Sunday, 1 November 2015

BULLS HEAD BOB Nov 2015. I Love Bass Players. Rumble at the Pie Stand. The Killer live.

Howdoooooo  Brummies,

There's nothing more that could rouse from my bed quicker than Mrs Bob saying
"Bob what's in the Blog this month, my little choochie?".... the realisation that, still owing to ongoing works in the new kitchen, I hadn't written a word and now it's 6 o'clock in the morning of the 1st of the month!!  After an assortment of several expletives and a loud howl as I kicked, barefoot, the leg of the bed as I hotfooted it into the bloggery.   As I entered the computer had a screen saver flashing saying "You've done it now Bob!! Blog!!

Just after The Beatles broke up John Lennon wrote a song called "Instant Karma" which he composed, recorded and issued as a single all on the same day. So with that as my inspiration and a throbbing toe here goes......Goodness me what can I talk about right now to save being sent into the shed of shame for unblog-like behaviour.  

Not the normal type of phrase I use when talking about Bassists but would like to say thanks a lot to the 418 bass players that visited the blog last month in response to someone mentioning my BASS PLAYERS SPECIAL in the forum.  You're very welcome guys and if you too are a bassist and didn't read this then click below, or get your carer to do it for you.


Alex's Pie Stand, famous haunt for criminals, hookers, bikers and musicians and assorted night people of Brum during the 50's and 60's has, once again, featured in a new book called  "The Accidental Gangster" written about a feud between the  notorious London mobsters, the Kray Twins and the Fewtrell Brothers, the latter being the brothers that owned the famous Cedar Club and others where us muso's met up after gigs.  

The book is written by the son-in-law of one of the Fewtrell brothers so I guess it's pretty factual and features an apparent 'Rumble' at the Snow Hill Pie Stand between 50 Kray family bruisers and the same amount of Fewtrell bouncers and associated thugs after the Krays had made move on the Fewtrells patch.
Now I never knew this happened but can just picture the scene as some skinny musician is trying to buy a meat and potato pie as bodies are flying through the air like the Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill.  Did it happen? some say yes and others say no.  Perhaps you were that skinny, sweaty muso clutching your crusty pie and running for the confines and security of the van.

So if your Granny is into mindless violence, which bizarrely is all they seem to have a penchant for, then now is the time to buy it to pop under the Christmas tree this year.  Packet of boiled sweets, book of violence, sugar, what a cornucopia of delights for Gran.

When I say The Killer it is not as a continuation of the above piece but is in 
respect of the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis.  I featured JLL in last months blog and was glad to hear from Norm Crandles to say that The Satelites had been the support band for Jerry Lee at The Adelphi in Brum during his second time
visiting the UK following the outrage the year before when he was found to have married his 13 year old cousin....always found it funny that Elvis never suffered from such indignation when he installed a very young Priscilla in Graceland?

Norm:    " Jerry Lee Lewis was due on stage at 9 o'clock and the place was packed with Teddy Boys and Teddy girls, all awaiting his arrival.  The audience weren't interested in us and were even less interested on hearing that Jerry was going to be an hour late owing to bad traffic.  We continued playing with an undercurrent of anger at the non appearance of their hero at the appointed hour.   On his arrival with his bassist and drummer they asked to use The Satelites amps and stuff and the band willingly obliged.

The Killer took to the stage and blew the place apart with his energetic on-stage antics, all watched from the wings by Norm and Maggie his wife.

"He was electrifying and the audience were all going wild and following the show Jerry Lee then sat on the edge of the stage giving autographs and talking to the kids there.  "He was certainly not the angry, unmanageable type of person that he has always been portrayed as, he came and thanked us all personally for letting him use our kit too.  What a nice guy."

Now I've met my fair share of famous musicians but I would have swapped them all to have had this meeting.....wish that had been me, great one Norm.

Well guys, sorry, this "Instant Blogga" may be short and sweet but like they say the Pony Express always gets through.

Enjoy this lovely Sunday...go out and buy your other half a surprise gift.

Take Care
Bob...The King of Grouting.

Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Thursday, 1 October 2015


Watcha Brummies, mates, mate-ettes and Sundry Visitors,

I am still up to my armpits in building work.  You know when you have that thought buzz through your head "I bet I could knock down that wall and...etc etc....this weekend, I'll have it all painted by the weekend after".  It's all bollocks, you would think that after years of falling into the same trap that I would have developed a little common sense and not taken this path of self destruction, committing myself and my thin wallet to sure oblivion.  Mrs Bob is in full 'buzz' though picking brushed chrome fittings and things to adorn the room of culinary delights.   So, in advance, I apologise for the short length of this months blog.  I'm under the cosh to deliver the goods, kitchen wise and it's full steam ahead in the Bob household....Still, they say the best things come in small packages so I hope you appreciate this little jewel of Brumbeat memories.

