Sunday, November 21, 2021

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Blogspot is part of the Hobo (Coventry Music and Arts Magazine) archive run by Trev Teasdel.

Hobo was a Coventry music magazine c 1973 - 75 and the archives of the magazine and Hobo workshop and the general music scene of the 70's was originally on Vox blogs c 2007 until recently. Vox closed and the site is being redeveloped and rearranged here - it's still in progress so bear with us.

Photos of the Coventry Music Museum run by Pete Chambers
Do visit the museum if you are in Coventry - website

This Blog
This Hobo blogspot (one of a few) was created by Trev Teasdel (former co-editor of Hobo magazine) who admins the site. This particular was created for Peter Clemons (aka Fred Bison) for his Coventry music Scene articles originally written for the Coventry Telegraph. Pete Clemons has a huge database of hundreds of gigs in Coventry from the 60's to the present. Both professional acts and local bands. He has had over 100 articles published in the Coventry Telegraph which, on his request, we've collated here and  have linked them with further material from the Hobo magazine archives.

NEW - Coventry Book Launch Documenting the Music and Entertainment Scene of 1970's by Ruth Cherrington. The Dirty Stop Outs Guide 1970's Coventry.
Available in Coventry from Waterstones and HMV or from Amazon UK here 

Hobo magazine and Workshop are well featured in the book as are many of the photos from the Hobo Archive pages here.Both Pete Chambers and Pete Clemons make a good contribution to the book as well.

  • Early posts on here - if you scroll right down - are Pete's Rock of Ages Posts - gigs in Cov through the ages since the early 60's to present.
  • Later posts are about important music venues in the city and their history.
  • Other posts are about Coventry bands from the 60's onwards.

Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at  BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire January 2016

Links to the other Hobo Coventry Music Archive sites 
Coventry Music Scene from Hobo - This is the Hub to all the sites below

Hobo - Coventry Music Archives This is the main Blogspot for the Coventry Music Archives from Hobo Magazine with archive material from Hobo Magazine and other Coventry music magazines, feature articles and other documentation. This site is still in development.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club
The archives of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which was opened in 1955 by the Goons and where some of the Two Tone musicians started out and literary figures like Phillip Larkin and much more. many Coventry bands played the Umbrella in the late 60's and early 70's. It also housed Coventry's first Folk Club.

Coventry Folk Club Scene 1970's  
This is the Hobo site for Coventry's longstanding and thriving Folk and Acoustic scene. It covers both folk archives from the 70's and features on some of the contemporary singer songwriters out there now along with Pete Willow's history of Coventry Folk Scene and pdf versions of  his 70's Folks Magazine 1979 / 80. Top names like Rod Felton, Dave Bennett, Kristy Gallacher, Pauline (Vickers) Black, Roger Williamson, Sean Cannon and many more.

Coventry Gigs 1960 to Present (This blogspot in fact!).

Coventry Discos, Venues, Music shops and Agencies / Studios etc.
A steadily progressing blog for a variety of other aspects of Coventry's music scene - the DJ's, Discos, Venues, Arts fests, record shops, studios, music agencies etc etc..

Coventry Musicians Who's Who 
This blog has an A to Z of Coventry musicians. It's not yet complete (if ever!) but there are many names and their bands on already. I will come back to it when the A to Z of bands is complete and add in names not on. Meanwhile if you are not on it - and you should be - or your friends and their bands or if your info is incorrect - do let us know at

Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands and Artists
Meanwhile a huge A to Z of Coventry bands and artists can be found (again in development) here

The Pineapple Thief – Bristol - November 2021


The Pineapple Thief – Bristol - November 2021

by Pete Clemons

Defining the success of bands like The Pineapple Thief is rather like pulling the leaves off a daisy. Are they, are they not?. However, in my mind, there seems little doubt, after having seen them on stage and listened to their albums, any success has something to do with their apparent vulnerability.

The Pineapple Thief are possibly the first of the current great un-super groups who have based their appeal on being of the people as opposed to coming on strong in time honoured tradition. In this delightful venue, there were no visuals of any kind, no fanfares even. The band simply amble on stage and pulled off the seemingly impossible by their sheer musical enthusiasm.

