From 16 to 60 in 44 Years Reconnecting with Life from the Sixties

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There is no doubt the 1960’s were a great time for music, with a number of bands from that time becoming huge influences on musicians today.  I was fortunate enough to be around the scene working for the infamous Don Arden and the booking agents Galaxy Entertainments

who handled many artists such as Small Faces, The Move, Amen Corner as well some less well known artists such as The Attack, The Dimples and The Lonely Ones.  By the end of the 1960’s I was married and my life took another path, but before I quit working in the music industry I had accumulated a number of photographs and memorabilia from these times.

I’ve always been intrigued to find out what happened to the many members of those bands and what they are doing now.  I don’t think any of us around during those times imagined it would become known as one of the greatest decades in history, not just for music, but fashion, art and just life in general.  I guess we were too busy enjoying it.   So I really wanted to reconnect with old friends to see what they made of it all and whether they look back with fondness like I do.

The journey from 16 to 60 is a long time.  That’s 44 years and a lot of things can happen.  When I look at the photographs of myself and the artists I knew back then, it does feel like a different world.

I knew that trying to track some of these band members down would be a bit of a challenge. The internet is a blessing of course.  The first person I reconnected with a few years back was Kenney Jones, drummer with the Small Faces.  He phoned me after hearing about a campaign I was leading for a commemorative plaque honouring Don Arden and the Small Faces.   Kenney came to unveil the plaque and it was the first time I’d seen him since my time working with him all those years ago.  

People came from far and wide to that plaque unveiling.  It led to reconnections with old friends and I saw many new friendships blossom just from that one event.  A lot of the people attending had either been Small Faces fans or worked in London around Carnaby Street.  None of them had necessarily known each other back then, but they all had a common connection either by the music they followed or clubs they attended back in the sixties.

Kenney of course has worked continuously in the music business since the Small Faces days, and best known for being part of two of the most well known rock bands, The Faces and The Who.  He now has his own band called The Jones Gang and he also owns and runs Hurtwood Park Polo Club in Ewhurst, Surrey, where you can sometimes see The Jones Gang perform in the clubhouse or during the clubs annual summer outdoor concert.

A few years back I saw an advert saying that Andy Fairweather Low, lead singer with Amen Corner,  was performing an intimate gig at the Jazz Café in London, I jumped at the chance to go see him play.  I wasn’t sure whether Andy would remember me, so armed with an old photograph of me on stage with Amen Corner at a London club called Tiles, I hoped it would be enough to prompt his memory.  In the photo I was dressed in a Welsh costume which I vaguely remember was part of a publicity stunt that Galaxy Entertainments had come up with.  My job on stage was to hand out leeks, a Welsh vegetable, to members of the audience. Luckily a photographer gave me a copy of the photo, which has proved invaluable over the years when proving to friends and family that this actually took place.   I found out more details of that gig recently from Jeff Dexter, a well known resident DJ at Tiles.  I made contact with Jeff during a 50th Anniversary celebration of the sixties  run by “London 60s Week”.  Jeff told me he was responsible for organising that gig at Tiles after he saw Amen Corner’s debut performance at another sixties night club called Speakeasy.   Jeff explained “I think you'll find the photo you’ve got is from the launch of their first record “Gin House”. They had already become quite respected at Tiles. I remember gathering up about fifty punters to walk down Oxford Street with banners and chanting Amen Corner before the gig, and I think this was all captured by a Welsh TV crew.”  

After Andy’s performance at the Jazz Café I went into the dressing room to say hello.  He was most amused when I showed him the photo, which he kindly signed and I now have his autograph blazened across it saying “Well well, belated love, Andy Fairweather Low.”   

After Amen Corner split back in 1969, Andy formed FairWeather, which was basically Amen Corner minus saxophone players.  Then Andy went on to a successful solo career performing with the greats such as George Harrison and Eric Clapton.  These days he has his own band called Low Riders and you can catch them in some fairly intimate venues around the UK when he goes on tour, which is normally at least once a year.  

