes ex Finders Keepers and Trapeze.  
Glen Hughes with Bill Bonham
For those of you who have a Deep Purple interest, Glen will be performing at the Jon Lord memorial concert at the Albert Hall on Friday 4 April so if you wanna get a ticket best get on the phone now!!

Bill also had the undeniable pleasure of meeting up with the amazing Rachel Flowers, simply a phenomenal keyboard player.
Bill Bonham and Rachel Flowers

For those of you who know Bill it won't have gone un-noticed that he is a shadow of his former self and over the year has lost an amazing 67 pounds!!
I haven't shown this photo to Mrs Bob as she'll be on my back to get me jogging again.  Can't deny that Bill is looking good though.  

This year also saw the release of a book on Robert Plant where Bill and few other Brumbeat personalities added some interviews about the man.   If that wasn't enough this year also saw the CD release of Bills ex band, Fairfield Ski which met with some good reviews.   
The cold and windy country of Canada is home to Norm Crandles, formerly
Lee Stevens, vocalist for one of Brums early bands The Satelites.
Norm isn't active on the music scene anymore but has sent me some nice photos that should bring back some memories for some of you guys.

Here we have a nice early photo , it's plain to see that this band got plenty of work, you only have to look at the quality of their kit to know that.   A fairly rare Guild on the left, never the most popular of guitars.

Lee Stevens and The Satelites copyright Norm Crandles
Now here's a rarity, a photo inside a gig.  This shot was obviously taken before the first one above as they had lesser guitars, Hofner V2 and a Burns sonic bass and there's a drum kit for you!!!  Personnel of this variant of Lee Stevens and The Satellites comprises, from front to back, Roger Gauntlett, Barrie Gray, Tony Green and Mal Priddy.

I had no idea from the backdrop where it was taken but Norm tells me it was taken inside Alex Hoopers on the Stratford Road.  I remotely remember it, it was situated in between The Star Ballroom and The Mermaid.  To my knowledge there were definitely 2 more venues close by as well, so there were 5 gigs in less than 200 yards of one road, during the Brumbeat heyday...incredible!!
Lee Stevens and his 'Smokin' Jacket

Norm.  "When I first saw Carl Wayne wearing a white jacket I had to have one and this was the night I wore it.  During the show I took it off and our manager folded it and laid it across the edge of the stage, unfortunately he also laid it over a stage light too and a few minutes later it caught fire".   I also bought a Shure microphone which was very trebley, to try to make me sound like Danny King, sadly it didn't work".

Lee Stevens and The Satellites were a group that played the whole circuit in Brum and shared the stage with a host of famous faces
during the day.

Norm made his escape to Canada back in 1966.  Although it sounds great to live overseas we tend to forget that it doesn't mean you are showered with the suns rays all day long whilst sipping a
long iced drink on your porch.   This is what Norm woke up to this morning:

and you thought it was cold in Stirchley??

Will Hammond
Back to Europe and over to Spain to visit The Ugly's great guitarist, Will Hammond.  The Uglys were a 'benchmark band' and like most of the other members of this memorable Brummie band, Will is still very active and popular on the music scene with The Will Hammond Band in Spain, performing regularly at a large variety of venues including a huge benefit concert to raise money for the Philippines tragedy.

On top of his concert commitments Will and
(copyright Woody Amores)
his band have been and still are, busy recording a new CD of Wills material, he has made several TV and radio performances through the year including a type of "Desert Island Discs" talk show where he 
talked about his favourite selection of music, films and books.

"It was incredibly daunting because I had to speak for an hour and a half totally in Spanish which isn't easy even when you're relaxed, let alone having the pressure of a live radio show". 

"As well as playing large gigs we also play some of the smallest I've experienced but with some of the greatest atmosphere's too.
It's just so nice to play some good concerts to appreciative audiences".  
(The Will Hammond Band at Oveja Negra...copyright Will Hammond)
Jeff Lynne breezed into Brum the other night to collect a decorated paving slab to go with the one he was awarded in Hollywood, California.  When I say he breezed into town I meant he was dropped off at the Birmingham Library to collect his paving slab for the Broad Street Walk of Fame.  He's no fool is he?, you wouldn't want to go walking down Broad Street at night to pick up a paving slab unless you were equipped with full riot gear.    I have to say here and now that Jeff was years ahead of the game with his songwriting and producing even with The Idle Race and I was a little disappointed that his excellent 1990 solo CD Armchair Theatre didn't do better.  I listened to it a lot.  

I struck me that Jeff could be missing a marketing opportunity with his latest paving slab so here's what I was thinking.  "Jeff you should bring out your own jewellery line and call it 'Blynng'  I've thought it all out so you would obviously want to take me on board as your 'Blynng' Chief Adviser.   It's my idea to target the DIY brigade too.  Here's a drawing of how the new 'Blynng Slab for Men who Build Patios' medallion will look":
The downside is that you really do have to have a bit of a strong neck.
Anyway Jeff, It was my intention to pitch it to you face to face but my invitation must have got delayed in the post? and anyway the library had been lit in colours that meant I couldn't approach it any closer than 500 yards, kind of blue and white Kryptonite.  

So anyway let me know your Lordship and I'll get onto B&Q who are in on the deal.   BLYNNG ....Slabs for Real Men......not 'Horace Wimps', heavens above Jeff this is a sharp advertising mind in action, I'd best stop before I set the page on fire.

PAUL CARTER - Grasshoppers, Brumbeats, Starliners

The Cape of South Africa is a long way away.   Imagine if you had to commute to London to work from there?, not a soddin' chance in hell, unless you are Paul Carter that is.   

Paul works for two weeks in London then flys back to SA for two weeks off where he has been a member of a sixties band and also blowin some jazz when he can.  Paul is another ex-member of The Brumbeats and also The Grasshoppers and Johnny Neal and The Starliners

Co-incidentally, Johnny Neal also has a holiday home on the Cape so hopefully we can get them reunited when Johhny visits there this month.

So there we are, as well as the lovely guys above, there are of course others living throughout the far reaches of the world who were amongst those playing music for the Golden Days of Brumbeat at The Ritz, The Silver Beat Club, The Crown and Cushion, The Rainbow Suite, The Carlton etc etc etc....good on you all, so pleased to see so many of you still playing too.

Tara a Bit

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