Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bulls Head Bob Mar 2015 - Gibson Rarities, Gibson J200 King of Rock and Gibson Chet Atkins CE. Have guitar will Travel....Paul Brunt.

Watcha Brummies and maties around the globe,

Spring is on the cusp of Springing and all is well with the world, if you forget about all the barbarous acts being conducted out in Russia and the Gulf....I shake my head, heavy in disbelief that the world has come to this.   

So anyway in last months blog I talked about the great Tanglewood acoustic guitars quality and playability at an affordable price.
I have gone to the other end of the price scale for this time around with a couple of classy rarities.
One thing is sure, if you are going to pay a lot of dosh for a guitar,
then you should consider it's likely value in the years to come.
If you buy a stock Gibson or Martin today you will surely enjoy playing a quality instrument for your lifetime but it is highly unlikely to become a diamond treasure of the future, only some instruments are destined for this, with the forecast value being based upon it's rarity or style and it's condition.   The way to do it is to buy something that was available only in small numbers and here are a couple of guitars that fit that bill nicely.

If you are a fan of the birth of rock and roll like me, you want to be able to get the sound that was made back then.   Eddie Cochran, without doubt, had the best recorded guitar sounds of all for the time, especially the acoustic sound of Summertime Blues and C'Mon Everybody.
Elvis of course was the most prevalent influence upon the youth of the late fifties and early 60's and had some nice guitars made especially for him, one of those guitars was the Gibson J200, finished in black with personalised mother of pearl inlays.  This one of a kind guitar had been a personal gift from a fan named Jim Curtin in 1974 and he had Elvis' name inlaid into the neck with two crowns and finished in black lacquer.

The crown emblem denoted his reign as the King of Rock and Roll and would be rockers would drool over photos of Elvis wielding such a beautiful thing.  The original guitar is one of those on display at Graceland.  

In 1996 Gibson remade this fabulous guitar in a limited edition run of 250, and replaced the Elvis name with more crowns as fret markers, and you had to be mighty lucky to get hold of one.   It has to be said that you also had to have a pocket full of dosh as the Sale price was around 3500 dollars.  There will be NO more of this model made.

The guitar is made of sitka spruce with the back and sides made of maple and the fretboard ebony.   The headstock is a thing of beauty.  It has wonderfully hidden pickup controls so as not to spoil it's lines and comes with a serial numbered certificate of authenticity.

There is a host of guitar collectors who sadly, never play these beautiful things but would rather stick them in a hermetically sealed cave, high in the hills, until their mint condition value becomes just another saleable commodity, no love attached.   This guitar is much sought after with the first 50 of the model being more desirable than others so you would count yourself very fortunate lucky if you own one of the early numbers.

Only someone who can play and who loves music would have bought it to play.

From one great Gibson to another of their rarities, The Chet Atkins CE (Classical Electric).   A chambered mahogany body, nylon strung guitar made initially and especially for Chet Atkins which gets the blood racing for us "pickers". Gibson really made this guitar well with its unequalled electrics delivering a truly believable acoustic sound.  Chet Atkins was one of the first real guitar hero's for us kids of the 60's.  He was the greatest of pickers and I along with others 'sort of' learnt "Trambone" or other easier type of picking tunes to get ourselves through the basics , all the time improving our techniques.  Once you had done that it made playing the picking music of the Blues a bit easier once that came along.

Essentially though, this is an electric, solid body classical guitar and it's tonal range is phenomenal and subtle, a really special 'one off'
for us to play if you can find one that is, they ceased production in 2006.  The impressive tone controls are placed nicely and they are incredibly responsive.  This has been used by Brian May, Mark Knopfler and many other great players.

Like the Elvis 'King of Rock' this is a real rarity and definitely one for the collectors or musicians alike...I'd love one!

