Sunday, 1 May 2016


Watcha Brummies, Brumettes, Brumbeat Muso's, Bikers, Hikers, My Feminist Sweety Pies and a special hello to the "Lozells looks Better from the Air Association". 

"My word you do look queer" said Mrs Bob quoting old comedian and king of the monologue,  Stanley Holloway. "Have you been drinking that
Morning Glory tea again?" referring to the outcome of a bit of a mistake I made with some granules in the bottom of a mug.  The 'granules' were in fact some Morning Glory seeds given to her by her Mother, which I added hot water to.  I swear to this day that I thought I was making a Cuppa Soup and it ended up with me apparently conducting some bizarre naked ritual with a visiting double glazing salesman?....for me it was childish fun and free spirited, halucenogenic buffoonery.  I shan't go into details but I doubt if we will EVER have another cold caller at the door.    

Well I was feeling poorly-like and so I took to my bed, my temperature soaring.  I think I must have been halucinating again because at one point I even imagined Mrs Bob coming into the darkened bedroom and shouting "The Villa have been relegated".....she looked like the devil and cackled like a bearded witch.  
"Bad trip man", I thought and anyway we always scrape through?   When I came round a few days later Nobber phoned me up with the official news and was weeping like a baby.

Look on the bright side'll give us another chance to thrash the other team. 

For the first time ever I didn't get the blog out last month so sorry for that you guys and especially for you Plooki, alone in your Tokyo loft.   I'm up and fully recovered from my recent ailments so would firstly like to say many thanks to you people who dropped me a line of the 'Get Well Soon' variety, very much appreciated and all those who visited the blog numerous times throughout the month, waiting for my drivel to come along.   

Clearly I'm not dead and I have little more to say about the recent spate of deaths of some of those we loved and knew, many others were our role models for life ....we're all in the queue, best celebrate now!!  

Writing the piece on Barry Reeves a couple of month's ago had me contacting people in the search for Johnny Whitehouse and The Congressmen, a previous group he had been a member of.  

One of those I made contact with is someone well known in the Brumbeat legacy and who now lives in variety city, Las Vegas and that person is the great:
Jon Washington has been known by a variety of Johns, Johny's and Jons so for the interests of my own frail memory I shall try and use the right spelling variant chronologically with a pause for a George along the way?

Johny Washington was the front man for Johny Washington and The Congressmen who hailed from the Coventry area who had a great career with some great midlands bands and association with some of the noteable characters who were prevalent in the midlands in the glory days.   We 'crazy cats'  who formed bands were Arty, out there on the cutting edge of design we embraced the atomic age in our stride and produced amazing artwork to publicise ourselves. 

In 1962 Johny Washington and The Congressmen were no exception
(Copyright Jon Washington)

You've just got to love that haven't you?  It's got it all as a time capsule, just as The Beatles were arriving.  Undecided Elvis or Beatles? moody greaser with a slim dickie-bow, Crazy swinging capitalised lettering, one 'N' in Johny.  The other members of the band  floating around in the background. I would make a guess that the guy with the  'Hank' glasses was the guitarist and I might be hazarding another guess here but I think that Johny himself might have had something to do with the construction of this poster? 
Just fabulous though, it was the way young bands were and for me those were genuinely the happiest days I spent playing.  So for anyone who didn't get beyond that, you didn't miss too much.    

It struck a spark in Johny though who had got the taste for performing and wasted no time time getting himself deeper into the music world because the very same year that the above photo was taken he met up at a gig, at the Nuneaton Co-op, with the great Reg Calvert who invited him to become one of his Clifton Hall 'stable' or budding artistes.

Reg had his own way of doing things and after a meeting between Reg and Johnys parents Johny was taken on and re-launched as a solo artist....Johnny Washington, now with an added N and he must have fancied himself for the big-time.

Johnny recorded on the Oriole label and played all of Reg's venues as well as the package show tour around the country along with other stablemates including Robby Hood and his Merry Men who was fronted by another stablemate Mike West, but now known as Robby Hood.  Johnny Washington was also co-opted into the Merry Men to augment the guitar sound and vocals.  The Merry Men including Johnny as a band were taken on by Decca, the band name flew out of the window along with those hideous costumes (no surprise there!)and after a while as The Cliftones the name The Fortunes arrived in their laps.  

