Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Zodiacs (Coventry band)

From Broadgate Gnome "

circa 1962 - now - Beat group - Line up: (early) Maurice Redhead (vocals), Terry Wyatt (guitar), Graham Peace (guitar),
Nigel Lomas (drums).Wyatt joined The Sabres. Recorded 4 tracks at Midland Sound Recorders. Also associated Steve Jones, Olly Warner. They appeared on New Faces in 1977 singing the Steve Jones / Rod Bainbridge number Last Night We Called it a Day. The Zodiacs are still a going concern after all these years."

From Pete Chambers - Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat
" One of the hardest working bands in the area. They have been together nearly 50 years. Were one of the first few rock n roll bands in the city."

Pete Clemons has been consulting the stars again and has traced an alignment of Coventry musicians from the birth of Coventry music scene that appeared on TV in the 70's via New Faces. His latest article in the Coventry Telegraph takes a look at the music of the Zodiacs - a Coventry band that legends tell.of....

The Zodiacs 2009

From Pete Clemons - Coventry Telegraph
The ZODIACS were formed in 1959 by singer Maurice Redhead and Nigel Lomas. Also in the band were Terry Wyatt and Graham Peace.

Maurice and Nigel had met at a rock ‘n’ roll club during 1958 called The Drumbeat Club on Lockhurst Lane railway bridge on the Holbrooks side. It was a cellar club beneath a coffee bar.

Nigel would get up and sing there and have an occasional go on the drums. The only people I remember who also performed there were Mick Van de Stay, a singer and guitarist Jim Smith.

At this time there were only a few coffee bars that had music. The Milano on Radford Road and The Domino, Gosford Street, were two of them.

In 1960 when Eddie Cochran appeared at the Gaumont Cinema during January, he actually called in at the Milano after the show. The Zodiacs, incredibly, still perform today.

Nigel Lomas takes up the story: “I played drums for the Zodiacs from 1959-1962. The venues we played included: Collycroft Club, Bedworth most Thursdays; Newdigate Club, Bedworth, most Tuesdays; St George’s Hall, Nuneaton, most Saturdays, the Ritz cinema, Longford, on the odd Friday night or Sunday afternoon; the Stag and Pheasant, Lockhurst Lane, Sunday lunchtimes for about one year, maybe more, I cannot remember.

Other groups sharing the bill during these times were: Vince Martin and The Vampires, The Atlantics, who played at the Domino coffee bar, Gosford Street, Johnny and the Rebels, Max Holliman and the Guitarnos who were from Nuneaton.

“I left the Zodiacs in 1962 and was replaced by a very good drummer called Ron Cooke."


19th Feb 2009 Coventry Telegraph

LOOK around at today’s bands and can you really imagine them still together in 50 years time?

Can’t see it myself, but back in 1959 some budding young musicians probably would have laughed at you if you had asked them the same question.

The amazing thing is those youngsters are still together and still called The Zodiacs.

Half a century on and two of the original members of the band Maurice Redhead and Terry Wyatt, are still out there playing, along with Terry Rye and Brian Bayton. Tomorrow night at Christ the King club, Coventry, Vince Holliday’s annual Backbeat Call up the Groups concert will be dedicated to the Zodiacs.

The band will perform a special set, that will include former members.

Terry said: “It’s been a great 50 years and we are looking forward to the next 50.

“We have made some good friends along the way and played with some top people. We are really looking forward to seeing many of the people we have played concerts for. We are hoping to have a lot of the past members on stage and take it from me, there’s been a few over the years.”

The band got together in 1959 when Cliff Richard was beginning his career as Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly died and Eddie Cochran was riding high with C’Mon Everybody.

Meanwhile, The Zodiacs who were Maurice Redhead, Nigel Lomas, Olly Warner Terry Wyatt and Graham Peace in those days, just had their first proper gig at the Stag and Pheasant on Lockhurst Lane.

