|Journey Through Time: The Searchers|
"Just got back from seeing The Searchers in Newport and I had to put pen to paper, well, fingers to keyboard. I am truly inspired.
The band still contains two of the original members from its golden era who have journeyed through time with me and it was a brilliant gig, testimony to the power of music, real music, albeit of the pop variety to save myself from the classical and other variety of music devotees having a quiet chuckle.
Their music, like much of the stuff that I listen to on a daily basis on my iPod or car stereo, evokes crystal-clear memories of the great days of my youth back in the Fifties and the Sixties.
I have, on occasion, kept diaries for the odd year, but simply listening to a song from what I call this golden age of pop instantly sends me right back there to a memory without having to turn the page of one of my diaries, if I could find one.Memories Of The Majestic Ballroom (The Stic), Newport
One song The Searchers played , Seven Nights To Rock, was about the days in the week and what it meant to the writer, it was spot-on, as the song mapped out every day of the week and what they got up to.
|The Searchers At Newport Riverfront - Nigel Corten|
For me, Monday was probably the best night, with school, and later work, out of the way there was only one place to be, The Majestic ballroom, at the foot of Stow Hill, in Newport, or better known to all then as the 'The Stic'.
Many bands, famous, not so famous and infamous mounted the tiny stage there.
At just past the beginning of the 'beat boom', around 1964, one band springs to mind in the shape of the Nashville Teens who packed out the place, courtesy of their rendition of 'Tobacco Road' having just been a big hit for them.
A feature of American movies and TV shows at the time were the array of T-shirts worn by American youngsters that you couldn't get over here, and for me to be close-up see the lead singer with that coveted bright yellow shirt with in bold letters the name and number of an American radio station, that he wore on our television shows like Ready, Steady, Go!, was simply brilliant for me.
The Paramounts, who a month or two after their 'Stic' gig morphed into Procol Harum, also played there, along with many other bands whose personnel would make it big in some form or other.
I never was very good at jiving, that was the domain of the 'Teds' in their beetle-crushers and Danny Coffey and his friends, who could spin around and not let their partners shoot off in all directions when they failed to grab their hand like my efforts.
I only left my seat for the safety of the Twist, slow dances or some form of embarrassing jigging around to The Beatles, The Stones, etc, or air guitaring it along to the early Kinks big hits
I well remember when the Stic DJ, who operated from what looked like a large gramophone at the side of the stage, announced that he had a copy of the Kinks' follow-up to 'You Really Got Me', and when the sound of the intro to 'All Day and All of the Night' was pumped out, everyone got out of their seats to joyously thrash around.
Hurricanes, Rimshots and Interns
Back to the present, at the gig in the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, I bumped into Ray Underwood who had played in Newport's version of The Hurricanes.
We chatted about the times and it brought back memories of the many musical watering holes of the Sixties, like the Transport Club in Clarence Place, where The Rimshots kept people moving around on the dance floor on Saturday nights.
The Transport Club also had a major claim to fame back then, as the Bee Gees, who were number one at the time with "Massachusetts", incredibly turned up one hot summer's night, just like the Beatles who had a contractual duty to play Abergavenny Town hall in June 1963, when they were on a real roll at the time having just dropped off the top of the singles chart with 'From Me To You' and on the threshold of changing the face of popular music for ever.
Some evenings in Newport were quiet, but the Bosco Hall on Cromwell Road, Hartridge High School, The Severn View Club, in Caldicot, and Underwood Social Club, where Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers held court on Thursdays, plus many other small venues, were highlights of my memories of the Sixties.
Top band of the time were Newport's The Interns, who had turned professional and were tipped for the top on the back of replacing The Beatles as the main band at the Star Club in Hamburg.
Bringing things full circle, The Interns, though not hitting the heights in the charts, played on a number of some heavy duty tours for the time with Dusty Springfield, and . . . The Searchers!, who in turn were the number two band to the 'Fab Four' for a brief spell back when the Mersey Sound was at its height.
Having lived through the early days following the Second World War, which was an incredibly difficult time, emotionally and financially for millions of ordinary people, things seemed to settle down, and when rock 'n' roll in the mid-Fifties came along to add some musical relief, it opened the door to what life could be like, courtesy of the many movies in 'Full Color' and CinemaScope.
There's a saying that every time I hear it makes me laugh, it's the one: "If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't there", rubbish!
I remember it clearly, as I indeed WAS there, along with countless others who were fortunate to embrace and enjoy those great years. Another saying that I remember of the times sums it up perfectly: "The Sixties, where you could fall in love for ever - every day!"
I find it hard to imagine that in fifty years time the 'musical heroes' of today will be playing to packed theatres and arenas churning out their mind-numbing, repetitious 'beats' that passes for music.
So, when the last of the great band's of the Fifties and Sixties that possess an original member or two, like The Searchers, finally hang up their microphone or guitars, it will truly be the end of a great era, the Fifties and Sixties just saying that still sends the hair on the back of my neck briskly to attention as I remember those times."