Tuesday, 1 December 2020


Hello Brummies, Chums, Brummies Abroad, the lads in Thailand and Hong Kong everyone else around the world who pop in to the blog on the 1st of the month with a special Hello for my first reader in Benin!!

The world has been in a shocking state this year, Covid has well and truly shagged everything but it's Christmas time here in the bloggery, the door to soft twats who think the word should be replaced with something else to appease the multi cultural array of races in Birmingham is firmly closed.  


Christmas in the second city, as always, holds a soft spot in my past from queueing to see Father Christmas at John Lewis' as a 5 year old, as a 10 year old reading and devouring every page of the Bells of Surbiton music catalogue hoping that my Christmas gift might be an electric guitar, to eventually playing in a couple of great bands in the city on many Christmas Eve's when the largest dance halls would be packed to the gunnels with party goers and we would be paid a bit more dosh.  Those dance hall days were fantastic. 

This year there will be no dance halls throbbing to the sound of live music and even the Birmingham Christmas lights were switched on with next to no-one to see them.  I haven't played a single gig since last Feb or even met up with the rest of the band but we wont give in to this virus and getting back together will be a joyous moment for sure.

Mrs Bob and I are having our own Christmas Bubble, just the two of us and will be chatting on Facetime with the Bobettes throughout the day.    As announced last month, my TASCAM portastudio Christmas present is still under the bed awaiting Mrs Bob's lavish wrapping attention. She has been happy as Larry lately and has been singing so, quite unselfishly, as well as buying her a new dress, I have bought her a new condenser microphone, studio earphones and a set of balanced patch cables, I imagine she will be thrilled with them, Happy wife, Happy Life. 

If however she feels that that particular combo gift is not exactly what she expected I have a crowd pleaser as a second present which I was going to save for her birthday in January but I want to spoil her rotten this year so am giving her this little beauty......in Ferrari Yellow.

I know you might think I have been a bit predictable and maybe even a little free with my spending, after all she already has a perfectly good barrow but I wanted her to have something to show off to the neighbours.  My mate, Fat Stan is coming round to do a bit of pinstriping just like Pimp my Ride, don't  you just love that low profile tyre?? 

Oggie has been a part of my life since the age of 11 and we started our electric guitar journey together,  first as Wannabe Hank Marvin's right through to the rise of the Liverpool bands and I can almost picture us learning "Sweets for my Sweet" in his front room on Kedleston Drive, such happy times.  He moved out to the USA where he lived for the next 40 years before returning to Brum some years ago.

Now he has never been a lover of the Christmas Festivities apart from going to the pub on Christmas day for a couple of bevvies but he always phones to wish me a Happy Christmas because he knows how I love it so much and I always send him a card via the blog so

The thing is, this year he might not even make it to the pub if things are locked down again so I have bought a special Christmas treat for him from America, for him to nibble on whilst watching The African Queen.  

Happy Christmas Oggie..

Happy Christmas to everyone who visits the blog, I'm sure we will all find different ways to celebrate, that is everyone except my lovely mate who has decided that no way is Santa getting in down his chimney without a covid check. 

I'm sure that he will join me in hoping for a quick resolution to this years woes when he can get out his Santa outfit again and we can ALL have a better year in 2021.  Starting with getting that racist Turkey out of the White House.

With the current restrictions life is difficult and even more precious so, do what you can to lessen the covid dread by keeping to small gatherings, we can't relax until the Injection arrives. 

Above all else please be tolerant and kind to each other, love is the key.


Copyright Bulls headbob
Contact: Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB Nov 2020. SPENCER DAVIS. LICORICE LOCKING. How to get what you want for Christmas. TASCAM DP24 SD.

Hello Brummies, Pals and chums, readers in Vietnam, Khazakstan, Argentina and of course Pluki the Japanese loft-boy.

Well we continue to be in the grip of this Covid thing but I'm not going to linger on that subject because it serves no purpose.    Mrs Bob and I have repainted the house, the garden is immaculate and now we are on the run up to Christmas to cheer us up.  You gotta do what you gotta do whilst you're alive and be wise to be alive longer.


It has been a pretty disastrous end to October, the great Spencer Davis hung up his Stratocaster and departed the world at 81 years of age. 

Although I saw the band a few times, I met him only once in 1964 but I was 15 and he was a full 10 years older than I and a teacher!! it wasn't the done thing then to speak much to proper adults.  The Spencer Davis group were the best band by far of any group operating in Birmingham and the West Midlands at any given time, there was just no contest and Spencer Davis was their creator and mentor.  The groups success lacked one thing though, money.  Their Royalties had been siphoned off by manager Chris Blackwell.    With the departure of Steve Winwood to Traffic the Spencer Davis group continued but it was a downhill slide from their previous level of stardom.  In the later years Spencer came out of retirement and hit the stage again but it was never the same, playing mostly for those who wished to remember the 60's but he was the person that saw the potential of those individuals and bought them together to play the music he adored and Steve Winwood was the icing on the cake. 

I have featured them throughout the lifetime of this blog and really can't add anymore than I have already written so, if I may,  I would like to redirect you to the special I wrote on them rather than repeat myself.  Click here SPENCER DAVIS GROUP
............."what a great read Bob" I can hear you say to yourself, "thanks" said I.

He was Welsh but was the leader of the best live Blues R/B band to exist in Birmingham and probably the whole of the UK at the time.  It was a real privilege to see loads of great bands in those small Birmingham venues but this group blew me away, and every other band too!!!!!!


Us early Brumbeaters were brought up listening to The Shadows and learned by copying, note-for-note, the music they played.  Jet Harris was their most famous Bassist having been the initial member of the band and I think the public think of any replacement as second class to the original which is wierd.  However Locking had as good a pedigree as Harris having been the bassist with Marty Wilde and The Wildcats and was a regular at the famous 2i's.  He was a multi instrumentalist and got his nickname playing the clarinet.   He was recommended to the band by Brian Bennett who had just replaced Tony Meehan on Drums.

