Sunday, November 3, 2019

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Post Remains on top as an introduction to the site. Scroll below for the latest posts.

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 in particular  is for Peter Clemons Coventry music Scene articles for the Coventry Telegraph and beyond. 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 HoboMagazine 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

Roddy 'Radiation' Byers

Roddy 'Radiation' Byers

By Pete Clemons

I recently attended an interesting, insightful and incredibly honest question and answer session, at the Coventry Music Museum, involving former Specials guitarist Roddy 'Radiation' Byers.

Clearly Roddy is not the most comfortable public speaker, few of us are. Roddy's talents are in other areas, such as writing songs and playing guitar. So well done to host Pete Chambers for keeping the session flowing.

With songs such as 'Concrete Jungle', 'Hey Little Rich Girl' and 'Rat Race' in his armoury Roddy has written and created a succession of quality songs over the years. And, he is second only to Jerry Dammers in the amount of original material he wrote for The Specials during their classic years.

At first impression Roddy comes across as a battle scarred warrior. However, scratch the surface and as I had long suspected, you find a genuinely good guy.

The question and answer session began with Roddy revealing his early musical interests growing up in his Keresley home. Roddy explained how his Father played trumpet in local bands and how he himself briefly took up brass instruments. But then came The Monkees and their madcap, yet wonderful, TV series. The influences continued and emanated from the more edgier bands such as The Kinks and The Rolling Stones.

Roddy's first proper group were The Wild Boys a band influenced by the early 70s New York rock scene. By 1975 that same scene was proclaiming that 'Punk is Coming'.

I asked Roddy how he got into the UK punk rock scene so early. When I say early, I am
Roadent - aka Scon Steve Conelly
talking about late 1975/early 76, when punk had not yet broken out of London. It turned out that Coventry bohemian, Steve Connelly aka 'Roadent', had been based in London at that time. He contacted Roddy letting him know about the scene that was still in its embryonic stage, and how, he might enjoy it. Next thing Roddy is in London watching the Sex Pistols in front of 40 people.

Roddy also shared with us how he first became involved with The Coventry Automatics, later to become known as The Specials, and how Jerry Dammers had approached him in the Domino club. The Domino had always been known as a notorious late night drinking den, based in the lower precinct.

Roddy was worse for drink when he agreed to sign up. He was duly woken early next day by both Jerry and Pete Waterman, who then whisked him off down to London for recording sessions that resulted in the demos that were later hawked, unsuccessfully, around the capital.

Jerry Dammers created The Specials by hand picking, and poaching, what he saw as the cream of Coventry's finest musicians. And that led to the biggest disclosure of this discussion - to me at least. Roddy revealed that, as such, there were no true friendships forged within the band. None, at least, in the same way that are created when a band is formed by a bunch of mates. With no real bonding, they all remained as individuals.

With that lack of true camaraderie in the camp the days of touring became long and arduous and the band became fractious. Things were not helped when, during those early days, the band were living in the back of a van with little money and food coming in. Additionally, continually being slapped down, and not being given full freedom to express, or not be allowed to be heard, will always boil over into pure frustration.

The Clash guitarist Joe Strummer, who The Specials once toured with, insisted on the band getting a pay rise on hearing of their plight and the horrendous conditions that The Specials were having to put up with.

Another contentious issue happened when Roddy wrote his song 'Rat Race'. Roddy mentioned that, in no way was it aimed at any of the band members. Roddy remains adamant it came about after overhearing a conversation in a university bar about jobs that students had already had lined up for them by their parents.

After the demise of The Specials Roddy became involved with his own bands The Bonediggers and The Tearjerkers. And then a reunion of sorts, known as The Specials Mk 2.

Amusingly Roddy remembered back to when Amy Winehouse jumped on stage with the reformed Specials during the summer of 2009. They performed several songs together. Afterwards Amy mentioned to Roddy that her friend wanted to marry him. Of course, as flattering as it was, Roddy let her know that he was already spoken for.

Roddy is an incredibly talented person. His songwriting and legacy will far outlive him. But he is also a principled man and, as I touched on from the outset of this article, a man who struggles to express himself other than within song. As such he is, as his social media avatar suggests, a tortured soul. Devoutly, he 'is not a rich persons lackey and money is not his main motivation.

