Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Reaction: two really important bits of memorabilia!!

Just discovered this on the web. I was searching for images of Torquay Town Hall and found this Kinks poster instead...

The one below I'm really pleased about!!! Both these posters are 1966.

I wonder if any of the band stayed behind to watch Eric Clapton and co...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Graham Hankins at work

Graham works as a manager of one of Truro's well known clothes shops, and I was lucky enough to talk to him at work today, which I did in the shop in amongst a huge selection of suits and bowties. He was able to clear up a few interesting things - such as the fact that Reaction had worked with Roger Brokenshire on and off for the best part of a year before he finally became their singer.

But there was also a bit of confusion re whether Graham went up into Devon with the band in 1965 or 1966. It was most likely to be 1965 because he remembers Johnny Grose (Quale) being very nervous about having to sing in one of the massive halls in Torquay, and yet Rick Penrose has said he remembers playing with Graham in Devon, suggesting that it was 1966. Will need to try and resolve this issue, possibly by contacting other members of the Reaction that will remember...

Graham talked about rehearsing with the band in various places, most memorably in Malpas in Jim Craven's cottage after the entrance to the village and near the village hall. As well as lots of new insights about the group, Graham also has a photo of Reaction with Roger Taylor that has not been reproduced before. And, take my word for it, its a beauty!

UPDATE 25/7/10: Jim Craven has confirmed that the first Torquay and Exeter gigs were in '65...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Graham Hankins

Graham Hankins was one of the very early members of The Reaction, Roger Taylor's band in Cornwall. He still lives and works in Truro and I spoke to him this evening. He remembers being introduced to Roger in the street (Pydar Street?) in the middle of Truro by someone called Oscar Carveth, and Roger joined Johnny Quale and the Reaction following this meeting. Contrary to the information in Queen the Early Years, Johnny and Graham, although older than Roger, were not more experienced as musicians: in fact Graham hadn't been in a band before the Reaction.

He confirmed that the band's first ever gig was at the Rock and Rhythm Championship in 1965, and that that night they did an instrumental version of Ray Charles 'What'd I say' as well as one of their own compositions.

More on this to come!

UPDATE 25/7/10: Jim Craven has said that the band had a few incarnations before the R and R championship of '65, and that originally Oscar Carveth and Peter Baron played guitar and drums respectively, though whether this was The Reaction or not is I think open to debate. Will try to clarify this.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Shadows - The Rise And Fall of Flingel Bunt


Flingel Bunt was one of the tracks played by Cousin Jacks/Beat Unlimited at a do organised by the Liberal Association in the City Hall, 17th December, 1964. This was Roger Taylors first proper band and it is possible that this newspaper clipping from 24th December was the first time his musical efforts were ever recognised in the press:

Its worth noting two things. First that they were called Cousin Jacks (not Beat Unlimited even though Cousin Jacks was the older name) and second that the young liberal David Penhaligon (later celebrated MP for Truro) was the MC.

Shortly after this David Penhaligon helped organise a Folk Music Evening at Dave Dowdings place...

The Ventures: Wipe Out

This single from 1962 is brilliant...and according to Dave Dowding it was a favourite of Cousin Jacks/Beat Unlimited...I'd be interested to know if, when they played it in 63/64 whether they did it in a similar way to this performance - with the drummer very much taking the limelight...

UPDATE 22/7/10 Dave Dowding says yes it was similar - but Roger's drums breaks were even better!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

David Dowding and the very early days

Of all the people I have spoken to so far, David's musical involvement with Roger Taylor goes back the furthest. Thats him on the left with Roger and Mike Dudley rehearsing in New Mills, where his parents owned a farm.

Being in the same class at Truro School (2B to be precise) he knew Roger in 1961 when he still only possessed a single drum (imagine how many he has now!!!) They would rehearse with this solitary drum and a cheap Spanish guitar in Roger's garage.

The first name he remembers them using was 'The Cousin Jacks' (a colloquial term for a Cornish miner) which temporarily became 'Beat Unlimited' in around 1963 when Mike Dudley joined them on rhythm guitar.

