Friday, 1 December 2017


Christmas  Christmas  Christmas

Hello Brummies

Doesn't it come around quick?   It's just as well too because as you know...
I put my decorations up last week, so it was pre-December and I've never done that before so I must be super excited this year.    I have been generous of spirit and generously full of spirits too, I'm a Brandy man these days, must be something to do with maturity and elegance, two words that certainly didn't apply during my youthful Vodka years?    

I just love the warmth that is created by the Christmas lights in the City but am not a great fan of the German Market.
I really can't see the British culture in any of that stuff,  I mean since when was Bratwurst a traditional Christmas meal?
If you have tiny tots as children or have Grandchildren the best place to take them to this Christmas is to the Botanical Gardens where the lighting is spectacular definitely Santa's wonderland where the imagination can run free and you can invent all sorts of stories for the kids in that environment.

Very magical and old world just like the buildings used to be in the City Centre before the rise of the concrete monsters.


All my Christmas shopping has been done and I have excelled myself with my depth of wondrous imagination. 
Mrs Bob will be surprised I'm sure, gone are the macho days of giving her wheelbarrows and spades, soldering irons (with assorted tips), roofing felt and other luxury items like that, because frankly, they were really difficult to wrap and I sometimes got the impression that she wasn't too keen on some of them.

I made a real effort to think on why she might not have liked one or two of them (though she definitely loved the roofing felt) and came to the realisation that I might have deprived her of her femininity?  You know, Women like to be loved, Women like to shop, Women like to make an informed choice on styles and appearance and they even like to read!!  I never knew that last bit.  

So one afternoon, after an away win by the Mighty Villa which had heightened my emotions, I popped into the snug at The Rat and Dodgeball for a frenzied hour of brain storming.   I had memorised every facet of her wants and feminine desires...  Love, Shopping, Making choices on style and appearance AND even included my new piece of knowledge about her....reading.   I knew at that moment just what to buy her and popped into one of my favourite stores that always has the perfect range of gifts and bought her a "500 pound GIFT VOUCHER" so she can shop and make her own informed choices and they gave me a book for her to read absolutely Free! Its made of actual paper and is really thick.   

How lucky was that? got home, snuck it upstairs and put it under the bed, to be wrapped later.    I can picture her now after dinner, feet up on the pouf, a small Port, box of chocolates, Gift Voucher and a good book to read.

There's such a lot in it.  So there you go, I don't mind sharing a good idea when it comes along.   I was going to read the end of the book myself but I would have been tempted to tell her how it finishes


I remember buying the Midland Beat magazine every month to see who was playing with who etc....

As this is no longer in existence, like the majority of the groups who featured in it in the day, one has to rely on word of mouth for any news of the Brumbeat survivors club.  One good source for all this gabbling is the contact in the guitar shop at Stirchley namely, Bob Styler.   These days he's talking about himself as he hops into yet another band in the search for more gigs and glory.   

Bob is an avid aficionado of 60's music and will go to great lengths to play gigs like any of us muso's and has recently spread his wings to embrace the more raucous side of life by joining with a band from Kidderminster who play all out Rock music, you know, covers of Free and Lynrd Skinhead and his band too.  He answered an ad in some paper or other for "Guitarist/Singer wanted for cover band" as he filled all the requirements.    It came as a surprise to Bob to find he was enquiring to join a band whose founder member was John Tricketts, a drummer whom Bob had played with in a group called The Fashion back in 66!!   
So Ladies and Gents I present:

Bob far right and John Tricketts second left.   Along with some comparitive young un's they will be gracing the stages of well known boozers starting now, they have already got some gigs under their belts so keep your eyes open and catch them "at it" if you can.   They have a Facebook page too where you can make contact.   In fact get the band for your Christmas "do" and then  you'll be "Alright Now".   
Many, many Christmas congratulations to the great Dave Hynds, ex Cheetahs and Fairfield Ski drummer and songwriter on becoming a great grandfather, I can't think of anything nicer, the whole family together, Christmas dinner and that fabulous smell of new born babies.  The best Christmas gift of all.....well apart from an original 1956 Les Paul..

It's been a crap year in many respects on the world stage as The Russians and Americans find even more hideous ways to kill people.   Donald Trump is an abomination and a disgrace.  The Americans definitely got what they wished for thanks to the Russians.   Happy Christmas America.  Hope you wake up soon.

