The Big Star Show of 66 Blackpool summer season with Adam Faith, Marty Wilde and Billy J Kramer.
The creation, recording and release of “Is that a Ship I Hear” and the truth behind the creation and recording of “Do You Come Here Often” the controversial, first ever openly gay. record release.
Opening night of Blackpool Show is a success for the Tornados.
Cooper organization is elated with Tornados performance
As a kind of a dress rehearsal we were invited to play with Marty at a charity performance at the Savoy Hotel in London. We played our set as the Tornados and then Marty came on with Joyce and the Diamond Twins and we ran through the set. Marty split up his set by doing a Medley of his hits and a few other numbers. Marty explained to us that he was tired of playing those old numbers and had combined them all into a medley to get them all out of the way so that he could get on with other numbers that he preferred to play. I remember he did a very good version of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” which he featured in his act. The show went over very well. It was in fact a fund raising show for Israel. The audience was made up of wealthy Jews who were sending money to Israel to help with defense and to buy tanks. At the close of the evening when we were winding down the show many in the audience approached the stage with compliments to us on our playing. They said that we had put new blood into old veins. When we finished our last number for the evening and were saying goodnight the crowd started to ask us to play longer. As they knew that we had played for charity they swiftly came up with some donations for us and we got paid very nicely for playing the extra time. This was my first contact with anything to do with Israel. Little did I know at that time how much Israel would be part of my musical career and for that matter how much it would affect and influence the rest of my life.
Joe was very eager to get another single ready to be put out as our second single as the Tornados. He explained that we would be away for several weeks in Blackpool and as we were working seven nights a week there would be no time to record. So we all met at the studio to hear Joe’s latest idea of what our next single should be. Firstly he told us that he had come up with this new beat that nobody else had ever done before. He played it to us on tape and it sounded like somebody banging on a piece of wood or a floorboard in the rhythm of “Bam, bam, bombom, bombom”, “Bam, bam, bombom, bombom”. The Tornados looked at each other with looks of amazement wondering what Joe could be up to now. We were afraid to think of what was to come next. Would we be told to go away and write a whole new instrumental on “Bam, bam, bombom, bombom,” or what? Well fortunately not. Joe had a tune on tape. He played it for us and it was basically a melody that somebody was playing on the Lowry organ with some bass and drums in the background. On listening to it after many years I regard it as a good example of Joe taking a backing track of something and writing something else over it. As the Tornados we took the piece and constructed it as an instrumental, putting in the correct chords and making any adjustments that were necessary along with any suggestions that Joe had. At one point in rehearsing the number, as a joke we used the beat from “Hold Tight” by Dave Dee, Dozey, Mick and Titch in the modulation. It was an adventurous prank for us to play on him not knowing how Joe would appreciate it. He put his head around the doorway asking what “That” was, and as we started to explain that it was from Dave Dee he realized what it was and told us to leave it in. I think he got a big kick out of knocking somebody else off as he was always complaining that somebody was always knocking him off.
When we finally got the number down we started to record it. We put the basic backing track down with Dave playing the melody on the Lowry organ together with the bass and drums and rhythm guitar. When that was all put down and Joe was satisfied he told Pete to play the same melody on top of what Dave had played on the organ. At one point in the rehearsal with Pete Joe came into the studio and started to take a look at Pete’s Swiss Echo unit. He told Pete to keep playing and then he left and came back with a screw driver which he pushed into the tape mechanism of the echo unit causing it to make a kind of fluttering or shuddering sound on the melody. “Yeah that’s it” he said and ran back into the control room while we all stood around in disbelief. Joe had created a sound that occurs when there is a malfunction with the echo unit and used it to create this weird Chinese sounding effect on Pete’s guitar. Dave Watts showed his appreciation during Pete’s take by pulling down his pants and mooning Pete while he was putting down the track. All this was unseen by Joe and we all fell apart in the studio unable to contain our laughter. Joe then instructed Dave to put in some Fill In bits on the piano which Dave did with little effort. The accompanying melody that he played behind Pete in the middle part was very good indeed. At the same time Joe had John Davies put on some tambourine and he had me shaking bells and dragging them across a Glockenspiel at certain parts of the number. So as our second single Joe had come up with this instrumental which we had helped him perfect and had no idea what it was to be called or anything about it. Then we came to the question of the B side. At this time what with our Cabaret shows and use of comedy and Joe’s suggestion that we should put out a new album by the New Tornados which would be a collection of comedy songs, we decided to approach the B side with that in mind.