I've decided that I have 'niched' the niche-market in sundry visitors and
for the sake of equality have included them in my monthly salutations so they feel needed.   Oh shit!  I didn't mention the Sparkhill Feminist Sisters Group, and they always have a knee jerk reaction to anything I might do or in this particular case, what I didn't say, and for sure they'll be bearing placards in some street or other, shouting for "Total Inclusion in Everything" as a result of my error, then the Police will be called to quell their "Acting about in funny manner Sarge" and with my Nephew being a Policeman who normally earns his living glaring at people outside Villa Park, he could be injured by a hurled feminist bahgee!   Flippin heck, you have to be so careful of what you say these days.
Luckily in the older days, that is to say the 50's, when men were men and women were grateful, none of this PC stuff applied.  That was in the days when we saluted the greats of Rock and Roll, surely the key to today's modern versions of the great songs like Heartbreak Hotel and Move It.   My overriding favourite Rock n Roller is always a toss up between the immaculate Little Richard and 'The Killer' Jerry Lee Lewis and this week we celebrated Jerry Lee's 80th birthday.    I still include Great Balls of Fire in my set and occasionally, High School Confidential too.   
Jerry Lee played two 'Farewell'concerts in the UK one in London and the other Glasgow.   Jerry Lee did not fail to impress.

The music was never out of fashion for me and in the late 60's there was a slight re-birth of Rock and Roll music which was championed by The Move amongst others and their set included several Eddie Cochran songs including, 'Weekend" and "Something Else".

It was only appropriate that the Move should have great success with Fire Brigade with it's Duane Eddy like guitar opening phrase and were the current market trend setters of the time

Much has been written about the Pie Stand in Birmingham for the late nighters looking for a pie and a cup of tea in the small hours.  Before it became synonymous with groups meeting up there it was really a place for bikers gatherings and I must thank Vince P for getting in touch with me to send a couple more photos of the place showing a gathering of it's previous occupants prior to the 'groups' phase.  My brother in law would have been one of those bikers and could even be in this picture:

Well I can't spot any groups here, outside of the bikers there is only one older guy on the right probably thinking "I don't know what this country has come to?", he should have been there during the Flower Power phase of the Summer of Love, with all the bands there in  their flowery attire he would have been truly alarmed.  Pansies is the word that might have entered his head!

Now not only were the Bikers and Teddy Boys regulars there but they took over the shrine of Birmingham Brumbeat, that is The Bulls Head on the Coventry Road after Disco came along and ruined all those great live performance venues.  Here I must thank Vince again for bringing a video clip from the Mace Archive to my attention.  The Dance Hall that was the Bulls Head was renamed as The Hideaway Club and in 1973 Chris Tarrant Interviewed a group of 'Teds' outside the building, as it was destined to be shut down.  

It is the same frontage that every Brummie group of any quality would have stepped through and when I first saw it I felt a real tinge of nostalgia, even though it was just a quick shot of the entrance.   Anyway it is the only thing piece of video footage I've ever seen and I hope it brings back some fleeting memories to some of you.

Here is the clip:   THE BULLS HEAD ON VIDEO

I'm on the way back to the kitchen, just how lucky do I feel?

Cheers from here in the bloggery and I hope to regale you with something a little more substantive next month.

Have a Hug

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Hi Brummies at home and abroad,

Well great to see the country doing so well at the World Championships and the Womens Hockey, and of course the Ashes, and on top of that, it looks like the Mighty Villa have the makings of a great team this season.   Look at me, I've gone sports mad, Mrs Bob is rummaging through her stuff looking for her leotard, I thought it wise not to tell her that it's in the shed, I've used it to hang my marrows in and it works a treat, holds 4. 

The great thing is, she'll be happy for hours searching the house?

Well, in dribs and drabs, I seem to be getting some more interior shots of the Bulls Head, Coventry Road.  This time with my thanks again to Pete Trickett for sending me some photos of Formula 1 performing there.  

The first photo shows Pete Trickett, drums, Mel Stanton, Bass and 
Paul Stevens, rhythm guitar.
These photos were of Formula 1's last gig together at the shrine of Brumbeat, The Bulls Head.

It is pertinent to note the hairstyles of the band compared to those of the guys visible in the audience, still with sideburns and slicked back, so this would have been early Beatles days.