The thing about both these bands is that they were instrumental bands - along the lines of The Shadows - not because they couldn't sing (Roger after all had been a chorister at Truro Cathedral)  but because for a long time there was an issue with the fact that none of their voices had broken.

He remembered some interesting things about Truro School, and particularly music teacher Kenneth Pelmear.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

PJs events...

Still trying to find more information and documentation of PJ's. Here are events organised at PJ's (and other related Mike Grose/Pete Bawden gigs) as advertised in the West Briton. It includes, on August 7th (shortly after Smile had split and Queen had formed) a gig in which Tim Staffell and Mike Grose played together under the name No Joke!. Mike would have, by then, finished his stint with Queen. Nigel Uren, the third member of the group, was a drummer who played with Smokey Joes and other Cornish bands.

1968 Opens on December 13th
December 26th Clouds (one of the best club groups in the country)

Jan 7th Onyx
Jan 14th Vigilantes
Jan 21st Jason's Mind ('representing the group whose guitarist was voted best instrumentalist of the recent Cornwall Group Championship)
Jan 28th Empty Vessels ('BOOB! last weeks blurb said that the best instrumentalist was a member of Jasons Mind when in fact Colin plays for The Good Times')
Feb 4th Gin House ('presenting the DJ Fat Mo, not to be confused with our cloakroom attendant Chairman Mo')
Feb 11th The Onyx
Feb 18th The Vigilantes
Mar 4th The Good Times
Mar 11th Constable Zippos Electric Commode Band
Mar 18th Gin House
Mar 21st Mission Impossible
Mar 22nd The Good Times
Mar 25th The Other Five
Mar 28th Smile ('who have appeared at Londons top clubs and recently broadcase on Radio 1s Top Gear')
Mar 29th Smile
April 4th The Good Times
April 5th Onyx
April 8th Ginhouse
April 12th Bobby Knight Showband
April 18th Smile ('Beautiful sounds from one of the best bands ever to visit the county')
April 22nd Empty Vessels
April 25th Scorpions
April 26th Sponge
May 10th Grass
May 13th The Onyx
May 17th Made in England
May 20th The Late
May 24th Mosaic
May 27th Red Squares ('group who was voted No1 in Scandinavian pop poll')
May 31st Bobby Knight Soul Show
June 3rd Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions
June 10th Tanglewood (formerly Empty Vessels)
June 14th Confusion
June 17th Bent Cement
June 21st Mosaic
June 24th Constable Zippos Electric Commode Band
June 28th Smile ('special attraction')
June 29th Smile
July 1st The Mood
July 5th Onyx (' With their new record 'Tamaris Khan' heading for the hit parade...')
July 8th Universal Colour ('Incredible 4-piece from Cambridge - and for those who kindly asked Smile will be back on July 19th)
July 12th The Bobby Knight Show ('owing to objections from another club Misunderstood will now be appearing at a later date')
July 19th Smile ('The fantastic, beautiful...')
July 26th Good Times ('Welcome back to the fantastic new 4-piece)
August 5th The Red Squares
August 9th She Trinity ('Englands No1 All-girl group' ...Every week Kevin and Johnny Two of the best DJs in the country (theyre lousy in the town but great in the country!)')
August 16th Constable Zippo's Band ('this weekend featuring tow of the best groups on the Progressive Blues Scene')
August 17th Mr Lucifer
August 22nd The Embers
August 23rd The Late
August 29th Sky
August 30th Made in England ('At last!')
September 6th Easy Moses
September 13th Smile + Mr Lucifer ('a mind-blowing Progressive Blues Concert...with DJ and compere Kevin....DONT FORGET TO SMILE!)
September 14th Smile + Mr Lucifer
September 19th Chimera ('only 32 and a half new pence to members')
September 27th Mosiac
October 4th Great Expectations
October 11th Smoke ('recent hit My Friend Jack')
October 12th Locomotive (Recently in the charts with 'Rudis in Love')
October 19th Coconut Grove
November 1st Golliwog
November 8th Toast ('Radio One Stars!)
November 14th Onyx (Fantastic double event at PJs the opening of the the new coffee and griddle bar...Onyx who have a great new recrod 'Time Off' released on the same day. Next week Mr Lucifer)
November 23rd Mr Lucifer (The Best in Blues)
November 30th Mr Lucifer (Owing to thousands of requests (mainly from their agent!) we once again have pleasure in presenting the incredible....)
December 7th Bacchus
December 14th Mother Child
December 23rd The Onyx ('...A Cool Yule and a Hippy New Year')
December 26th Smile ('with surprise Guest Artistes')
December 27th Wishful Thinking