Thanks to all you lovely readers and commentators on the blog.    Thanks to the gang at the boozer for their continued piss-taking and a special thought for those Brummies Abroad who are missing out on all this Brummie fun.  Lastly a Happy Christmas to my old friend The Skiffle King and his Gang of creative offspring and super talented lady.    Wouldn't it be magical if we all woke up on Christmas Morning to find that Father Christmas had bought us all a present as well as the little un's.    Best get to bed early on Christmas Eve then..... I don't count sheep these days, I go straight into my hippy mantra.....Lespaulgoldtop, Lespaulgoldtop, Lespaulgoldtop.

Lots of love and affection for you guys, lets hope we get a bit of peace next year


Copywrite:  Bullsheadbob

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Hello Brummies and Musos,

Another gripping episode of Bulls Head Bob here Autumn hanging around our shoulders.  Misty damp nights, Bonfire Night, and the start of the "looking forward to Christmas" season.  You know me I love a good stocking. Here's a bit of news of someone featured in the last Brummies Abroad Blog  

Brilliant Brummie Bassist John has recently been in hospital for a quadruple heart by-pass (no doing things by halves with him) and is currently recovering at his home in California under the care of the lovely Debee.  We here at Bloggery Hall wish you a speedy recovery and hope you'll be up and "at it" in time for Christmas young man.    You'll have to be ready for when I get there, hungry for some R&B so keep sharp.
John and Debee
Redditch council have authorised the placement of a statue of the great John Bonham in the town centre showing him 'giving it some' at a set of drums.

The Led Zep legend died at the tender age of 32, no age at all really.

John would have been flabbergasted at this, never one for self enhancement, he'd rather have been at the bar with a pint talking music and football and its also funny that, at one time he couldn't get into any bands because he was too loud.  He would have laughed about this statue business a lot but I for one am really happy that this has happened.  Great stuff, great Brummies.

The history of popular music has some milestone dates, a lot of which were condensed into the 10 years of the 60's particularly with the rise of The Beatles and Rolling Stones etc.  1967 in particular was, for me, the high point of the decade when all of those new approaches to music seemed to have peaked during the notorious "Summer of Love" with its beads and bells and love and peace.   The Americans had re-surfaced as a music force having been pegged back by the British Invasion bands that had taken America and the world by storm.   George Harrison had introduced everyone to Indian music, The Byrds, Spirit, Love, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead were all now common names in the music press.  Canadians too had made a huge impression Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen were huge rock names and The Band were rehearsing with Bob Dylan at the Big Pink at Woodstock, that is a wondrous scenario

Psychedelia and psychobabble had been a huge force on song-writing and The Beatles released their double A side Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields with Penny Lane being a literary and music perspective of Liverpool memories by Paul McCartney with his descriptive scene setting of daily life on Penny Lane.  Heavily orchestrated, this is one of my least favourites of his.  I find it quite sterile.  
Lennons Strawberry Fields, a take on the grounds of a local orphanage where he played at a kid was something other than that 'clean' musical approach of McCartneys.   With its swoops and diving cellos, time changes and gobbledygook lyrics people wondered at the hidden meaning, for me it was just a random, risky composition, which was a feature of Lennons writing.  Today we talk about Strawberry Fields as being such an iconic track that you would not have believed that it would be kept from reaching Number one by Engleburt Humperdinck and his "Release Me".  Immediately there was Press talk that The Beatles were finished and washed up, how fickle these press arseholes were, and still are.  
The fact is, it was not only young folk who bought records and once in a while there is some trinket that comes along and scores a massive hit, Release Me was selling 85,000 copies a day!!

Birmingham featured heavily in the 67 charts too with
The Move scoring successes with Night of Fear, I can Hear the Grass Grow, and of course Flowers in the Rain. 

Steve Winwood had left the Spencer Davis Group and formed the brilliant Traffic who had their first chart entry with Paper Sun and the equally successful follow up, Hole in my Shoe which I didn't like, a bit gimmick laden.  That aside, 1967 was a turning point and from this time on, music would start to be more on the more progressive side.  A time and place for everything if it were a wine  1967 would be one of the best reserves.

I had already been lucky enough to have had the Rock and Roll and Skiffle period, Elvis, Chuck Berry Beat group phase, The birth of The Beatles and all their wonders, the Blues phase which would influence all other music from that point on and now we were entering the more educated and whimsical period So, here is the chart as at 1 Nov 1967.  Given that the Bee Gees were British by birth, the only non-uk band on the chart were the Boxtops at No 10.

