Friday, September 17, 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 hobozine@googlemail.com.

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 https://sites.google.com/site/bandsfromcoventry/


The Edwin Hawkins Singers – Coventry 1970

The Edwin Hawkins Singers – Coventry 1970

By Pete Clemons




The Lanchester Arts Festival of 1970 used Coventry Cathedral for two of its concerts. On the Saturday night of the festival Sir Adrian Boult and the London Bach Orchestra could be heard at the venue. The previous Wednesday it had been the turn of The Edwin Hawkins Singers who had hit the charts the previous year with the hit record and gospel song 'Oh Happy Day'.

'Oh Happy Day' was a song of joy and worship but, given its chart position of number 2 in the UK, it seemed to connect with a wider audience. It is a completely unforgettable tune. The original female lead, which is so memorable, was by Dorothy Combs Morrison who also sang in 'R' n 'B' clubs. The song is also said to have given George Harrison the idea for 'My Sweet Lord'.

It seemed perfect, the Edwin Hawkins Singers to make their British debut at Coventry in Britain's most modern Cathedral. But what could have been a joyous occasion was spoiled by two things.

Firstly, no P.A. Was allowed, which meant that while the choir en masse could be heard pretty well throughout the audience, the solo's were often completely lost.

Problem two was that the concert was being recorded for the special BBC TV programme to be shown at Easter. Great, for those who couldn't get to the actual event, but not so good for those who did. The camera crews were a constantly intruding, barrier, stopping the audience / congregation from really becoming a part of the choir.

Edwin Hawkins, pianist, soloist, arranger and director of the church singers from the San Francisco Bay area, looked harassed in the break between the singers two one hour sets. 'Its such a shame' he said, 'people paid money to hear us and there is just no way for all of them to hear us'.

Within these tight limitations the singers did very well. Soloists included Edwin Hawkins, Shirley Miller, Elaine Kelly and Walter Hawkins. They refused to get discouraged and had the whole audience on their feet clapping along to several of the tunes.

Edwin Hawkins, who passed away during January 2018, introduced contemporary sounds and synthesizers to create, and revolutionise, a whole new sounding form of gospel music. And for that vision he would ultimately be awarded with a Grammy. 'Oh Happy Day' became the first gospel song to hit the popular music charts. Not just in the UK but worldwide.

I'm not certain if the concert was aired during Easter 1970 but it certainly was on BBC2 on Thursday 24th December at 5pm with production by John Street. The radio times in its bumper Christmas and New Year edition said 'The Hawkins Singers don't have all the earthy roughness of a pukka gospel choir, but they make up for it with subtle use of dynamics and some excellent soloists. Here they'll be singing in Coventry Cathedral, which should provide a piquant setting for their fervour'.

Colin Richardson's memories:

(Colin Richardson was the London booking agent (Bron Agency) engaged by the
Colin Richardson with Paul McCartney

Lanchester Polytech Student Union to book the artists for their Arts festivals in 1970 and 1971)
 

Here's my (somewhat surprised) reaction: First off, my booking of the choir, on the back of their recent hit, was simply the obvious (to me) vision of Coventry Cathedral being an ideal venue for the performance. What I wasn't aware of was that they would need a P.A. and to the best of my (admittedly now hazy) recollection, none was requested by their agent.

Next, the choir that arrived, disappointingly, wasn't the full choir that I'd seen perform on TV. It was around 16 I think.

Next, I had no knowledge of the BBC filming it. That must either have been negotiated with Ted Little or possibly directly between the Beeb and EHS management.

So, yes, it was a little bit of an anti-climax for me, but still a magical occasion, near freezing temperature notwithstanding.








Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Specials - Coventry Building Society Arena 11 September 2021

 

The Specials - Coventry Building Society Arena 11 September 2021.

By Pete Clemons.


I felt that there was a degree of anxiety within the crowd. After all, for many, it was their first indoor gig in a long time. It was clearly down in number on previous visits here but still decent enough.