I’ve also made contact with other members of Amen Corner in the last few years.  Alan Jones (saxophone player) runs a club in Cardiff called The Globe,  Neil Jones is retired, but worked as a music photographer for many years after quitting playing guitar.  Blue Weaver, Clive and Dennis all continued their music careers.  Blue lives in Spain and Dennis and Clive both settled in the US.  Clive told me “My memories of those times are very special and I know it was for the rest of the band too.
Val, what a great time we all had. A fast moving vibrant time when nobody really knew what they were doing, but everything seemed to work. Music, Art, Fashion, and we were there doing it. How cool is that!  We were there.”  Clive also told me he thinks the gig at Tiles was around St David’s Day.  Well, that would certainly have explained the reason for me being dressed up in a Welsh costume and handing out leeks!

A while back I received an unexpected email from someone called Craig Austen. The message read  “Hi Val, I was in a band called The Dimples, do you remember them?”  Fortunately I did and had kept one of the promotional postcards in my memorabilia collection.  Don Arden produced these postcards to publicise his bands and promote any singles or albums the artists had recorded.   The Dimples only ever recorded one single on Decca called “The Love of a Lifetime” .

The Dimples were a five piece band hailing from the north playing Tamla Motown, R & B and soul music. The line up consisted of John Gladwin (lead vocals), Terry Wincott (rhythm guitar), Stu Smith (drums), Graham Tomlinson (lead guitar) and Craig on bass.

Through Craig I was able to contact one of the other band members, Graham Tomlinson, who gave me more details about the formation of The Dimples, their time with Don Arden and what has happened since.

“John, Terry and Stuart were original members of The Dimples and back in 1965 Craig and myself were poached from a band called the Imps.  The original Dimples were a Blues band, but soon became a Mod band.  This I didn’t mind, as being lead guitarist it gave me quite a bit of freedom playing wise.  Pretty soon though John, Terry and Craig took a shine to Tamla Motown.  To my mind the attractions of Motown were the orchestral backing and vocal production, not something a guitar based group could do justice to.  This is where I lost interest, then was informed my job had been advertised in the NME and I left the band in May 1967.”

Graham pointed out that John and Terry later went on to form Amazing Blondel, which had great success.  I asked Graham how they came to be part of the Don Arden/ Galaxy Entertainment stable.

“Galaxy Entertainments used to advertise in one of the music papers for bands to audition at a club in Romford.  These auditions were a nice little earner for Don Arden and Ron King as there were maybe six or more bands all playing for nothing and the place was full of paying customers.  But we were successful and invited to meet with Don Arden on the following Monday where we played for him and he signed us up.  We also got a recording contract and our single “Love in a Lifetime” was released at the end of December 1966.”

“From the beginning there was friction between Don and John Gladwin our lead vocalist as John wanted to use his own songs for the A side of our single.  Don wouldn’t hear of it.  He bent over backwards to find us material and I felt he knew what was needed to make a commercial success.  But John was stubborn.  Stuart wasn’t happy either and he quit the band and was replaced by Steve Cox.  The disagreement between John and Don continued and led to Don cancelling the contract.”

The Dimples continued for a while after leaving Don Arden but after several more personnel changes they changed their name to Methuselah and became a heavy rock/gospel/blues band.

“They were really very good, thanks to guitarist Les Nichol”  Graham added.

Graham, Craig and Stuart got together again with old bandmates Bill Gibson and Fred Havercroft from the Imps days.  In 2000 they produced a CD called Dimples, released on their own V8 Music label.
 It contained some of their old material.   They still do the odd gig together.

Despite the way things turned out, Graham reflected on those days back in the sixties with some fondness.

“We still talk about the old days when we used to stay at The Maddison Hotel in Sussex Gardens, along with Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, The Move, The Jaybirds (the Ivy Leagues band) who later became Ten Years After.  We mimed on Radio Luxembourg.  Peter Murray used to host a show called “Ready Steady Radio” from “Tiles” club in Oxford Street, where bands stood on the stage miming to their records playing on the radio.  Craig was ill that night, so we had the bass player from the Nashiville Teens miming with us.”

Craig sent me over his own ramblings describing his post Dimples days.  Or as he called it, “a few extracts from a silly auto biog I started to write well over 10 years ago called Beat Group Soup, or more likely Tales of the Loon Pant King.  Not sure if you remember loon pants?” he asked me.

