The bands of which I have been a full time member are:

Last Orderz (1980 – 82).

My first ever band, consisting of myself on bass, Tim Gough on guitar, his brother Pete on drums and Steve Sims on vocals. A punk band typical of the time, they had been going under the name of Paradox, when bassist Paul Shepherd announced he was leaving the band. When I found out they needed a new bassist my instant reaction was “I’ll do it”. I had no bass and had never played a note in my life, but it was coming up to Christmas 1980 and once I asked my parents for a bass and they said “Yes”, I was in.

We rehearsed at Tim’s house and at mine, played all original material and wrote songs regularly. Shortly after I joined, Pete (who was primarily a bassist not a drummer) left the band and was replaced briefly by Darren Abraham, then later by Phil North.

After a year or so of practicing and learning plenty, but not really achieving anything, Steve and Tim left the band and though Phil and I carried on for a while with replacements Barrie Watson (guitar) and Darren Abraham (returning as vocalist rather than drummer), it was short lived and by January 1982 Last Orderz had folded completely.

Darren went on to form Hidden Detail with Pete Gough (bass), Tim Gough (guitar) and Jeff Lewis (drums); Phil gave up music completely and went full time into a career in cricket, playing for both Glamorgan CCC and Worcestershire CCC and going on to captain Wales; and Barrie and I formed Masque.

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Masque (1982 – 84).

Formed in February 1982, the initial line-up of Masque was myself (bass/vocals), Barrie Watson (guitar), Haydn Wood (drums) and Marc ‘Joey’ Saunders (vocals). It was with this first line-up of Masque that I did my first ever ‘proper’ gig, at the 1982 ‘May Day Festival’, in Cwmbran town centre, playing entirely original material.

In August, after only a few gigs, Joey and Barrie left the band. Haydn and I sought replacements and eventually carried on with Andrew Mountain (guitar) and Darren Abraham (vocals – whom I had worked with in Last Orderz). This was the most successful line-up of Masque and we played at such places as the old Newport Students’ Union and very memorably, in December 1982, to a packed St. Julian’s School hall, on ‘Charity Day’, when Andrew snapped a string, threw down his guitar in disgust and walked off the stage to rapturous applause.

Andrew left Masque in October 1983 and the band never gigged again. Short-term guitarists over the next few months were Simon Williams, Dale Clarke and Mike Cole (who went on to play bass for 60 Ft Dolls), but by the summer of 1984 the band was all but over.

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In June 1984 I got a knock on the door from Tim Chapman. Tim and I had been in Durham Road Infant School together, but it was the first time I had seen him for years. Tim was drumming for a then nameless band that included Paul Bale (vocals), Richi Glover (bass), Nick Stead (keyboards) and Neal Evans (guitar), none of whom I knew at the time, but all of whom I would end up playing alongside in the future.

They had heard that I had a 4-track portastudio and they wanted to record a demo. During our get-togethers regarding the recording, Tim, Paul and I realised that we shared a love of harmony vocals and we talked about working together. Their band was due to lose Richi, as he was expecting to go off to college, so they offered me the chance to join up with them as bassist.

At the time I was still playing with Haydn Wood in the aftermath of Masque. We had had no guitarist for months, but had continued recording original material, with me covering the guitar, bass and vocal duties.
When the call from Tim came, Haydn and I had just teamed up with guitarist Andrew ‘Stud’ Evans and wanted to continue working with him.
Tim was keener to sing than to drum, so it was agreed that he would come off the kit and front the new line-up, with Haydn drumming and both Andrew & Neal on guitar. Nick Stead had other things going on, so Paul moved to keyboards and a new six-piece band began.

It quickly became obvious that Tim, Paul and I were far more interested in the harmony vocals than Haydn, Andrew and Neal were, so we started to get together separately just to sing harmonies. This was my first taste of Tim’s voice. Even then it was obvious to me that it was something special and to this day he is still the greatest singer I have ever been lucky enough to work with.

Back in February of that year, I had begun busking with Mike Cole (who went on to play bass for 60 Ft Dolls) and although all the songs were covers, we had had great fun.
So, as a way of singing our harmonies together and making some extra money, Tim, Paul and I formed an acoustic trio and started busking together ourselves.
We named this trio Apple Pie and wrote original material, but threw in the odd cover too. Surprisingly, we proved to be such a success on the streets that we were asked to play at various pubs, clubs and functions, as well as continuing to busk regularly.
As Apple Pie grew, Haydn, Andrew and Neal decided to let Tim, Paul and I go our own way and the electric band ended.

It was with Apple Pie that I played my first ever gig in TJ’s (then still known as El Sieco’s), in
September 1984, to a packed house, supporting The Band Bamboo.
We went on to do lots of gigs, though we were never really suited to ‘cab’ clubs and abandoned the idea of cab club gigging after a single show - with Owen Money in late 1984.

At Christmas time, my ever-supporting mother made costumes for us and we took to the streets as two angels and Santa Claus. That fist year was such fun that we continued for the next few years, with the costumes being gradually improved year by year to eventually include a Christmas elf and a seven foot tall ‘Rudolph’, complete with full antlers and glued on nose (guess who?).

A few months earlier, Paul had been approached by local country band Clovis and asked to join up with them as keyboard player. With the huge amount of work they had on, it was too good an offer to turn down and although Paul still gigged with us if he was home, Tim and I found ourselves having to cover gigs as a duo, getting billed as Slice Of Pie.

With our three-part harmonies gone we soon decided that we had to move on and that maybe an electric backed harmony band would be the way to go.
This was the beginning of Mad Hatter.

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Mad Hatter

In January 1985, Tim Chapman and I began to put together an electric band that could sing harmonies, as well as being musically competent enough to write and perform good quality original material.

I contacted drummer Jon Lee, who although aged only 16 was a favourite local musician of mine. Jon and I had been friends since I was playing in Masque - his band of that time Exxit having done their first gig on the same bill as we had done ours.
Jon was now playing with New Image, who had had some local success, having won the ‘Ebbw Vale Rock & Pop Festival and Competition for Groups’ in May 1984. Jon and I had always been good friends and when I put the proposition to him about joining up with Tim and I, he agreed.
This was the beginning of a partnership between the three of us which was to continue, on and off, for the next seven years.

