Over the years, there must have been several young hopefuls who dreamed of pop music stardom, to a lesser or greater extent; so how many of them got together to form a band or group and even risked peer exposure in public performance? Please get in touch if you can help towards adding more info/photos and recordings.
New section: Recordings
WANTED - recordings of the College's skiffle, rock and/or pop bands through the years. Please let us know if you have tapes, cassettes, discs or CDs [What about wax cylinders for the 1950s lot? - Ed.] We have the technology to convert them to MP3 format for inclusion on this web site.
The Gable Gators
The first known popular music outfit to set feet tapping on the College site were the Gable Gators, formed from members of the WW2 231st Station Hospital hospital staff and named after their Commanding Officer, Colonel Linwood M. Gable. They played at dances all over East Anglia, and supported the Glenn Miller Band when they visited the USAAF Attlebridge airbase, near Norwich. The orchestra was noted for "its great variety of of styles in dance music with sweet tunes, jump tunes, rhumbas and waltzes most outstanding."
This photo was taken on 14th October 1944
College Skiffle Group
Mike Herring writes: "Our Skiffle Group group was formed in about 1956, when Lonnie Donnegan first came out with his Skiffle hit 'Rock Island Line.' You may or may not remember that Lonnie Donnegan's skiffle group was in fact the rhythm section of Chris Barber's traditional ('trad') jazz band, where Donnegan played banjo..
We got back from the Summer holidays with this 'new' music fresh in our ears, only to discover that George Watson could actually play guitar - sort of! He spent a whole evening teaching Bryan Newman and myself to play so that we had three guitars, tea chest bass, washboard and drums. 'Playing' the guitar involved tuning it to an open D chord and then two-finger chords gave us the associated 7th and major (A7th and G).
At the 1957 Revue Dave Turner 'Fats' Watson in the 'Club'
The band members were George ('Fats') Watson, myself and Bryan Newman on guitars, Dave Turner on tea chest bass, Roger Fiske on drums and Ossie Osbourne on washboard. I notice from the photo that all except George wore black sweaters with yellow arm stripes and at least three of us had Tony Curtis hair cuts. I can assure you that this was very risque in 1956! The music was all of the skiffle standards of the time, which I later came to recognise were stolen straight from various American coloured blues singers."
Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O!
From left: Bryan Newman, Ossie Osbourne, George Watson, Dave Turner, Roger Fiske, Mike Herring
Editor's notes: For our younger readers, a TEA CHEST bass was based (!) on the standard 3 foot cube plywood box, with attendant silver foil lining, tea leaf residue and tin plate edges that laddered many a groupie's nylons. One corner was given a strip of wood to anchor The BROOM HANDLE, cut to length to suit the height of the player. At the upper end of the broom handle was tied one end of the STRING - literally that, or fishing line, piano wire, w.h.y. The other end went through a hole in the centre of the tea chest and was retained by a mechanism of your choice. The string was plucked or slapped with all 4 fingers and was 'tuned' by either sliding the other hand (with string) down the broom handle, or altering the tension by pulling on the broom handle itself. It didn't make much difference, as the sound was mostly percussive.
The WASHBOARD was inherited from those halcyon days before the existence of washing machines (or even electricity), when Mums everywhere used them in the wash-tub to pound the crud out of the family's laundry & then removed excess water with the aid of a mangle. Hence: 'Eeee, I haven't laughed so much since Granny caught her tits in the mangle!' Once
stolenborrowed from the said Mum, four metal thimbles were similarly acquired and were fitted on the finger-ends of the playing hand. 'Playing' the washboard was accomplished with a strumming motion.
Lonnie Donnegan also made it with 'My Old Man's a Dustman,' 'Putting on the Style' and the evocatively-titled 'Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight' - I kid you not. My own 60's drummer ended up in Donnegan's backing band in the early 70's and reckoned he was an overbearing and egocentric little twerp (or at least the four-letter equivalent).
As someone once said "it wasn't an era of great musicianship but by cracky, it was fun!"
Were there two skiffle groups? John Chapman remembers a band practicing in the cleaner's cupboard in Dorm 34 in the late 50's & believes Paul Timms was on the Tea Chest bass. John isn't sure whether Paul was in 34 with him, as it was a mixed NSEW house for the first year of his Grammar school course. He might have come from the junior side of West house which was next door, past the covered way which went down to the High Street, Boiler house and Canteen [that would be 32 - Ed.]. 'Choppy' Peacock played the piano in the Club (121) and he was brilliant!
The Timms Brothers"My brother Paul, who you refer to as on tea chest bass [above] was indeed housed in West House and moved up to the senior dorm when I arrived at the junior West house dorm in 1955. I think the two of us sneaked the tea chest into the cleaner's room, where the elderly occupant slept most of the time, and would accept any inconvenience except us walking onto 'his' polished lino floor with shoes."