They earned ‘50 Bob’ plus whatever was they had collected on ‘The Tray’ from Sunday lunch time sessions.

Local clubs beckoned and the band began to play the likes of The Stanton, Cox Street and The Limetree Walsgrave.

In 1977 the band were spotted by the producers of TV’s talent show New Faces. They appeared on the show singing the original song “Last Night we Called It A Day” composed by band member Steve Jones and late Rod Bainbridge of the Fortunes.

The show was full of problems, including a light failure during their number.

When they did get to play the show’s producer liked the way front man Redhead played the tambourine between his legs!

Against the band’s better judgment, the producer persuaded them to all do it and predictably they were savaged for it.

The comments they received that day did nothing to diminish their enthusiasm and the band continued to go from strength to strength.

Tomorrow’s concert starts at 8pm and entrance costs £1. Also on the bill will be 60s favourites Woody Allen and the Challengers, Johnny Ransom and the Rebels and the Mad Classics and the Phoenix Rock n Roll band.

Zodiacs 1964 Memorial Hall

Sound clips from a gig in 1981 featuring Terry Wyatt, Maurice Redhead, Steve Jones and Jim Wallace.

Comment from youtube 

"They bring back great memories from Fiday nights at the London rd club,Cov. O' happy days !!!"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Coventry's Rock n Roll Cafes

Pete Clemons winds down with an 'Expresso' and the Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran style) for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph. This time around, he takes us on a tour of the Rock n Roll Coffee bars and cafes in 1950's Coventry - but don't tread on his Blue Suede Shoes!!

Two sugars and a gig please!
Pete Clemons 

THE coffee bar boom began in Britain during the early 1950s with the arrival of the first espresso machine in Soho, London.

Essentially cafes, they were Italian or American themed and full of amusements like pin ball machines.

Eventually coffee bars became an alternative to the teenage youth club and were ideal for use as meeting places for the like minded youngsters who would hang out in them.

In greater London alone over 500 of them sprang up during the early Fifties and throughout the rest of the decade. And they did not just stay in London as coffee bars continued to spread throughout the UK.

They were mainly independent which gave them that individual and unique touch. They were furnished with the cheapest Formica or plastic products available, they were rough and ready and yet, for more than twenty years, coffee bars were full of life, music, humour and were incredibly popular places.

They touched all the major towns and cities the length and breadth of the country seemed to have them. And Coventry, with its apparent abundance of coffee bars, was no different.

Despite a negative attitude towards them, by the elders at the time, coffee bars and cafes became significant places and played an important role in the birth of, firstly skiffle, then rock 'n' roll and also the mod/rocker culture within the UK.

In fact the arrival of rock 'n' roll in the UK led to a lot of coffee bars becoming exclusive to and revolving around that genre of music. Some began to set aside an area for a juke box in order to play the new hit singles. There may even have been an area for dancing and maybe even one of the many bands that were now springing up influenced by this exciting form of music would get up and perform live in one.

In Coventry during the late 1950s and early 1960s there was quite a variety of cafes and coffee bars along and around Gosford Street. A good few of them were sympathetic and supportive of this up and coming music scene. Some that spring to mind were The Domino, The El Cabana, The Rendezvous, Gigi's, La Tropicale and The Sorrento.

Other significant coffee bars about at that time, and in other parts of the city, that also catered for music included The Beaker on Beake Avenue, The Portofino Expresso on Primrose Hill Street, The Godiva in Jordan Well, The Corner Cafe and The Dreadnought both on Radford Road.

And then there was The Bridge Cafe on the railway bridge where Lockhurst Lane and Holbrook Lane meet. It has been mentioned that it was in this venue that one of Coventry's earliest bands, The Zodiacs, were formed in 1959 by singer Maurice Redhead and drummer Nigel Lomas. A cafe with a similar name still exists on the bridge today.

The pair had met there in 1958 at a rock 'n' roll club held at the Bridge Cafe called The Drumbeat Club. The club itself was situated to the rear and downstairs under the bridge and it was an incredibly music friendly place as it attracted musicians and singers.

