Q Factor - Detones (Leigh)


 Richard (lead), Colin (bass), John (vocals) and John (drums)

  • John Downs - vocals
  • Richard aka Sam - lead
  • John - drums
  • Colin - bass 

Colin tells the group's story:

In 1967 some friends and I started a group in Leigh, The Detones.

It was as a result of a joke played on me by some friends who mooted the idea (as a joke ) at Higher Fold youth club one night.  I was 16 at the time.

I'd had an acoustic guitar for a couple of years that I couldn't play. ('Oh, that's OK' was the remark by the friends - 'you can play bass then, that's easy' ).

High on Coke (only the soft drink that is) we all agreed to buy what we each needed then chat again.

Some time later I announced "Right I've bought a bass guitar (Rosetti - bass 7 I think it was for £6) and amplifier ( Fradan 15 watt amplifier and separate 15" bass cab ) - what now?"

"Ha Ha, fool you, we were only joking" was the reply.

Annoyed (£6 was just short of a weeks wage to me then in 1967) I said "Well why don't we do it for real?

"Worth a try" was the response.

John G had been a drummer for years and was slightly older, his father was a renowned organist from the area. He had a full kit.

Michael J was also a bit older, had little musical knowledge but had owned a Burns guitar for some years. He became rhythm guitar and bought a Watkins copycat amp.
Sometime later, he bought a Vox Continental keyboard and became our organist/rhythm guitar in time. 

Herbert F ( now deceased ) was quite a bit older, had a guitar and an Vox AC30. He became lead guitar.  In our inexperience then he amazed us with his playing.

Phillip S was a friend from school. We needed a vocalist and he volunteered. He'd done school operas in the past - that's OK then.

All the people were in line, we all bought the kit needed.

We used to practice at Higher Fold youth club on the nights it wasn't open.

Eventually we got a set together and lined up an audition at Higher Folds Labour club. A booking followed and we had repeat bookings later in 1967 and beyond.

I remember that first booking ( mums and dads etc - Oh No ).

The Detones probably did gigs for about 12 months then changes were needed. The name was a bit naff for the 70's and old fashioned.

We later held rehearsals in the cellar at Tyldesley youth club.

Other members came and left, Mike A on rhythm (in later years for a time our roadie ), WB on vocals, Trevor E on vocals.

There were often many people around during our rehersal sessions and one who was introduced to us was Richard C (aka Sam ) who later became our long term lead guitar. Richard was ex Beau Nash local group lead guitarist and best man at my wedding in 1974.

This was the time of the Bengwema club, local Labour/Social Clubs etc and other nondescript venues.

It was now probably about mid 1969 and the changes took place.

New group name and revised line-up 'The Q Factor' (based in Leigh) that stayed with us till about 1974.

The group were late night resident at the Garrick in Leigh in the late '60s/early 70's but often after performing earlier in the evening at other local venues.

From 1970 until John Downs' unfortunate and sudden death in about 1974/5 we played many venues within about a 50 mile radius.

In about 1972 one of our agents asked if we would be interested in doing a week of bookings in the North East. As we were semi pro and all had full time jobs we decided to each take a weeks holiday from work and give it a go.

The Contract drawn up with the agent and it was a yes.

We were booked into an entertainer's hotel in Spennymoor, Co Durham - The Great North Eastern Hotel as I remember. Emile Ford, and his group the Checkmates, were there the same week. Can't remember who else.
It was OK and nothing special but exclusive to entertainers performing in the area.

In the few weeks running up to the trip we started to to wonder what we would do in the daytime to occupy our time.

Yes we'd do a bit of sightseeing and the hotel had a bar too and we began to think how much it would cost us during the daytime in the hotel's bar.

(The breathaliser was relatively new then and the seriousness wasn't appreciated the same as now by young people ).

I had been home brewing for some time whilst saving for a house deposit so we decided I would do 80 pints of homebrew to take with us.

Now we were aware that you shouldn't drink home brew in licenced premises so we had to smuggle 40 of 2 pint bottles of home brew in our luggage carefully wrapped in towels etc.

Anyway the hotel had a great snooker room and we spent lots of time in there, often with no other guests.

There were 4 members of the group and our roadie Geoff. Imagine the bar tender's amazement at £1.25 (that's a guess at 25 pence a pint, can't remember the cost of beer at the time) in the till and 5 well oiled snooker players late afternoon.

We used to buy a pint each at the bar then go up to our rooms to top up.

I remember some of the North East venues.

  • Loftus Social Club.
  • A club in Houghton le Springs
  • A club in Chester le Street
  • A Club in Consett
  • An absolutely massive club, Middlesborough Social Club or similar ( now this was scary - we'd heard it had a reputation if they didn't like you, luckily they did )
  • A club in Seaham
  • And a club in Stanley ( Stanley Central rings a bell ) 

This, what follows, is one of the stories that regularly comes up in occasional group member meetings in recent years.

One afternoon we decided to take a trip to Saltburn by the sea, then a small North East seaside village.

At that time there was a boating (canoes only) lake on the seafront and a pub. Now common sense would dictate you go in the pub after being in the canoes - but gues what, we did it the other way round.

We never knew canoes could be so difficult to keep upwright but we soon found out. 4 out of 5 upturned canooes and I couldn't swim then. Panicing to get my legs out of the canooe and up side down in water and splashing about in the lake I heard a voice ( the others knew I couldn't swim )

"Colin - stand up" - the boating lake was only about 3 feet deep.

