Tamworth Bands History : 1964
Well another very busy year! Again, the music scene in Tamworth was so busy in 1964 that it has had to be divided into quarters.
|January - March||April - June|
|The Three Spirits - top local band.||A Beat Festival is planned in the Castle Grounds|
|July - September||October - December|
|The Zombies and The Honeycombs play Tamworth and Atherstone||Dave Jackson from Liverpool - the first DJ to appear in Tamworth!|
1963 had seen such frantic activity within the music scene in Tamworth with the year ending with the Rolling Stones 'taking Tamworth by storm' and local band The Three Spirits making a big name for themselves.
In the Tamworth Herald of 10th April '64, under the headline: "Boom Time for Tamworth" we read, "These are boom times for Tamworth. Down, down, down goes the number of unemployed. Latest figures…show that only 57 men and 32 women are out of work…0.5% of the insured population as opposed to 1.9% for Great Britain as a whole."
In the Tamworth Herald's 'Record & Film Review' of 3rd January 1964 they refer to the upsurge of new sounds which will continue to sweep Britain in 1964 – described as a 'New Found Wave'. The article suggests that the group phase will burn itself out by July or August (1964) and discounted American influences saying 'Merseybeat is here to stay'. Cliff will follow Tommy Steele to further fame in films and on the stage and less will be heard of him in the Top 10. The Big Band sound i.e. Ted Heath, Stan Kenton and Johnny Dankworth will return to get their bits of the cake. The article also predicts a bigger market for the 'Long Player'.
Vince Baker continued to attract top named artistes to the town with his uncanny knack of having top acts play at the Assembly Rooms jus as they were making it big nationally. Marty Wilde and the Wildcats played on the 6th April and Peter and Gordon played on 4th May, the same week that their single World Without Love was No. 1. In the Herald of the week before, Vince Baker had explained that Peter and Gordon were the first 'pop' act to be booked at the Assembly Rooms and he hoped to book similar 'pop' acts in the future.
As for local bands, The Three Spirits continued to appear regularly as the main local band in the support slot for all big-name acts appearing at the Assems. Earlier in the year we read in the Tamworth Herald about up-and-coming local band Johnny Silver and the Cossacks and The Wanderers continued to gig on a regular basis.
Another new local band featured in the Tamworth Herald (5th June '64) were The Blackouts, under the headline: "The Blackouts are ready to leave their hen-house home" we read how they practiced in a hen-house in Elford!
Other local bands playing regularly were The Chequers (who had changed their name from The Rebels) and The Vipers first seen playing on 16th September '64, at the Children's Night at the Miners Welfare Club, Polesworth billed as the
"Children's Own Rock and Roll Group".
At the end of May '64, something was reported which will be a great surprise to those who just think of the Tamworth Rock Festival as being something which was thought of in the 1980s. In the Tamworth Herald of 29th May '64 under the headline "Beat Music Festival – on conditions" we read that Vince Baker Entertainments had applied for the use of the grounds on July 11 from 8.00am – 9.00pm, on behalf of Tamworth Cricket and Hockey Club for a July festival of beat music in Tamworth Castle Pleasure Grounds. Vince had planned to attract a selection of top beat acts to the Castle Grounds for the open-air concert. The local council had suggested that promotion of the event would be allowed "only if it is approved by the police, the Council is fully indemnified against damage and expense, there is a ban on the sale of intoxicants and a fee of £150 is paid." [Not asking much then! - Ed.] However, in the Herald of 12th June, under the headline "Big Beat Festival is Off", we read, "The 9 hour concert planned for July 11 has been cancelled because leading beat groups are not available. Organiser Vince Baker told the Herald – it was hoped to stage the festival concert in May next year."
It wasn't just the Assembly Rooms that staged top-name acts locally, another venue regularly attracting the big artistes was the Atherstone Memorial Hall. The Big Beat nights on a Saturday in 1963 had proved very popular and the Beat Specials and Saturday Star-Spots continued in '64 with Gerry Levene and the Avengers and Gullivers Travellers ("Come and Nosh Some Good Beaty Blues") regular visitors. The promoter of the events at the hall was one, Reg Calvert who lived at Clifton Hall near Rugby.
In a feature in Record & Film Review in the Tamworth Herald of 5th June 1964 under the headline "Reg Joins the Pirates", we read how Reg, who was in fact the manager of Lord Sutch, had joined the current craze at the time of setting up a pirate radio station - called Radio Sutch. Read the full story and a 'bit more' - it's interesting to see just what went on in the early 60s music scene.
Shortly after Reg's departure from Atherstone Memorial Hall - Vince Baker began promoting concerts at the venue, running his two venues in tandem, the Assembly Rooms on a Friday and Monday and the Atherstone Memorial Hall on a Saturday.
First DJ hits the town
One thing which had yet to appear on the local music scene in Tamworth that we now take for granted, was a DJ. Nights out at the Assems and other venues to date, had not featured a DJ. Youngsters were of course used to radio DJs on the BBC Light Programme and if the signal reached the Midlands, those broadcasting from the pirate radio ships, for example Radio Caroline. (Early in the morning of Easter Sunday, 1964, Simon Dee made the initial announcement from Radio Caroline: "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, this is Radio Caroline broadcasting on 199, your all-day music station." Seven million listeners had been claimed by Caroline only three weeks later.) However, in October '64 Vince Baker began regular Monday night events at the Assembly Rooms billed as 'Dances to the Tops in Pops' and they were presented by that 'crazy DJ from Liverpool – David Jackson'. The night would cost 2/6 (12.5p) and sometimes there would also be a band on the bill, but the events were sold as what is now known as a Disco.
On the 4th September 1964, the Tamworth Herald's Record & Film Review page was replaced by a page devoted to popular music, entitled - Pop Bar.
The year ended with a New Years Eve dance at the Assembly Rooms featuring Deep Rivers with John Rivers, Terry and the 'D' Men, The Edwardians and local band The Spirits (formerly The Three Spirits) and fellow local act The Fortune Tellers.
Here, Jim Twigg, drummer with The Three Spirits relives these exciting days and gives a great incite into what it was like for a new band in the early 1960s.