In support of the latest studio album, 'Versions of the Truth', and accompanying live album, 'Nothing But the Truth', recorded in a freezing cold studio in Bedford, at the height of the pandemic, and under the strictest of Covid conditions, The Pineapple Thief set the house ablaze.

During October 2021 The Pineapple Thief became one of the first bands from the UK, if not thee first, to tour in Europe again. They began their tour with gigs in Manchester and Glasgow and, after successfully crossing the border, they arrived in The Netherlands for a performance in Amsterdam. From their they made their way around Germany, Poland, France, Hungary and Belgium without a hitch.

That said, the build up to this tour was not without its obvious problems. Against a backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic The Pineapple Thief had the difficult task of negotiating this tour of Europe. Yes, they had done it before. But this time it must have felt a little like a journey into the unknown. Like countless others dates had been postponed by around 18-24 months and appeared to be beset by rescheduling issues. But, despite the hurdles, it happened.

Back to the gig, which was seen as something as a homecoming, The Pineapple Thief were immense. Within their armoury, the sound comprised of balanced and rounded harmonies, continuous complex drumming and textural, atmospheric keyboard playing. In fact the whole rhythm section is exceptional. The like you have rarely heard before. Principle song writer and lead vocalist Bruce Soord appeared to exude a new confidence. Additionally Bruce doesn't leave all the soloing glory to the impressive Beren Matthews on lead guitarist. Check out 'Our Mire' for an example of Bruce's own capabilities. Hearing that particular song live, along with the many others new and established, this whole gig was taken to a different level.

No doubt Bruce had more than a degree of satisfaction after the completion of this tour. Albeit maybe tinged with a little sadness that it was all over. Happy to be home but the kind of sadness you feel after a really good holiday. There is more to come however. The second stage of this European excursion continues during February 2022. And this is followed by a tour of America.

Hope is like flying. You cant see what keeps you going, but you know it is there. That said I am confident U.S. audiences will turn up in their numbers. Well at least I hope they will.

As a fan of a band whose music genuinely moves you, and who you remember playing in pubs to a handful of people, you just can't help but feel some pride at the moments like this. And this gig certainly felt like a moment for The Pineapple Thief.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Urge (Part 1)

 Urge (Part 1)

By Pete Clemons

To attempt to put together a potted history of Coventry band Urge I have plagiarised notes from a past John Shipley interview and those of Kevin Harrison which appeared to have long disappeared from the internet thus leaving little about this particular band. I also used appreciated input from Nigel Mulvey.

During 1978, and after splitting from a band in Brighton called 'Les Squares', guitarist John Shipley and vocalist David Wankling both returned to Coventry from Brighton, where they had spent the previous few years. After a period of resettlement they began the formation of a new band. And, along with the additional talents of John Westacott on bass, and Billy Little on drums they formed Urge. Kevin Harrison, on synth, organ, tapes joined The Urge slightly later during January 1979.

Kevin 'I get invited to do a support spot at a birthday party at the Rockhouse in Coventry, The Urge are playing, later they ask me to record a rehearsal session. After a few weeks I join them, I play guitar, electric piano and EMS synth and start to introduce some of my songs to the group. I employ Burroughs 'cut-up' techniques for some of the lyrics. We decide to dispense with the definitive and we are now just called Urge'.

Urge began as an imaginative and experimental band. Nothing like Coventry had seen or heard before. Combining both rhythm and noise. Their early performances were relative to the environment and atmosphere and how they were feeling at the time.

Urge have had their problems which was unusually due to a bad P.A. Or insufficient time to soundcheck. Other things which they felt were problematic was a lack of visual image and meaningful communication between band and audience. Due in part to their uniqueness they felt there was not really the audience out there to communicate with.

John Shipley, however, was not destined to remain in Urge for too long. He had noticed that people didn’t dance at their gigs even though the songs were, by and large, danceable. He was also very keen to create a more rhythmic groove with more visible audience participation.

Dramatically, during August 1979 and in the middle of a set at the Lanchester Polytechnic, John walked off the stage, never to return. Seeing the Coventry Automatics perform at Mr Georges nightclub only confirmed the direction he now wanted to take.

