Sunday, 2 December 2007

December - Now's the Season to be Jolly!!

Ho! Ho! Ho! you Brummies,

I thought, as its December, I would firstly like send out a special Christmas 'word of thanks' to all those who have spent their long, moronic days, sending me spam messages throughout the year. I am very grateful to them for their consideration in thinking that I needed to have a 4 inch penis enlargement. So this is just to inform you all that I have had three of these miracle treatments and now have a massive thing on which to strap my fake Rolex watches which, according to the other batch of (non-penis enlargement) Spammers are the perfect Christmas gift!! Aren't I lucky to have such generous minded contacts?


Recently, whilst visiting a mate in Spain I saw a TV show called DAC. I couldn't believe me soddin' eyes, you can imagine how surprised I was to see that the presenter was the Brummie 'left hander's' double - or was it the man himself? Has the big guy got a job outside of the country and found a new TV persona like Ozzy? I can see a great future for you Tony - Des O'Connor can't last forever. Perhaps 3-2-1 could make a comeback......... or how about BLACKETY BLACK ??


It has been pointed out to me that I may have been too cruel to the Moody Blues in last months blog where I intimated that they were only half the band they used to be when fronted by the great Denny Laine and his supercharged R and B voice. I have an open mind though and am always willing to be persuaded that I could have been wrong so I'll try and give a more balanced view of the latter line-up of the group .......OK then, "Nights in White... Zzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Photo taken from a Moodies gig in the USA. Soporific man!!! The packed house snored their approval.


What a night! What a host of celebrities! Gifts galore! Free champagne and caviar. These are just a few of the things that didn't feature at the BRUMBEAT annual office Christmas Party.

Hailed by the Sedgetree Gazette as the party of the year, the event was held on the very spot of the old Pie Stand and I swear I could hear the ghostly voice of Bev Bevan saying 'Aint you got any Meat and Potato left mate?"

All was well, that is till we got moved on by the boys in blue. It appears that there is a new bye law that prohibits the gathering of old, long-haired men drinking Bovril and telling musical 'war stories'.

An exclusive photo from the night shows that Raymond Froggatt was the first there!! "Roly's gonna get married boy...."

FOR SALE (WHAT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT)Who would not want to own an original 1962 VOX AC 15?

One of our readers has a lovely old AC 15 for sale like the one above but with a few cosmetic 'dings' and its up for grabs. Come on girls get your old man the amp of his dreams. Just contact Bob for more details but be advised its up for sale now and dont even think about offering anything below 2.500 pounds. Be quick its in demand!!!!!


No-one has a ticket to stay on this planet and us Brumbeat veterans are getting fewer by the day. So, although we are in the festive season, we still have to say some recent 'goodbyes' to Nicky James and Bugsy Eastwood. Both these players were an integral part of the scene and my thoughts are with their respective relatives, especially at this time of the year. For more information about these two Brummie characters read the Pie Stand page.




Comments to Copyright BullsheadBob.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

NOVEMBER - Light Blue Touch Paper and Retire.

Hello Brummies,

There are times when you think to yourself that there is little to say, in my case that is most of the time but - as usual, someone or something comes along to make you change your mind and gives you cause to comment. Now this is not associated with Brumbeat but I have just read that Mancunian Mick Hucknall has decided to end his band - Simply Red. Thats worth a cheer on it's own. Now correct me if I'm wrong but did'nt the yuppie crowd pleasing red head, sack all of the band members anyway, leaving just his own white suited ego? Well he's gone and sacked himself now as well - it would be too much to wish that he would disband himself, you know sort of - a leg here, a hand there, kind of distributed around the UK. Just a thought........!!


Just why is it that Bass Players are the ones who know how to solder jack plugs and things ??

If there are thirty musicians in a room why is it always the drummer that starts an argument?


You know, I've just realised that throughout this year I have hardly mentioned The Moody Blues (post Denny Laine) at all. "Flippin' heck what a bloomin' mistake, I better set that record straight right now".

Right then, The Moody Blues "Nights in White Satin".............................Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...Oops sorry, just fell fast asleep.

I promise that I will try harder to write something invigorating about the band next time. I was on the same bill as them, once upon a lifetime ago, at a massive outdoor fireworks event at Sutton Coldfield on the outskirts of Brum and can't remember a single thing about their set except to say that they made excitement a thing of the past. Hey! thats life for you. The fireworks were soddin' excellent. "Ride, ride my see saw".........


Now throughout my time as a member of "various" groups I have been a passenger in a range of some crap relics of vans but I dont think that anyone can claim to better the fabulous automobile used by The Incas. Unless you know better?

Sort of makes you green with envy, doesn't it? I can just imagine how professional you might feel as you "Go on Tour" in something that looks like it was left on the beach at Dunkirk. To save on money they cleverly employed the artiest member of the band to do a "smooth paint job" on it depicting a yellow man throwing a lasso over a hedgehog on a log. "It's bound to attract attention". I wonder just how they fitted in their kit as well? Tried to contact your website Arthur but it wouldn't let me in.

Send us YOUR Crap Van photo now. This could be your moment of fame.

Have a good Bonfire Night and be Safe!!



Comments or Contributions to: Bobs

Monday, 1 October 2007

OCTOBER - Winter's on its Way!!

Hi Brummies and Associates,

The end of the year approaches, and what a year it has been! Mr Blaiiirrrgh!! and his fat henchman have left the hallowed halls of parliament.
The catering statistics for the year have shown an immediate drop in the demand for extra fattening pies.