We met at the studio a few days later to record a B side. We really didn’t have anything that we thought would be suitable for a B side and we were nervous as we did not know what to expect from Joe. Dave as always came up with an idea and started to play a kind of Jazzy swing tune. We were all standing around listening to Dave and talking about ideas for the number with Joe. I came up with something and Joe ridiculed me over in it and I got kind of upset. Joe said that we should record the number and walked towards the control room. To show how I was pissed off at Joe for putting down my ideas I threw a minor temper tantrum throwing my guitar case down on the floor and slamming it shut. Joe picked up on it right away and strode towards me. He obviously knew why I was acting that way. “If that’s what you’re gonna do” he shouted “You can get out of here. Get out and sit downstairs”. I put my Fender back in the case gently and disappeared down the twisting stairs like a sad little puppy with my tail between my legs. I sat down on a chair in the office area and listened while the band rehearsed the number and got the backing track down. When they had done that they tried to put on a guitar solo but Pete was not having much success. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs and it was Joe. He came up to me and in a very tender way said “Don’t worry, I want you to come upstairs and put on a guitar solo” He went into the other room and came out carrying a cheap old beat up acoustic guitar, “You’ll use this” he said with a smile and handed it to me. I climbed up the twisty stairs to the studio with a feeling of happiness knowing that I was back up in the studio again but at the same time I was horrified to think of what I was going to do with this piece of crap guitar. Luckily I had heard them playing the number over and over when they were recording it so I knew how it went. As I appeared in the studio Dave greeted me with “Here’s Robbie. Are you gonna play a solo for us Robbie”? I guess they were happy to see me back and I was happy to be back. I tuned up the guitar to the Lowry and took a seat. Joe came in and started to mike up the guitar. He took the big old mike from behind the screen and positioned it close to the guitar. Throughout this he continually smiled at me and asked me if I was comfortable. I played along with the backing track and after a few takes Joe said “OK that’s it” and we had a take down. It wasn’t really much of a solo and was almost buried by the backing but I suppose that it served its purpose.
Joe said that he thought that we should put some funny talking on the track. We all bounced ideas around and finally decided that Dave and I should carry on a conversation together as if we were in a club somewhere. We would talk about fashion and chatting up birds, and be sure to mention something about the pirate radio stations. So Dave and I started to talk. We put on these real camp voices and by running through it a few times we got the idea of where we were going with it. We imagined that we had just met at a night club, and we were chatting together. Joe suggested that I should ask Dave “Do you come here often”? And that Dave should answer by saying “Only when the pirate ships go off the air” Dave came up with the bit about the pajama style shirts being “In”. Joe liked that very much and he really got excited when he told me that my reply would be that “Pajamas are out as far as I’m concerned anyway”. Dave and I came up with “Who cares? Well I know of a few people that do” And Joe chimed in with “Yes you would” which he instructed Dave to say in a very sarcastic way. So we had the first verse figured out. Dave and I presumed that we would be on the lookout for women so Dave said “Here’s two girls coming now, what do you think”. Joe immediately told Dave not to say “girls” and just say “Here’s two coming now, what do you think” I of course replied with the corny line “Mine’s alright but I don’t like the look of yours”, which must have been used at least a million times before and followed it with the equally hackneyed phrase “Well I must be off then, yeah you’re not looking so good” which was used at least two million times. My reply to Dave’s “I’ll see you down the Dilly” was “Not if I see you first you won’t”, which Joe came up with and was also a very corny line. But in some way it all seemed to fit probably because it was all done “Tongue in Cheek”. Dave and I practiced with the two verses reciting the lines gradually getting the timing right so that the conversation was spread evenly over the two verses. Throughout the whole session and particularly during the recording of the talking parts Joe was totally happy, excited and smiling. We were not really aware at the time but Joe was really excited as he must have felt that he was in some way making a Gay statement by the way that he had Dave and I put on those camp voices and carry on that conversation. We had a ball doing it also. It was really like having fun, the pressure was off and we all had chances to be creative. Anytime that you had that type of atmosphere in the studio with Joe it was always good and we enjoyed