Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Ow Doooo...

I know this may sound a bit old hat but I really can't believe that it's been a whole year since the last Brumbeat Brummies Abroad blog, it creeps up on you doesn't it?, time, and before you know it you're another year older.   Scary stuff, I best get on with the blog before I pass away.

I can't include information on all our Brummies Abroad but will pass on what I can from those that I'm in touch with and a little info on some of those I'm not.   There's loads of them I guess, including my ukulele playing Auntie Doreen, last heard of canoeing up the Orinoco.  


It's been a miserable winter so let's get ourselves warmed up a bit and jet off to the shores of Hawaii to call on Graham Ashford aka Bobby Ash or Buddy Ash but most of all known as the front man of The Brumbeats.  
(copyright Graham Ashford)
Look at this brilliant photo!  Graham in his Buddy Ash days looking very Gene Vincent with his drape jacket, white socks and turn ups. Couple of nice old Burns sonic guitars and an early Stratocaster and although the photo is in black and white we all know that it was red.

This year sees the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles first LP.   It is also the 50th Anniversary of The Brumbeats, who Graham was the vocalist for, recording an LP of Beatles songs and having it released under the name of The Merseyboys, not a group to miss opportunities of timely name changes.

"There is a load of coverage going on in the USA about The Merseyboys LP even though we were Brummies simply because it was about at the same time."  Those vinyl collectors out there will note that it is also on the VJ label which adds to its collectability

It is pertinent to note that Graham spends half of the year in Hawaii and
Graham Ashford
the other in
 California.  Graham is currently in California and has recently put on his Hawaiian concert in his home town,Temecula.   

Graham is planning a trip back to Birmingham to celebrate his 70th birthday in April.  So if you're an old mate of Grahams he's gonna be buying the drinks.  If you want to make contact with Graham to see whilst he's back in the City simply email me and I'll try and get you in touch.     

Great organist, well great all round musician, Bill Bonham continues to live a nice life in the sunny hills of California and as usual Bill sent me some fotos of his latest visit to NAMM, probably the best music exhibition there is and just like last year, Bill bumped into old Black Country mate Glen Hughes ex Finders Keepers and Trapeze.  
Glen Hughes with Bill Bonham
For those of you who have a Deep Purple interest, Glen will be performing at the Jon Lord memorial concert at the Albert Hall on Friday 4 April so if you wanna get a ticket best get on the phone now!!

Bill also had the undeniable pleasure of meeting up with the amazing Rachel Flowers, simply a phenomenal keyboard player.
Bill Bonham and Rachel Flowers

For those of you who know Bill it won't have gone un-noticed that he is a shadow of his former self and over the year has lost an amazing 67 pounds!!
I haven't shown this photo to Mrs Bob as she'll be on my back to get me jogging again.  Can't deny that Bill is looking good though.  

This year also saw the release of a book on Robert Plant where Bill and few other Brumbeat personalities added some interviews about the man.   If that wasn't enough this year also saw the CD release of Bills ex band, Fairfield Ski which met with some good reviews.   
The cold and windy country of Canada is home to Norm Crandles, formerly
Lee Stevens, vocalist for one of Brums early bands The Satelites.
Norm isn't active on the music scene anymore but has sent me some nice photos that should bring back some memories for some of you guys.

Here we have a nice early photo , it's plain to see that this band got plenty of work, you only have to look at the quality of their kit to know that.   A fairly rare Guild on the left, never the most popular of guitars.

Lee Stevens and The Satelites copyright Norm Crandles
Now here's a rarity, a photo inside a gig.  This shot was obviously taken before the first one above as they had lesser guitars, Hofner V2 and a Burns sonic bass and there's a drum kit for you!!!  Personnel of this variant of Lee Stevens and The Satellites comprises, from front to back, Roger Gauntlett, Barrie Gray, Tony Green and Mal Priddy.

I had no idea from the backdrop where it was taken but Norm tells me it was taken inside Alex Hoopers on the Stratford Road.  I remotely remember it, it was situated in between The Star Ballroom and The Mermaid.  To my knowledge there were definitely 2 more venues close by as well, so there were 5 gigs in less than 200 yards of one road, during the Brumbeat heyday...incredible!!
Lee Stevens and his 'Smokin' Jacket

Norm.  "When I first saw Carl Wayne wearing a white jacket I had to have one and this was the night I wore it.  During the show I took it off and our manager folded it and laid it across the edge of the stage, unfortunately he also laid it over a stage light too and a few minutes later it caught fire".   I also bought a Shure microphone which was very trebley, to try to make me sound like Danny King, sadly it didn't work".