He was in The Shadows for one year and during that time made the film of Summer Holiday, Cliff and The Shads biggest film.  Always had a smile on his face he was the complete antithesis of the guy he replaced and was a committed christian.  He was replaced by Birminghams own John Rostill who became their longest serving bassist.



Because we have been staying inside since March, we have been able to save up some dosh that we would have spent socially so I said to Mrs Bob,  "Darling, how slim you look in that dress, is it new? Well you make it look new! I would like to buy you a nice new dress for Christmas!! and she said "Oh Mr Bob you have'nt lost your romantic touch, thankyou!!" and gave me the sort of look that could only end up in some physical contortions.  3.5 minutes later, oh alright 2.5 and feeling slightly out of breath she said "I want to buy you a nice big present too!!......"Well if you really want to...pause...smile and ACTION.... "I'd really like a new 24 multi-track digital recorder but thats out of reach so I'll write to Santa as usual Ho ho ho."

After lunch whilst sipping a nice glass of port, we wrote together, a letter to Santa asking for a new recording device and where it might be obtainable from and then how we laughed as we stuck it up the chimney.  

I have been using an AKAI Pro DPS16 forabout 20 years and it is a fabulous piece of kit but is

now beginning to show its age with a sticking fader and a couple of other minor irritating problems so before it starts to conk out completely a replacement is necessary and instead of taking the normal computer interface-thing route, I have continued to opt for "something a little more comfortable", which is essential if you are a hands-on fader freak like me!   I sent Santa (Mrs Bob) that note 2 months ago saying I specifically wanted a......... 


This machine is 5 star rated and is now the best of its kind on the market, the main step up in tech terms, is the ability to record direct to a digital 32G card in place of a CD-RW which saves a lot of storage space both digitally and physically, no more racks of CD's with bits of compositions on waiting for a second spark of inspiration.

It is almost a copy of the AKAI in that the controls are practically the same for recording but now it is bang up to date technically and its extensive 24 track recording abilities, along with its impressive inbuilt effects suite has everything you could want for in a dedicated, stand alone, recording package.  I think of it as an analogue recorder more than a computer recording option.  It is totally portable and can be used for live performances too, thanks to its robust and solid construction, mighty impressive guys!!   Having a smaller control screen is not too much of a trade off for its portability, it can be used in any room of the house, or dog house if the lady in your life tells you pipe down when she's watching something crap like X Factor!    

You can record straight away and listen to the playback via headphones or get yourself a pair of monitors preferably, active monitors if you wish to listen to a studio quality loud playback, add a condensor microphone and you're away.  In true Bob techno-speak it has "oodles of inputs" so you can record your band too, at the same time.   More importantly, it will give you continued free recording time.  So now you will be able to knock out all those tunes you play and/or concentrate on writing and recording your own material with the ability to record something "on the spur of the moment" at the push of a button.   We currently have time on our hands and it would be good to use the time wisely being creative.  If you are not familiar with using one of these stand alone devices there is a brilliant range of tutorials on Youtube that will have you up and running in next to no time.   Around 400 to 500 quid and there you are. It is in demand and in some places you will have to preorder.  Mrs Bob already has mine and its under the bed in its box and being a Santa believer I'm sure the box is empty right now and will magically fill itself on Christmas night and I hope that he has had a hand in giving it a touch of magic when I make my first recording with it.

I shall continue to use the brilliant AKAI DPS16 along-side the new kid in town until it fizzles out some grey day.

So I'm pleased to have passed onto you the phrase to get what you want for Christmas, a shag and a glass of port too!  It only works once so use it sparingly and if over a certain age loosen belt, apply blue pill and lean forward!  REMEMBER...

" Oh Darling, how slim you look in that dress, Is it new? well you make it look new!...... I'd like to buy you a new dress for Christmas?

I dont know if the phrase works with the panoply of gender neutral, left side trouser wearers or straight up gays and lesbians but for the average older man/woman situation its DYNAMITE!!


My heart goes out to anyone who or whose family has been affected by this vile virus, it is a timely and recurring reminder to humanity of exactly how fragile we truly are and are not the kings of our own destiny.   Please be kind and thoughtful to each other

FINALLY, finally

7-2 ...7-2.....7-2    UTV...Super Jack 


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Contact:  Bobsbullocks@GMail.com 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB - OCT 2020. Lilly Winwood. HAGSTROM Guitars. The Day the Music Died.

Hello chums, Brummies, my friends around the world with a special mention this month for Sweden, thanks for dropping in and supporting the blog.  We all find ourselves in various stages of lockdown around the world and lately, moreso in good old Brum but us Brummies are made of sterner stuff and "we ain't gonna tek it lying down", although, to be honest, I've enjoyed the lying down bit a little too much and am yearning to be back up on my feet.


I have made no reservations about my respect and admiration for the incredible talents of Steve Winwood from the first time I met him in 63/64 to right now.     I dont believe he has any areas of weakness at all in his field of music and has been instrumental in influencing many aspirants to the cause of music as a fluid, ever changing form, by not being a rigid bluesman for example, he has dipped freely into the cauldron of change and endeared himself to many.  It will come as no surprise that some of his creative genes must have been passed on to his children.   If nothing else, this virus lockdown has made me listen to the radio more and just last week I found myself listening to a lady singing a slowed down version of Steve Winwoods "Higher Love".  "She sounds good" I thought, then in the chorus I recognised Steve's voice doing the harmony.   

