2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


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Songs that I liked when I was discovering music

03-mescooterI’ve mentioned before my early influences but I recently found a list I made ages ago of my early favourites when I was a young teenager. These are all tunes that meant something to me as I was growing up in an industrial town in East Lancashire and that I played all the time on local juke boxes or with friends.

Some were tunes I learned to play on the guitar, others just appealed to me. Looking back some of them remind me of times when things were changing after the post-war austerity. Some of the artists I’ve already posted about (just follow the links).

Duane Eddy

That amazing Gretsch guitar sound – apparently achieved by utilising an empty 2,000 gallon water tank with his amp at one end and a mic at the other. I met him when my band were a support band on one of his tour gigs back in the day and he was a really nice guy.

Recently my friend (and former vocalist with The Avalons) David and I decided to invest in a new Gretsch guitar each. I got a black one and he got an orange one as he was a big Eddie Cochran fan)

  • 40 miles of bad road
  • Shazam

Everly Brothers

Saw them in Preston on their comeback tour. What voices and great backing band including guitar virtuoso Albert Lee. This track was so dramatic and the harmonies spine-tingling.

  • Cathy’s Clown

Buddy Holly

Never saw him but saw the Crickets, and Bobby Vee, in Burnley of all places. His 4-piece band was the template for so many others and I loved that sunburst fender Stratocaster. I had to get one (a 1957 Vintage Squier version made in Japan which cost me just over £200)

  • Raining in my heart
  • Well all right

Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

Never saw him but played these on the jukebox all the time.

  • Shaking all over
  • Growl
  • Please don’t touch

Ray Charles

On the same jukebox as Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.

  • What’d I say
  • Hit the road Jack

Eddie Cochran

Never saw him sadly but played this and “Hallelujah I love her so” in all my bands.

  • Summertime Blues

Johnny & The Hurricanes

A visiting guitarist showed me the riff for Sandstorm on my acoustic guitar when we were hanging out at a river crossing called Heasandford in Burnley, Lancashire. A river crossing anywhere else would sound so Bruce Springsteen!

  • Red River Rock
  • Sandstorm

The Shadows

Everyone’s favourite. I used to play their tunes on an acoustic guitar with a pickup. Hard work above the 12th fret. I liked their singing too.

  • Apache
  • Wonderful Land

Elvis Presley

Played all these at different times. “Rose” accompanying a girl singer for a church concert, arpeggiated all the way through. Others were standards in various bands I played with.

  • A rose grows wild in the country
  • A mess of blues
  • Heartbreak hotel

Roy Orbison

Going down the local ballroom and hearing these songs blasting out. Sounded out of this world. Del Shannon’s Runaway had similar impact on me.

  • Only the Lonely
  • My Blue Angel

The Ventures

Country cousins to the Shadows but without the tape echo. Learned loads of their tunes but these two especially were band staples.

  • Walk don’t run
  • Perfidia

Chuck Berry

And to think his only UK No 1 was “My Ding-a-ling”. I was never a Johnny B Goode afficionado although everybody learned the riffs. These two were a bit different however and we’re still playing “Memphis”.

  • Route 66
  • Memphis Tennessee

John Leyton

Saw him sing this on TV as a pop singer doing a PA based in a department store soap called Harpers W1. Within 2 weeks it was at No 1. Follow up “Wild Wind’ in similar mode. I bought his first LP “The two sides of John Leyton” – one labelled “beat” and the other “ballad”.  This song has just been covered by ex-Stranglers.

  • Johnny remember me

Chet Atkins

Bought my first Chet Atkins LP in London and still have it. Listened and learned from him in the early days especially hammer-ons and pull-offs. Liked this because it was recorded by Marty Wilde’s old band with Big Jim Sullivan on lead guitar.

  • Trambone

John Barry 7

What a great sound from this rock combo with jazz leanings. Loved guitarist Vic Flick (and what a name!) who played as session man on many film scores.

  • Hit & Miss
  • James Bond theme

Joe Brown

Didn’t realise how influential Joe Brown was until many years later when I learned about his session work and supporting US artists on UK tours (they couldn’t bring their own bands over in those days because of work permit rules)

  • Picture of you

Marty Wilde

Still prefer him to St Cliff. Met him once in a club in Nelson where he was appearing as the Marty Wild Trio (sometimes referred to as the Wild Three) with his wife Joyce Baker (ex-Vernons girl) and future Moody Blues star Justin Hayward. A really friendly guy.

  • Johnny Rocco
  • Sea of Love
  • Endless sleep

 


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Our most read posts in 2014

custom_text_and_music_notes_coming_out_of_a_box_11963This blog started off as a small local affair about a duo called 2 Shades of Grey who had a lot of experience of, and loved music.

So apart from the duo’s activities anything that grabbed our attention music-wise was a potential post.

Surprisingly we posted over 100 posts last year, most with photos and many with music embedded. Our readership spans 80 countries although mostly in the UK, America and Brazil. And if you are surprised by Brazil what about people in the Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand and Swaziland?