every minute of it whenever it happened. Dave and I never thought that we were portraying a couple of gay guys but at the same time if it came across that way it was OK, it was fun and we thought we were being cute. Joe’s sole purpose in producing this single was to aim it at the pirate radio stations and try to get them to play it. He hoped that the success that the stations were having along with the controversy they were creating would rub off on the Tornados playing their new Joe Meek instrumental titled “Is that a Ship I hear”?, and maybe become a hit. Time has shown that the original demo that Joe played us was called “Isthat a Spaceship I hear”? He also wrote to us when we were on the Adam Faith show saying that he had put seagulls on the number and was calling it “Is that a Pirate Ship I Hear”? This was the first time that we ever had any idea of what the title of the number would be. I don’t think that we realized where Joe meant to go with this number at the time and anyway we were not interested in this kind of music as we were still hoping to win Joe over one day and get a vocal “A” side out. I guess we just put up with it and went along with it. We didn’t have much choice anyway we were just an instrument of Joe Meek’s creativity.
It has been written that Joe took a tape recorder into a men’s toilet in a club somewhere and secretly recorded a conversation which he then used for “Do You Come here Often”? This was absolutely untrue and was just another case of fictitious stories made up by people in order to present Joe as some kind of a perverted individual who when judged by today’s standards would not appear to be so . He was just a homosexual and most likely bisexual and probably fought within himself to try to resolve his dilemma. Any time that he could creep out of his closet and create something like “Do You Come Here Often”? and have a fun time doing it, probably brought him a great deal of satisfaction and release. To my knowledge this is the only track that Joe ever put out that had any noticeable Gay references. The Gay references also do really depend on the way that they are interpreted. As far as we were concerned we were looking for girls in a club. Joe was looking for something else.
Things were beginning to get into motion with the Blackpool show. Dave received a package from the producers that contained all the music sheets for the show. There were no sheets for Billy J Kramer as he had his own band, we already knew Marty Wilde’s stuff and we met with the guitarist from Adam Faith’s band who gave us some discs and showed us the basic songs on the guitar. We figured out Adam’s numbers mostly from the records, just like we had done covering songs as the Whirlwinds. However there were all other kinds of musical pieces that we had to learn and rehearse, such as the comedians’ numbers, pieces for the dancing routines, and also show production numbers. Dave took up the position as leader in the process of getting the numbers down, which was ok by us as Pete, Roger and I had some minimal musical knowledge but we could not sight read well enough. We could read chord symbols and follow bars so that’s basically how we did it. John basically did what he wanted on the drums once that he knew the pieces but Dave really was the guy that made it happen as he had received musical training and could read the dots.
We decided that it would be a good idea to do all our rehearsals down at Aylesmore farm. We would all stay at the Holders’ farmhouse for a week and we would rehearse over at the Welsh House just like we did as the Whirlwinds and Saxons. With the exception of Dave we all came from that area so it was nice for us to get home. John and I got to go to Gloucester and Cheltenham to see our folks. Every one was excited to hear that we would be playing on this all star show in Blackpool for the summer. While we were rehearsing in Newent Joe came down and we met together with him in Cinderford where we appeared with him at a fundraising fete for handicapped children. We had done one there before with him as the Saxons. Joe asked us how our rehearsals were coming along and mentioned to us that Harry Dawson had been calling up from the Cooper organization as they were feeling worried that we might not be capable of dealing with the task of backing the whole show. As far as we were concerned we thought that we were doing fine and let Joe know that George Cooper should not worry. Joe was also hesitant to tell us that the Cooper Organization had even got another band on stand by just in case we didn’t work out. After Joe had made his speech we played a set and he proceeded to give out kazoos to the kids so that they could participate in the music. He also gave away demo discs and glossy promotion pictures of his artists. Joe brought his mother with him and she was obviously very proud of him. At the end of the day we got to make some money as we played at a dance that evening at lister’s hall. At our appearance at the fete there was a youngster there who had a small cassette recorder and recorded the set. That tape surfaced over twenty years later and there are various copies of it floating around.
