Thursday, November 28, 2013

Peppermint Kreem

The story of  Coventry band Peppermint Kreem is a little complicated, involving a number of bands and line up changes but Pete Clemons has managed to unravel the band's history for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph - his 60th article not including the 24 Rock of Ages listings for the paper.

Peppermint Kreem has fan page on Facebook with lots of photos and such like

The other Coventry bands include Makeshift / The Plague / Dr Slagg's Confessions and at least 3 versions of Peppermint Kreem and associated bands New City Sounds and The Motion / Revolution.
CLICK the Links to read more about these bands and view some of the photos etc.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Matadors

Pete Clemons looks at 60's Coventry band - The Matadors for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph.
(Now includes new update from Sound Off.)


700 gigs but no LP from The Matadors
Pete Clemons

THE expression 'they were a hard working band' has been used many times before in numerous articles and not least of all within the subjects that I write about. But if the number of gigs played during a career equates to how hard working a band is seen to be then 'The Matadors' can rightly claim to be up there with the very best of them.

The Matadors were made up of Neil Tyson vocals, guitar, harmonica, Dave Finlay organ, vocals, Dave Colkin bass, vocals, Harry Heppingstall drums and were formed in 1962. Actually early dates had them down as Larry Spain and the Matadors but for whatever the reasons Larry left the band after a few gigs fairly early on in the bands career.

During almost six years in existence from when they first got together through to their eventual demise in 1967 The Matadors had played well in excess of an astonishing 700 gigs in the region. And this amount of live work did not include other dates and bookings away from Warwickshire.

Admittedly the earliest of those gigs were played at venues like St Georges Ballroom in their home town of Hinckley but nevertheless the 600, or so, gigs that this band played within the Coventry area is still an incredible and highly impressive number.

The band received an early break in 1964 when they were signed by Harold Davison who was also the manager of the Dave Clark Five and the Applejacks. He managed to get the band down to Decca Studios in London where they recorded six of their own songs along with another that Decca Records themselves had selected. 1964 also saw The Matadors tour Scotland where, according to their personal manager Mike James, they went like a bomb. The same year they also appeared with Billy J Kramer on a package tour down the south of the country.

The Matadors used to also go down a storm at the Coventry Flying and Country Club out at Baginton. So much so that, along with bands like Johnny B Great and Goodmen and The Echo Four they would be given pleasure flights out of the nearby airport.

Such was the band's popularity that during 1965 The Matadors won a poll organised through the Coventry Express newspaper. Thousands of music fans had filled in their printed forms and posted them off and the group found themselves as the clear winners. Runners-up being The Little Darlin's while actually the biggest surprise of that poll, which had been for beat groups, was that Coventry's own Irish show band had made it into third place - The Pat Gissane Show Band.

This is how The Matadors' victory was reported at the time: 'The winners of the Express poll, The Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stage work and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday" - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The "Mats" do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony - on an Ivy League kick'.

1965 then saw the band sign up with top independent record producer Joe Meek, the man who had produced several million selling hit singles including 'Telstar' made world famous by The Tornadoes. All the signs were good as a clutch of songs were recorded. Enough in fact to make three singles. However, a year later not one record had been released.

The Matadors moved on after their personal manager, Mike James announced 'we can't wait around for ever'. The whole experience made the band and their management unhappy and totally disillusioned with the music industry.

After the well publicised delay and the band's response The Matadors first single was leased by Meek to the Columbia Records label and was at long last released during January 1966.

The 'A' side was titled 'A Man's Gotta Stand Tall' with the 'B' side titled 'Fast Cars and Money'. Its matrix number was Columbia DB7806 and the lead song can still be found even today. It is on a CD called Joe Meek - RGM Rarities Vol. 2: The Beat Group Era. 

The Matadors called it a day in 1967 and soon after Neil Tyson and Dave Colkin formed a band called Magazine along with lead guitarist Nick Mayne and drummer Steve Talbot.

In keeping with the blues and soul fashion of the late 1960s the band adventurously incorporated a brass section.

Magazine seemed to pick up where The Matadors had left off by way of many visits to venues such as The Walsgrave and The Red House pubs. Despite always being on the verge of recording I don't think it ever happened. Magazine remained active until the mid 1970s.

