Big City Soul Band

Line up included:

  • Paul Ford - trumpet
  • Ian Kewley - french horn
  • Les Jones- lead guitar
  • Les Olbinson - bass
  • Mike Delaney - drums
  • John Hubbard - trombone
  • Dave Macdonald  - bass and lead vocals
  • Norman Findlay - Hammond (joined after John left the playing side and took up a position as roadie)

The south Manchester group The Rainmakers were augmented by a brass section (trumpet and trombone initially and then a French horn) to form The Big City Roll Band, but as everyone got the name wrong and they were soon gigging as The Big City Soul Band.

They gigged mainly  around the Manchester area – south, north and city centre, working through the Alan Arnison agency playing their blend of ‘Manchester Soul’ with Manchester’s ‘Top of the Town’ being a regular haunt, playing their version of many soul classics.

After a year or so the group decided on a change of format. The trombone was dropped (John became one of 2 ‘roadies’) and Norman Findlay joined on Hammond organ. They continued gigging extensively but signed then with an agency based in Nottingham leading to many gigs over that side of the country. At times they found themselves supporting bands such as The Who, Amen Corner,  Jethro Tull, Long John Baldry (with a funny little chap on keyboards called Reg Dwight). A demo disc (I need a Woman) was recorded at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios produced by Eric Stewart (10CC) but came to nothing.

One infamous gig almost ended in disaster. Having moved into a more progressive style they'd decided that the stage show needed some fireworks - literally. So to augment the smoke effect they chose a gig at Belle Vue to add 'explosions'. Unfortunately not enough research was carried out and midway through a storming version of 'Paint it Black' the explosion was ignited blowing the lid off the tin box across the top of the stunned audience, narrowly missing heads in the room. We didn't take that any further. But many bands (on stage following the sets had to put up with the smoke and smell of the remaining pyrotechnics. At this stage the band were playing under the name of Baker Street Limited and had started writing their own material.

After the (almost compulsory) tour to Germany the band returned and decided to go professional. After some ‘negotiation’ the current management signed them over to the infamous Don Arden Agency (Small Faces, The Move and many others) in London, where the band moved to, now under the name ‘Samson’.

After gigs around the country at places such as The Marquee etc., an album was written and released, ‘Are You Samson’, featuring their more progressive self-written material. The album was a casualty of the money problems of the owners (Instant and Immediate labels) and didn’t receive the cover and support needed. Paul had left and had been replaced as the band continued gigging and eventually opened a major UK tour featuring David Bowie and Emerson, Lake and Palmer amongst others.

They eventually disbanded with Ian moving onto other bands.

Paul Ford 2/8/10 

The birth of the Big City Soul Band began when the Rainmakers returned from Germany in June 1966. The scene had moved on from the Mersey groups and bands like Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band were all the rage. We decided on that direction.

Enter Ian Kewley.  He was from Wythenshawe like the rest of us and studied French horn at the Royal College of Music, Manchester. I saw him coming home one night on the bus and mentioned we were looking for brass to augment the band. Les says it was he who spoke to Ian having known him from the boys brigade days and mentioned needing some brass players. This is probably more likely. I’m not sure how it happened but either way Ian was the guy who introduced us to Paul Ford and John Hubbard. So the original line up of the Band was:-

  • Dave Macdonald  -  Bass and lead vocals
  • Les Jones - Lead guitar and vocals
  • Mike Delaney - Drummer vocals
  • Paul Ford  - Trumpet
  • John Hubbard - Trombone

With this line up we went on our first tour it was of Scotland in the September of 66. We stayed at the legendary Mrs Mc Beans in Inverness. This is when we weren't off to the Orkneys or Wick near John O’Groats which was much too far to get back. Everybody stayed at Mc Beans and this tour help to cement us together. On return we did try an afro english guy for a short while as singer front man but can't remember his name he only lasted  briefly.  

I left the band the following summer 67 and for the life of me I don’t know why. Ian Kewley was now working with the band and this was a period of the sixties with rapid change. I eventually joined Frank Yonko and the Everglades 68 and toured Europe backing the legendary Lefty Frizzel but that’s another story

D W MacDonald
  • place 1968 table card 1
  • limeyalbum
  • samson
  • bakerst1
  • marquee
  • bakerst2

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