As a musical history goes, it's probably very similar to all my musical mates and it started, the day school finished. At the time, my school mate Kev Barnes and I, were a good friends of a Leeds band, who called themselves The Strollers. East Leeds answer to The Shadows and it was really those guys, especially Terry Maher, that made me want to do it. So here's a list in chronological order of those I associated with and remember. There are those I don't remember, so if you are one, remind me.
John Healy. My best friend until he died in his car in 1978. His love of music and humour inspired me and he always remains with me
The Strollers; Terry Maher, Lead guitar - Leo Smith; drums (For five minutes) - Jim Devlin, Bass - Barry Bickedike, Rhythm guitar (Poor Barry was run over and killed by a bus, in Leeds, in the 70's) - Mick Devlin, Singer. I always thought it was a great name. Trouble was, there was a "Strollers" in every town. They used to rehearse in Leo's Garage.
He are Micks own words.
"That rehearsal was an awakening for us all, some of my happiest memories were when we were doing the Pubs and clubs. Terry had a home made electric guitar. We did one record made at a studio in Leeds, it was called "Since you went away", I hated it but there may be somebody out there who liked it enough to keep it. Leo was replaced by Mick Longhorn who in turn was replaced by a cracking little drummer called Georgie Potter, not only was he a good drummer he was as funny as hell. Terry Maher lives in Blackpool, he is still performing and usually works abroad each summer season. You know Barry died in a road crash, Jim is now retired and I hope to retire this coming October. If we get bored we may have to start rehearsing again. Do you know of an old garage that would fit the bill?"
No Mick, but the old Bill has fitted my garage up a few times.
The Cherokees; John Woollard, Vocals - Tez Stokes Lead Guitar - David Bower, Rhythm Guitar Mick Sweeney, Bass Guitar - Jim Green, Drums. I never saw this line up, but I wish to God I had. Little did I know at the time, but they would change the course of my life. There were the first Leeds band to have a hit record. 7 Golden Daffodils went to No 17 in 1965. In 1966 they changed their name to New York Public Library and Jim Green left and was replaced Mick Ibbotson.
The Beat Roots; My first band, Trevor Marshall, Drums-Steve Corker, Rhythm Guitar - Colin Corker, Bass Guitar - Peter Morrison, Lead Guitar. All instrumentals. Trevor and I talked about music when we were both in Pinderfields hospital, Wakefield, Spring 63. When I got out, Trevor, Steve and Colin asked if I could play lead guitar. I lied and said I could, so they asked me to form a band with them. They didn't sack me. God knows why. The rest is geography
Tracy & The Zeroes; Rosalind "Tracy" Coleman, Lead singer - Trevor Marshall, Drums vocals - Steve Corker, Rhythm Guitar, vocals - Clive Spinks, Bass Guitar - Pete Morrison, Lead Guitar, vocals. Colin Corker left to join The Grumbleweeds so we enlisted Clive and later the same year, Tracy. We changed name to Tracy and The Zeroes and never rose above it. We managed a few minus clubs. In the main we played workingmen's clubs, but in 1964 we entered The Melody Maker pop group competition and travelled to Wimbledon Palais for the finals. It took nine hours in a coach, down the A1. We came ninth out of nine bands. In all honesty now, we were the best band, but I would say that wouldn't I. Who would have known that 3 years later, John Lennon would write a song about it. In 1965 Tracy left and moved to London and 6 months later, recorded a single for Columbia Records; "These Four Walls" b/w "Don't Hold It Against Me". A good three years before I made it anywhere near a studio. They said I was too magnetic and would wipe the recording tapes. I think she moved because of a distinct dislike of Leeds trams. London was devoid of such antiquarian electrical omnibuses. I should have told her that the last Leeds tram ran in the cold November of 1959. Maybe she would have stayed. Another ground breaking idea by our manager had (Clives dad), was for us to audition to go on "Opportunity Knocks". This went totally against our grain, as the kind of stuff we were doing now was R&B and soul music. Not the kind of material one would see on Opp Knocks. We went to The George Hotel, Huddesfield for the audition. When we got there, it was full of swooning theatricals, a fire eating balloon bender, a tap-dancing teenage girls chorale society from Normanton and a one eyed juggling ventriloquist. We went on and did "Please Do Something", a song we got from Spencer Davis. Hughie Green gave us 30 seconds and said
It was time for Clive to go.
New York Public Library; John Woollard, Vocals - Tez Stokes Lead Guitar - David Bower, Rhythm Guitar - Mick Sweeney, Bass Guitar, Mick Ibbotson - Drums. We came out of college one night and went into The Yorkshire Hussars, only to find this amazing band playing. They played "Summertime" to the riff of "Hit The Road Jack". We heard this guy singing "Worrying Kind" and "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" and we dined out on it ever since. To never have heard John singing is the next worst thing to not having sex.