Lee Stevens and The Satellites were a group that played the whole circuit in Brum and shared the stage with a host of famous faces
during the day.

Norm made his escape to Canada back in 1966.  Although it sounds great to live overseas we tend to forget that it doesn't mean you are showered with the suns rays all day long whilst sipping a
long iced drink on your porch.   This is what Norm woke up to this morning:

and you thought it was cold in Stirchley??

Will Hammond
Back to Europe and over to Spain to visit The Ugly's great guitarist, Will Hammond.  The Uglys were a 'benchmark band' and like most of the other members of this memorable Brummie band, Will is still very active and popular on the music scene with The Will Hammond Band in Spain, performing regularly at a large variety of venues including a huge benefit concert to raise money for the Philippines tragedy.

On top of his concert commitments Will and
(copyright Woody Amores)
his band have been and still are, busy recording a new CD of Wills material, he has made several TV and radio performances through the year including a type of "Desert Island Discs" talk show where he 
talked about his favourite selection of music, films and books.

"It was incredibly daunting because I had to speak for an hour and a half totally in Spanish which isn't easy even when you're relaxed, let alone having the pressure of a live radio show". 

"As well as playing large gigs we also play some of the smallest I've experienced but with some of the greatest atmosphere's too.
It's just so nice to play some good concerts to appreciative audiences".  
(The Will Hammond Band at Oveja Negra...copyright Will Hammond)
Jeff Lynne breezed into Brum the other night to collect a decorated paving slab to go with the one he was awarded in Hollywood, California.  When I say he breezed into town I meant he was dropped off at the Birmingham Library to collect his paving slab for the Broad Street Walk of Fame.  He's no fool is he?, you wouldn't want to go walking down Broad Street at night to pick up a paving slab unless you were equipped with full riot gear.    I have to say here and now that Jeff was years ahead of the game with his songwriting and producing even with The Idle Race and I was a little disappointed that his excellent 1990 solo CD Armchair Theatre didn't do better.  I listened to it a lot.  

I struck me that Jeff could be missing a marketing opportunity with his latest paving slab so here's what I was thinking.  "Jeff you should bring out your own jewellery line and call it 'Blynng'  I've thought it all out so you would obviously want to take me on board as your 'Blynng' Chief Adviser.   It's my idea to target the DIY brigade too.  Here's a drawing of how the new 'Blynng Slab for Men who Build Patios' medallion will look":
The downside is that you really do have to have a bit of a strong neck.
Anyway Jeff, It was my intention to pitch it to you face to face but my invitation must have got delayed in the post? and anyway the library had been lit in colours that meant I couldn't approach it any closer than 500 yards, kind of blue and white Kryptonite.  

So anyway let me know your Lordship and I'll get onto B&Q who are in on the deal.   BLYNNG ....Slabs for Real Men......not 'Horace Wimps', heavens above Jeff this is a sharp advertising mind in action, I'd best stop before I set the page on fire.

PAUL CARTER - Grasshoppers, Brumbeats, Starliners

The Cape of South Africa is a long way away.   Imagine if you had to commute to London to work from there?, not a soddin' chance in hell, unless you are Paul Carter that is.   

Paul works for two weeks in London then flys back to SA for two weeks off where he has been a member of a sixties band and also blowin some jazz when he can.  Paul is another ex-member of The Brumbeats and also The Grasshoppers and Johnny Neal and The Starliners

Co-incidentally, Johnny Neal also has a holiday home on the Cape so hopefully we can get them reunited when Johhny visits there this month.

So there we are, as well as the lovely guys above, there are of course others living throughout the far reaches of the world who were amongst those playing music for the Golden Days of Brumbeat at The Ritz, The Silver Beat Club, The Crown and Cushion, The Rainbow Suite, The Carlton etc etc etc....good on you all, so pleased to see so many of you still playing too.

