Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Sabres (Coventry band)

Pete Clemons now looks back at one of the top Coventry bands from the 1960's - The Sabres - for his latest Coventry Telegraph article.

circa 1963 - 1965 Source Broadgate Gnome
Formed 1960 (according to Pete Chambers) and 1963 to Broadgate Gnome!

Beat group

Line up: "Q" Martin Cure (vocals), Steve Jones (guitar), Terry Wyatt (guitar) (From The Zodiacs), Graham Amos (bass),Paul Wilkinson (drums).

Formed in March 1963 for a charity concert in aid of Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital, they were managed by Frank Jones, father of the guitarist. Hard gigging band they took part in the 150th birthday celebrations for Sir Robert Fossett's Circus, including an 8000 mile trip of Eastern Europe !. (they became only the second British group to play behind the Iron Curtain, in Czechoslovakia. (See Martin Cure's comment below).

They also appeared on the BBC's Welsh Programme, Southern and East Anglia TV .

They made demos for Parlophone although they were eventually signed to Philips by bandleader Cyril Stapleton.

From Pete Chambers Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat

" The Sabres became part of Sir Robert Fossett's Circus in 1962 and toured with it for 7 months. We did a 15 minute set to drag the older kids in and it was during the Jelly Baby craze that Ringo of the Beatles had initiated. So kids would throw tons of Jelly Babies at us! Our set was immediately followed by the Elephants and their keeper hated us because the elephants didn;t like walking on Jelly babies and it was hard to get them to perform. It was an interesting 7 months, we learned a lot of things as we were part of the circus we all had to muck in and help put the tents up. Though I don;t think we ever fitted in but it was all good press for us. Martin Cure."

Frank Jones was their manager and father of Guitarist / songwriter Steve Jones. He created some fantastic press stories, much of it unfounded. Like the one about us travelling 8000 miles to tour Eastern Europe and being the second British band to play Czechoslovakia.None of it was true but it was great press and got us noticed!"

Drummer Jim Pryal adds " The Sabres appeared on 'ATV today' and changed their name to 'The Flying Machine' shortly after. Paul Wilkinson, the drummer went to Cardinal Wiseman Secondary Boys school as I did. He was a good drummer. "


Sept 2013 - Pete Clemons wrote this article for the Coventry Telegraph

Big Top fun for The Sabres.
Pete Clemons 

SEVERAL years before The Rolling Stones had the idea of hiring a big top from Sir Robert Fossett to film their own rock 'n' roll extravaganza, the theme of a beat band touring with a circus had already been achieved by The Sabres, a beat band from Coventry who existed between late 1962 and 1965.

The roots of The Sabres can actually be traced all the way back to about 1960 when Watery Lane resident Frank Jones formed 'Watery Lane Youth Club' in an attempt to stimulate and create activities for son Steve and his friends, rather than see them hang around on street corners.

The club was based in the garage of Frank's house and initially attracted a handful of youngsters who spent two nights a week in a secure environment playing board games and being provided with soft drinks and crisps.

Another function of the Watery Lane Youth Club was to act as a safe haven for any youngsters who for whatever reason had drunk too much and needed a place to sober up before going home to their parents.

In essence, the whole place allowed kids to let off some steam and to generally have a good time.

However, word spread about the club it suddenly found itself attracting youngsters from as far as Keresley Village, the Dales in Holbrooks and even Exhall. So popular it became that some 18 months after the club formed the membership was in excess of 300 and had to be relocated to new premises in New Road just off Bennetts Road.

As a youngster Steve Jones' real passion was in music and in particular rock 'n' roll. And like a lot of teenagers back then in the late 1950s and early 1960s he was eager to own a guitar and form a band. And through the club, that his father had formed, that dream became a reality as Watery Lane Music Group grew from within the youth club with several of its members showing an early interest. As a result, it was that music group which was responsible for the birth of The Sabres.

The initial line-up of The Sabres was Steve Jones (guitar), Kevin Smith (guitar), Graham Amos (bass), Paul Wilkinson (drums) and "Q" Martin Cure (vocals). Terry Wyatt joined the band slightly later when he left The Zodiacs and was a straight replacement for Kevin Smith.

