Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pete Waterman's Coventry Days (bands / DJ / Soul Hole)

Pete Clemons contacted me recently, to supply material and press cuttings on Pete Waterman's Coventry days, to the ITV researchers who were gathering material for the forthcoming Piers Morgan  Life Stories featuring Pete Waterman. I  copied Pete Clemons in on my e mails to the show and his wizard pen has converted that material into an article for the Coventry Telegraph. The material related to Pete's early R & B bands, early songwriting, DJing in Coventry and the Midlands and his Soul Hole shop and more. In addition to the article itself, I've added in some of the source material below for your enjoyment. 
Trev Teasdel

At the time of writing, the show is currently being recorded, Pete having been interviewed and some of the artists have been filmed too. It should go out some time soon during the summer.

This a view of the whole article but a readable version  is below.

Readable version (split in two so that the text is readable)

Pete Waterman's R & B Bands in the mid to late 1960's

The Pilgrims
This band was operating c 1965 / 66 but i have no further information about them.

Tomorrow's Kind c 1967 / 68
The line up was Pete Waterman - guitar and vocals, Keith Jackson - bass, Duncan Hall - drums, Richard Hollis - lead guitar, Paul Hatt - vocals.

They played R & B standards and Motown and possible some original numbers.

The played local gigs like the Navigation Inn / The General Wolf / The Plough and Friars Promotions used to send them all over the Midlands.

Tomorrow's Kind playing at the Navigation Inn.

Photos of  Tomorrow's Kind supplied kindly by Vocalist Paul Hatt

Here is an excerpt on 'Tomorrow's Kind'  from Pete Waterman's bio  I Wish I Was Me 

" By 1965 the whole Beatlemania phenomenon had gone barmy........for a while at least I was in a band called Tomorrow's Kind who actually looked like they might have gone on to be famous. They didn't, of course, but we did pick up a bit of a following and we started gigging three or four nights a week while I was still holding down the day job at the GEC. That continued for a couple of years but I eventually  realised that I didn't have any genuine talent. I could fake it like buggery, but I was never going to be top of the charts. 
One night in 1966 we were playing a gig and one of the other bands didn't turn up, so I dashed home, got my records and played them before the band came on. Now no one really did this at that time and the Landlord of the pub where we were playing said he really liked it. He offered me 10 bob to come back again and play records the following week. This wasn't some kind of complicated system, it was a record player with a microphone next to it going through the PA, but for 10 bob. I wasn't about to complain. So by a quirk of fate, I went from being the lead singer in a not very good band to being the only DJ in Coventry. ....I began to play records more than I played instruments, and because I got to know the right people, I started to get people asking me to play records."
Pete's book available on Amazon - here 

Pete's DJing is legendary and there are various Coventry Telegraph articles on this blog by Pete Clemons which looks at some of the venues that Pete Waterman DJ'd at - The Locarno (Tiffany's) / Tree Tops / The Walsgrave / The Mercer's Arms - check them out in the index.

Trev Teasdel's memories - Part 1
I met Pete in 1970 at the GEC Stoke Works, Telecommunications dept. Copswood, Coventry. Pete, was the TGWU shop steward. I was 19 and putting on local bands at the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club and writing lyrics during tea breaks and sometimes during Pete's Union meetings!

In June 1970, I began writing a lyric called A Lotta Rain is Fallin' (while the boss was out!) and a workmate asked me what i was doing. Pete got wind of it and came over to see what i was doing. He ended up taking it away with him (half finished though it was, promising to put music to  it. The lyric was inspired partly by Dylan's but also Epitaph by King Crimson. I think I wanted to be a kind of Pete Sinfield (who wrote lyrics for King Crimson or Pete Brown who wrote lyrics for Cream at that stage. The next week Pete brought in a mono cassette player and played the song to me with his voice and acoustic guitar. His voice was a mix between the smooth tones of Paul McCartney and the R & B edge of Bob Dylan and he loved one of the lines "There's a lotta rivers flowin' but the sea's learned how to fly" for its imagery and repeated it in his version.  I've no idea if this was his first attempt at songwriting or if he'd written for the bands he played in but it was damn good and I completed the lyric and gave it to him. Pete promised to perform it at the Walsgrave but it never materialised. The lyric is below - not quite a Kylie Minogue song - it was 1970 and Pete wasn't world famous at that stage. 

A LOTTA RAIN IS FALLIN’ (Lyric by Trev Teasdel June 1970)

A lotta rain is fallin’, but the earth has moved aside
There’s a lotta bullets flying but the victim’s found somewhere to hide
There’s a lotta rivers flowin’ but the seas learned how to fly.
There’s a lotta clouds a wondering which rockets knicked the sky
‘cos the roads are moving fast but the cars are standing still
and so much is happening yet nothing’s ever done
Oh we want to see the light but we’re dazzled by the sun.

