Tamworth Bands - History 1960-1990
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The Fretz

The Fretz - clockwise from top left is Mark Mortimer (bass), Phil Hobbins (drums), Donald Skinner (guitar), Derek Goodwin (dancer, keyboards), Matthew Lees (vocals, guitar).
The Fretz circa 1979 - clockwise from top left: Mark Mortimer (bass), Phil Hobbins (drums), Donald Skinner (guitar), Derek Goodwin (dancer, keyboards), Matthew Lees (vocals, guitar).
(The Gallery)
Musical Genre/Type: New Wave
A chaotic schoolboy band with punk & new wave roots and with more than a wee nod to the so-called "mod revival".
Formed: 1979 Split: 1980
Band Members:
Lead Vocals/Guitar:
Matthew Lees from Tamworth town centre
Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals:
Donald Skinner from Wigginton
Rhythm Guitar/Backing Vocals:
Andrew Baines from Gillway
Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals:
Mark Mortimer from Gillway
Drums:
Phil Hobbins from Leyfields
Other Band Members/Instruments:
Derek Goodwin - keyboards & dancer (from Coton Green)
Additional Info:
Donald Skinner also had a brief spell on drums during a period when Lees left the band (Baines & Mortimer then doing vocals).
Songs
Slum Living (Andrew Baines) Why Don't You? (Andrew Baines, Mark Mortimer, Donald Skinner)
Confusion (Just Gets Me Down) (Andrew Baines & Mark Mortimer) Untitled (Andrew Baines, Mark Mortimer, Donald Skinner)
Don't You Think You Owe Me An Apology? (Mark Mortimer & Andrew Baines) The Sun (Matthew Lees, Mark Mortimer)
If I Lose You (Mark Mortimer) The Perfect Gift (Donald Skinner)
Heroin (Donald SKinner) Howard (Donald Skinner)
Other Songs:
Midge's Recital (Mark Mortimer) / Bo The Dwarf (Skinner, Mortimer, Hobbins, Lees, Goodwin) / The Disciple (Skinner)/ Keeping Myself To Myself (Lees / Skinner / Mortimer)
The band also did a couple of cover versions, notably The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" & The Purple Hearts' "Beat That"
Gigs
First Gig:
Venue: Piccadilly Working Men's Club. Date: Approx March 1979

Other Gigs:
Q.E.M.S. school assembly

19/01/80
Fretz
Amington Liberal Club

Recordings
There were two dreadfully amateurish demo tapes recorded at Andrew Baines' house which are hilarious!! One further "album" of demos were recorded at Donald Skinner's house on cassette too just before the Fretz split up.
Download Play
Heroin
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Three-piece Fretz line up featuring Mark Mortimer on Bass and vocals together with Andrew "Bam" Baines on guitar and vocals and Donald Skinner on drums. This was recorded in Bam's Dad's house at Gillway. Mark Mortimer
Memories
On the first recording, Donald Skinner played drums - the drum kit (such as it was!) was in the conservatory at the house and Mark Mortimer (bass) & Andrew Baines (guitar) sat in the living room. Baines' young sister Liz would give the nod to Skinner when Mortimer & Baines had turned the tape machine on. On the 2nd recording Skinner played guitar (he could actually play "real chords" - wow!!) with Baines reverting to "drums" and on the third recording at Skinner's house in Wigginton Lees was on lead vocals with Derek Goodwin also there, Phil Hobbins on drums and Baines had stopped playing with them at this stage.
The Gallery
The Fretz circa 1979 - clockwise from top left: Mark Mortimer (bass), Phil Hobbins (drums), Donald Skinner (guitar), Derek Goodwin (dancer, keyboards), Matthew Lees (vocals, guitar).
The Fretz photographed in 1980 by the Birmingham Evening Mail (see article below) outside Q.E.M.S. before a lunch time "concert" in front of the school. Clockwise from top left: Mark Mortimer (bass), Phil Hobbins (drums), Donald Skinner (guitar), Derek Goodwin (dancer, keyboards), Matthew Lees (vocals, guitar).
Woolworth's photo booth pic - The Fretz members Derek Goodwin and Mark Mortimer in November 1979.
Woolworth's photo booth pic - The Fretz members Derek Goodwin and Mark Mortimer in November 1979.
Birmingham Evening Mail feature 1980
"Local schoolboy band the Fretz played their first official concert at Tamworth's St. John's Youth Club to an enthusiastic young audience..." Musicbox Review from the Tamworth Herald (14/12/79) by an equally young Sam Holliday.

