Hola bunker children. Today is Father’s day; an opportune moment to pay tribute to one of my biggest musical influences.
Dad has a long history of playing bass in various bands including ‘Nightshift’ and ‘Arthurmo’ back in the 70s to today’s popular Stones tribute band the ‘Rollin Zones’ (pictured - second from left). My musical palette, rooted in the funky bass riffs of black American soul and disco, are undoubtedly tuned to his lineage.
He also designed the artwork and stage set for the Stones’ ‘Urban Jungle Tour’ in 1990:
Not to mention all the fabulous Bunker Sessions album art - THANK YOU!
Dad gave us an interview about life on the road during the late 60s in one of his earlier bands, ‘The Chevannes’:
“I’ve toured with various bands over the years, namely ‘The Chavannes’ during 67-8. We played with lots of big names of the era including Cilla White (now Cilla Black, no one had heard of her at the time so I didn’t pay much attention), Gerry and the Pacemakers, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and The Honeycombs. Diana Doors called herself a fan and would show up to gigs shrieking “Hiya boys!” in an MGB with gold plated bumpers.
I’ve had my fair share of band dramas over the years. We used to have a drummer who was so high, he’d collapse over his drums after an energetic solo due to some lung problem he was having. Everyone thought it was part of the act so we used to wait until he came around and continue.
We also used to have a guitarist named Eric - a hard man you wouldn’t mess with, generally always off his head on something. He hit the wrong chord once when we were playing a Shadows number in Gainsborough. A bloke in the crowd started booing and Eric stopped playing, smiled and shouted, “Do you wanna come forward?” - stupidly the bloke did. Eric took the mic out of the stand and asked him if he wanted to say a few words. As he went to speak he smacked him across the face with it - knocking him out cold.
Another incident that sticks out in my mind is when Eric got into a bust up with a band called the Young Ones. The lead guitarist marched up to him, telling him not to plug his amp somewhere. They were very picky as they wanted the prime spots for theirs. As always, Eric stood his ground, so they kicked it and tore the speaker cloth. Things quickly escalated and Eric stuck his guitar through the front of his amp. The bouncers had to step in at this point to stop them killing each other.
Eric would turn up to every gig with a different car every time - never choosing to travel with us in the tour wagon. We were convinced he pinched them on the way and dumped them afterwards. I never dared to get in a car with him because he was always off his nut. He even turned up with a top notch Fender amp once, telling us he’s bought it. Some heavies turned up during gig saying they’d come to claim their gear back. Needless to say, the sound wasn’t the best that night.
Back to the plot, one afternoon, our manager called us for a booking on a couple of days notice for Leeds date to support the [Rolling] Stones. We used to cover loads of their tracks back then so we had to alter our set list quite dramatically for this one. Fender turned up to the gig with a load of premium sound equipment but the Stones couldn’t use any of it because they were contracted with WEM. Their sound guy told us to take it so in some respects, you might say the Rolling Stones brought us into the professional arena because ameteur groups couldn’t afford this stuff at the time.
The Stones hardly even bothered with a sound check. Top bands always arrived late in those days leaving it all up to their roadies. We nonchalantly said hello to them backstage and tried to talk about timings but no one seemed to know what was going on so we went to the bar instead. Mick Jagger used to have a really posh accent back then - not like this current drawl - and Keith Richards was by far the most talkative. Brian Jones was white as a sheet with a serious drug problem and said very few words. His band mates would say, “What do you think Brian?” and he’d just grunt; I still rated him as a musician though. I remember there being hordes of girls backstage. Eric, our guitarist, asked who they were and was told, “They’re groupies for the Stones but they’re not interested so you can have ‘em if you want.” So he took them to his van and he went missing for a while after that!
That evening we played on a revolving platform and when we finished our set, the stage would rotate. The Stones carried 100 watt Vox amps - The Standard around that time was around 30 watts. God knows how they did that in those days! You could see their amplifier stacks towering over the partition wall and they nearly blew us off the stage with the volume!
In contrast to the pirate swagger of the Stones, our formal stage outfits consisted of suits with frilly shirts and big buckled shoes. Being the impressionable folks we were, we immediately ditched these in favour of casuals. This went down well but our manager soon found out and was livid - so we were forced back to geeky suit territory when he was in the house.
This is all a distant memory now but I remember The Stones had just released ‘It’s all over now’ which had rushed straight to the number one spot - so it makes sense that this should be my song selection.”
The Rolling Stones - It’s all over now [London Records] 1964
The Rolling Stones - It’s all over now can be heard on Bunker Sessions episode #16.