It would certainly be great to have a guitarist in your band that had, let's say, a Fender 60th anniversary Stratocaster and these two great guitars because surely he must be good.   It would be even better if he had been around for a few years and had played all those classic songs of the 60's and had gigged at all those great Brumbeat gigs too with great acts.

Well your wish is my command.......Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:
Have Guitars will Travel
Paul Brunt.......Gis a Job!!
Paul was one of those Brummie 60's guitarists who was very active on the 60's scene and has played with Johnny Neal and The Starliners, Lee Stevens and The Satellites and Jimmy Powell back in the day, so he ain't short of experience AND he's looking for a group or duo to join!!!

Here's a picture of Paul with Lee Stevens and The Satellites, Paul second from right, taken at Aston University where the band were gigging with The Spencer Davis Group during those heady winklepicker days.

Paul stopped playing music seriously in 1970, his last gig being with Johnny Neal at The Rum Runner.   He had become disenchanted with the scene, which isn't surprising as the band scene was on the wane and disco was on the horizon, enough to make anyone say "enough is enough". 
He sold his kit to Jones and Crossland which consisted of two VOX AC30 amps a Stratocaster and a Gibson 335 that he had purchased from Martin Baggot of The Applejacks, Paul said it went for peanuts and, like us all, regrets not having had the foresight to keep the guitars.  

GIS A JOB Paul got a 'proper job' just round the back of The Bulls Head in the scaffolding industry and made a hugely successful career for himself travelling the world a couple of times.   Then during a night out with his wife watching a band he sort of got the urge again and she kindly bought him the King of Rock J200 for his 50th Birthday, from then he played at parties and social gatherings but also really started to get his interest back, honing his skills with some help from a good music teacher.  His guitar collection grew from then on and he has chosen superbly in his purchases and is currently upgrading his Stratocaster pickguard to his satisfaction.   Now, he has the time and his beautiful collection of guitars to get back playing again if he can find someone or some band who may be interested in getting together for a chat.  

He has a liking for music of The Eagles, Beatles, James Taylor Stevie Wonder and an assortment of other classy guitarists. That sort of rules out Thrash Metal and Hip Hop but if you are on the lookout for a good guitarist with brilliant kit and a great history of playing with top line Brummie bands then you only have to make contact with me or John Woodhouse on the BRUMBEAT.Net webpage and we will forward your details to Paul.

"Well since my Baby left me"........I can almost hear it playing.

Congratulations to Bob Styler on the arrival of his Custom shop 339..

I'm on kitchen duty today, Mrs Bob is having over the Ladies of The Third Age for a Tarot Reading session, I'm in charge of vol au vants, or "Sick in Pastry" as I refer to them and have also been assigned the duty of passing about the dry sherry,  we only had half a bottle so I've decanted the sherry along with some cheap but potent honey licquer, I bought back from a dirty weekend in France, and half a bottle of Gin.  I've left it with them so they'll believe anything after they've drunk that lot, there's already the sound of raucous hooting coming from the living room.   

Take Care

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Bulls Head Bob Feb 2015. Inside the Bulls Head! Bobs Christmas Present. TANGLEWOOD. Euromania.

Howdee doodee Brummies, Brumettes and my Global Mates.  

Thanks for dropping in to the Snug,

INSIDE THE BULLS HEAD...well a bit of the Stage!
For some years now I have been longing to get a photo of inside the Bulls Head, Coventry Road.  I do have one but it's a close up of a guitarist on stage so you can only see the wallpaper behind his head.  As luck would have it Pete Trickett, drummer for Formula 1 and Stacks has sent me another photo with him playing on stage there, with Formula 1, it's not much in terms of  being descriptive but it is slightly more informative than the wallpaper shot I have.  It also has Bassist Mel Stanton's winklepicker shoes making an appearance and the PA speakers balanced on a chair which itself, is balanced on a table on the stage.   Perhaps you have a photo of the venue?  if so please get in touch, I know there are many people who would love to see the place again.  If you haven't read the story of Formula 1's brush with success then click Here:  FORMULA 1

copyright P Trickett

For the past three years I have featured my latest musical Christmas present and this year is no exception.   Mrs Bob listens to the cheapest of my year-long hints at what I would like, but like clockwork always passes on the 1958 Les Paul, can't understand it, she could quite easily take out another mortgage!