The Timms brothers - Brian and Paul - pictured in 1956. Paul played the rhythm guitar and featured with Paul Wrench on piano, playing 'Those Hydrogen Blues' backing a small singing group in a musical review written by P. Wrench. circa 1958. [Is that Mr Thornley on the tympani? - Ed.] Another review photo: NK, Robin Smith, brother Paul on guitar, Terry Flood, Ben Galloway also on guitar, NK, David Allison?
The College Jazzmen
..... existed in the early part of the decade and were led by Brian Timms. Dennis Herrell kindly provided this photo, taken in the spring of 1961:
Left to right: Trevor Tolliday, Trevor Corless, Jim Douglas, Mr Bonzall, Brian Timms (trombone), Terry Sparrow and Graham Howling.
I have just read your rock & roll site for the first time, and there I am playing trombone in 1961! The members of the band were: 'Yad' Tolliday, 'Corky' Corless, Jim Douglas, Mr.Bonzall, 'Spud' Sparrow on drums ( just a snare drum, all we could afford !) and Graham Howling on piano, and of course me on trombone. Mr.Bonzall was a supply teacher I believe, from South Africa, where he had played trumpet with a local ethnic band. He was a very experienced and competent trumpeter and in reality, lead the band.
The orchestra played the daily hymn at assembly, very good practice, and in latter days I usually managed to fit in the occasional improvised riff, carefully hidden but much to the amusement of other of my band members, who could hardly keep a straight face, or carry on playing!
Shortly after leaving WC I had to give up trombone because of respiratory problems. However, a few months ago I decided to try my first love in musical instruments, the tenor sax, and now have lessons from a renowned Russian lady teacher, Svetlana Parr. After just 8 months I am on grade4 and intend to join a band within the next 18 months playing the music of Gershwin and others of that period. I originally wanted to play the sax at WC, but as it wasn't classed as an orchestral instrument, the school would not buy one, so I had to settle for trombone and play in the school orchestra. I certainly could not afford to buy my own.
Just to bring you up to date on the Timms family; Pauls' son Duncan plays bass guitar with "Dogs", who used to record with Island Records and toured with the likes of Razorlight, still very active but more so in the club scene. My eldest son played rhythm guitar in a local rock band, for a short while and all of my grandchildren are reasonably competent musicians, from a mean jazz pianist through to lead guitar in a local school rock band.
If our rapidly declining memories come up with anything else interesting, I will be in touch,
'The Group With No Name'
Merv Boast and Jim Douglas had already been playing in a Yarmouth group, The E-Types, for a year or so when Herb Atkins bought his first solid body electric guitar and smuggled it into the College on return from the 1962 Autumn half-term. Like minds attracted and the three began putting a modest set of instrumental numbers together. Drummer Brian Perry was recruited to make up the (then) standard 'group' format and the un-named quartet made their first public debut at the Valentine's dance in Butler Hall on 16th February 1963.
It was difficult to assemble a complete drum kit, so Brian's basic kick-drum, snare and hi-hat were supplemented with a kettle drum 'borrowed' from the School orchestra. Recollections are of an entirely instrumental set, so the presence of 2 mikes is rather puzzling. I think this number was 'Shadoogie.'
Funny looking bunch of roadies .... Miss Mair (left) and Miss Colls (centre). Keith Skipper is down in front, eyeing the camera.
After some lobbying, permission was granted for a return to the Butler Hall stage on Saturday 13th July. This allowed the band to polish their act in preparation for a VIth Form Revue, which ran for 2 nights in Tomlinson Hall on 16th & 17th July 1963. They appeared as The Shudders - what would be referred to as a 'Shadows' Tribute Band these days!
|Waiting to play in Butler Hall on 13th July 1963.|
| From left: Jim Douglas (bass), Herb Atkins
(rhythm), Brian Perry and Merv Boast (lead).
That's when Brylcreemed quiffs were de rigeur!
It was a great success, due in part to a chorus of screaming girls led by Enid (Watson) and Hilary (Dewhirst) - thanks pals! The group also joined up with music teacher Paul Wrench (on piano) to form the pit orchestra and hammered out a rockin' 12-bar Overture to get the Revue underway each night.
|Playing the guitar duet 'Nivram.'
Jim's Burns Sonic short scale bass and Herb's Hofner Colorama are both feeding a home- made amp and 2x12 cabinet. Merv's Colorama was coupled to a more sophisticated outfit comprising a Bird combo and a Watkins Copicat tape echo unit. Brian's modest Premier drum kit was (I think) on loan from Pete Bush.