Tara a Bit

Copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact BobsbullocksGmail.com

Saturday, 1 March 2014


Watcha Maties,

Well what a sad tale......I actually started out not having one at all!! and only after a full year of wishing and praying did I manage to get one and even then it was very tiny and didn't do much.   I showed it to my Mum, she said it very nice and sufficient for my needs and if I had a bigger one, the neighbours wouldn't like it.    

I imagine that in using the title of this blog I may have opened the flood gates from the world of 'Amazing Penile Enlargement' Spammers but I am of course referring to guitar amplifiers and I got my first one from the Radio Supplies Company shop (RSC),
in Birmingham City Centre, it was the first shop on the right just inside the Great Western Arcade and next door to the Kardomah coffee house.   It was a shop that sold electrical spares and things for geeky radio hams.   It was cheaper than, for instance, the very pretty Selmer Little Giant but had more output and also had a tremolo effect built in.  
I think it was rated at 8 watts but can't be sure, I can't find much literature or photos of these amps at all.   I seem to remember it costing around 8 or 9 pounds.

I had that amp for years and years and it ended up being used as an extension speaker for the radio in one of my bands Ford Transit. I had foolishly taken a razor blade to the speaker cone so it would distort but of course all I did was wreck it.   Our roadie bunged some non descript speaker in it and lashed it onto the vans ribs. It could even be this actual amplifier, as the speaker has been changed and an entry point for a twin flex cable has been drilled in the bottom of the cabinet. Wouldn't it be strange if this was my first amp? 

The speaker certainly isn't original, RSC used Fane speakers.
It is incredibly difficult to find out any information about RSC amplifiers but
there is a link between them and the next Amplifier I used, the Linear Conchord which came as a 30 watt and 50 watt model and was a stripped down thing that came in a cage.   It was indeed a powerful amp for its day and they were very popular with bands at the time.  It did mean however that you had to source some kind of speaker cabinet which, I assure you was no easy thing then.  I got someone to make me one but really can't remember a thing about it or even who it was who made it for me.  
Caged Tiger

The one small niggle about Linear Amps was that they used co-axial inputs, the same as a TV aerial plug, not the standard quarter inch jack plug that was fitted to all guitar leads
It was enormously popular because of it's cheap price and featured in the majority of early 60's groups equipment.  Of course all of these were valve driven.  I recall seeing loads of these caged amps in second hand shops once better amplifiers started becoming available.

Although the Linears were a great little workhorse they lacked something......appeal.  Everyone wanted a VOX AC30 or a Selmer Twin,
I opted for the latter.

A Selmer 'Bluey', a great amp which I loved and treated shamefully, it really did the job and looked a lot better than the Linear for sure.

From hereon I got recruited into a much bigger band and we were supplied our amplification by Park from Jones and Crossland.  
I had the luxury of a mountain of speakers and 2 x 100watt amp heads to deafen people with, but mostly myself.   Along came the modern PA systems with a mixing desk and these big stacks started to become redundant and today's modern tech has developed small to medium sized combo amps belting out over 100 watts from one speaker. 

We now seem to have gone full circle and everyone is producing tiny little valve amps again, or is it just that the amplifier producers are upping the hype to convince you that you need one?   I suspect a lot of the latter, or it may be that the live music scene has been so decimated that more guitarists are just bedroom players and want a nice sound at home from a small amp.

HEARTBREAK BOULEVARD The job of being a musician is a hard life, scarred with disappointments and broken promises so a lot of folk are more than happy to sit at home, enjoying owning some nice kit, instead of putting themselves through the mill.  There is no substitute though for 'giving it some' at a live gig with a good crowd and although it's true to say that gigging has become harder and harder, you learn a lot more about playing during one live performance than you ever will in a month of 'noodling about' on the guitar to backing tracks. 

I have a harmonica player who sometimes features in the Bulls Head Bob Boogie Band and his current amplifier is rated at a quarter of one watt!!
It almost fits in his pocket....He goes on about it all the soddin' time. 

Here are a selection of the many new small models now flooding the shops. Cages are Back!!!!





This is just a small sample of what's available, without even going into the 'high end' Boutique Amplifier market, with the Valve Power Amp being the most potent with its 18 watts and the rest between 4 and 10 watts.  Very cute but do you NEED one?  These amps are very expensive, with the aesthetically beautiful creamy white VOX AC 4 being available in 2 models,
the standard AC4 retailing at a cool 233 pounds and the hand wired at a sizzling 598 pounds.   You will need to take out a mortgage to buy the  5 watt 'ec' Fender Vibro Champ which retails at the volcanic price of 875 pounds!!!   This is just crazy money.....So if you're not a pro or don't do a load of recording it's an awful lot of dosh to lay out.   