My thanks go out to all my mates who contributed articles to the Six Of The Best series.........the last one this month from Dave Morgan rounds off the run of articles. There are probably some great stories still to be told out there, if you have something then why not drop me a line....!!! You dont have to be that famous to feature, just interesting stories about your Brumbeat days.......

Great to see Steve Winwood back in action this year with a few UK concerts especially his set at Highclere Castle in May. If you missed it, there are some parts of the concert on You Tube with Mr Clapton. Steve's voice is just as great as ever and his many talents just as prevalent - long may he reign.

The Brum Rockers are on tour and will be featuring their extended line up this month at the Town Hall with very special guests. (see Alex's Pie Stand).

As reported on the Reviews page of the main site, The Move have reformed and are on the road. Roy Wood is pissed off. Still I wouldn't worry Roy, Trevor will no doubt, cause upsets in that line up until he's on his own yet again.
The remastered series of The Move CD's are on release and should sound quite fresh to those who have not got the CDs in their collection. Naturally Roy will be saying thanks a lot for the royalties (so he can't be that annoyed).

The Solitaires

I have received a 'goldmine' of information about The Solitaires, including their gig book and it makes for fascinating viewing. Look for a feature article soon on these "Brumbeat LP' greats soon.......


Johnny Neal's South Arican house is up for sale for anyone who's interested. So far he has been approached by an agent representing three Holy men !!!


No, I'm not refering to the lovely 'Miss Katrina' in her leather clad outfits but to the world beating Watkins Dominator amplifier. This amp was the one piece of equipment that EVERY guitarist wanted to own when it first made its appearance. Not only was it the biggest British amplifier available but was the loudest, with the wind behind it, it would subject your ears to 17 watts of gut wrenching sound!!....

Anyone who was around in those Brumbeat days wanted to own this amplifier including Megan Davies who stated in her Six of the Best article, "When Martin Baggot bought a Watkins Dominator we thought we'd arrived!!"

It's styling was so unconventional from the normal 'square box' amps that were available or the wire cage Linear Conchord and it was so pretty as well. Its chevron fronted shape was meant to enhance the output sound distribution though the accuracy of that statement was very doubtful. It was avaiable in blue, maroon and some say, black and white too.

Sporting four inputs, it meant that the whole group could plug into it, as was sometines the case. It was such an icon of an amplifier, I longed to own one but never did. A couple of years back, I visited a music shop one day in Mansfield and saw one tucked away in a corner amongst some new equipment and thought to myself "I'm sure it was much bigger than that". It would be superceded quite quickly with much more powerful amps from Selmer and Vox but at the time it was THE amp.

There was of course the in-built tremolo effect, with plug-in footswitch control. If you were extremely lucky you could have had bought the Copicat echo chamber to go with it and then you could have been assured that every other guitarist would look at you with much envy as you set up your gear for the night. Preparing your echo setting for 'Apache' or 'Twenty Flight Rock'.

Watkins as a brand name then changed to WEM and Charlie Watkins amplifiers were used by many many groups during the sixties including The Move.

These days Charlie Watkins sells accordians but there is a 'Potted History' page about Watkins gear written by him at ,should you be interested and of course there is a dedicated Watkins guitar site run by the very nice Reg Godwin (see Brumbeat Links). He has a wealth of knowledge about all things Watkins.

OK youse guys (oops, been watching too much Sopranos) thats it for this month.

Take Care and keep the information pouring in.........its your history.


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Monday, 3 September 2007


Hello Brummies and Brumbeaters,

Well the rains have been and gone and some of you poor sods have been up to your 'tackle' in slimy smelly water. To those poor folk I send my heartfelt condolences......I've had the same problem myself although, happily, not this year and now all you have to do is carry on the fight with the Insurance loss adjusters (failed traffic wardens) - I don't know which I hate the most!!

The blog is pretty empty this month as the main subject for this months blog will be appearing on the main website. That subject being the re-appearance of The Move on the road again. My favourite cohort Donal Gallagher (failed Bishop of Sparkhill)has kindly filled my niche as 'ace reporter' and popped along to The Barfly in Birmingham to review The Move's re-emergence onto the playing circuit. Now Danny speaks as he feels, so after removing anything too offensive or unruly we have combined his ruthlessness and straight approach with my touch of diplomacy to give a balanced report. It will feature on REVIEWS page. If it has'nt appeared soon, get onto John Woodhouses back - not mine!! Seriously, this is a major event that I felt would be better placed in the main body of the Brumbeat website rather than included in my inane ramblings.


Fabulous response by many musicians who played a benefit gig at The Roadhouseto raise money for Magnum Drummer Kex Gorin's current medical treatment. Those playing included: Roger Hill Group, Trevor Burton, Trojan, E-No's, Vincent Flats. I'm sure everyone has you in their thoughts Kex.......


I reported some months ago that poor Bo Diddley had been rushed into hospital whilst appearing on stage. He has recently been released from hospital and is now resting at his home. Further appearances are not likely but, who knows? Let's hope that he makes some kind of recovery soon. Such an influence..........


The incredibly fabulous Etta James has also been taken into hospital recently, if you've never listened to anything of hers, now is the time to do it. A real icon.


Loads of people had a Fender Stratocaster but this is not just a Fender Stratocaster. This my freinds is a 1955 Fender Stratocaster in beautiful condition. The patina and depth of colour of the sunburst paint job are simply outstanding.