After John Shipley's departure, and during September 1979, Lynda Wulf joined the band on vocals. The whole feel of the band had now changed. Shortly after her arrival Urge were involved with U.K Subs and were invited to join them on their national tour.

The first Urge single, 'Revolving Boy/Revolve'. was recorded at Spaceward Studio, Cambridge on 1st November 1979 and released shortly after on the groups own label 'Consumer Disks'. Kevin and David created the sleeve and label design and with the sleeves being printed at the Lanchester Polytechnic.

By now David Wankling and Kevin Harrison were writing much of the bands material. David the words and Kevin the music and production. Urge finished 1979 on a high when they performed in front of a home crowd at Tiffany's where they supported The Beat and UB40.

During January 1980 they Urge were invited by The Specials to support them on their European tour. Urge subsequently played dates in Hanover; Hamburg; Cologne in Germany and Arnhem; Sittard; Waalwijk in Holland.

A new track, 'Nuclear Terrorist', was recorded at Woodbine Studios in Leamington during March 1980 and was included as a track on the compilation record 'Sent From Coventry'.

Mid 1980 was spent recording. Firstly a session that included tracks such as 'Revolving Loop', 'New Sex', 'Inkman' and 'Minutes to Go' were recorded at Woodbine Studio during June. Soon after and, on the strength of those demos, Urge signed up to Arista (Ariola) Records just weeks after Arista's A+R executive, Tarquin Gotch, had heard them.

In July, the band recorded 'Shadow Man' with Dennis Bovell at Surrey Sound who produced and engineered the song. And during late late July it was back to Woodbine Studio to record 'Teach Yourself Dutch' a song written by Urge, engineered by John Rivers and produced by Kevin.

August saw the recording of another new song, 'Bobby' written by Wankling/Harrison, engineered by Pete Buhlman and produced by Nigel Gray. Once again this was recorded at Surrey Sound. During the same session a new version of 'Revolving Boy' was also recorded.

It was back once more to Surrey Sound, for a third time, during the early part of October for the recordings of 'Sea Of Storms' and 'Megadeath'. Not long after this session John Westacott was replaced by Nigel Mulvey (ex-Squad).

During October 1980 Urge played in a bullring in Barcelona with The Specials. Nigel Mulvey confirmed that the Barcelona gig had only been his second or third with the band. But 'What an experience that was' for Nigel. There is a permanency of this new line up in the form of two tracks recorded at Woodbine Studios. These were 'Nowhere to Go' and 'Marching'.

February 1981 a second single was released on 'Consumer Disks' through Arista 'Bobby/Teach Yourself Dutch' (arist 382), followed by an appearance on BBC T.V 'Look Hear'. Look Hear was filmed at Pebble Mill in Birmingham and The Beat were recorded at the same time although the bands songs went to air on different days. Urge performed 'Revolving Boy', which is on YouTube and 'Bobby'.

During March 1981 Urge toured England supporting Selecter on their 'Celebrate the Bullitt' tour with new member Steve Teers - keyboards/trombone. During April 1981 Urge played Marquee Club in London's Wardour Street. However shortly afterwards the group split up 'due to difficulties with Arista and internal wrangles'.

Urge were resurrected between 1981 and 1982. This line-up utilised the songwriting abilities of Kevin and David. And after one abortive gig with Lynda Novak and bass player Dave Gedney along with a rhythm-box Urge added a real drummer in the shape of John Hill and a conga player.

After a few weeks John Hill replaced by Rick Medlock (ex-I) and Pete Jordan - on alto saxophone (ex-L'Homme de Terre) joined. This line-up best known for residency on Sundays at The Whitley Abbey. Coventry. Initial record company interest from CBS; Warner Bros and EMI amounted to nothing. And soon after Urge split once again.

Soon after Kevin Harrison released his solo L.P 'Inscrutably Obvious' for Cherry Red Records and a 12" single 'Fly/Inkman/Views of the Rhine' for Glass Records. 'Fly' featured Horace Panter - bass guitar, Rick Medlock - drums, Kevin - vocals and all other instruments and Lynda - backing vocals.