There's some really nice kit on stage there.
After this gig the band broke up with Pete and 
Mel joining up with Richard Tandy, in his guitar playing days, and Derry Ryan to form the band Stacks who used be regulars on stage at The Rum Runner.   Interestingly Richard bought Paul Stevens black telecaster from him for 50 quid, how much would you pay these days for a 1964/5 Telecaster????

Pictured Right, but on the left hand side of the stage is lead guitarist Keith Hughes with his very nice, and very early Stratocaster, looks like a red one too, tight trousers, winklepickers and roll neck sweater, all the rage then.

I can't thank you enough Pete, hopefully there are some more Photos out there of this iconic place.  Maybe you've got a couple?


Between 1963 and 64 Burns made the very nice, albeit bulky, TR2 , I wouldn't say that it was warmly liked by guitarists, perhaps because of it's large body size, but it was a model I liked a lot. I particularly liked the hidden controls under the scratchplate. A nice touch of style.

At the same time a New York department store called 
St George started selling it's own brand of 'St George' guitars, they were all Japanese imports of the Shiro Musical Instrument Manufacturing Factory, much like the guitars of Fenton Weill and EKO etc and they produced several guitars for St George including the "Ernani St George" which bears a remarkable resemblance to the TR2.

This very rare 1965 guitar was recently sold on EBay and on closer inspection it really does seem to be made from a selection of odds and sods from the Japanese factory, the neck looks like those fitted to the old futuramas and the pick ups, whilst not the same as the TR2, do bear a resemblance to the Burms Sonic and as there was no other guitar body of this shape about then I have to assume that it was a straight design copy.  

The body is an absolute clone of the TR2 and it too, had its controls under the scratchplate.

A couple of months back I announced the passing of old mate Mac Poole and now a sad start to this month too with the news that great all round Walsall musician, Bill Bonham who passed away last week.    I thought that it would be a good time for us to revisit the piece I did on Bill a year or so ago, right from his start in the world of music.  So with no apologies for repeating myself:


copyright (B Bonham)
It looks like any other early sixties designed pub, with it's country-cottage style chimney and all very angular and G Plan.   There was a ballroom on the left of the building that had not been added at the time of this photo.   This boozer was as important to Walsall as The Bulls Head, on the Coventry Road was, in Birmingham.   All the midlands great bands played here.   The pub in question is The "3 Men in a Boat" and for historically excellent bands like The Redcaps and The N'Betweens this was 'Home territory". 

If you were a very young aspiring musician it would have been the perfect place to grow up in and learn from the 'bigger boys'.   Therefore, it was not surprising that the young man who actually lived at this pub from the age of 10, and had the opportunity to absorb all that melting pot of music, became one of the midlands premier musicians. I talk about Bill Bonham, organist and pianist.   Bill had received classical musical training from the age of 6 and by his teenage years was '"the hot kid on the block", his playing being influenced by the jazz greats, the classics and acts like Graham Bond with his growling R&B.

"My Father always had different types of bands and combos at the pub and I could always talk to them about music and they would be very generous towards me.   I used to hang around whilst the various bands were setting up and I walked in one day when the Redcaps just started a soundcheck ........I was mesmerised and I think I closed my open mouth about twenty seconds after they had stopped playing, "I wanna do that" flashed through my head!!
"A jazz combo pointed me in the direction of Charlie Parker and I remember when I first heard him play I thought he was God"

Bill Bonham (right)
From his early teen years Bill went through the normal course of joining and forming groups, playing saxophone with the first band then moving on to a Hohner electric piano/Farfisa organ with a Selmer Twin Thunderbird 50 and finally a Hammond L100 with a Vox T60, his reputation as a good musician going before him.  It came as no surprise that by the tender age of 17 he was in one of the best bands on the planet at that time and that was the Terry Reid Group.   It is well known that Terry Reid was the first choice as vocalist for the soon to be, Led Zeppelin but due to other commitments he turned it down and referred Jimmy Page to Robert Plant, who at that time, was in the band Obs Tweedle with Bill.   Plant returned the favour to Reid by recommending Bill for his own group and the die was cast.

The great sound of Reid's 3 piece band, his amazing voice apart, was built on the same structure as The Doors, that is with dominant keyboards and no bass player, "I used a Fender Rhodes Bass piano or the Hammond organ foot pedals to provide the bass lines". 

