I’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).
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
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
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
Never saw him but played these on the jukebox all the time.
- Shaking all over
- Please don’t touch
On the same jukebox as Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.
- What’d I say
- Hit the road Jack
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
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.
- Wonderful Land
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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