Looking back, it's amazing how the band managed to achieve any sort of standard. Merv, Herb & Brian were all in York House, which was probably the least relaxed of all, in those days. Housemaster Jack Hawkyard's strict regime imposed a total ban on radios, record players and especially GUITARS. It became a cat & mouse game, smuggling instruments between the House & clandestine locations down in the warren of Nissen huts (mainly a Hut 23 side room). Merv & Herb were able to have 'unplugged' practice sessions most lunchtimes and used free periods in the library to learn tunes with the aid of fret-marked rulers!
At the end of the 1962/63 school year, Jim left for Leicester University and created a vacancy in the Yarmouth E-Types. Herb "but I've never played bass" Atkins was nominated for the position, swapped his Colorama for Jim's bass in November 1963 and, after some furious practising, gigged with Merv and the other 2 E-Types for the first time at Christmas that year.
The E-Types wangled two gigs at College dances in Butler Hall on Friday 10th and Tuesday 14th July 1964 (thanks, Mr Boothroyd). The first was exclusively for the Upper VIth (tickets 3/- (15p)) and the band were supported by Pete Bush's Stormers. The diary notes: "Stormers broke 4 strings and had bad distortion. We started at 8.40pm. Vocal amp packed up after about 5 numbers, during Do You Wanna Dance. Fab reception." The following Tuesday, tickets were 1/- (5p) and things couldn't have gone too well, because the diary just says: "Played at dance for the masses. Not very good reception. Went down the Buck afterwards." Ah well ... it's only Rock & Roll!
Jim Douglas designed the Human Body exhibit's sound system for the Millennium Dome ....
Brian Perry has had the odd gig in jazz bands, over the years, as a break from playing polo ....
Merv Boast has just bought a Fender Stratocaster ...
Herb Atkins was a part-time amplifier and guitar technician until this web site took over his life ...
Photos by Andrew Kapherr and Chris Smith
The Beat Routes
Al Dean, Mike Betts, Duncan Jones and Richard Fuller formed the Beat Routes in 1964, but suffered bad luck at the outset. One Sunday morning they were practising in the Model Club pre-fab, when in walked Ken Bowman (probably) and the instruments were confiscated until the end of Term. Despite the initial setback, the band persevered and played at the 4th Form Christmas Dance at the end of the year. The set list included the Animals 'House of the Rising Sun,' and the Four Pennies' 'Black Girl' - played & replayed about 16 times, as the repertoire was limited!
"In order to play at the York House '64 Xmas party, we realised we badly needed a singer, or at least someone who could sing better than us four (not difficult). So we recruited Andrew Latten, who was singing in the school choir. The trouble was that as a choirboy Andrew tended to sing in a very English idiom - he'd sing R'n'B lyrics as "Oh, yes" instead of "Whoah, yeaaahh"!! However, after a few weeks of intensive therapy we convinced him that he was a black bluesman from the Mississippi Delta instead of a white schoolboy from rural Norfolk. As a result, he did a very convincing Mick Jagger impersonation!"
Photo coming soon!
Jazz Band c. 1964
Didn't Russell Stone have a jazz band at about the same time? He went on to join the Black & White Minstrels after leaving school. I know someone who'll be gagging for a photo, Russell (don't panic Judith, I won't tell him who ...)!
Canterbury House Band (mid 60's)
Roger Lincoln (drums), Al 'Nobby' Knobbs (guitar), Errol Bryant (left-handed guitar) ....
Un-named Mid-60s Band
John Head and Bill Peterkin of Salisbury were both keen guitarists and are still gigging - forty years on! Bill left in 1965 and John left in 1969. Bill writes: "Just as a bit more info, I played drums in a band with Al Knobbs on rhythm, Colin Burdett on bass and a left handed lead guitarist called Erroll Bryant. We played at the 5th form Christmas party in 1964. Al Knobbs and Erroll Bryant were both in Canterbury and I think Colin Burdett was in Gloucester."
Gloucester Band (1967)
From the 1967 College Magazine's report on the very first Mair Cup competition that Easter: Gloucester's 'group' had been the talk of the College for weeks, perhaps because the nature of its 'sound' had made secret rehearsing ineffective; in the event, it won enthusiastic applause from the audience and praise for its professionalism from the adjudicator.
This might have been an early appearance by some of the people mentioned below, or perhaps the events related on this page as happening in 1968 actually took place a year earlier.
Earthworks & antecedents (late 60's)
"Earthworks was a band put together in 1967 for a performance at the York House Xmas Party. It featured John 'Bonzo' Langham on guitar, John Dunn on bass and Duncan Jones on drums. We held our first acoustic rehearsal in my room, with me drumming away on a desk. However, we forgot that it was above the Housemaster's study. The said HM, Mr. Doughty, burst into my room, having spent half an hour wandering around York House looking for the source of the noise. And like his initials he was MAD!! Bizarrely, the thing that annoyed him he most was that Bonzo Langham (who was not a member of York House) had not asked permission to be in my room! It was typical of the prevailing attitude, that playing in a group was viewed as unsavoury as practising to rob a bank. However, unlike the Beat Routes first rehearsal, we kept hold of our instruments (me & JD got house detention instead), and the performance at the Xmas party went well. I left WC a week later, so it was a good note to go out on."