My taste for music is largely driven by the Blues and Bluegrass
the former is what I like to play on stage with others,
electrically, and the latter is what I like to play acoustically on my own, or with others on the porch with a few beers and some harmonies.   I might be guilty of exaggerating the mental picture of us singing on the porch though.   I've only got a small porch that covers the front door but it  does save on beer costs!
There is a gross misunderstanding of Bluegrass, it is not Country and Western which was manufactured in the 50's with sickly sweet lyrics about truck drivers, dying dogs and being in prison for the "lurve of a gud woooman". 

There is one thing for sure though, without these two music styles there would never have been rock and roll so don't knock it.
As the Blues from the Delta represented the repression and hard times of the southern Black plantation workers, Bluegrass was the very heart of those early poor Irish, Scots and English settlers in the Kentucky region of the USA, the Bluegrass name being derived from the tall savanna grass that has small blue flowers.   These isolated settlers had a hard and remote life and their only access to music and other living beings was the Sunday church meetings that they had to make a long journey for and those traditional folk songs they bought with them, in their heads.   

Fiddles, banjos and mandolins were the instruments small enough to take on those long voyages across the Atlantic and of those three, the Mandolin is the instrument I like the most and that is what Mrs Bob bought for me this year. However when she gave it to me she said under no condition was I to grow a beard and start wearing Checkered shirts.

OK, It's a Tanglewood, it's a beginners model, but Tanglewood have made a nice job of it and I am already finding my way through the scales and chords, I shall be working hard towards rewarding myself with an upgrade when I think I deserve it.

Levon Helm and The Band come to mind as soon as I pick it up "Oh to be home again, back in ol' virginny"......

Having to re-visit again the flat picking style of playing this instrument has benefited my guitar playing a lot too, it has really loosened up my right wrist.   It's tuned the same as a violin too so, if you can master this, you could theoretically play the fiddle.
Go ahead expand your mind. 
For the past 15 years I have been the owner of a Tanglewood SJ5 electro acoustic guitar which I LOVE, I really do.
Bobs Babies
This was recommended to me whilst I was visiting a guitar shop.   I played it without knowing a thing about the then new company, other than they were British, but I fell in love with it almost straight away, it fitted my hand like it was made for me and everyone who hears it likes it too.   I was in the market for a new acoustic and had been trying the normal quality brands but none of them really gripped me.  I nearly didn't buy it because it wasn't a well known brand at the time but am really glad I did.  I strongly recommend Tanglewood acoustics, so don't be biased that a hefty price tag means a better guitar, this company makes great sounding guitars.   

So if you are on the lookout for a good acoustic, there are second hand SJ5's that come up for sale on EBay or other sites and go for between 180 and 250 pounds, normally with a hard case too.  This is a seriously good guitar and definitely worth buying.

The bedlam going on in Euroland means that the value of the pound is at its highest for 7 years so now could be the time for you to get yourself something expensive and make a great saving to boot if you
buy from Germany or any other country operating with the Euro cheaper than you can get in the UK.  A couple of years back I bought a Laney VC30 from Germany and even then it was cheaper than anywhere else, including the UK, they have fixed postal rates which are cheap.  If you like the idea then the bigger stores like Music Store and Thomann have large stocks.   I would normally recommend going to a guitar shop but these days with soaring prices you have to take advantage of savings whenever they present themselves.

After suffering from countless years of abuse from the tribes of the Southern Jessies and big gobbed Yorkies about how we Brummies sound it does my heart good to know that the Brummie accent is currently the most liked!!   I love it and I Love being a Brummie too, there's grit in this City.  