Interestingly, what Roddy had hoped for, at the outset of The Specials, was for a Jagger/Richards type writing partnership with Jerry Dammers. It had me thinking, imagine the interest, even in today's times, if both managed to get a few songs together. A kind of electronic come punk rock mix springs to mind. Either way, with the power of the internet and its potential to create music nowadays. Never say never.

Nowadays, Roddy can be found fronting The Skabilly Rebels, a band who have been around for several years now. But more recently the Skabillys have been incredibly active on the live scene.

Yes, Roddy may well be back playing in pubs and small clubs. But he does seem more content with life. 'Better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out' – John Lennon.

Find out more about The Skabilly Rebels here....... and here

Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours

Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours

By Pete Clemons

Coming face to face with your own mortality is not something I would recommend. Thankfully the skill of a surgeon and hospital staff turned the tide for me and, recently, gave me a second chance of life.

Fairly soon after that episode and I find myself listening to the latest solo album, 'All this Will Be Yours' by Bruce Soord, singer songwriter for The Pineapple Thief.

And within its obvious beauty it certainly packs a powerful and emotive punch below it's surface. The brutal honesty of life that I certainly wasn't expecting in a song.

It is clear exactly who the songs are aimed at, but sometimes, you cant help but hear lyrics from your own personal angle. It has to be said that I discovered this album while a fragile state of mind existed. One that I never realised I had.

And because lyrics do become, almost, personal stories you try to deconstruction them in order to suit yourself. You try to get inside them. To try to see the song and feel it.

Across the whole of this album I found an honesty in the lyrics that is just so painful in the most exquisite way. The music, as beautifully crafted as it is, is almost incidental.

There is also a clever ambiguity to the songs. On one level they carry a simple message but on another there is something more complex coming through.

The reality though, is that this selection of songs is for Bruce's growing family. It is advance notice to the complex trials and tribulations they face ahead of them. This, and Bruce's first solo album, feel as though they are very much linked. A guide to life if you like.

Bruce's debut album was very much from the standpoint as a father. Certainly in places at least. And as his family has grown then so did this path of songwriting.

It does sound very much like a part 2, to that debut, if you like. Could this be a part of a future trilogy?. Who knows but I think that this is potentially how it could all pan out.

Maybe it was the health scare I recently experienced but, for me, these lyrics did seem to relate back to that period. The last track particularly, 'One Day I Will Leave you', really has resonated. And Bruce kindly provided me with a word or two about it:

Bruce said 'I did think twice when I sat down to write the closer. Could I really sing what I had written?? It was quite difficult to get through that track, or play it back!'

Performing the song live, I must admit that I hadn't even thought of it from that angle. Its one thing listening to it. But recording it and singing it in public must be something else altogether.

Bruce continued: 'I'm really happy you like it. I must confess I spent a LONG time on the words. They may be quite sparse compared to other artists but I would often spend hours labouring over a line. I hope others like it as much as you do!'

This album is thoughtfully written. It has depth and substance. And like a murmuration of birds the whole thing ebbs and flows in intricate and yet very precise directions. The honesty within it is astonishing. It is intense and incredibly thought provoking with a heart wrenching, yet truthful, finale.

'All This Will Be Yours' was the first new album I had heard during my bonus years. And it was well worth hanging around for. But please Bruce don't attempt this album will get me all ends up.

Life is a journey and you get drunk on it when you are young, according to the lyric of another well known songwriter. But it doesn't last forever. Life is not infinite. And this album pulls no punches in reminding you of that.

Footnote: this album release comes almost 50 years to the date after a fatal car accident in Hipswell Highway, Coventry during October 1969. It was outside the shops, close to where I grew up. And I had been in one of those shops when it happened. I have never forgotten that accident, or the person who lost their life that day, who had been at a similar age to me at that time. Life is so precious yet, at the same time, so fragile. And I just wanted that person to know that, despite the passage of time, they had not been forgotten.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Billy Fury - Songwriter

Billy Fury - Songwriter

by Pete Clemons

In a recent, and much enjoyed visit to Liverpool, I found time to visit the Billy Fury statue on the Albert Dock.