Sleepers Wake; were the Beat Roots, only 3 years older, Trevor Marshall, Drums - Steve Corker, Rhythm Guitar, piano, harmonica - Colin Corker, Bass Guitar - Peter Morrison, Lead Guitar, Harmonica. Colin rejoined after Tracy and Clive left. We were very adventurous and we all sang in glorious harmony. People came from miles around to watch us argue about who had the biggest teeth. Geoff Ashford wrote a song for us called "You Need A Love", which somehow, we never got to grips with. I wish I had a later photo of this outfit. We weren't half bad sometimes. I remember doing the whole of side one of "Sergeant Pepper" at The Star and Garter, a few weeks after it came out. We did it only once to prove we could do it. We did some great songs.
We missed Topper and Brian (The Knack) by one week when we played at the Boulevarde in Tadcaster a week after the Knack played there in 67. (Story here) When the knack first played at the Star Club in Bremen 1965, the promoter gave them lots of food and drink. When Topper asked for the money at the end of the evening, he said, "There's no money you had the party"* We never ate at a gig since.
Amazing Friendly Apple; Originally The Dawnbreakers: Barry Mills, Hammond Organ, harpsicord, guitar, vocals - Pete Waddington, Vocals, harmonica, Alan Scott Bass - Art Lindon, Saxes and flute - John Barnfather, Drums and percussion. I could only describe them as jazz/soul and RnB as they played stuff by Ramsey Lewis, Cannonball Adderley and Nina Simone very tastefully with ease. I had the pleasure of singing a couple of tunes in front this amazing band. They played at The Star and Garter, Leeds every other Sunday night and The Cherry Tree every other Sunday Lunch . Half of Leeds turned up. They used to get great guest musicians up to play or sing. Pete Sorrell (a wonderful blues guitar player), Jim (Crazy Legs ) Atkinson (guitarist), Gary Boyle (who later formed Isotope) guitarist, would get up and do a bit. Later they asked me. I was gobsmacked.
When Sleepers Wake came to an untimely end, due to lack of lustre and pocket money. It was all very sad because we were as good if not better than most around in Leeds. I started rehearsing with Pete Sorrell and some other guys in a pub in Hunslet. I seem to remember it was in the now famous............ We used to rehearse on Sunday morning before it opened and by 12 o'clock midday, we were pissed. We had to start from scratch the next week. We got bored and it just fizzled out.
New York Public Library; John Woollard, Vocals- Tez Stokes Lead Guitar - David Bower, Rhythm Guitar - Paul Servis - Bass guitar, Topper Clay - Drums. 1967 The first time I met Topper, when they played The Fforde Green in Leeds. We got pissed too.
New York Public Library; Tez Stokes, Lead Guitar vocals - Brian Morris (Parrish) Twelve string Rickenbacker Lead vocals - David Bower, Bass Guitar vocals - Topper Clay, Drums & percussion. They blew us all away with their 20 minute version of If I Were A Carpenter live. "They shouldda wenna Woodstock". Brian was a make in the starring, "brilliant". From Buffalo to Byrds without any creases. Brian wrote some wonderful songs and that led me believing I could write songs. He was a great influence.
New York Public Library; Tez Stokes, Lead Guitar, vocals - David Bower, Bass Guitar, vocals - Topper Clay, Drums & percussion - Peter Morrison, guitar, sitar, Lead Vocals. When Brian left, I was asked to join. An impossible act to follow, but I think I got away with it.
Camel Andrew Latimer (guitar), Andy Ward (drums) and Doug Ferguson (bass) had been playing as a trio called The Brew around the Guildford, Surrey area of England. I first saw them playing behind Mick "Duggo" Douglas. They recruited Peter Bardens (keyboards) A great band and Andy Latimer is an amazing guitar player. Dougie Ferguson asked me to join them but I didn't want to leave NYPL. I think he was aving a larf anyway and I would never have suited them. Their music was too "eyebrow" for me.
The School Band (Hog Pond); Topper Clay, Drums - Pete Morrison 6 and 12 String Guitar - Dicky Middleton, Lead Guitar - Kirk "The Riddler" Riddel, Bass Guitar. We reheased in a Prep school in Godalming, drank oudles of red wine and did 2 gigs. We swung like a shithouse door.