The Terry Reid band were signed to Mickie Most and when Reid became ill,
Most wasted no time in utilising Bill's great musicianship in the recording studio with the likes of The Hollies and Donovan.   "I did a tour of GB with Donovan which was a nightmare, we had rehearsed his set for a couple of weeks before going out on the tour and on the opening night at the Hammersmith Odeon we played the first song and then he started playing songs I'd never heard before for the rest of the set!!, luckily I have a good ear and was able to follow him but really had no idea what was coming next.   Mickie Most was horrified"

Following his time with Terry Reid, Bill returned to Birmingham and played with a resident band in the Rum Runner and some others, eventually going to RADA to complete his musical training before moving to the USA. 

There is one final thing that I should make clear.  It is not unreasonable to think that he was related to John Bonham given that they are both Brummies but in fact they were not related at all, it was simply a bit of fun on both their parts to tell people they were cousins.  John Woodhouse has already done a more detailed feature on Bill Click Here and unfortunately succumbed to the Bonham dynasty in-joke, never mind John, you had to be there to know it!!

On the face of it, it appears that Bill made some cool and groovy decisions during his playing days but we all make the occasional mistake and he is no exception:
(Bill Bonham top right with Fairfield Ski - copyright B Bonham)
Complete with the RickWakeman cloak...No wonder he buggered off to the States!!  

Bill was a serious and massively talented musician and went on to make a successful career for himself in the US with the Disney Corporation.   I'm sure that those of us who knew him will keep him in our thoughts for a long time.
Anyway, Ladies and Gents I give you, Bill of the best, God Bless. 

Just to remind you of how good he was here's a clip of Bill jamming with a California below

Recently on 'Midlands TV Today' there was a clip of Moody Blues bassist John Lodge re-visiting his old family home before playing a gig somewhere in Brum.   He talked about buying his first guitar from a guy who lived nearby called Brian Nicholls for 2 pounds 10 shillings.

Now the Brian Nicholls ex 'Varsity Rag' who has featured here on the blog several times has been inundated with phone calls and e mails asking him about it and though Brian was raised in Perry Bar and John Lodge in Erdington he said "I have not actually confirmed or denied it so, why spoil a good story with the truth?"........plausible deniability but with a possibility that it might be true if John Lodge had got it wrong?

Take Care you lovely people....


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Saturday, 1 August 2015


Howdoo Brummies, Muso's, Boozers and Cruisers,

August is upon us so we can hope for some more lovely tanning weather for another month, so say the weathermen.    Mrs Bob is still in the holiday mood and has bogged off to the sun drenched avenues of Aston B6 to stay with her sister Blanchette, very exotic, whilst I don my Builders hat, tool belt and lower my levi's for the obligatory bumcrack and start knocking seven bells out of the kitchen.  I did the fireplace last year which won me 'grace and favour' from Mrs Bob for the year and now it's time to launch myself and my aching muscles at the bricks and mortar once again.       

So with a set of speakers wrapped in bin bags placed in the kitchen the challenge between my delicate musician fingers and cement began.  I have to say though that it's brilliant!   Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits belting out in perfect time with my lump hammer attack on the walls and old units.   "You got a lotta nerve, to say you are my friend" cutting and stinging like a stiletto.   Wow!, this physical stuff is good therapy.

Next on the audio list are all The Beatles LP's, vynil, one after the other with the aim to demolish all of the ancillary parts of the kitchen and units by the time I get to the White Album then, the wall goes down to Helter Skelter and Why Don't we Do It in the Road.   Yeah! Vinyl and volume, can't beat it guys.  Let's not forget that particular composer of those Beatles Heavy Classics...thanks Paul.

When I was a young sproglet of 14 or 15, I would venture forth, wearing my mohair jumper into the night and go to as many dance halls, youth clubs, boozers, swimming baths as I could walk to, to catch sight of the many groups playing there as I could.  It was the only way to learn in those days.    It wasn't just to learn guitar chords or phrases either, there was stagecraft to absorb.
If you wanted to be regarded as a 'proper group' then you would all have the same clothes, use the same make of amplifiers and have a singer as a front man with the group playing a handful of Shadows instrumentals, Watkins Copycat on full repeat echo for The Savage or FBI!!

All this is seen as quite naff these days but, I kid you not, it was full of excitement for us who experienced those first days of ELECTRIC live music.   
It was as good as it got for it's time and we really need to remember that this was the beginning of it all.    The whole concept and make up of a group in those early British days was roughly based upon the model of Cliff Richard and The Shadows and Elvis.
You wouldn't have been disappointed then, if you had gone to see one of Birminghams finest groups of the day, Johnny Neal and The Starliners, to fulfil all of the above qualities.   Johnny's voice was a powerful one, lusty and deep-throated at times. He was one of the very first Rock and Rollers in Birmingham and a lot of fine musicians went through the ranks of The Starliners.
A real highlight of his career was on TV's Opportunity Knocks and had some good success off the back of his performances on that programme with the record release "Put your Hand in the Hand".   Bizarrely he also was known for his long sideburns and it was evident from the picture below that it was a requirement if you wanted to play in that particular band.