The Annual Fete for the Forest of Dean Society for Mentally Handicapped Children took place on June 11th 1966 and as the Blackpool show was scheduled to open on June 24th after a few more days we left for Blackpool. There was to be a week or ten days of rehearsals to get the show down. A few weeks earlier we had been working in Manchester and had taken a drive over to Blackpool to check things out. We took a look at the South Pier where we would be performing from the last week in June until the middle of September. The South Pier was the third pier to be built in Blackpool following the North and Central piers and was opened up in 1893 and featured two brass bands a fifty piece orchestra together with a choir performing Handel’s Messiah for the visitors’ entertainment. This was a far cry from the rock shows that would be held there in the mid sixties. It was originally called the Victoria pier but was later renamed the South Pier in 1930. The Grand Pavilion situated on the pier could seat 3000 people and The Regal Theater was located at the pier entrance. In later years the Regal was converted into an amusement arcade. In 1964 The Grand Pavilion was totally destroyed by fire. When we arrived at the pier in 1966 we were greeted by a brand new theater that had been built in its place. We walked through the arcade and strolled along the pier and made our way to the theater. As we reached the main entrance we were approached by a guy who asked us if we were in the “business” and after he found out that we were the Tornados he introduced himself as being Al Paige, comedian and entertainer who would be appearing with us on the show. He took us inside and we met the stage manager Sid Raymond who was busy with the stage hands organizing the sets for the show. We took a look at the dressing rooms that were situated off to the left hand side of the stage and we noticed that our name “The Tornados” had been placed on the door. We were next door to the Diamond twins and Marty Wilde and across from Billy J Kramer. Al Paige and fellow comedian Johnny Clamp were sharing a room and Adam Faith’s dressing room was located on the other side of the stage along with the rooms for the dancing girls known as the Fox Miller Girls. On our way out Al asked us where we would be staying and as we had no idea he gave us the name of a real estate agent that specialized in finding accommodation for Show Biz people. We were able to find a nice fully furnished three bedroom house on Whitegate Drive to stay in.
The first day of the rehearsals we all met down at the pier and got the gear inside and set it up on stage in the rear. The Tornados would be on stage throughout the whole show as we were backing everyone except Billy J Kramer who had his own band. It was a good break for us as Billy closed the first half of the show which was followed by the interval. We set up our music sheets on stands in front of us and bit by bit the cast began to show up and congregate in their dressing rooms. The producer, John Lyndon summoned everyone to the stage and when we were all together he proceeded to give us a brief outline of the running of the show. We then started to work on the opening number for the show which was “Things are Swinging” and it involved the whole cast. The dancing girls would start the whole thing off and at a certain point comedian Johnny Clamp was to enter the stage, walk up to the mike, and proceed to introduce the cast who would all line up at the front of the stage and when Adam was introduced as the star of the show he sang the number together with the rest of the cast.
John Lyndon had explained to Johnny Clamp the spot where he should make his entrance but Johnny couldn’t get it right to save his life. He either came on too early, too late, and one time he came on in the middle of the dance routine and was dodging in between the dancers. We were virtually pissing our selves and John Lyndon was getting really pissed off and began screaming “No, no, noooo” and things turned really bad and we kind of felt bad for Johnny. It was pitiful the way that Lyndon berated him and belittled him. So we said that we would give Johnny the nod when to enter the stage. He stood there nervously in the wings watching and waiting. We gave him the nod and he made a perfect entrance much to everyone’s relief and proceeded to run through the spiel and introduce the acts. He ran through it too fast and by the time Adam came on Adam had to stand doing nothing for half a verse until the music came back around again. John Lyndon started up on Johnny again saying that he was standing like he was working in a fish and chip shop and introduced the acts like he was calling out bingo numbers. He eventually got it down to a point where the producer was satisfied .As a band we really had no trouble with the music, the producer, or the artists. With help from Les Baguley, the Diamond Twins’ pianist we were able to go through their set easily.