It's February so remember you guys to get your other half something nice for Valentines day.  I'm getting Mrs Bob an expensive Mandolin, I'm sure she'll love it??


Copyright Bullsheadbob

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bulls Head Bob Jan 2015 - BUMPER New Year Blog!!! Broad Street Walk of Stars. Mike Burney. Shane Fenton. Charlie Watkins. Freedom Field. The Magnificent Moody Blues.

Happy New Year Brummies and assorted friends from all over this Planet.
I'm very pleased to say this is the most globally popular I've been.

2015!!  Another year begins.  Mrs Bob and I had a wonderful bedlam of a Christmas and bathed in the warmth and togetherness of our family, who owing to work and living in various countries had not been together in the same room for Christmas for at least 10 years.   She clucked her way around the house bathing in the 'full brood experience' to such an extent that she even said she liked the headphones I had bought her, although I think I heard her refer to them as a saucepan set to one of the Bobettes?..   

A very happy new year from the Gang of Four at the boozer too .   We were discussing this recent picture on Tony Iommi's Facebook page of the Broad Street Walk of Stars Slab awardee, TREVOR FRANCIS, a football hero to some. Tony along with some previous "Slabees" was there as a reciprocal gesture as Francis had been to his own previous "Black Slabbing".  Tony looks particularly Black in this number and Sir Bev Bevan of Bevanville was also there with his hair.  
Jasper Carrot had a picture of his former self posted on the wall behind.
copyright Tony Iommi.

Reportedly, when it came time for Francis to be officially 
"Slabbed" by the Committee, he cleverly dummied 
Martin O'Neil, side-stepped Iommi and Bevan, easily 
outpacing the aged Carrot and got the slab in the back of it's 
crevice before you could say Billy Wright.......  
Time to say some farewells to four folk who were either a part of the Brumbeat history or had an effect on it.

The king of WEM amplifiers and Watkins Rapier budget guitars has wound up his final 'coil' (bit of an in joke for pick-up lovers) and departed to the great transistor in the sky.  

Charlie had enjoyed a long life and was 92 when he passed away, still working on new projects.  
A whole host, if not all, young musicians of the sixties owed him a great deal.  The first really good amplifier, The Watkins Dominator, the first echo chamber, a range of Watkins Rapier budget guitars that got the youth of the day, including me, playing music at an affordable price and, later as the real King of huge WEM amplifier stacks and PA systems used by many, many leading bands.  He did us all a real favour and he was a great unsung British hero and innovator.

Beautifully sexy names like Rudolf Valentino who was, in his day, the biggest star on the PLANET, get swallowed up and forgotten in the mists of time.   I sincerely hope Charlie's name isn't one of those that disappears too quickly because for a music legend he had the most British of British names that would not go amiss in Mary Poppins, "Thanks Charlie Watkins" you made this old man and a million other musicians lives very happy for a long while.

Shane Fenton of Shane Fenton and The Fentones, also passed away in late October.   One of the first batch of British rock acts alongside Billy Fury and Cliff Richards, to name but a couple, who were launched onto the British public.  Dyed blond hair tight lurex trousers, suggestive moves, made him one of those, hated by Dads and loved by daughters.   He never really achieved the fame of Fury and Richards but was an influence on the youth music scene of the day for a while.  

It was quite funny when he re-emerged as Alvin Stardust because in reality he was still doing the same act, but this time in black clothes......the music goes round and round.  I gigged with quite a few rockers but never came across him, reportedly a really, really nice guy. 

The wonderful photo on the LP cover shows Shane and The Fentones, not being suggestive at all, I mean don't all guys stand with their hands positioned like that??.  The Fentones all raising their, new on the market, Fender guitar necks in those days of music and sexual suggestion when even the bass player stood a good chance of getting a shag.    Sleep well my friend.

We say farewell to the Brummie Master of the Saxophone, Mike Burney who passed away in November after a long illness.