The band began as a five-piece, with an average age of just 18, after Richi Glover (bass/vocals) and Neal Evans (guitar) joined us. Both had been in Tim’s band when I first met them all and I was instantly excited, as I knew that this had the potential to be a great band.

A name? Well, Tim had worn an old top hat of mine ever since we began Apple Pie and as it had become a bit of a trademark, Richi came up with the perfect answer – ‘Mad Hatter’. Tim wore his top hat and the rest of us wore bowlers.
Cheesey? Of course, but great fun!

After only a few weeks of writing and rehearsing, our first performance was in TJ’s (then still known as El Sieco’s) in March 1985, after which we continued writing, recording and performing original material on a fairly regular basis.

In June we entered The Welsh Brewers’ Rock & Pop Band Competition, the heats of which took place at The New Ocean Club, in Cardiff.
Mad Hatter ended up winning our heat and moving on to the South East Wales area final in July. From this we qualified (along with Tagula Spa) as one of
the two bands representing the S.E. Wales area to go forward to the national finals - together with two bands from each of the S.W. Wales and North Wales areas.
“Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are certainly getting noticed,” reported the South Wales Argus, under the headline “Hats off to Hatter”.

We continued gigging throughout the summer, including a support spot with Steve Marriott (Small Faces / Humble Pie). Then, in August, we were invited to play at the ‘International Youth Year Rock & Pop Festival’, at Caldicot Castle, closing the day, following performances from a host of local bands including No Quarter, 100 Eyes, Warehouse, Airheart, Tagula Spa, Blue Movies, The Band Bamboo and Silent Partner (a band which featured Grant Nicholas, whom Jon would go on to play with in Feeder).
This proved to be Mad Hatter’s last ever performance, as Neal left the band shortly afterwards to pursue a career in lasers/lighting.

The competition final would be contested under a new name – Ritzi.

Thankfully, most of the material we wrote as Mad Hatter was recorded on my 4-track, so we have a permanent record. Even though the recording quality is very poor, I can still listen to it today and feel very proud of what we created and very privileged to have worked with such a great band. Thanks guys!

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In November 1985 Mad Hatter changed our name to Ritzi and after only two performances with the truncated four-piece line-up of Tim, Jon, Richi and I, competed in the afore-mentioned competition final.
The final was staged at the BBC TV studios in Cardiff, with all six bands being filmed and broadcast in reverse winning order over a six-week period.

Unfortunately for us we had to pre-record two tracks and then mime them in front of the BBC TV cameras, ordered to stay within designated areas marked on the stage with masking tape. As nervous teenagers, our performance was severely affected and it showed badly on screen.

However, “Zany four-piece Ritzi, formerly Newport’s finest milliners Mad Hatter, impressed with gutsy guitar and swooping harmonies” said the S.W.Argus and we went on to gain the runners up spot behind the other band representing Gwent in the final, Tagula Spa.
Our appearance on BBC TV’s ‘Juice’ programme in January 1986 was my first TV appearance.

In April, Paul Bale (keyboards/vocals) became the fifth member of Ritzi.
Tim and I had previously worked with Paul in Apple Pie and as soon as he parted company with Clovis, it was inevitable he should join us again.

At this point, we began playing covers as a way of earning money to improve our equipment, as well as giving ourselves valuable extra experience of live performance. However, as inexperienced youngsters, at first it proved difficult to break onto the local club circuit and with the exception of Chris Farr (thanks Chris), the local agents were slow to respond to our requests for work. However, with a few good gigs behind us, the phone started to ring and soon we had more work offers than we could cope with.

Despite the covers gigs we were now playing on the club circuit, we also continued to write original material. After a September gig in the Newport Centre, another S.W. Argus review reported that Ritzi “rattle off cover versions, yet still blend in enough original material to prove they enjoy their work”, but “What Ritzi excel in is their self penned music” and that we were “Hard working, confident and extremely professional” - praise indeed!

Our popularity around the South Wales club scene grew and grew throughout 1986, but differences of opinion regarding the band’s direction led to Jon and I leaving the band in early 1987.
For the next year I did not gig at all, apart from one ‘dep’ with Ritzi, playing bass when Richi was ill.

Ritzi continued with guitarist Pete Griffiths and firstly Brian Harrison and then Keith ‘Chongo’ Williams on drums. Then, in January 1988, I got the call that Pete had broken his finger in a car door and the band would have to cancel a tour of British and American forces bases in Germany, along with comedian Fogwell Flax, unless I could go in Pete’s place, as they had no time find another replacement.
Within a week I was in Germany and the familiar faces were good to play with again. The band was tight and the five-part harmonies were great, but even though the tour was such a success, my circumstances meant that even if I had wanted to, I was unable to re-join the band on a full time basis.

I stayed on until April, when John Slattery was brought in to replace me on guitar, though the problems with continuity, due to constantly changing personnel were taking their toll on Tim, Richi and Paul and when Chongo left the band later in the year, Jon came back to finish off the last few months of gigs in the book, after the boys decided that enough was enough and no more bookings would be taken.

Ritzi played their last club performance in December 1988, as a six-piece, with Tim, Richi, Paul, me back for a one-off performance on guitar alongside John Slattery and with Jon back on the kit.

In later years, Jon went on to achieve huge success drumming with Feeder and Richi also had some success, firstly with The Abs and later with Dub War.

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After another fairly long period without gigging, Cheer Up Tuesday began almost by accident. I was sharing a house with Tim Chapman and we began some fun get-togethers with me on bass and Rob Davies (ex Breathless) on guitar.

I had had the idea for a while that I wanted to do something more on the country side of things and had put the word out that I was looking for a fiddle player. Through Dave ‘Doc’ Evans (Diesel Pig / Blue Movies / Eleventh Hour), I was contacted by Feliks Tabis, a Llandogo based fiddle player, who was not afraid to use guitar effects to enhance his sound.
He immediately joined up with Tim, Rob, Richi Glover (whom I had worked with in Mad Hatter and Ritzi) and Dave Lively (saxophone) and began busking (as Harvey & The Headbangers), whilst Tim, Rob and I recruited Brian Harrison (also ex Ritzi) on drums and began Cheer Up Tuesday, with Feliks making up a five-piece electric band.

