The Hi-Cats

By Tony Gaskell  

Top left: Vic Grace, lead guitarist; Johnny Templer, vocalist; Mal Theory, drums. Bottom left: Hoss Brown, rhythm guitarist; Barbara Harrison, vocals; Tony Tarson, bass guitaristThe origin of the Hi Cats can be traced back to 1958/9 and the Colomendy camp at Loggerheads, near Mold. This was when Liverpool Education used to run an annual 'Liverpool-Cologne' summer camp for students in secondary schools across Liverpool. These two week holidays, paid for by parents, were seen as a way of bringing together the youth of the day from both cities, hoping to help Anglo/German relationships after the war.

Just imagine a couple of hundred 14-16 year old teenagers of both sexes thrown together for a two week holiday, which although regulated by their accompanying teachers, allowed the kids considerably more freedom than they had experienced before.

For the 1959 camp, Vic Grace had brought his recently acquired guitar and was playing some of the current songs, which at that time were mostly 'skiffle' and 'folk' style. I had met Vic at the previous years camp and though I was a year or so younger, got on well with him and 'hung around' with the older lads in his group. During these musical get togethers, Vic suggested that I make up a tea chest type bass, just like the skiffle groups, and after much scrounging and ingenuity one of a sort was constructed which at least when played made a suitable 'thump.' Another guy 'found' a washing board and a Skiffle group came into being, performing two or three impromptu sessions that were fun (but crap musically!)

Because the Colomendy camp was run with organized activities, time to get together was somewhat limited, but the friendships made here, amongst many of the youngsters, would last way beyond the two week get together. 

Back in Liverpool, in my final year of school and with dreams of stardom gained from the Bells musical catalogue (Oh, how we used to drool over those guitars!) my dreams of having a guitar came true. After much pestering of my Mum, and thanks to HP, I became the proud owner of a newly invented instrument - the bass guitar: a small bodied Framus Star bass to be exact (1960).

There was only one problem: no one knew how to play bass guitar as they were new instruments, but by following Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde songs, I made some progress. Through the grapevine Vic Grace heard about this and contacted me to see if I fancied forming a group, so a meeting and short practice was arranged, resulting in a rehearsal of Gene Vincent's 'Pistol Packing Momma.'

Discovering mutual interest, Vic said he wanted to form a group, so I suggested Aussie Brown, a friend of mine who lived down the road. He had a guitar and could sing, so this left Vic to come up with a friend of his, Brian Cochen, who would play drums.

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