Grit Band

Band Line-up

  • Brian Marks - vocals/flute
  • Chris Smith - guitar/vocals
  • Steve Peberdy - bass
  • John Hunt - drums

"The Grit Band" were one of Manchester's premiere Heavy Rock bands between 1967 and 1972.

Billed as "Heavier than the Zeppelin" they powered their way through venues across the N/W of England, sharing the stage with many named bands including Teardrop Explodes, Greasy Bear, Juicy Lucy, The Pretty Things, Stan Webb's Chicken Shack,Grisby Dyke, Canned Heat, Abednego, John Cooper-Clarke, Flying Hat Band, Fruupp, The Klubbs, Patto, Gravy Train, 25 Views of Worthing, Sleep, lron Maiden, Screaming Lord Sutch, etc etc....

They played at the Original "Cavern Club" in Liverpool many times and are now remembered on "The Wall Of Fame" on Matthew Street.

Band Memories

"The Grit Band" developed a gruelling schedule, once playing three gigs in one day. They started at Manchester University with "Screaming Lord Sutch" on a Saturday afternoon, then played the "Bolton Octagon Theatre" in the evening, then "Las Cuevas" Chorlton late evening where they gigged for free but were always fed and watered "a la carte" until the early hours.

One night they played at "Leeds Civic Theatre" but it wasn't until they'd set up on stage that they realised the agency who shall remain nameless, had wrongly booked them to headline a "cultural evening of poetry, dance and music" which was being recorded by a BBC outside broadcast unit. The band blew the audience into Oblivion, the audience, dressed in evening attire, loosened their clothing and ended up headbanging. The band received three encores, the night was a resounding success but the recording disappeared.

"That's life".

Gigs remembered

  • Den of the Gods. Brazenose St, Manchester.
  • Top 20 Club. Droylsden.
  • Midland Hotel. Didsbury.
  • Charlotte St Bier Keller. Manchester.
  • Cavern Club. Liverpool.
  • Shirley Institute. Didsbury.
  • Rochdale Rd Park. Bury.
  • Mr Smiths. Manchester.
  • Bury Palais.
  • Cavalcade. Didsbury.
  • Jungfrau. Manchester.
  • Aunties Kitchen. Manchester.
  • Hollingworth Lake Rowing club.
  • Complex. (Southern Hotel) Chorlton.
  • Commercial Hotel. Stockport.
  • Manchester Polytechnic.
  • Pigmarket. Leigh.
  • 110 Club. Burnley.
  • Lakeland Lounge. Accrington.
  • Co-operative Hall. Ardwick.
  • The Melting Pot. Chorlton.
  • Labour Club. Cadishead.
  • Wavertree Park. Liverpool.
  • St Johns College. Manchester.
  • The Magic Village. Manchester.
  • Stoneground. Belle Vue.
  • Fag Club. Wigan.
  • Spectrum. Stockport.
  • BEA Silverwings Club. Timperley.
  • Samantha's. Leek.
  • Buile Hill Park. Salford.
  • O'Conners Tavern. Liverpool.
  • UMIST. Manchester.
  • Heyside YC. Royton.
  • College of Commerce. Manchester.
  • Church Hotel. Worsley.
  • White Lion. Withington.
  • ICI Club. Runcorn.
  • Explosion. Manchester.
  • Cattlemarket. Salford.
  • Poco-a Poco. Stockport.
  • Seven Stars. Heywood.
  • Spreadeagle. Ashton-Under-Lyne.
  • Southern Hotel. Chorlton.
  • St Mathews Hall. Stretford.

Plus many more venues long forgotten.

For the record, The Grit Band were the very last group to perform at Bury Palais before it closed down in the early 1970s.

More info on band members 

John Hunt (Drummer) 

The Grit Band was John's first serious test as a drummer and he had total commitment. His main influence was Ginger Baker of Cream, hence John always had an improvised solo spot where he channelled formidable aggression. Normally off stage he was a quiet, gentle individual ?...

From 1973-1977 after the demise of The Grit Band, John played with "Tigger" doing the Stoke cabaret circuit, they later changed their name to "Blondin".

Later he played with "The John Mcguire "Allstars" rock and roll band". Since 1999 he has played drums with Chris Smith's Band "The Pearls".

John, a bank manager, retired at the age of 50 and is now living the life of Riley in Sale.