The 30 watt authentic, Linear Conchord Cage Amp pictured above was on ebay for 175 quid.  It's very similar design copy, the Valve Power amp, comes available as 'factory built' or in Kit form too, with the kit at 250 and the 'made' amp at 350 of your British Pounds.

I couldn't tell you anything about the sonic difference between any of them because I haven't tested any of these I have to say, I am simply doing a comparison of history repeating itself. Although I have seen plenty of amp tests on Youtube and viewed some of the amps in music shops.

I have seen 4x12 cabs going for silly prices these days, I mean who wants to lug those soddin' things about any more?  I was lucky enough to have a road manager to carry my large ones about for me so didn't really have to experience the back breaking task, although we did sympathetically muck in with him though when we did a 'triple gig' on one New Years Eve, even with my delicate and artistic fingers.  However, if you have a warehouse, you could buy a few of these speaker cabs and wait for the market to come around again

LANEY VC30 210
Being a dyed in the wool Brummie
Bob's LANEY VC30 210
I use the best amplifier to have come out of the Black Country, the beautifully built, impeccably styled and designed Laney VC30 210 
valve combo amp, it really is a cracker with beautiful clean deep tones and even though it is rated at 30 watts, it takes your head off when you want it to.   For larger venues you could add the Laney 12 inch Speaker extension cab to give the sound more depth. This is a really great amp and retails for just under 500 quid.  I know my place in life and I'm happy to have a good quality 'medium sizer', with plenty of balls!! 

Laney is also used by another Brummie, the ol' left hander Tony Iommi, doctor of music, except his is bigger and probably blacker!!!

Highly recommended.  

I certainly have no desire to own one of these new small valve amps but maybe you do? it's all horses for courses.   

I saw the featured RSC amplifier on an internet forum page dealing with electronics and have been told that it is going to be offered for sale very shortly so if anyone out there has a yearning to get some real vintage sounds drop me a line and I will put you in contact with the owner.  I'm not the type to want to buy it but it still does look like my old amp I have to say.   Maybe out of pure sentiment, Crazy Malc at the boozer might get it for me?, he's got some dosh......."Malc??" 

I'm not a great watcher of television, it's all full of homogenised crap and shallow tossers.  I did enter the living room though as Mrs Bob was watching  some re-runs of Pointless, the TV quiz that challenges people to come up with obscure answers to easy questions.  It was the Christmas celebrity edition.

You could have knocked me down with a feather as I saw Roy Wood being dumped out of the show on the first round by a green duck with someones hand up it's arse. Roy was as smart as I thought he always was but I believe the duck was a little under par and could have done so much better than it did. 

There's a real celebrity Rock n Roll line-up for you, Roy Wood, the Chuckle Brothers and a Green Duck. That's as wise a publicity move as The Move choosing to play the cabaret clubs all those years ago.

Roy has aledgedly demanded a re-appearance so they've teamed him up with Rick Wakeman or, as he was called in the NME once, Dick Wankman, for his next appearance.   I think it's due for broadcast sometime this month, I'm going to be glued to the set.   

Perhaps he did so badly by announcing that he's from Derbyshire where the phrase "Ay up, me Duck" may now have a different meaning for him.
Serves him right for abandoning his Brummie roots.

Look out for some very interesting and exciting news coming very soon from BRUMBEAT.Net, the historic home of Birmingham's Bands of the 60's.

On the Blog Next month, It's the annual pond-hopping pilgrimage to see how the 'Brummies Abroad' are faring........

Take Care

Copyright: Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@GMail.com

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Howdoo Brummies, Brummies Abroad, Muso's and Boozo's,

When writing about the Brumbeat music days of Birmingham - the 60's in reality, I like to think that I am honest and I say what I believe as one of the hundreds, if not thousands of musicians who were a part of the music scene, whilst, at the same time, acknowledging all the Brummies who went to all those great Birmingham venues as members of the audience and whose enthusiasm for the vibrant, ever changing music scene of those days, made playing such a thrill.   

