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Acme Patent Electric Band, the [1967-1968]
myself on vocals & harp, Dave Pennycook on guitar , Bob Jackson on bass, Pete Ward on hammond organ, Malc Harker on drums, Steve North on special effects. We played long heavy arrangements of everything from Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone to the Supremes' Ain't no Mountain High Enough,  not to mention Jimmy Smith style instrumentals and all sorts of other things thrown in. We hired costumes, had lights, backdrop movies and all sorts of special effects. It was far too much for local audiences to swallow, and I remember at a gig in Sheffield being told by the audience to get out of the way so that they could see the movie (King Kong). We never managed to get high enough up the gig hierarchy to get proper recognition before the band folded to make way for Indian Summer 
3AM [1967]
managed by Rodney Joyce and comprising myself on harp & vocals, "Beck" on Telecaster guitar, Nick Hawkeswell on Gretch bass and Jim ? on drums. No van but travelled in Rodney's enormous Pontiac saloon, which was just as good ... when it worked
Alderson, John
a superb blues guitarist and great showman who I first met in the late 60s when he played for Wandering John . I later played with him in Snake, the Travelling Riverside Blues Band, the Meantown Blues Band and the Howlers but I lose track of all the bands that John has played with. My favourite work with him was when we were both in the "Travs" and started jamming as a duo to fill in for missing support bands. It was totally improvised and some of the best blues I have ever had the privilege to be involved with. Ring me tomorrow, John, we'll do it again. John has now had a guitar radio link for about 15 years and used it with gay abandon from pub toilets, car parks, bars and pretty much anywhere else you can think of. This can be a bit disconcerting for the band, still on the stage, who can hear him playing through his stage amplifier but haven't got a clue where he is. He also makes malicious posters. John & I are now gigging together as the Last Fair Deal.
Amstrad CPC6128
Alan Sugar's masterpiece of 1987, a CPM,128k RAM based complete set-up for about 300 quid (you wouldn't then get a PC  for less than 3 grand). It seemed to me the best way to learn about computers was to buy one, although when I got this home from Woolworths (no kidding) I really hadn't a clue what I was going to do with it. In 1987 hard disks were mega-money and the Amstrad ran on a single 128k floppy disk. I still have the computer at home, it still works, and I am amazed at how much the programmers of the day, with skill, got out of so little
Auger, Brian
 ... made his name with the 60s top-ten hit "This Wheel's on Fire", which is still scorching along today as the theme tune for the TV comedy "Absolutely Fabulous", in my view a good record, but not one of his best. If you can ever find the "Open" album listen to "Isola Natale" which shows that he is, without doubt, Britain's best hammond organ  player, who is still going strong today. Visit his Oblivion Express website to find out more
Avengers, Mighty, the
when I was younger they were just The Avengers but had to change the name so as to avoid sharing it with another band, a frequent problem at the time. They were originally a good local band but, by 1964, had passed their sell-by date. Unfortunately, the 1965 Coventry Express poll caused the Locarno manager to make a name for himself in the local press by suggesting that the poll must have been fixed (he was in fact dead right, thank you Paul Connew). Otherwise, he said, the Boll Weevils couldn't possibly have come ahead of the stalwart Avengers. So he suggested that a Thursday night contest between the 2 bands should be held in his ballroom to sort out this anomaly. Now my opinion was "no thanks" (or maybe other words to that effect), I didn't want to get involved, but nobody listened to my opinion. By this time the Locarno was "away-ground" for us, our "home-ground" being the Leofric Jazz Club. Anyway, on "fight-night" we wiped the floor with them, which was sad - they were nice blokes who didn't want to get involved either, and didn't deserve to be publicly humiliated. I went home feeling really dirty, because this media nonsense was not what I thought music was about. The twist in the tale was that, unlike my band, the Avengers got paid for the gig! We went home dirty and broke
Baldry, Long John
a man who, like John Mayall and Alexis Korner ran excellent bands that bred young talent. John brought along, amongst others, a superb blues singer called Rod "the mod" Stewart and had my admiration ... until we had the misfortune to support him at the Leofric when he was arrogant and snobbish. This was because we went down better than his band, who did play excellent jazz, but it was all a bit over the heads of the local mods who now had a local ,young, earthy R&B band to worship. Baldry eventually sold out to the cigars and released an absolutely appalling single, "Let the Heartaches Begin" after which nobody on the R&B circuit took him seriously again
Band with No Name, the [1978-1979]
alias "Snake" ... myself on vocals, harp and saxes, Mick Lynch on drums, John Alderson on guitar, plus a bass player, second guitarist and percussionist whose names escape me. The music was a catholic mixture of  all of the members' tastes, my personal favourite was the Steve Gibbons song, Speed Kills
Beatles, the
What can you say? They were the first British Band to conquer America, they revolutionised the entire music business, made excellent albums and wrote timeless songs, as well as playing great covers of other peoples' stuff. John Lennon indirectly started me playing music, see my biography. Spend a day browsing, try the Not  Even Close To Official Beatles Page, or visit AMG Allmusic guide for an excellent impartial biography and discography
Bentham, Steve
was 6' 4" when he was 13 years old, and stood out (or up) like a sore thumb in school assembly where he would be criticized every morning for his sideboards, drainpipe trousers, attitude in general etc etc. He was a remarkable guitarist, although technically limited, and was once described by Robert Plant, "he can only play 3 chords but, God help us, what he can do with them". At the time Ben was with the Boll Weevils
Ben contacted me by e-mail a few months ago. Click here to read his news and find his e-mail address..