And some people’s only sunshine
Is their Cornflakes in the morning time
And the age of instant sunshine
In packets of bright display
I know will be dawning, in some future day.

There’s a lotta tears a fallin’, and more are being cried
There’s a lotta people trampled on as man takes another stride
There’s a lotta smoke a rising but the sky’s learned how to swim
There’s a lotta faces smiling but their hearts are feeling grim
Cos a lotta tension’s forming and the bags about to burst
There’s gotta be an answer cos the world is getting worse.
A lotta help is needed to get that truck back on the road
Cos too many people are pullin’ too heavier a load.


I don't have a copy of Pete Waterman's more upbeat version  but this Sound click link is to an acoustic version with my own chords / music and playing and with a minor chord feel. I originally envisaged melotron in it and we did do a version with modern keyboards but this is just an acoustic version with lead guitar by Steve Gillgallon of Middlesbrough) and recorded on cassette in 1981. You can hear it here - 

The Walsgrave
Pete got me to write for several local bands like Coconut Mat and some times threw ideas at me for lyrics -Umbrella club. They were mostly local or regional bands at that venue like Wandering John, Asgard (a Pink Floyd type outfit that John Peel was interested in), Pantomime (from Birmingham), April, Skid Row (not local) and many more.
one using the imagery of Chess is one I remember. He also asked me to come down the Walsgrave - a pub, where on a Tuesday night , he ran a progressive music venue and disco. For nearly a year i turned up early after work and helped Pete set up and did the door. It meant I got in free and was an opportunity to meet new bands, some of which I booked for the

While setting up he'd play many of the chart hits of the time - Yellow River, In the Summertime, Question (Moody Blues), Groovin' with Mr Bloe, Spirit in the Sky, All Right Now, Psychedelic Shack, American Woman, are a few I remember, along with oldies like Itchycoo Park and soul hits. 

Sometimes we'd go walkabout, often to collect gear - leads, mics, instruments etc before the doors opened at 8pm. On one occasion we walked up to his house in Walsgrave and another to his parents house in Burlington rd, catching the bus into town (he was highly popular even back then with all the disco fans from the Locarno waving to him as we walked through town), and then up to Earlsdon Cottage folk club to collect his flute from Rod Felton. Rod was sat out on the grass at the back with a crown and his guitar and Pete joined in on flute, playing quite melodically. The next time Pete used his flute was, as described in the article, doing the vocals on Rock me Baby with the R & B band Gypsy Lee, adding staccato, Jethro Tull style flute in the breaks. 
Pete Waterman's parents house at Burlington Rd, Stoke.

Add caption

The Locarno Ballroom - Pete Waterman's biggest residency as DJ

In 1973 Pete Waterman left the GEC and launched The Soul Hole - selling imported Northern Soul
records. At first the shop was located in cellar of a hippy boutique in Hales Street, called I Am and later, in 1974 above Virgin Records in the City Arcade. Pete gave us a Top 14 of the records selling in his shop for the 2nd Edition of  Hobo and an advert and wrote an article for us about his meet up with the Three degrees. About this time he visited the Philly Studios in US. The following are press cuttings and material from 1973 / 4 / 5.

Ad from Coventry Evening Telegraph 1973

Pete's ad for Hobo

(An article written by Pete Waterman for HOBO - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine (1974)

"As you know by now our small shop (The Soul Hole) has now moved to the top of Virgin Records in the City Arcade. Our new shop will, we hope, bring more people into the faith. We had a good time at the shop in the I AM boutique but the stock was getting too big for our small shop. The move will not, we hope, change the service that we are so proud of. The new shop will give us more room to serve and talk. Also you can stand up! (The Soul Hole was originally in the cellar of the I AM boutique with a low ceiling!!)

Anyway, down to business. As most of you know by now, I spent the 5th and 6th of March with the Three Degrees. Sheila, Fay and Valerie. On Monday the 5th I went to the Mayfair Hotel in London to see the girls do their own thing. The girls got on and did When Will I See You Again. The first thing that took our breath away was their see through dresses, but they are far from just good looking foxes. At dinner I sat with Peter Winfield (for all those who don't read sleeve notes) Peter is the cat who played keyboards for BLOODSTONE on both Natural High and their new album. For all the foxes and cats not into our faith, Pete also plays for COLIN BLUNSTONE, and writes for a National rock paper.