Judging by the wear on the neck the previous owner did not like playing above the 12th fret - he or she must have had fat fingers!! Anyway, you would have to be soul-less not to want to own this baby - it wreaks of history. Interested in the price tag? - well, best take out a second mortgage or dip into your savings for the 48,000 pounds!!!!!! F*** me.

OK Y'all, my mate Oggie is coming to get me drunk sometime this month from the ol' USA. So keep a lookout for next months riveting saga of drunken old farts, perhaps between us we can remember a story or two to pass on. Till then.....


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Copyright Bulls Head Bob.

Thursday, 2 August 2007



This month sees the third anniversary of Carl Waynes death. A tribute to Carl from many of his old friends will feature later this month on Six of The Best.

Carl Wayne had a long, successful and prolific stage career but I am not interested about how many performances of Blood Brothers that Charlie appeared in, I'm not really interested that he was the front man for The Hollies for some years either. I was disappointed that he saw himself as a cabaret artist. I remember him as the front man for what was probably one of THE bands of the 60's.

Brumbeat was what it was all about then and Charlie shared centre stage with the rest of The Move as an act rather than Carl Wayne and the........? He had tons of experience with The Vikings but he never really shook off that 'singing ballads to girls in the audience' routine that was almost 'de rigeur' for bands with front men in those earlier days. Before the Move were thought about I recall Charlie telling me he was thinking of re-naming Carl Wayne and The Vikings - 'Sweet and The Lovelies' or 'The Sweet and Lovelies', he of course being "Sweet" which was quite indicative of how he saw himself, image wise.

The Move were destined to fall apart. Once they had got over their 'honeymoon' period and had achieved their aim of success it wasn't long before discontent began to creep in and the personality backstabbing began. It isn't enough just to put together a collection of musicians and expect it to work well. The difference in tastes of music and sizes of ego were a factor right from the start.
It was an amazement to me that for a group who had the reputation for being so 'edgy' would include such material in their set i.e. "Zing go the Strings of my Heart" which some years earlier would have been a 'feature' number in a stage set at the Springfield Ballroom. They could have sat quite comfortably for many years in the company of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane etc had their recorded material been more in the vein of 'Night of Fear' and 'I Can Hear the Grass Grow' with its thundering, descending bass riff but ended up opting for the 'poppy' side of the musical fence, i.e. 'Curly'.

It was obvious that Charlie didn't feel happy being relegated to singing bit parts in Roy's songs, the worst example being his token 'Ooh' contribution in Fire Brigade.

Still, what happens, happens. It was amazing to see The Move going from No 2 on the Bill touring with Jimi Hendrix to playing 'scampi and chips in a basket' cabaret venues. Charlie saw his future in the latter environment and that would be where he ended up for many years of his career 'singing songs to women in the audience'. I dont believe he ever knew what an incredible Rock n Roll voice and image he had because he saw himself as the driver of another musical vehicle. The B side of Blackberry Way -'Something' was a song that was written by Uglys bassist Dave Morgan, the original version was a much faster song full of gritty loud chord changes like the Small Faces, not the ballad that Charlie had changed it to at a recording session in the city, great song but wrong choice for a psychedelic group of the Move's standing. At least he didn't feel so trapped into recording Roy's stuff and being tossed a line to sing. He felt a litle more in control.

He had also seen an opportunity in TV and with his then actor girlfreind (later to be his wife) Sue Hanson, he made one appearance with a 'one liner' in the Brummie soap opera Crossroads as a milkman, I believe the character name being Colin strangely enough.
Although, following his exit from The Move, he disappeared off the popular music scene for many a year it was always possible to hear his unmistakable voice singing commercial jingles on TV and the opening song to 'Search for a Star', an early TV talent show. He also made some TV appearances on the Emu's Pink Windmill Show with Rod Hull and Emu show as the character 'Odd Job John' playing opposite the witch 'Grotbags' (Carol Lee Scott). Not very Rock n Roll you say but it made me laugh.

I was pleased to hear that he had joined mainstream music again with The Hollies, it formed some sort of compromise between Rock and cabaret and although I never went to see him with the group at least he was where he should have been all along - Centre Stage. Fronting the band, taking the lead vocal.

I was really upset to get an e-mail saying that he had passed away. I can see him in my mind now, 1968 in the Rum Runner in his psychedelic clothes surrounded by girls - Charlie the Star.



This month also saw the passing of Don Arden, music agent. He represented several Brumbeat bands and probably took most of their money too. I dont wish to speak ill of the dead so that's that.


The opening night for the newly refurbished Birmingham Town Hall in October will be rockin' with an already sold out show featuring The Brum Rock "EXTRA" review. Joining the band on stage will be Robert Plant, Jasper Carrot, John Lodge, Rod Allen, Geoff Turton and Raymond Froggatt to name but a few. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket you are in for a great night of Brummie music.


Want to catch some upcoming Move tour dates? September sees the band with special guest Steve Gibbons at The Marquee, London Sep 5 2007. The Marquee, of course, features strongly in the Move story (also for Gibbo). Other September dates: 20 Sep Royal Spa Leamington and 27 Sep, Huntingdon Hall Worcester.

HOT GOSSIP!!! I have been whispered to that The Move will be playing a small venue gig at The Barfly in Brum on Aug 26! The place holds only 200 with the ticket price at only 12 pounds. Get yours quick.............

