Nottingham Green (Stockport)
Info courtesy Steve Collins
See also Paradise
- John Kitchen - vocals
- Bob Lee - guitar
- Steve Collins - drums
- Graham Braddock - bass
I was always looking for the right band and/or break etc and I saw a large advert in the Manchester Evening News looking for a drummer to join an up and coming pop band called Nottingham Green.
I responded to the advert and phoned their manager and convinced him I was more than good enough and I owned a huge, impressive drum kit. The manager rang me back the next day and confirmed I had an audition. My best mate, Dave Hague (later to become the band’s roadie) ran me to the audition at a church hall in Cheadle Hulme. The band’s manager, Trevor Wooding, was there, in control, with a clipboard and there were at least a dozen drummers waiting to audition.
The band’s ex drummer was called Mick and we used his old Yamaha kit for the audition. Mick had seriously injured his arm and was unable to play anymore so he was planning to open a garden centre. He was at the audition to advise and help select the next drummer for the band as his successor.
I was the seventh drummer to audition. Of the other drummers, some were good, some too slow, some too funky. The auditions went on to 11 o’clock that night and at the end there were lagers and sandwiches laid on for us. I had a great laugh with the band members and I knew my audition had gone well. The next day the manager, Trevor, phoned me to tell me I had the job.
Four and half years of bliss, madness, money and a name change followed. Believe me! We met and played alongside many real stars and musicians. The singer, John Kitchen, later told me that when the band asked their ex drummer, Mick, for his choice and opinion of the drummers auditioned, he immediately replied, “number seven, Steve Collins. His attack and drum fills were fantastic – he’s your man!” Something like that – hey, it was 1971 and I can’t remember everything! Thank you, Mick.
The singer, John, took me under his wing and he was my mentor. He convinced me and the band that we would be pop stars.
The guitarist, Bob Lee (who had a gorgeous sister called Linda), didn’t want me in the band as he thought I was mad. Moi? No, surely not! Well okay, maybe!
My mate Dave Hague was later offered the job as the band’s roadie.
The singer, John Kitchen, was previously in a band called the Rocking Vicars and had supported The Who. What a front man and singer! John had a great reputation throughout Stockport and Manchester.
After around six months with the band, I had tired of the commute from Hollinwood to rehearsals in Stockport and, at his suggestion, I moved into John’s flat in Peel Moat Road in Heaton Moor. The rent was £6 a week, £3 each. At that time the band was earning £250 a night and working 4-5 nights a week.
We had a different arrangement in the North East clubs where we had a set fee of £1000 for a months gigs.
NEWSPAPER CLIPPING from Wythenshawe Express - dated 13th November 1971.
Headline: “Unknown group to make debut at two local clubs”.
By Saturday night, teenagers from Newall Green and Woodhouse Park, areas of Wythenshawe would have made their minds up about a four-piece group called Nottingham Green who are, as yet, virtually unknown to the area.
For this Tamla, soul, pop, commercial and progressive when required group will be appearing at St Peter’s Youth Club, Newall Green tomorrow night Friday and at St Andrew’s Youth Club, Woodhouse Park on Saturday.
Stockport based, the four boys who make up Nottingham Green are John Kitchen, aged 22, drummer Steve Collins, aged 19, guitarist Bob Lee, aged 21 and finally 20 year old Graham Braddock who plays bass guitar, are fast making aname for themselves outside Manchester having played as far away as North Wales, Carlisle, Hawick in Scotland.
Not bad when you consider that the new look group Steve and Graham only joined the others three months ago has only been in operation a few months.
Their next local booking after Friday and Saturday is on Friday 19th December at St Francis’s Youth Club, Newall Green. Now they want to become more established nearer home and feel that playing in local clubs in Wythenshawe will help them do just this.
One of the gigs mentioned in this newspaper clipping was a memorable one for me, when slamming away the top off my cymbal fitting broke off and the cymbal flew and sliced across a girls neck in the audience. There was blood everywhere and an ambulance arrived and took the girl away. I felt really bad, but this was a genuine accident and the gig went on and the band was mobbed. There were at least a dozen girls from Peel Moat Road school. Dave, our roadie, and youth club staff supervised the dressing room door for autographs. We got a lot of the girls phone numbers.
Nottingham Green were invited to meet with a major agent in Cheshire called Alan G Moor. The meeting went very well and the agent told us we could be the next Sweet, Mud or Alvin Stardust and we said, Really?
After signing with this agency, around two months later, the singer, John, fell out with them over two bad gigs. I suggested we approach an agency called Kennedy Street Artists in Manchester. We did get an interview and the whole band went along, dressed to impress accordingly, but when we arrived only John was invited into the office to speak with them.
Barry Perkins, manager of the Casuals, was assigned to us and we did get some good gigs through the agency. The band was promised an opportunity to record the ‘B’ side of a Casuals record, Jasamine, to be called “Naughty Boy”. We rehearsed this song and the bass player and I changed the tempo. Barry Perkins and a friend came to the church hall in Cheadle where we rehearsed and told us this was fantastic. One week later, Barry claimed he’d secured us a deal with Decca Records but we didn’t receive anything in writing, just some letters to the singer, John. The whole deal fell through when Barry Perkins got the job as personal manager to the Bay City Rollers.
With a new agency, Alan G Moor, they suggested a new name for the band from Nottingham Green to Paradise. The band seemed to then shoot to another level of gigs and money, supporting many famous named bands.