[The 1968 College Mag mentions the Xmas party (with Wakefield) and refers to the band as 'The Jay Dee Ensemble' - Ed.]
"Can I add a little to the recollections of Duncan 'Bones' Jones? I remember a few things differently (although a lifetime of substance abuse may have distorted things somewhat). The performance at the York House party on 19 October 1967 with Wakefield (or was it Winchester) was my first gig. Although we were already rehearsing with John Langham, he wasn't in the group - it was me, Bones and John Head, a singer/ guitarist imported from Canterbury House. Our set consisted of "The Game of Love" sung by Head, "Under My Thumb" sung by Bones and "Walkin' The Dog" sung by me. We weren't very good, it has to be said, and were immediately upstaged by Mr Harris doing a turn on ferocious boogie piano. Jones and Head were easygoing and mature people and I was the difficult prima donna. Sorry for being so obnoxious to you, Bones. Although the House Captain John Gant jocularly named the band "The Jay Dee Ensemble" for that reason, its real name was "Ministry of Love!" A couple more things - the gloriously named Stephen Human was the bass player in the Gloucester House group [mentioned below]. I also remember Salisbury House's entry featuring an impassioned rendition of "Sunny" by Eric Gough, who did several Norwich gigs with the early Earthworks in 1968-69 and has had a long career fronting Norwich bands such as Four Wheel Drive."
John had an article published recently in a Sixties music magazine "Let Me Take You Down" ("after they had rendered it unrecognisable by sub-editing and dumbing down!" says John). There is a copy of his original submission here.
"In the annual music competition - the Mair Cup - in 1968, Gloucester had zero talent so instead of choirs, violin ensembles and all the other crap, we fielded just a three-piece rock band of John 'Bonzo' Langham - lead, Chris Lea - drums and one other - possibly Colin Burdett - on bass [or Steve Human; see John Dunn's note above - Ed.]. They played two extremely loud 12-bars - 'Stepping Out' and 'Cat Squirrel ' by 'Cream' if I recall. [Francis Wright believes that 'Quartermaster's Stores' was another number, and remembers how the bass guitar was played through a film projector's amplifier on one occasion]
At the end of their 'set' all the pupils gave a standing ovation, something which was just not done in the Mair Cup, where polite clapping was the expected form. At that point, several housemasters stormed out in protest, led by Mr Worrall. The judge, who I think was Mr Mair actually praised the group, although we didn't win. The winners were the wimps of Canterbury who did a twee choral 'Sound of Silence' by Simon and Carbuncle and a few other things. Seeley, our housemaster, felt very embarrassed and was livid. He would have liked to have stormed out as well, but could not really walk out on his own House, although I'm sure that he was tempted! He just sat there with his arms folded, glaring - with his eyebrows twitching as only Seeley could. He was most definitely NOT amused!
Next year I was appointed House Music Captain (I had no musical talent, but was having piano lessons, so it was a fair cop). Seeley told me that on no account was there to be a repetition of last year. I said 'No, of course not Sir.'
Realising that without our star turn we had even less talent at our disposal, I chose a choral rendition of the worst off-key song I could find; to whit 'The Minotour's Song' by the weird hippie group 'The Incredible String Band' we managed to suitably crucify what is a pretty dire song in the first place, and threw in some feedback at the end for good measure (God, what rebels we were!). The judge had no idea at all what to make of it all, or the stunned silence by the audience at the end of our rendition - no standing ovations for us that year. Actually, that may be the year the widely-tipped Canterbury 'Sound of Bloody Silence' group and all the rest of their acts won. Seeley was suitably furious once again! Job well done!
In a house photo that year, Langham and Lea stood with 2 fingers subtly showing on one hand of their folded arms, having placed themselves on either side of Seeley sitting in the middle of the front row. When the pics arrived they were sent back to the printers to have the offending 2 fingered salutes blacked over. Langham and Lea got beaten by Seeley of course and we just wet our fingers and removed the blacking from the photos. [the 1969 Gloucester House photo is here - Ed.]
Langham , Lea and John Dunn (J.D.) of York House played semi-professionally around Norwich as 'Earthworks,' and very good they were too.
I also recall when we booked the heavy blues/rock band Free for £90 for two 45 minute sets for the school dance. They were just getting famous then and we reckoned it was something of a bargain. But then Jimi Hendrix played the Orford Cellars in Norwich for seven shillings and six pence (old money of course [equivalent to 37.5p - Ed.] ). Unfortunately that doddering fool of a headmaster Metcalfe (aka Doncaster Bycalfe - as all he would talk about at lunch were his trials and tribulations on the Doncaster bypass for some strange reason) saw some publicity pics of 'Free' and said 'I'm not having those long haired yobbos in the college' and promptly tore up the Contract .... so that was the end of that."