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Sunday, 1 July 2007



It appears that Birmingham City Council are pinching my ideas. After reading June's blog what did they do? They dumped 65 tons of sand in the Bull Ring and called it a beach - but now their world of 'borrowing ideas' has finally gone into whacky orbit. In their pursuit of even more gimmicky trendiness they have now come up with yet another BRAND NEW, third-hand idea. Just the opportunity to form another 'quango' led by someone who can't quite get enough expenses racked up on their 'necessary council duties' to buy their holiday home on the Costa del Fortunato!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we kindly give you - The Birmingham Walk of Fame.

Gold stars embedded in the pavement of Broad Street with the names of famous Brummies engraved into them - yahoo, I can hardly contain me'self!! We have certainly, had the great fortune to have had some of the worlds best at one time or another including, Tony Hancock for enduring blissful comedy, Alec Issigonis for designing the Mini, JRR Tolkein for some book or other!, John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids), Nigel Mansell for goo'in really fast round and round a piece of road until he was world champion at it and George Cadbury for all that chocolate. Of the above mentioned six, three lived close to my house and only one is alive but after a short conversation with him you may think otherwise....

So just where will Tolkein's star be then - Nowhere!!!.......the Council have decided that to be a famous Brummie you have to be alive. (or bizarrely you can also be a non-Brummie, foreign visitor who's just passing through the city). I find it ludicrously fascinating that people would want to spend part of their valuable time on this earth, walking through the centre of Brum just to read someones name on the pavement. Why not just get the graffiti artists to spray the names on the Job Centre walls whilst they're waiting to get their benefits? It would save a fortune and keep them occupied.

So then who will be the first awardee of this prestigious Star - Brumbeat favourite - Ozzy Osbourne - Hooray said the crowd. He will be attending the ceremony on 6 July.

This comes hot on the heels of receiving the Mojo 'Icon' award. I believe that Ozzy deserves every bit of fame and recognition he gets. It has been a long hard road since his early days with Black Sabbath at the Bear or the Arts Centre at Edgbaston and now he is one of the few celebrities who people know just by their christian name. The council have'nt said where they think it appropriate to put his star but, for me, the Hall of Memories is probably right out of the question! I thought they should put it down a white line in the centre of the pavement (it may be ironic that at the very same time Ozzy is having praise and adulation heaped on him by the Mayor whilst unveiling the said Star, a young musician is being arrested for having a bit of weed in his pocket!! ??

Other nominees include Lenny Henry - good Brummie, Frank Skinner - brilliantly funny, great Brummie, West Brom supporter and Elvis fan, Duran Duran - whose star is planned to be outside the old location of The Rum Runner where they were the resident band for some time, UB40, Robert Plant, Sir Simon Rattle and the fantabulous Julie Walters ( Macaroons Miss Babs?)- one of the greatest Brummies ever.

The organiser has said that he is also in touch with three other people, two who are from Birmingham and one from Hollywood?!! - Oopsy daisy, I almost forgot to include another 'nominee' - TV presenter Cat Deeley who is famous for being pretty! - so there we have it, pretty girl = yes, world literary genius = No. This whole commerical idea is a bit like a tabloid franchise that started off in London - the pre-condition of their particular 'Star Walk" was that you had to be a Londoner - so just where in London was Nicole Kidman born then?

This project is proposed to last for fifty years - Yes!!! FIFTY YEARS??? - with gold stars all around the City. I wonder if there is a family connection between the council and the manufacturer of gold celebrity stars?

Well if there's a chance to earn a bit of money, I'm not backwards in looking forwards and for my part I've already put in a bid to have a commercial outlet adjacent to Ozzy's star. I'm going to change my name a bit, to be more 'Ozzy freindly' that's the Politically Correct way to say sort of stealing his name but mis-spelling it to avoid street prosecution by the Trading Standards W**kers - sorry, the letters 'o' and 'r' dont appear to work on my keyboard.


Right then, you retro freaks.

EKO Dallas V400.

Dallas were the producers of the very first solid body guitar available in the UK. This Dallas/Eko is an Italian designed beauty that probably sounded pretty average for its time but its looks are simply stunning, with a cream silver sparkle finish to the body and nice, stylish inlays set into the fretboard. The bottom cutaway starts at the 15th fret so you could have played practically all of its 22 fret neck. Its lines are almost art deco and the body shape very reminiscent of the later Fender Jaguar/Jazzmaster range. Strangely, the headstock is marked as Dallas with the body bearing the Eko emblem. I would love to have this guitar, even if it was just to look at. My thanks to Frets Guitar Centre for the pictures.


No, I dont mean girls who liked The Uglys. I read that in the recent Miss Great Britain competition, the Birmingham entrant was represented by a girl from Stoke- on-Trent because the organisers couldn't find any girls pretty enough to represent the City!! A 'spokesperson' for the Miss GB organisation said "We were desperately looking for a Miss GB entrant from Birmingham but in truth, there was no-one suitable who entered" . I am only reporting this story - Dont shoot the messenger!

OK y'all - keep tuned in.


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Friday, 1 June 2007

June - Back to the Bullocks


Aah, Flaming June hath arrived. My Darling wife Lucy, the Maharishi of Mirth has decided that, as it's that time of year when I should be lying outside in the sun, it would be the perfect opportunity to do some home building projects. "Start on that new kitchen" she says I've been promising to install. "But my little stocking top" said I thinking quickly "what about the sproglets holidays by the sea?" - now I'm not saying I'm devious in any way but the prospect of spending a couple of days sawing and bashing things with large hammers crushing my artistic fingers was immediately replaced by a stroke of genius. I sensed I had a hit a winner when her face illuminated and she praised me for being so considerate, "Always thinking of others" said she, now gently massaging my temples whilst mentally picturing the smiles on the sproglets faces, "Just for that, I'll make you your favourite meal for dinner tonight". "Yes Siree Bob, you haven't lost it son"

Retiring to the living room to watch the mighty Villa on the TV, the thought of how much it would cost me to take them away suddenly became an issue too. I sat tapping away at my calculator for hotel accommodation,meals,petrol, drinks etc, etc until I found that there were'nt enough digits available on the screen to cope with the mounting costs. "Well, stuff me" I thought, "At one time, I could have a bought a whole street in Sparkhill for that amount". Suddenly the thought of fitting a new kitchen became more attractive. I decided that I would talk about it with 'her highness' tomorrow or at least till after dinner!