The particular line up who did the Opportunity Knocks shows were (L to R)  Roger Craythorne (Drums), Johhny Neal, Barrie Gray, Bass, Graham Sideley, Keyboards and Geoff Nicholls, Guitar/keyboards/arranger. 

Johnny Neal and Starliners on Opportunity Knocks!!
Johnny was a real polished act and his stage presence was enormous. With his Billy Daniels influences he fitted naturally into the cabaret scene where he earned a good living for many a year, particularly in South Africa as a star of the hotel cabaret environment.   

I'm pleased to say that Johnny (Noga to his mates) who now lives back in Birmingham has just celebrated his 80th Birthday!! and I'm sure there are many old Brummies around who would also wish you well Noga....inhale, that's all you've got to do.   
Johnny and Maggie celebrating.
Amazing man of Brummie Rock history.....glad you're still with us Noga.  Here's to the next one.


A brumbeat musical career which included groups such as ELO and The Uglys, Brummie muso and songwriter, Dave Scott-Morgan is dusting off his cobwebs and, although a tad early to announce, will be playing a gig in September at the following venue: 

Now I can tell you from personal knowledge that Dave is a funny guy, hence his "Morganisation" pun, I could hardly control myself?  He is a very talented songwriter and musician with a grand voice, he can fly aeroplanes and has an extremely nice partner, Mandy.    I am sure that the concert will be full of jocularity, harmony, reminiscences and wonderful music and he has also thoughtfully planned it as an afternoon performance so he can catch up on his beauty sleep afterwards.  

I like the man and we shared some good times together.   You know where the venue is, so get yourself a ticket now and avoid the rush to see this Brumbeat survivor.   Might even be there me'self?

Right chaps and chapesses.  Clouds of dust are settling in the kitchen so I'm just gonna knock some shit out of it, Pizza ordered for 9 o'clock, six pack in the fridge!!!


Copyright:  Bullsheadbob


Wednesday, 1 July 2015


Hiya Brummies, Brummettes and World wide mates,

Whew, what a scorcher. 
summer attire
We've certainly been enjoying some great weather so, with economy in mind, we have decided not to go to Portugal this year for our hol's but instead, have ordered three tons of sand for the back garden to create our very own beach.    Mrs Bob is all excited about the prospect and has been trying on her summer balaclava, it might not be the most fashionable thing to wear at the beach but it does hide most of her excessive facial hair and also comes in handy to 'blend in' when doing some shopping with the sisters from the Sparkhill Feminist League.   

If you're a jazz fan you might want to toddle off into the city and cop an earful of some Jazz and Blues at various venues throughout the city during the 31st Jazz Festival between the 3rd and 12th of July.

The organisers contacted me to ask if I would do a 'little something' on the blog about the Festival, "Sure" I said, "Why don't you email me a poster of the event" working on the basis of a picture paints a thousand words.   I heard nothing in reply but did receive another email a couple of weeks after, from a different admin person from the same office asking me the same question, I sent back the same answer. Nothing came back- twice!   You might think I would have given up but, undeterred, I trawled the web and found the stuff for myself. 

It would
be too much for me to include here everyone who is playing during the festival but, take it from me there are a shed load of brilliant and passionate musicians appearing.  I would definitely go and see Andy Fairweather-Low, a little pricey, but the man is a mass of talent in a small package, not just Clapton's side man for so many years.   Do support the event, it's spread across many locations in Brum and it's essential to keep music live.   Go out, have a few beers and listen to some great musicians, I guarantee you won't regret it.  I'm on my hol's 
I'm afraid and will be busy making my beach, swigging parsnip wine cocktails, applying goose fat to Mrs Bob's back, and "twangin' on me ukulele".

Click on the link below to view the Jazz Festival programme



Sad to say that we have recently lost another of our Brumbeat survivors and great drummer, Mac Poole.   Mac was from Oldbury but was practically resident in Brum and would be around in the hubbub of Brum's nightclubs during the 60's when all us muso's would meet up after gigs.   I first met him at The Hen and Chickens, Langley when I was playing there.  He was very enthusiastic.