However, normal service quickly resumed. Horace Panter, in his diary, reported a fight within the audience during the song 'Breaking Point'. Must admit to not seeing that from our vantage point. But I did notice a section of the crowd, almost on queue during Nite Klub and the line 'And the beer tastes just like piss', duly obliging by lobbing the contents of their ten pound plastic pots aimlessly into the air.

None of us are getting any younger and neither are the members of Ska revivalists The Specials. And whereas I really enjoyed the setting of the old Coventry Cathedral chosen for the bands homecoming gigs on the last tour, I also remember feeling that the actual gig was tedious and going through the motions.

Tonight at the Coventry Building Society Arena, described by Horace as 'an impersonal concrete shed with dreadful facilities' that included 'a dreadful excuse for a dressing room', was a new more laid back version of The Specials. Dare I say, a more mature performance. And the way 'Freedom Highway' and 'Rat Race' sat comfortably together, meant that the gig had my entire attention from the get go.

 It was very evident by way of a few ballads in the form of 'Get Up, Stand Up', a duet between Lynval Golding and guitarist Steve Cradock, and 'The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)', that this was a more composed presentation.

I felt that this performance lacked the edge The Specials once had, although there were brief flashes of energy from Horace Panter, yet somehow it wasn't to the detriment of the overall gig. This was a very impressive concert that still carried a bite and the venom of The Specials of old.

The songs on offer from the new album suggests that it is a more laid back affair. And it was as if the old songs were reigned in slightly so as to give the overall performance some kind of balance. Additionally, with Lynval Golding not taking up his guitar that often, the whole feel of the gig was bound to change in emphasis.

The ever joyous Terry Hall seemed to praise Coventry at one point. Additionally he mentioned that 'I have spent that much time in Coventry this year I'm thinking of buying a time share in Hillfields'.

I cant help but suspect that the new album, 'Protest Songs 1924-2012', will have more time in the charts on merit rather than simply through the power of pre-sales. That album could yet turn out to be a bit of an inspired release.

Finally and again from Horace's angle, he described the Coventry gig as 'the concert took on a life of its own and the gig was a triumph', which, seeing as this was a 'homecoming' gig was great to read.





Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Godiva Festival 2021

 

Godiva Festival 2021
Roddy (Radiation) Byers at Godiva Festival



After a couple of years away the Godiva Festival was back. And what an apparent success it was. What follows is a snapshot of the weekend, through my eyes only, and far from an attempt to cover the entire event. Apart from the music the Godiva Festival offers so much more.

Friday: With the gates due to open at 6pm, and the first band due on the main stage at 10 past 6 it was always going to touch and go, given the rightful and totally understandable security procedures that were in place, as to whether they played to any audience at all.

On the face of it, it seemed a little unfair given the effort of how the earlier main stage bands had battled through various stages of competition just to get there. That said both The Bad Divine and Candid stepped up to the plate and performed really well. So much so that they were far from upstaged by the more experienced headliners Therapy? And Supergrass.

Those who are now approaching middle age will certainly remember The Colosseum. Not that I was a frequent visitor to what is now known as Kasbah but Friday evening kind of reminded me of a 'Colly revisited' night.

Saturday: Yet again the earlier bands suffered almost the same fate as happened the previous evening. That said the main entrance had improved its throughput time for ticket holders and other entrants.

The result being that The Lloyd McGrath Collective and The Astras had a larger audience. Both bands giving a great account of themselves no doubt winning over a new legion of admirers. Not only had the entrance to the venue improved but so too had the weather.

Next up on the main stage was Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels. There was an audible gasp as Roddy entered the fray. He really did look the business dressed in 1950s style, three quarter length blue jacket complete with bootlace tie. That sense of audience reaction seemed to be picked up on stage and that, in turn, inspired the Skabilly Rebels into turning out a powerful performance.

As someone, far more wise than I, whispered in my ear at the end of the set 'that's what a not to be mentioned band is lacking right now'. And I couldn't help but agree. Later on during the afternoon, with the weather getting better by the hour, The Selecter turned out an equally crowd pleasing performance that include many of their hits.

Sunday: As I wandered around I was treated to Bollywood, Bhangra, Izzy Derry and, closing this most memorable of weekends, Sister Sledge. Again, the weather was on top form, almost touching 30 degrees.