When I looked at the play list I saw that the lovely voice belonged to none other than LILLY WINWOOD and this is the first time I have heard her.  It would appear that back in 2016 this recording was used in the USA as the background music for a HERSHEY bar advert and bought her to the publics attention.  She has since released an EP "Silver Stage" and a new Album release is planned for 2021.   There can be a disadvantage to being an offspring of a famous musician and particularly if the offspring too wishes to make their mark in the music field.    I dont believe Lilley will have any difficulty in establishing herself as a solo force in her own right after having paid her dues with local bands in bars for some years and does not need the recording paraphanelia, predominantly Autotune, that other daughters of Brummie rock stars need.   So spend some time on the lookout for her new year release "Time Well Spent".    It shall be gracing my collection. Good one Lilly!


As a result of this months Swedish support, it is timely to remind you that Sweden played it's part in the early beginnings of 60's Rock music courtesy of HAGSTROM guitars.  They made some pretty awful guitars at first, as did most of the post WW2 firms and traded under the Goya badge in the USA.  Hagstrom as a Brand started with three consecutive models from 1958, the first being the hideous sparkly Standard 80, followed by the absolutely terrible plastic monstrosity that was the Kent or Futurama 2 as it was known and the third being their first foray into something that was more of a serious instrument than a toy, the Hagstrom standard 1, 11 and 111 loosely based on the Les Paul. As per photo below.

The company then made some serious guitars and made one of the nicest 335 style guitars in the form of the excellent Super Swede.   They are worth a look at if you ignore the wall hangar rubbish they made to start with.

I take this opportunity to remind you that not all old guitars are collectible, some are best deposited into a skip. 


Here is a prime example of crap Russian stuff on sale currently on EBay, they are all awful but this one is probably the worst of them all.  Manufactured from aluminium, absolutely no expense or effort has been made to produce this shitpile.  It was probably made out of an old MIG fighter fuselage, although to be fair, there are no rivets showing, absolutely dreadful.  I think someone's asking 600 quid for it.  Hahahahahaha!!!! come on, let's grow up.

 The Day the Music Died 

I think we all know the Don McLean song American Pie and one of its hooks "the day the music died".  This was a reference to the death of Buddy Holly.  However I got a call from old mate Oggie the other day and we were discussing the lack of gigs or any kind of live performance owing to the Covid restrictions and we both thought that this could be the death knell for a lot of artists who have been going forever and whose names are known only to their age generation.

There are some who have been trading themselves as stars but in reality only had a small hit with a cover of someone else's song and are well past their sell by date with nothing new to offer.  Everything changes and music and style transcend the standard norms that have been around for far too long  and have become too predictable and boring.  We could be at that point now, during lockdown where, like me, people have started to listen to new artists and have started to forget some of those self appointed "stars" of old. In truth there are some I'd gladly see the back of.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the entertainment industry gets back into action.  Maybe its not the day the music died but the Day we forgot to remember.


Above all remember that our frustrations and bad moods at being trapped inside or in constant close quarters can lead to a bad day for all those around us.  We have an obligation to support our families and it is better to find ways of keeping our relationships safe, secure and loving.   So before you go complaining about little irritations, take a breath and think "do I really need to react badly to a trifling annoyance".  It could be the difference to a good day turning bad.

Love the ones you're with and keep safe.


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Contact: Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com 

Monday, 31 August 2020

Bulls Head Bob - Sep 2020. BEAT group days in Birmingham. Electrify your Acoustic Guitar

 Watcha you Brummies, 

Another month bites the dust and what a month it was!! Hot as anything followed by the lightning storms that filled the heavens for a couple of days.  Followed by more storms and fierce wind.  I've had fierce wind more than a few times mind you and recommend a bowl of  stewed plums for a couple of days...... The live gig situation is terrible and the forecast doesn't look too good either,  nonetheless we need to keep our spirit alive and what better way than a touch of reminiscing back to the early 60's when there was live music in the form of pop groups in every pub in the City of "Brummagem by the Cole". What a fantastic era.

As some of you will know, we lost the great Chuck Botfield, lead guitarist and founder member of The Rockin Berries on the last day of June.  Due to a commitment I only had time to make a passing comment so please read the article by John Woodhouse at Brumbeat.Net by clicking HHERE.   Chuck was a lovely guy and inspired a whole generation of Brummy guitarists including me.  As a passionate learner I would go and see him occasionally and take my little pocket note book to jot down things I could work on or chord runs and things.  He played Chuck Berry songs just like his hero!!  He had fire in his belly in those days. 

As can plainly be identified The Rockin Berries were formed at the height of Chuck Berry mania when BRUMBEAT was at its zenith for Beat Groups and in Birmingham, Chuck Botfield was one of its leaders. 


Johnny B Goode was the first thing we all had learned and the Chuck Berry rhythm suited the guitar like no other for Rock music, pulsating staccato half notes stabbing away over, four to the bar, bass runs in line with a four on the floor bass drum  BEAT music.  It opened the flood gates for groups to take any song and "Berrify it" by playing it faster and adding the rhythm.   A famous example would be "My Bonnie"  by Tony Sheridan and The Beatles.   The singer would be equipped with marracas and tambourine as extra percussion for those Bo Diddley moments!  With the arrival of the guitar solo the hi-hats would be opened to crash away, increasing the madness and during the "Screaming Times" the girls would go crazy, the whole band encouraged by the response would be elevated to greater heights and I, for one, would be dripping with sweat, head down, really really, playing my heart out.   

All those hours of constant practice were paying off and the excitement generated by the music filled me like nothing else could, I hadn't even heard of adrenalin but I was swimming in it and the group were always so enthusiastic it almost took your breath away.  There were stages we, the first wave of electric guitar groups, wanted to achieve, first paid gig, getting suits, getting a van and then getting it covered with lipstick messages from the fans then more gigs supporting bigger bands, getting a fan base, being top of the bill,  improving all the time, better equipment, getting a record contract and then being "Screamed at" and.....getting pulled off stage by eager females.   We had seen other bands like the Stones and Beatles etc being mobbed by hordes of teenage girls and wanted to experience the thrill of it all....adoration!!    