ZABADAK - Dave Dee etc
THE LAST WALTZ - E Humperdinck
HOMBURG - Procol Harum
THE LETTER - The Boxtops

1967 was a fab year and one that I shall remember till my dying day.  Had some great mates and the world at my feet, too young to understand how cruel people could be, I blasted my way through life enjoying every moment.  Birmingham was a tremendous City to be in and I loved life.   I think, in general terms the whole population were enjoying life at little more at that time and it was infectious in a very positive way.

There has been some movement on the scene of some ex brumbeat players so maybe I can give you some more informed news next month.  Until then keep warm, love each other, keep music live and keep your memories alive too, just thinking about those fantastic times is the best tonic you can take.

Have a Hug

Copyright Bullsheadbob

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Bulls Head Bob Oct 2017 - Hi Pop-pickers and Avids. I LOVE TONY BLACKBURN!! FLOWERS IN THE RAIN.

Howdoooooo! Brummies, Musos, Friends and all those across the world who visit here.

We know winters on the way once we get to October so it's always a bit of down month for me after the excitement and fun of the summer.  Nonetheless I have been cheered up lately by two things.  Firstly, the Mighty Aston Villa are on the rise and secondly I have become a fan of someone who, hitherto didn't really figure in my musical life and that is Tony Blackburn, "Come off it Bob, are you off yer rocker?" you're all thinking.

I'll explain, once again for two reasons the first of these being

In the June blog I gabbled on about the great, late, Brian Mathews the doyen of 60's music DJ's.  His last gig was presenting Sounds of the 60's which was on Radio 2 on a Saturday morning at 0900.  He was treated horrendously and sacked by the BBC and announced as dead when he wasn't!  Well since then the BBC sacked Tony Blackburn in an equally appalling manner over evidence he supplied to the Saville enquiry, in fact the story of it all raised the hackles of the British Public so much that a petition was formed to re-instate him.  He also decided to take on the corporation legally, a stance I truly admire from someone I wouldn't have expected it from.  

So it's good news, Sounds of the 60's is back and up and running but the bad news is that the programme is now on at 0600 on Saturday Morning.   Now that time really doesn't bother me because I'm an early riser but no doubt it's a chore for others, perhaps the BBC are secretly trying to slowly bury the show along with it's listeners, or Avids, as they were known during Brian's time.  

Brian Mathews was a great host and presented the 60's show in his usual familiar, friendly manner and now Tony Blackburn has come into the seat and I have to say, has brought a breath of fresh air to the programme along with his usual amount of groan jokes, which we all secretly like I think? 
He has been at the "toppermost of the poppermost" heights during the 60's and in the 90's when he was a faded memory, re-invented himself as the top crowd pleaser on the University circuits where he did his Northern Soul shows.  Gold Lame suit and all!   We need to remember and acknowledge that he has been through every evolving stage of rock radio and even played some records of my band when
he was on Radio London as a pirate DJ along with Simon Dee.

The joys of technology means that we can re-listen to the radio programme later on during the day via the computer so we are not trapped to get up for early eggs and bacon whilst listening to your favourite show but I really think it's being unkind to say the least.

The second reason I like Tony Blackburn was that he played the first record on Radio 1 and it was Brums own, The Move and the record was  "Flowers in the Rain".  It had come hot on the heels of Night of Fear and The Move were the flag bearers of the country on the eventide of psychedelia.   When I first heard it played on Radio 1 I thought that The Moves manager,
that slimy leech, Tony Secunda had slipped someone a brown envelope but Blackburn say it was simply the record on top of the pile so there you have it.  Something to be proud of though and it was a great time in British Rock music, there was a real vibe in the air and creativity was flowing through the world of art and fashion and we were all revelling in it.

It brings a tear to Roy Woods eye every time he hears it though as he never saw one penny of royalties following the law suit between The Move and the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson which was also instigated by the slimy leech man when he posted through the door of No 10 Downing Street a damning cartoon postcard of the Prime Minister and his secretary naked on a bed.

Last month, or Yesterday to be precise was the 50th anniversary of Radio 1
and they replayed the music of the original show with all the jingles and dog barks etc etc.  It wasn't an earth shattering moment in time but it marked a real milestone from what the BBC had dished out to us before.  So anyway Tony Blackburn, I wish you great success, the show is great.   I hope that you get enough backing to move the show back to a more realistic and listener friendly time slot.  Sounds of the 60's, tea and toast, a boiled egg or two is the real Saturday morning treat.

