“Une Pause Dans Le Temps”
By the autumn of ‘64 we were getting local bookings (the word ‘gig’ had yet to reach the Essex coast) in places such as the Aldersgate Sport and Social Club, owned by the London Rubber Company who had a local factory. Amazingly, this is still there! We acquired a second-hand 30 watt Selmer guitar amp which Richard H converted into a PA and which I plugged into as well. Our repertoire was quite varied (Jim Reeves’ The Blizzard via The Stones/Beatles/Searchers into Howlin’ Wolf) and we were billed as an ‘R&B’ band - this was real ‘rhythm and blues’, not the anaemic R&B of today.
Spurred on by our successes, we were soon playing at local parties and clubs. By the beginning of 1965, we had a fan club (organised by Mick Pallot and Ruth Cox), which was issuing membership cards and other ephemera. Some of this has survived and can be seen in the following memorabilia pages.
Somehow, we managed to get booked by the local Town Hall as support on some major local concerts. On January 23rd 1965, we were support to The Spencer Davis Group with Steve Winwood on guitar and piano. He stood in the wings watching our set - no pressure there, then! Also on the bill were pop-art pioneers The Mark IV, who later became The Creation and had a seminal influence on the psychedelic movement of Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and others. The guitarist, Eddie Phillips, prowled the stage using feedback with his Gibson 335 and AC30. I remember rushing from the dressing room to see what the heck was happening. This unearthly sound was completely new to us, but was later employed by bands such as The Who and Small Faces. He also used a violin bow on his guitar, which was a trick later used (some might say ‘stolen’), by Jimmy Page. Another anorak fact is that the bass player was John Dalton who joined The Kinks later that year.
A few months after this triumph, we found ourselves supporting Them with Van Morrison. He had a separate dressing room and travelled independently from the rest of the band, who were not impressed by this, to say the least. The keyboard player was the late Peter Bardens, who found fame subsequently with Shotgun Express (with Rod Stewart, Peter Green & Mick Fleetwood) and, more importantly, Camel. A vivid memory was that the guitarist with the band (his name I don’t know, but he played a blue Jaguar), was electrocuted because Them’s roadies had wired the amps into our plugbox by winding the bare wires around the pins of our plugs. The earth had come loose and touched the neutral. I didn’t witness it, but heard the ‘boing’ as he and his guitar hit the deck after he completed the circuit between guitar and microphone. Today it’s unbelievable that it could have been allowed to happen. H&S and PAT requirements do have their uses. Fortunately he survived (unlike Alex Harvey’s brother, Les in Stone The Crows some years later), but when he returned to the stage he did look very pale…
During the Spring of 1965, we would regularly rehearse on Friday nights at a youth club at St James’s Church, in exchange for free performances about once per month. This was very useful practice and where I met my great pal, Tony Jones. After all these gigs we secured regular bookings in the summer at holiday camps in the Clacton area. For gigs that were further afield, for example, Brightlingsea Sailing Club, we sometimes travelled in the back of Paul’s father’s dark blue furniture delivery van. With no seat belts - no seats in fact. This is something else that you couldn’t do today, but it felt very rock’n’roll at the time. Amp-wise at this time I was using the ubiquitous Linear Concord valve amp with a treble-booster and huge home-made 2x12 cab. I think that Dave used the same type of rig for the bass. Later I was somewhat unexpectedly and strangely loaned a Vox AC30, which I used for several months until one day it was re-possessed by its genuine owner, who wasn’t the person who had lent it to me! I replaced it with a nasty all-tranny piggy-back Selmer 2x10 amp, which I hated.
Although Paul left us at some point during 1965, we continued as a three-piece, gigging regularly until Richard Higgins left for Imperial College in 1966, whereas I stayed on in Clacton for another year.
During that time, Dave Henderson and I joined forces with Tony J and we recruited a local drummer, Jim Brown, to form The Southbound Blues Band. By now we were heavily influenced by the ‘Blues Boom’, especially by John Mayall assisted by his guitarists Eric Clapton and Peter Green, but we also found time for the harmonies of The Zombies (for example The Way I Feel Inside) and later made attempts at some of Hendrix’s early tracks, such as Hey Joe.
In September 1967, I bought my own AC30 (which I still own, but which I don’t gig now as it’s too valuable) and re-joined Richard Higgins in bands at Imperial College. In ‘68 I bought my first Fender - a real red Jaguar - and also met Dave Gillbe, sowing the seeds of French Lessons and many other bands since.
Subsequently most of us played together again in various combinations over the years and hopefully, as long as we are still able, we still will! Richard Gleave, September 2012, edited March 2020
The Blue-Berries Richard Gleave’s memories (2/2)