1983 saw a third Urge line up. The new version included Kevin Harrison - guitar, bass and keys, Kendell Smith – Vocals, Lynda Harrison – vocals and Rick Medlock – drums. This line-up recorded one session at Woodbine Studio during September 1983. Songs completed were 'Pressure Drop/Style & Fashion'. 'The chemistry had gone so Urge, once again, called it a day'.

Links to some of Kevin Harrison's earlier bands on the Hobo sites.

Whistler - Avant garde Jazz Rock band c 1970 

Zoastra - Experimental elctronic band c 1974 / 5 (a bridge between Whistler and Urge) 

Urge - more about Urge

Urge Reunion 2010

Kevin Harrison's YouTube channel

Bobby - The Urge

Teach Yourself Dutch

Ink Man - Kevin Harrison

Below - Kevin Harrison c 1969

Below Lynda Harrison (Wulf) c 1969

Below Urge from their 2010 Reunion along with John Shipley

Urge - Part 2

 Urge - Part 2

By Pete Clemons

October 1980 – Source unknown
(Stop Press - Nigel Mulvey is 99% sure that the article is from the NME, by Chris Salewicz who went with them to Barcelona with photographer Joe Stephen’s.)

"Really we should have gone from Luton airport, but the only flight to Barcelona that night was from Heathrow.

And so, two days before they were due to play a concert in a bloodstained bullring. The Specials and new Arista signing - Urge and all their aides-de-camp picked up 36 tickets from a Coventry travel agent...

Urge is a group of many paradoxes. 

A major Urge paradox is that their music consists of clear-visioned, witty pop songs. Yet Kevin himself, often as ascetically insecure onstage as only a Fripp-like guitar anti-hero may be, seems far more comfortable sitting at home in his Coventry council flat releasing the tapes he makes with his Revox and synthesizer. 'New Eastern Electric' is how Kevin waggishly describes what he is creating on such sound collages as ‘On Earth 2’. an NME Garageland featured cassette

He denies, though, that he’d prefer working on his own - his solo work, he claims, is just one of the elements that go towards making up the Urge sound. "Philip Glass meets The Kinks at the grassroots of. . whatever..." he succinctly sums up their music. "We’re doing The Shangri-la’s ‘Past. Present And Future’ on our first album"

"I’m very fond of the intertwining of fact and fiction," continued Kevin as we sat in the back of the Spanish cab making drunken attempts to recall the name of our hotel. "For example, on our original record company biography we were listed as ‘five former supermarket managers’. And now Nigel Mulvey joins us on bass and that was what he really did once do."

Much of this makes more sense, of course. when you appreciate that our Kev is a former art student. After twelve months at Nuneaton Art School. Kevin applied for a course in communications at Leicester University. "They didn’t seem to be able to handle it when they discovered my portfolio wasn’t visual, but audio. It was made up entirely of tapes of sound."

So Illuminatus-fan Kevin went to work instead at British Leyland as a systems analyst, which maybe he was destined to do all along: Eighteen months ago, as a victim of cut-backs within the car firm, he picked up £1,500 redundancy money and bought the Revox and synthesizer with which he makes his tapes

Kevin Harrison, in fact, is a fully paid alumnus of the Coventry Scene: the last group he was in before Urge was Transposed Men, which also featured Special John Bradbury, Selecter Desmond Brown and Selecter main man Neol Davies. It was Kevin’s long-standing friend Neol Davies, in fact, who first brought Urge to my attention, playing me the group’s tapes when I visited his home last summer. Although a different urge line-up was already established when Kevin joined in January of 79, he quickly became a central force and in September of that year, his wife Lynda was added to the group to share vocals with the less willful David Wankling, who writes the lyrics and founded the band

Whimsically having decided in 1976 to quit his native Coventry, David had moved to Brighton where he quickly found he was combining his job of croupier ("Casinos don’t have to be fixed: they always end up winning") with singing in a punk band with flat-mate and guitarist John Shipley, later of the now defunct Swinging Cats.