Been a busy month of gigging and digging for me, rock and roll and roses which was blissful. The downside is that once again, I find myself writing this blog whilst listening to the re-aired first Radio 1 show, that is the day before the publishing date.    I really don't know where the time goes to and my " I'll do it tomorrow" philosophy sometimes falls foul of being responsible.  Gladly the latter is something I never been guilty of.

Take care my friends.  See you next month.


Copyright:  Bulls Head Bob

Friday, 1 September 2017


Hello Brummies,

Well, Mrs Bob and I returned home a couple of days ago
from our hols in the sun of Spain, we are now tanned and healthy looking which, on the one hand is great but the downside is that she now has to buy an outfit to go with her skin tone? 

However, I agreed with her and even volunteered to go to town to help select something suitable for our visit to the boozer at the weekend where she plans to breeze into the bar and await all the "Ooooh aren't you brown" comments.   Now some men might lose their tempers about what could be perceived as reckless spending given that we spent tons of dosh enjoying ourselves eating Paella and other Spanish treats for a couple of weeks but bear this in mind.......when you feel the need to purchase another instrument or set of drums you can do it brazenly, without hiding it in the shed for a few months.

It's quite strange that after all these years that Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley is STILL credited as the first Rock and Roll release and not ROCKET 88
which had been recorded a full five years before by Jackie Brenton and his Delta Cats (Jackie Brenton was in fact Ike Turner).  Much of the dialogue about this record being Rock n Roll is based on the guitar sound which was dirty as a result of the bands guitarist dropping and damaging his amplifier a short time before the session.  Ike Turner said he didn't think it was the first Rock and Roll record but more of an R&B song BUT believed it did influence a lot of other folk into that direction, on listening afresh I can see why he said that, it does have much more of a 'shuffle' feel to it than a straight four-four time bopper.   Rocket 88 had been licensed by Sam Phillips and he was quoted as saying "If I could get a white boy to sing like that I'll be rich", the rest is history.

Fast forward a few years and, after the storm of musical change in the mid sixties, we need to ask the question
Black Sabbath back in the days when hair was plentiful.
 Now most people would say that Heavy Metal was invented in Birmingham and many people say that the first exponents of this music were Brums own Black Sabbath.  Why not? great band right from the start, had all the right ingredients, great name, plenty of drive, almost orchestrated in a simple but effective way, Tony Iommi had learned a good lesson during his short stint with Jethro Tull and put it to good use when he got back to his roots.  Now I probably agree that the term "Heavy Metal" may have come about at this time but for me there was one incredibly powerful recording that predated Sabbaths rise by three years and blew everything else out of the water. The term Metal didn't exist but this recording had all the necessary Oomph, volume and drama to fill the term a thousand fold.   The song was a well known Motown song that, in 1966, had girls dancing around their handbags at the many dance halls littering Birmingham and had been a hit for The Supremes.   

It's re-emergence one year later was staggering and it had been transformed into a punchy, VERY HEAVY recording, it was akin to knowing a likable, giggly child that had grown up into The Hulk with a meaner streak.   The recording itself was a real step up from the normal sterile, poppy efforts of much of the British and American record producers of the day.

Vanilla Fudge
The song was "You Keep me Hangin On" and the band Vanilla Fudge, sadly not from Birmingham but from the other side of the pond.   The recording was now played at half the speed of The Supremes, was rich and dirty like The Moody Blues "Go Now" had been recorded and was right in your face.  Heavy sounding dirge like Hammond organ pervaded the whole of the song intro which in turn was followed by bars and bars of hard hitting staccato drum beats and descending bass lines leading to the first vocal line "Set me free why don't you babe" which seemed to take on a darker, agonised tone, than it's predecessor with the vocal highlight of the shouted line, "And there ain't nothing I can do about it". The arrangement for the ending of the song was formidable too with the band in full flow and the staccato beats raining down but this time with the bass notes rising and rising until it came to an abrupt stop.  I first heard it whilst setting up for a gig at Dudley Zoo, and I seem to recall some guy bringing the '45' along for me to listen to courtesy of the DJ.   "Shit! that was good" I thought and got him to play it a couple of times more, fabulous voices, great heavy crescendo, it was a definite change of style.  The release got to No 6 in the UK chart.