January 17th 'Smile'
January 31st 'Safron'
February 1st 'Joseph's Gathering'
Febaury 21st 'Poor Fish'
Feb 28th 'Mr Lucifer'
March 7th 'Smile'
March 8th 'Smile'
April 2nd (Thursday) Talent Night
April 3rd 'Third Ear Band'
April 4th 'Made in England'
April 10th 'Mighty Baby'
April 11th 'Sky'
April 17th 'Smile'
April 18th 'Smile'
May 1st 'High Tide'
May 2nd 'Wizard' and 'Temple Creatures'
May 8th 'Formerly Fat Harry'
May 15th 'Warm Dust' (heads of the world unite and listen to more Friday night mind music...)
June 6th 'Mr Lucifer'
June 13th 'Marvelous Kid' (debut of new super group)
July 25th 'Queen' ('formerly Smile')
August 6th 'Free'  (Truro City Hall)
August 7th 'No Joke' Tim Staffel, Mick Grose and Nigel Uren
August 15th 'Figg'
August 16th 'Group Contest'
September 5th 'Marvelous Kid'
September 12th 'T2'
October 3rd 'Ginhouse'
Octbober 10th 'Julians Treatment'
October 24th 'Gracious'
November 7th 'New Federation'
November 21st 'Orange Bicycle'
December 24th 'Marvelous Kid'

1971. PJs ads in the West Briton are less frequent and less prominent in 1971
January 9th Medicine Head
January 16th Julian's Treatment

smaller adverts with different logo from here on:
March 6th Safron
March 13th Cloven Spirit ('plus Kev Stuart')

Shortly before closing PJs briefly becomes 'Camelot Club' St Clement Street, Truro
April 24th New Federation
April 25th Kentucky
May 1st Swinging Blue Jeans (by popular demand we are now open every day except Monday)
May 4th Porky
May 8th 4 Wheel Drive
May 12th Marvellous Kid

Marvelous Kid and Mr Lucifer were bands local to Cornwall that may have members who are still in the county.

Dave Penprase's 'Room at the Top' had, by 1970, become probably the most significant folk music venue in Cornwall, and (apart from May and June when it was a surf-themed disco) throughout the year The Famous Jug Band, fronted by singer Jill Johnson, were resident there. (eg 'January 22nd The Famous Jug Band and friends introduce exclusive scoop: Gerry Lockran').

By mid 1971 there were no more PJs ads, and soon after Room at the Top ads dry up suggesting both venues had bitten the dust...

Mike and Pete were also involved with putting on Free at the City Hall. More on this later...

UPDATE 8/8/10 I've checked with Mike Grose and Tony Coxon: local bands that Tony was involved with included Jason's Mind (with Mike) Bent Cement (with Mike) and Marvelous Kid. Mike was involved with Safron and Made in England...We know too that Onyx and Ginhouse were Cornwall- based rock bands, as were lesser known Scorpions, Constable Zippo and Vigilantes (later Coconut Grove). Temple Creatures were a psych folk outfit from Penzance that included Clive Palmer (Incredible String Band) in their line-up.  If anyone can help with the describing the other bands that played at PJs that would be great. I'm going to get the other adverts for 1969 soon - probs tomorrow. 
Mighty Baby, Warm Dust, Empty Vessels, Tanglewood, Third Ear Band, and Smile themselves were touring bands from out of the county, many Roger Taylor would have helped Pete book at PJs. Third Ear Band were very experimental and prog rockish included a cellist who played with Clive Palmers COB. Empty Vessels and Tanglewood became Wishbone Ash, Temple Creatures became COB, and (have I mentioned this before?) Smile became Queen.