On occasion fate takes a hand to resolve simmering issues and on this particular occasion it arrived in the form of a telephone call from the Dragons lair - or to give it it's latin name, from the cave of Motherinlawus Horribilis.

It appears that she is experiencing what she calls a 'floating sensation' and needs the attention of her offspring. "I'll have to go over there in the morning but never mind" said her highness. "I'll get your armour ready" I thought. Then she dropped the bomb, "Its a shame really because the Sproglets (Lou and Ann) will be dropped off here in the morning, you can take them to the sea like you said"............!! My wallet started trembling in my back pocket.

Next morning Lucy was up early and was in the process of covering herself in fire-retardent gel when she announced that she would be at the cave all day and if her matriarch wasn't any better she would stay overnight. My Daughters car duly arrived to pick up the Maharanee and in exchange, deposit the terrible duo into my loving care. They were armed to the teeth with seaside paraphenalia, Buckets, spades, flags etc.. "Are we leaving now? Are we leaving now? are we leaving now? - "Oh, Sod it" I thought "she's set them on repeat". "Where are we going, where are we going?" ......................think,think,think..............SHAZAM!

"We are going to the Isle of Diy" I said "Wheres that?, never heard of it" came the reply in unison. "Its a secret place, like in Harry Potter" said I. A few minutes later we were in the car driving through the Brum metropolis singing the words to 'Summer Holiday', we barely had time to finish the first verse when I said "Right guys, we're here" as the car pulled into Arbuthnotts DIY Store and Builders Merchants. We quickly walked around to the back of the store building and, after having said the magic phrase "Travel through time to the Isle of Diy" then turned around twice with our eyes closed, we entered through the small gate into the deserted builders yard - mountains of sand, piles of stones and gravel - "We're here, Oh what a shame" I said "The tide has gone out, never mind though look at all that sand - just right for a sand castle competition!" - a suggestion, thats all it took for the two sproglets to leap onto the pile and start their demolishing job. "I'm going for ice creams - back in a minute". "Hooray - we love Bob, we love Bob" said the sandy duo. I had time to casually roam around the " Aisles of DIY" looking at flat pack kitchens and attachments at my leisure. Half an hour later whilst purchasing ice creams from the check-out counter I noticed some Garden Twine on a display stand, "Just the thing I need to 'tie in' some herbs to supporting stakes'.

'Bing-Bong', there was a crackling on the in-store Tannoy - 'Store Announcement..... Code 31 Builders yard. Code 31 Builders Yard' - we all know what that means of course! Having paid, I scampered out the door to the back of the building just in time to see the store security man heading towards 'the beach', I managed to get there before him. "We've gotta run Sproglets, the tides coming in", I would have met with resistance normally but the sight of the ice creams was a bigger lure and we left for the car park. "So then, did you enjoy going to Blackpool?" I asked as we pulled away, using a bit of suggestive psychology. "It was great, it was great, we've been to Blackpool, we've been to Blackpool" I knew that they would say they'd been there when questioned about their day and I would be in the clear.

We sang 'Summer Holiday' again on the 3 minute journey back home

With the Sproglets having a nap after their day at the 'magic' Isle of Diy, I got the Garden Twine and looked at the packaging ....... 'Made in China'......... Aah, good old Blighty, the Midlands, the heart of British Industry and Manufacturing - You can't buy a soddin' thing that's made in the country anymore.

Now I know that one of the oldest and greatest civilisations is Chinese and they have much wise knowledge to impart to us thick Brummies and I also know that 'Necessity is the mother of invention' as the saying goes...... I would have loved to have been in China with the bloke whose 'necessity' provoked the idea of what other application could be used for this green twine..........

Not much use to me of course but I know a Scotsman who could use one of those!

The smell of sulphur announced Lucy's return where she found the sand covered, sleeping sproglets tucked up in bed in the spare room, "Been to Blackpool" I whispered "They're tired out". "Oh Bob you're such a wonderful man - forget about that kitchen thingy, I'm going to fix us a drink and slip into something more comfortable". In my mind the closing 24 bars of the 1812 Symphony rang out loud. "Lucy I'm thinking about buying a new guitar" .........................



I am sure that every Brummie football supporter shed a small tear for West Brom as they came second in the Premier League play off against Derby at Wembley. Hard luck guys, it would have been great to have had all three Birmingham clubs battling it out in the same league again, coming third of course behind the mighty Villa and the 'other' team.

Alongside Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley was responsible for putting the beat into Brumbeat. His famous Bo Diddley rythmn has been copied by everyone in some form or other from Buddy Holly through to Springsteen and Oasis and even now is still heavily used, so it was sad news that 78 year old Rock Legend, Bo Diddley suffered a stroke whilst performing on stage in the USA. He has recently been moved from intensive care but may not perform again. Reportedly, his first comments when he came out of unconsciousness were to ask where the money from the gig was!!