Marsha Hunt
Mac played with several Brummie bands but would find fame as the stickman for Marsha Hunt and then 'Warhorse', a band put together by ex Deep Purple Bassist Nick Simper.   Mac then played with a host of other well known bands.   
Mac - Far Right

I played with Mac for a short while in a band that we quickly knocked together to do some gigs for an agent we knew, who needed to fill some dates, we were a pretty 'heavy' band. We did some good gigs down in Devon, Barnstable Town Hall was one of them I remember.  We then headed up North to do a weeks worth of shows expecting the same sort of gigs there but on arrival we found we were booked into some working men's clubs! When they heard us doing a sound check they suggested that, should we go on stage, we would be lynched by the 'Scampi in a Basket' brigade.  We made a tactical withdrawal back to Brum.   Around that time he had been approached by Planty to ask him if he wanted to join Led Zeppelin, he opted out.
The Honeycombs

I bumped into Mac a few times since then at parties and such.  In the recent past he was the drummer for The Honeycombs which came as a bit of a musical surprise to me but "You gotta earn a buck where you can".  

Well God Bless you Mac, I enjoyed your company for a few years and you never ran out of conversation.  

Here's a link below to click on for some Youtube footage of Mac with Warhorse, worth a watch.


Back in the day, Bob Styler was the vocalist for The Yamps, and a fine band they were too.    I thought of him as a kind of Brummie Eric Burdon, with his energetic performances and strong stage personality.  

Bob quit the group scene in the late 60's but later on started playing as part of a duo doing the clubs, so kept himself involved in the music.

Today, Bob is the guitarist with The Shady Banda group born out of a Country band he was playing with that have retained a touch of that country rock but have gone back to the music they love to play, that is the music
of the sixties, with a smattering of some later music that we all know and love.     

The Shady Band are all experienced musicians, and the Shady Lady herself, lead vocalist Jeni Hatton, has a wealth of diverse musical experience including stage musicals. They are extremely well respected and have been doing lots of gigs recently.

The line up comprises of Jeni Hatton (lead vocal), Bob Styler- Guitar /vocals, Danny Walker -Drums/vocals
Phil Clayton- Bass/vocals.  

With all those voices you can be sure of some nice harmonies and there is always a brilliant party atmosphere when they take to the stage.  So get on your dancin' shoes and "loosen up yer larynx".

The band are already getting gigs for December so if you are promoter or club secretary get in touch with them now to avoid getting a cheap substitute.

You can get the latest July gig news and other info from their website at

Alternatively you could chat with Bob himself if you call into the Stirchley Music Exchange, probably the last independent guitar shop in Brum with lots of good second hand guitar bargains and always a friendly face behind the counter, 
you know? just like the old days when people were civil to each other and you would be made to feel welcome when you went into a music shop.      

Brian May is a fine guitarist and his effect-laden, home made guitar is now manufactured by Burns.  Some people believe this was the first of it's kind - not so my friends.

In 1967 VOX marketed the V286 Grand Prix, not a VOX built guitar but one manufactured by EKO for them, that came with built in effects.  This is not to be confused with the VOX guitar organ that had been issued in 66.
I think that this was probably the first of its kind, albeit that Les Paul had his own recording guitar that did the same things but was not available to buy commercially.

I'm not a real fan of VOX guitars but I do like this model apart from the bulbous headstock.  Looks the business.

This has all the looks and attributes of a 60's guitar with it's harsh and cutting treble but you can also sound like Duane Eddy with lush, deep tones.
You can switch in the on-board distortion effect and play some screaming solos with it. There is also Wah, Delay and Tremelo effect.   It is a bit of a knob twiddling delight but if that's your thing then great.  

You should be able to find a good one for about 2000 pounds or more but a word of warning, if you are thinking about getting one, make sure you try it out well and if there is even a hint of a problem with any of the effects don't buy it. There are no spares available and it's one printed circuit

Great guitar for a serious collector.

Just as a top and tail piece to this article. Brian Mays much celebrated use of a sixpence as a plectrum was neither a 'first'.  It was quite common practice, I certainly used one, way back when.

My mate 'Skiffle King' sent me a picture that, if you are planning a career in music, says it all......

At times life can be crap and for sure, everyone will let you down but we can rise above it if we really want to.  Be true to yourself and remember that no good deed goes unpunished.

OK, take care of yourselves and those you love.


copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Monday, 1 June 2015

BULLS HEAD BOB June 2015 ...... MISTER B. B. KING, if you please.

Watcha Maties,

Some years ago  I was emotionally taken apart by the release of The Beatles 'Free as a Bird', a sound I thought I'd never hear again and freely admit that I cried like a baby, not just once, it lasted days...every time I heard it.

That was love, nostalgia and a pure delight that whisked me back to better days when I and the whole world during the 60's had lived our lives with these guys as our standard bearers, it was a great natural high.  It was also only natural that I should have felt some pain. 