The most viewed parts of the blog were the “Blast from the past” section of archive photographs, followed by “Our musical influences” and “About us“.

The 5 most popular posts in 2014 were:

  1. PJ Proby and Tom Jones – two great voices – published in May 2014
  2. Duane Eddy – Twangy guitar hero – also published in May 2014
  3. Classical music lovers miss out on bargains – published in August 2014
  4. Acker Bilk – a great trad jazz artist and a man of his word – published in November 2014
  5. Top songs for that final farewell – published in November 2014


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Records from my attic – Duane Eddy

When I found a couple of long-forgotten boxes of 45s and EPs I was like a kid with a jar of sweets.

You know Duane Eddy is one of my favourite artists and here’s Duane Eddy playing the Rockestra theme in 1987. The tune was written by Paul McCartney for Wings ( although he later said he wrote it with Duane Eddy in mind).

SCAN0039

There were a stellar group of musicians backing Eddy including his original sax player Jim Horn and Paul NcCartney.

The B side was a Ry Cooder tuneBlue City” on which both Cooder and David Lindley played guitars.SCAN0040


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Duane Eddy – twangy guitar hero

My earliest musical influences, if you discount the Deep River Boys on the radio on Sunday evenings, were Buddy Holly, and Duane Eddy. Guitarists Chet Atkins, the Ventures and the Shadows came later.

One of my neighbourhood friends Peter Fenton (later our roadie and electrician in the Avalons) had a record player and we would meet in his house after school to listen to the latest records by Buddy Holly and Duane Eddy. Every wannabe guitar hero learned to play Oh Boy and Shazam. (A local guitar teacher who worked “on the bins” saw me messing with my guitar at my front gate one day and showed me how to play Shazam).

Buddy played a sunburst Fender Stratocaster and Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy played Gretsch guitars (although Duane Eddy used Guild for a while before going back to Gretsch). These guitars were so far beyond my reach – and most other aspiring guitarists – that they had an iconic status. For one thing you couldn’t buy Fenders in the UK because of a government ban on American imports.

Buddy Holly bought his first Fender Stratocaster in 1955, the year after they came out, for $305. Cliff Richard bought Hank Marvin a Stratocaster from America for 140 guineas in May 1959 and it was the first one in the UK. In 1965 a Gretsch cost over 300 guineas (equivalent to about £2,500 at today’s prices).

sc000182c1 sc00091650I was too young to see Buddy Holly live (although I did see the Crickets on tour when they came to Burnley with Bobby Vee in 1962) but imagine my delight to be playing with my group The Expression on the same bill as Duane Eddy on his UK tour when he played the Princess Ballroom in Workington (18 August 1966).  

The Devils Disciples also supported Duane Eddy on that tour at Morecambe Pier. So both of us have separately supported him.

sc000182c1 - Version 2The other pleasant surprise was that we had met his band, a group of British musicians led by saxophonist Red Price, when they backed the Walker Brothers at the Astoria Ballroom in Rawtenstall when The Avalons were the support group. These musicians were so friendly and supportive even though musically they were streets ahead of us.

And Duane Eddy was a gentleman. He didn’t say a lot but he was happy to sign photographs.

de-roadHe’s still going strong having forged a working relationship, cut a new CD Road Trip“, and toured, with Richard Hawley, another Gretsch player.

gretsch-duane-eddie-630-80Some facts about Duane Eddy

  • First top ten hit was Rebel Rouser in 1958 (Movin’ and a-groovin’ was his first record the previous year but only reached 74))
  • Apart from his rock hits he also played film themes such as Because They’re Young and Peter Gunn
  • First rock guitarist to have his own signature guitars the DE400 and DE500 made by Guild
  • Gretsch brought out the first Duane Eddy signature  6120DE in 1997 but reissued it as the G6120 in 2011 (see picture on right). It was  based on the original Chet Atkins 6120 he used for his early hits, with some modifications.
  • Has sold over 100 million records making him most popular rock guitarist
  • Admitted  into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 1994

On those guitars

I’d had a pink 1964 Fender Stratocaster when I played in The Expression and the Uptown Go-Go Band but I could never keep it in tune and (foolishly) got rid of it, and my Vox AC30 TB amplifier, when I left the band.

Years later I saved up and went down to London to buy a Buddy Holly-type Squier Stratocaster in sunburst with the original 3-way pick-up switch (which I upgraded to a 5-way). It was assembled in Japan but from genuine US parts. And it served me well (I used it a lot when I played with a 60s cover bands Oh Boy and Shades of Rock as shown in archive photos). I had it cleaned up and checked over recently and it’s in good condition for a 25 year old guitar.

The Gretsch had to wait a bit longer. At over £$3,000 dollars there’s no way I could afford the Duane Eddy signature guitar but a couple of years ago my ex-Avalon colleague David Parkinson and I decided we’d both buy an Electromatic vintage re-issue. He wanted an orange one in memory of Eddie Cochran and I got a black one. We get together occasionally for a Gretsch-fest!