Izzy Derry left an impression by way of being an acoustic performer with a difference. She was accompanied by a keyboard player who really added to her sound and contributed to the overall ambience.

Sister Sledge on the other hand just knew how to bring pure joy and energy. The funk influence of Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards was all over this performance. Hit after hit had a field full of people of all ages dancing from beginning to end.




Chrissie Dux


Sophie Ellis Bextor - Murder on the Dancefloor

Roddy Byers (Radiation) Rat Race


Selecter - Three Minute hero

Panjabi MC

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Moon

 

Moon
by Pete Clemons




Moon were not strictly a Coventry band but a band that had many Coventry connections. In fact Moon formed in London and were, at one time, associated with the London pub rock scene.

Moon formed during1975 when punk rock was in its infancy, disco was huge and glam rock was beginning to wane. It began when Noel McCalla began to see what was happening in London. 'I thought what the hell am I doing in Coventry'. He commuted for a while, fulfilling his previous band commitments, which appear to be a couple of local showbands. He finally began to stay down in London, rehearsing with a couple of guys left from a jazz group called Moon. And slowly the current band began to take shape, with friends called in from Coventry and others drifting down from Newcastle. Now the line up of Noel (vocals), Loz Netto (guitar), Graham Collyer (rhythm guitar), Ron Lawrence (bass), Nicky Payn (tenor sax, flute and harmonica), Luigi Salvoni (drums) and Doug Bainbridge (alto sax, flute and percussion) boasted Italians, Australians and Swede's in its pedigree.

An interview during mid 1976 claimed that 'Moon don't particularly want the pub rock label stuck to them now, and its unlikely to happen because they're certainly a cut above the average group on that circuit. They combine the energy and enthusiasm of early soul with a blue eyed horn section and some very good original songs but they acknowledge an obvious debt to their early stamping ground. They're also proud of their lead singer Noel McCalla who is only 19 years old and is a natural vocal talent. The others, good musicians though they are, view him with a certain amount of awe. Because McCalla with his stage movements and bright button eyes is totally untrained and free from influence. He's great for us says bass player Ron Lawrence, admiringly, because bands can easily get stagnant. You all have histories and little things you love. The rest of the band have all got their influences but Noel there – he freaks me out'.

Ron Lawrence, the oldest member of the group continued: 'McCalla's move to London from Coventry was the luckiest thing that ever happened. I spent eight years up there trying to get bands off the ground. You can stay in Coventry so long as you finally twig that either you have to make a break and get to London, make the ultimate move, or just forget it. There is no music coming out of Coventry. You open the front door there is a factory. In there is a working men's club. There you can have a game or snooker or work the 'bandits'. The town thrives on industry. But at 11pm its dead. There is nowhere to play and nowhere to hear music'.

Moon's debut album, 'Too Close for Comfort', was reviewed as follows: 'An agreeable first from a group who have already made some impact slogging around the countries pubs and clubs. Basically they are a tight rhythm section with an exceptionally good vocalist, 20 year old Noel McCalla, who has already been compared with all the singers worth being compared with. It is a varied set with enough identity to give a good picture of their ideals. Among the best tracks is the funky opening title 'Lone Ranger'. 'Cold Nights' with its contagious and skillful title track, slow burning harp and percussion. If talent still counts then this band will make it sooner or later'.

A second release 'Turning the Tides' was issued during 1977 at the height of punk rock. It never stood a chance as The Sex Pistols had just released their infamous album and that was getting all the attention.

..................................

For more information  - this is a link to the Moon entry on Coventry Bands - 1960's to Now (the new version of the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands) 


The Lone Ranger - Moon.


Too Close For Comfort - Moon


Cold Nights - Moon


Desolation Alley - Moon



Sunday, August 29, 2021

Chuck Berry - Coventry Theatre 1975

 

Chuck Berry - Coventry Theatre 1975.
by Pete Clemons




Few music lovers in Coventry are unaware that Chuck Berry recorded his infamous hit at the Locarno. But that wasn't Chuck's only visit to the city. He also appeared at the theatre during 1975. Chuck's band that night was John Spurling on bass, from Max Merritt and the Meteors - Lance Dixon on keyboards and Gilson Lavis on drums who later joined Squeeze and is still drummer for Jools Holland. The compere for the evening was Bob Stewart of Radio Luxembourg.