Chris Smith (guitar/vocals)


Chris's first group was "The Dreamweavers" 1965-1967. They were a rhythm and blues band playing cabaret venues around the North of England.

Chris and Paul (Bart) Bartholomew bass, then left to join ranks with Brian Marks, vocalist/harmonica player and John Hunt, drummer. They went out as "Smokestack" a blues band playing youth clubs and church halls. Then, after changing their name to "The Grit Band" and doing a variety of pub and club gigs, Bart left to pursue jazz and Steve Peberdy joined on bass. Steve fit perfectly, he was the final piece in the jigsaw. 

Chris Smith was a technical whizkid, his use of controlled feedback, sustain of harmonic notes and attack were awesome, he really could make a guitar sing and he had huge stage presence. His influences were early Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall's Blues Breakers, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Alex Harvey.

When the Grit Band finally split at the end of 1972 Chris joined cabaret band "The Feminine Touch" and did an extensive tour of Spain. Later his own band, "The Chris Smith Band" toured Holland until the van was involved in a crash and the group split.

Then he launched a pa hire business and mixed for two bands, "13th Candle" and Manchester group "Fast Cars". Since 1990 he has played with rock cabaret band The "Windmillers" playing a lot for charities, he also has another group "The Pearls" a melodic rock band that he set up in 1999.

Since Chris was a lad he has made and customised guitars and has continued to do so for a living with Gordon Smith guitars for the past 30 years.

See also The Father Jack Band 

Steve Peberdy (bass guitar) 

Steve Peberdy was the catalyst that galvanised The Grit Band, he was solid as a rock, cool as a cucumber with a Bill Wyman like presence. He had previously played with bands, Licquorice Fix, August Night and Staircase and was well prepared and only too willing to join the Grit Band phenomena.

The band rocked the North of England for five years and when he decided to leave to play in warmer climes, (Africa) with the Plantations, The Grit Band never really recovered, though they soldiered on for some months with other bass players, they couldn't recapture the magic.

The last report on Steve during the 1970s was that he was taking a law degree. What a waste eh!... 

Brian Marks (vocals/flute) 

From 1966 at the age of 16, Brian threw himself into music, playing with a variety of musicians busking in pubs and playing at acoustic folk clubs including "The Castle" on Oldham St and "The Wheatsheaf" on High St Manchester.

His first group, a pop group "The Rising Five" was with mates Fred Loader and Jules Levy. Brian played rhythm guitar. They played at "The Hut Club" in Wythenshawe to a packed audience where Brian experienced his first encore.

At that time blues music was his main motivation and he later formed "Smokestack" a blues band with Chris Smith. In years to come Brian was to perform with local blues afficianado's Victor Brox and Norman Beaker.

Then in 1967 "The Grit Band" was formed. Brian's influences were vocalists Peter Green and Paul Rodgers and flautists Paul Horn and James Galway. "The Grit Band" played a mixture of blues, jazz and powerful rock which created their unique sound.

Brian had a presence and intensity which was almost spiritual, he could manipulate an audience at will. These were heady days indeed. When the band reluctantly split in 1972. Brian immediately joined top unsigned Cambridge band "Hamilton Gray" and found himself playing London clubs such as "The Pheasantry" "Speakeasy" and "Marquee". An immensely talented band, he was introduced to a dynamic closely arranged style of music verging on the classical.

They were soon offered a deal with Manchester Production Company "lce" who had links to Granada TV Studios where they were booked to film an outdoor concert for the 1973 "Manchester Festival" celebration which they did but they declined the recording offer and missed their chance of National recognition. 

Hamilton Gray recorded original material at "Indigo studios" Manchester and Trevor Horn's "Sarm studios" just off the Portobello Road, London. They lived and rehearsed extensively in Cambridge and Kendal in the Lake District and gigged around London, Cambridge and Manchester.

After a brief change of line up the band split.