We began gigging in October 1989 and were billed as ‘Rhythm & Blues / Country Swing’, but played allsorts of covers and had a strong four part vocal harmony.
We quickly became regular Newport / Cardiff performers and after a gig supporting Paul Jones & The Blues Band in The King’s Hotel in January 1990, we went down so well, not only with the crowd, but also with the headliners that Paul Jones asked us for a recording to play on his BBC Radio 2 show.
At the time we didn’t have one, so we quickly booked a day in Loco Studios, Llanhennock and in one mammoth 20-hour session recorded, overdubbed and mixed nine tracks.

We also supported The Pirates (including Mick Green on guitar – who went on to play on Paul McCartney’s ‘Run Devil Run’ album) on another fun King’s Hotel night.

Musically Cheer Up Tuesday is undoubtedly one of the strongest bands I have ever been involved with and onstage it was a pure pleasure, but sadly, other commitments and certain ‘personality clashes’ led to it being a very short lived band, lasting only five months from the first gig to the last in March 1990.

Cheer Up Tuesday still holds my two favourite musical memories, both the one for live performance and the one for recording:

My favourite gig I can ever remember was the aforementioned Cheer Up Tuesday gig supporting The Pirates.
Only two days earlier we had had a big bust up in the band leading to our fiddle player Feliks quitting. We decided to go ahead and do the gig as a four-piece, but had no time to re-arrange any of our material to suit a band with one soloist rather than two.
So we agreed that we would change none of the arrangements, but simply let Rob play all the instrumental breaks on guitar, both those he usually played and the ones previously taken by the fiddle.

When the gig came we were all a bit nervous, but in the end we played a blinder, all digging deep to try and make up for the missing parts. Tim and Brian were both excellent as always, but Rob, with all the added pressure on him, was awesome.
I remember listening to him go for it like never before and getting that ‘shiver up your spine’ feeling you get when you know you are witnessing something special, despite the fact that I was playing on the same stage.
Cheesy as it sounds, I also remember Tim and I looking at each other with raised eyebrows after the opening song, then bursting out laughing as we both realised that we were thinking the same thing - we could relax! The rest of the gig was great.

I don’t recall ever getting another onstage buzz like that, either before or since.

My favourite recording experience also came with Cheer Up Tuesday, in Loco studios, as we recorded the tracks for Paul Jones’s show.
Originally we were only going to record four tracks, maybe five if we had time. As it turned out, once we had put five backing tracks down, 'live',in a single take each, the engineer said we might as well keep going as we were so far ahead of time. The sixth, seventh and eighth songs also went down in single takes, so we ended up putting down nine, enough to totally fill the 2 inch master tape (no digital recording in those days).
Although we had nine backing tracks down, we still didn’t really expect to complete them all in one session.

Next step was for Tim to go in and put down his lead vocals, to replace the guide vocal he had sung as we were putting the backing tracks down.
As he sang the first song I was at the mixing desk with the ‘talk-back’, whilst Tim was in the vocal booth and only visible to me on a small, black and white TV monitor.

The way he put down that first vocal in a single take blew me away. It was fantastic! Not only was it up to Tim’s usual high standard with perfect timing and pitch, but it was also adlibbed to perfection in a way I’d never heard him do before. It was great!
Watching him on the monitor I could see him bouncing around like a man possessed.

When he’d finished that first song Tim wanted to come back into the control room and have a listen to what he had done, but there was no way I wanted to lose the energy I could see pouring from him, so I wouldn’t let him. Though he couldn’t see me at all, I could talk to him over the headphones and told him to stay in there and carry on.
After a brief ‘discussion’ Tim reluctantly agreed to stay and put the second vocal track down without listening to his first.

I sat in the control room mesmerised and nine takes later we had the best set of lead vocal tracks I’ve ever witnessed. Not one word of any of them was ever edited or re-recorded. Just like the nine backing tracks, the nine lead vocal tracks took just one take each.

After this we were even more determined not to lose any of the nine songs, so we decided to go for it and try and complete them all. We got the backing vocals done as quickly as we could, but then sadly we had all sorts of ‘problems’ whilst re-recording some of the fiddle parts and lost all the time we had previously gained.
This meant that we ended up with no time left to re-do any of Rob’s DI’d guitar bits (that had originally been intended only as guide tracks) with his usual sounds, to replace Tim’s guide electric rhythm guitar track with acoustic guitar as planned, nor to mix or edit with any quality attention.

Even so, despite these omissions, ‘warts and all’ it’s still a fun recording and all these years on, Tim’s lead vocal parts still astound me every time I listen to it.
I still rate his voice as highly as any male singer at any level in the music business!

That hour or so, as Tim was putting his lead vocals down, is still my favourite recording studio memory and unless something very special ever happens in the future, it always will be.

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During the early and mid 1980s, one of my favourite local bands was The Band Bamboo (Mike Doherty, Alan ‘Alvin’ Hall, Julian Smith and Keith ‘Chongo’ Williams). As a teenager trying to get established in the local band scene, they always seemed so good that I thought I would never go on to play alongside any of them.
I had already exploded that belief; having played alongside Chongo in Ritzi, but up until then had never performed in the same band as the other three members, who were now playing with Richard Snook (drums / vocals) as The Rockin’ Boppers.

Mike (guitar / vocals) and Alvin (vocals / guitar) had seen me play bass with Cheer Up Tuesday and when Julian (bass / vocals) left the band, in August 1990, they approached me to see if I was interested in taking his place.
I had seen and enjoyed them with their original line up, which had included Butch Waters (Instant Beatles / Bandit Beatles) on bass and having always admired their performances with The Band Bamboo, I was eager to get the chance to play in a band with them. So, I went along, initially as a ‘dep’ for a few club gigs, for which they used the alternative name Panache.

It was a very light-hearted band, verging on comedy, but with a four-part harmony and good musical ability. I had such fun that this was the first of several occasions that I would play with a band as a ‘dep’ and end up becoming a full time member.

We became regulars on the South Wales club circuit, playing virtually all covers, but occasionally dropping in the odd original tune.

I played with The Rockin’ Boppers until April 1992, when I left and the band became a trio, with Alvin moving over to play bass.

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During my time with The Rockin’ Boppers, I also played with The Average Cab Band. This covers band was originally formed for a December 1990 St. Julian’s School re-union, but proved so popular with those who saw it and so enjoyable for those involved, that it survived for the whole of 1991.

