Mal's Memories

By Mal Jefferson  

Mal JeffersonI was the second of four brothers. All of them played in Mersey groups, amongst them the Harpos and the Cryin' Shames. My younger brother Steve is a teacher and still plays in a soul band around Coventry called the Cunning Stunts.

I still perform myself as a solo act featuring 1950s rock 'n' roll and 1960s soul, and playing guitar and harmonica live. I have done around 4,000 paid gigs so far in my career, I've also done solo comedy, musical duo's with male and female, trios, vocal groups, country and rock 'n' roll bands. Reading music, I was also in Hotel function bands for many years doing all the big north west hotels - the Adelphi, St. George's, Southport's Prince of Wales, Manchester's Midland and Chester's Grosvenor Hotel.

I set up recording studios in 1969 and have produced over 2,000 albums and countless backing tapes. I have mail order companies selling music and sports tapes and videos. Over the years I have bought the rights to some football matches, films and documentaries, like the three George Formby ones I sell. I currently manage David Garrick, have produced his latest CD and am writing his biography.
[Mal has also provided a brief biography of his activities between 1961 and 1963 -ED]

1961: Childwall Hall Youth club. I booked the bands for the weekly dances, including the Remo Four, the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Ian & the Zodiacs and others. The average fees were £12 to £15. I'll never forget the haggling Brian Epstein did to get the Beatles £3 more than the Remo. It was embarrassing. He offered me free records and discounts off washers and all kinds of things. I'll say one thing for him - once he started negotiating 'high finance' he never let his quarry go until he had made a firm agreement and confirmed it in writing the next day. Colin Manley from the Remo Four was at college with me, as was Les Chadwick of the Pacemakers. Colin would eat a plate of chips between two slices of bread, then do it again twice more. I've never seen anyone with a metabolism like him.

1961: I had just bought an L.P. by an American jazz trio, the 'Mastersounds.' Ritchie Crabtree on organ, Benny Barth on drums and Monk Montgomery on Fender Precision Bass. Monk was brilliant and was the first electric jazz bassist. I listened to it interminably. They split up and I later took the name.

1962: I answered an advert in the Liverpool Echo. A singer was looking for a group. I auditioned with a number of others and got taken on doing bass/vocals with Tony Cockayne on guitar and a drummer I can't recall. We named the group Buddy Dean & the Teachers. It was all right. Tony was a non-busking guitarist - a rarity and, in the days of the Mersey Sound, a drawback. Anyway, he could read music fluently and memorized important guitar licks, note-for-note by Franny Beecher, Barney Kessel and others. I had started to read and arrange music and we were a bit of an oddity. I'd write out the arrangement and we'd learn it and play it the same every time. 'Buddy Dean' was Ritchie and an Elvis worshipper. He wasn't bad at all, looked a bit like Elvis and did a groveling, sweaty stage act which the girls liked. He'd collapse at the end and we'd cart him off. Together we made quite a good and entertaining unit. I had a red Hofner solid bass, which was Okay - and a very low powered Fenton Weill Bass amp/cab - which wasn't. It was difficult doing gigs. I remember the nice guys who lent me their bass amp or guitar cabinets with great affection and gratitude. Kenny Johnson (so many times) from the Hillsiders, Wigan's Beat Boys, Charlie from the Zodiacs, Rory Storm, Vic Grace, Jackie Lomax and some others. I was able to return the favours since I went into building and designing speaker cabinets as a business later on.

1962/3: I formed my own group, the Mastersounds, with Tony Cockayne on guitar, me on bass/vocals, various drummers including Pete Clark, John Foster, Trevor Morais and Mike Price. Keyboards were played by Frank Hopley, a good-looking lad who sang well and who'd had piano training. He lived off Kensington with his Mum and Dad and was always a bit of a mummy's boy. If the band didn't let him sing a new number, his mum would come and complain to me.. We'd take it all in with a straight face, then explode laughing as soon as we were out of earshot. This was the group that did so well. We featured mainly blues and R&B material.

Mal Jefferson 1963: We got a manager, Gordon Brown. Gordon was married to Vera Leach, Sam Leach's sister. Gordon was a small, chirpy, ex-featherweight boxer. We loved the guy - he was always fantasizing about how soon we'd be millionaires - a Mersey Del Boy. He got us loads of work and organized transport, which was a big item. Him and his pal Dick Matthews went with us everywhere. Gordon's body-builder brother Rayo, plus the 'trance-dancers' Dollar and Andy made up our full complement when we went to any major clubs. When I had the inevitable teenage rebellion thing with my father, Gordon became my surrogate dad. I slept on his couch. He always looked out for me and never once let me down. Gordon started getting us gigs at the major local venues. the Orrell Park Ballroom, the Peppermint Lounge, the Holyoake and larger clubs in Wales, Barrow, Manchester and Carlisle. We'd play alongside all of the Merseyside hit recording groups and sometimes the American stars: Bruce Channel, Stevie Wonder, Gene Vincent. We played at the Winter Gardens, Morecombe in March 1962 with Jimmy Justice who was No. 9 with 'When My Little Girl Is Smiling.' Our roadies for a short time were two despicable characters we called 'the two Alans' who got up to things that went far beyond a joke. In Morecambe they nicked the wipers off Jimmy's van to get us home in the pouring rain, since ours had been nicked earlier.

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