Pete is a soul freak like myself and we both agreed their harmonies were the tightest we'd heard for some
time. The voices were fantastic, Sheila takes the lead most of the time. The next in line was Dirty Old Man, this was fantastic, with the girls showing they can handle the audience with fun and firmness. Then they did "A Woman Needs Love" proving they can sing ballads as well as up tempo Nos. Their footwork was as good as any I've seen before, and if any in the audience weren't sold on that, the next was they're single Year of Decision. It had everybody on their feet shouting for more. But it was all over, Pete and the Colin Blunstone band went off to record the Old Grey Whistle Test, and I went to the girls bedroom to have a natter to them about their early years for all the people who knock our music- God knows why!
 (above - Pete Waterman's original article submission for Hobo Mag)
Just as a boost to our egos, David Bowie was there to pay homage to the three ladies of soul. It seems that Rock stars are getting back to their roots with Bowie telling me that he is soon to be recording with top black acts in the states and John Lennon saying Ann Pebbles I Can Feel the Rain is the best record for two years.
(Below Three Degrees - When Will i See You Again)
New Sounds to Look Out For
The Ojays new single is a track off their latest LP (as are all the new Philly singles) and is called For the Love of Money. The Intruders - I’ll Always love My Mama (2 Pts)

Trammps new single is a track off the 1970 British Motown company, picking the slower track. USA Marvin Gaye scores with his controversial single You Sure Like to Ball taken from the Let’s Get it On album. A new single soaring up the American charts from the M.F.S.B. band on Philly International is called Tsop, taken from the TV series Soul Train. The end five bars feature the 3 Degrees.

LP of the month - too many really to pick one but look out for Blue Magic and import Out Here on my Own  Lamont / Dozier. Superb LP’s. Next Billy Paul single The Whole Town’s Talkin’ .
Also check out - Rock me Baby - George Mc Crea / Help Yourself - Undisputed Truth / Dancing Machine - Jackson 5 / I Lied - Bunny Sigler / yMighty Mighty - Earth, Wind and Fire / Be Thankful For What You’ve Got - William Devaaughn / Chameleon - Herbie Hancock / Sagittarius - Eddie Kendicks / If You’re Ready - Staple Singers / Got To Get You Back - Sons of Robin Stone / Pepper Box - The Peppers

See ya soon. Keep the faith right on -
Pete Waterman (1974)

Also reported in Hobo at the time -

DAVE SIMMONS DJ of Radio Ones Saturday soul programme, dedicated last weeks program exclusively to the Philadelphia Sound, thanks to the efforts of our own Pete Waterman, who has just returned from the very place with a hoard of interviews and information about the music. Pete was interviewed throughout the program by Dave and his interviews were also aired. Next issue, providing Pete gets it together, we'll have an article on the Philly sound from the expert!

One of Pete's discos reported in the Coventry Evening Telegraph 1974

Pete Waterman's visit to the Philly sound in 1974 - source Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Soul Hole - from Coventry Evening Telegraph 1973

More recently - Pete Waterman and John Bradbury (of the Specials) at Pete Chamber's launch of one of the Two Tone Plaques at Virgin records - Coventry c 2009

Pete with his Gold Discs

Another plaque at Mr George's Nightclub where Pete DJ'd and began managing the Specials.

The Big One - Kylie Minogue with I Should be so Lucky

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nektar - Roye Albrighton

Prolific person of the pen - Pete Clemons is on the case of Nektar - Roye Albrighton's band, for the Coventry Telegraph....

Pete points out that although recently published in the Cov Telegraph, this article was written sometime ago and the the album he mentions "A Spoonful of Time", mentioned towards the end of the article, was actually called "Time machine" - so bear that in mind.

And Roye Albrighton's Nektar website is here -

More to be found on youtube!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Mighty Avengers

Pete Clemons takes a look on one of the top Coventry bands of the mid 1960's - The Mighty Avengers - in his latest Coventry Telegraph article -

More on the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands - here

Mighty Avengers - Jagger Richards song

Another Jagger Richards cover from 1965 which gave Cliff and the Shadows a hit c 1966

Monday, June 3, 2013

The General Wolf

The latest from Pete Clemons - his article on the General Wolf venue for the Coventry Telegraph.

Fangs for the memories: The General Wolfe in Foleshill

By Pete Clemons. 
The General Wolfe progressed from being a free and easy to becoming one of the most respected and iconic venues in the country.

The area of Foleshill to the north of Coventry is of the city’s oldest suburbs.

Foleshill’s growth was mainly down to the industrial revolution during Victorian times.

The village of Foleshill, albeit spelt slightly different, is actually mentioned in the doomsday book and the evangelical church of St Laurence, on the Old Church Road, is one of the oldest in the city having been originally built in the 14th century.