On the base of it were two plaques. One letting you know that the statue had been unveiled on the 19th April 2003 by the legendary Jack Good and councillor Eddie Clein.

Of course, Billy Fury wasn’t his real name. That was bestowed upon him by his manager Larry Parnes. The second plaque gives you Billy’s actual birth name which was Ronald Wycherley. And along with his name it also gives Billy’s birth date and the day we lost him.

It went on to read that Billy had been a legendary British rock ‘n’ roll star and a major UK chart artist, live performer and songwriter. And that Billy had, primarily, been a songwriter.

And being a singer as well as a songwriter was an unusual thing during the time that Billy began performing in the late 1950s.

So unusual in fact that Billy wrote some of his own songs under the pseudonym of Wilber Wilberforce. Whether that was due to his modesty, or if he just didn’t want the greater public to know, is open to debate.

But Billy, without doubt, went on to create a milestone album in British popular music.

The 'Sound of Fury' was a 10” album release. 10 tracks in total 5 on each side. It was recorded at Percy Phillips studio 38 Kensington in Liverpool. Numerous artists from Liverpool, including the very early manifestations of The Beatles, recorded there. The whole album was recorded in a day and, when released, cost 22 shillings to buy.

Joe Brown played on the album and commented how he initially thought the songs had been written by a R’n’ R / Country player. Not a guy from Liverpool.

Unusually, by the standards of and era, you find that 2 basses appear on the LP. One electric and one slapped.

During the albums production Jack Good was trying to recreate and capture the Sun sessions days of the 1950s. At the same time Jack didn't put his own spin on the album. He retained Billy's original thoughts of the songs. The way that Billy wanted them to sound.

After the 'Sound of Fury', Billy moved away from rock ’n’ roll to crooning and had huge hits such as 'Halfway to Paradise' which, in all honesty, became a style of singing he was more famous for.

The early part of the 1960s had seen Billy appear on the huge package tours that passed through the theatres of Coventry.

However, after the hits dried up, Billy Fury found himself, like many, on cabaret circuit and appearing at clubs such as Mr Georges in the lower precinct.

The working men clubs circuit also beckoned Billy Fury as he also appeared locally at venues like the Walsgrave WMC and the Wyken club.

Sadly, this was to be the fate of many from that era.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

If there was a prize for the band who appeared at Coventry Theatre most times, then my guess would be that Hot Chocolate may well be in contention for top spot. They played the venue numerous times during the 1970s and early 80s. Prior to that, and in their very early days, they also appeared at the Chesford Grange a couple of times.

And when you think Hot Chocolate, I think it is fair to say, you think of their charismatic vocalist Errol Brown. But, like with all success stories, there is a bit more to it.

As a youngster I clearly remember being blown away, at my local youth club, by their 1970 Hammond driven hit 'Love is Life' and its follow up, 'I Believe in Love'. And the chart hits continued for the next decade and a half. Unusually Hot Chocolate were primarily a singles band. Apart from greatest hits, they never really had any real album success.

The roots of Hot Chocolate began in London when Errol Brown and Tony Wilson began songwriting during 1968. Bands and artists who used their work included Mary Hopkin and Hermans Hermits. After a cover of John Lennon's iconic song 'Give Peace a Chance' had been sent to Apple Records the duo were given the name Hot Chocolate Band by an Apple secretary.

After the short lived association with Apple, the duo dropped the 'band' part of the suggested name, and went ahead simply known as Hot Chocolate. Soon after, Mickie Most had them signed up to his RAK record label. During those early singles various musicians were used to flesh out the band.

By the time of the bands sixth single, 'You'll always Be a Friend', released during 1972, the 'classic' line up of Brown - vocals, Wilson on bass, Harvey Hinsley on guitar, Tony Connor - drums, Patrick Olive - percussion and Larry Ferguson on keyboards had been established.

