Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Hiya Brummies, Brumettes and Other Friends around the globe,

Here we have a 60's group from all around the Brum area, that is Perry Barr, Great Barr and Bordesley Green.   They are a group that never achieved any dizzy heights of recognition but they and a thousand bands like them were the essence and backbone of the Brumbeat scene and equally as important as any other band that was around then.   I can well imagine that they played with great fire and enthusiasm and would have gone down well at the places they played.  The line up of this band was from left to right, Brian Nicholls, Lead Guitar, Vic Jarvis, Bass and lead vocal, Ray Green, Drums and Dave Crewdson, Rhythm Guitar......
So  ladies and gents, a round of applause if you will for The Fleetwoods

I'm just guessing here but this photo was probably taken around 1962/3 as there doesn't appear to be any Beatles influenced hairstyles apart from the bass player, but naturally being a bassist meant he was the 'odd' one anyway. I have no idea what message was trying to be conveyed here but I do
think it's a great photo. 
The Fleetwoods
The introduction of the electric guitar created a freak of the times and spawned a group on every street in the West Midlands, it was quite extraordinary.   The Fleetwoods are the perfect example of how bands evolved then.  They were the musical youth of the day who spent their time at endless practise sessions, striving to get some 'better' gigs, or 'bookings' as they were known.  

I imagine their name came from the 'in vogue' collection of bands whose names were associated with cars, The Corvettes, The Vipers etc etc. 

I had a band that I named after my own car but for some reason The 1955 Side-Valve Hillman Huskys never really had that yankee ring to it.

With a band playing in practically every pub and dance hall three times a week, on average, it was a real 'industry' and record shops, clothes shops, guitar shops and van salesmen did a roaring trade off the back of these young men and this group of young men did the normal round of gigs.  If you were good enough there were plenty of places to play too,
albeit for about 10 pounds a night between four, it doesn't sound much but was certainly enough to equip yourself with some reasonably sounding budget kit similar to the three Hofners above.  In their day The Fleetwoods would have looked good on stage with their matching guitars, amps and stage outfits as was the norm for bands then. 

They played on the Ma Regan circuit and supported The Redcaps and also The Searchers during the height of their fame.  

What interested me, more than a little, is their old set list.

When I first saw it, it was like looking at a piece of my past also because, with a couple of exceptions, I must have learnt or played every one of those songs and probably every other Brummie band had practically the same sort of set.   Interestingly, they included 'World without Love' by Peter and Gordon?? this song appears to be the most modern, but bizarre amongst the other rockers, which
Crackin van in the background?
Brian Nicholls 2nd left
would date this list to 1964, right in the thick of the beat music phase, loads of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis songs that would have had the girls dancing plus some Screaming Lord Sutch, Larry Williams and the wonderful John Lee Hooker's 'Dimples'.   

There is one song in the set that has always been a favourite of mine too and that is "Thats What I Want" by The Marauders, from Stoke on Trent and was written by Brums own Carter-Lewis songwriters

The list is also indicative of how the music scene was changing then.  It still contained some Shadows instrumentals, a bit of a musical throw back to when playing instrumentals was expected because The Shads had been such an influence but were now being considered yesterdays news.

I don't think I ever actually saw The Fleetwoods but I certainly saw hundreds of other bands, all with practically the same set list who were great little bands, enjoying their music and hoping for stardom.  You all worked hard trying to achieve the dream, proud of the band you were in.   The dance halls and pubs were generally full at that time too so you always had a reasonable sized audience to play to.   I'm pleased that I can feature them here. 
brian nicholls today!

The City of Birmingham and it's sprawling suburbs were full of live music and every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday night a band, just like The Fleetwoods would be setting up their equipment to belt out that set list in some smoke filled, stale-beer smelling dance hall or bar.  I can tell you, it was just the greatest time of our young lives.  My thanks go to Brian Nicholls for sending me the above photos.   He is still active on the music scene with a couple of projects.

Competition was tough then and only the tough or the ruthless survived to make it. 

Myself and the gang at the boozer were talking about the Gordon Jackson blog I did 2 months ago, specifically about missed chances of musical fame when Malcolm Palmers missed opportunity story reared it's head.

Although not born in Brum, Christine Perfect grew up in Birmingham, Bearwood to be precise.  Having musical parents it was inevitable that she too would be pulled in that direction.   She was in her teens when the music of the Blues first started to be heard.   It was an obvious magnet for her and her soulful bluesy voice.   She of course was also a very good pianist too.

When Stan Webb formed Chicken Shack she contacted him and asked if she could join the band.
Chicken Shack
Indeed you could see the group playing at various gigs around Brum, a very good band indeed.  At the same time Malcolm Palmer
a veteran of the Beat scene with The Yamps, was now playing Sax in a band called 'The Fashion', also a good Brummie band, who were playing good gigs all over the country and could have been a big act.
Malc had been at Moseley School of Art along with Christine and they would bump into each other occasionally in the City.   

One night The Fashion were playing at a gig in Moseley Village when he saw her and the rest of Chicken Shack in the audience.   Their record "I would rather go Blind" had been released, had charted and they were now enjoying the fruits of their labours. 
Malcolm Palmer

After the gig Christine came over to talk to Malc and said that the band were very interested in him joining them, and that they were shortly embarking on a tour of the USA,  Malc said "Sorry, I can't do it, I'm playing with my friends". He was confident that with his own bands current tie-up with an important Agent in Birmingham, their future was on the rise.  

It was just a week or so later that the guitarist with The Fashion, always one for the women, decided it would be a great idea to shag the daughter of the bands agent.....!! Mr Agent found out and he dropped the band in an instant saying "You'll never work in this City again".    Malc, along with the rest of the band was devastated, then remembering the offer from Christine, he discovered which aeroplane they were leaving on for the States and turned up at Birmingham Airport with his Saxophone and his bags packed and when they arrived at the terminal he talked to them trying to convince them to take him with them. 

They said no. 

It's a sad story of missed fortune but is one that has been, and will continue to be, repeated over and over again with of course different personalities in differing situations.  The real message to musicians is that you have to take these golden opportunities by the horn and sometimes though you feel like you're letting your band mates down these 'windows to fame' are few and far between.   The same sort of thing had happened to me twice and I still find myself thinking, "I should have" but by then, it's history.....that boat has sailed.

It has recently been reported in the British Press that there is a drastic shortage of good quality sperm in the UK and UK clinics are importing Sperm from the USA and Denmark....DENMARK!!!!  of all places? Don't they know that those arseholes have banned Marmite??  

Anyway, I'm absolutely amazed there's a supposed shortage because I know of thousands of Wankers in Birmingham alone???.  I know one who could supply the national bank on his own.  

However, there are some excluded from donating and those are bankers, solicitors and politicians.  They can only donate their sperm to aquariums and ponds where they can produce even more bottom feeders and leeches.

Have a nice holiday you guys, it's July and I'm looking forward to some lazy afternoons. 

Toodle Pip

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