When it was our turn to do our set John Lyndon was eager to see what we had. He had seen that we were capable enough to be a good backing band but what did we do for our act? As always we started with a slightly shortened version of Telstar and featured a vocal such as “Let It Be Me”. We did our comedy routine which got to be more elaborate and adventurous as the season proceeded. We basically poked fun at other artists through playing their hit, very similar to what The Barron Knights had done with Call up the Groups. I was running all over the stage with my finger in my butt singing “Keep on Running” as if Spencer Davis had been taking Ex Lax for constipation. John Lyndon would not let us use the word “Constipation” so we had to cut it out. A week or so into the show we gradually reintroduced all the parts that were excluded from the show by the producer but from time to time Sid Raymond the stage manager would reprimand us saying “Do that again and you’ll be off the show cocker”.
Before we left for Blackpool we had bought some stage props and items at the Joke Shop. So when we did Marianne Faithful Dave came out in a maxi skirt and a blond wig singing yesterday with a cushion stuck up his shirt to make him look pregnant, and lamenting “Now I’m in the family way”. The funniest part was when Dave did Sandie Shaw. While we were doing the Walker Brothers’ “Washing Up is very Hard to Do” Dave would dash off into the wings, pull off his pants and put on a small mini skirt (which I think he pinched from his sister) together with a blouse and a fake breast which displayed elaborate nipples covered by a Playtex bra. As the weeks rolled on Dave would be sure to accidentally flash a nipple to the audience or letting them get a good look at his underwear and package that he wore under the mini skirt. We would all be having a good laugh and wonder what Dave would come up with next. He also had to do a quick change when he became Professor David Van Ripayacorsetsoff and came on to conduct the orchestra. He would be dressed in a black set of tails with boxer shorts and wearing a plastic bald wig with glasses and carrying a conductor’s baton. We would actually piss ourselves when he would appear as he looked so funny and he would always try doing something unexpected to surprise us and make us laugh. One night he decided that he would stand on top of the stool that he sat on behind his Hammond to conduct the orchestra. As he began he started to topple and ended up falling off through the curtains and into the wings. The loud thump he made when he hit the floor caused the reverb unit to make a loud crashing noise like thunder which totally took the audience by surprise and caused a sensation. We all got a big laugh out of it and sure enough Dave was sure to fall off that stool every single night until the end of the season. If by chance the reverb didn’t go off Dave would secretly give the Hammond a good kick to ensure the success of the effect. We would then go into “Wade in the Water” by Graham Bond and that was it more or less. Apart from the few bits here and there that Lyndon asked us to delete he was pleased with our performance and we were able to move on. We had a break at this point as Johnny Clamp did his spot and was followed by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas so we were not required for this.
We went off to the dressing rooms and hung out with Marty and Joyce. It was always great to hang out and talk with Marty. He was funny and we had some good laughs. He told us that his favorite new word was “Flange” and he christened me with that name and throughout the season he always referred to me as Flange. At one point he did get serious and asked us to back him the best that we could as he thought, and had always maintained that he was better than Adam. In fact he predicted that his act would look better than Adam’s as The Tornados would be hidden behind a gauze curtain during Adam’s act but in Marty’s act we would all be up front together with him and with the Diamond Twins as back up singers with Joyce it would look and feel exciting, and it was. Marty’s act was exciting especially for me as it was still hard to believe that there I was on the same stage playing alongside of Marty Wilde whom I had watched on the B.B.C.’s Six Five Special when I was just about thirteen years old. It was always a thrill when we opened up with “Jezebel”. Marty sang it really well and he looked good as he was very tall and had a certain “Down to earth” attitude on stage which the audience liked. After he dispensed with his medley of hits he would use his guitar and we would all join him in “Every Little Thing” by the Beatles. It was a way for Marty to try to clutch on to the changing musical trends and keep up with the times. He told us that he liked the Beatles songs and I believe that he really enjoyed singing that number. He closed his set with “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, which he also did very well. All in all he had a good, tight, dynamic and exciting set and we had no trouble at all running through it at the rehearsals.
Adam’s rehearsal went very well with us when we finally got around to it. In fact all the artists’ acts that we backed went without a hitch. The only things that took more time were the dance routines and the numbers that certain artists did together. They would have to learn various moves and dance steps that were shown to them by the producer with help from Betty Fox and Shelagh Miller the choreographers of the Fox Miller Girls.