The pair returned to their home-town in 1978 to form the first edition of Urge, which included the group’s current drummer, rockabilly fan Billy Little, who’d previously played behind Special Terry Hall in The Squad. When Shipley departed for the Swinging Cats, it was Kevin who came in as replacement

January of 1980 saw Urge releasing their first 45, ‘Revolving Boy’, an independent single that the group is re-recording for release by Arista. Under the terms of their new deal, urge have already been in the studio with Dennis Bovell at the production helm. They have decided, though, against working with Bovell on their imminent album. "He’s a helluva nice guy," says Kevin, "but I think the problem is that half the time he’s too stoned to actually get anything together. It's his own studio and it's not really fully equipped yet. It makes studio work very expensive."

At the same time as ‘Revolving Boy’ came out, Urge endured for their first national tour an ordeal by mutant gob when they supported The UK Subs. At the Marquee date on that tour Billy Little’s kit was so covered in plastic beer glasses that had been chucked at the group that he was actually unable to make contact with his drum-skins

Also, this Barcelona bash is not the first time that the group have trod the European boards. Picking up their passports in Coventry Post Office late last winter for a couple of Dutch dates, Lynda ran into Jerry Dammers. "Oh, come along to Germany with us when you’re finished in Holland," offered the generous Jerry, and urge ended up as support act to The Specials on their European tour.

At least those dates were not as disaster-prone as this Spanish trip: perhaps it was something to do with the karma of attempting to put on a pop show in a place normally reserved for the unnecessary slaughtering of inoffensive animals. As Kevin remarked at one point "there's an awful lot of bullshit about this gig."

Only 2.000 Spanish punkettas show up - which may have bean caused by rival promoter having taken a TV ad the previous evening to announce the concert had been cancelled!

This left the German promoter, a man whose finances came from the buying and selling of exotic snuffs, to lose his shirt. and nearly his life - this particular bullring being apparently controlled by the Spanish mafia

As Jerry Dammers and Urge manager Ian Foster were departing their hotel the next morning to travel back to London by road, the promoter suddenly appeared out of the shadows, to request a ride to the border. He’d also been busted in Barcelona some days previously, and he only had one of his four passports left. Dammers and Foster made their excuses and left.

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Rise of Two Tone 1979

 The Rise of Two Tone 1979

by Pete Clemons

17 Dec 2021 The Primitives – A homecoming gig the Empire

Coventry's very own, The Primitives, are playing a gig at the Empire in Hertford Street on December 17th during the run up to Christmas. It is being billed as a 'homecoming' concert. Supporting acts include The Session, who have had a wonderful few years themselves, Watermark and Danny Ansell.

But that phrase 'homecoming' had me thinking back to 1979 when Coventry experienced a couple more homecoming concerts. They were at Tiffany's nightclub, they were on December 20th and these gigs featured The Specials. And those homecoming gigs were remembered fondly in Horace Panter's book 'Ska'd For Life' where he described them as 'some of the most fantastic shows I have ever played in my life'.

The tail end of 1979 was a time when the whole 2 tone scene was exploding nationally. The foundations had been laid and The Specials had just completed their own headlining major tour. Suddenly, from playing local pubs months earlier, they were now playing dance hall sized venues.

A quick run down of some of the key events included certainly indicates how things were snowballing for the 2 tone scene. The bands involved had suddenly found themselves in an intense and demanding time. And for several months either side of Christmas 1979 Coventry really felt like the centre of the world. This is only a snapshot. Other TV appearances etc were also happening:

October 1979

The Specials, The Selecter, Dexys Midnight Runners/Madness are on their 2 tone tour

The Specials release the single 'A Message to You Rudy'

Madness perform 'The Prince' on top of the pops 11 October

The Specials debut album is released 19 October

Madness's One Step Beyond album is released 19 October

The Specials perform 'A Message to You Rudy' on top of the pops 25 October

The Selecter perform 'On My Radio' on top of the pops 25 October

November 1979

The 2 tone tour continued

The Beat appear at Tiffany's

The Specials perform at The Lyceum in London which is recorded

The 2 tone tour concludes at Tiffany's on 29 November where The Specials are again recorded. The Selecter and Dexys Midnight Runners also appear.