Brown and Wilson wrote some heavy lyrics. 'Emma', for example, released during 1974, was a song about a woman's dashed dreams of stardom that tragically ended in suicide. The lyric was thought to have had haunting similarities to Errol's own personal circumstances surrounding his Mother who had passed away when he was just 19.
Hot Chocolate had, by now, become well known on both sides of the Atlantic. The serious lyrics continued with songs like 'A Child's Prayer' released during 1975. The theme of the song being despair and hunger.

Errol Brown and Tony Wilson enjoyed writing lyrics that people could easily identify with. And 1975 also saw the last collaborative hit as Tony Wilson left the band soon after. That song was the chart topping 'You Sexy Thing'.

The song, unique in as much the featured congas were played through a wah wah pedal, was about a dancer met at a West End Club called Gulliver's. Two years later that dancer became Errol's wife. The pair remained together for almost 40 years until Errol Brown's untimely death during 2015.

Losing Tony Wilson had a profound effect on the bands style but not an adverse effect on their popularity. Hot Chocolate went from strength to strength as they became a more glamorous and commercial band. Additionally, some of their greatest hits were still to come.

Errol Brown moved to the Bahamas and invested in race horses. He also enjoyed his cars and one of the bands next singles, titled 'Heaven is in the Back Seat of my Cadillac', was about one of those cars.

Hot Chocolate also began to collaborate with other songwriters and this proved to be a major success as Russ Ballard's 'So You Win Again' hit number one. The overall sound of their songs became more expansive as 'Put Your Love in Me' proved with its strings and brass sections.

Few bands, if any others, could claim to have had a song in the charts during each year of the 1970s. And this feat continued during the first half of the 1980s as they clocked up a total of 230 weeks in the UK singles chart alone.

'I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I), released during 1984, was to be Errol Brown's last with the band as he left to go solo. Without him Hot Chocolate disbanded during 1986.

But of course through TV commercials and major film releases the legacy and the memory of Hot Chocolate's music is never too far away from earshot. And, if unfamiliar, that Tony Wilson era of the band is well worth delving into. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Stylusboy – ‘Routes’ album launch

Stylusboy – ‘Routes’ album launch.

by Pete Clemons

I have been aware of Stylusboy for at least 10 years. I first became aware of him when I saw him perform a gig at the Tin Angel when it was based in Spon Street. And over that time Stylusboy has produced a succession of quality songs and music.

Whether it be at CafĂ©’s or Pubs, Bookshops or Bistro’s he has played the lot. And I have tried to get to see him perform as often as I could. And throughout those many gigs he performed solo or as part of a duet.

For the release of his second album ‘Routes’, Stylusboy was going to step out of his comfort zone, by performing with a band. And, to my knowledge, this is the first time he has performed his music with a band. Although I do seem to remember a band at the Tin Arts Centre which he featured in.

The setting for this launch gig of ‘Routes’ was the unlikely surroundings of a coffee shop. But of course, this is no ordinary coffee shop.

Backhaus and Co. coffee shop is part of the Fargo village complex. It is situated on what I remember as a child as being Cooks warehouse. Cooks, amongst other things, sold carpets and was located on industrial estate off Gosford Street.

Parts of the fabric of the old warehouse still exists. The coffee shop is tucked away within that part of the old building. And the acoustics within the room were, surprisingly, very good.

Stylusboy mentioned to me beforehand that he had a touch of nerves. Months of planning and preparation had gone into the event, so I guess he was entitled to be. But if he was feeling a tad skittish it wasn’t at all visible as the gig got underway.

Despite it being Stylusboy’s evening he was surrounded by a strong team of experienced musicians. His band consisted of Wes Finch on guitar, Holly Hewitt – harmonies, John Parker on double bass and Tim Bowes – Drums.

For just over an hour they effortlessly breezed through songs from the new album. The single ‘Out Upon the Ocean’ along with ‘Embrace the View’, ‘Ride This Storm’, ‘Open the Door’ and ‘For the Souls of my Brothers’ along with many others, were among those that featured.

But the evening wasn’t totally devoted to ‘Routes’ as Stylusboy found time to revisit a few old faves such as ‘Lamplight’. And these were performed as they were conceived - without a band -who, for a few minutes, took a well-earned rest.