Frank Jones went on to become the band's manager and booking agent and The Sabres soon secured residencies at venues like The General Wolfe and the New Inn at Longford and built up a considerable following. And during August 1963 they headlined a gig in the Lower Precinct which, due to a huge downpour, was dubbed as 'Rockin' in the Rain'. Despite the horrible conditions the crowd that gathered was tremendous.

Apart from gigs gained in Coventry The Sabres were now securing work in places like Morecombe, Skegness, Mablethorpe, Stoke-on-Trent, the 2I's coffee bar in London and on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

Steve Jones recalls the Isle of Sheppey gig well as it seemed as though the whole of the youth club had followed the band down there in a convoy from Coventry. And don't forget these journeys would take six or seven hours to complete as these were the days of the trunk road and long before the M1 and other motorway routes had been completed.

January 1964 even saw The Sabres perform at a special 'Coventry Sound' concert held at Coventry Theatre. Although headlined by Brian Poole they featured alongside the likes of The Mighty Avengers, The Mustangs, The Matadors and several other top Coventry bands.

TV work also came the band's way as they appeared on a programme called 'For Teenagers Only' recorded at the Birmingham TV studios.

April 1964 then saw The Sabres embark on the circus tour that kept them on the road for seven continuous months. The tour came about from responding to an advert in 'The Stage' magazine.

Sir Robert Fossett's circus had clocked up 150 years that particular year and to help celebrate the occasion a special tour had been devised. And this particular tour required a beat band to open for the main event and to entertain the teenagers.

The Sabres were judged to have been the best of the 33 bands that had applied for the position by the general manager of the circus Harry Allison. As the band was considered a part of the circus they were also expected to muck in and help put the tents up and muck out the elephants and lions.

The circus began in Wales and toured the whole country from April through to the end of October 1964. The deal was that The Sabres would complete a 15-minute set but as the tour progressed and the band's popularity increased, their performances would run for much longer and in front of audiences of upwards of 3,500.

During its travels the circus picked up considerable TV coverage.

And The Sabres appeared on the BBC's Welsh Programmes well as Southern and East Anglian TV.

The Sabres already had an established fan club prior to the circus tour. It was run by a fan in St Giles Road, Exhall but as the tour progressed so did the membership as it was inundated with letters. At its height the fan club rose to over 4,000 members. Steve Jones' mother also proudly kept a scrapbook packed with clippings and photos of her son's activities.

Such was the success of the tour and the publicity that surrounded it meant that, when they returned home, the band received an official welcome by the then Lord Mayor, Tom Whiteman on November 2, 1964. The Sabres had been advised not to take their instruments as the council house parlours were not big enough. But this advice fell on deaf ears as Graham Amos took his bass guitar along and the Lord Mayor was photographed with it.

Circus manager Harry Allison also confirmed that The Sabres had had a fantastic reception up and down the country and, in an attempt to bolster his and the band's reputation, made up some amazing stories. One in particular was about them travelling 8,000 miles to tour Eastern Europe and being the second British band to play Czechoslovakia which was then behind the iron curtain. Of course none of the stories was true but it made for great publicity.

After the circus tour, the bookings didn't dry up entirely, but the work was not there as it had been beforehand. They did get some gigs at the Boston Hippodrome in the run up to Christmas '64 and there had been talk of a tour to Germany which never materialised. 1965 saw The Sabres back at the New Inn and the Heath Hotel. They had also gained summer season bookings in Morecambe, Lancashire.

However, mid-1965 saw Terry Wyatt return to The Zodiacs. With dates to fulfil the band regrouped as a four-piece and found a new name 'The Peeps'. Suddenly the whole image of the band changed as they went from wearing suits to wearing denims and their next adventure began.

Nowadays Steve Jones, who also spent time with Pinkertons Assorted Colours and The Flying Machine, no longer tours but his passion is still apparent as he is happy joining in on improvised jamming sessions at either his house or at those of his musical friends.

Wyatt also in The Zodiacs. They Became The Peeps in 1965.


  1. Hi, I grew up with paul Wilkinson in Rock Close, Bell Green. His direct neighbour was paul Grove whom I still see. In 1962 PaulWilkinson was only 14 years old I think. I wonder what he is doing now. Tim harris

  2. Hi Tim, Pete Clemons asked me to say "I will go and see Steve Jones who lives nearby, and I will enquire on Paul Wilkinson"