Monday, 1 February 2021

Bulls Head Bob Feb 2021 - THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN. Playing in Europe. NEVER GIVE UP ..DAVE HYNDS

 Hello Brummies and 60s Beat Fans

I left school in the Spring of 64, I had been 15 for 3 months so should have really  completed another term but they were glad to see the back of me, I held the record for truancy and when I did attend, I would do anything other than be studious apart from art and English.   I had spent my bouts of truancy well, reading any book I could get my hands on and learning more and more songs on the guitar, developing my "ear" for music to the point where I could hear something once and play it straight away in the right key.    There were songs that were a "must" to learn and master, Shakin all Over, Johnny B Goode and one of the best opening chord sequences to a song and that was The House of the Rising Sun.  

The Animals, a group from Newcastle had spent a few years playing the clubs and dance halls in various guises but finally found the right formula of musicians and one of those was guitarist Hilton Valentine who sadly passed away yesterday.   In 1964 The House of the Rising Sun was the song that gained them instant success around the world.  I saw them live that same year and they were awesome.  

When I first heard the opening staccato chord sequence it set the scene for what was about to come, it was pure drama,  ominous and dark.  I was hooked and in a trice I was at it like a hairy bear, 5 minutes later I had the riff and most of the organ solo transposed to guitar.  The group practiced it the day after and we played it on that night.  We had a singer who could not only sing it very well but had a definite " touch of Eric Burdon" about him so it suited us down to the ground and became one of our star numbers in the set.

The song has never lost its popularity.  The Animals had in its ranks the brilliant organist Alan Price whose solo on the song was and still remains to be brilliantly constructed and was probably the first epic solo on the legendary VOX continental organ.   The band were on the road every night wallowing in their new found fame and popularity and it was during this initial success that they found that Alan Price had claimed the copyright for royalties as the composer for the whole song and was receiving all the money.   There was, naturally, much animosity in the band as the song had been a joint adaptation by the whole group but Price stated it was his organ solo that sold the record.     The Animals continued recording and had 4 other hits but found themselves disliking Price while at the same time knowing that their sound was largely based around the organ sound.  Price left the band in 65 and Hilton Valentine in 66.  The Animals reformed on a couple of occasions but they really flexed their R&B muscles during the short 2 year period of their existence.  

The song was based on an old American folk song that had never been published before Prices claim.  Some say it's about hard times but most likely is in reference to a Womens Prison house for prostitutes in New Orleans where the inmates would serve out their sentences "working" for the Govt.

Everyone has recorded their own versions of this classic rock song and I imagine there will be many more versions, much like Shakin all Over and Johnny B Goode they are like a rite of passage for up and coming musicians.   Its disappointing that Eric Burdon and Alan Price got the lions share of the glory from those who love the song but Hilton Valentine was a MASSIVE contributor to the dynamics that made it one of the biggest  selling songs of all time.


The song has recently been tarnished by the American No 1 Clown that was Trump who played it at all his rallies.    

The Trump family made their money from prostitution. 


I am reading about bands not being able to play in Europe unless they apply for a Visa, what do they think happened before the EU?   Most small bands dont have the luxury of a sound and lighting rig with a host of techies.   It may have a detrimental effect on the larger bands who will have to pay out more for a large crew and I'm genuinely sorry for road crews, on minimum wages.  I take the positive view that we wont have to put up with all those crap Spanish groups and Romanian street buskers coming to the UK.



People become musicians at their own risk, it is and has always been the riskiest choice of career ever and it comes without preconditions or guarantees.  For every success story there are thousands of broken hearts, bands and dreams, it is the way of things.     There are only two ways to cope with the distress of failure in the biz and that is to pack up completely before your head gets bogged down with flashbacks or to sit down and rethink your strategy, keep playing and looking for opportunities but above all....  Never Give Up.     

That attitude is shared by ex Brumbeat Drummer and songwriter Dave Hynds.  Dave has earned his dues going back to the early sixties playing with The Cheetahs, Fairfield Ski and other bands in between and after.   Just recently Dave has announced that Fairfield Ski have signed a new record contract with the bands average age of 72!!   Dave is a great guy with grit and determination which never bends to the dark side of being a musician, I wish him and the other members of Ski great success and applaud their ever lasting belief.    