Meanwhile drummer Harry Heppingstall joined groups like A Band Called George and jazz rock band Wave who had a residency at the Earlsdon Cottage from 1972 through to 1973. Wave then evolved into Khayyam, another jazz rock/progressive band, who featured lead guitarist Chris Jones and appeared a number of times at The Golden Cross.

It has always been my understanding that Khayyam did go as far as recording an album, although I have never heard it and therefore cannot verify this story.

However it seems that, if the tale is true, then the band never got the right deal in order to release it offi-cially. Which seems to be a never ending trend for the band, and all those involved with them. Bad luck and wrong deals was the story of The Matadors' career really.


The Matadors update

It was an absolute joy to attend a recent ‘Sounding Off’ event at the Coventry Music Museum. The talk, hosted by Pete Chambers, was with the remaining members of 1960s beat band The Matadors. And it really was fascinating to hear, at first hand, the memories of these guys.

The passage of time had clearly eroded away some of the detail, but it was like seeing the formation of a jigsaw puzzle, as each of the band members each had their own individual memory and by bouncing those pieces around themselves the more complete the story became.

Originating from Hinckley, The Matadors spoke initially of their influences such as Elvis Presley and The Shadows. Although drummer, Harry Heppingstall, emphasised that his background had been in jazz. After a short spell as being known as The Rapiers, by 1962, they had settled on The Matadors, namely Dave Colkin bass guitar and vocals, Dave Findley rhythm guitars and vocals, Harry Heppingstall on drums and the late Neil Tyson on lead guitar and vocals initially lined up in a similar fashion to that which The Beatles also adopted.

The band clearly remembered the night at the Orchid Ballroom when they were top of the bill to The Kinks. The Kinks, at that time were a fledgling band who had recently come to the attention of the then ballroom manager Larry Page. But The Matadors mentioned that they still felt uncomfortable at heading up a show that included a band from London and offered to reverse the rolls and let The Kinks headline.

Inevitably the Joe Meek story came into conversation. The band recalled how things appeared to be fine when they initially signed for the independent record producer. But a year later they found themselves still waiting for a single to be released. It got to the point where a spokesman for the band had threatened to ignore their contract with Joe and set about joining a major company direct. The band had cut three discs with Joe and as yet none had been released.

Talking about the experience ‘We went down to his flat come studio in London. Joe was very arrogant and not at all willing for suggestions. He had Dan Findley’s piano keys fixed a certain way in order to get a sound he wanted’. The Matadors even received one of Meek’s infamous a tongue lashings.

After much delay the single was leased by Meek to Columbia in 1966 and local sales were strong. The ‘A’ side was titled ‘A Man's Gotta Stand Tall’ with the ‘B’ side titled ‘Fast Cars and Money’ on the ‘B’ side. The Matadors themselves much preferred the ‘B’ side though. Soon after producers Tony Hatch and Andrew Loog Oldham both became interested in the band.

1965 saw the band expand itself musically and this is how it was reported in the Coventry Express ‘The winners of the Express poll, the Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stage work and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older ‘pop’ hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside ‘Everyday’ - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The ‘Mats’ do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick’

Another memory the band touched on was playing The Walsgrave Pub one Christmas day evening. They hardly saw a soul on the journey between Hinckley and Coventry and had visions of an empty venue. That was until they arrived at The Walsgrave and saw the huge queue of people waiting to get in.

As the bands reputation grew, so did the travelling, and so did their connections. As such The Matadors were able to drop the names of some very famous performers who they had crossed paths with. Eric Burdon, for example, cited the band during a tour of Scotland with The Animals as being one of his favorites. They mentioned the genius of Stevie Wonders whose use of diminished notes and the black keys on a piano was something they had not seen or heard before. Along with Georgie Fame they even had an impromptu jam with him. Mike Pinder of Moody Blues fame however was a bit standoff ish.

It was a wonderful hour or so that had clearly been much enjoyed by both band and audience.

Also see the post on the Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands
which includes some youtube of the band and more photographs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Not Strictly Folk- The New Acoustic / Open Mic Nights

In this article, Pete Clemons takes a look at the new acoustic sessions in Coventry for the Coventry Telegraph. Names like Kristy Gallacher, Cliff Hands and Emma McGann are mentioned along with others.