Messrs. Langham and Dunn are still gigging as 'The Rockin' Johnnies.'
"I also remember the Gloucester House performance at the 1968 Mair Cup. We had got wind of the fact that something different was coming, and when they played, the whole student audience was rockin' .... Then, when results were announced at the end, disapproval was expressed in the same enthusiastic manner. I seem to remember that when the band was setting up, each level check of the guitar amps was interpreted as a 'false start' and marks were deducted accordingly. The whole competition lost a lot of credibility from that point on."
Steve Larwood was part of the 'The Minotaur's Song' ensemble. Ian reminded him that he broke the skin of the kettledrum during practice for their 'tasteful' recital and John responded .....
"God's teeth, the Minotaur song - 'straight from the shoulder' etc.! I did indeed do that (break the kettledrum skin) but it got a band-aid on it so that was alright! <grin>. You may not know I managed to win Mr Seeley the Mair cup about two/three years later, for which I got Head of House as just reward ... at least that's how I see it now, 'cos I think I had no other attributes of note (I got slung out for xxxxxxxxxx [censored - Ed.]). I didn't know about the earlier rock band stuff which explains why Seeley was so pleased when we won! I remember your name, but as a plebe I was not allowed to gaze upon your face. <grin> memories eh?"
"The school had an annual music competition. Generally tedious. One year it was great. The Gloucester entry was a rock band called Earthworks, consisting of John Langham (lead guitar), John Dunn (Bass) [he was in York, so ineligible? - Ed.] and someone else on drums. As I recall they played “Stepping Out” and some other blues numbers very loudly. They were excellent. Some of the teaching staff walked out & most of the others were really pissed. The crowning glory was when the head of the judges, who was not on the school staff, asked Earthworks to play an encore! If I remember rightly, the Canterbury entry was Tim Warren and Tiny Johnson doing a cover of John Mayall’s “Marsha’s mood”. Excellent guys."
"Speaking of the Mair Cup, I remember the last one I was in where, after a particularly lugubrious rendition of Beethoven's 7th, the Norwich House band, with me on what I think was Fritz Wright's bass, launched into 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Money.' The Housemaster, completely unaware of what we had planned, cowered in shame and was very snotty about it afterwards. Just a bit of fun and the audience loved it - typical WC response."
Pelvis Parsley & the Shufflers
The Gloucester/Winchester entries in the 1973 Mair Cup included Pelvis Parsley & the Shufflers performing 'Death Cab for Cutie' composed by Stanshall/Innes (from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band album 'Gorilla'). The band comprised:
Andy "Sam" Rowland (Piano)
Roger Keeley (Pelvis)
Steve Larwood (Drums and "prime conceiver" of plot)
Three unknowns on backing vocals
Michael Evans (?) played the compere
Rehearsal in the 6th Form Centre; Dougy Walters on guitar, CJ Burton on drums and Kev Shippey on bass guitar Tomlinson Hall gig 1977; Kev & Dougy.
Iain 'Sid' Sidey: "You may want to add The Popes, a memorable addition to the stable of punk bands, eventually consisting of C.J. Burton (drums), Kev Shippey (bass and backing vocals) and Dougy Walters (lead guitar and lead vocals). They were in action in 1978-79 and had a memorable concert in the nissen hut next to Fry Hall."
Mike Arnott (New Hall 1973-78, Lincoln 79-80): "I used to 'roadie' for the Popes in the late 70's. We did a gig in Tomlinson and because I was involved with the lighting at College plays etc., I managed to get some lights for the gig. Great venue and atmosphere. There was also a gig in an old church in Norwich. It was on a Saturday night and John Peel gave it a plug on his radio show the week before. Managed to borrow some lights from College for that gig too. Practices (and possibly another gig) were held in the 6th form centre (flat building between the staff houses and the tennis courts). Songs I remember include a plaintive Dougie Walters special called 'Pity the Native' and a mad thrash number whose only lyric was 'Oi!'.
Kev Shippey (Peel 1972 - 1979): "Great to see the band the Popes mentioned on Rock and Roll page of the website. I have many fond memories of playing music (badly) with the rest of the guys, CJ and Dougie. Where are you now? Fancy a jam?
(There) was another WC band fronted by the now famous Mark Strong with me playing bass. I cannot remember the name but we did all get together at the end and form a band called Private Party. Never the same as the Popes but fun all the same. Mark Strong's best mate was Steve Frewer - I think he played drums.
Believe or not I am still travelling up and down the country playing in a semi-pro band."
Click here to see Kev's present band (he's at extreme left).