Another Foleshill building that has been around for a very long time is The General Wolfe. The pub appears in lists of inns and taverns issued during 1822-23.

But the building is also mentioned as being used for auctions as far back as 1793 although it was not clear to me if it was also being used as a pub or not back then.

What is more than likely though is that the current building replaced an earlier one on that site at that time. And, as such, it may never be fully possible to pinpoint the exact year when the original structure was first built.

At one time though, during the 1800s, the pub had been known as The Travellers Rest but reverted back to its original and more familiar name and remained so until it closed during 2011.

Until as recently as 2008 The General Wolfe public house had been associated with the Coventry music scene as it progressed from being a free and easy to becoming one of the most respected and iconic venues in the country and a major stop-off point for any self-respecting band.

There is little doubt that the person who set The General Wolfe on its way to legendary status, and who will always remain synonymous in Coventry music history folklore, is Ken Brown who ran the pub from around 1972 to 1983. Much has been written about the visits to the venue by the likes of The Eurythmics and U2.

But its illustrious musical history did not start there. And neither did it end after Ken moved on to the Dog and Trumpet and then, of course, set up his first incarnation of Browns Cafe Bar in the Lower Precinct.

As far back as the mid to late 1950s the pub was regularly offering cash prizes to the best singer in the pub with its ‘win a pound’ contests. Friday, Saturday and Sundays were being advertised as the liveliest place in town.

Toward the end of the 1950s the venue played host to one of Coventry’s earliest rock ‘n’ roll free and easy’s. The band that made this happen was Ray Kelly and the Freemen. The Freemen being, Ronnie Cooke, Mick Colcutt and Martin Upperdine, and who were a little later joined by Nigel Lomas.

1960 then saw the pub introduce regular music sessions along with ‘Name That Tune’ competitions and other music quiz nights that, again, resulted in cash prizes.

1963, and with the onset of the beat bands and the rise of Friars Promotions, the venue saw constant regular live bands. The Sabres, Johnny B Great and the Goodmen, Beverley Jones and The Vampires all had short residencies there.

The General Wolfe had a change of management during late 1964. Suddenly the venue was being advertised as the brightest night spot. Between then and 1966 saw not only the local bands visit the venue but it also attracted bands from further afield such as Sam Spade and the Gravediggers from Rugby and The Chicanes from Birmingham.

However, in line with what was happening nationally, 1967 saw a total musical explosion at The Wolfe. Rather than the occasional band starring there, live music suddenly became a regular weekly event as the venue staged weekly ‘freakout rave sessions’ promoted by Friars.

And as was the norm for Friars in order to encourage the punters to their venues with their many ideas, the Wolfe was now being advertised as The Wolfe-A-Go-Go.

The venue became more serene and things seemed to quieten down during the late 1960s. The General Wolfe Hotel, as it was now being advertised, was now putting on grand late night dances and such like.

1972 saw the Meath Mens Cavan Club take up residence at The General Wolfe. All of a sudden the venue had an Irish flavour as regular gigs by Irish bands such as The Cairns Trio, The New Pence and Silverside filled the weekends. I am guessing that this coincided with the start of Ken Brown’s stay at the pub.

A little later on in the 1970s, and as the area diversified culturally, the venue celebrated it and played its part by hosting many of the Caribbean steel bands that were so popular at the time.

The Tropical Harmony Steel Band certainly added a splash of colour to the venue on Sundays. But it was from the late 1970s and through to the mid 1990s where The Wolfe really hit its stride.

It was an incredible period that made it arguably the most revered venue in the region. Every
respectable band wanted to appear there.

During his tenure at The General Wolfe Ken Brown was incredibly band friendly and generous with his time and resources. And this was reflected in the way he would actively encourage local talent by allowing them to rehearse in an upstairs area of the pub at no charge.

Fledgling bands like The Specials, The Selecter, The Swinging Cats, King and many others all practised there during their early days.

The 1980s saw a phenomenal number of bands play The Wolfe. For more than 15 continuous years the venue became a showcase for the cream of local talent.

But sadly all good things come to an end and by 1997 the amount of bands playing at the venue had slowed down to a trickle. For whatever reason, The General Wolfe had just fallen out of fashion.

Great efforts were made to revive the glory days and indeed, for a while, they did return as the pub seemed to find a second wind and bounced back strongly between the years 2001-05 bringing a succession of great bands.

But again, despite some loyal support, it was not enough to make it viable.

Several attempts have since been made to resurrect the pub and take it back to its illustrious past. Some fared better than others. But sadly, during October 2011, the pub closed down for good.

Since then the building has been used in ventures as diverse as a takeaway and a convenience store and more recently a restaurant.