Find out more about these artists and the acoustic and folk scene in Coventry from the 60's to present on the Hobo Magazine site Coventry Folk Club Scene

Dave Bennett
One of the long standing champions of contemporary folk and singer songwriters was ragtime guitarist Dave Bennett, whose daughter, Sarah Bennett and son Stephen Bennett have been active and very competent players on the Coventry acoustic circuit. Dave was a mainstay of the Rude Bare Folk Club and the Old Dyers Arms Folk clubs in the 70's and was the first to encourage Pauline Black (then known as Pauline Vickers) as a performer in his club before she joined The Selecter. Latterly he was one of Kristy Gallacher's guitar tutors. Dave was active both as an organiser and performer right up until he passed away (actually in a folk club!). You can read more about him on the Hobo Folk Club Scene blog here and listed to some of his music.

Justine Watson has been one of the main organisers of acoustic venues in Coventry, starting at the Golden Cross, the Escape bar and the Tin Angel and is a fine performer and singer songwriter herself.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


This time around Pete Clemons delves back the very early 70's and catches up with a band called Barnabus, who have recently reformed, for the Coventry Telegraph.

Drums - Tony Cox
Lyricist - Les Bates
bass - Keith Hancock
Guitar - John Storer

"The rock band Barnabus formed in 1970, in Leamington Spa, when pop covers band the Jay Bee Kay Pees split. Lead guitarist John Storer and bass guitarist Keith Hancock, enrolled drummer Tony Cox from the also recently defunct Rockin' Chair Blues Band. Barnabus started out playing covers from bands such as Black Sabbath, Trapeze, Deep Purple, to name but a few, but before long they progressed to writing their own numbers, with the help of a young lyricist/poet called Les Bates. They played all over the local area and in London. They were the support act for several "name" bands of the time - Man, Edgar Broughton, Trapeze. They even supported Hawkwind at the Coventry Locarno, and in 1971 recorded an album at Monty Bird's studios, in Snitterfield near Stratford Upon Avon. Barnabus won the Midlands heat of the Melody Maker Rock & Folk contest, in 1972, where the judges were Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. The band eventually split up a year later, but reformed for a few charity gigs in 2009. All the members now play in other bands, but still play the occasional gig together. The band were promoted by their booking agents as Barnabas Legge although the band stuck with Barnabus themselves."

Some Text from the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands

"Band Name Tony Cox has cleared up the confusion about the name of the band. The band's name was Barnabus but
" Barnabas (sic) Legge was the name our booking agents tried to persuade us to use, unsuccessfully!" Says Tony.
On the Broadgate Gnome site and originally on here there was an entry for both bands names as it wasn't clear if they were two bands with similar names. The spelling of the name was different too. Thanks for that clarification Tony.

Tony Cox explained
" Keith, John & I formed the band in 1970 following the demise of our previous bands, The JBKP's(K&J) and The Rockin' Chair Blues Band (me).

We started out as a rock covers band but soon started writing original material, aided by lyricist Les Bates. We had a bit of success, as well as the Melody Maker thing, we supported a several "Name" bands of the time, such as Man, The Edgar Broughton Band, Trapeze and Hawkwind.
The band split up in 1973 but got together again 3 years ago to play a few reunion gigs, mainly for charity."

Leamington based rock outfit. Played the Walsgrave 31st Dec 1970 and Tuesday 26th Jan 1971 (Silk Disco). Won Melody Maker 'National Folk/Rock Contest' early 1972. In 1970, as can be seen from the above advert in Broadgate Gnome, they played Henry's Blues House at the Mercers Arms. Just a few of their many gigs.

Tony Cox adds " The demand for 60s/70s original prog rock is not great and so we don't gig that often!! However John & Keith play in a 60s "pop" band called the JKPs and are always busy in the Leamington area. Keith and I also play in a Bob Dylan tribute band called The Bob Phillips Dylan Rhythm Band which gigs occasionally, but Dylan music is also a bit of a niche market. So to keep busy, I also play with a blues rock outfit called Hoochmongers, and our bass player is the very same Martin Johnson from The Rocking Chair BB days!! so we've gone full circle"


An early version of America by Barnabus

More tracks on Youtube by Barnabus - click through Apoclypse 1971 Resolute 1971 War Drags 1971 Don't Cry for me Lady Perdita Clasped Hands Gas Rise Mortal Flight

And you know, there maybe even more - versions from 1971 and recently on youtube.
Look up the Hoochmongers and the individual muscians too.