CJ Burton (1972-79): Just been re-reading the section in the Rock and Roll performers area about our old band the Popes, thought I'd fill in a few of the blanks from my almost total recall of that time (hopefully!).
The Popes were formed as almost a direct result of a gig in Tomlinson Hall that someone somehow managed to get permission for, featuring two punk bands from Norwich called The Toads and The Victims. We all went along dressed in our best Punk gear (safety pin supplies were at a premium, and shirts were ripped - we didn't really know what to wear!) This was all good fun and very inspiring, we'd never seen anything like it!
The original Popes were me on Vocals (!!) Kev Shippey on Bass, Dougy Walters on Guitar and John Barker on drums. We hurriedly knocked a few songs together (our first song ever was called "The Pope's Funeral") and did a gig in the room usually used for the Folk Club ( I think it was somehow attached to the Sports Hall ). This proved a total disaster musically, with me forgetting the words and everyone else being hopeless as well, but was such a laugh that we had another go a few weeks later, this time with John on vocals and me on drums, which actually came across quite well in a very amateur sort of way.
We used to practice in the Sixth Form centre using some old amplifiers which were part of the school equipment, which for some reason they let us use (good old Mr. Entwistle!) on condition we were available to set them all up at events like Final Assemblies etc. Tragically John Barker was killed by a truck or something while out on his bike one afternoon. We were setting up for a band practice when we heard the news; put a bit of a damper on it for a while but we decided to carry on (it was what he would've wanted!) with Dougy taking over the vocal duties. I still have a tape of some of those practices, hopefully one day I'll get some of it on MP3 for you all to laugh at.
We only did a few gigs, one of which was at some Church hall in Mile Cross in Norwich, and Mike Arnott and Sid Sidey were indeed our faithful roadies.
Later on we decided to join forces with the school's other Punk band, the Electrick Hoax (Mark Strong, Ed Brown and Steve Frewer) after Ed left, forming the new Supergroup Private Party (the idea was that no-one would come to our gigs because they'd think it was a private party). We did one memorable gig in the Sixth form centre, and even went into a studio to record what would have been a single, meant to be an EP with another group from Norwich called Silent Noise - I remember the studio man didn't really know what a punk band was and made it all sound too "nice". A tape also exists of Private Party practising; we'd smuggled in some beer and were getting worse and worse as the afternoon progressed. I hope to use it to blackmail Mark Strong with at some point.
Unfortunately, A-Levels took over and then we all left School so the band petered out, but I'll always remember my Musical Roots. I was in several bands after I left school, and went on to become a House and Techno DJ in Norwich clubs in later times.
Mike Jervis writes: "I thought you might like to know about a band who played one WyColl gig in - I think - 1978. The Lost were Jeremy Spackman - Guitar, Julian Simpson - Keyboards, Roy Bolton - Drums and Mike Jervis - Bass and Vocals.
Billing ourselves as Norfolk's only Punk Band (oh the Urban Angst!!!) we played in the Sports Hall one Saturday night at the behest of our "promoter" Mr Seeley. There was another band - whose name and personnel escape me - who opened for us. Our set was greeted with - no kidding - screams (I can only think they were in pain). We never played another gig, though we did get offered a support slot at Peoples New Wave Night Club which is near where McDonalds is now in Norwich. Unfortunately Roy had a History 'A' Level the next day so we didn't turn up - we were the punk band that did care."
Mental Gymnastix performed in concert at the College in the 1980/81 school year.
"Mental Gymnastix were formed in 1978 and the members were Barley Laing (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Ciaran McCloskey (Rythmn Guitar/Vocals), Daren Cook (Bass) and Tim Howes (Drums). It would be great to hear from anyone that attended the gig which was in 1980 and was held in the sports hall. The the other band was Screen 3."
Idle Jack and Eva Valve
Idle Jack and Eva Valve were bands that appeared together on a cassette produced in the College and made available at local gigs during the early eighties. This was at a time when the 'Norwich Band' scene was at its height and although neither band made anything like the local and national impact of groups such as The Higsons and The Farmers Boys, they had significant followings at WC.
Idle Jack banged out rock (covers of Stones numbers and self-written twiddly progressive rock in the vein of Rush), while Eva Valve were more Indie (a local review 'accused' them of listening to Joy Division behind the bike-sheds). Eva Valve continued for a while after school and appeared on a compilation album of three Norwich bands called Massive.
