Tony Owens ... My first group 

I was 15 and apart from sitting in one night with “Kathy and the Boleros” I had not done much public drumming; I remember it was a Thursday in November and I was working as a sales ledger clerk at British Oxygen in Whitworth St in Manchester.

Three days before I had spent my lunch hour in the drum department of Barratts on Oxford Road and a second hand Premier kit in White Pearl had been traded in, that evening  I asked my parents for £70 to buy my first 4 piece kit and they said they would consider it the next day I came home from work and was told my Grandad, Mick Quinn was treating me to the kit and would pick me up from work, not only that but I could have the used 18” Avedis Zildjian  cymbal  too. In 1963 Zildjians second hand were £1 an inch. 

My mother met me at the door and said excitedly that the local Journal had an ad from a band wanting a drummer, I still remember the number, Leigh 71110, could I make a rehearsal tonight at the Church Inn? I said yes. I arrived, set up and off we went. We spent the night on 3 numbers. The Cruel Sea (an instrumental by the Dakotas) |A Shot of Rhythm and Blues, (Johnny Kidd) and Roll Over Beethoven. At the end of the night, I was given the gig and told we were playing on Friday night at Hilda Street Youth Club. The gear, including my new kit was put on a window cleaner’s hand cart and that was it, no clues about how we would fill the 2 x 45minute spots with just 3 numbers? 

Come Friday night arrived, set up no problem, played The Cruel Sea and another instrumental called Walk Don’t Run and then Lead Guitarist Bernard went to the microphone an introduce the vocalist “H”. The last time the band had done this venue “H” had tripped over the mike stand and broken his nose. This time he came bounding up the steps from the dressing room, cracked his head on the lintel and fell back into the dressing room Someone shouted, “Drum Solo” and my newfound mates all ran off l was left to my solo! “H” recovered after a few minutes but a few weeks later he quit the band. 

Things did get better! 

Best regards

Tony Owens

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