From the Nightriders
The Evolution of a Merseyside Musician
Keith Hubbard began performing on the Mersey scene in 1963 and is still on the road with his current band Shooter. He outlines his personal history:
In 1963 I co-founded my first group the Nightriders at the St Anne's CYMS Club, Ormskirk, where we supported many of the groups from the Liverpool area. In the early part of 1964 the group changed their name to Ian & the Rebels, a five piece band featuring myself on lead guitar, with Ian Gregson on vocals, Roy Smith on rhythm guitar, Chris Kenny on drums and Derek Brough on bass. During the summer of '64 Ian left the Rebels to become a sales rep and was replaced by Ricky Gleason (former frontman of the Top Spots). The group, now based at Ormskirk YPC, then began to make regular appearances at many of the known Mersey venues including the O.P.B., the Temple bars, the Cavern, St John's Hall, Bootle and the Southport venues the Klic Klic, Marineview, Marina Clubs and the Floral Hall.
I remember our first appearance at the Cavern was on the night that Johnny Gustafson was introduced as the replacement bassist for Billy Kinsley (Billy having left to form the Kinsleys). We opened the evening and the Merseybeats followed, opening with Johnny Gus singing 'Lucille.' Magic!
It wasn't all plain sailing, though. During 1964 Liverpool and the Mersey sound ruled and I recall the Rebels having a gig at the Palais, Bury, one of the old style ballrooms. On arrival at the gig we were overwhelmed with the sight of our name brandished on a billboard which ran across the entire front on the building. It read: 'From Liverpool, the fantastic Ian & the Rebels', plus (in very small print) 'The Brothers Grimm.' This was very early '64 and we were very naive and hadn't been playing long, not the best of bands to say the least. Anyway, undaunted, we set up our equipment which consisted of 2 x15 watt Stanley guitar amps, a Selmer Futurama bass amp (20 watts fully fuelled) and Chris erected his Beverley drum kit on the drum riser, tying the front spurs of his bass drum to the main station of his stool so as his kit wouldn't move. All set to go.
Then the Brothers Grimm arrived, fully equipped with Vox ac 30s, Vox Foundation bass amp and a P.A. (we'd never seen one of them before). They were told to set up on the front part of the stage and had to make sure all their gear was cleared before the main act - us! - went on stage.
The Brothers Grimm opened up the night - guess whose faces were now grim? Picture the scene, the audience had just enjoyed a great band and the expectation was high and we had to follow them. "Ah, well, we'll just have to give it 'em" said
Roy. After a way-over-the-top introduction we started with 'I Saw Her Standing There.' A bar or so into the song the rope holding together Chris's drums snapped and his kit cascaded down the steps onto the dance floor. Total embarrassment. Those in the audience who didn't fall about laughing made a hasty retreat to the bar. Ah, that's stardom for you!
At our first booking at the Klic Klic Club we noticed that all the bands left their names on the dressing room wall, so we proudly scribbled Ian & the Rebels - only to return next gig to find that some bright spark had made a simple change: PIAN & THE TEREBELS. Were they trying to tell us something?
At the end of 1965 Ricky and Derek left the Rebels and were replaced by J.J. (Alan Grundy, ex-frontman with J.J.& the Hi-Lites) and bass player Kelvin Harrison (ex-member of the Top Spots). They were both available due to the break-up of the Mersey
Monsters, of which they were founder members. This line-up gigged throughout 1966.
The Rebels continued with one other change, that of drummer Chris Kenny who had to leave due to illness. Roy David (former drummer with St. Louis Checks) replaced Chris. This lasted until 1967. The members of the Rebels then went their separate ways.
Flirting with various folk and blues type groups and pub busking ensembles, through to 1969, Roy Smith and I decided to re-form the old band. About the same time, during a Granada 'Scene At 6.30' broadcast, it was announced that auditions for the first touring cast of the rock musical 'Hair' were being held at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, the next day. Roy and I decided to give it a try. Turning up with about 500 other hopefuls, we had our auditions on the second day and through more luck than management I eventually secured a part in the show, touring the country, which included two seasons at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool in 1970/71. While appearing in 'Hair' my main aim, together with Roy, was to form a new band. With the help of Chris Kenny (now recovered from illness) and bassist Ray Chapman (a cousin of Dave Percival, ex-member of the Pawns and the Kinsleys), rehearsals went underway and Ray came up with the new name for the band: Caliban.