It was a crazy, exciting time for groups and although I'm glad I experienced the thrill of live performances from basic Rock, through the psychedelic phase and up until the end of that wonderful decade the BEAT phase was by far the most enjoyable.  

Through it all, the Chuck Berry riff, intros and solos appeared in differing forms and have done ever since although, these days, it lacks the excitement and emotion of having been through its creation and played it first 

Electrify your Acoustic.

I have a Tanglewood Electro acoustic which I have owned for 22 years, it has a beautiful warm tone and anyone who plays it loves it.  Its pre-installed Fishman pre-amp passed away peacefully recently and no amount of battery changing, swearing at or tapping it with a screwdriver would revive it.    I contacted Tanglewood asking if there was any replacement available, sadly no, not for old guitars.  I love the guitar and use it with a Marshall acoustic amp.  Now, I live in a remote neck of the woods so, owing to this lock down malarkey,  the normal supplier wasn't available so I looked on Ebay to see what I could do to "solucion-ize the problem" and saw a Fishman that was about the same dimensions as the one that needed changing.

I purchased a Fishman Presys blend Preamp, I was impressed by it having a microphone inside the guitar body as well as the normal bridge piezo pick-up strip which you can blend together to get a greater range of sensitivity and tone.   

There is always a danger of forgeries on sale and indeed there were a deal of suppliers advertising the same preamp all at different prices starting at around £12.  Buying the most expensive doesn't guarantee you are getting the genuine article either,  so how much of a risk did I want to take?   

I went for £25 plus post thinking if it blows up I will have to suck it up and say I'll never do that again.   So, anyway within a week of paying it was at my door.  No luxury packaging, ziplock bag with Fishman tag inside a padded envelope.   The contents were all there minus the 9v battery.  

The build is good, everything clips together nicely, there are some pictorial fitting instructions but I found some better installation videos on Youtube.   Taking out the broken one was easy.  The refitting process was just a question of sanding the opening to accommodate the slightly wider Presys and from then on it went smoothly enough for someone who is used to doing fiddly things, it would have gone a lot smoother had I purchased a new set of strings to replace the ones I had removed!!    3 days later with new strings attached, I slipped in the battery, attached a guitar lead and turned it on, there was a bit of a squeal from my bedside mini Laney amp that sounded "mistake like" but was resolved by me tightening the newly installed Jack plug connection, then it came to life.   It sounded a whole lot better when I connected the guitar to the Marshall however I will have to get accustomed to regulating the balance between mic and piezo till I find the "sweet spot".

I would have to say that this system, whether a knock-off or not, does the job fine, of course I don't have another example to judge it by.    It is a comparatively easy job to do and well within the grasp of someone with a bit of common sense and pacience, so if you have an old acoustic that you would like to use in your stage act or for recording without taking the expensive route of buying a new electro acoustic guitar you may find this a much cheaper option.   A Stanley knife, a drill and drill bit, Phillip's head screw driver and some masking tape is all you need, plus of course the pre-amp.    It's the cheapest way to electrify your acoustic guitar for stage or recording use and you get the satisfaction of having done it yourself.    Good luck!!!!  I should add that you might want to think twice about doing this to some rare or expensive instrument!!!  


Please be careful out there, do wear a mask, do use sanitizer, we have to live with this awful virus so please try not to pass it on.  That aside, be as happy as you can and love the ones you're with.


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Contact:  bobsbullocks@gmail.com


Saturday, 1 August 2020


Hello Brummies, lockdown compatriots, Musos, Rockers and Rockettes,
you Loft Boys of Japan, psychedelic funksters and drifters. 

A special hello to my new freinds in Romania and the UAE!! Welcome.

1964, 15 years of age but looked 12, Hall Green, Birmingham.  Left school, worked for the CO-OP at Tysley and had my first Pint of Brown and Mild, I had a couple more and was as sick as a dog all the way home from Moseley.   

Later that same week, ........having listened to a Huddy Leadbetter LP we, our group, decided that we could do better than that and prepared ourselves to write our soon-to-be hit.  We sat around a dining table and looked at each other for a few minutes.  I, as the lead guitarist took the mantle and commenced a chugging blues rythmn with an added 7th every 4th beat.   The Bass player looked at me in a knowing manner and added a one note plod-a-long, the guaranteed escape route for the 4 stringers in the world.  Although the rhythm guitarist was there we left him to his own devices as he lived in his own space-time-continuum, never playing the same thing twice and spending more time cavorting around on the stage floor during gigs than actually adding a musical element " It's all about art man" he would be writhing about the base of the mic stand screaming at me when I was doing a solo.     So apart from him,  we were solid, in the groove, to use the music parlance of the 80's.    Kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk, we could have gone on forever, looking at each other that is! 

Now, if the whole band had pooled our lifes experiences there wouldn't have been enough to cover a Cream Cracker.   Being drunk and told off by your Mum, Truancy, Three fumbles, 12 love bites and being sick in someone's record player at a party hardly constituted a joint life of pain and suffering that we could translate in the form of a biting lyric.   I stared at the singer, waiting for him to put sense to all our experiences but even he, at the ripe old age of 16, with a grammar school education, hadn't been allowed to parties where there had been girls, "Unnecessary distractions from algebra"  his Mother said.   Three hours later he had written,  " I went down to the station"  ....we stopped right there, not even making it to the platform, because he had to go home for his Sunday dinner.  

We never talked about writing a song again because I think we all subconsciously agreed that it was a far too difficult thing to do and we maybe better off revisiting that particular scenario anew once one of us had had a shag at least!  We further discovered that nearly everybody had already been "Down to the Station", had "Woken Up this Mornin" and found "My Woman Done Gone".   

