Music Shop/Orbits (Stalybridge) Orbits from Stalybridge

Line-up included 

  • Mike Rayner - lead
  • Jimmy Smith - keyboard
  • Brian Smith - bass
  • Phil Winterbottom - drums
  • Charlie Hogg - sax
  • Mike Hammond - vocals
  • Norm Higginson - bass (replaced Brian)
  • Alan Unren - keyboard (replaced Jimmy)
  • Pete Simensky - drums (replaced Phil)

The Orbits was a group started by 5- 15/16 year olds at St Pauls youth club Stalybridge. They were Mike Rayner (guitar), Brian Smith (bass), Phil Winterbottom (drums) & Jimmy Smith (keyboard) & Charlie Hogg (sax).

That was in 1964. I joined them in 1965 as the singer & old man of the band at 18. We played gigs in schools, churches, pubs, town halls etc pretty much like all the groups starting up at that time.

There was some politics & a woman involved so after several months I left the band. But several months later the band sorted the politics out by getting rid of the manager & his son

, the bass guitarist & I re joined.

We then got a Saturday night residency at S.I.D.S. ( Stalybridge Indoor Sports Stadium ) & we had become The Music Shop. We stayed there for a year or so working for Val Morton & his wife Ruth & they were great times at a great venue. It was at SIDS that we were joined by Norm Higginson on bass.

In late 68 we were offered the residency at the Southern Sporting Club owned by Arthur Goulden & the compere was Peter James. It was at the Northern that the sax player Charlie Hogg left us & became famous in the USA. Peter James left the Southern & went to compere at Sinatra's in Failsworth & a couple of months later we were invited to join him.

Sinatra's was owned by Tommy Bolger & was very flash for those days. The resident backing band was The Keith Wall Quartet & we thought we had landed.

Next news is that Arthur Goulden buys into the place & we're working for him again.

We were at Sinatra's for a couple of years during which time Jimmy Smith left us for some other gig at Mecca I think & was replaced by Alan Unren on keyboards. Phil the drummer also left to pursue his career & we were joined by Pete Simensky ex The Manchester Playboys.

Then I heard several rumours about the club not doing so good so I called Dougy Flood at the Broadway & offered our services. We were invited to the Broadway where Dougy served us tea ??? & cheese & cucumber sandwiches ??? This is Dougy Flood the gangster I'm talking about.

We started in mid 1972 & stayed there until the Broadway stopped doing cabaret & went disco in Jan 1975. Some friends of our had a band so we arranged for them to take over our spot at Sinatra's & it only seemed like a couple of months later that the club burned & they lost all their gear. The saddest part was that the keyboard player, John Howarth had just bought a new Fender Rhodes that day, it too went up in smoke.

During our time at The Broadway we were also doing The Northern , Blightys, Sidings + 1 or 2 other places Mr.Flood had going.

It was at this time that we as Love Train went on the road doing pubs, WM clubs etc but that is the beginning of another story. Some of the musicians are still playing under various guises & to some extent still enjoying it.

I moved to South Africa in 1989 where I only sing in the shower now, I still get a thrill out of going back to UK & getting up to do a song or two with the " Boys in the Band " music is still a big part of my life & I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Mike Hammond - 14/7/16

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