The band of school friends saw me re-united with previous band mates Tim Chapman (Apple Pie / Mad Hatter / Ritzi / Cheer Up Tuesday) on vocals and Jon Lee (Mad Hatter / Ritzi) on drums. The ACB also included Pete Gough (bass/vocals - whom I had played with in my first ever band Last Orderz), Andrew Mountain (guitar – whom I had played with in Masque), Nick Stead (keyboards) and saxophonists Dave Lively and Glyn Williams.

We had great fun and played throughout the year at various venues, including several shows in The King’s Hotel, most memorably at the Geoff Wilcox Memorial Concert in May 1991, when we were also joined onstage by Tony Lambert (who went on to play keyboards for The Saw Doctors).

Later in the year, Glyn was replaced on saxophone by Steve Matthews and as the larger part of Jon’s time was being spent in London, (working with Grant Nicholas on what was to become Feeder) Keith ‘Chongo’ Williams (whom we had worked with in Ritzi) was brought in to take Jon’s place for a few shows.

The ACB ‘farewell gig’ took place in TJ’s, Newport, in December 1991, after the problems of keeping eight part-time personnel together became too much.

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In December 1992 I got a call for help from The Swinging Blues Sisters. They had lost their bass player and needed a quick replacement.
I turned up as a ‘dep’ and met the band on the night of my first gig (though I had met them briefly some years before, during their time as Warehouse).
They were a fun band to play with and this became the second successive band that I had turned up to dep for and stayed on as a full time member.

The Blues Sisters were a seven-piece band, with three female vocalists (Sherry Vaughan, Sarah Callow and Bev Green) and a four-piece male backing band consisting of Dale Callow (guitar), Dave Harper (pedal steel guitar), Ray Thomson (The Atomic Trio - drums) and myself (bass).
We played a mixture of covers and original material and played at many local venues, as well as travelling to various rock ‘n’ roll clubs and festivals, including support spots with Nine Below Zero and P.J.Proby.

During the time I was with the band, Bev left and was replaced by Ray’s wife Joanne and then Ray left and was replaced by legendary Cardiff drummer Tommy Riley.

The band had already been running for several years before I became a member and the girls eventually decided that they wanted to try a slightly different form of music.
I played my last gig with The Blues Sisters in the summer of 1995, but continued to work with Sherry and Sarah in their next band - Chucawac.

In 2003, Sarah and Sherry decided to reform The Blues Sisters and contacted me to ask if I was interested in playing either bass or guitar. Due to lack of time I declined the offer and the band reformed with Rob Davies on guitar, Julian Smith on bass and Ron Wilding on drums.

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Chucawac was a seven-piece covers band, focusing mainly on Seventies music, fronted by Sherry Vaughan and Sarah Callow (whom I had worked with in The Swinging Blues Sisters). The third vocalist was Sarah Campbell (previously with Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band) and the musicians consisted of myself (bass/vocals), Paul Elder (guitar), Steve Matthews (whom I had worked with in The Average Cab Band – saxophone) and originally Nicolino (Allegria), then Martin Twine (later to play with Big Mac’s) on drums.

This was a short-lived band for me, as a ‘difference of opinion’, which arose early in the bands development, led to me leaving the band after only a few months.

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This was the third consecutive band I worked in with Sarah Callow, following The Swinging Blues Sisters and Chucawac.
Shakedown, another covers band, featured Sarah (vocals), Lee ‘Stan’ Stanworth (vocals), Paul McCarthey (Varispeed – bass), Joe (drums), Tristran (keyboards/guitar) and myself (guitar/vocals).
This proved to be another short-lived band for me, during early 1996 and I left to concentrate on The Illegal Eagles.

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I suppose it’s pretty obvious by the name that this was an Eagles tribute band, though not to be confused with the band of the same name that are currently touring theatres as The Illegal Eagles.

The Illegal Eagles actually began for me in mid 1995, but did not really take shape until 1996. The initial idea was put to me by Lee ‘Stan’ Stanworth (whom I worked with in Shakedown) and Liam ‘Milly’ Millenship, who at that time were working together as a duo – Feelin’ Groovy.
Having become tired of playing with backing tapes, they wanted to start a band as a sideline and decided that an Eagles tribute was the direction in which they wanted to head. Being a huge Eagles fan, when they asked me to become involved I instantly agreed.

Pulling in bassist Steve Madden, we began working on the project even before we had a drummer, but it very soon became obvious that my idea of a tribute band was very different to Stan and Milly’s.

Shortly afterwards, Paul Bale (whom I had worked with in Apple Pie and Ritzi) also set about forming an Eagles tribute – The Illeagles.

By the time I heard about it, their line up was already complete – Paul (vocals/keyboards/guitar), Mark ‘Jonah’ Jones (ex Munroe - vocals/bass),
Lee Evans (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Chris Williams (vocals/drums) and Des Richards (vocals/guitar). However, things weren’t working out with Des and they approached me to see if I was interested in replacing him.

I went along to one rehearsal and was bowled over. Not only were they thinking along the same lines as me, but they were almost pulling it off.
I immediately apologised to the other boys and told them that I was leaving The Illegal Eagles to join The Illeagles.

The Illeagles’ common idea was that a tribute band should be exactly that – a faithful reproduction of the songs, with each member of the tribute acting as each member of the original band, so singing what that member sang, playing what that member played and dressing as that member dressed.
This would mean that every member had to have the right vocal and musical abilities to copy one individual, as none of us had any interest in becoming what some other Eagles tributes became - just another cabaret band singing Eagles songs.

As Stan, Milly and Steve decided not to continue with The Illegal Eagles, Milly, who had come up with the name, was good enough to pass it over to us and having all agreed that it was a better name than The Illeagles, we changed names and continued.

Paul (‘Glenn Frey’), Jonah (‘Timothy B. Schmidt’), Lee (‘Joe Walsh’) and I (‘Don Felder’) formed the nucleus of the band for almost a year, but the
‘Don Henly’ job was always an unsettled one and we seemed to go through more drummers than Spinal Tap.
Original drummer Chris was replaced, firstly by Ian, then by Tim Chapman (whom I had worked with in Apple Pie, Mad Hatter, Ritzi, Cheer Up Tuesday and The Average Cab Band).
Tim was drumming when the first gig took place in Newport’s ‘Filling Station’ in May 1996.
However, after a few more gigs, he was replaced by Christian, then Brian Thomas (The Carrots) and finally by Don Stacey (The Statesmen).