Outside of America, Chuck never toured with his own band. He once mentioned that, apart from his guitar, he took no other luggage with him. 'Just a comb and a toothbrush' he once said. His wife added that he enjoyed the freedom of doing what he wanted to do. He didn't rehearse for a tour. He expected the musicians to have listened to his songs and learnt them.

Additionally, while touring, Chuck never asked for much. But what he did ask for was insisted upon. And, on later tours, one of those demands was that he played for cash only. This coming about after being ripped off too many times in the past. Again, another phrase Chuck often used was 'Money goes in the guitar case for the guitar to come out of it'. Chuck certainly did things his way.

Chuck Berry's life story is a whole other tale. But through sheer talent, drive, determination and bloody mindedness he certainly contributed to helping change the world. And those factors made Chuck Berry come across as temperamental that's for sure.

And during his 1975 UK tour Chuck walked off stage several times during, what appeared to be, mid-set. And the Coventry Theatre gig was no exception as there were chants of money back. Scuffles also broke out as fans were refunded to leave the theatre. Truth was however that Chuck had already left the building.

At one gig on the tour he did actually return to the stage to explain that 'I'm already 15 minutes over' – meaning the minimum scheduled appearance time – and told the audience that he had been insulted by two of the fans amongst a group who had been invited up on stage to join him. Then wearing his coat he left to the cries of 'more' and 'refund our money'.

My own memory of that Coventry Theatre gig was that, as short as it was, Chuck Berry was a real treat. He ripped through 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Go Johnny Go' and 'Memphis Tennessee' along with many other hits. Despite comments by folk who had seen him regularly over ten years or so, saying that he was getting worse, Chuck Berry came across the supreme professional.

One news outlet commented on the gig as follows: 'Given a really hot band, Berry would surely be unbeatable. As it was he led a rousing version of Ding-a-Ling and played guitar like only he can. Probably because of the poor back up band, Chuck got increasingly better on his old red Gibson. His style is steeped in old chorded blues and has probably been copied by every major guitarist at some time or another. Fittingly he finished with a free for all on stage, where Teds in full drapes, fluorescent day glow socks and beetle crushers, jived around him. Vintage stuff!'.

Chuck Berry's music is many things but is literally out of this world. In 1977, a recording of Chuck Berry's 1958 hit 'Johnny B. Goode' was included on a golden disc sent to space with each of the Voyager missions. Astronomer Carl Sagan oversaw the collection, which included greetings in 55 languages, the sound of a mother kissing a child and Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'. The missions still continue today. Both Voyagers long left our own solar system and are currently in deep space. If contact with other beings is made I'm sure the first message from them will be 'send more Chuck Berry'.



How Rock 'n' Roll Grew in Coventry During 1950s

 How Rock 'n' Roll Grew in Coventry During 1950s

by Pete Clemons



We all know that Rock 'n' Roll had its beginnings in America. But its impact in the UK was equally as profound. So much so that BBC radio would not initially play rock n roll. Instead you had to go searching around stations like Radio Luxembourg to hear it.

Artists such as Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and many others all came to prominence during this period and had a tremendous influence over here in the UK.

So much so that this influence inspired home grown acts such as The Shadows, Tommy Steele, Lonnie Donegan, Billy Fury and Cliff Richard and a whole host of others who produced their own versions of this new music.

It all began in the UK, I guess, with the Bill Haley and the Comets single 'Shake Rattle and Roll' which hit the top 10 during January 1955. The follow up, ' Rock Around the Clock', failed to impress initially but after it was featured on the Blackboard Jungle film on release that all changed as the song hit No1 during December 1955.

Elvis Presley, who had been releasing records in America since 1954, first came to prominence in the UK with 'Heartbreak Hotel' released during Jan/Feb 1956 on the previously ‘respectable’ HMV record label.