There is a truth and that is you have to write a hundred crappy songs before you learn to discern what it good and what is poo.   However, you have to start somewhere and writing a basic melody for you to put your words to is as good a way to start as any other, anyone can do it, its guaranteed to work so you have halved the difficulty straight away and you dont need to know how to write music notation!! 

An exercise book with lined pages, a blue pen and a red one. 

1.   Write down the numbers 1 to 5 horizontally on a page of lined paper with a blue pen.  
These numbers represent the five BLACK notes of a piano keyboard starting from the left as Number 1 through to 5 as the last black key on the right, in the group of 3.  Only the black keys are played.

2.  Now, with the red pen, write on the next line down, a selection of the numbers 1 to 5, in any order, even repeating some of them.   Let's say you chose to write down 12 numbers as below but it could be any amount or back to front.  These numbers are totally random I assure you.


We now need to decide if the tune is going to be slow or fast and set our tempo speed.  
Congratulations you have just written your first tune.  That's it.........and you havent played a note

If you have a keyboard of any type available, but preferably with a metronome, start from the middle of the keyboard using the 5 black keys only, play the first four numbers of your own random choice, one note for each beat in this case 1 4 3 5.    It's just four notes but will be a short melody, try repeating this four note group for the next four beats or......play the next four notes of your random number selection, 2 2 1 3 to have an eight note melody. 

If you have written words already you can apply this same formula to the verses, words and syllables.  Using syllables as note changes as well as the words if you wish "Re-mem-ber" for example.

Use tricks to form melodies.   John Lennons melody for  the opening lines of "I am the walrus"
Is made up of two notes, in fact the two notes he heard from a police siren passing by....Dee dah Dee dah Dee dah Dee dah = I am/ he as/ you are /he as...etc   and remember too that you can use one note for several words

Other melodies have been formed using Morse code. The music for the popular comedy show "Some Mothers Do Ave Em" was written by converting the individual letters of the title into Morse code so S = dot dot dot, O = dash dash dash, M = dash E = dot and so on.  All these groups of dots and dashes can then be manipulated into our 5 black note conversion melody maker above.

This is really nothing new and was a trick of the trade in the great songwriting days of the Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley here in the UK but is something you may not have come across before to aid you to achieve your wishes to write a song.  This is straw for you to build bricks with.   I would love to be the claimant of this method but learned this trick through chatting with the great Alex Wharton one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll (The Most Brothers, creative element of the musical "Oliver", film star and producer of "Go Now" to name just a few of the million things he has been involved with, so if like me, you find this useful he's the guy to thank.   

It is interesting to note that during world war 2, musicians were used for code and cypher breaking work at Bletchley Park and for the Battle of Midway because we work in mysterious ways with 5 number groups which is the way codes are generally transmitted.

I first saw Peter Green at the Carlton Club, Erdington after he stepped into the breach with John Mayalls Bluesbreakers after EC had split the scene to form Cream.  I wasn't impressed one bit, I listened to Mayalls LP 'A Hard Road' with P Green and wasn't impressed and it wasn't because of any wrongdoing on his part either.  There are moments in Rock History that cant be bettered, the moments that encapsulate a feeling of greatness and that moment had occurred with The Bluesbreakers Beano LP with Eric at his thundering best, every note in every solo was the right one, there was more effort on Mayalls part too.   It was predictable that any sort of follow up to that would be incredibly hard to judge either as an LP or especially as the new featured guitarist in the J Mayall group.    
Within the year Peter Green left Mayall and with Mick Fleetwood persuaded John McVie, a staunch Mayall bassist to join with them and call themselves Fleetwood Mac after Mick and John's surnames respectively.   Released from Mayalls business-like grip on his musicians was like a blessing and now Peter Green bloomed with a hard rocking blues band aided on slide guitar by Jeremy Spencer.   Although he and Spencer "Went down to the Station" in the bands formative months, Green developed his own melodic approach to his song writing and wrote the first of his 'world beating' songs "Black Magic Woman", it was, his 'moment', his awakening of blues in another form, his songs were now the perfect platform to display his unique guitar style and sound which was mature and oozed emotion.   If I had written Black Magic Woman I would have been happy for the rest of my life, this song though was just the first of his incredible catalogue including The Green Manalishi, Man of the World and Oh Well.   Every single one of those songs is a genuine world classic, two rockers and the beautifully written Man of the World with its soul touching lyrics, guitar fills and a solo that didnt just come along, he dug every note of that from his very being, superb!!
"I need your love so bad" which, although not written by him (Little Willie John 1955) contains some of his finest "touch" guitar work ever but even above that his vocal interpretation was incredible and one that ranks with the highest of any blues singer in my humble opinion.

"Albatross", their only instrumental hit was nothing more than a stocking filler, for me.  Middle of the road slush.

In 1968 Fleetwwod Mac swelled their ranks by the addition of third guitarist Danny Kerwan because Green thought they could go further and also said he didn't want to be responsible for everything, this was a bit of a chink in his emotional make up.   At their height they did a gig in Berlin and upon arrival at the airport Peter and Danny got whisked off to a commune in a forest where they were given too much/took too much or were fed some hyper-LSD that had a devastating effect on them and Green came out of it a lot worse off than Kirwan.  His mind had been fried.

He left the band shortly after and made two dreadful LPs, I bought them both and played them once, it appeared that his time was up.   He lived in a small house and was getting robbed by a variety of ne'er do wells and could be seen wandering around Twickenham looking like a tramp, dreadfully unkempt, carrying around a couple of plastic bags with nicotine stained fingernails that had overgrown and were curled.   He had sold his Les Paul guitar to Gary Moore for a song.   