These personnel problems meant that we did very few gigs, as it had always been agreed that unless things were right we would not perform, apart from maybe some smaller local gigs to test things out.

As if the personnel problems weren’t enough, we were contacted by The Eagles’ solicitors in London and told that we were not allowed to use the name ‘The Illegal Eagles’ and that if we did they would see us in court.
This led to a change of name to ‘Desperados’, but the set backs were beginning to tire us.

The biggest blow came in October 1996 when Lee decided not to continue and we lost one of the main four members. Despite the fact that we found an excellent replacement in Justin Carlson, losing Lee and having to start from scratch on guitar work, as well as the continual drumming problems and the loss of our name proved too much and the band began to fall apart.

In mid 1997 I got the offer of a full time position with That’ll Be The Day (whom I had been ‘depping’ for since May 1995), which would start in January 1998 and decided to take the job.

Jonah continued with the Eagles tribute idea, joining up with Talon: The Best Of Eagles, Paul and Justin formed The Booze Brothers and Don concentrated on creating The Elastic Band.

When the current touring, Southend based Illegal Eagles show appeared, Mark Street (drummer with That’ll Be The Day) was a friend of theirs and through him I passed on the information relating to the problems they were likely to have if they continued to use that name. They ignored the warning, continued to use the name and if press reports are to be believed have suffered financially as a result.

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I had known Robin Hames (ex Brotherhood Of Man bassist) for many years when he came to see me in April 1995 to ask if I was available to ‘dep’ some shows for him. He was playing bass for a rock ‘n’ roll theatre show, covering the years 1956 – 76, with six singers/dancers/comedians and a five-piece onstage band – That’ll Be The Day.
Robin had been offered some TV work, which clashed with some TBTD dates, including a tour to Tunisia in May. He took me to see the show in Birmingham and I immediately agreed to do the shows for him.
After a bit of a comical moment with Robin (when he brought me the dots to the whole show, not realising I didn't read music and almost had a heart attack when I told him), I learnt the entire show off by heart from a side of stage cassette tape recording.

There was no time for rehearsals and I played my first notes with the show at the sound check for the first gig, at Croydon’s Ashcroft Theatre, in May.
After two more British gigs, we were off to Tunisia for two gigs there, then back for two more here before Robin’s TV work ended.
These seven shows were the beginning of my involvement with TBTD, which was to last for six years.

I next played with the show in December and then attended rehearsals on Robin’s behalf in January 1996, where I also began arranging some of the show’s vocal parts.
Throughout the rest of the year, my appearances with the show became more and more frequent, including two tours to Scotland and also tours of Germany and Northern Ireland.

For the 1997 production I became the production’s full time vocal arranger and continued to dep for Robin, including ever more frequent gigs and another two tours to Scotland. Rushed costume changes, wigs, choreography, Shadows’ steps and even line dancing were almost starting to become ‘normal’ to me.
Then, Robin announced that he had decided to leave TBTD at the end of 1997, whereupon the Director offered me the bassist’s job on a full time basis.

Having agreed that I would only become a full time member for twelve months and that I would be able to have my own dep (Andy Hodge, who was then playing with The Brotherhood Of Man), I took the job.

One of the things that prompted me to take the full time position was the show’s impressive gig list and only my sixth appearance as a full time member of the cast was at The London Palladium.
Performing at The Palladium was great and made me think of the people who had previously appeared on the same stage, including of course The Beatles. This particular night was especially memorable, as not only were we given enough complimentary tickets for our families to attend, but the nostalgic feeling was added to by the fact that we were accompanied on stage by a three-piece brass section including Howie Casey. Howie had been the saxophonist for Paul McCartney & Wings during their ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Wings Over America’ time and had also played in Hamburg with The Seniors when The Beatles were there.

1998 still holds my record for the most gigs ever done in one year, including shows sharing the bill with Russell Watson, Bobby Davro and Russ Abbot, another trip to Germany, two to Northern Ireland and three to Scotland.

As was always the intention, I only did the one year as a full time cast member and made my final appearance for TBTB on New Years Eve 1998, but I continued to arrange the show’s vocals for both the 1999 and 2000 productions.

During my six years with TBTD, both as a dep and as a full time cast member, I performed, at various times, alongside 12 others.
For all of my gigs, I performed with guitarist Iain Hawkins (previously with Chris Rea, Suzi Quatro, Tony Christie and Cannon & Ball) and keyboard player Phil Hollender (previously with Freddie Starr, Lenny Henry and The Brotherhood Of Man) and singers/dancers/comedians Trevor Payne, Gary Anderson, Morgan Turner, Joanna James and Josie Cain.
I also performed with singers/dancers Karen Payne and Julia Greenham, saxophonist Sean McBride and drummers Mark Street (previously with Jim Davidson, Brian Conley, Burt Weedon and The Chuckle Brothers) and Paul Tye.
During my time just as vocal arranger, I also worked with Robin Hames, Andy Hodge, Clive Fishlock, Rea North and Katy Setterfield (who in 2008 won the BBC's 'The One and Only' show, as Dusty Springfield).


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Myself (vocals/guitar), Clive Jones (vocals/guitar), Joanna James (whom I had worked with in That’ll Be The Day – vocals/keyboards), John Metcalf (vocals/keyboards), Greg Baker (vocals/bass) and Ken Norris (vocals/drums) were Absolute Harmony.

The plan was to have a vocal harmony based show covering all post war harmony bands, from 1945 to the present day.

It lasted from May to October 1999, but unfortunately, whilst the strong links were very strong, the weak links were very, very weak.

Without meaning to be unkind to anyone involved, Absolute Harmony was one of the weakest and least successful bands I have ever been involved with.

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As was the case with The Illegal Eagles back in 1995, Outer Sight came about as a result of Lee ‘Stan’ Stanworth and Liam ‘Milly’ Millenship wanting to form a band as a sideline to their duo - Feelin’ Groovy. Stan asked Don Stacey (The Elastic Band) and I if we would play drums and bass for them. We agreed and began rehearsing, but after a while things changed direction and Milly was replaced by Simon Gibbs (ACAB) on guitar.

Outer Sight was a fun covers band and I enjoyed playing with them, but we only played a handful of gigs in late 1999 before Stan decided that he preferred his duo gigs and packed in the band.