As for Coventry, the earliest reference that I can find for any rock n roll references, dates back to mid to late 1956. The cutting I found advertised the film ‘Rock Around the Clock’ that was being shown at the now demolished Plaza cinema in Spon End. And this featured the music of Bill Haley and the Comets.

Around the same time a double bill of James Dean films was being shown at The Empire in Hertford Street. These events may well have possibly given rise to the birth of the teenager as we know them today.

It is also worth noting that at Coventry Theatre a yearly variety show, also known as the birthday show, tipped it's hat toward rock 'n' roll in October 1956. The opening number of the show, which normally had a topical theme, involved a group of youngsters dancing to ‘Rock Around the Clock’. Topping the bill on that particular birthday show was Jimmy Jewel and Tommy Cooper.

Next up came the film ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’. This first appeared in Coventry cinema’s during January 1957. Ironically the storyline for this film is around the banning of rock 'n' roll. January 1957 also saw the UK release of the follow up film to ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’. And this was titled ‘Don’t Knock the Rock’. Again it featured the music of Bill Haley.

These films led to teenage commotion in the cinemas up and down the country. A prediction was that the forthcoming visit to the UK by Bill Haley and the Comets could provoke even more rock 'n' roll related trouble.

Bill Haley and the Comets were actually formed during the early 1950s as a country band. As time passed and influences grew they developed the rock 'n' roll sound. And Bill Haley would tour the UK during February 1957. And that tour would take in Coventry with 2 shows sold out shows at the Gaumont in Jordan Well later known as the Odeon. And judging by the thousands who were outside the Gaumont at the time of the concerts, could have sold out many times over.

Such was the anticipation around Bill Haley’s visit that a week before the concerts at the Gaumont a band called the Sid Phillips Orchestra had played at Coventry Theatre. Trumpeter Kenny Ball, who was at that time a member of the band before finding fame with his own band, broke into a rendition of 'Rock Around The Clock' to frenzied applause from the audience. This kind of thing was, by all accounts, unheard of at concerts of this nature.

A year after the Bill Haley visit media reports suggested that rock 'n' roll was on it's way out. However I did find a report in a Coventry newspaper that very much disputed this claim

1956 had also the year that coffee bars began to spring up in abundance. Initially, they had opened in London some years earlier, but this new phenomena was also spreading nationally to city’s such as Coventry.

Coffee Bars were mainly independent which gave them that individual and unique touch. They were furnished with the cheapest Formica or plastic products available. And these coffee bars began to give the teenagers of that time, who had grown out of youth clubs, an outlet and a meeting place. They had exotic names like The Sorrento, El Cabarna and La Tropicale.

Some of these coffee bars like The Milano on Radford road, The Domino on Gosford Street and The Drumbeat on Holbrook Lane were also doubling up as music venues playing a mix of recorded music on the juke box and live music in the coffee bar itself.

And it was at the Drumbeat Club on Lockhurst Lane railway bridge that one of the earliest rock n roll bands formed in Coventry. They were called The Zodiacs and they first came together during 1959. They were formed by drummer Nigel Lomas and singer Maurice Redhead. The pair had first met at the Drumbeat in 1958.

The Drumbeat was actually a cellar club beneath the coffee bar, Nigel used to get up and sing there and have an occasional go on the drums. Also in the Zodiacs in those early days were Terry Wyatt and Graham Peace. Other people Nigel remembers from that time, and who were associated with the Zodiacs, were singer Mick Van de Stay and guitarist Jim Smith.

1959 also saw the formation of another Coventry rock n roll group. Called The Vampires they were fronted by none other than the legendary Vince Martin who later moved to Friars Promotions in Whitefriars Street and formed his own VM rock bands company from Earlsdon.









NME singles chart January 1955 - Bill Haley charts with Shake Rattle and Roll and a brief first appearance of Rock around the Clock.


NME commentary on Bill Haley January 1955


NME Chart November 1955 as Rock Around the Clock is featured in the film Blackboard Jungle and hits the top of the chart.