I know we all have to go sometime, it's inevitable, but when it's a musician
of such class that you have been to watch, absorb and enjoy him at his peak it seems it should just go on forever.   Mikes musical prowess and history is common knowledge amongst Brummie musicians but moreover, his name was known and admired internationally on the jazz scene and he had worked with the worlds biggest acts. 
He was great fun in Wizzard and played the part well so "Thanks a lot for your life Mike".   I'm sure we're all better for your part in our lives.

A couple of days before the Xmas celebrations began we were stunned by the news of Joe Cockers death.   I remember all too well seeing him playing at The Belfry when Little Help had just come out, I was chatting with him afterwards and have to say what a nice guy he was as well as being an individual talent of enormous proportions.   His on-stage presence was electrifying.  The papers have been full of statements from famous stars and I really have nothing to add the panoply of compliments showered on someone so deserving of every one of them. 

So, we march on and although we are saying goodbye to some of our heroes and friends we can still celebrate those of us who are still playing live music on stage and one of these bands is: 

Brummie Sixties musicians are still performing and around a year ago I featured the newly formed band Freedom Field whose line up includes two well known Brumbeat musicians, those being Bassist Danny Gallagher ex Frosty Moses and Traction and drummer Dave Hynds, The Cheetahs and Fairfield Ski. This bands line-up went through some initial personnel and name changes and now they seem to have found what they were looking for, here seen rehearsing recently:

The groups songs could be called politically confrontational in their stance and they have played at peace camps as well as some other Brummie haunts.   They have recently uploaded four tracks of original material, with the song DRONES featuring as their heaviest number so far.   If you would like to take a gander and listen to their material then please Click Here DRONES to see their Youtube clip.   

Love this photo, visually the band look right, great style, great kit well played. Michelle's striking looks are perfect to front a band.  Love the packet of biscuits holding up the words too, if I was there I'd have scoffed the lot!
For me there was only one Moody Blues line-up I loved and that was the original R&B band that graced the stages of Birmingham in the early sixties. They were the first Brummie band to experience a Number 1 in the charts with GO NOW a beautiful song driven by emotion and is one of the greatest pieces of music production.  This record deserves it's place in pop history alongside other eternal classic British greats like "Whiter Shade of Pale" or "She's Not There" by the Zombies.  
Well it's been fifty years since the recording of that track and in November Cherry Red Records re-released The Magnificent Moodies album in a deluxe package with re-mastered tapes, a host of bonus tracks and live BBC recordings that chart the bands beginnings as an out and out R&B act. 

Mrs Bob bought me the CD for Christmas and it makes interesting listening.   I have the original LP.  Click here  MAGNIFICENT MOODIES to visit Cherry Red records page which gives you all the details and track lists.   

What is clear is how much of the success and sound of 'Go Now' was down to it's producer Alex Wharton (who worked under the name of Alex Murray in those days) and who initially signed the band and provided them with the song.   There is one short track of control room chat between Wharton and Denny Laine where the producer is getting Denny to work on the opening line, it is here that we hear for the first time this original Moody Blues arrangement of the Bessie Banks song.   This Olympic recording session track was a bit of mish-mash of musical errors and bum notes, some unnecessary guitar riffs and a vocal that was a little on the weak side, the harmonies though were really developing.  It was a song in the making.   

The finished article on the other hand, which was re-recorded in a converted garage at the back of The Marquee Club is a simply brilliant piece of music.

The production was controversial in the recording industry in that it was considered not 'clean' enough. However, Alex Wharton had slaved at it to give it a thick sound which was clearly ahead of its time and copied by others later on.

I saw the band play Go Now at The Ritz in Birmingham, their No1 
homecoming gig, and it was an impressive performance of a live
R and B group whose set was just knock out with songs like James Browns 'I'll Go Crazy' and the Rufus Thomas classic 'Jump Back'...luckily for you guys these tracks are just a sample of whats on board this CD.   