By a stroke of luck, a girl got the feeling the tramp was following her, then thought that she knew him and went and asked "Is that you Peter?"    She was the person who saved his life and got him some help and got him cleaned up.  After a lot of time and care by his friends and some persuasion he made a comeback with The Splinter Group including Cozy Powell.    Eric Clapton showed up for the gig too giving Peter some encouragement.  Whispering Bob Harris was the compere of the festival where the band were performing, he walked onto the stage and said   "How many years have we all waited for this moment??" the crowd were up for it.

Greeny took to the stage to the roars of the eager and opened with "I'm going Down", nice classic blues.  It was evident from the off that the great Peter Green was no longer available and we were left with just a bit of his echo.   Both his voice and guitar playing were weak,  nonetheless the crowd knew he was damaged goods and although they probably hoped for more, all got behind him in the knowledge of just how difficult it must have been for him to do that. 
A rush of love for him was overwhelming and it would be fair to say that that love has been undying by his many who knew him "back then".  

That initial concert was a long time ago and The band have been on the circuit a lot.
I think we have all lived in hope that maybe, just for a moment, we could have seen a true touch of his previous genius come sneaking through. His past greatness has been recorded for all to hear.  There is some marvellous footage of the original Fleetwood Mac on Youtube playing live in France and at The Playboy Mansion that pays testament to what a fantastic live band they were with their leader at the top of his game.
The Fleetwood Mac that emerged from that band are a completely different animal and although a bigger band on the world stage, have no relation to their brilliant, dynamic, beginings.   
We British have a knack of producing the worlds best guitarists but none of them had or have  the "touch" of Peter Green.

God Bless you Peter Green guitar hero and lovely man.

This may come as a bit of a shock but when Danny Kirwan joined Fleetwood Mac in 1968 he was still playing his Watkins Rapier 33.

Now I haven't played one since around 62 but it struck me that if Kirwan was making music that impressed P Green he must have sounded really good as there were no foot pedals available then.    Why then are people not using them for years and years?  Its a bit of a mystery, there must be thousand in attics and wardrobes all eager to be played.   Perhaps you should dust it off and put it through a Watkins Dominator.

I mean why would people buy shit Russian Jolana crap when there is a British guitar of some repute, just a wardrobe away? Just a thought.  Dont get fooled into paying too much on EBay though.   It ain't that good.

News has just come in of the passing of Rockin Berries lead guitarist Chuck Botfield.
He has been in my life as someone to look up to from when I was learning not to write songs.
My condolences go out to his family and friends

Summer is here and though people may have thought that COVID has stopped everything, it hasnt.   Life and fun is what you make for yourself.

Take Care my Friends
till next time


Copyright:  BullsHeadBob
Contact:   Bobsbullocks@GMail.com

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB JULY 2020. Mrs Bobs back. SHOCK NEWS! BOB buys his first pedal!! Marshall Bluesbreaker2 Overdrive.

Hello World, Turkmenistan, Chums, Brummies, Story tellers and incence smellers.  
Gather round whilst I regale you with things you never knew you needed to know but before that HELLO Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia, a couple more countries with regular readers who I have forgotten to mention.  Have a great day you guys!!!

Mrs Bob is back in the house, hooray! It was nice to see her pass me  in the hallway as she went up to her bedroom to self isolate for 14 days.   I can tell she's happy to see me because shes started to chant "I cant wait to get my hands on you" and lately it's become  'mantra like' so I've passed her some incense sticks under the door to enhance her spirit.  I cant wait for her to be free......no more ready meals eh?

Joking apart, I sincerely hope that all of you of "the Brumbeat age" are well and have been unaffected by the horrid virus.   My condolences go out to those who may have suffered.   It certainly makes you more aware of how fragile we are and just how quickly someone can be taken from you so please be extra thoughtful to do something special for the someone you love whenever you can.   Time is fragile. 

Following Turkmenistans continued large readership, I've been doing a bit of research with a view to playing to a sell out crowd there.   
I'm pleased to announce that I have discovered that the President of the country is also it's best selling Rock star, Rapper and DJ.     Just say the word Mr President and I'll get the band pumped up and ready for action to come and lay down some serious hard blues rock to get the crowd leaping Turkmen Style.  Normal Rider applies,  Hotel Suite overlooking the city, lashings of good food, heady perfumes being wafted around by veiled Turkmen beauties and a bit of dosh!

Thats just how easy it is to get  Me and the Boogie Band.   I love to Rock, Relax and be heady in a place I've never been to, and I have travelled the world my friends.

In the days before Venue Sound Rigs and large PA band systems we turned up for gigs with our 30 watt amplifiers, 50 watt, 4 input PA, solely for the vocals which we would normally balance on chairs and a drummer who could keep time well, if you were lucky, if they couldn't you could try  turning up and drowning him out until he catches up again.
There were no such things as "guitar rigs" but at the time mine consisted of instrument plus lead, strap and case and an obligatory EL34 valve.  As I gained in expertise and experience I played in a better band with a back line of Park amplification provided and as I was earning more dosh I made a major upgrade to my " Rig" by buying a second guitar and more than one set of strings.  That was it, there was nothing else gimmicky until the Watkins copycat came along, the first one being purchased by Johnny Kidd and The Pirates from Charlie Watkins shop.   

Some of us heavier guitar players learned early, the importance of playing close to your amp and thereby balance your Pick-up to amp sound, on the edge of "feedback" to get the rough edge and sustain that soon became 'the' sound of rock especially with the introduction, to the public ear, of "Satisfaction" with
Keith Richard's early distortion pedal.    
In no time at all, distortion devices became cheaply available and, indeed I bought one myself but found its use to be limited in that, you couldn't use much volume with it.  For the Stones live gigs Keith Richards overcame that by being able to switch between two separate amplifiers during the performance, its sound change is recognisable by its clunky, early tech during early shows.  There are some Youtube clips available.
Anyway I gave up using mine straight away and, apart from trying out a wah wah in 67, by which time I was playing through a load more speakers and greater volume.   I hated its gimmicky duck sound, Roy Wood used the wah-wah a lot during The Move's time.    I have never used a pedal on stage.   

