Both Roads - Part 3
Ah, Kent! The garden of England: the poet in me rebels.
Kent is to southerners, the so-called garden of England, and to others of their ilk, the centre of their little world. But to a lad from Liverpool - a young man who was accustomed to hustle and bustle, and people who were alive, this was the most mind-bendingly boring place on God’s earth; the epicentre of ennui; the place where you definitely wanted to be if you wished to be bored totally out of your skull. To me, it was worse than having to sit through a football match – but more of that later.
I was booked into the Old Victoria and Bull coaching house, which I will admit, was an absolutely gorgeous place. It was really what it said in the book: an old coaching house, with an arched way through the centre of the building through which horse drawn carriages would have passed some hundred or so years ago. I was actually in a room which overlooked the drive through; an all white-washed walls and cobbled passageway. Very historic.
I had been sent down there to Jennings Musical Industries-VOX musical industries, to learn everything there was to learn about my new equipment: brand new, black VOX AC30 amplifiers and speakers: a whole stage full. I was there for just two weeks: an intensive course on what to do if it doesn’t work, and how to make sure it always does. I spent more than eight hours a day at JMI – VOX and left with a rather comprehensive box of tools and spares, and the knowledge and ability to strip down, check, repair and generally service the gear entrusted to me.
Leaving Kent after suffering two over-long weeks of study and the same amount of evenings of mind numbing ennui, I joined the Mojos partway through the Dave Clark Five tour.
On the day I arrived, I was taken on a round of the dressing-rooms and introduced to everyone. Dave Clark and the boys were great – very friendly and sociable, but later I met one of the world’s nicest guys, who was also on the tour; and that - was Mark Wynter. When I met him he was very open, pleasant and to me, extremely genuine. Funnily enough, I met him again about eight or nine months later at ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ in Birmingham, and even though I had only been with the Dave Clark tour for the last three weeks or so, I was very surprised – and delighted – when Mark came over to us to say hello, and to me, ‘Hi there David, how are you’. He must have had a better memory than me for faces and names, and I thought my memory was good. On a scale of 1 to 10, Mark scores 10 as a nice guy.
On the other end of the scale however, were the Kinks. I’m afraid they, and in particular Dave Kink, were the complete opposites: totally arrogant, and in my humble opinion, just plain pig ignorant. You must remember, I had become accustomed to Liverpool bands; guy from next door types with no side to them: no conceit: guys who didn’t try to live up to their own legend – or maybe they just disbelieved the legends. The big problem was that the Kinks seemed to believe theirs. You could be talking, face to face with them, and they would, without a word, just turn and walk away.
However, that hiccough aside, we had a great tour – well, what was left of it, that is. A thing I discovered just recently was that they hated going on stage after Faron. They absolutely dreaded it.
I had settled into the Madison Hotel, in Sussex Gardens, with the band. Amongst many others, Lulu’s band the Luvvers stayed there, and Lulu herself was a regular visitor. She was a lovely girl: very tiny. I love little girls. My lady at the time was five feet tall, and my wife, Beth, is only five feet and a half inches in her stocking feet.
After a short time with the band, we devised a method of setting up the equipment in record time. We had laid out all of my connecting cables; colour coded them along with the amp and speaker units, and taped them together – the cables, that is. When we got to a theatre or hall, the cables, being on a roll, were thrown across the back of the stage, and the amp and speaker stands placed in front of them. The units were connected by colour, and the band was away. Less than ten minutes, start to finish. I acquired the nick-name ‘AC30’, after the amps, the day after I arrived, and it stuck until I finally called it a day and returned to God’s country.
Some months after I joined the Mojos, there was yet another, in some ways, unfortunate personnel change, when Terry O’Toole, Bobby Conrad and Keith Karlson left and were replaced by Lewis (Lew) Collins and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Lew was a nice guy and a passable bass player, but Aynsley, on drums, had to be seen to be believed. He played jazz and rock in equal
installments, and did them both fantastically. The band even included Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ into their bits and pieces. While Trevor was a brilliant rock ‘n roll drummer, Aynsley managed to combine both genres successfully. Up until the time I finally left the band and returned to God’s country, I don’t think I ever saw him put a drumstick wrong.
On the 5th of September 1964, we began a tour with the Rolling Stones: five weeks of rushing around the country like a crowd of rug rats, starting at the Finsbury Park Astoria. On the opening night we were graced with the company of Anna, a girl who admittedly, I had not had the somewhat dubious pleasure of meeting before, but who seemed to be well acquainted with the rest of the boys. I must admit, after less than ten minutes, I had to leave the dressing room. This young (lady?) stood on a table in the dressing room, stark naked, sort of dancing, and did the most creative things I had ever seen done with a Coca-Cola bottle; it put me off Coca-Cola for a long time: but enough of the liquid refreshment – back to the saga.