John Lennon had claimed that "Daytripper" was the first
heavy song but then again he would have wouldn't he? It had a riff yes but no way was it in the Heavyweight class.  Some others says that The Beatles "Birthday" or "Helter Skelter" are the first heavy songs too but they were all recorded in 68.  McCartney said he did Helter Skelter because he'd heard that The Who were in the studio recording what would be the loudest song ever "I can See for Miles" and so, as usual The Beatles went into the studio to outdo them by layering lots of guitar tracks till they got to "11". There is little doubt in my mind though that Vanilla Fudges treatment of the original, quite insipid, Supremes recording was a major influence on the musicians of the day including The Beatles whether consciously or not.   

In the final analysis we are all influenced or affected by things that go on around us and quite clearly The Beatles did influence others after them but if the question is "What came First" in the Heavy category well, for me it was Vanilla Fudge.  So I recommend that, if you haven't heard it already give it a play.   One of my faves and frankly knocks Paranoid into a comfy cushion.   Play it loud!!  

Someone had to do it first but this time it wasn't someone from Brum.

OK you folks, I know it's a short blog but with a touch of controversy?

Take Care in this violent world we live in today.  It pisses me off beyond belief.
In the sixties, did we really work hard to re-educate and eradicate racism and hate only for it to be laughingly abandoned by successive generations and races as nothing more than a Hippy ideal? 

Take Care you Freaks!!


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Watcha you guys,

Firstly I have to say "thanks very much ar' kid"
for the the many emails and a couple of nice comments I received regarding the July blog - Brummies Abroad.   Makes an old git like me feel it's worth the effort.

However, that old adage "You can't please all of the people all of the time" is true at all times, so naturally there was a person who disagreed about a part of that blog, one line of it in fact, a geographical statement thrown out by me in what could be regarded as uncaring manner, so in the spirit of openness or Glasnost as them Russians say I herewith print the email in full.

Hello Bob

Latest Blog

There was no "blandness" about Wolverhampton or surrounding Staffordshire during the sixties.  Speaking from experience, I know cos' I was there.

In Jun 67 myself and three other fellow Brummies culled from the D'Fenders, The Capitals and The Modernaires, joined forces and willingly signed with Wolverhampton's Astra-Allen Agency who had a rosta of 26 groups on their books all averaging around 30 well paid and promptly paid quality gigs per month.

We'd all had it with sleazy 'spiv' Brum agents and promoters (except of course Paula Bailey - bless her!!).

We did all do occasional cabaret, shared the billing with national and international artists and enjoyed it because the audience actually listened so, you had to be good!  The money was good and paid on the nail.

The aforementioned 26 groups could prop up the bar with anyone I'd care to think of in Brum.

I have withheld the readers name but its worth sharing.   I didn't mention Staffordshire or any other location outside of Wolverhampton in fairness?

I too was signed to Astra agency for a couple of years from 64 to 66, during the height of the beat group phase and they were a great agency indeed.  I and my band mates of the day played all of their class venues in the Potteries and in Wolverhampton itself, The Civic Hall, The Woolpack and also played at the Ship and Rainbow, small but a good gig, playing loud Rhythm and Blues to screaming girls.
During this time I lived in Brum. During the birth of our group we, like any other band of the day, would play anywhere and do anything to get on a stage but after that it was a matter of choice, either play the music I wanted to play, or play the top ten for guaranteed pocket money but with little self reward.
There were many, many working men's clubs in the area that had bands on between bouts of bingo and the preferred style of music for these clubs was light pop interspersed with some comedy element.  
There was a ready market for this type of group so it's no surprise that groups from that area specialised in that type of act. 

Really I am a tad ambivalent about the whole cabaret thing, horses for courses, but certainly not this horse.

Sure there were sleazy agents in Brum.  It is the country's second largest city but there were and still are sleazy agents a plenty, there are still bland bands too.  Anyway, if you are interested in Wolverhampton and its environs during the 60's they do have their own site called In Between Times, or is it In Between Bingo??

The Rockin Berries were a BIG band during the 60's with chart hits and touring with the likes of Roy Orbison.  Before they gained national fame though they were a Birmingham band to be admired and looked up to if you were a little sproglet like me trying to climb the slippery ladder of music success.  Firstly they were a great group and had a really polished act and Geoffs plaintive vocal tones could melt the heart of even a Brummie spiv agent.  