It's 1964 and during all this hubub of musical activity Reg Calvert had arranged
another solo record deal for Johnny with the Fontana label and the great Les Reed as producer.   Johnny was going to have a Reed/Mason song to record who were the top hitmakers of the day and would also go on to write "Tell me When" for The Applejacks and "Here it comes Again" for the Fortunes. 

They didn't like Johnny's name though so they changed it to George E. Washington and he got the band back this time as The Congress.   George E. who used to be Johnny with two N's recorded "Spare a thought For Me" and   Glen Dale filled his slot with The Fortunes.

The record is so full of the sounds of 64 and naturally got lots of air play, doing moderately well in the UK and a great success in other parts of Europe but more put George E. on the musical map.   He continued to tour the country as George E. until another opportunity came knocking for him at the end of 65 when he was offered the job as vocalist for The Applejacks who were a great band, successful and had an extremely polished act and George E. would now be known as John Washington. 
John Washington white polo neck.
He was a good choice to replace Al Jackson not solely because he was a great vocalist but because he looked right with the band and similar to Al himself in some ways.

John served his time with The Applejacks and their
busy schedule of playing the cruise liners across to New York and back until 1970 when the band dissolved.  John took the bull by the horns and moved to America in 1971 and, having secured a recording contract with Columbia they built a group around him and he toured across the whole of the USA for most of the 70's.  His time with The Applejacks had honed his performance techniques and he was going down well with the American audiences.   

He was now Jon Washington, without the H.  Thank goodness for that because he has been Jon since then.

One would think that, had that been the end of a fruitful career, any right thinking guy would have been happy and retired and opened a book shop or something.   Not for Jon, no sir!

ENTER THE 80's, 90's and the O's
In the 80's Jon signed to Mega International Records and in 1988 had two Billboard Top 100 hits on the country charts with "Once Dance Love Affair" and "Two Hearts".   This renewed success bought some very welcome TV shows and National tours that boosted Jon's profile to yet another another huge audience and he has continued to tour, write and record songs right through to today. 

As if that wasn't enough his CD, "I can Feel a Love Coming On" was nominated for a Grammy in 2003! 

Jon was now a big act and had been doing a lot of shows at various Casinos in Las Vegas and he decided that this would probably be the place to relocate to rather than to keep travelling to, so he moved to Las Vegas permanently in 1995 and was the resident House act at the acclaimed  
Stardust Casino till 2005.  

Jon continues to tour at Festivals, Fairs and Theatre venues and released his last CD "The Heartbreak Chronicles" in 2015

From Moody greaser to sophisticated  and elegant charm
Oh yeah! and this amazing guy has also written 3 non fiction books on music and has his first Novel due for publication later this year.   So if ever there was living proof of determination with a willingness to diversify, Jon has it in spadefulls.  It's a genuine pleasure to welcome to the hallowed halls of the Brummies Abroad the great Jon Washington.
Ex Uglys guitarist Will continues enjoying his life writing, recording and playing gigs in Spain whilst rebuilding his old village farmhouse.  

"I've just taken posession of my new customised stripey Stratocaster and I've called it Pete after the great Pete Oliver and his WASP shop.  I've had a pair of humbuckers fitted and it sings beautifully, can't wait to get out gigging with it"


Ex Brumbeats vocalist Graham Ashford and wife Caroline have been tripping too, not in the Morning Glory manner, but have just returned from cruising down to New Zealand for six weeks.   

Graham lives in Hawaii during the winter and at his new house in the woodlands of Seattle for the rest of the year but this year he will be in New York for the whole of September. 

He has the good fortune to have a beautiful bald eagle resident at the back of the property of his new abode which has a stage area out back with a seating area for about 100 so he's planning some summer shows there.

Graham with Pono Kane.
That should make him popular with the neighbours.  His Hawaian band Pono Kane are also on the agenda for a gig there, so that should be a great Hawaian Night for sure.

Graham has also just been approached to join a '60's band in the Seattle area which would be just tremendous. He sang right through the heydays of British Rock in some of the best Brummie groups so he'll be in his element for sure.

If he does I don't think he will be adopting his old 'stage moves' anymore though.  Here he is in his more flexible days with The Plazents. 

copyright G Ashford

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