In my band, effect pedals are banned.  If you have reverb and or Tremelo as part of your basic amp build they are perfectly ok to use, just not something you need to "engage", that costs more than your instrument, or needs a degree to set it up.   We are loud and I still embrace the close amp proximity style if I can which is fine for medium sized gigs but you lose that close relationship with your guitar once you hit the bigger stages and you look stupid standing next to a 30 watt amp in the middle of a big stage, or more importantly, the intimate venues where you can't use that volume without blasting your audience to pieces.  I don't like intimate venues by choice but sometimes the best gigs happens in small places!

I said to a mate that perhaps I should now drop the volume a tad and venture into the purchase of an Overdrive pedal to be more audience-friendly after playing at The Duck and Crumpet where the local rag, The Bilston Free Ads, Entertainments Review section stated we were "Rocks answer to an enema (I think they meant to say "enemy") and that we emptied the capacity 16 seater of The Dumpet faster than Weasel Poo.   

That conversation with my mate spread like wildfire amongst the local musos "Bob has Come Out! and is going to buy a pedal". That was in February. Assisted by the lockdown, and a stubborn streak that has lasted for 55 years I have gradually overcome my shame and moreover, my fear of actually owning one for several months but I have now bought, through EBay.co.uk , a cheap and battered Marshall Bluesbreaker2 foot pedal and its coming to me through the post as I write.  Nothing in life is guaranteed so if it's bad Karma it won't arrive.     I have a friend of a friend who said that it was the best pedal he had bought for a little money.  Well that was good enough for me but unfortunately they stopped production so new models weren't an option.  I thought they would be cheap but was shocked to find some people selling them for silly money, totally inflated.    I won the auction, paying 22 pounds.  Not bad.

Ha!  Karma indeed, it has just arrived 30 Jun.   It is used, has obvious signs of use which is what I expected and was described perfectly by the seller, highlighting a missing rubber mat underneath which is easily repaired with a bit of old car mat.  I popped in a 9v battery and off we went.   It does what it does well, its foolproof technically, its build is superb,  almost tank-like which is highly impressive for this old soldier.

I still sound like I sound, only quieter.   It has its place in the world and I am happy with the purchase and with the obvious quality of the pedal.    I can see its attraction to those who havent been through the old fashioned method of feedback control.  There is sustain aplenty for those who want it, I used just enough effect to make it dirty and it worked well.   So thanks to my mate and his mate too for advising me.  I have no desire for other things to make me sound different, this is what I class as a Consideration for others Pedal and I'm pleased I took the plunge....eventually.

Well the worlds going through a rough patch at the moment in every direction
I dont want to be another Joe with another opinion so I'm giving it all a slip in the hope that Common Sense will prevail and we will rid the world of traitors, racists, corporate greed and warmongers.     I bet none of the above have a Marshal Foot Pedal, wankers........

Take Care of Each Other


Copyright:  Bullsheadbob@gmail.com
Contact   Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com

Monday, 1 June 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB Jun 2020. Hello Turkmenistan!! THE FABULOUS LITTLE RICHARD. Danny Gallagher - Frosty Moses interview. WORLD EXCLUSIVE Mrs Bob lock-down Photos.

Hi Brummies, Brumbeat survivors, Musos, Blues freaks and, Ladies and Gentlemen.. the nation of Turkmenistan!!

"Hello Turkmenistan ...Bloguma hos geldiniz".   It's nice to add another country to the BHBob readership.  Fantastic, spreading the word about old Brummies and the greatest music adventures ever during the days of Brumbeat, the 60's.  I've been "Big in Japan", having entered the charts there in 2004 so maybe I could be "Terrific in Turkmenistan" next?  it could be a future gig for me and The Boogie Band?  Dramatic backdrop or what?

Well, he's Gone man, Real Gone.   
The incredible, rockinest human on the planet, larger than life and physically larger than his Stage name implied.    I was a 7 year old when I first heard him on our wind-up 78 rpm record player and was hooked from that moment on, I'd never heard those falsetto Ooohs sung in such a full throated manner before in music, words came out of his mouth like bazooka rounds, blatting against your ear drums.   Not a bit like the clean country sound of "Rock Around Clock" for example, Little Richards harshness, shouting out the lyrics was accentuating the rebelliousness of the day.   

This man was a vocal giant.  This man was a piano great.  This man wrote outrageous songs that, had the censors of the day realised just what he was singing about, would have had him banned everywhere around the world, such were the social standards of those days.   He did all that and he was Black and Gay!!!!!!  Never was there such a thing, he couldn't get a hit himself in America but the pretty, cissy,  all American white pop stars of the day like Pat Boone sang, devoid of soul, or knowledge that"Tutti Frutti" was a song about oral sex.  Even now the thought of it makes me smile.  Early on in the 50's Little Richard was better known and appreciated in the UK where a black person didn't get treated like they did in the USA, there was no segregation. So his records sold well here.  From the moment I got my hands on a guitar I learned his songs first.

He was one of the acts featured in the film "The Girl Cant Help It" and there wasn't a better sight than him rocking out with his band.

The Beatles played some gigs with him too, in the UK and Germany with Paul McCartney saying that he was taught how to do those high Oooooo's by him.  John Lennon has always said 
that he was the greatest of the Rock and Roll singers.

