By Bill Harry
Advertisements in Mersey Beat sought Liverpool bands to play at American bases in France, although each group had to take a girl singer. Faron's Flamingos took a secretary, Pam Connolly and Nicky recalls, "Pam wasn't a singer but she was nice and she did the job. Terrible, she died tragically so young.
"We then went to France to play at American bases there. Eric didn't go as he had job
commitments, so we got Mushy Cooper on bass. After a while Billy and Mushy said they were leaving, so Faron took over on bass. When we were in Paris we met up with Paddy Chambers, who'd just left a trio who'd been playing in officers' clubs. We all got drunk in the Place Pigalle and 24 hours later we got a taxi back to Evereaux air bass and the real group was formed - me, Faron, Paddy and Trevor.
"I loved that band. We were the only band with two lead guitarists. Paddy and I used to swap lead licks, play harmonies, play 4's (4 beats each) 8's etc, long before anyone else. I used to 'hide' the pick in my bent forefinger and use my other fingers to play two or three strings together long before I knew what a 'hammer on' was or that Eric Clapton and Albert Lee used to do the same. Paddy used to use a beer bottle to do slide runs.
"It was probably the best band I was in. We chose our songs basically from American blues and soul records along with Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and so on."
The group were disillusioned after they'd recorded a blistering version of 'Do You Love Me,' which the record company placed on the 'B' side of their debut disc. Both Brian Poole & the Tremeloes and the Dave Clarke Five then copied the Flamingos version and it established their careers. The Flamingos disbanded.
Says Nicky, "We played with Brian Poole on the Plaza, St. Helens. When we came off Faron volunteered to write the words and chords out for 'Do You Love Me' for their guitarist. They released it a week later and the rest is history. After that disappointment we were all a bit disillusioned and went our separate ways.
"The group split up and Paddy went to Paddy, Klaus & Gibson and Trevor went to the Peddlers (at first he joined Ian Crawford & the Boomerangs). A week later the Mojos asked me to join them because Adrian Wilkinson had his own business and wouldn't turn Pro. Also, I was interested because Stu (Slater, aka James) had written 'See If She Cares' for the Flamingos and I was interested in songwriting. I still am and currently write with Griff (Brian Griffiths, former member of the Big Three)."
This occurred late in 1963.
"The Mojos were a good band and encouraged me to write. We were badly managed and our A&R man at Decca was out of touch with the current music scene and us. Consequently our records got worse and worse. We eventually split. Stu and I carried on as Stu James & the Mojos with Lewis Collins on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. That was a good band. I enjoyed working as a trio with a lead singer and Aynsley was without doubt the best drummer I ever worked with.
"The Mojos disbanded in 1967 but I continued to play, club bands mainly (Tripod with Brian Johnson and Charlie Flynn was one). I did a stint with the Undertakers and more recently with Kingsize. Nowadays I have my own band formed when necessary from about five to ten other musoc. I've worked mainly in I.T. for the last 25 years and have an MSc in I.T. management. I'm now semi-retired and work as a contractor, mainly in I.T."
When asked if he had any memories of the Beatles, Nicky said, "I don't do tales of the Beatles. Suffice to say I went to school with Pete (Best) and the real Beatles were when he was with them. They changed into something else when Ritchie came in. John was a real good friend, but could be cruel. George was a nice guy who kept himself to himself. I never had much to do with Paul, but I loved his voice. Ritchie's the luckiest man in the world, a nice guy and a good drummer."
Commenting on Jim Gretty of the Frank Hessy music store, Nicky recalled, "I used to get free plecs off Jim Gretty just for listening to him - despite what people say, he could play, but not as good as Bob (Hobbs) in Rushworths."
Nicky also recalled, "I played the Cavern umpteen times. Dark, sweaty and full of atmosphere. The Big Three were my heroes. Griff was amazing and still is and I'm still in touch. Hutch had charisma and a great voice. Gus was frightening!"
Commenting on Mersey Beat, he said, "Your paper was almost a catalyst that brought us all together. I have fond memories and I wish I had half a dozen mint copies of each edition. I could sell five of each and retire."