In the same era, whilst a student in the 6th Form, Richard Kett joined local band Screen 3 as bassist. Screen 3 signed to a major and had a few minor successes in the charts (New Blood reached 34 in the Indie Chart 12 December 1981). More Screen Three info (and a link to photos featuring Richard) are at http://www.sofacom.co.uk/az/item.asp?id=55
Archie Bonneville & the Shoulderblades
Bassist and vocalist Mark Brenner (83-85 Sixth-former) writes:
"My first band at Wymondham was with Martin Plackett (now a pro classical guitarist). We came up with a name on the eve of our first concert in the Music & Drama block - Archie Bonneville and the Shoulderblades (!), featuring Ian McGregor on drums and Jane Kirby on keyboards (we all fancied her). I saved up some money, and Martin and I went down to a 24-track studio in Surrey and recorded 2 songs, "Time" and 'Every Time." I ran off some cassettes, designed a sleeve with the help of David Chedgey the art teacher, and sold as many copies as I could!
Ian and Martin were a year above me (i.e. about to leave Wymondham), so the next year I found myself playing with Leigh Gracie on drums (who is now the guitarist with Speedometer) and Jackie Utting on keyboards. Leigh had his own band at the time, Laurence and the Comfortable Society (much inspired by Lloyd Cole). When I left Wymondham, I kept playing with Jackie on Keyboards, Pete Langman on guitar and Leigh on drums, before everyone finally went their own way, and I moved on to further adventures!"
Check out Mark's current details on the Famous Ex-pupils page.
The Council of Ancients (or just 'The Council')
"Somewhere I've got an audio tape of the all-time (in our era anyway) top band of Wymondham College - the Council of Ancients featuring Mr Lockwood's son Rob on bass guitar (last I heard he was marketing manager of the Arts Centre in Norwich). I'll try and dig out all I can for you and will scan and email accordingly."
From the 1985 College Mag:
The Council of Ancients (Robert Robinson, Robert Lockwood and Sharif Sharif) and their avid supporters — all the worse for wear after the previous night's gig at the 'Louis Marches:", looked forward to the trip to Peterborough with hopeful expectancy. For Peterborough was the venue for the regional finals of the T.S.B. Rock School competition. The 'Council' under the supervision of 'road manager' Mr Derek Williams, made their way to prepare for the day ahead while the rest of us followed on later in a bus provided by courtesy of the T.S.B.
The competition was held in the Main Hall of Peterborough Technical College, and on entering the hall we were confronted by the 'Council' on full volume. Were we too late? Unfortunately not, as we had to sit through six other sound checks and numerous technical hitches before the competition got under way. The Council were the first and on and, judging by our noise, there was no doubt in our minds who was going to win, regardless of the other entrants. However, we were to discover that some of the judges were not so convinced. Their first song was 'Fiction', written jointly between them, and stating their views on politics. This was followed by 'Mother Talk', another of their compositions, depicting their views on life in the army. To fill the allocated 1 2 minutes they finished with 'Pulse', a cover version of the Psychedelic Furs number. Throughout the act the two Robs flung themselves around the stage while Sharif used his own method of movement to keep the audience's attention. As the dying notes of 'Pulse' rang out, Rob tumbled over backwards, legs astride in the air as a final gesture.
Now eager to leave the limelight, the Council began to walk off, only to be confronted by an inquisitive compere who asked what would they do with the £2,000 prize money if they won. Rob Robinson replied, "Buy some more stuff", and this put a premature end to the conversation.
Six other groups had to be endured before the results would be known. The other groups ranged from folk to heavy metal, synth pop to Big Country rip offs. Throughout these acts we let our feelings be known in the appropriate manner.
The waiting was over and the judges found "Forbidden Fruit", the folk group, the winners, the Council were not awarded a place and the judges' comments ranged from excellent to predictable. However, the band felt they had gained from the experience, and that it had been worthwhile.
Featured Leigh Gracie - more info needed!
Formed by Leigh Gracie and included Geoff -------? on guitar - more info needed!
Lawrence & the Comfortable Society
This band was featured in the 1986 College Magazine (a two-page spread) and comprised Leigh Gracie ('Lawrence'), Nick Hardy, Sarah Dimmer, Jeffrey Powell and Chris Wyatt. "This year has seen the rise to fame of Lawrence and the Comfortable Society with several gigs both inside and outside the College, culminating in the climax of 'Lawrencemania' at the Mair Cup."
"Interesting that you should have a focus on Lawrence and the Comfortable Society this time around. I remember sitting in the audience of the Mair Cup watching them perform. They were electric and put on an event that showed that they had real magic about them. Lawrence was dynamic and a real entertainer that night. He certainly knew how to woo a crowd and demonstrated that he had the knack to go very far in the entertainment world.... well, I thought so at the time. The students enjoyed the event and I recall that I, as a member of staff, had to contain my enthusiasm for his performance so as to retain a dignified perspective.... but I wanted to rock with band.
It may be of interest to you that I still have the single that the group produced and I wondered if you would like borrow it so as it could be downloaded from the site. It that possible? It's in vinyl form and I do not have the technology to convert it into a MP3 format. The A side is called 'Sleeper' and the B side is called 'Heartache'. On the back cover it has the following credits:
Leigh Gracie - voice, guitar
Nick Hardy - guitar
Jeff Powell - bass
Chris Wyatt - percussion
Sara Dimmer - keyboard
On the label it says (c) Liegh Gracie (not my typo; that's what it says) Producer: Howard T."