Simon did not want to continue without him, so to complete the gigs that were still in the book, Don and I called in Rob Fletcher and Mark ‘Jonah’ Jones (both playing with Don in The Elastic Band), leading to a confusing time when what was really The Elastic Band with me depping was sometimes wrongly billed as Outer Sight.

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My one and only attempt at a duo (live vocals and guitar, with backing tracks on mini-disc), firstly with Joanna James (whom I had worked with in That’ll Be The Day and Absolute Harmony), then with Mark ‘Jonah’ Jones (whom I had worked with in The Illegal Eagles).

None of us really enjoyed playing without live musicians and Milk It! only survived a years worth of sporadic gigging.

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Old Skool was another occasion where a dep turned into a full time band for me.

In December 1999 I got a call from Paul Hanbury asking if I could help out and cover two gigs on guitar at very short notice. I had known Paul for years, since depping for his Baker Street band back in 1994 and had spent a lot of time at Paul’s ‘Filling Station’ venue in Newport (which he ran along with Amen Corner’s Alan Jones), whilst rehearsing there with The Illegal Eagles.

Old Skool included three people that I already knew; Paul on bass, Steve Matthews (whom I had worked with in The Average Cab Band and Chucawac) on saxophone and Tony ‘Witty’ Whitcombe (who had fronted Tagula Spa - the band that beat Mad Hatter into second place in the 1985 national competition final) on vocals. The three other members were Roger Snook (saxophone), Ray Wall (keyboards) and Paul Trew (drums).

I had such fun on those first two gigs that I agreed to stay on as a full time member.

Old Skool was a covers band, playing all sorts of material that suited a blues/rock band with a brass section. It was definitely one of the most fun bands I have ever played with, but sadly it was short lived.
We gigged for all of 2000 and the first half of 2001 before deciding to call it a day, after things didn’t work out with replacement drummer Gary Davies (Sassafrass) and agreements about the direction of the band could not be reached.
The late addition of female vocalist Holly Wilkins (sister of singer/songwriter Harry Brooks) was not enough to keep us together and the final Old Skool gig took place at The Newport Centre, in June 2001, at a charity show along with Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band.

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In late 2002, Paul Hanbury contacted me about the possibility of forming a band along similar lines to Old Skool, in which we had played together a few years earlier. At first I was reluctant, as even though four of the seven-piece line-up seemed to have been thinking along the same lines, we had previously had drummer problems and had also disagreed with the vocalist and keyboard player about the direction of the band.
Besides that I had decided to work with Clive Jones (whom I had previously worked with in Absolute Harmony), who played keyboards and guitar and our two saxophone players Roger Snook and Steve Matthews wanted to work with keyboard player Carl Simmonds.

Paul had been speaking to drummer Dave ‘Dino’ Stephenson (Very America / The Henrees), whom I had known for over twenty years, but had never had the chance to work with. The fact that Dino had expressed an interest in being part of the new set up meant that I was instantly interested, as long as the other potential problems could be tackled.

Paul (on bass) had never been a problem, so with Dino on drums and myself on guitar we had a back-line I was very confident would work.
Then there were three!

Roger and Steve wanting to work with Carl was not a problem as our old keyboard player (Ray Wall) had not wanted to continue with the band in the way the rest of us wanted to and had been back out gigging as a solo artist, so as Carl had the same idea as us, he would be a straight replacement.

Then there were six!

The remaining problem was that singer Tony ‘Witty’ Whitcombe had not wanted to continue along the same lines as the rest of us either.
After a bit of deliberation about possible replacements, the problem was suddenly solved when Paul spoke to Witty and realised that he had had a change of heart since we had last spoken and was now more than happy to go along in the same direction as the rest of us.

Then there were seven!

The fact that I wanted to work with Clive was the only remaining hurdle, so it was decided to form an eight-piece band, with Clive moving between guitar and keyboards, as the situation required.

Apart from the extra musician, the other advantage we would have with this line-up was that as Clive and Dino were both good harmony singers, we would now have four strong vocalists, as well as Roger and Steve when they weren’t playing.

We began rehearsing in February 2003, using the previous Old Skool set list as a starting point to get things off the ground, though the majority of the old sets were to be replaced over a period of time.
Sadly circumstances meant that Clive was unable to join the band after all, so it was with the seven-piece line up that we played our first gig in April.
On that gig, when asked what we were called, we used the name ‘Old Skool’ as no other name had been decided upon.
As time went on and the gigs became more frequent, the ‘new’ band became known by the old name ‘Old Skool’ and so although the plan was to have a ‘new’ band and to cut all association with the ‘old’ one, it transpired that ‘Old Skool’ was gigging again, though in a very different set-up than the first time around.

After a few months, circumstances sadly enforced another change when Carl was no longer able to play with us.
So, in October 2003, a replacement was found in Bob Teague, who stayed with the band until March 2005, when Neil Garland replaced him as keyboard player.
Then, in June 2005, Roger decided not to continue playing with the band, but to concentrate on his other more serious project 'Groove Daddy'.
His replacement was firstly Paul Hornsby, then Amy Whittingham, forming the line-up that continued until January 2007.
Our final gig took place in May 2007, with original member Roger back on sax in place of Amy.

We did not play very often and were very slack and under-rehearsed, however, I enjoyed my time on stage with 'Old Skool' about as much as any band I've ever been part of.

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The 242 Club (2008 - 2011)

Five piece vocal harmony based covers band, consisting initially of Clive Jones (vocals, guitar & keyboards), Dave 'Dino' Stephenson (vocals & drums), Tim Chapman (lead vocals & guitar), Paul Hanbury (bass) and myself (vocals & lead guitar).

Age old 'musical differences' between Tim and myself (or actually the whole band in this case) led to Tim's early departure.
He was replaced on lead vocals by Gareth Selfe, giving us an extra musical dimension, as Gareth also played lead guitar.
This line-up ran for a while, then Paul left and was replaced on bass by Mark Maybry, giving us a fifth voice.

We played very rarely and only in local pubs, but had fun when we did!

Unfortunately, even though we didn't know it at the time, a gig in October 2011 proved to be our last, as unavailability and lack of interest from some members meant the band just naturally fell apart.

NICLDAPA (2012 - present)

In August 2012, soon after The 242 Club had ended, I got back together with Dave 'Dino' Stephenson and Clive Jones, to re-start our vocal harmony based covers band idea.
Paul Hanbury, who had 'retired' from The 242 Club two years earlier was asked to join up and he did, as he had begun to miss playing.