Biggs, Dr
my third diabetes consultant who I first met him when he was Registrar for the infamous Dr Vince . It was he who in fact caught my wrath at the time. I thought he was OK until I went to him for help getting an insulin pump, when he told me that my health was "fantastic". Al he could do was quote "NICE" statistics at me, tell me pumps were a waste of time, and basically tell me to get lost. For the 15 years or so that he was my consultant he was absolutely fine - as long as I needed nothing from him. His Diabetes nurses, Viv Reed and Anne Phillips were absolutely wonderful, so that he really wasn't necessary - just as well as he never actually did anything.
Boardman, Dr Shirine
my current diabetes consultant who, just like Howel Jones, treats her patients as people rather than numbers. She will fight for you tooth & nail, not give up until she succeeds - as she did when starting an insulin pump centre at Warwick Hospital. But, above all, this delightful, clever, knowledgeable Malaysian consultant lives and breathes her profession, knows all of her patients on sight, and putting all of her predecessors, with the exception of Howel Jones, to shame. I have never met one of her patients, including non insulin dependant cases who didn't think the world of her. I paid 160 for my first private consultation, at which she talked me back into the NHS, and after which kept every single promise that she made. After just one year she has been worth every penny - and let's hope there are many years still to come.
Boll Weevils, the [1963-1964]
featured myself on harp and vocals; Steve Bentham on guitar and vocals; Barry Smale on bass and Joe Craner on Drums. This was my first band, numbers arranged by myself and Bentham while walking home from parties at about 2 in the morning (in the inevitable early morning rain). The band had an "old" (about 30 !!) guy called Roy who waded through a spaghetti like mess of wires and cables to get his 30 watt PA system working. Poor guy never got paid, perhaps he was hoping to hit the big time. He didn't make it, I borrowed a fifty quid off my Dad and bought my own PA, bye bye Roy. Neither did we make it, but played original music with balls in the process of failing. Renamed the Bo-Weevils to avoid confusion with a band in London
Bond, Graham
... by his early 20s had made a name for himself as a number one washing machine salesman, then went on to be voted the number one British jazz alto sax player in 1961. He later bought a Hammond organ and formed the Graham Bond Organisation, featuring himself on vocals, organ and alto sax, Jack Bruce on bass, Ginger Baker on drums and Dick Heckstall-Smith on tenor sax. The Organisation was, I think, the best R&B band of the 60s, playing music from a wide range of influences and merging them all into a completely unique package. I picked up a couple of the albums about 10 years ago but they really don't do justice to the sheer power (rather than volume) of the live performances. Bruce and Baker of course went on to set the world alight with "Cream", Heckstall-Smith is probably (I hope) still playing jazz today.
Graham went on to get completely out of his brains on "substances" and the occult - the last time I spoke to him was in a club toilet when he was rambling on about "mantras". I am sorry to say that it was no surprise to learn that he sang his last mantra while jumping under a London Underground train and ending his life in 1974. Yet another lesson for anyone who thinks hard drugs are "cool". Virtually as I write this paragraph, a Graham Bond website has appeared, still under construction but already looking good ...
Bonediggers, the
with Jim Pryall on drums, ex Specials Roddy Radiation on guitar and a young guy who played upright bass. They were a unique rockabilly band of the 90s who wrote good songs and became adopted by the Dive Bar  customers as their own. They also toured Germany, France, Holland & Sweden, gigged at the 100 Club and the Mean Fiddler in London and played live on Radio London and CWR (Coventry & Warwickshire Radio). An excellent band, sad that they never made it
Bo-Weevils, the [1964-1966]
successors to the Boll Weevils, with me, Fred Liggins on alto sax and drugs, Greg Taylor on tenor sax, Gordon ? on baritone sax, Len ? on guitar, Frank ? on bass, Kev Dempsey on drums. I can't deny that we were very popular and played well - but we simply "covered" (rather than re-interpret and re-arrange) the current soul and R&B hits. We were no longer unique, we were just another band rolling along with the commercial flow. The essential component for a record deal was writing our own songs, which were absolutely awful and, to me, embarrassing. To me this was the essential reason for getting out
Bournemouth Hospital
during a weekend in July 1981 food poisoning caused me to be transported from the beach to the casualty department. I spent a few days under observation in the old town hospital, which had splendid food, gorgeous nurses and superb diabetic aftercare (by the hospital as well as the nurses). After discharge I remember having to walk back to my car dressed in shorts and Hawaii t-shirt, the weather having, in true UK style, changed back to winter
Butterfield, Roy
I first met when he replaced Steve Bentham in the Boll Weevils. He had a lovely sunburst Fender Telecaster which he later bartered for a crappy Hofner and a new suit ! But Roy could have played any old rubbishy instrument and sounded class. He later played pedal-steel and bass guitar. He sadly lasted only a few weeks with the Weevils before, as predicted, he went back to his old band to be with his mate Bas Faucus. He was later involved in writing the hit single 2-4-6-8 Motorway with Tom Robinson but got fed up and left the band before the money rolled in. When he joined Monster Magnet he rolled up to the first rehearsal with components of a 60s Fender Precision bass in a Tesco carrier bag. He had got the bass by barter, probably for a suit ! He assembled it and, playing bass for the first time in his life became, instantly, the best bass player I have ever worked with. A superb musician and an incredibly dry and funny guy. Last time I saw him, 10 years ago, he admitted to being hopelessly alcoholic and was last heard of living in a wood somewhere. It's all a real shame because he really could have given something to the world if he could have kept his head together 
Casualty Departments, hospital
due to diabetic insulin treatment and hypoglycemia I have visited many, and could write a book on this subject. To  summarize, 10/10 for Bournemouth Hospital and 0/10 for Leamington! Corfu falls somewhere in the middle of a long list.