So in demand was the November Tiffany's gig forged tickets were rumoured to be circulating the city. The concert organisers, Lanchester Polytechnic Students Union, were aware and warned that the tickets were 'a very professional job'. A representative for the union stated that 'they have used orange dayglo card and imitated the Poly logo. We always use of a side strip. But these tickets are not numbered and stood out a mile'. Organisers had been tipped off by a student who had bought a forgery at the full price of £1.75. A further warning was issued: 'Students with forged tickets will be turned away from the doors'.

December 1979

The Selecter, The Beat and UB40 appear at The Lyceum in London

Footage is recorded of the Specials at their Earlsdon HQ for a TV documentary

The Beat and UB40 appear at Tiffany's

The Beat perform 'Tears of a Clown' on top of the pops

The Specials and The Selecter both appear on BBC Radio One In Concert

The Specials and The Beat appear at Tiffany's on 20 December for 2 homecoming shows

Within the December 19th issue of the Coventry Telegraph it mentioned that 'The Specials, one of the top rock bands, are putting on a charity show for children at Tiffany's in Coventry tomorrow afternoon. It is a matinee event and will start at 4pm. The concert is in aid of the Community Education Project in Coventry. Additionally, it will be followed in the evening by a sold out gig in aid of the Cambodia Relief Fund.

January 1980

The Special AKA live EP is released 11 January. The B Side are live takes from the November 79 Coventry and Lyceum gigs

And here we are again 42 years on. I am not comparing the two events. But, in The Empire, we have just had a major music venue open, Christmas is fast approaching and Coventry suddenly feels in demand again. The venue has hosted sold out shows featuring Tom Grennan, Ed Sheeran, Paul Weller. So the analogy feels similar. It has been an awful long time.



Sunday, October 31, 2021

Chris Smith - The Sorrows

 Chris Smith - The Sorrows

by Pete Clemons

Coventry band The Sorrows have had a long and interesting history. This story covers the1968 era of the band when they were Italy based.

Late 1967,the trio of Wez Price, Bruce Finley and Chuck Fryers, returned to Coventry once more. Geoff Prior, who had only been with The Sorrows briefly, had decided to leave. And it was at this point that keyboard player and vocalist Chris Smith was brought on board. Chris was from Coventry and his previous band had been called East Side Protection.

With Wez Price now back on bass guitar this latest quartet went into Pye Studios and recorded four Chuck Fryer songs under the stewardship of producer John Schroeder.

Chris Smith recently sent me a potted history of his musical journey from Coventry via Italy and back to Coventry, and finally, settling in London.

"The first group I was in was called 'The Rippers' and I was the vocalist. We were connected with the Cathedral Youth Club and actually played in the New Cathedral as a way of bringing beat music to church goers! I then met up with Ron Lawrence and Monday's Children was formed with me playing keyboards and lead vocals. The Broughton's used to come and watch us at 'The Racing Horse' pub in Warwick.

Monday's Children then became 'East Side Protection' with the addition of Roy Butterfield on guitar.

East Side Protection below

After gigging locally a Manager appeared and he got us some better gigs out of town. He seemed impressed with my singing and playing and introduced me to Wez Price from 'The Sorrows' after he came to one of our gigs..They were back in Coventry after playing and living in Italy. Wez asked me to join the band with a view to trying to make a go of it in the UK. We did a demo with Pye Records as they still had an option to carry on with the band. They didn't take up the option and we eventually decided to go back to Italy in August 1968.

I was 20 years old and for me it felt like a big adventure and an intense period of growing up very quickly, out in the big wide world. Pip from the original 'Sorrows' came out with us (as he was already well known) and we recorded a song in Italian called Per Una Donna Non on Miura Records. As he couldn't settle and missed his family Pip went back to Coventry. Leaving me to mime to his singing in Italian on The Pippo Baudo show on Rai Television as a solo artist without the band!

So we were involved in a Milli Vanilli type of scenario, but nobody ever picked up on it, even though my voice was very different from Pip's.

'The Sorrows' stayed in Italy gigging all over the country being ripped off by corrupt Managers and Agents and me being recognised and mobbed by fans after the TV appearances! I finally decided to come back to Coventry at the beginning of 1970 and that version of the band split up with Chuck Fryers staying in Italy to this day!

