I joined my first group - Don Tyreman and the Electrons - in about 1960. Lineup was Don Tyreman vocalist, Len Dyson lead guitar, Pete Kay bass, Ian 'Cuss' Howard drums and myself on rhythm guitar. We played local gigs around the Middleton area. Don Tyreman left after I had been with the band a short while and went to Leeds University.
He was replaced by Len Mosley (Lee Paul) and we started doing a lot of our own material, or initially more accurately Lee's material as he had always had an interest in songwriting.
The name was changed at this time to Lee Paul and the Boys. Over time we lost Ian Howard who joined the army and was replaced by Dave Hill, and Len Dyson, replaced by Graham Rains (ex Danny and the Dominators from Failsworth area).
I recall a traumatic point for the band when Dave Hill and Pete Kay broke the news that they were leaving to join/form the Rainmakers. Pete Kay was replaced by Phil Carney and Dave Hill by a brilliant but very young drummer from Alkrington named John Theaker .
Somewhere along the way, it was decided that we would change our name and so became The Wheels.
Lee had suggested that we adopt stage names which reflected our smart suited image and came up with names such as 'Rodney on rhythm, Bartholemew on bass and, for some reason, Drachen on drums. We did not adopt these names apart from Drachen which seemed to stick.
We signed up with a Liverpool agency and worked a lot in the north and the scottish border area rather than locally. By this time we were doing all our own material and Graham Rains and myself were now writing.
In 1965 we were offered, I think, three months at the New York City Club in Duisburg, West Germany.
To take this offer up we had to go professional. 'Drache' was only 16 at the time and was too young to go. The next we heard of Drache was when he hit the charts a few years later with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown . We hastily looked around and approached Dave Hill who was at that particular point available. We spent a few weeks at the club in Duisburg until one night as we were playing on stage when we supect the protection boys came around.
We assume the club had not been paying its' protection money as in the middle of a number the glass front door shattered with a crash. Luckily someone had approached us a few days earlier from the Star Club in Gelsenkirchen and we hastily arranged to move there. We stayed in Germany much longer than anticipated as the van had broken down on the way and we were waiting for a new engine to be sent. Eventually, Dave Hill and myself drew the long straws and flew home to expedite the delivery of the engine.
We were back on the road again for a while and were very well received in the clubs we played. We eventually drifted back to working on a semi-pro basis. Lee was becoming more and more interested in songwriting rather than singing and he and I decided that we would try our luck in London as songwriters. We doorstepped some of big name agencies and studios - names such as Shel Talmy and Andrew Loog Oldham come to mind. We eventually signed up with Joe Meek . We had some very interesting times at his RGM studios on Holloway Road . I recall the three of us sitting around an Ouiji board trying to contact Buddy Holly . I remember thinking back at the time to the song Tribute to Buddy Holly which was one of my favourite Tremors numbers. It was written by Joe after he reckoned he had been in touch with Buddy Holly. We were busy writing and performing demos at his studio with a range of his regular session musicians who included members of the Tornados and Ritchie Blackmore (I wish I still had some of those demos!). When one night we phoned to arrange our next session a strange voice said that he was not available and that we shouldn't phone that number again. In the paper that evening we read that he had shot his landlady and then shot himself.
At that, I decided to cut my losses and move back home. Lee stayed there, married and raised his family. He continued with songwriting and had at least one single released under the name Steven Lancaster but did not achieve big success.
I joined the Tamla Express ( Tom Rigby - lead vocals, Derek Foley - lead guitar, Phil Carney - bass, and myself on rhythm guitar. I don't recall the drummer's name). We worked quite a lot around the country but eventually split up. Phil Carney moved to Canada and I moved into folk music.
In 1996 I had a call from Len Dyson regarding a get-together for lads from some of the old Middleton bands. This went very well as did a second get-together. As a result, a few of us decided we would try and form a band playing material from that era. We are still on the road as Rock of Ages with the line up of Les Hall on rhythm and lead vocals, Len Dyson on lead guitar and vocals, Nick Cook ( Tremors and Country Gents ) on keyboards and vocals, Geoff Walker on bass guitar and vocals, Dave Hill on drums and Graham Attwood (Powerhouse and Pete MacLaines Clan) on sax.
Here endeth my story for now!