Selmer Little Giant

What a corker! This tiny little 4 watt amp is simply gorgeous. It is unusual to find a starter amp that has had so much effort put into its design and build.

I used to look in the Selmer catalogue and wish I could have one of these when I first started playing (albeit the red and white earlier model). It is a beautifully constructed amplifier and it was appropriately named 'Little Giant' because it gave a good sound for what was essentially a 'parlour amplifier'. I had to settle for a Radio Spares equivalent and although mine was louder and had a tremelo footswitch, I simply loved the look of this well designed and manufactured little beauty.


Coming in July - the unique and great Megan Davies of The Applejacks talks about her choice of guitars throughout her playing career.

OK, until next month

See Ya,


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Tuesday, 1 May 2007

May - The Rise of Rythmn n' Blues

Hi lovers of Brumbeat, all Brummies wherever you may be, and all those who are not either of the former!?

Well we've had a couple of months worth of lunacy and without wanting to be a boring fart, I think I'll take the opportunity to give my sanity a rest this month and talk from a personal perspective about the birth of Rythmn and Blues groups in Birmingham that was such a feature of the early to mid sixties music. A little bit of Headstock fun too for the guitarists out there......... but first.........

On behalf of the Alex's Pie Stand Musicians Gourmet Association I would like to wish a fond farewell to Birminghams own - HP Sauce factory - What's a Fleur de Lyse pie without HP?

Another blow to employment to support an increase in conglomerate profits. I imagine the Deputy Prime Minister will be moving to Holland, where the work is going, so the freshly made sauce can be nearer to his enormous collection of very large pies. For those who dont know, HP stood for Harry Palmer - not the Houses of Parliament.


Most people know that the title "Brumbeat" was only accorded in 1964 as an advertising medium for Birmingham bands at the time of the "Mersey Sound" which also never existed as a sole entity. The real "Beat" part did exist though, throughout the UK. For two or three years from sometime in late 1963 through to about 1966 was the time for Beat groups, or more properly, Rythmn and Blues groups - a cross-over period from pure Rock and Roll to a sound which incorporated the music of the blues as a major influence. The Beat Boom.


Before Rock and Roll there was really NOTHING for the youth of the country. The UK was still recovering from the financially crippling effects of the post war years when Rock and Roll raised its ugly head above the 'decency' parapet. Although "Rocket 88" had been released in 1952, "Rock around the Clock" recorded some two years later is still regarded as the first RnR song (presumably because it was sung by a white guy). The youth music culture had been driven by the all american, clean living USA balladeers dressed in their cardigans and immaculate hairstyles, singing love torn laments about high school sweethearts. There were later British equivalents too like Mark Wynter (Venus in Blue Jeans) or Jess Conrad (Mystery Girl) who, halfway through singing a 'hip' song might just work up their energy levels enough to click a finger. The audience all duly clapped politely and Mums in Britain could see them taking out their daughters. "Such a nice boy".


The former US college boy 'crooners' had jumped on the Rock and Roll bandwagon when it arrived, ably assisted by record companies, to cover the songs of those black artists who were arguably, the real originators of Rock and Roll music but these kids never really 'cut the mustard' and were just a watered down version of the real thing. After having sung songs about "swell days in college, I hope she wears my ring" they now had to sing songs that were definitely not college girl material of the day

The songs they now sung were loaded with sexual innuendo but misunderstood by the censors i.e. Jesse Stone's lyrics in Shake Rattle and Roll - "I'm just a one eyed cat peeping in a seafood store" is most certainly not about a one eyed cat and even less about a shop that sells fish!! Still, the censors were not alone in their naive knowledge of "jive" and the whole country regaled in the worst cover version of them all - being the very christian white boy, Pat Boone's, recording of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti". As the youth demand for Rock and Roll increased the record companies were left with no choice but to promote the black artists, so in the end a few of them won. A lot more didn't. The college boys generally disappeared. Jess Conrad's 'Mystery Girl' has won the worst ever song a few times since then. Of course there were the great white artists too Jerry Lee Lewis (The Killer), Karl Perkins and naturally Elvis Presley who (pre army) was the 'real' gift to Rock and Roll above all others of the time. Black or white.

In the US, girl group The Marvellettes scored a Number One, million seller with 'Please Mr Postman'. Later to be a regular number in The Beatles early R and B stage show. Their first LP release had no picture of the girls on the cover so that reportedly, people wouldn't know they were black.

In the UK, the class war and social structure was such that it suffocated rebeliousness or open minded attitudes and it was armed with moral codes, standards of behaviour and stiff upper lips that had to be maintained. Hypocrisy was rife. Young people who went to jazz clubs were to be avoided at all costs, these were the original 'Beatniks' who had funny dances and shared cigarettes. A female friend of my sisters' was a 'jazzer' and my Father told them that they were not to associate with her because of the manner of her dress - she wore bright blue woolen stockings. Mind you he also said that Cliff Richard was a danger and should be Locked Up!!!!! These days he might well be right.

It was against this sort of stifling moral backdrop that the youth of my Birmingham grew up, really without expectations, leave school - factory job 8 till 5 every day looking for some way to burst free of the system. Live "electrified" rock music was in its infancy but there were already some great Rock n Roll acts in town; Johnny Neal, Danny King, Pat Wayne and the Beachcombers, Gerry Levene, Nicky James with Denny Laine and the Diplomats - the list goes on......