I'm tired of reading that Denny Cordell produced Go Now, a rumour started by those who know very little.   Cordell at this time however was Alex Whartons office boy and shortly after went on to become a producer.

There are some fine R&B tracks on the CD and, in fact, I perform one of them today with the Boogie Band.  If you want a taste of how the Moody Blues sounded when they were a proper group buy this CD.   Also why not read the rare Interview between Alex Wharton and myself covering, in detail, the recording of Go here. THE RECORDING OF GO NOW.

So in short, go and buy 'The Magnificent Moodies Re-Mastered' if, like me, you were a fan of this early Brummie RandB band or even if you were a fan their later stages this is still a great recording and nice a piece of Birmingham's musical heritage and history.

By error Mrs Bob also bought me the DVD of The Moody Blues at The Isle of Wight festival because she didn't know better.  The band by that time were without Denny Laine and Clint Warwick.  They had recruited Justin Hayward and John Lodge as replacements and had gone off on their Orchestral Joss Stick Poetry phase or OJSPP, as it's known in The 'One Voice Feminist Sisters do Poetry Club' of Sparkhill, or TOVFS d PC Sisters.

The dvd starts with John Lodge flying in
for sale on ebay right now
a helicopter and landing in the middle of a large farmers field where, by chance, it appears he had left his Fender Bass. John, a tip here for you.  

Make sure the neck hasn't warped, all that rain and stuff would have played havoc with it stuck out there in the open air, what happened, did you accidentally leave it there??  I'm surprised it didn't get nicked during the past 44 years.    Anyway that was the exciting bit over.

The video lasts 1 hour and 19minutes and I only managed about 6 minutes 32 seconds 'give or take', including the helicopter landing/Bass guitar part, which was just up to the end of the poetry line "On the Threshold of a Dream" before I found myself heading towards slumberville.  

Included in the 6 Minutes 32 seconds was an interesting camera shot, panning across the sea of faces who were staring ahead listening to The Moodies starting up and the band certainly didn't mess about.

It was straight into the poetry and they had them in the palm of their hands then, like sheep, you can see everyone start to recline a little and their heads begin to get all loose and start to loll about a bit, looking at each other as if in a daze and then they all begin to lie back.  Which, co-incidentally is where I found myself dozing off too. On the Threshold of a Dream.

I am going to keep the DVD though, it'll be good for when Crazy Malc and Nobber come around and find myself running short of beer.  I can slip this on and they'll start looking for the car keys, "Oh my goodness, is it that time already?".   

Now this may not be true but I have heard through one my Chem Trail
and Lizard Conspiracy theory friends that on that very day there was an 'UMSE' or Unexplained Mass Sleep Event in scientific parlance, and apparently the huge snoring exhalation wave caused heavy turbulence in the skies.

There were 700,000 people there, can you imagine that? the largest audience EVER and The Moody Blues, a group from Birmingham were on the stage, that's really something and I'm really pleased that they experienced it, they were a huge band.  Their beginnings though were far more interesting and exciting for me during the heady days of The Beatles and Rhythm and Blues.

Well that's the year off to a flying start, blogwise.  Do have a peaceful and prosperous New Year and remember, it's the small things in life that give us the most pleasure.

Take Care

copyright Bullsheadbob


Monday, 1 December 2014


Happy Christmas you Brummies, Brumettes, My cute and sexy Feminist Fans and my special Non-gender Homeosomethings in Japan.

Well it's Christmas and I'm awash with L.O.V.E for the whole human race so
Happy Christmas you lovers of mirth and emotion, here we are honeydripping our way through the Yuletide fol-de-rol.   All dusting off our list of corny Christmas cliches ready to launch them on the same people you see all year but during this season, with a hope of well being and enduring peace.

Isn't it good to have survived another year?   I look at the back of my wrinkled hands which, in turn, flashes me back to looking at my Mothers hands when I was younger, and thinking to myself then, how fragile they looked but above all, how beautifully artistic they were.  

