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In the beginning...

I guess it really started around 1962 / 63, I was still at school and had got a group together with some friends, but it didn’t come to much. I had long been influenced by the 50’s rock’n roll records being played constantly by my brother Hugh, who was five years older and a bit of a Teddy Boy at the time. His “gang”, called “The Clan”, would be in the house most of the time, especially at weekends, listening to music day and night, sleeping all over the floor. One of his best friends, Alan “Conk” Conway, played a bit of guitar and also dated my cousin Wendy. I clearly remember him sitting in the front room playing Buddy Holly songs on his Hofner.

In 1963 I was 14 years old, and around that time I was going to the Basildon Locarno (Mecca) Saturday afternoon matinees to watch the Dave Clark Five. I became friendly with Dave Clark and was using the same drumsticks as him which I couldn’t get in Southend, so he would buy them for me in London. Here I was introduced to Soul & Motown, played by the Mecca DJs.


It was Conk who got the ball rolling. He worked at the Arrow shirt factory, just down the road. A couple of his work-mates were ‘musically inclined’ and he suggested I form a band...

First to come round was Mick Harding. We hadn’t previously met, but his family were old friends of ours, I remember staying with his aunt on the east coast when I was a kid. Mick was keen to get  things going and coincidentally his older brother Terry was working with a chap who played guitar, another Mick. We knocked on Micky Drewer’s door, “fancy joining a group?” Then there were three.

                          My first drum kit

Chris Pyrah was the next to join us, hazy memories here but I think he auditioned. He turned up with a homemade guitar and had not long been playing, but nor had any of us. He was actually a fabulous bass player, a very natural feel. One annoying thing about him was that during rehearsals he would read comics while playing, but always note perfect nonetheless.

We definitely needed a singer. Another work-mate of Conk from the shirt factory appeared at the back door of my bedroom where we were rehearsing, Hughie Thomas. He had with him a guitar and amp and was under the impression he was there as a guitarist. Unfortunately for him, he was, respectfully, rubbish, but fortunately for us he was a great singer. Perfect, we now had a band.

Mick D., myself and Conk