One of the more historic Brummie gigs was of course The RITZ,
Kings Heath.  In 2012, a blue plaque was attached to the wall of the old building rightly denoting it's existence and importance in the world of music.   The ceremony commemorating the event was attended, almost exclusively, by a ton of old muso's, (see photo) mainly from those Birmingham 60's bands and I wrote an article about the event. 
Click below: 
Ritz ceremony with many 60's musos and a couple of UB40

If you haven't read the article, I said I was disappointed with the way that the 60's local Brummie musicians who had been the mainstay of this venue had been all but ignored.  Two years on and I have recently received this e mail from the promoters of the Kings Heath Walk of Fame and, as I'd had my say, I thought it only right to give everyone out there a chance to see the reply.  I have removed some advertising content from the text,

To Bulls Head Bob

"Sadly your comments regarding the Musical Heritage of Kings Heath have only recently come to our attention.  Had we seen them sooner we would have been in touch immediately to ask for your guidance.

Much of what you say is true.

Bob Prew and myself, as residents of Kings Heath, have taken it upon ourselves to try our best to protect, archive,display and generally cherish the musical heritage of Kings Heath.  The rebirth of interest in York Road's (Kings Heath), music scene came about over a cup of coffee in the Kitchen Garden Cafe, one of the many independent businesses in York Road, when talking to other local independent shop and business owners, who still thrive on the talent of the 60's/70's performers.

After some research we quickly realised that our investigations had opened a 'Pandoras Box' of interest, and we were soon in contact with, and able to reunite The Modernaires.   It was a sweet and emotional occurrence, which will no doubt be repeated later this year when their pavement plaque (star 9 goes down.  (I bet you didn't know that the drummer still has his original kit stored up in his loft.).

With the help of performers, musicians, fans and visitors to The Ritz  we are gathering an archive to be proud of, involving all of the folk that you mentioned in your 'rant'.

We have used the passage of time to involve as many of the early local bands and performers in our Lazy Sunday Afternoon productions. 

We are supporting local and up and coming artists (30+ in our 6 gigs to date and all full houses I might add).

We agree that the local authority has missed the boat, but this was in no way ever going to be a commercial venture.   Our ticket prices are kept very low and the majority of performers come just for the pleasure of playing/singing.

Sadly, as you are no doubt aware, the original Ritz building has been fire damaged and at present we are awaiting information with regard to it's future, although we have been assured that the City of Birmingham Civic Trust Musical Heritage Plaque No 1, will be returned to the frontage of the new-build in some way.

We have a programme of gigs for 2014 forming as we speak and we know that once again, those who played, danced and romanced in The Ritz all those years ago will pack Fletchers Bar on York Road, directly opposite the fire damaged site of the original building, to reminisce and enjoy the music.

We were 'stung' somewhat, reading your article, perhaps you would like to see our stars before calling them 'cheap'.   We have worked very hard to re-generate the excitement of those wonderful days.

We decided early on, that only folk who lived, worked or had played in Kings Heath would go down as 'Stars'. 

We don't make money, we don't want to make money, we cover our costs...just, and we are happy that the local authority are not involved.

We will be really pleased to hear your comments and advice regarding other

performers who have played at The Ritz and who you feel should be honoured with a 'Star' provided, that is, you don't mind our contact being somewhat out of date.

We look forward to hearing from you.
Ken Whittaker
Bob Prew


Thanks Ken and Bob for your email and I acknowledge your efforts in trying to 're-create the old days'.         

I am slightly peeved that you thought that the first article was a 'rant'.  

The word 'rant' implies a bitter complaint about something trivial whereas, I and obviously all those musicians who had attended The Ritz ceremony consider it important to acknowledge Birmingham's own musical history, the greatest era of creativity and Rock music the world has ever seen, the Sixties, the era of BRUMBEAT, the era of live music, when every pub and dance hall in Birmingham had bands playing there practically every night.  That will never happen again but it was a Golden Time for those that did live through it all at 'The Ritz '.

I thought a plaque affixed to The Ritz would have been sufficient, with maybe another one beneath that, listing who had played there, both famous chart acts and, more importantly, those great Brummie bands from the City and the West Midlands area.  

