Paul Murray

My first proper band in Manchester was The Engine (later Pink Engine) with the two Solomon brothers. There I met Steve Wallace, the bass player.

We played once at the Oasis club, then Engine split up, Steve and myself went to see Stuart Littlewood (then a fledgling agent who shared an office) with our idea. We had a bass, a drummer, a van, and a PA, that's half of a band.

Stuart had a great idea, he had bought the rights to a name, The Pickwicks who had, a minor chart with Apple Blossom Time on the Brunswick label, but then split up. In those days you could register a name, and Stuart had got hold of it, SO, we now had a name as well.

We found ourselves a keyboard player and a guitarist, rehearsed, played a lot locally under Stuart's agency and then auditioned for Germany.

( So, readers, any info on The Pickwicks at all out there, we'd be very interested. we don't have a single thing from that period)

Readers may remember at that time, the guy who auditioned you, Rikki Barnes, had been the sax player in Scottish band Lord Rockinghams Eleven who had charted with Hoots Mon and was acting as fixer/agent for the German circuit, Any way, he liked us and booked us for Hamburg.

Hands up if you can remember The Reeperbahn, the main street in the red light district, the EROS centre -say no more!- or the Blockhuit, where we all used to eat at 4am?

We set off for Hamburg a couple of weeks later. We shared our stage with The Sponge who at that time had Jack Lancaster on sax, what a great band they were.

As a drummer, (as you do) I made friends with their drummer, an Asian guy. (I know that's not PC these days but it was unusual then!) He was a great guy and showed me a lot of stuff, (eighth note triplets in "Knock on Wood"!). He played a Trixon Kit, and used to wear really great shirts that his mum made for him, I would love to meet him again.

Anyway, back to the tale, our keyboard player was from Leeds, (Graham Knowles) and we headhunted him one night when he was playing in a band at the Seven Stars in Heywood, Our guitarist, was Pete Greer, who had been with "Hedge Hoppers Anonymous" ("Good News Week").

Anyway we weren't a bad little band, went down well, and got rebooked enough to stay in Germany. One day, our agent Stuart called us and as a backing band had let him down would we do the honours for a short German tour for his latest hot property band who were enjoying some success at the time with "Something Here in My Heart", it was of course the Paper Dolls led by Susie Mathis.

Each of the girls in the band had to adopt a stage personna so that they were, Tiger, Copper and Spider, who ever they were at the time, Susie was always Tiger!

We toured with them as a package show for a while doing the American bases. It really is were I learned about being a proffessional drummer, I'd had to learn very very quickly to read the parts, there were 3 other acts on as well as the "Dolls" and our own spot, so we were on stage for about 3 hours, twice a night!

We returned to England, and Pete Greer left to marry the girl he'd met in Hamburg. We auditioned (cos we really were a pro band by then!!) for guitar players and we found Ken Anders formally of the Manchester Playboys.

Ken stayed with us for a while and we had a lot of fun, he was a really funny guy, (was he !) sorry "in "joke! We eventually broke up when I left to go and audition for Georgie Fame. Some time later, I got a gig when bassist Steve called me as he had joined a blues band Rainy City Blues Band featuring Mike Lynch.

I joined, it was a really good Chigago blues Band, but very little work and I'd gotten used to the taste of pro work, so I left. I'd enjoyed Germany so much I really wanted to go back.

I found a band who needed a drummer so they could work the German circuit, they were called the "Wonderband" and had two girl singers, perfect for the American Bases that we toured. Front man was guitarist Neil Levine formally of The Richard Kent Style we lasted about a year I think but split up when we returned to the UK.

A little after I got a call from Mike Lynch the vocalist, who was by now in MONEY, who, it seemed were just about to break,and were looking for a drummer. I hoped it was going to be my lucky break.

I got the gig, I think, because at the audition/try-out I was able to ease into a 12/8 time passage in a number they did at the time. It swung it for me (pun unintentional!). We never did really make it, as they say, but we had a lot of fun and I'd do it all over again!

By this time I was married (still, same wife!) and needed some security, what else could a muso between gigs do?

I took a job at Barratts on Oxford Road, and worked with (under!) Brian Higham. One of the best things about it was that it was a bit like a labour exchange for musos. so it wasn't long before I got a gig in a Mecca band at Bolton Palais. Wow, regular wages and home every night!

Even now I look back 40 years, as an amazing period in our lives, if only we'd had digital cameras back then.

Comments powered by CComment