Just like Marty and Billy J Kramer, Adam did a medley of his hits. He also featured “Unchain My Heart” by Ray Charles, “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”, “A Message to Martha, and a version of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” which we started at a slow beat and each verse got faster and faster until it climaxed at the end. He also featured a joke in his act about a horse playing on a cricket team. We could see that Adam was pleased with our performance as his backing group as he popped his head behind the gauze curtain and said:”Thank you Lads” and followed it with a smile. Adam was very professional in the way he performed his act and always looked relaxed and comfortable. He got the audience to participate in “If I Had a Hammer” and had them going “Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh”
Billy J Kramer’s set was very similar to Adam and Marty’s but he did not do a medley of his hits, moreover he just played the numbers as they were on record, and that was basically his act. Billy was friendly enough but the Dakotas were somewhat aloof. At that time they were comprised of Tony Mansfield (drums), Robin McDonald (bass) who were both co- founders of the band and Mick Green (guitar). They didn’t make too much conversation with us and on stage they all looked rather serious, kind of staring into space and they did not move at all and just stood there like statues. Musically they were fine, especially Mick Green who played well and effortlessly but looked very stoic in his stance and attitude on stage. He didn’t look at all happy and neither did the rest of the band.
The show opened up on Friday 24th June 1966. We had run the actual dress rehearsal on Thursday. Everything went very well with the exception of a few issues with Sid Raymond, the stage Manager. As the opening of the show became imminent Sid was getting more belligerent and started to pick on members of the cast that were on the lower end of the bill. He particularly picked on Johnny Clamp and had a couple of goes at us from time to time about the volume that we played at and generally tried to exert his authority as stage manager wherever he could. In my opinion he did not do his job that well.
We were to play two shows a night and at the close of the first show, which went over very well and without a hitch with even Johnny Clamp being able to come in on time, thanks to us. We were highly congratulated by George Cooper and Harry Dawson when they came backstage to see us. They were actually quite ecstatic and even told us that we were the best backing band that they had ever used.. They admitted that they had been worried about our ability to back the show and confessed that they had thought about having another band ready if we did not work out. Luckily all those concerns had now disappeared due to their satisfaction with our performance. That Sunday Billy Fury and the Gamblers came into town to do the special show that we did every week. This was more of a rock show than a variety show and it was another chance for us to abandon our stage suits and don our mod gear. We cut out our usual comedy routine and adopted a rock band image. We were able to play a longer set and feature more rock songs. Marty Wilde also played the Sunday Show along with the Diamond Twins. Adam Faith had the day off and so did Billy J Kramer. We always enjoyed the Sunday shows as we could relax and play what we wanted. Al Paige acted as compare for the show. Once again it was a big thrill for me to be on the same stage as Billy Fury remembering that just a few short years ago I was a member of the audience and along with my sister we were screaming for “Billy”. I had always been a big Billy Fury fan and still am to this day. I did not know it at that time but the following year 1967 would find me and some of the present Tornados performing as Billy’s backing group. Billy covered the second half of the show so we crept out into the auditorium to watch his performance. He was terrific.
We settled into the first week of shows quite well. The houses were pretty full each night and judging by the general feeling of the artists on the show we could tell that we were doing a good job. The Diamond Twins were going over well and they could really belt out their numbers. They had powerful voices and of course they were always on key! Their Pianist, Les Baguley seemed happy with everything and we began to build up a good relationship with him. We were starting to have some good laughs together. Marty was happy with the way his set was going over and as a matter of fact I don’t remember him ever complaining throughout the season. Billy J Kramer was going down well and brought in a younger crowd As Adam had appeared behind our gauze curtain each night at the end of the show and greeted us with a smile and a Thank you lads” we presumed that everything was ok.