I have taken the time to explain the social structure so much to try to give some perspective on the dynamic impact that the radical changes in music of the 1960' s had on the population - no, the world. It was the spearhead of revolution and open mindedness in the fields of the arts and fashion. Possessing free movement, it changed like a chameleon with new types of music competing for a place in the dance halls. It was like stepping out of a black and white drawing into HDTV full blown colour with lots of channels. The music of Rock and Roll and commercial 'pop-tastic gimmick filled hits' had had its run for a few years and the time for another change was on the cards - duck!!! - the blues sound cometh!


I can't really remember how I first found interest in playing the music of the Blues but I found that I couldn't let go of it again. I must have heard it first at someones house who was related to a 'Beatnik', on their Dansette record player or, if they were posh, their Stereogram (they would have called it "A lovely piece of furniture") - with speakers. I certainly wouldn't have heard blues on the radio because they never played that type of music. It would only be a short matter of time though before I started meeting other young musicians who also had the same depth of passion and interest and we all learned from each other. About a year earlier, Pete Oliver had taught me the rudiments of finger picking when I was interested in playing Chet Atkins stuff,
so I could play along, primitively at first, with those old time blues pickers like Ma Rainey. Willie Dixon, although a bassist, was a hero and his songs were amongst the very best, Hoochie Coochie Man, Spoonfull etc. A lot of my musical friends were still into Cliff and The Shadows or The Ventures type instrumental stuff which had been OK for a while but was now stale, predictable and played without any feeling or innovation.
The blues, on the other hand lent itself to creative application, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Bill Broonzy, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Robert Johnson amongst others, soon became familiar names to me and became the musicians to learn from. Dimples, My Babe, Smokestack Lightnin', Baby Please Dont Go and a host of other numbers would emanate from my bedroom practice sessions normally accompanied by the parental comments of "What the hell is that stuff your'e playing, its not natural" - it was completely natural for me and I felt at home with the honesty of the recordings and the great repetitive, insistent riffs, as in Rufus Thomas' "Walkin the Dog" for example.
The music of the blues could be re-arranged and played a lot faster (i.e. Rythmn and Blues) which fitted in nicely with those Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry Rock and Roll classics like Not Fade Away, Carol and Johnny B Goode.

Cliff and The Shads, were now the property of the Mums and Dads who saw them on the London Palladium Sunday night TV show, Rock and Roll was no longer fresh and the kids were looking for something new on the horizon to replace that professional, polished approach. Youth fashion was also finding its own niche and there were the beginnings of clothes shops just for teenagers opening.

A telling moment of perceptible change in music, fashion and attitude for me, was one night at The Ritz in Kings Heath. The Modernaires, who were a benchmark group and had been the resident band there for what seemed like an eternity played their set, they were very polished and professional, all good musicians, well dressed and well groomed and playing the hits of the day.

They were followed onto the stage by The Cheetahs, dressed in their animal print outfits, who were also a good act for their time. I had gone specially that night though because unusually for a dance hall, Sonny Boy Williamson was performing there. He was backed by Gary Farr and The T Bones, who visibly dawdled onto the stage, dressed in jeans and old sweaters, carrying a beer in their hands and smoking.

From their opening number I was hooked on the whole anti-establishment attitude.

The kids in the audience found the music hard to dance to but you could tell that there was some interest in the rawness of what they were hearing, probably for the first time. This was R and B (not Chuck Berry RnR) - hard driving blues music powered along by insistent bass playing that thumped into your gut, no echo chamber to ponce up the vocals or guitar solo, very loud, crass, crashing drums. To me, at that moment, the previous two bands seemed like yesterdays news in an instant - image wise and their choice of music.

The group suited the brilliant Sonny Boy Williamson well and his harmonica playing was stunning. You certainly wouldn't take these lot home to meet your folks - in honesty they didn't come across as a great group, musically speaking, they were just the first group I'd seen playing with that attitude and rawness. I was laughing with excitement. There was a definite feeling of "thats what I want to do"... It must have been the same sort of feeling in the mid-seventies when Punk came along to replace the over produced bands who relied on technology and pre-recorded backing tracks to make them sound good. It all comes back to honesty and excitement in the end.

It wasn't long before groups in Brum started changing their style, their choice of material and their volume levels and became great R&B acts but a lot of other "Cliff" type bands with "Hank" type guitarists just faded away or moved onto the cabaret circuit or working mens clubs. There was always plenty of work around for groups then but not for all of them at the cutting edge. Groups that had no immediacy or energy for the music by having spent too many years trying to be perfect didn't fit in and nothing that they could do could save them from the fate of changing fashion trends. Groups with names that ended in -aires or -ettes changed them pretty quickly too. The Modernaires became The Mods, The Dominettes became The Uglys, established acts were getting older - a crime in burgeoning youth music. Another surprising thing occurred too, Fender Stratocasters became remarkably unfashionable and sales plummeted with most guitarists switching to Gibsons or Epiphones which gave a harsher sound and better sustain. It was also the end of the road for Hofners and Watkins and the Burns 'Marvin'. Those other guitars that had copied the Stratocaster and had been the mainstay of groups for so many years were now consigned to the garage or loft space. Second hand shops were full of Watkins Copycat echo chambers going cheap.... cheap.... cheap (sorry - I promise to behave!).