However, as Ken and Bob point out, the local businesses do indeed thrive on the talent of the 60's/70's so it is to their betterment to have Stars spread down the street to increase the footfall of various shop frontages so of course it's a commercial venture, not an act of generosity.   There are entrance charges but the visitors who pay to get in generally perform for the pleasure of it.  I don't have any problem with any of that, hard work and initiative should be rewarded. Ken and Bob take the time to promote these events and appear to be supporting local talent so that's a positive.  

Below is Ken and Bobs 'Walk of Fame' web page, I was hoping to read about the involvement of some of the old bands as mentioned in the email but couldn't find anything.  Nonetheless, this is the place for you to get more information if you want it.
Thanks very much also for their offer, for me to suggest some deserving names for 'star' consideration.  I'm afraid I'm going to pass on that.  I do suggest however, that readers of this Blog make contact with Ken and Bob on their website to suggest some names of the old great Brummie bands for their consideration.  I imagine that every one of Ma Reagans bands will think they deserve to have a star but that would not be true in the sense of being one of Brums finest.   
Beware of 'THE STROLLERS' effect.

Occasional visits by Ken and Bob to the original and the best Birmingham 60's music
Website... www.Brumbeat.Net might be a good place to start when looking for those who have some merit for their consideration.

Lastly, I have to say that I did make contact offering my help both individually and through a third party who is a regular blog visitor, as soon as I had heard about the proposed plaque to The Ritz?   

All of the above aside, I wish Kings Heath and Ken and Bob well and to say that it is somewhere for those who remember The Ritz to arrange a get together and swap some war stories or for members of old bands to arrange a re-union if you want to. 


Spookily, The Ritz caught fire on the same night as a concert, across the road occurred, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles having played there.

copyright.  Birmingham Mail.
What a sad sight, I can remember standing in front of that stage on the left of the picture as an audience member and also standing on it as a musician several times. So my perspective is from both viewpoints.   My older Sisters and Brother had been regulars there in the 50's so The Ritz had been a familial thing for us and so many others like us.  

I had seen a lot of brilliant chart bands there but The Moody Blues triumphal return to play in their home town with 'GO NOW' at No 1 in the charts, was a memorable night to have seen one of the best Brummie R&B groups in the country in action.  Denny Laine spitting out the lyrics, a great R&B driving sound  It was brutal...The real Moody Blues

I'VE BEEN STUNG!  Lastly, as I explained to Bob and Ken, I did not say their star was 'cheap' I said the Walk of Fame was  'a cheaper version' which has nothing to do with the quality of the product they provide (The Star).   There is already a Walk of Fame on Broad Street, which gets most of the publicity and attention in Birmingham so this one at Kings Heath along with other areas of Brum that have this thing in their own planning stages like Erdington, will have a lesser impact than that in the City Centre. Here's a picture of Toyah's star, it's outside a Sports shop so perhaps you might want to jog down there, stand on it, then buy yourself some new trainers whilst you are there.   


From iconic places to iconic faces.  The Ritz was certainly an iconic place for us Brummies and some of Films most iconic characters, from the epic film the Wizard of Oz, were the Munchkins who were a real part of that films magic, no CGI then, just real people.   We were treated to some great acting performances from one of the 'featured' group of Munchkins.

in the centre of the above picture is the last surviving munchkin,
Jerry Maren (centre) who is now 93 years old.   

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say to Jerry, "God Bless you mate, I loved those little characters you portrayed and your performance enriched my life and convinced me that magic was real.  I Still think that way too!".

How sad to say goodbye to the fabulous Pete Seeger who died earlier this week.   His incredible songs graced our lives through his enormously long career.   

I remember him appearing on Sunday Night at The London Palladium singing songs like 'Little Boxes', no more than lovable little ditties that the British people truly warmed to in those days.   However Pete Seeger was so much more than a writer of light hearted, comedic songs, he was a true fighter against injustice and hypocrisy.  His song 'Turn Turn Turn' was one of the most recorded by other artists of the 60's, the greatest success being the version by The Byrds.
If you have never taken the time to hear him perhaps he will be worth your investigation too! 

Whats the difference between a drummer and a Savings Bond?
 - One will mature and earn money.

Take Care.

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob
Contact:    Bobsbullocks@GMail.com

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Hey Ho! and a Happy New Year to you all!!

