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....

Zodiacs The of a Sign Talent TV.
by Pete Clemons.

AS has been widely documented recently, Coventry band The Zodiacs have enjoyed a remarkable 50 plus year career.

During that time the band has more than likely enjoyed many great and memorable moments together.

However, I am guessing that one of the biggest highlights must have been back in 1977 when they made an appearance on the television talent show 'New Faces'.

New Faces was famously associated with the 1970s where it ran for six series and was revived again during the 1980s for a further three series and was, arguably, the equivalent of what Britain's Got Talent stands for today. It was originally presented by Derek Hobson and the acts involved were evaluated by a panel of experts. The show was recorded and produced at the ATV Centre, Birmingham. The show also created a minor chart hit for its theme tune 'You're a Star!' performed by singer Carl Wayne, formerly of The Move.

Four judges make up the panel of experts who would discuss the acts. Contestants received marks out of ten from the four judges in three categories such as presentation, content, star quality and entertainment value. The act that had generated the highest total of points went through to the next round and ultimately a grand final.

Of course the programme would have a mix of praise and criticism and the most notorious of the critics were Mickie Most and Tony Hatch; this pairing was particularly renowned for being hard and brutal on the contestants. 

The line up of The Zodiacs at the time they appeared on the show was Maurice Redhead (vocals and tambourine), Terry Wyatt (lead guitar and vocals), Steve Jones (bass) and vocals and Jim Wallace (drums and vocals).

To gain entry to the show The Zodiacs first had to audition in the foyer of the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham along with another dozen or so groups. The song they chose was a Steve Jones /Rod Bainbridge (Rod Allen of The Fortunes) four-part harmony composition titled 'Last Night We Called it a Day'.

During the audition Maurice had been playing claves, a percussion instrument which are essentially a pair of thick wooden dowels, and because his hands were occupied he had his tambourine between his knees. This style of playing was more for practicality rather than effect but the production team loved it.

The result was that immediate interest was shown in the band by the auditioning team. However, The Zodiacs were told that it was good news and bad news. The good news was that they would definitely be on the show, the bad news being that the production team could not say when.

As it happened, The Zodiacs appeared on the first show of the sixth and final series of the 1970s which was aired during September 1977. Also appearing alongside them were singer, and eventual winner of the show Sandy Ann-Leigh, comedian Mike Marsh and several others.

They set up their gear on the Tuesday, the show was recorded live on the Wednesday and it went out on air on the Saturday. As I mentioned this was 1977 and this was the year of the Queen's silver jubilee. For the show the band were dressed accordingly in patriotic red, white and blue. Jim Wallace even took delivery of a brand new premier drum kit in similar livery.

Drummer Jim was on a precarious elevated platform behind the band. At about five feet square this part of the stage was quite small and was at least four feet off the ground. It does not sound a lot until you are perched right on the edge of it sat on your drum stool, belting out the groove and falsetto harmony part. Not only that, but, a cameraman hovered around him on a hydraulic platform.

Despite the encouraging start to this journey by the band, on the night the panel - made up of Mickie Most, Sunday People TV journalist Hilary Kingsley, agent and producer Peter Pritchard and DJ Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart - were not won over by The Zodiacs. 

Although Hilary Kingsley mentioned the band in the same breath as The Tremeloes and The Hollies, she did say that she "found herself distracted by the tambourine playing".

Peter Pritchard said "nothing about the song made it sound any different" from numerous other bands around at the time. Ed Stewart's quote was "I might forget the song but I will never forget the tambourine player". And finally Mickie Most mentioned that the song was old fashioned but not old fashioned enough. He would have been more impressed had the style of the song been from the 1950s and not the 1970s.

To me it was all rather hurried but as far as the awarding of points went The Zodiacs received a total of 60 out of a possible of 100. This was broken down as follows: 18 for presentation, 20 for content and 22 for entertainment value. And, for their efforts, the band was each paid PS12 per minute appearance money.

Sandy Ann-Leigh who, as mentioned, won the show triumphed with a cover of Leo Sayers's song 'When I Need You'. She received maximum marks. Sometime later she would then go on to become better known as Maggie Moone and host her own TV show called Name That Tune.

In 1980 she also participated in A Song for Europe which was a qualification competition for the British entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie sang a song called 'Happy Everything' that finished as runner-up in the competition.

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 !!!"

No comments:

Post a Comment