At the end of the first week Pete Holder went to pick up our wages from the theatre manager and continued to do so for the rest of the season. We were all paid thirty pounds a week. The critics from the local newspaper gave a very favorable review of the show drawing very special attention to the Tornados who in their words worked very well and hard throughout the whole show as well as doing their own spot featuring TV pop takeoffs and some humor shock treatment. The shock treatment referred to a part of our act when we gave Pete this big build up for the song that he was about to sing and as he swaggered up to the mike and touched it with his hand a shower of sparks flew out from the mike and Pete collapsed onto the stage guitar and all as if electrocuted. Pete had bought this little device that you wound up and fit into your hand and when you released the pressure of holding it. it released these bright sparks. I think that Al Paige may have given us the idea. You were just supposed to be pretending to be getting small jolts from the “Electricity” but our scenario with Pete who was apparently getting knocked over by an electric shock proved to be too realistic and when some member of the audience wrote a letter to the newspaper that the South Pier was using faulty electrical equipment causing a member of the Tornados to get badly shocked, we were kindly asked to take it out of our act.
That Sunday Manfred Mann would open up their season of Sunday night shows. They were kind of aloof, to say the least. Nobody would acknowledge us except for Mike Hugg the drummer. Manfred Mann and Paul Jones minced around the stage while Jack Bruce, who must have been doing it for the money, was playing bass and was probably embarrassed, so he didn’t speak to us. Their act was good, but mainly due to Paul Jones who basically carried the whole show as the rest of the band had little personality. They played at a surprisingly low volume but the kids that came to the Sunday night shows seemed to enjoy themselves. Even Sid Raymond didn’t have to complain about their volume. He always had a go at us though. He knew that we really enjoyed the Sunday shows and that we liked to turn it up a bit, so he always had to say something.
As the first few weeks passed by we all settled in to the daily routine of the Summer Season Show. Roger Holder and Sandra from the Diamond Twins were going out together and it wasn’t long before Roger moved in with Sandie along with her sister Sonia and their pianist Les Baguley. They shared a flat together. Dave Watts was also friendly with Sonia Diamond but their relationship took a little longer to blossom. We would get together on Sundays and I would cook Sunday dinner for 10 people at a time. One weekend Derek Holder brought my girlfriend Jenny up to stay with me for the weekend and we slept together down on the living room floor. She was a cute little Welsh girl but she was young and by the end of the weekend I knew that my affections for her were fading fast. She had acted like a little kid a couple of times, probably as she felt a bit inferior when the Diamond Twins were around. I told her I would see her in Gloucester after the Season was over but I never saw her again. She did come around to my folks’ house when I was there. I had told my mother that if she should come around to tell her that I was staying out at the Holders’ farm and would not be coming home. Poor little Jenny left in tears. Eventually she married a guy in the Army stationed in Germany. She was always talking about him when she was going out with me so I guess she got what she wanted anyway.
As the show progressed we gradually became very relaxed on stage and comfortable with the artists that we were backing. We began to inject various embellishments into our music. In Marty’s act Pete and I put in some nice guitar parts and the Diamond Twins together with Joyce provided great backing vocals. Dave Watts for some reason got very bored in Marty’s act and used the time to practice all kinds of runs on the keyboard with no sound or sometimes at a very low volume. Sometimes when Marty was introducing the numbers, raving keyboard runs could be heard very faintly in the background. We would turn round slightly and see Dave freaking out on the Hammond all on his own, apparently oblivious to everything around him.
One of the dance numbers that the Fox Miller Girls did was “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. Sometimes when John Davies was in a mischievous mood he would count the number in at almost twice the tempo making the instrumental so fast that the girls were out of breath and almost falling over each other by the time we had finished the number. They would stumble off stage glaring at us. We of course thought it was hilarious.
The only real problem we had was with Stage Manager, Sid Raymond who was beginning to pick on us more and more. We were threatened so many times with “You’ll be off the show cocker” that we became more or less immune to it and began to bite back a little. One day when he raised the house mike barely past my navel when I was to address the audience I looked at him across the stage and asked him if he thought I was Jimmy Clitheroe! This got a big laugh out of the audience, which was nice, but we saw it was getting worse with Sid so on a subsequent phone call to Joe, Pete Holder complained to him about it. In one of his letters to us Joe mentioned that with regard to the Stage Manager, he had spoken to Harry Dawson about it. As a matter of fact Joe wrote more to us in Blackpool than at any other time.