It was a time of fantastic excitement, The Beatles were an out-and-out R&B group, The Rolling Stones at their R&B zenith with massive Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley influence, playing Chuck Berry covers, The Animals 1964(House of the Rising Sun), Them - with the revamped 1936 Blues classic "Baby Please dont Go". Along side these were the incredible new numbers coming from groups like The Kinks "You Really Got Me" and "All day and All of the Night" (1964) they were such milestones in music and as a guitarist, were a thrill to play. Later in 1965 came The Small Faces (What' ya gonna do about it) and The Who with their youth anthem "My Generation". It was just improving all the time. All of those acts from that short period went on to be enduring, giant names in the memory of Rock music and you could have seen them all at The Ritz, week after week! By now there was a proper dedicated youth music show on TV, "Ready Steady Go" which went out on Friday evening with their clarion call - the weekend starts here! There was a vitality emerging on the streets and everyone was up for it!!

Birmingham had its fair share of great energetic R&B groups. Denny Laine, at full throttle with The Moody Blues was a sight to see (unlike the latter years armchair variant), the immaculate Steve Winwood with the Spencer Davis group took your breath away with the sheer soul and volume of his voice combined with mature blues musicality. The jive and The Twist disappeared overnight and were replaced by more energentic hip wiggling antics called "The Twitch", in addition the clothes got brighter and more individual. Guys didn't have to wear a suit to go out dancing on a Friday night and things started to get Hairy!! - in a lot of different respects. There were plenty of midlands Beat groups of great note but other than the two mentioned above I will keep my personal preferences to myself so as not to offend anyone by not including them. All of this change in musical style and street fashion happened very quickly. The youth of the country were rearing up and the Mods and Rockers scene emerged at about the same time creating a sense of tension. This was the era of the screaming audiences, it could get very intense at times and you would be urged on more and more to throw yourself into what you were playing. Small, smoke-filled venues would have sweat dripping off the walls it was so hot with the energy that was expelled both on and off stage - sometimes I felt like I was running out of breath. There was so much adrenalin flowing that you didnt want to stop playing and it would take hours for you to "come down" from the rush after a good night with a great audience.

The only guitar foot pedal available then was a volume/tone control that had been used to beautiful effect by Big Jim Sullivan on Dave Berrys hit "The Cryin Game". Guitar strings came in one thickness. To get a better, bluesier sound I replaced the G string with a B and the B with a top E. There were no mixing desks or fold back speakers. It was only hours of practice, technique and enthusiasm that sorted out the good from the mediocre. Groups were springing up from everywhere and you fought for your place on the music scene by being better than your peers - not by the use of 'kit' technology. That healthy competition was the thing that generated great 'energy filled' live acts and gave the UK worldwide musical kudos. There was not an act in the US that could match up to that current batch of British bands - they were all still pussy cats. In turn, that period of R&B music had its day and was swallowed up by the music that was now becoming more melodic and "Summery" like stuff from the Lovin Spoonful etc. The Beatles and Brian Wilson launched themselves into their competitive creativity phase and the world followed but for a short couple of years when R&B ruled it was just the best time of all to be a young musician and it was head down, on yer' toes R and B that was the original 1960's Brumbeat. Anything that came after that should be called something else. These days some Brummie DJs annoyingly categorise themselves as being Brumbeat - think of at least one thing thats original, 'Kin Tossers!

No Old Rockers were intentionally harmed during the writing of this article!

Keep music, played by real musicians, live!!!!

Bob has left the Blog.......


A sad farewell to Bobby Pickett (The Monster Mash) - I'm afraid he wont be working late in the lab anymore...........



Just for a bit of fun, here are some guitar headstocks from models used during the Brumbeat years but photographed from the back. Answers below:1.

This early solid body guitar was quite a favourite of the group scene and was regarded as being years ahead of its rivals electronically. It had many admirers of note.


This headstock belongs to a guitar that was British made and this particular range came in three models. A budget guitar for people who couldn't afford a Stratocaster but wanted to look like they had one.


Not unlike the shape of headstock number one. There was quite a difference between the two guitars though both in price and quality but the two do have something in common. This guitar company invented the magnetic guitar pick up.

This gorgeous guitar went out of production and when re-introduced again was just a shadow of its former glory. A wild ringing sound from this piece of kit, I know - I had one and would love to have it back again!


Strange and ugly headstock shape. There were only a couple of decent playable electric 12 strings and this was the other one. Used by The Move.


Elpico AC 55

This famous little piece of kit was a run of the mill cheap amp until Dave Davies of the Kinks slashed the cone of the speaker with a razor blade and Shazam - the first distorded guitar sound was born, it probably would just have disappeared into oblivion if it were not for the history of "You Really Got Me" I guess it still is a cheap amp in reality. I dont personally remember anyone using this particular model but do remember Elpico more as a PA amp.

Very 50's styling and choice of colour, it resembles a radio from the front.

Sporting 3 inputs (Mic 1, Mic 2 and Gramophone!), chicken head control knobs and boasting an eliptical 6 inch speaker the volume from this this could probably fill the inside of a shoe box. Paul McCartney used one in his Hamburg days reportedly.

I always scan the background of old group photos to see what kit they were using and I dont recall ever seeing one of these things. Probably someone out there owned one and will no doubt let me know about its history. A nice piece of memorabilia though.


Wow, what a scorcher!!!..Real lovers of early Brumbeat will be pleased to know that I am now in contact with the great TANYA DAY and hope to soon have an article heading your way ... not to be missed!! This really is the biz!!

Dont forget to check out the third article in the 'Six of the Best' series.... coming this month Willie Hammond, guitarist of The Uglys.

Till next time........Could things get any better?

Bulls Head Bob

Headstock answers: 1. Futurama 2. Watkins Rapier 3. Rickenbacker 4. Epiphone Casino 5. Fender 12 string.

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