Many thanks to all those who took the time to write and wish me a Merry Christmas, much appreciated!!  As mentioned in the last blog, my aim this Christmas was to get myself a new guitar, well 'new to me' that is. Three years ago I bought myself a new Fender Squier Classic Player Telecaster for Christmas and I wasn't disappointed with the guitar itself, especially the neck action, but it's budget electrics were and still are, soddin' useless!   

I bought the Tele with the aim of using it as a spare for gigs.  The problem being is that if you are playing, for example, a Les Paul with it's powerful and vibrant pick ups, and then you break a string and need to change your guitar, any sound balance that you may have established with the band or the balance established by the venue sound engineer will be totally destroyed by using a guitar with pick ups that have only about a half of the power and potency of Gibson Humbuckers.  So whilst the Tele is fun to play in isolation, it is not acceptable for stage work in my case.

I had considered replacing the pick-ups with Di Marzio's as I had upgraded my
friends Squier Tele a couple of years ago and the sound difference had been dramatic and very pleasing but the upgrade is still quite expensive.  So after much thought about the way forward I decided to keep the Tele just for recording and to look out for a different spare guitar for the same amount of money it would have cost to buy a better set of pick ups, if possible, a real personal challenge! 

LET THE SEARCH BEGIN. Here's what I did.......I sought out the cheapest set of DiMarzios I could find for sale, (165 pounds) and allowed myself the same amount of money to achieve my aim, not a lot of money for a guitar I think you'll agree, so this was going to be quite difficult.   I immediately eliminated Epiphone and other budget guitar brands from the search because their electrics are just as crap as the Squier. It was plain and simple second-hand bargain hunting for me!!!

I had spent days and hours cruising through Ebay,local Free Ad papers and all the usual haunts but was really not getting any further forward.  I would spot something with possibilities only to find out that there was a problem with the instrument, or the electrics!!  Still, undeterred, I had the idea of looking across Europe to see if there was anything going there, I tried Germany and indeed there were a lot of probabilities but none of them would post outside of Germany.  So, then I moved on to Italy and Spain and, as I was looking at some beat up old relic, a new entry popped up on the screen.......like a bolt of lightning, there in front of my eyes was a solid body Gretsch Electromatic going for the Euro equivalent of 125 quid.  Small bodied like the Duo Jet/Les Paul with apparently no dents or dings, so despite the distance between us, I was on the phone like a hairy bear. 

I was dreading the answer at the other end because I can only speak two languages, Brummie and Bollocks, but the bizarre thing was, when someone answered the phone, it was an English guy living abroad, what luck!   After a short discussion which also included some begging on my part, he agreed to send it to me for 40 euros more.   Unbelievable really, the cost of postage and the guitar came to slightly less than my budget by a couple of quid.   

Sometime back I wrote a piece about the Gretsch Corvette saying how much I liked the original Corvette and how disappointed I was that Gretsch had then covered it in glitter and called it a Princess and other unacceptable names like that!!  The guitar I had just bought is unfortunately in Dark Blue Glitter but at least it's a dark colour.

I had tried a Duo Jet way back in 1966 but at the time I was wailing the blues and it's sound didn't cut the mustard, compared to my SG Standard.  Gretsch were too middle of the road for my liking but, on the plus side, they always exuded an air of quality, a bit like Guild.    

The one fantastic thing Gretsch did do though, in their efforts to get into the solid body market, was to take their great Synchromatic electrics which featured on all their great models and stick them on a quite average solid body guitar, which is not brilliant in the choice of wood, but of course the whole thing about an electric guitar in a Rock band is it's amplified sound.

The guitar duly arrived and when I examined it, it was indeed scratch and 'ding' free, there was loads of dust around the bridge area and headstock, as though it had been standing in a corner for years unplayed.  The pick up selector switch didn't function too well but my electrician mate gave the switch a squirt of connector cleansing fluid and everything was totally fine, I couldn't believe my luck at finding this little gem.  This guitar was made in Korea, it's weight is pleasingly light, it's well put together and I was very pleased to find the controls had a sturdy and substantial feel to them, unlike the Tele.  The neck felt slightly slow but the application of some polish soon fixed that.

I was amazed too when I plugged in to my amp and gave it some volume, this little thing has power in spade fulls!!  It was then that my mind wandered back to doing some gigs with the Small Faces way back in the 60's and remembering just how cutting the sound of Steve Marriots Gretsch had been and he had used several different Gretsch models.