We had no lead vocalist, but as we had our three-part harmonies, we decided to give it a try covering the vocal duties between us.

The name NICLDAPA came from a (drunken) late night e-mail from Clive to the rest of the band, whilst sat thinking of possible names.
You guessed it - an ABBA like first letter of each name idea, with the first two letters creating a great comedy word to use.

We did our first gig on November 2012 and intend to continue in the same direction.

The bands I have appeared with as a ‘dep’ or a guest are:

My first ever gig with Masque took place at about 2pm, then my first ever ‘dep’ gig with The Denmen, at about 5pm the same day.
It was May 1982 and The Denmen (who’s name originated from the fact that we all rehearsed in the middle room of my parents’ house, known to all as ‘The Den’) was a bunch of musicians from several bands jamming out some typical covers at the end of a day when each of the bands had already performed.
Those I can remember playing are myself, Mike Cole, Pete Gough, Darren Abraham, Tim Gough, Shaun Flook, Steve Sims and Marc ‘Joey’ Saunders, though there were probably others as well.

The Denmen played on a second occasion at another festival later the same year.

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A drunken performance in November 1985, at The Lamb in Pontypool.
Dale Clarke (whom I had worked briefly with during Masque) invited Jon Lee, Tim Chapman, Richi Glover and I (at the time the four piece line-up of Ritzi) to join him playing a one off covers gig for free beer. Richi’s sister Linda also sang with us.
The landlord kept us plied with jug after jug and crowd wished they’d been anywhere else on earth, as a horrific surviving tape of the night proves – but it was great fun!

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In January 1986 Des wanted to put a band together to do some charity performing. He asked Tim Chapman, Richi Glover, Jon Lee and I (at that time Ritzi) and Paul Bale (playing with Des in Clovis, but later to join Ritzi) and we pulled together a set of harmony vocal, country based covers.

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Short Storey were school friends competing in the schools section of the 1986 ‘Ebbw Vale Rock & Pop Festival and Competition for Groups’, with their original material.
Their bassist Jeremy Edwards left the band just before the competition took place, but they still wanted to enter. So Dickie Bristow (vocals), Steve Campbell (guitar), Lee ‘Jugg’ Dean (keyboards) and Joel Stevens (drums) asked me to play bass for them. I was actually 19 at the time and had already left school, but I agreed to stand in for them.

The competition took place in March 1986, when I was playing in Ritzi with Jon Lee. Jon, a previous schools section winner (with New Image in 1984) thought it was so hysterical that I was going to turn up and play in the ‘school kids’ section of the competition, that despite the fact it was on his 18th Birthday, he came to watch and made fun of me all night.

Short Storey went on to support Ritzi at various gigs and Jugg went on to play with Jon in Eleventh Hour.

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A one-off performance, two sets worth of badly rehearsed covers, at a fund raising event in November 1988.
The others in the band were Tim Chapman (Apple Pie / Mad Hatter / Ritzi / Cheer Up Tuesday / Average Cab Band), Jon Lee (Mad Hatter / Ritzi / Average Cab Band), Richi Glover (Mad Hatter / Ritzi), Paul Bale (Apple Pie / Ritzi), Nick Stead (Average Cab Band), Rob Davies (Cheer Up Tuesday), John Slattery (who had replaced me when I left Ritzi for the second time), Dave Williams (Snatch It Back / The Flints / The Poor Boys) and Des Richards (Clovis / Kelvin Henderson Band).

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The forerunner to Cheer Up Tuesday, Harvey And The Headbangers was originally a covers busking band consisting of Tim Chapman (guitar/vocals), Rob Davies (guitar/vocals), Dave Lively (saxophone) and Richi Glover (bass/vocals).
Later joined by Feliks Tabis (fiddle), the busking band ended up playing some evening gigs too, usually with Brian Harrison on drums.

I played guitar with them on a few gigs in TJ’s, in 1989.

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An open-air gig in August 1990, at the ‘Knobworth’ Festival, in Cwmbran (the same year as the huge ‘Silver Clef’ gig at Knebworth).

A short notice, make-shift covers band of myself (bass/vocals), Dave ‘Doc’ Evans (guitar/vocals), Tim Chapman (guitar/vocals), Nick Stead (keyboards), Dave Lively (saxophone), Richard Snook (drums), Mike Doherty (guitar/vocals), Sherry Vaughan and Bev Green (backing vocals) and probably many more.

Good unorganised, drunken fun!

The Red Hot Pokers played too.

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At the same time I played with Mike Doherty and Alan ‘Alvin’ Hall in The Rockin’ Boppers, they also ran The Flowerpot Men as a covers busking quartet, with Tim Chapman and Richi Glover (both of whom I had worked with in Mad Hatter and Ritzi).

They were so good on the streets that they also picked up a lot of evening work. Everybody sang, Mike played guitar, Richi bass and Tim and Alvin played a set each swapping between drums and rhythm guitar.

In early 1991 I did a few gigs with them, playing bass whilst Richi was away playing with The Abs.

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This was the first time I ever depped with a band that I had never even met before. Their bassist had been taken ill and they needed a replacement in a rush to avoid having to cancel some gigs.

I was recommended to front man Jools by Speed Music’s Nick Fowler and turned up to meet The Special Twenty Blues Band at the first gig I played with them, in August 1991.
The band consisted of drums, bass, guitarist Nigel Edmondson and Jools fronting the band on vocals and blues harp.

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Paul Bale (Apple Pie / Ritzi), Rob Davies (Cheer Up Tuesday) and Dave ‘Doc’ Evans (Diesel Pig / Blue Movies / Eleventh Hour) had all been friends of mine for years by the time they started Katsquire.
They were a great rock ‘n’ roll trio, playing original material as well as covers and it’s a shame that I only ever got to gig with them once, in June 1992.

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This was not so much a ‘dep’ as an accidental guest appearance.
It was December 1993 and I was playing with The Swinging Blues Sisters at a family party in Cardiff. As Snatch It Back’s front man Chris was also a family member, he was there, along with their guitarist Glyn. Their bassist had not been able to make it, so I played bass for them to get up and do a Snatch It Back set, with our guitarist Dale Callow joining in too.

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In February 1994 I got a call from saxophone player Steve Matthews (The Average Cab Band), who was now playing in a covers band called Baker Street. They had lost their guitarist and were desperate for a stand in at very short notice.