Another important coffee bar venue was The Milano on Radford Road. I have it on good authority that Eddie Cochran visited the venue after the concert he and Gene Vincent had given at The Gaumont on the January 28, 1960.

The Milano had a very lively music scene with regular live appearances by bands like Ronnie Wilde and the Wildcats, Clive Lea and the Phantoms, The Zodiacs, The Vampires and The High Cards.

It used to advertise regularly as 'the cafe bar with a difference'. The place even had a house group named after it, The Milano Rockers.

But where this cafe would really excel was when, for example, a name artist was visiting the city. The Milano would get them to appear at The Milano during that afternoon prior to the main gig that they had been in the city to play. This happened when Georgie Fame, for example, was due to play an evening show at The Rialto and when Johnny Gentle played at The Banba Club and I understand that this happened on several other occasions.

Don Fardon remembers well, a cafe, which used to be up on Ball Hill. It was called Margaret's and was across the road from St Margaret's Church. In fact the building now known as the Churchill Hotel, the Old Ball Hotel and Margaret's Cafe were all owned by a Greg Rogan. This one stayed open late and was frequented by a lot of groups used to frequent Margaret's.

I mention the word cafe as opposed to a coffee bar. The best way I can describe the difference was that a cafe sold full meals as well as tea, coffee and sandwiches where as a coffee bar was more of a specific business where you could only buy coffee along with maybe cakes, pastries etc.

Another reason for mentioning those distinguishing features was because, as Mod culture took hold of the country in the early 1960s, it made a great deal of difference with the Mods tending to prefer the coffee bar while Rockers generally preferring to hang out in cafes, in particular transport cafes.

The landmark roadside transport cafe known as 'Bob's caf', out on the A45 at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, was a particular favourite with the bikers. Always open until the early hours it attracted bikers from far and wide. Abandoned for almost twenty years, it served up a great atmosphere as well as a tremendous breakfast. Now flattened and currently with a new building project in progress I bet it holds a lot of memories for some.

A few years ago the Coventry Transport Museum reproduced London's iconic biker's cafe, 'The Ace Cafe', for a summer exhibition it was running. It also defined what cafe's meant to teenagers of 50 years ago.

And even today the cafe culture still exists. Maybe not so many of them but they are still there. The indoor market has several and the 2-Tone centre on Ball Hill is even one that combines music and good food.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Porcupine Tree

Well, Pete Clemons has chalked up 50 articles for the Coventry Telegraph with this article!!! Well done Peter.

This is not a Coventry band but Coventry comes into the picture at some stage and is favourite band of Pete Clemons, who has chosen to focus on them for this landmark article. It's an amazing musical story as the band didn't even exist at first but....(no spoilers I'm afraid - read the article..).

Much more from Porcupine Tree and Steve Wilson on youtube.......

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bob Jackson's tribute to Badfinger's Peter Ham

Bob Jackson
The latest from the pen of  Pete Clemons - covering Bob Jackson's tribute concert for Badfinger's Peter Ham in Swansea. Bob Jackson was the the leader of the RCA Neon Coventry progressive band - Indian Summer - late 60's early 70's. He went on to play in bands by Alan Ross, John Entwhistle, Pete Brown and eventually, in 1974, joined the Apple label band Badfinger. Pete Clemon's article appeared in the Coventry Telegraph recently.

Peter Ham

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Johnny B Great (Johnny Goodison)

In this post Pete Clemons turns his attentions to one of the earliest of Coventry musicians who made a sizable impact on both the Coventry music scene of the 60's and the music business itself. Johnny Goodison - also known as Johnny B Great. This is that article from the Coventry Telegraph.

More on the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands

Johnny B Great and the Goodmen - 1st two singles available free download here

Johnny Goodison playing If I had a Hammer

One Mistake - Johnny Goodison

Johnny B Great and the Goodmen