Escort to a Bluejean
Paddy had been round to see Brian Epstein as his old band used to live with him. Paul was there, and had asked Paddy what he was doing in London. Paddy told him and Paul asked if he could come along. He was really pleasant and put us at our ease and he even played tambourine on the record. Chris Finlay (the Fruit Eating Bears) came along too and played piano and sang some back vocals.
We did all the usual TV shows promoting the record but the one that really sticks out is ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ It was the very last one and featured Roy Orbison – the Merseys – the Escorts – Sandy Sargeant and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was Jimi’s first TV appearance in England and he played live. I couldn’t believe it when he started chewing the strings of his guitar. I suppose he had no option as the policy then was that you went to Pye Studios – re-recorded your record – then mimed to it on the show – pretty silly if you ask me.
Anyway we still had the run of Roger’s flat and invited Billy Kinsley and Tony Crane round for a drink later. They didn’t make it so John and Paddy went down to the Scotch of St James – the “In” club at the time. I stayed at home with Tommy Kelly and got “very merry”. About 2.30am John and Paddy came back with a couple of fellas. I thought one was Craig Douglas but it turned out to be Brian Epstein – the other one was Kit Lambert the manager of the Who and the Merseys.
They stayed for a while and Eppie told us he would have liked to manage us earlier on but didn’t want to get involved with a contractual wrangle with Jim Ireland – it would have been too much hassle. On leaving they invited us to see Jimi Hendrix and the Who at the Shaftsbury Theatre, which Eppie had just bought. We were thrilled to bits – rubbing shoulders with the Hierarchy. We accepted of course and had one of the best nights I can remember. We ended up back at Eppie’s house mixing with the Beatles - Jimi Hendrix – the Who and other big names. It was some night.
Of course it didn’t last, and back in Liverpool the scene was stagnant. We’d gone from a sort of Teeny Bopper band to a band that other bands liked to watch. We’d become serious musicians under the tutelage of Paddy. He got me listening to Sam Cooke – Marvin Gaye – the Impressions and to James Jamerson who is to this day still my favourite bass player. He changed the face of bass playing to my mind and made the instrument cool.
Tommy Kelly was the next person to leave and he was replaced by Paul Commerford of the Cryin’ Shames.
Gradually the work dried up and we were thinking of doing a residency in the Victoriana when I got the offer to join the Swinging Bluejeans. Dave Beatty the manager of the Victoriana offered me the same money if I’d stay but I wanted a change. I’d turned down all the other jobs I’d been offered in the past but that was when I thought we would make it, and now my confidence was gone. My last gig was at the Liverpool Supporters Club and for some reason I’d left my Rickenbacker guitar overnight at the Victoriana where we had played the night previously, and when I went to pick it up, it was gone. It broke my heart.
I had to borrow a bass from Les Braid to do my last gig and I used Les’s bass until I bought another one from Kit Carson of the Dennisons, who had quit playing through illness and who tragically died later on.
THE SWINGING BLUEJEANS (1967 – 1971)
I loved playing with the Bluejeans – it was a whole new scene to me. We weren’t just playing one-nighters all over the country like the Escorts had done – we were doing clubs a week at a time. It was great. We did one-nighters as well but the gigs were very varied. It wasn’t all easy though, there were still the dreaded doubles where you did two clubs a night – like the Princess and Domino Clubs in Manchester. Sometimes it was a treble with the Georgian Club added on, but the gear was nothing like the size it is today.
I did two tours away with them – Czechoslovakia and Israel. One had just had a war and the other was about to be invaded. We only just got out of Czechoslovakia before the Russians came in.
The tour in Israel was great – we were on with the Flowerpot Men and Greyhound and had a really good time working with them. We played to the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to on Independence Day in Tel Aviv. They reckon it was about 50,000 people. There were armed guards standing in front of the stage and there were deep pits all around it in case they found any bombs. It was pretty scary.
I stayed with the group until 1971. Sadly I left because it was a very strange time and work had dried up and I had a baby daughter to think about. I ended up working in Thorn colour tubes in Skelmersdale.
I didn’t give up playing though – I got a job in the resident band with Lance Railton and Gill Martin (both of whom have sadly passed away) at the Wookey Hollow and Dave Josephs on drums. It was just to put myself on show in case any of the acts were looking for a bass player. That’s where I met Johnny Goodison – he was there with his fabulous band Blackwater Junction.
I’d given up work and taken a job backing Clodagh Rogers along with Kenny Goodlass but that didn’t last long as she went into panto for a couple of months. Johnny offered me some session work down in London and that’s how I got involved with Big John’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus.
I recorded two albums in 1974 with Johnny just as a session with other session players. The first single which was released was ‘The Lady Put The Light On’ and the second was ‘Rockin’ In The USA’ which were both hits in South Africa. So Johnny decided to put a band together and go out there to
capitalize on it.
BIG JOHN’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CIRCUS (1975 – 2006)
The tour was to last six weeks and the band members were:
Johnny Goodison (Ex Brotherhood of Man) Vocals & Keyboards
John Tebb ( Ex Casuals) Vocals & Keyboards
Geoff Workman (Ex Eddie Cave & The Fix) Vocals & Keyboards
Howie Casey (Ex Howie Casey & The Seniors) Saxophone
Gordon (Flash) Smith Vocals & Guitar
Ian Murray Drums
Mike Gregory Vocals & Bass
I drove down to the Tottenham Royal Ballroom in London to rehearse every morning for two weeks and had to drive back to play at the Wookey Hollow at night.
Then horror of horrors the agent got deported and the tour was cancelled. We had a really good band and nowhere to play.