With the advent of their massive No 3 chart hit "He's in Town", a brilliant song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King you would think that they would have acted a little more superior to the other Brummie groups as they had reached those massive heights of success but the truth is completely opposite, they continued to be nice guys and none more so than Geoff Turton who I spent some happy moments with up to the end of the 60's.
I think we all remember the "Paul McCartney is Dead and has been replaced with a look alike" nonsense that flew around after the release of Abbey Road with folk dissecting and interpreting anything they could about the LP cover, talking about him not wearing shoes etc etc.   

However, not many people know that this type of LP cover controversy had occurred before, in 1964, when the Rockin' Berries first gained chart success.   I don't want to jump on the bandwagon of outrageous conspiracy theories but I thought it best for you to see the photographic 'evidence' and dare to make up your own mind.

It had been reported at the Pie Stand, in the early hours of one vodka soaked morning, that there had been some friction in the band about Geoff taking the lead vocal for their biggest hit and reports were rife that Chuck Botfield had said that he had a big head that needed to be cut down to size.   Everyone was talking about it in between mouth fulls of meat and potato pie.

The "head replacement theory" iconography came hot on the heels of their Thank Your Lucky Stars TV show when the producer had placed Geoff apart from the others.
He was then a good 8 inches taller than Chuck even without false perspective influences. Later on the sharp eyed audience had also noticed that Chuck was pointing his guitar at Geoff's head and, furthermore there was a thick red line passing through Geoffs neck, that had to be pertinent.  

It came as a confirmatory shock when the following album cover appeared to confirm the head transplant controversy, appeared in the press with Geoff's head now balanced precariously on Chuck Botfields shoulder, AND shorter than he by 4 inches with his eyes rolled back in his head. 

The Rockin Berries were suddenly nowhere to be seen and hadn't been at the pie stand for a while?

Now, the exhibit 2 photo was the real clincher that ratcheted up the rumour mill to fever pitch.  It can be clearly seen that Geoff is actually holding his head away from his body and the others appear to be laughing? How spooky is that??    
How is he keeping that head in  place?

The whole of the Brummie band network were aghast three weeks later when the Rockin Berries came back off tour and the press announced that Geoff suddenly 'left' the band?  Then a photo appeared some time later under the nom de plume of Jefferson but looked nothing like he did before and now spelled his name with a 'J' and it was only a head-shot....   

I bumped into this Jefferson character at The Cedar Club and he kept
saying "Hello Bob, how you doing?" and then started assuring me that he was really Geoff Turton but with sideburns.   He said the whole headless thing had been a big mix up in the press when a reporter had said he'd seen him "Legless and off his head" and one muso had spoken to another etc

I spent the whole of the night though sneaking peaks at his neck to see if there were any join marks.

Geoff or Jeff or both of them can be found doing the rounds of the theatres alongside Jasper Carrott and some other Brummies in a night of Stand Up and Rock.  So if you should go and see him check out his neck for marks, you never know?
He still has one of the finest and individual voices in pop history and I'm glad you're still around Jeff or Geoff. 

OK Guys me and Mrs Bob are packing our cases for our imminent holidays.  
So until next month, be nice to each other.

I must stop taking these pills?


Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Saturday, 1 July 2017


Hi Guys, Brummies and Musical friends around the globe.

Goodness me, the title of this blog is long, so it should be! it's a feature packed musical smorgasbord of love, hate, egoism, treachery, despair, glorious success or inglorious failure.....let's get on with it then. 

There are some people from my musical past who I normally prefer not to discuss but I'm making an exception this month and am going to say this now in big letters about someone I knew and that is:
"Whoa, come on on now Bob, that's not like you" I hear you say.
"Oh Yeah?" Well,  
"Hold hard Bob, have you lost your mind?"
The short answer to that is "No" on two accounts, the first being that John is a Brummie Abroad and lives in California so he can't get his hands on me and secondly he definitely is a Tosser, but and an old friend too.

John was one of those who I admired and thought had real potential in every part of his 'trade craft' as a Brummie musician of the sixties.  I emphasise 'Brummie musician' rather than musician because in those 60's days Birmingham had the grittiest bands and musicians not like those Southern Jessies and John had paid his dues with The Chantelles and other bands doing that sort of music, including a short spell with The Uglys during the hospitalisation of Steve Gibbons.   
The Chantelles  (copyright J Fincham)
Far Right......the great John Fincham and his kit
Beatle boots, Burns Bass, Big voice, Big Bass speaker and Bad attitude..everything beginning with B!   It's co-incidental but I played with all of these guys in this picture but at different times, such was the movement between bands in those days.
An ex "Biz" manager friend of some repute from London told me they always went to Brum to look for RandB bands, hence The Moody Blues, Spencer Davis Group etc two of the greatest exponents of sixties RandB on the planet during their day and that's what Brummie bands played in spadefulls and competition was fierce.