The Village Band; Pete Morrison Lead Guitar lead vocals - Topper, Clay Drums - Dinky Diamond, Drums, vocals - Paddy Lavell, Bass - Bob Bigg, Lead Guitar, Pedal Steel, vocals. Two drummers. A strange old affair. Dinky, Bob and Paddy previously played in a band called Sky. The Village Band lasted about 6 months, gigged, cut 4 tracks and split. Topper got a pub, Bob, Dinky and myself shared a house in Collegetown, Camberley. I went back to NYPL with John and Dave and renamed it Little Big Man, Bob went to play at Reading, Mecca Locarno Ballroom and contrary to polular belief, Dinky answered an add in the Melody Maker, "A name band wanting a drummer, no beards". Dinky shaved his beard off and I went with him to the auditions, held under the railway arches at the Eliphant & Castle. There must have been 50 odd drummers there. When we left, I told him I was sure he'd got the job. He just looked and played better than the others and even borrowed a pair of sticks because he forgot to take any. He did get the job. He was in Sparks . Here is Dinky's own biog. Dinky Diamond God bless you sunshine. You were the the gentlest of men.
This band recorded two albums. One was in Quinvy Sound, Sheffield, Alabama with Swampdog producing, (When a Man Loves a Woman was recorded here). The other was in Morgon Studios, Willesdon, London. This was produced by David Mindel. He now resides in France. Morgon was a hive of heroes then, from Cat Stevens to Yes.
Andy Hill and John Danter went on to write and produce Bucks Fizz
John Woollard, Pete Morrison and Dave Bower went to shred finger nails.
Lots of credentials but no cigar
Jackie Challenor; Jackie was a friend of Howard Fullbrook, Dave Bower and myself and we met her at Fleet, Folk Club in the late 60's. She had long, long blond hair and she sang and played Joan Baez songs beautifully. It was Jackie who introduced her boyfriend, Graham Walker, to the band, after the band they were both in, "One Million People", broke up. She was an awesome singer and became backing singer for Brian Ferry, Midge Ure, Pete Townsend, ABC, Mike Oldfield and Blodwyn Pig, as well as being in the chorus of various West End shows. She released a variety of singles in the 70's. I always thought she was too good for the singles market at this time. A market about to be flooded by Punk bands. I would have loved to have produced an album for her. One with the integrity she held most dear to her art. Jackie died from breast cancer in 1998. She will always be remembered as a giant bundle of talented fun. God she was brilliant. Here she she sings two songs from way back. "I Still Miss Someone" and "The Fields of St Etienne" recorded on the 7th January 1970 at Eden Studio, Kingston, Surrey on what was probably a 2 track Studer recorder. Recorded mono live and any overdubs added to the 2nd track and mixed to stereo. Those were the days. Howard Fullbrook played guitar and he said a freak snow storm ended the day nearly stopping their homeward journey. We had those all the time in NYPL. More songs from Jackie and I Say a Little Prayer
BMW; David Bower, twelve string acoustic vocals - Pete Morrison, acoustic guitar vocals - John Woollard, vocals - Howard Fullbrook, fiddle acoustic guitar. We played at various folk clubs up and down the country and in truth we thought this as one of our best times. Just our songs, acoustic guitars and 3 voices. Later Simon Spratley from The Nashville Teens played piano on the album From The Lion to the Plough.Bill Boazman, who now calls himself Sonny Black, had four songs on that as well. Bill is another great player, who mesmerised the folk club fraternity with his amazing ragtime picking, slide playing and stunning songs.
David Mindel, our producer of Savage Amusement (NYPL), built a project studio in Greek Street, London, next to The Escargot, French restaurant. We did a few demo's there in 1979 the year BMW split and as a noname band in Frensham Vale (Tez Stokes and David Bowers studio) in 1985. By this time I started playing with lots of other bands, including a square-dance band.
Christie; I met Vic Elms of the original Christie, through my mate, Alan Blakely of the Tremeloes The Trems were originally going to do "Yellow River", a Geoff Christie song, but decided against it. They did the backing track and Geoff sang on it. It became No 1 all over the world and Christie was born. "Silly boys them Trems".
Vic Elms, Lead guitar lead vocals - Micky, Bass & vocals - Pete Morrison, Guitar & vocals - Mick Blakely, Drums. Toured Germany and went home. Jeff Christie, who wrote all of Christie's hits had long left the band. I did meet him way back in the 60's, but he wouldn't remember me. We played with his band "The Outer Limits", somewhere in Sheffield. I believe Jeff has now put together Christie and is touring again. Good luck Jeff. Make some more records
Frensham Vale Studio; This was run by David Bower and Tez Stokes. We recorded material in there I am still uncovering old tapes that have been laid in dusty hallways and rainy avenues. Captain Brown played on some stuff but for the most part Tez and I did most of the playing. All the vocals were BMW.
Amity; Colin Webb, Acoustic guitar, lead vocals - Judy Webb, Autoharp, Lead vocals - Russell Brown, Bass guitar, lead vocals - Pete Morrison, Electric guitar(replacing Roger Leigh) - John Field, fiddle - Vince Salisbury, Drums. Colin Webb now runs his own film and video production company. Amity was formed back in the 60's by Colin and Judy Webb. This line up was one of many
Amity sort of fizzled out as a gigging band, but before it did, Colin and I started doing a weekly duo gig at The Fox and Hounds, Sandhurst, until one day it burnt down after we played there. I think *Ernie the landlord at the time did it, but don't quote me. After that we started a gig at The Cricketers on the Bourne, in Farnham. In retrospect (or maybe not), we probably started one of the first "Open Mikes" back then. Eventually we turned it into a fortnightly thing with us on one week and Gary's Bluegrass band "Blackjack" the other. Hence" The Iliad and The Odyssey." A term Colin used for it. As it turned out, I think we had more in common with Homer Simpson.