The tracks are on the Recordings page as MP3 files.
Leigh Gracie is at present with Speedometer (http://www.speedometer-funk.co.uk/). We received this from an old friend of his:
"Leigh Gracie and myself renewed contact a couple of years ago, and on the back of this I came along to see his funk band Speedometer in London last autumn. A great band, but what transpired after they had played 3 or 4 tracks bears testament to the popularity of his earlier outfit - Lawrence & The Comfortable Society. Slowly - and initially almost inaudibly - you could hear people beginning to chant: "Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence". Speedometer played on for a couple more songs, but in the end the chanting for Lawrence grew impossible to ignore. Leigh laughed and said "OK guys, let's give them what they want!", and the band proceeded to knock out a 50-minute set of old Lawrence & The Comfortable Society numbers! The place went crazy; I've never seen so many people dancing. Leigh admitted afterwards that he was surprised at the popularity of his old songs, but it had been exhilarating to play them again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a full-blown reunion!"
Tracks 'Small Beginnings' and 'That's Love' are in MP3 format on the Recordings page (originally issued on music cassette and lent for copying by Steve Fox).
"Natural Instinct was the original line-up of the June Recruits (below) before things went a bit pear shaped – I’m not sure how one band led to the other but the tape was entitled 'Small Beginnings' and the insert was interestingly made from black and white photographic paper. All these guys were in my year – 1981 to 1986 and - although my memories are a bit sketchy - were Robert Wylie (New Hall) and 'Gaz' (New; can't remember his surname) on vocals, Dan “DOB” Bates (Kett) on lead, Graham Jordan (New) on Bass, Marvin George (Kett) on keyboard and Jim Cook (Kett) on drums. The photowork was done by Andrew Carey (New)."
"Dan Bates was called DOB because they were his initials, which was small comfort for the five years of sniggering he had to endure every time a letter arrived addressed to 'Master Bates' – a nice bloke though and I don’t recall a time I ever saw him without a smile. As for Marv George, he was an extremely talented guy who could play a keyboard with incredible skill; I remember being extremely envious listening to him on his synth and he once lent me a keyboard which had a ‘teach yourself’ function where the keys would light up when you were supposed to press them as it played a cheesy backing version of ‘Morningtown Ride.' I was RUBBISH!"
The June Recruits
This band formed in the Spring Term of 1987 and was featured in the 1988 College Magazine. Members were Antony Jones (vocals/rhythm guitar), Daniel Bates (lead guitar), Graham Jordan (bass guitar) and Jeremy Trett (drums). They came second in the area finals of TSB Rock School and recorded several tracks that were sold on cassette and disc.
Steve Fox still has a signed 7” single featuring the tracks “Rape” and “And She Sells.” They have been converted to MP3 format and are on the Recordings page. Thanks for the loan Steve.
Government Health Warning
Emerged in Lincoln Hall - more info anyone?
The Bone Idols
The Bone Idols made an appearance at a 6th Form 'Alternative Social' in 1990. Richard Barnes writes:
"I am contacting you as I was at Wymondham College for 2 years 1988 – 1990 as a day pupil in the 6th form. I was just looking at your WCRemembered website when, under the Rock n Roll section, I noticed small note on the Bone Idols playing an alternative social. Well, I was the lead singer and so was wondering if you’d be interested in a few photos, not particularly good ones I’m afraid, but they’re the only ones I can find at the moment. No 1 photo is us rehearsing at UEA for a gig, the 2nd is me aged 17 during rehearsals (a lot more hair!) and the 3rd is us all relaxing in a graveyard, as you do. The line up was me (Richard Barnes) lead vocals, Matt Lacey Lead Guitar, Mark Setchell Rhythm Guitar, Nick Mayhew Bass and Justin Simms drums. I’m still in contact with Matt. I also have some dodgy old tapes of a gig we did in the sports hall on 1st April 1990 and I think one of the alternative social if you are interested."
Richard has found the tapes and they have been converted to MP3 format on the Recordings page.
A Gig Night was held in the Sports Hall in the 1991/92 school year and, when the booked band failed to appear, home-grown talent made sure that the show went on. The Handy Little Fellas (6th Formers) headlined and they were supported by the other available College bands (including No Hope featuring Richard Piagessi).
Who? Allan -------
Seventh Heaven (c1993) comprised Paul Coates (vocals), Sam ----- (drums), Paul 'Larry' Larkin (presumably bass guitar) and Graham Sims (guitar). The repertoire included covers of INXS' Taste It and Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze.
Your input is needed!
Wymondham College Remembered