IAN HAMILTON ORGANISATION AND HAMMAT INTERNATIONAL 1960-1971
My first taste of show business was back in 1960 as resident Disc Jockey at The Cresta Ballroom in Manchester’s northern suburbs. Alan Hunt and his father had given me the opportunity to spin the records when they had lunch at the UCP in Market St. I was working there as a Trainee Manager which proved to be about the only employed position I have had in my life. I was taught important trade secrets like ‘how to dye peas green’, working with tripe and other culinary tricks.
It was the beginning of the sixties and rock ‘n roll was about to explode. I was in the fortunate position of introducing to the audience at The Cresta up to half a dozen bands a week and quickly realized that very few of them had managers or agents. That was the beginning of the best 10 years of my life.
UCP very quickly got the boot, I signed up half a dozen groups, and joined up with the Alan Arnison Agency fully relishing my new involvement in the world of show business.
A year or so later, and after a few dealings with Frank Booth and the Paddy McKiernan Organisation I opened my first office in Bexley Square Salford. The portfolio of groups were growing and with office space at a premium and more staff behind desks we moved into larger offices in Kennedy St, in the heart of the city.
Some of the many bands we were involved with over the years, in one way or another and in no particular order were The John Evans Smash (later Jethro Tull), The Measles, Ten Years After The Family, Frankensteins Monsters, Paul Stevens, The Factotums, Reg Coates, Reg James Explosion, Pete Maclaine, The Country Gents, The Stylos, Tali Halliday, Johnny Martin & The Tremors, Mike Cadillac & The Playboys, Rev Black & The Rocking Vicars, Tiddy Gibbs & The Powerhouse Six, Mike Cadillac & The Playboys, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, Ian Crawford & The Boomerangs and the very delightful Cherry Roland.
By this time I was joined by some wonderful associates in Brian Durkin, Stuart Littlewood, Les Mack. Tony Hayes, Don Read and John Dixon, and was lucky enough to persuade Chris Wright to leave Manchester University and join us to expand our University portfolio. He still maintains that I was the only person to have ever employed and sacked him. He did ask if he could take the John Evans Smash with him and I wholeheartedly agreed…in hindsight a major coup for him.
I also had Roy Williams handling our books, the likes of Geoff Baker occupying an office and trying to make a quid out of writing, with numerous very attractive young ladies doing secretarial work.
After Danny Betesh’s Kennedy St Enterprises, we had grown to be the biggest agency in the North.
Pride of place on the reception wall for years was Brian Epstein’s framed letter to me explaining how he had put the price of the Beatles up to 25 pounds a night. Someone eventually nicked it and would have got a fair quid for it at Sotherby’s in latter years.
We were booking emerging stars for what today were peanuts; Tom Jones, Joe Cocker, Mannfred Man, The Rocking Berries, Animals and many many more.
Two of my favourite visiting bands were The Bonzo Dog Doo dah Band and Screaming Lord Sutch.
We picked up the management of out of town artists like the Ivy League, looked after many visiting bands from the north south and midlands and promoted Bill Haley and some of Roy Tempests : ‘fabulous” US acts, most of which featured some distant relative of one of the original members.
Our bands were playing at a diverse range of venues such as Talk of the Town, Broadway, Oasis, Princess and Domino Clubs, The College Club, The Embassy, Mr Smiths,….the list was endless.
I was beginning to spend more time driving around Europe booking bands and acts into venues from Scandinavia in the North to Spain in the south , with an emphasis on the US bases in Germany.
Later in the sixties we started representing overseas acts such as the various Maori Showbands., The Korean Kittens and Lovelace Watkins. The Maoris often arrived from the heat of Guam at freezing Ringway Airport in shorts and thongs and never failed to bring the house down wherever they appeared. Years later I caught up with some of them on Australia’s Gold Coast where they had originated from and were working in a variety of positions.
A move to a new suite of offices in Didsbury took place in the latter half of the 60’s and and we were now expanding to include more cabaret artists as well as a full stable of bands.
We handled The Caravelles for a number of years and I was lucky enough to marry Lynne who is the mother of my two sons. After our marriage break up she found Jesus and recorded the theme tune for the TV series Prisoner … unfortunately for just a session fee.
Prior to leaving the UK in 71, I decided to film a couple of dozen bands and cabaret acts with a view to promoting them overseas. We travelled through the East and ended up in Australia.
Customs at Sydney airport thought the movies were of the porno type and confiscated them. It took some persuading to get them back. The booking agency down-under didn’t work out. Aaussies were pretty disorganized in those days and so for the last 40 years I’ve set up a whole range of different business’s and enjoying the Australian lifestyle
Looking back at the nearly dozen years I was involved in the business they would have to be remembered as some of the best years of my life. ..and it all goes back to the UCP and those green peas