 “I have a dubious claim to fame as the man who invented them” he added and went on to explain.

“In 1969, after The Dimples split, I designed them. Desperate for money I got them made up and took 300 pairs to the Isle of Wight festival. They sold out in a couple of days and my pockets were stuffed with cash.”  

Craig and his business partner went onto open an office at Kensington Market. “We sold zillions of Loons for the next 5 years.  We even outsold Levis in the UK for a while.”   

Although The Dimples were only together a few years they did build up a large following throughout the UK, constantly touring, playing all the usual popular clubs like Speakeasy, The Marquee, Pink Flamingo and even the 100 Club. But fame eluded them, which was a common theme for other similar artists during that period.

It happened to bands like The Attack, who’s single Hi Ho Silver Lining was overshadowed by Jeff Beck’s version which came out around the same time.  Jeff Beck got a slot on Top of The Pops and his version is the one everyone remembers.  I managed to track down Davy O’List, lead guitarist and founder member, who reflected on his time in the band.

“ In 1965 I was working for a TV agent near Oxford Street and I asked them who was good to go to regarding recording, agency and management for a new band like mine. They said Don Arden and he had the Small Faces, one of my favorite groups.  So, The Attack, which I named, went there and Don signed us up.  But big recording success did not come until 2000 when we were re-released on Mod compilations along with The Who and James Brown at that point” he jokingly adds “I thought we had made it!”  

I asked David about the photograph I’d got from back then.  And he explained:

“It’s of the group that recorded the first single 'Try It' with B-side 'We Don't Know'.  'We Don't Know' recently became a favorite Attack track getting masses of plays all round the world and was a mini hit in Japan.  The group got a new drummer for the next single he was called Barny.”  

It was when Barny joined them the Attack recorded Hi Ho Silver Lining.  Davy O’List went on to be part of The Nice and had associations with Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Jet and Roxy Music.  He is still very much involved in the music business and has some of his own projects coming up in the future. Photo: L to R  Bob Hodges (Hammond), Gerry Henderson (Bass) Davy O’List (Guitar) Richard Shirman (lead vocals) Alan “Noddy” Whitehead (drummer)  (sitting)

Galaxy Entertainments signed a number of artists themselves separate from Don Arden’s management.  I particularly admired one of the bands called The Lonely Ones and became their fan club secretary during my time working with Galaxy Entertainments.
They remind me so much of some bands I know today who are extremely talented and have high hopes of making a success out of what they do.  A promotional sheet for The Lonely Ones I found recently reflects the hopes and the dreams of a typical young band. It says:

“The Lonely Ones are a modern versatile group featuring the cream of avant garde soul material.   Their explosive act has been recognised and acclaimed by kids and adults throughout the country.  Indeed their name has been carried abroad and in recent months their creative work has taken them from the plush banker’s clubs of Geneva to the madness of St Tropez.  Paris, Cologne, Dijon, Rome, Milan and Biarritz have been just some of the European cities to fall for their heartful soul. The lads have had one record on Parlophone called “Rose in the Ruins”, and the new release scheduled for June is in the can with Decca; Titles as yet have not been settled.  The unusual feature of this group is their wide range of material which requires them to be multi-instrumentalists.  John Andrews is featured vocalist, but also doubles on bass when their drummer Keith Bailey is featured. Hammond organist Rick Davis moves to drums and bass player Martin Vinson takes the seat at the organ.  To complete their line up Trevor Williams the guitarist joins forces with Martin in the harmonies.”

I remember in 1967 The Lonely Ones set off for a tour in Europe, but their van broke down and they were stranded with no money.  So they found work in several clubs in Germany, Italy and Switzerland.  It was during this time they find themselves a financial backer called Stanley August Miesegaes (Sam).  He becomes their manager and invited them to stay at his villa in Switzerland where he provided recording equipment in a basement rehearsal room so they could produce demos.  They also recorded music for a number of film projects.  The band changed their name to The Joint and gained two saxophone players.  They did return to England to perform, but by 1968 the band disbanded.