The band also included Paul Hanbury (whom I did not know at the time, but would go on to play with in Old Skool) on bass and Jerry Smith (The Interns) on keyboards/vocals.

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Another panic call in March 1995 took me over to Bristol for a ‘dep’ with The New Line Up, a five-piece covers band including Steve Matthews on saxophone (whom I had previously played with in The Average Cab Band). Steve called me as usual bassist Hywel Maggs (Allegria) was unable to play the gig, so I went over to do the gig totally cold, having no idea what to expect.

The other three members were John Smallman (drums), Mike Curran (guitar/vocals) and Carl Simmonds (keyboards). This was the fist time I ever met John, Mike and Carl, though I have got to know all three well since then.

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The Elastic Band

The Elastic Band originally formed in mid 1997 when I was playing with The Illegal Eagles. Don Stacey (drums/vocals), Mark ‘Jonah’ Jones (bass/vocals), Paul Bale (keyboards/guitar/vocals) and myself (guitar/vocals) had begun rehearsing a set of general, light hearted covers as a side line, during our time trying to complete a successful Eagles tribute line up.

Even though the band was at that time un-named, the first gig took place in December 1997. Paul was unavailable that night and Don, Jonah and I pulled in saxophone player Sean McBride (That’ll Be The Day) to make up a four-piece band.

By the time The Elastic Band got going properly during 1998, I had joined That’ll Be The Day on a full time basis and been replaced by Rob Fletcher.
So, after being the guitarist at the bands debut gig, I did not play a second gig with them for two years, when in December 1999 I was asked to ‘dep’ for a gig in Paul’s place.

By now Paul had The Booze Brothers (Blues Brothers tribute) together and was finding himself unavailable for certain gigs. Rob still had his Rob Fletcher Band running, so he too was occasionally unavailable. This led to The Elastic Band becoming a fairly regular guitar dep for me.

In late 2000, Jonah moved over to Ireland and I was asked to do some bass deps in his place. When Paul followed him over in January 2001, I became a very regular face, whether it was on bass, lead, or rhythm guitar.

As a new line up became settled, with Don, Rob, Richard Robling (bass/vocals) and Gareth Morten (keyboards/vocals) the situation calmed down and I went back to being just an occasional dep.

I still do the odd gig with The Elastic Band, who must hold the record as the band who have had the most ever members – at last count 32 including all full timers and deps!

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The Booze Brothers was created and run by Paul Bale. I had played alongside Paul in Apple Pie, Ritzi and The Illegal Eagles, as well as depping for him with The Elastic Band.

In September 2000, when The Booze Brothers’ bassist Julian Smith toured America as a tech for One Minute Silence, Paul asked me if I could cover the bass playing duties until the New Year.

At that time, the line up became myself (bass/vocals), drummer Ron Wilding (ex Racing Cars – best remembered for their Number 14 Hit ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They?’ in February 1977), Rob Davies (Cheer Up Tuesday / Katsquire – guitar/vocals), Sarah Campbell (Chucawac – keyboards/vocals), Dave Lively (The Average Cab Band – saxophone), Chris Haines (trumpet) and The Booze Brothers themselves, Paul and Baz Oldfield (The Abs / Doctor Bison / The Gibbering Heaps).

They were without doubt one of the strongest all round bands I have ever worked with and I gigged with The Booze Brothers for four months, across Wales and England, most memorably at Oldham’s Queen Elizabeth Hall (with Bucks Fizz) and Chelsea AFC’s Stamford Bridge, when a glance to the left showed the goalmouth and stadium through the large glass windows.

When Julian returned I handed the reins back to him and although they have had a few personnel changes since then, The Booze Brothers are still going strong.

My write up about The Booze Brothers for Transpose Music Rooms’ ‘Moist’ magazine – November 2001.

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A one off, November 2000 duo performance, with Lee ‘Stan’ Stanworth, standing in for Liam ‘Millie’ Millenship.

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I have known Mac for many years, since his time with The Flints before Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band was ever formed. I had worked on some studio stuff with Mac in 1995, but I did not do a ‘dep’ (on guitar) for Big Mac’s until July 2001, at St. Pierre Golf & Country Club.

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Dave Peterson (‘Paul McCartney’) of Beatles tribute show Beatlemania, based in Newcastle, contacted me in September 2001, looking for a ‘George’ to ‘dep’ two shows at the National Agricultural Centre, near Coventry.
Having been recommended by Ian ‘Butch’ Waters (Instant Beatles / Bandit Beatles), these were my first ever shows with a Beatles tribute.

Strangely enough, a last minute ‘John’ problem meant that Butch depped the shows too.

It was a bit of a shock playing a clean Epiphone Casino, strung with gauge 11 strings, but despite the fact that the AC30 I had been provided with packed in during the first song of the first gig, I had great fun doing the shows.

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The Instant Beatles was run by Ian ‘Butch’ Waters, whom I had known since we were kids playing in bands down at the old Newport Students’ Union in the early 1980s. We had never played in a band together, though Butch had asked me if I was interested in being ‘George’ when his first Beatles tribute The Bandit Beatles was formed in the mid 1990s.

Having depped, along with Butch, for Beatlemania the previous month, it was no surprise that I ended up playing ‘George’ with The Instant Beatles in October 2001, at Sheffield United AFC’s Bramall Lane stadium.

The band also included Newport based Nathan ‘Abo’ Abraham (Rollerco) as 'Paul'.

The Robin Hames Band

Robin had been a friend for many years and I had been his 'dep' on many occasions, though we had never shared a stage.
This was the night that changed that - a fun, Beatles based charity gig, alongside Robin, his sons Tom & Chris, Dave Corten, Alan 'Lenny' Lenahan and others.


Disappointingly, due to prior commitments, I have had to turn down the offer of deps with Mike Harries' Root Doctors, The Mike Doyle Band, The Owen Money Band, The Mop-Top Beatles, The Beavers and a few other local outfits, as well as others by the bands listed above.


(The Rockin Boppers, The Swinging Blues Sisters, That'll Be The Day and Old Skool were also originally 'dep' engagements, but as I stayed on with them all after my initial 'dep' and went on to become a full time member, I have included these on the list of bands of wich I was a full time member).


Nick Brown - Guitar Tuition, Newport, South Wales.