If you wanted to play a bit of cabaret music you could always go to Wolverhampton for a fix of blandness.  

John possessed everything you would want in a band-mate.
A great bass player, a beautiful voice and a really good stage presence and one other important thing, he was a fun guy to be with.    We were from the same part of Birmingham and were schooled yards apart although he, unlike myself, actually attended.   

At one stage we played together in a group for a short while and had some fun and shared some great harmonies and gigs.
After that brief musical encounter we only bumped into each other at The Cedar Club or one of those other nightclubs where all the musicians would go but it was always fun when we met. 

John's story is enveloped in the ELO saga with his band Trickster so you can read all about that stuff at an ELO site should you want to.  During this time John moved out to the USA permanently and continued to be a quality player with all the B's on bigger stages.

Anyway I don't want to dwell on the past, I want to get right down to today's Nitty Gritty and that is to say that John Fincham, the man with "Everything begining with B" is alive and well, living in the mountain air of Wrightwood California and still playing gigs with his Brit Rock band of mates,
It couldn't be a better name for a trio playing good ol' fashioned, in your face, Brit Rock and there's no-one in those parts who would be more at home with this music than John, thuddin' out those great bass lines and singing the songs that are second nature to him and almost printed on his psyche.   

If you're on vacation from Birmingham or indeed if you now live in that part of the States.  Get yourself down to AMIGO'S in Ventura California for a perfect Sunday afternoon of booze with some Hot Rock n'blues Brummie style.   
When you get there, you can't mistake him, with his Rickenbacker slung down low, John 'B' Fincham and the other Tossers, Jerry Breiner and Pete Gallagher he will be giving it some!!  Say Hello, he's a Brummie and a Villa supporter so you'll "always be welcome Bab".

THE TOSSERS l-r Jerry Breiner, John Fincham, Pete Gallagher
Ventura, California 

another couple of Brummies live in the States too...


Ex Applejacks vocalist Jon lives and still performs in the Glitz capital of the world, Las Vegas.  

It's been a couple of years since I had some news from him I think but I said last time that he was a workaholic and he hasn't let me down. 

As well as being in the completion stages of his
new solo CD and single release he has just published his first Novel, based on the life of four guys from Coventry, The Fabulous Brit Brothers....a Rock n Roll tragedy!   

I'm already hooked.  It must be about me? I'm tragic, oh no it can't be I'm not from Coventry but then again I played there more than several times so it could be me, or maybe it could be FAKE NEWS! the Russians call it Maskirova and Jon could be covering up the real hero/loser character The Fabulous Bob and it's really about me.   I've got to read it quickly, fame at last!!  ....Mmmm? best get back to reality.

Jon had already written and published three factual books about the 60's days so this novel will surely be based on facts from his experiences which always makes a better read for musicians.  Getting the facts right is essential.  Good Luck with this Jon.

Also for those who might know Jon from the past.   He is now on Facebook so why not take the opportunity to get in touch with him through that medium and don't forget to like the page too.  If you're not on Facebook then contact me and I will put you in touch.

Graham, ex Brumbeats vocalist continues living in either Hawaii or Washington State depending on the season but either way both locations are in beautiful parts of America.  He is still playing gigs with his Hawaiian band and when not can be found painting pictures of the local scenes.  Is there no end to his talent?
Graham 3rd left or 2nd right!!

When I get sent a photo I don't just put it on the page here willy-nilly, everything deserves a little more investigation.   Now when me and my Boogie band have a practise it can happen that some feelings get hurt with some cutting remark about something or other you know, wrong shade of nail varnish.  Grahams band have an Hawaiian remedy for Practise Banter and it can be seen in the hand of the guitarist on the right.  It's known as the 'encourager' or in Hawaiian the "Ooee Ooee OOOee", I'm not versed in this language so you must excuse my dreadful pronunciation.  I don't believe I need to go into minute detail about how it works but the rule is...You say anything offensive, it could be up to the third OOOee.
As you can see, not only do they all look pretty pleased that it's a part of their practise regimen but they've all come attired in shorts should the need arise for a quick insertion.   Mmm, not a trace of nail varnish to be seen.