Cesspit, usual, the
most of the great musicians of the mid-sixties were forced by the record companies to perform drivel, "because that's the way we've always done it". The fact that these musos had a huge following in the clubs was irrelevant to the "management dimwits". Sales to 12 year old children were all-important, the idea of adult album sales hadn't yet dawned on them. Hence gravel-voiced Graham Bond sang "Tammy", supergroup Cream's first single was "Wrapping Paper", all absolutely appalling and commercially dead losses, but you couldn't tell these morons. It was still a couple of years before Eric Clapton revolutionised recording and things did get better, although when you look at the record companies today, we don't seem to have got very far
Clapton, Eric, "slowhand"
... on his debut recording session with John Mayall, refused to let the Decca engineers make his guitar sound like an electric ukelele and threatened to walk out if they didn't follow his instructions. All that he wanted to do was play his guitar in the studio the way he played it on stage, vile revolution in its day. Listen to the Bluesbreakers album which evolved, still a classic 30 years down the line!
the tendency of all computer users (myself included) to get fed up of staring at a blank screen waiting for a web page to download. Too often you've waited for what seems like half an hour, only to get the "this page is unavailable" message, or have your computer freeze up. To me the worst site for this is BT, especially bearing in mind that I am paying them by the minute for the privilege of renting their phone line.
So what do you do? Simple, click the "stop" button and try somewhere else.
Condition Red [1973-1975ish}
a club band led by guitarist Bill Turner playing very forgettable club band music ... but good fun and it kept me loose
Connew, Paul
another notorious Henry VIII Grammar School old boy. Every term's school magazine would contain a brilliant piece of writing by him. He was once given the task, by a jealous teacher, of writing about "a brick" and this brilliant essay inevitably finished up in the mag. However, it did take him 2 goes to pass his English O'level, the second time he had to restrain himself  so that the (geriatric) markers could keep up with him. He then passed grade 1 with distinctions. He left school to join the Coventry Evening Telegraph, then the Coventry Express, then the Daily Mirror - all this by the age of 20. Last I  heard he was still with the Mirror, probably editor by now.
Coventry Schoolfriends
the organisers are trying to provide an Internet means for people to contact old schoolfriends. The more that register, the better it will be
Cover Versions
started in the 50s when Brit producers would quickly get locals to knock out second rate copies of US hit records before the record companies got around to releasing the original records in the UK. Bear in mind that in the 50s home music was provided by the family pianist buying "sheet music" from the local record store and playing it on the family piano. The record player was a "new" invention and record sales were lower than sheet music sales. It is this prehistoric tradition that still underlies the fact that for every record sold it is the songwriter who earns the biggest share, and a band member, and hence his managers, agents, and all the other hangers-onners can finish up with a pretty small percentage. Then along came the Beatles and suddenly there was a way of upping the financial rewards by getting the musos to write the songs ... which is fine if, like the Beatles, the musos have songwriting talent. But over the years a lot of talented performers have released a load of forgettable, self penned dross and the public have been conned into believing that "covers" are artistically bankrupt. The reason for this nonsense - more money for management! I would point out that all symphony orchestras play "covers" not to mention some great singers like Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Elvis, Cliff Richard, Pavarotti etc etc. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that if you play other peoples' songs it is pointless unless the arrangements show originality. Let writers write and performers perform. Fine if they do both, but songwriters, musos and the record-buying public would benefit if the royalty laws entered the 20th, let alone the 21st, century. Not much hope of this with record companies the way they are 
Craner, Joe
christened John by his mother who ran the Willenhall Precinct Off-License. Known as Joe until later in life when people in general seem to get more fussy about their names, you know Phil becomes Phillip, Pam becomes Pamela etc etc. Was the original drummer with the Boll Weevils but was sacked for not having as good a sense of rythym as others thought he should have had. This was true but he had tremendous feel for music which really came to the fore in Ra Ho Tep, in which he also played (Don Cherry style) trumpet and vibes. He later became an accountancy lecturer and stopped playing music, which is a shame

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