I asked Stylusboy where his inspiration for the Routes title came from: ‘Routes came from the fact a lot of the songs reference the idea of moving along a journey, maybe literally or through life. We all take different routes in life’.

I was also intrigued by the map of Coventry City centre presented on the physical CD: ‘The map came from the fact that a lot of the songs are inspired, directly or indirectly by Coventry. The map is old as you can’t copy a map unless it’s older than 50 years!’

It was a truly delightful and totally memorable evening. A lot of work and effort has gone into this album. Find more details about the album and other goodies on the link below.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Bob Dylan Isle of Wight 1969

Bob Dylan Isle of Wight 1969

by Pete Clemons

When talking about the legendary Isle of Wight festivals, then undoubtedly, the one held in 1970 generally crops up in. But equally as important was the one held during 1969 and headlined by Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan had been out of action, as far as the live scene was concerned, following an accident in 1966 and chose the island for his comeback gig rather than an offer to perform at Woodstock. Speculation was rife beforehand. It was suggested he could be onstage for a full three hours and that even The Beatles would reform to support him.

Those ‘lost’ three years had been spent writing reams of new music. A documentary film had also just been produced. George Harrison had even offered Apple Studios as a place for him to record.

Bob Dylan flew into London on 23 August and, after time in the capital, travelled direct to a 17th century manor house on the island which had been offered for his disposal. He stayed on the island for around 5 days and, such was the interest, brought with him an entourage of around 300 press men and photographers.

In addition to the hordes of UK music fans, hundreds of American fans also flew in for the gig as the crowd numbers, estimated at 200,000, grew to three times the population of the island.

Sunday 31st August 1969 and the festival had been in full swing for a couple of days. But the crowd noticeably swelled as first couple of bands, Liverpool Scene followed by Third Ear Band, hit the stage.

Gary Farr, brother of compere Ricki, was next up performing songs such as ‘Good Morning Sun’ and ‘The Vicar and the Pope’.

Following Gary came singer songwriter Tom Paxton who received one of the biggest ovations of the entire festival. It was totally unexpected but honestly deserved. Paxton is a craftsman and clearly won a whole host of new fans with songs like ‘Can’t help but wonder where I’m bound’, ‘Rambling Boy’ and ‘Last thing on my mind’. Obviously overwhelmed, Tom returned for several encores.

The Pentangle, however, didn’t fare so well. Low flying aircraft spoiled the ambience and a fire at the perimeter fencing caused the interest of some of the audience to wane. Members of The Rolling Stones unwittingly chose The Pentangles set to make their entrances. That meant the photographers refocused their lenses - much to the obvious annoyance of the band.

Next up was Julie Felix with a selection of songs that included ‘I want to be alone’ and Leonard Cohen's ‘Bird on a Wire’

As dusk set in Richie Havens made his appearance accompanied by a guitarist and a Congo player. They performed a dynamic version of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and warmed the crowd up with what was to come by way of a version of ‘Maggie’s Farm’.

It was now the turn of Bob Dylan and by now the atmosphere was charged. As Dylan took to the stage, albeit briefly, a few missiles were aimed at the photographers who were clearly blocking the view of some.

But Dylan’s appearance was brief. Bob’s backing group, The Band, then performed for almost an hour. Testing the WEM PA apparently. Still, they managed to showcase a lot of their own debut album.

Bob returned to the stage to rapturous applause. The Band stepped aside allowing Bob to perform acoustic. ‘It ain't me Babe’ and ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ followed. The Band returned and accompanied Bob on ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and ‘I’ll be Your baby tonight’ but clearly things were not going well.

We are going to do one more Bob announced and ‘Mighty Quinn’ followed. Bob did do an encore but the whole thing was nowhere near the rumoured three-hour set. And with a ‘thank you, thank you’ he was gone.

At the end of it all, none of the pre-gig predictions came to fruition. Bob Dylan’s shortened set lasted for around an hour. Maybe he had been ill as rumoured. But he certainly disappointed many. Bob allegedly netted 50,000 dollars for the performance and CBS capitalised as Bob’s then latest album Nashville Skyline which, despite all the publicity, was never harmed at all in terms of sales.