Great times - great memories.


Here is a list of places we used for rehearsals ( in chronological order as best I can remember ) over the years we were on the road as The Detones/The Q Factor ( 1967 - about 1974/5 ).

  • Higher Folds youth club ( Detones )
  • Tyldesley youth club cellar ( Detones & Q Factor )
  • The Carders Arms, Hindsford, Atherton/Tyldesley border ( QF )
  • The Railway Hotel, Bag Lane, Atherton ( QF )
  • The Nevison Inn, Plank Lane, Leigh ( QF )
  • The Rope & Anchor Hotel, ( in the valley ), Atherton ( QF )

To pay for our rehersal room at The Rope & Anchor, which we used for a long time, we used to do a free gig every 3 months or so.


When The Detones could afford it we bought an old and cheap Bedford CF van that was a bit of a wreck really.

It was the type with the sliding front doors that had a leather strap inside each door pillar to hook over the inside handle of the doors if you wanted to drive with the doors open. Now that was important to remember because if you didn't use the straps, had your foot pressed to the forward door frame to steady yourself ( no compulsory seatbelts then ), and had to stop quickly or in an emergency, the unrestrained sliding doors would shoot forward to amputate your foot.

As time passed we had enough money to replace that old CF with a newer one ( another, but now, gleaming mid red CF ) which I seem to remember cost us about £300. The year was about 1970 and that wasn't an insignificant amount of money then ( a new Mini was £690 ish then ).

Mike A was our roadie then and had use of the van for private use outside group times.
He drove round the area picking each of us up in turn for bookings etc. and one time he arrived in a WHITE Bedford CF van ( it WAS ours ).

As he picked each up in turn he was asked ( that's putting it politely ) 'WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE TO OUR VAN'.

It turns out he had been stopped by the police during his private use and warned that a couple of the tyres were borderline legal ( they wouldn't do that today, they'd rightly prosecute ).

So as not to attract attention to that red CF van with iffy tyres and risk being stopped again he took it upon himself to paint it white.

He used white gloss paint and a big brush. Window rubbers, chrome parts and the lot were white. Even the edges of the windows.

What a dog's dinner it was.

Needless to say group members weren't best pleased ( that's an understatement if ever there was one ).  New tyres were fitted soon afterwards.

Roadies, equipment and transporting gear around.

During the time we owned the Bedford CF's all the gear was transported in the van and there were one or two accompanying cars for group members etc.

Following a gig ( especially weekends and late night) we used to pop down the M6 to the motorway services in North Cheshire for something to eat. I remember that, at that time, there was only one services on the M6 in North Cheshire and I think it was Knutsford.

Sandbach was a few years later if I remember correctly though I could be wrong, maybe it was the other way round.

Now the services we used to visit then, if I remember rightly, was a bit of a meeting point after gigs for local groups on the road late night. Often 2:00 or 3:00 am in the morning.

Being that we were travelling Southwards to the services we had to take the next exit Southward after the services and the meeting to make our way back to Leigh and it was quite a stretch as I remember. 15 miles rings a bell IE : an extra 30 miles in total round trip.

One night we left the services on the M6 heading Southward to the next junction for a turn around and Mike A, our roadie then, out of the blue, turned off the van's headlights and did a U turn across the central Reservation. There were no crash barriers on the central reservation then, no permanent lighting on the motorway and very little traffic at that time in the morning.

It saved us an extra 30 miles or so of travel and became the norm after that first time.

Those regular late nights started to take their toll as we often didn't go straight home even after something to eat on the motorway. We'd sit chatting in the van at each group member's drop off. Sometimes it would get 5:00 or 6:00 am before getting home. I used to work in Manchester then and was due in work at 8:00 am ( often knackered ).

Over time we started to use our cars for transporting each member's gear allowing us to get home earlier without prolonged drop offs. I don't remember what happened to the CF van.

In 1972 I bought a 2 yr old Austin Maxi to transport my gear, it had loads of space (rear seat folded) for transporting my, then, Selmer Goliath bass cab.

One night, mid week, our rehearsals weren't going too well so we decided to call it quits for the night at about 9:00 pm. That was early enough for me to phone my girlfriend to arrange to pick her up and go to our courting pub in WestLeigh - The Church Inn (no longer there).

I had all my gear in the back of the Maxi and parked up by the Church Inn and we went inside for an hour or so.

On leaving The Church Inn I found my rear tailgate open and my Selmer Goliath bass cab missing.

At that time there was a country lane by the side of the Church Inn leading to Pickley Green and there were no houses there on Pickley Green. About 50 yards down the country lane was my Selmer Goliath cab by the roadside on the pavement. The thief must have thought ' sod this for a game of soldiers' - it was very heavy.

The thief must just have grabbed the biggest but heaviest (assumed most valuable bit in my Maxi - luckily that wasn't my Fender bass in it's case tucked behind the seats otherwise I would have never seen it again. 

One evening we rolled up at a club early for a gig and there was dog excrement on the stage. We were the first act due to play and there were no punters in the place. The club owner had a dog for security purposes.

Richard was quick on the ball ( as usual ) with his comment ' Oh well - that's show biz for you '.

We all fell about laughing.


Visit the Garrick Club page for more posters



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