This covid is still a worry but the UK are far in front of other nations in carrying out their vaccination scheme at a rapid pace.    It's not an easy thing to achieve but they get my support all day, every day.

Take care and Keep Indoors 


Copyright: Bullsheadbob


Friday, 1 January 2021

Bulls Head Bob Jan 2021. Happy New Year. SLIDING. HARLEY BENTON, DAVID LINDLEY..

Hello Brummies, Brummie musos of the 60's now in their 70's, all of those around the world who check in to the blog and all the girls I've loved before.

Happy New Year!  Well 2020 was the year of high drama when everything could have gone "tits up" very quickly.  As if the Covid situation wasn't bad enough we had a would-be Hitler in the White house, lieing, cheating, setting families and races against each other whilst guiding pension funds into his own family coffers.   It felt good to be British, even though half the UK hated the other half who didn't want to be a part of the EU and some Jocks who don't want to be in the UK even though more than half of them voted to stay in the UK.  So, for the sake of equality and my own peace of mind I decided to hate everyone,  apart from Big Al and a few close friends, problem solved.  I hope that this year will see some resolve to get back on our feet again and return to some normality.     I had a wonderful fun Christmas despite not being able to hug and kiss my family. 

Santa delivered my Tascam 24 track SD recorder and I have been fathoming my way through its intricacies and many digital delights.  Strongly recommended purchase if you have some spare dosh.  For me, a much better option than some computer software.

On the run-up to Christmas I was pondering, as you do, what I could

give to certain folk and one problem was what to buy for my daughters partner who is a good guitarist and has a luthier built Telecaster plus a couple more tasty guitars plus a wondrous amount of expensive pedals and such.   The good thing was that, like me, he is a whole music lover and is happy to switch from jazz, to blues and rock and country so that broadened my options.    I opted to take a bit of a risk and buy him something moderately cheap, which is a word that doesn't feature in his vocabulary, so he might not like it.

I bought him a lap steel guitar and once again it is a Harley Benton.  I bought the HB Slider II from Thomann which came with a soft cover, lead and Steel for under a hundred pounds!     I can tell you now that he Loves it!    I'm not surprised either, when it arrived at home I checked it over and was amazed by its fabulous appearance, attention to detail and overall finish.  It's not at all what I expected for comparatively little money and after hearing him play it I am more than happy with its sound.   Back in the day you would have heard it only on things like "Sleepwalk" and it was regarded as some kind of novelty instrument however with guitarists like Dave Gilmour using one with Pink Floyd it gave it a touch more credibility and furthermore its sound featured heavily during the Jackson Browne and Crosby and Nash years.    

The person who provided that sound for our American cousins was the magnificent David Lindley who could be as hard and dirty as you like or soft and ethereal such as on Crosby and Nashs "Out of the Darkness". 

If you want to see one of these at its rockin' best watch Mr Lindley playing "Mercury Blues" on YouTube and any misgivings you may have about it being a seriously good instrument will be cast to the wind.    Remember this too, the Stratocaster with its tremelo arm was designed to mimic the sound of an Hawaian lap steel guitar.


I have been offered a lot of gigs during this virus riddled year and turned them all down, I play, to play "live" and to fully engage with the audience, not to have people seated 6 feet apart in a sterile environment or waiting to be told the gig has been cancelled.    We are all prisoners of the virus and although I feel for all the technical and sound crews who have been shelved until things improve, they are not the only ones to suffer....its most people.  Being a musician is the hardest of professions as it is with heavy financial investment for little or no return for the majority, even in the best of times, but earning or not, it doesn't remove the passion and love of making music so I live in hope that once we get playing again, that all you musos out there who have been honing your skills during this period of inactivity will come out refreshed, inventive and busting a gut to perform.  


I conclude this piece of frippery with a wish for peace, love, tolerance and understanding for all.  Thankyou to the NHS for everything they have done to try and improve peoples lives whilst putting themselves in danger on a daily basis.   I am exceptionally pleased that we have left the snake pit that was the EU but it struck me that the majority of younger Brits have never known what life was like before we were all institutionalised so I understand their fears.  Perhaps now as we forge ahead with our own destiny safely back in British hands they might even come to enjoy the pride of being British with all our technical and scientific knowledge and expertise in every field and let's not leaders in the music field and especially Brummie musicians and bands.    

Take Care of the Ones you Love,