In 1988, Mick Jagger had the brainchild of making the 17th June "National Music Day", asking musicians all over the country to run charity events. We ran our first charity gig at The Cricketers in June 1988 and although National Music Day fizzled out after the first year nationally, this event has carried on in and about Farnham every year since. With varying people at the helm, I bowed out gracefully years ago when I found out there was no money in it for me. I think Micky Kemp took over from me for a while with Colin. It culminated into Weyfest in 2007, now run by Colin Webb, Richard Elmer and Ali Edwards. Lets hope it carries on after the deluge of 2008. Water water everywhere. 2009 saw Jethro Tull headlining along with The Beat and Osibisa. I did a pleasant little gig with 4play
"The Road Goes On Forever but Party Never Ends".
The Hogsback Band, The Gerbils/Electric Gerbils These are a list of people who played with this bizarre affair; Colin Webb, Gtr - Simon Callow, kbs - Russ Brown, Bass Gtr - Roger Jones, Drums - Tim Wheatley, Bass Gtr - Wheelbarrow, Drums, who died sadly, while on a trip to Thailand. They say he died on the job. A fitting end to a very funny man. Tim Wheatley organised an album and a concert to commerorate the memory of Wheelbarrow. - Don Hooley, Gtr, also no longer with us - Pete Morrison, Gtr. Most sang or told great stories a very grey area in my life, but what a colour. Simon Callow and Colin Webb eventually became The Gerbs and then Solid Juice. Russ Brown and Roger Jones became Sonny Blacks Blues Band and then The Mighty 45's recording and touring with Angela Brown.
NYPL; John Woollard Vocals - Pete Morrison Lead Guitar vocals - Topper Clay, Drums - Karl Rylander, Guitar vocals- Lofty Reng, Lead guitar Pedal Steel Guitar - Paul Servis, Bass - Bob Doughty Bass Guitar. Back again. This time for good.
Mighty Forty Fives; The Mighty 45's were spin-off from Sonny Blacks blues Band, When Bill Boazman (Sonny Black) left, the band became as follows. Greg Wadkins then later Nigel Baggs, Lead Guitar lead vocals - Pete Northcott , sax - Russell Brown, Bass Gtr - Simon Callow, piano Hammond - Roger Jones, Drums. I played a couple of tunes with these boys once. (They never asked me back) Pete Northcott left and was replaced by James Evans anf then subsiquently Gonzo Palacious from Argentina
2000 The Gipton Gypsy's started travelling in The Yorkshire Dales. Getting anything out of a Yorkshire farmer is like trying to prise a gold tooth out of a pikeys mouth.
In May this year John died. The band effectively disbanded
In May this year NYPL did a benefit concert for John's charity, employing the services of Sam Clark on lead guitar from the band Moscow Flyer .
Topper Clay, Drums - Pete Morrison, Acoustic guitars, Mandola, vocals - Karl Rylander, Guitar vocals - Lofty Reng, Pedal Steel Guitar - Bob Doughty Bass Guitar - Sam Clark, Electric guitars. Effectively reformed.
There are lots of people in between the above dates, I've had occasion and pleasure to be associated with. Captain Russell Brown (bass player to the Pope), The Gipton Gypsies (my favourite present day Leeds band), Ali Edwards whose a wonderful sound engineer and snooker player, Mickey Kemp, who can charm the knackers off a castrated donkey. Biggest unknown who blew me away, was a guitarist from Guildford called "Duffer" who played with Mick Douglas. He played rythmn and lead at the same time on a telecaster better than anyone. They say he died in the gutter in Paris. That's Paris for you.
I must mention Jackie Lynton as my other favourite singer, John being my favourite. Jackie is one the greatest. His timing and weight on words and notes is unparralleled. Finally Topper Clay who has been my guiding black hole since I met him and with whom I have spent many an hour in many a watering hole. He was with me when I joined NYPL in 69 and he still with me now. A triumph of endurement or as my old man would say "A credit to the regiment."
That's it! Well not quite
It's May 2013 and we (NYPL) have decided to record a new album. Well that was two years ago and it's still in the process. We're still trying to get the guitar player and the pedal steel player to put their parts on, but that can be like prizing a tyre from a JCB with a pilchard. Having said that, it has been done now and we thought we would make it a triple album. Well..... maybe a Triple Sec/Margarita