In 1964, as The Beatles were ascending to Mega stardom
and Rock and Roll music was in its decline, the BBC put on a "Special" show "Its Little Richard" backed by The Shirelles and British band, Sounds Incorporated.   Little Richard walked onto the stage and put on a show that has become legend in the Rock world.   I was now 15 and I saw what it could be like if I upped my game and performed with the same enthusiasm and rocket powered energy that he displayed that night, it wasn't just about the music, it was showmanship and I didn't know a man could sweat that much and not collapse, he was unstoppable and the crowd were HIS!.
He shone brightly for years and then, as with everything, music style changed and he became one of the "old rockers" but once upon a time he was the innovator, the inspiration, the grandest professor of stage performance with a plethora of hungry students trying to follow in his footsteps.      You know, I could quite confidently say that probably every band from the 50's right through to at least 65, played at least one of his songs.
In 1968 there was a short Rock and Roll Revival going on in the charts and he shone again!! He has always been around though, playing and telling everyone HOW GREAT I AM!!   I taught The Beatles everything they know!

I was chatting recently to old friend Brian Gregg, Bassist and British Rock and Roll Icon ( Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Eden Kane, Terry Dene, Billy Fury, The Tornadoes and many more and if that wasn't enough, the co writer of Shakin All Over).   He told me the following story about his meeting with Little Richard.

" I went to the Apollo to see my mate Mickie Most, I was standing in the wings of the stage watching The Everly Brothers when Little Richard came and stood beside me and asked me if Buckingham Palace was close to the theatre, I told him it was about a mile away and he said he was going to see it after the show.  There was a young kid sat outside Mickie's dressing room with a shiny new guitar "That's nice" I said, "Yes, I've just got it" he replied, "Are you learning how to play then?" He replied "No" and said that he was in Little Richard's Band.   I read some years later that the guitarist in Little Richard's band that year was Jimi Hendrix. 
In 2004, I was taking part in the 10th Anniversary Eddie Cochrane Show in Chippenham which also featured Little Richard in the line up.   I spoke to him and told him we had met in 1963 and said that I'd talked to his young guitarist at the time and asked him if it was Jimi.  Little Richard said "Yes it was Hendrix.....everything he knows he got from me!!".  I remember thinking to myself "Well I dont know about that??"  Brian G.

It doesn't really mean anything significant, Hendrix was a jobbing musician at the time playing with many different people, however, I imagine that plenty of Little Richards showmanship rubbed off on him later on, as did Otis Rush with his stage moves and guitaristry.    There couldn't have been 2 better teachers to learn from.
One of the great joys of writing this blog is getting people together and such was the case when I put Heavy Metal writer Rob Horrocks in touch with Frosty Moses bass player Danny Gallagher 11 years ago. Rob interviewed him for an article.
Danny sadly passed away a couple of years ago  Rob contacted me to say he still had the audio interview on CD and offered to pass it on, courtesy of the internet, into the hands of Danny's son Leon last month.   I knew Danny in our early youth and boy we had some fun, beautiful Irish warmth to the man!!   I learned from him everything that was bad for me too.
For those of you Brummies who like your music delivered by steam roller
Rob Horrocks can be found at his new website.  Click on the Link  WWW.HEAVYTOURISM.COM

Phil May (75), frontman for the Pretty Things has sadly passed away following complications after hip surgery.    In Birmingham in 1965/6 one of the best gigs of the day was in the cellars of the Siver Beat Club which is now where The Ramp is.   The gig was packed out to see the promoters inventive line up of The Pretty Things Vs The Uglys.   

A nice little competitive night not only musically but also London Vs Birmingham.   Everyone won that night, two great bands and an enthusiastic audience.   

I have received more than a couple of emails enquiring about Mrs Bob's unfortunate lock-out I mentioned in last month's blog.    Mrs Bob is managing well but alas, she's still stuck out in the garden shed.  It's amazing how she has coped since not making it into the house on 'lock down' day.  I had received a letter from Boris saying I had to stay indoors and not have any visitors...even family!     By day I've been watching her pottering about in the flower borders, well when I say pottering I think she's been thinning-out some of the flowers and do you know?  I never knew a person could eat such a variety of blooms, she appears to be doing well on it though, apart from a slight yellowing of her skin after the Nasturtiums disappeared one day.    

She has been keeping herself active though and has recently become interested in sprinting and isn't doing bad for a 69 year old.
I became aware of her new love of running everytime I opened the door to let the cat out.  Half running, half stumbling at first, she would set off from wherever she was in the garden towards me, arms outstretched, but it was clear she was out of practice.   She mastered jumping over the cat after taking some real falls, one of them being the sort that makes you say Ohhh! out loud.  I gave her a round of applause through the window as she pulled some gravel out of her chin after that one, I'm sure I must have kept her spirits up.
I think her wellies were proving to be a bit of an impediment to her straight line speed
and that was an issue I could help with!  Being a "new man" I like to support her new found sporting hobby so firstly, to give her a hint about time improvement without being condescending, I sellotaped the four principles of aerodynamics to the cat and as a further aid to stamina training and as a bit of an encouragement for her, I wait until she is at the very bottom of the garden then I step out of the back door to take a well deserved breath of fresh air and at the same time, give her a wave and a brief opportunity to actually see me in the flesh, happy, and eating a bacon sandwich.  

Fuck me, she can run!!!.  

She hasn't quite made it to the rapidly closing back door yet but I have faith that she'll do it pretty soon.   She tries to encourage me to join in by carrying a baton even though she knows my running days are over. 
She also keeps shouting something about me coming from Kent but all those years stood in front of a Park 100watt stack means I can't hear her too well through the double glazing. 

Sadly, we don't have outdoor lighting either so it can a bit scary at night for me when she suddenly feels appears out of the gloom, scratching at the window like Danny Glick but Rules is Rules.   

I managed to take some photos of one of her runs in stages so you can see how she's doing.  In Pic 1 she spots me and goes for the standing start, she hasn't caught the cat yet so aerodynamics are still her main problem as can be clearly seen in Pic 2 by the way her wellies are flexing and in Pic 3 she suffers total loss of downforce.

2 metres from the door.

Ok, Take Care all you folks in Covidville.
and Look after the One you Love


Copyright:  BullsheadBob
Contact:     Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com