Moving now to Spain where our Brummie European contingent has been swelled by the arrival of  drummer
I knew all the great drummers in Brum and played with several of them but for me Keith Smart was probably the best drummer around to be honest.   Apart from Carl Palmer and Mac Poole, Keith was one of the few I knew who read drum music well, a real rarity for those days.  

That trained music thing was mixed in with his tremendous natural talent and his ability at holding a band together was formidable, it was very easy to get into a groove with him.  He could play any kind of music and brought a real tightness and force to any band he was with. 

I guess that Keith is best known as being one of the two drummers in Wizzard but he featured heavily in the Golden Years of Birmingham and played with many bands like The Lemon Tree, Danny King and The Uglys of whom Keith said "Probably the best group I ever played with and certainly the best memories".   

The Uglys, Keith bottom Right

When people talk about John Bonham in such glowing terms I think they should have listened to Keith a bit more because I knew them both and couldn't tell them apart, he could be as heavy as any of them.  He played sessions with lots of diverse folk including the brilliant and very underrated Clifford T Ward. Keith then joined the Rockin Berries and remained there for more years than I'd care to remember.    Always shrewd, he got on a good horse that ran and ran. From a pure music point of view I think that he could have been one of the real music greats had he taken a more adventurous musical challenge and I don't think we ever saw the best of Keith.  Sadly he has given up playing but believes it was the right move on his part.

and I agree with that because whatever keeps you happy does you good and that's a fact.

Anyway these days Keith is living on the Spanish coast running his own business which is far removed from the drastic ups and downs of the music biz whilst, no doubt, honing his golf game.   

He has a wonderful family life and from a Brumbeat point of view it's great that he's still with us but a shame that we won't be getting anymore performances from this fantastic drummer.

300 miles North from Keith we find his ex Uglys bandmate Will Hammond who lives in the deepest darkest depths of Extremadura, Spain and continues his round of Festivals and gigs including the prestigious Bejar, playing up-front R and B music. 
Will Hammond and his Band
and to quote him from last year, "It's such a gas to be playing vibrant music like this, to enthusiastic audiences, I'm quite lucky".

Ugly Days - Will Hammond  (Photo Copyright FCummins/A Lines)
His new CD "Ugly Days" will be coming out at the end of this month.  

John Singer was one of the group of promoters who shared Carlton Johns Entertainment Agency who ran the majority of the best venues in Brum including Mothers at Erdington, previously known as The Carlton and even in those days it was a great venue and hosted some of the best bands of the day like John Mayalls Bluesbreakers and The Nice and Zoot Money etc etc.  Mothers was voted by musicians as the best gig in the world at one stage.    

John lives on the Spanish coast but no longer participates in the world of music apart from his annual trek back to the UK for the Mothers anniversary
John Singer (right) with ex Carlton Johns partner Gary Surman
Who's had to come back to the UK to get a gig then?!  
Back in the UK for a round of shows with his version of ELO.  Jeff, never one for denying he wanted to be a Beatle, must have felt he was re-living The Beatles famous flying arrival at Shea Stadium moment when he flew in by helicopter over his recent show at Wembley Stadium with its 70,000 strong crowd.

Living the dream is a phrase that comes to mind.

It was a time too for another of Brums greatest bands, The Idle Race to be reunited after the event, and I believe a reunion gig was discussed but Jeff said he wanted a bigger share of the normal 25 quid for a night at The Carlton. Sharp eyed sleuth, Mandy Scott-Morgan kindly captured the moment of the negotiations.
The Idle Race 2017 (copyright:  Mandy Scott Morgan)
The Idle Race 1969
Sadly the other ELO Brummie, Richard Tandy wasn't playing that night, so get well soon Richard.

The majority of people on this page are linked to each other in some way but more of course by being a part of the Birmingham 60's music scene. On any given night of the week they all graced the stages of Birmingham or some other gig across the length and breadth of the UK together playing great music.  They drank together, had fun together and in some cases suffered at the hands of each other.  Such is the way of life in the world of music, the hardest job on the planet, but whether they are musically living the dream or perhaps regretting what greater stardom could have been, it is all consigned to the history vaults once it has occurred and in these days of rabid social media - by the minute. 
I'm glad that my memories are much longer and more deeply rooted.

Long may they all Live because we shared a unique time together. 

Onwards and upwards you Brummies.

Take Care you guys 

Copyright: Bullsheadbob