Spoke with Colin Brokenshire of Ginhouse tonight: he remembers PJs seeming very isolated - with few if any other buildings around it. He likened it to a clubhouse in the middle of a football field. I think this is a reminder of the extent to which this area had been demolished. Thanks to for image below of Ginhouse.


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

In Truro during 1970 there were lots of interesting comings and goings...

re Smile gigs: here is the list I made earlier...

26.10.1968 Smile Imperial College London UK
31.01.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
27.02.1969 Smile Royal Albert Hall London UK
28.02.1969 Smile Athletic Club Richmond UK
15.03.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
22.03.1969 Smile Flamingo's, Redruth UK
28.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
29.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.04.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
19.04.1969 Smile Revolution Club London UK
31.05.1969 Smile Whisky A Go Go London UK
28.06.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
29.06.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
19.07.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
??.08.1969 Smile Fowey Carnival UK
13.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
14.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.10.1969 Smile College Union Watford UK
01.11.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
06.12.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
13.12.1969 Smile The Marquee Club London UK
26.12.1969 Smile PJs Club Truro UK
31.01.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK
17.04.1970 Smile PJs Club Truro UK
18.04.1970 Smile PJs Club Truro UK
24.04.1970 Smile Eel Pie Island Twickenham UK
09.05.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK

But I ve noticed three more in 1970 that were obscured in the creases of the microfiched newspaper ie
17.01.1970 Smile PJs Club, Truro UK
7.03.1970 Smile PJs Club, Truro
8.03.1970 Smile PJs Club, Truro
So thats a total of 13 gigs at The ads will all feature in the exhibition - but I wont post them here.

UPDATE 10/8/69 Make that 14...theres a cool one for Boxing Day 1969 too!

UPDATE 23/7/10
Checked Cornishman Jan - Sept 1969 and found another ad confirming that they played at the Winter Gardens so thats:
05.04.69 The Winter Gardens, Penzance

Mike Dudley said to me that he played as part of a Smile gig at the Winter maybe that was it...

I should add that there were some other ads of historical interest. In particular the gig that Smile played at the end of June - now acknowledged to be the first ever Queen gig - was advertised by Roger Taylor's mum not once but twice. And the first ad (which hasn't been reproduced before) was placed four months earlier, in February (above). This is proof that it had been a seriously long-standing commitment to play as Smile, helping to explain why they did so despite the fact that by June they had become Queen...

Might seem an obscure point but for Queen buffs this is a crucial issue!

The other ad from the first part of that year that is also obscure but interesting, is this one which mentions Freddie Mercury's shortlived band Sour Milk Sea. He had obviously intended to come down with them, but in the event Smile  - even though they had broken up - played the gig themselves with Mike Grose on bass...

The Strangers pre-1965

Met with Rick Penrose again yesterday. He was able to give more detail about a number of The Reaction gigs - including one in Bodmin that involved a stripper...

This picture is of his pre-Reaction band The Strangers in Newquay. Rick is the handsome blond lad on the left and he is pictured with Valerie...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Doug Puddifoot images of Mike Grose: Queen's first bassist

Mike remembers - at one point - having 30 or 40 images of Queen that were taken by Doug Puddifoot in 1970. But over the years he has given them away to friends, family and journalists and only has a handful left. This one is another that was taken at Imperial  - probably in the lecture theatre that the band rehearsed in...

Mike also kindly let me make some copies of photos he has of 'The Individuals' who were rivals to 'The Reaction' and beat them in the 1965 Rock and Rhythm Championship in Truro. I'm not putting all this stuff on the blog though - need to keep some it back for the exhibition!

