2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

1 Comment

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


1 Comment

Vintage Rockers’ top Rock ‘n’ Roll songs

Vintage Rock magazine asked its readers to vote for the top 100 rock ‘n’ roll songs.

Here are the top 10 results.

At number 10 was: Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley.

A song written by Hoyt Axton’s mother and Elvis’s first chart topper in 1956. I remember playing this in a group competition at the Mecca in Burnley. The opening is quite dramatic and it was different from many other songs at the time. Which guitarist could resist those double stop notes in the intro?

Number 9 was another Elvis song Mystery Train

One of the rockabilly records he recorded for Sun with Scotty Moore and Bill Black.

Number 8 was Whole lotta shaking goin’ on by Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee’s breakthrough single in the US (it got to No 3 in 1957) was a cover of earlier recording but another success for Sam Phillips at Sun records.

Number 7 was Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran

It reached No 8 in the US charts in 1958. This three-chord tune with sense of humour was (and still is) a favourite with all the guitar groups.

Number 6 was Move It by Cliff Richard and the Drifters.

This pre-Shadows recording was Cliff’s first hit reaching No 2 in the British charts and arguably the UK’s first home-grown rock ‘n’ roll hit. I thought for years that the cool twangy  guitar playing was Hank Marvin but it wasn’t.

Number 5 was Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis

This achieved No 2 in the US charts and No 1 in the UK and was his follow-up to Whole Lotta Shaking.

Number 4 was Gene Vincent with Be-bop-a-LulaSCAN0131

Vincent wrote this song which got to No 7 in the US charts.

I saw him in Lancashire appearing on the same bill as Jet Harris and Tony Meehan (ex-Shadows) and John Leyton (singer of Johnny Remember Me and an actor in the Great Escape). It was March 1963 and either at the Southport Odeon or King George’s Hall Blackburn. Another song every guitar group played (and some still do)

Number 3 was Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley

Jailhouse Rock was his third film and this song was a hit in 1957.Written by Leiber & Stoller it featured Scotty Moore on guitar and D J Fontana on Drums. It’s also his third appearance in this top ten listing.

Number 2 was Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and his Comets

This song, originally recorded as a B side, briefly hit the US charts at No 23 in 1954. An unlikely rock legend despite the kiss curl. His style was based on country and swing but was the start of something big and when he released Shake, Rattle and Roll the following year it was the first rock ‘n’ roll record to enter the UK charts earning itself a gold record.

And at No 1 was Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry

This, possibly autobiographical, song of a country boy who became a rock n roll star reached No 8 in the US pop charts and No 2 in the R & B charts. Go Johnny Go is reputed to refer to Berry’s pianist Johnnie Johnson (although ironically he didn’t actually play on this song). The guitar intro was something every aspiring guitarist had to learn to play and the song has been covered many, many times,

And if you’ve been living on the moon and never heard it (although it was included on the golden disc NASA sent out in Voyager) here it is on Youtube

If you want to see the full list of 100 you’ll have to buy the magazine.

Some of my favourites which were listed were Del Shannon’ Runaway, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ Shaking all over, Dale Hawkins’ Susie Q, Buddy Holly’s Brown-eyed Handsome Man, Carl Perkins’ Honey Don’t, Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, and The Wanderer by Dion & The Belmonts.