Apart from Rick Davies, the other members of The Lonely Ones didn’t seem to have the same success and I have always been intrigued to know what happened.  I found out when I met up with lead vocalist John “Andy” Andrews after tracking him down via a website called KentGigs.  The website has a comprehensive timeline on the Lonely Ones and I was surprised to discover that Noel Redding, bass player with Jimi Hendrix, was a founder member of The Lonely Ones as far back as 1961.  I knew he had been friends with the band because I’d got details of this in fan club newsletters that I’ve still got copies of.  But I had no idea he had been a founder member of The Lonely Ones.

Andy, still plays occasionally in a local band in Kent where he now lives and I met up with him and his wife Sue for a pub lunch and a chat about old times.  To me Andy was always the sensible one of the band.  Easy going and organised.  This part of his character doesn’t seem to have changed much at all.  

He told me he was still in touch with Trevor Williams, Martin Vinston and Rick Davies, but the drummer Keith Bailey has not really been in touch since the Lonely Ones, or rather The Joint, split. “We do know that Keith went onto play in the Graham Bond Organisation, but after that we don’t really know what happened to him.  When Trevor left he went on to be part of Judas Jump, along with Alan Jones, the sax player of Amen Corner.” Andy said.

Andy was fortunate enough to meet up with Rick Davies on the last day of Supertramp’s 40th Annivery tour, which took place in Paris in 2010.  Andy and Sue had been invited to an intimate after show party at a Paris club.  The highlight was when Rick asked Andy to join him for a jam session on stage.  It was the first time they had performed together for many years.  Andy said “It was an amazing night.”

When I asked Andy why he felt the rest of the band hadn’t received the same level of success that Rick had, he reflected quietly and said “ “You could tell Rick had something in him to be determined to make a success of what he did.  I guess the rest of us didn’t really have that drive.  I was involved with the early concept of  Supertramp, but in the end realised the band needed to be focussed around Rick.”  

Andy now has a day job working in finance, but enjoys playing part time in a local band near Deal called Antiques Roadshow.  “It’s a return to some of the blues stuff I’ve always enjoyed doing.  The music we were recording for films when we lived in Europe was not really that good.”      

I asked Andy about the single The Lonely Ones did record back in 1966 called “A Rose Growing in The Ruins”

“I don’t have a copy of that single” Andy said “But Sue and I were listening to a special sixties programme on  BBC radio 2 a while back when Mark Lamarr the presenter played the B side to ‘A Rose Growing in The Ruins’ called ‘It’s Just Love.’.  Apparently the song is included on a Northern Soul compilation album.  We couldn’t believe it.  Then Mark Lamarr remarked what a shame it was I hadn’t gone on to record more.”  How lovely was that I thought.  And I could tell that Andy was really chuffed to have such a compliment made by a top musical expert like Mark Lamarr.  

I asked Andy about his association with some of the other bands signed up by Galaxy Entertainments.  I vaguely remembered it was the Lonely Ones who had discovered Amen Corner and brought them to the attention of the agency.

“Yes, we played with Amen Corner at the Bournemouth Pavilion and were knocked out with them so when we got back to London we told Galaxy.”   The agency signed them and of course they went on to great fame.  

When the Lonely Ones went to Europe touring, Galaxy didn’t seem to give them the same attention as they had done before.  Andy agreed. “Once we had been in Europe for some time it did feel they had lost interest in us when we returned.”

I wondered if they had ever worked with the Small Faces. “Oh yes” said Andy “ a number of times.  I remember travelling back in a van from one gig and Steve and Ronnie sat on the front seats and we were confined to sleeping on the amps at the back. But we had a great time.”    What about Don Arden, did they ever have a run in with him?  “I remember we had borrowed some amps from the Nashville Teens because our ones had broken and Don ordered they be returned.  You didn’t argue with Don Arden” Andy laughed.

When I re-read the old fan club newsletters I’ve got, I realised the band certainly packed a lot into the few years they were together.  They toured widely throughout Europe and the UK and were part of  key package shows that included Amen Corner, The Move, Nashville Teens and even Billy Fury.

Andy and I had a great time catching up, talking about the old days.  Suddenly 44 years didn’t seem that long ago.

Photo:  John “Andy “ Andrews (vocals)  with Rick Davies on keyboard at Supertramps  40th Anniversary after show party in Paris, November 2010  
Photo courtesy of Sue Andrews

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/ ZANI Media




 


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