Roger Brokenshire again

Met up with Roger B again to discuss his career before The Reaction - partly because I wanted to get a feel for the kind of places that The Reaction played in the Torquay area. The key player here was Lionel Digby who was a very active and influential impressario in Torquay in the sixties...

He now, apparently, runs a successful costume hire business. Roger also described his appearance on the Carroll Levers show, which preceded Opportunity Knocks and indeed provided the template for it. Here is Roger pointing to himself singing in the City Hall as part of the show. I think he was eight at the time.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Reaction adverts from 1965 only

Went through the adverts again for Roger Taylor's first band The Reaction, this time looking at late 1965. There are two interesting dates close together that allow us to date Roger 'Sandy' Brokenshire's involvement quite accurately:

21st October Godolphin Hall, Helston ('Beat Dance with Johnny Quell and the Reactions')
20th November Princess Pavilion, Falmouth ('Rikki and the Layabouts supported by The Reactions featuring the original Sandy')

The spelling mistake (Quell not Quale) is unfortunate if amusing. The Reactions did not play at the Flamingo before Xmas '65 but did play on New Years Eve 1965

31st December The Flamingo ('Grand New Years Dance: Your favourites Trendsetters Ltd, The Reactions and The Misfits')

More to come on 1965...but its going to be worth noting that The Who played at the Skating Rink in Camborne in October, and, also that Pete Bawden's group the Staggerlees were busy gigging in Cornwall over Xmas 1965, though Pete may have left by then as he was mainly active with them during '62 and '63

UPDATE: 10/7/10 Some more 1965 adverts sorry theyre a bit mixed up right now
25th September Princess Pavilion Falmouth ('The Couriers supported by Johnny Quale and the Reactions')

It seems Johnny Quale was cursed with a name no-one could spell (though spelling is corrected in the following Thursday edition of the West Briton)
19th April Truro City (Hall?) Beat Spectacular (Johnny Quaile and The Reactions with The Individuals)
This gig was significant as Roger and the others would have played on the same gig as Mike Grose who was in the The Individuals and later played in Queen.

15th March Truro City Hall Rock and Rhythm Championship 'sixteen groups from all parts of Cornwall will be competing'

18th March Rock and Rhythm Championship write up 'One long scream'

In this one the name is spelt wrong yet again:
14th August Princess Pavilion, Falmouth ('Johhny Quale and The Reactions support to The Dowlands and Soundtracks')

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Mike Grose's guitar

I met up with Mike again yesterday. Here he is holding the remains of the guitar that he played when he was with Queen. It was a Fender Precision that he'd had imported from the States in 1963....Fantastic.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Roo Fairbairn and Halford Road, Fulham

Just been speaking on the phone to a man called Roo Fairbairn who still lives in Cornwall and was a contemporary of Roger's at Truro School. He remembers seeing The Reaction play several times. A guitarist himself, he later lived with Les Brown in Halford Road, Fulham. The fancy dress party that is immortalised on the back cover of Queen 1 took place in the Halford Road flat. He says he took lots of photographs that night, incuding some that feature on the album cover, and what is more he still has some of them (but sadly not the prints used in the actual collage because he would have given them to Queen, and the original artwork was subsequently lost in the EMI offices somewhere). More to come on this, but in the meantime Brian May himself has written about this on his own website recently:

And below ... here's the rest of the back cover ... including some pictures of the four of us at a fancy dress party given by our friend Les Brown, I seem to remember. (I think it's time Roger and I wrote that book!!!) I am a penguin, of course, Roger is a Mad Hatter, John is ...erm, I'm not sure ... and Freddie is ... some kind of dashing cavalier ... there are also live pictures of us playing the Albert Hall (as Smile, actually) - at the Marquee (as Queen), at least one taken in Trident Studios, and, at the bottom, stills from our first photo session at Freddie's flat in Victoria Road, decked out with Biba artifacts. This session produced our first poster. The chess piece and the playing card are of course the White Queen and the Black Queen, already in existence in our heads, but to emerge later on Queen II. And in the middle of it all ... Deacy hiding behind a feather, and, largely ignored for about 40 years, a 3-D Drummer.