Last month we lost a GIANT of a man, a man whose very presence would make you quiver with respect, a man whose blood oozed soul and who could, with a few notes from his beautiful and gifted hands, transport you to the very depths of sadness or give you an uplifting warmth, the like of which could normally only be experienced by high flying eagles.  It made me shed a tear because I loved the mans music.

He was of course the wonderful Mr B B King

His influence on my, and thousands of others musical journeys, along with Big Bill Broonzy, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas, Chuck Berry, and later Eric Clapton, Peter Green and more of those other early guitarists was immense. Of course you could learn all the notes but to try to master the feel of the music in your own soul came at the price of blood, sweat and tears combined with unending hours of practise and the desire to recreate the feeling that BB could express in a few notes.   Nobody really did it better than he. 

Born in Mississippi to a family of cotton pickers, which was
surely enough of a daily grind to simply survive, for him and most poor people there was no future, no way out.   He had started to listen to his mothers records of Blind Lemon Jefferson, finding in those bluesy lyrics a resemblance to his poverty ridden life. He started playing in his teenage years and was known as Blues Boy King which in turn simply got abbreviated to BB.

The Thrill is Gone is his probably his best known song but
his discography is simply amazing.

His life was long, a respectable 89 years old and he was playing right up to 2014. 

At the time of his death he had already been a living legend for many years and his influence on all of the greatest musicians in the world of Blues and Rock music, is practically unmatched and on the day he went I shed a few tears and played every recording I had of his, more than once.

It was truly a day of mixed feelings, grateful for his life and music and desperately sad at his departure.  

BB King was the leader in his field, 'The Man'
whose career had roller-coasted through life but for me he was always the one I wanted to hear again and again.

During the over-indulgent, crap years of prog rock and poetry he became almost ignored and even hated, during an interview, he recalled playing at a Festival where he was announced to the huge crowd who booed him when he took to the stage, can you imagine that??    The world had truly lost it's head. His performance that day won the audience over, such was the music and fight in the man.   

It can only go on for so long and his last string of concerts in 2014 were not his best and got some pretty bad reviews.  Illness then saw him off the road, but during his lifetime it is estimated that he did over 15000 Concerts and I'm pretty sure that all but a handful were just pure genius.  It was such a shame that he had to go out on such a low note. 

His trademark guitar was his black Gibson Stereo called Lucille it was not named after some awful break up with his greatest love but rather named after a girl whose two boyfriends got into a fight over her affections and during that fight knocked over a kerosene lamp that set fire to the hall where King was on stage playing.  He was evacuated but ran back in to the blazing building to get his guitar, he called all his guitars Lucille after that, no matter what the make, to remind himself not to get into scrapes like that with girls.

He gave one these guitars to the Pope, which really tops Noel Gallagher giving a Strat to " Call me Tony" Blair by a country mile.  I'm pretty sure that the meaning of the name Lucille was not lost on the Pontiff.  It was reported the Pope couldn't master the vibrato technique so called it a day on the gig front but the stage name "Yer Man and The Cardinals" had been mooted.

Some of you sharper eyed specimens might have noticed that there five hands in this photo, spooky or what?

There is something to be grateful for in this techno ridden world and that is there are many, many recordings of his performances that will be preserved forever thank goodness.   

BB wrote his autobiography 'Blues All Around Me"  first printed in 1996.  It's a good read and I recommend it.

Some brilliant Youtube clips exist.  Two of my faves I recommend to you are "Let the Good Times Roll" with Jules Holland Big Band and his entire performance at Cook County Jail but especially "How Blue Can you Get"
which you can link to below, the man at his very best:


Back to the Brumbeat news next month....

Love the one your with,

Copyright:  BullsheadBob

Friday, 1 May 2015

Bulls Head Bob May 2015. Will Hammond - The Ugly's, Back to the Blues. Jeff Lynne King of the Paving Slabs. Brummies Abroad Reunions. Johnny Neal.

Hail Brummies, West Midlanders, The Sparkhill Asian Feminist League and not forgetting my mates in the USA and Japan.

Well what a gorgeous Spring season we have enjoyed, me and Mrs Bob have been lounging around in the sun sipping Mint Juleps, Tequila Sunrises, Manhattans, Zombies, and Brandy Alexanders.  You might have guessed by now that we have bought a book on making cocktails and have been steadily using up all those half bottles of different coloured alcohol that you seem to accumulate every Christmas.  
I strongly recommend Zombies and anything at all that goes with Brandy.   The positive off-spin is that after a session on the cocktails I go and have a bit of a play and I always seem to think I sound great, the neighbours apparently enjoy my drunken playing too, because they throw things at our adjoining wall in appreciation.  A bit like the Run DMC and Aerosmith video. Must turn up a bit next time so they can really hear me. 