Am I happy? you bet your life I am!!   It took me some time and a lot of diligent investigating but I have ended up with a great Gretsch guitar for just a little money, so if you're in the market for a new instrument get looking, it can be rewarding and fun too.  I read in some Guitar Forum that the Electromatics were 'Wondrous guitars'......they are, it's a fact. 

I hope some of you guys got something special too over the festive season..... I now sense a bit of Bo Diddley creeping into my soul, "Lucy grab yer' Maracas".....

Nice to see that Birmingham Library have shown their support for the mighty Villa by lighting up the building in the clubs colours

Birmingham City fans are incensed and are demanding the Library do the same for them, if they only knew what a book was? let alone a library!!

Take Care and Keep Playing!!!


copyright:  BullsheadBob
contact:    Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Watcha Brummies and other Friends scattered around the world,

I'm in colour for this festive blog.

It's hard to believe that another year has flown by so quickly and I find myself hurried into writing this small Christmas offering and want to start by wishing you all a Happy Christmas and thanks for 'tuning in' during the year.   Have a nice warm and over-fed Christmas, look after each other and remind yourselves of better times and better times to come!

I know I'm going to have a better time because I'm Guitar shopping again.

I've challenged myself to find a great buy from a variety of sources.  "Lucy open the Sherry I'm feeling happy".   

I know there will be lots of live music going on in Brum over the festivities, so get out there and support it. 

I was 2 years old when this pìcture was taken but it's face never changed up until the rebuilding of the Bull Ring.  A few years later as a mere 'nipper', I was given One Pound to buy my Christmas presents and myself and my sisters would get the bus into Town and go to Woolworths and the old Victorian Market Hall, from where this photo appears to have been taken, to buy our gifts.  It's  such a massive difference from today and I really dislike what they did with the church surrounds.   I just loved the atmosphere  of the old Bull Ring.   Here's a photo to give you a reminder of what we had in 'nicer times'




Black Sabbath were given a plethora of awards at the recent Classic Rock, Roll of Honour awards ceremony including one for being alive!!.   'Fresh faced' Ozzy once again appeared to be causing controversy at the ceremony when, it was rumoured, he had suggested he had been 'singled out for embarrassment' by the organisers,
 saying that he should have been given a "left-handed award like the others"..:   
"Look at this B*****d".   Ozzy with offending Right Handed Award 
They'll be glad to know that the Winners of these awards automatically qualify for inclusion in the world famous BBBCGLM SHED OF FAME 'Golden Dibber' awards, so it will be interesting to see how the voting goes for the Sabs after the Christmas holidays, there'll be some stiff opposition.  They'll not put up with any of your publicity seeking shenanigans
Ozzy!! Happy Christmas Black Sabbath. 

Bill, it appears has been 'Hospitalised'......."Get better soon Bill" and Have a Happy Christmas!

Just like we did in the old days during the festive season, the left hander had himself booked for a 'double gig' and jumped into his Ford Transit, racing off from the Classic Rock ceremony to receive yet another award, this time an honorary doctorate from Coventry University.  Tony's links with Coventry go way back to when he passed through the city one day in 1967, so it's easy to see why they selected him to receive this prestigious title.  Well done Tony
"How does that Riff go again Doctor Big Man?, dum dee dum"

As can be seen from the picture,he also appears to have been given an early Christmas gift from the university of a Luxury Colour by Numbers Colouring Book and A Boxed set of crayons so he'll have something to do whilst flying over to America for the Sabs tour. Happy Christmas Tony..

Last year I bent over backwards to please my group of feminist 'pals' and in place of the traditional Oggies Card, which had mainly comprised of groups of naked women wearing scanty Christmas outfits or other naked girls with some beer.  I showed a picture of Bilston......it just didn't work!

I don't want to give in to pressure so I've come at from a different angle. There are definitely NO sexy Christmas outfits to exploit. How about the Australian Lady Caravan Owners Christmas Prize Giving, that should be fine and dandy, funny? I can't see any Christmas Baubles anywhere!!

so Happy Christmas Oggie!!!

If you are planning to start playing a musical instrument this Christmas then the following maybe of some help to you when considering just how much you should need to practice......naturally this chart does not apply to those wishing to playlike 'The Edge' from U2 or those thinking of playing the Bass.   

So there you go, short and sweet, that's it for another Christmas.


Copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact  Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com