Tamworth Herald – 21/12/79
Musicbox – Schoolboy band set for stardom
LOCAL schoolboy band the Fretz played their first official concert at Tamworth’s St. John’s Youth Club to an enthusiastic audience.

The band – who are aged 14 and 15 – are made up of Matthew Lees on vocals, Mark Mortimer, bass and vocals, Donald Skinner, on electric guitar; Philip Hobbins on drums and Des Goodwin, backing vocals, trombone, keyboards and dancing.

All pupils at the Queen Elizabeth Mercian High School, the Fretz play new wave/mod crossover music, which includes cover versions of the Who’s classic “Baba O’Reilly” and the Purple Hearts’ song “Beat That”.

The band also have a lot of very good songs of their own. The best received being the fiery punk numbers like “Slum Living” and “Confusion”, as well as three glorious bouncy pop ones like “If I Lose You”, the stylish “Heroine” and the hilarious show stopper “Rock It Down The Club”.

The atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation as the band moved from the mature sounding songs like “The Sun” to the crowd pleasing “Simon Webster” dedicated to a friend of the band’s.

After about 40 minutes the Fretz were forced to stop even though bassist Mortimer was determined to play everything again.

Reluctantly the happy, dancing crowd dispersed but the great stage presence and the musical maturity of the band was still firmly in everyone’s minds.

True, there were problems – the microphones kept seizing up and there is no stage at the club – but this did not stop the band putting on one of the best concerts Tamworth has been graced with for a good while.

If the Fretz continue to improve (as I feel sure they will) both in musical maturity and confidence it is clear that the Fretz will soon become a band local teenagers can be proud of.

Anyone wanting to book the band should ring Mark Mortimer on Tamworth 68530.

Sam Holliday

The Fretz Reunion - Christmas 2003
The Fretz who "reformed" for a one-off fun gig at Tamworth Rugby Club at Christmas, 2003. Pictured are (left to right): Andrew Baines (now living in Scotland) on guitar, Donald Ross Skinner (now in London where he is enjoying a successful career in the world of pop) on drums, Matthew Lees (also living in London where he is now a high ranked Government civil servant) and Mark Mortimer (still in Tamworth!) on bass. Photo was taken by Ian "Poge" Harding.
Click here to go to the top of the page.The Fretz who "reformed" for a one-off fun gig at Tamworth Rugby Club at Christmas, 2003. Pictured are (left to right): Andrew Baines (now living in Scotland) on guitar, Donald Ross Skinner (now in London where he is enjoying a successful career in the world of pop) on drums, Matthew Lees (also living in London where he is now a high ranked Government civil servant) and Mark Mortimer (still in Tamworth!) on bass. Photo was taken by Ian "Poge" Harding.
Andrew "Bam" Baines at the Fretz reunion gig, Christmas 2003 at Tamworth Rugby Club. Photo by Ian "Poge" Harding.
Click here to go to the top of the page.Andrew "Bam" Baines at the Fretz reunion gig, Christmas 2003 at Tamworth Rugby Club. Photo: Ian "Poge" Harding.
Fretz Reunion - December 2003 (left to right) Andrew Baines, Donald Skinner and Mark Mortimer at Tamworth Rugby Club. Photo: Ian Harding.
Fretz Reunion - December 2003 (left to right) Andrew Baines, Donald Skinner and Mark Mortimer at Tamworth Rugby Club. Photo: Ian Harding.
Click here to go to the top of the page.Thanks to: Mark Mortimer - www.jazzfish.co.uk

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