I moved back in with my parents and started to reconnect with a new set of musicians on the scene at the time. I decided to be a Bass Guitarist as my Hammond Organ was sold in Italy to cover some debts belonging to the band. I was introduced to Neol Davies and got involved with Mead as a Bass Player and played some local gigs including the Lanchester. Michael Smitham was somebody else that I was jamming with at the time. I can't remember if he was in Mead as well (a senior moment maybe)?

After one year back in Coventry I moved down to London and joined a band called Phoenix on Bass after several auditions. One of which was Supertramp and I was in the last three called back to be seen again. I didn't tell them I could sing and play the keyboards too, but the original Bassist came back into the band anyway.

I started to write songs soon after arriving in London using guitar and keyboards and still stand in with bass when asked.

I have the stage name of Chrislin and am starting to play a few low key gigs using my own material. There is a YouTube of the Chrislin Singers with 'A Song to be Sung' which was recorded at the South Bank in London before Lockdown!

I will be recording more of my songs as soon as possible and may get together with Roger Lomas in his studio in Coventry. The City of Culture has reignited my connection to Coventry again.

I could have written so many more incidents but this gives you a flavour of the time. Needless to say, miming to another's voice and being noted for that didn't help my self esteem. At least the Italians found me 'Molto Simpatico' as my personality shone through."

Of my potted history - 'You can use what you feel is appropriate!' said Chris. Well thanks Chris I used it all.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Planet Ice – Skydome Complex

 Planet Ice – Skydome Complex

by Pete Clemons

Girls Aloud

Electronic, drum and bass duo Chase and Status will be appearing at Planet Ice in Coventry on November 26th 2021. Not that I know the first thing about Chase and Status, or drum and bass for that matter, but seeing the advert for them sent my mind wandering. And it went back to a time when my own children were growing up and going for their own nights out to see bands at Planet Ice situated within the Skydome Complex.

The 3000 seater capacity Ice Skating arena building opened during 1999. A little time after the rest of the Skydome complex if I remember correctly. It was all built on the site of the old GEC Spon Street factory which was where I began my own working life.

By 2001 and the Planet Ice venue saw the launch of a large music event hosted by local radio station Mercia Sound/FM to celebrate the station's 21st birthday. The concert also doubled up as a major charity event where it was decided that proceeds raised would go to Snowball a trust set up for sick and disabled children in Coventry and Warwickshire.

As I remember it was the then Mercia FM morning crew of Shep and Ru, who woke up Coventry and Warwickshire every weekday from 6am, who were compère's for the evening. It was their job to introduce the pop stars of the day. And for that inaugural event those included Blue, Hear'Say, Honeyz and Phats and Small appeared at the event which by now was known as The Thunderball concert. And the sell-out event raised £20,000.

Following on from its success a similar event was staged in 2002. And again thousands packed the arena where chart toppers Atomic Kitten, the trio of Liz McClarnon, Natasha Hamilton and Jenny Frost, took to the stage along with H and Claire from Steps, Blazin Squad, Sarah Whatmore and many others.

2003 and a third event was held. This time it attracted the likes of Gareth Gates, Amy Studt, Kym Marsh, Lemar and Take That's Mark Owen.

And in 2004 a fourth and final Thunderball concert took place. This time it headlined Girls Aloud. A group that was put together by a panel of judges that included Pete Waterman. Cheryl Tweedy, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding (who I was saddened to hear had passed away recently), Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh made up the group that scored a huge number of hits. Further pop acts of the day including boy band Phixx, R&B artist Jay Sean, The 411 and the Intenso Project featuring Lisa Scott Lee joined the headliners.

Over the course of the four years, that the Mercia FM's Thunderball event was held, it was estimated that it had raised £80,000 for charity's working with sick and disabled children. Additionally the Thunderball event left a lot of precious memories for many from the Coventry area.

Many of the above artists mentioned above have proved to be multi talented. Some have now reached the stage of life where the pop world is way behind them and they now do TV work. I even noticed that there was a special episode of the Pointless quiz show recently which was dedicated to artists from that era.

Good luck to Chase and Status when you appear at the Skydome Complex. Hope you enjoy your time in Coventry as many others did.