So here we are, I was going to make my annual pilgrimage across the seas
to see what our old Brummie muso mates are doing and you know what?
After some cyber mail exchanges it would appear that the majority are just taking it easy like you do when you live in sunnier climes.  Nonetheless there have been a few happenings and here they are:


His Royal Jeffness has been laying paving slabs again, this time in Hollywood, well one paving slab to be exact, and to make sure he got paid for his work he put his name on it.   This picture shows Jeff standing by, or over himself, waiting for the big scoff 'do' that would have followed this glitzy event.  Jeff wowed the onlookers with his the radical departure from his usual dress appearance?    I think he should market that look as the 'JUST JEFF' range, if you're interested Jeff, give me a ring I could get something going. 

Now I know he isn't one for sartorial elegance and also that he hasn't done many gigs in the recent past but I would have thought he could have bought himself some proper shoes instead of wearing his old school plimsoll's?

That aside, many congrats Jeff, it really is fantastic!!  I'm so pleased for him. I don't think he ever would have thought, in his wildest dreams, that he would have been given that particular honour.   Hollywood meant something in our teenage years.  

There is talk of a round of ELO gigs on the horizon.    I won't be going myself but will settle for listening to the CD's occasionally, well CD in my case.

I think there should be a documentary about Jeffs hair and his fascinating wardrobe but as me old Mum would say.  If it suits you why bother changing.
Gotta get rid of those shoes Jeff.

Will Hammond

Will Hammond former Uglys/Yamps guitarist continues to play on the Spanish scene but over the past year has been busy recording as well.   
"I've made these recordings without any studio effects because that's the way they are played on stage and it would be wrong to 'lush them up a bit' just for the sake of it.   

The Yamps. Will (left) and  Bob Styler
When I was a young 'Yamp' I really enjoyed the pure energy of the Beat music days, especially during the crossover from rock and roll and blues and decided that I'd like to play that way again. The Yamps had some incredible gigs and although I'm not so fresh faced as I was, I just adored playing that type of music again, only this time I feel twice as knackered.

I revisited the songs that I grew up with and that was the basis of the current group.  

No effects, No Pedals but plenty of sweat and energy.

Will has also dipped his feet in the waters of the Rap world this year by guesting on a recording by Spanish rapper, Rude Acosta.
 "The hard British Blues guitar style just fitted in with the bassy rap sound. it's all about music and rhythm and the Spanish people of Extremadura have that in spade fulls, it's in their blood, there's plenty of passion here and with a long history of poverty, they know about suffering and that has always been expressed in the normal manner, through music, song and dance.

With his new CD on the horizon he has just finished
filming a great promo video of one of the tracks.  "The tracks were recorded at La Huerta Sonora (the Sound Garden) with the encouragement of my fab mate Jose Trejo.
Jose and Will

Recording the video was very enjoyable and took long hours but I was in great company and the photographer Javier Pulpo certainly caught some nice moments".  

The song is appropriately called "Back to the Blues" and here it is:
Graham has had a quiet year finishing off some recordings across the pònd but did have time to visit the UK where he met up with some old pals, namely Nigel Wright and Euan Rose who were formerly members of the The EKO's.  

When Graham left the band to form the Plazents/Brumbeats the other two went on to be the founding members of The Cheetahs, a group that me and all the Brummies who went to The Ritz will remember well.  

l-r Nigel, Euan and Graham
Graham said "It was brilliant to see the guys again".   For us here at Brumbeat Towers it's always brilliant to see these reunions.

JOHNNY NEAL re-union
Johnny Neal lived in South Africa for many a moon and although he now lives back in Brum has recently met up with some former members of The Starliners. Funnily enough, one of them was guitarist Paul Brunt who featured here a couple of months back.  Completing the picture was Drummer Mal Priddey who currently lives in Anglesey.
Paul, Mal and 'Noga'
It bought back a host of memories for the threesome and Paul Brunt says "Once we got Johnny singing he wouldn't shut up but I have to say that he still has a brilliant voice and was hitting all the big notes"

Johnny.  "It was marvellous to get back together and it was an emotionally charged experience reliving and talking about our hay days".

It's heartwarming to see those old friends re-united again from the days when
they were all aspiring musicians, being in a band together then was a totally different thing than today.  A true band of brothers.  Keep it up you guys.


copyright Bullsheadbob