  • Drummer David George joined The Foundations (Build me up Buttercup) and did a tour of Australia.
  • Bass player Roger Dann moved to Canada.
  • Guitarist Jim Morrison from Bury did cabaret with Solomon King (She wears my ring) then did session work on the Colourfield album (Virgins and Philistines)
  • Guitarist Rick Fenn later toured and recorded with Mike Oldfield, Rick Wakeman, Cliff Richard and Elkie Brooks to name but a few. He also became a member of Manchester group 10CC.
  • Singer Howard Kingston, originally from Prestwich now lives in Montana USA, where he sings opera with "The Helena Symphony". Visit his website

Hamilton Gray keyboard player Roger Jackson later joined Marilyn who did Top of the Pops. During the '80s he toured and recorded with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians and gigged and recorded with 10CC's Graham Gouldman in Andrew Gold's group Wax. An expert in contemporary digital production techniques he has written TV ads for Levi jeans and British Airways. He has arranged and produced music for Paul McCartney and Deacon Blue and has written scores for many TV productions which include the first series of Cracker, An Evening with Gary Lineker, The Rory Bremner Show, also the childrens cartoon Denis and Gnasher.

Rogers website

Hamilton Gray gigs included 

  • Speakeasy London.
  • Corn Exchange Cambridge.
  • St. Johns College Manchester.
  • Pheasantry Club Kings Road Chelsea.
  • Brewery Arts Theatre Kendal.
  • U.M.I.S.T. Manchester.
  • Marquee Club London.
  • Ronnie Scott Club London. 

Brian's flute playing came to the fore, his experience had given him the confidence to explore a lifelong passion for jazz. He began sitting in with Stefan, an incredible singer/guitarist, playing bossa novas at "Jamals" wine bar in Fallowfield.

Then he met tenor sax player Bill Robinson, ex-Geraldo Orchestra and Lorrie Hollaway. They gigged with a variety of seasoned jazz pianists including Roland Westwood, Ronnie Taylor, Jim Yates and Les Clarkes Trio who had a residency at Dino's club on Brazil St, Manchester.

Brian and Bill started up a jazz night at the "Regency Club" on Didsbury Rd featuring artistes.

He then joined Didsbury based Latin jazz quartet"Supa Nova" 1976 with Jerry Wrexham [keys], Brian Marks [flute], Neil Reading [drums, later with Wayne Fontana], Bill Robinson [tenor sax].

Supa Nova Gigs included

  • Deno's Nightclub. Central Manchester.
  • The Warren Buckley Jazz Cellar. Stockport.
  • Regency Club. Heaton Mersey.
  • The Wheatsheaf. Longsight.
  • Royal Hotel. Hayfield.
  • Red Lion Restaurant. High Lane.
  • The Benchill. Sharston.
  • The Swan, Disley 

ln 1981 Brian formed his own group "The Circuit" - more info on The Circuit page.

Brian also played with Swing Machine:

  • Ronnie Taylor-piano.
  • Bill Robinson-tenor sax. [ex Lorrie Hollaway and Geraldo orchestra]
  • Mick Creighton-trumpet. [ex Eric Winstone orchestra]
  • Brian Marks-flute. [ex Supa Nova]
  • Chris Smith-guitar/bass.
  • John Hunt-drums. 

Writing became an obsession and later in 1984 Brian was given the opportunity to write music for the Lyme Park summer festival of 1985.

This was another chance to change course. Brian organised a meeting with classical pianist Mavis de Mierre and together they wrote a classical suite of music based on the history of Lyme Park, Cheshire during the residency of the Legh family who lived there from 1346-1946. The work for quintet was premiered at Lyme Hall to a capacity audience which included the Legh family, BBC broadcaster Bob Symes introduced the evening which went like a dream. An album of the music titled "The Lyme Legacy" was released. 

However, a beautiful recording was made of the work with tracks like City of the Legions (Deva), Working the Land (Cheshires agriculture) Silk (silk industry), Peninsula (Wirral) and 27 Arches (Stockport viaduct) but the work was never released or performed.

In 1990 Brian and Mavis followed up with a classical suite for octet based on the history and natural history of "The Bramall Hall Estate" Cheshire which was premiered at the Hall and later recorded by students of "Chethams School of Music" Manchester, conducted by Michael Brewer.

Again, an album was released on Stockport based Classical label "Dean Records". 

Mavis then went her own way, concentrating on her own musical and literary projects. Brian began what turned out to be a seven year project working on a mammoth work based on the history and natural history of Cheshire from Roman times to the millenium.

Negotiations were taking place to premiere the work at Tatton Park in Cheshire as part of their millenium celebrations when tragically Brian's manager Alan Barlow from Hayfield, Derbyshire died at the end of 1997 and the project fell through. 

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