I've just finished putting in a new fire, so my bastards are covered in scratches and bruises and look like the skin's been scraped off with a blunt knife, but I saved a few bob so my Mum would have approved. 

Mrs Bob is ecstatic about the new fire, "Just in time for Christmas" she said, thereby providing the first cliche of the season, adding "Oooh Mr Bob, look at your rough builders hands" with that "evening of Ann Summers" look in her eyes.    Yeah! that means I can ask for Meat and Potato Pie with lashings of gravy and Treacle Sponge and Custard for tea, I'll probably wear this builders belt for the rest of the day.    

Birmingham City Centre is dressed up to thrill and the lights are beautiful as ever.   
I have been caught up in the shopping mania again and 
the family have been dropping hints about what they would like me to buy them.   For our Wedding Anniversary earlier this year
I bought Mrs Bob a beautiful new wheel barrow after her saying she wanted something to do with gardening .   

It was great fun, just like those Youtube clips when you see people being taken outside to see their brand new car on the drive.  I can truly say that she was amazed when I took off her blindfold and she saw the barrow standing there, she was absolutely lost for words.  In fact, she was so overcome she didn't say another word all day!!

I haven't  been so generous for Christmas though, we are living under the lovely Mr Camerons budget restraints so she asked me to get her some new headphones for her iPod thingy, well the ones from the iThingy store  were really tiny things and cost over 200 quid!!! that's a soddin fortune which only politicians and bankers can afford so a quick trip to the army and navy stores sorted out this little problem and with plenty of eye-catching style too, here they are:

I can't wait to see her face when she opens this gift!!

Just wanted to say many thanks to all you guys out there who correspond with me and send me things to jabber on about.  Being a part of the BRUMBEAT sixties music scene was something that only we Golden Few experienced and they were the halcyon days of 'electric music'.    We were the first generation of young kids to experience the new fangled Electric Guitars and us Brits soon ruled the world and produced all the greatest bands and guitarists.   It was all such a wonderful adventure of discovery and everything after that was a just copy of what we did.   That is still true today, so although it seems a little hackneyed to say "In my day......blah blah", it was the truth and I'm so glad to have experienced the time.    There are a few of us who, luckily, are still playing regularly and I shall be playing until my tired limbs can no longer function, it's all in the head you see!!    Thank heavens for music, the best gift of all, just add determination and love for a great result.

I still have the same mates that I started out playing with, we forged those friendships through countless hours of rehearsals, we were a true group, one band, not a band made up of people who, like today, play in 3 or 4 bands at a time.  We lived in each others pockets and enjoyed the experiences, good and bad.   So a very Happy Christmas to you guys particularly.

Every Christmas I normally display Oggies Card but since I've gone all feminist, the days when I showed women in skimpy, or no clothing at all just to satisfy Oggies cravings are a thing of the past.    I know this may seem pretty mundane compared to the risque pictures that have adorned this blog every christmas for the past few years but I thought you'd like to see the new car shampooer I've got him, hope he likes it.

I hope you ALL enjoy this Christmas.

Take Care and "Love the One You're With"
do do do-do do-do doo doo!


Copyright: Bullsheadbob



"Deck the halls with boughs of holly" are you kidding me?, have you seen the price of a sprig!!! 

Live at the Isle of Wight
1 Hour 18 Minutes 54 seconds
I LASTED 6.25.

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Watcha Brummies, Brumettes, Brumbeaters and Mates around the world,

It's yer man again, the computers coal box is stoked and full of words so  I thought I'd yak on about the electric 12 String guitars rise to popularity in the mid sixties, riveting I know!  However, to spice things up a little more there's "How to tune yer Geetar, Nashville Style",  a chance to share your Germany memories and to conclude, a touch of the Hollick and Taylors.  So there you have it, a Right Rollicking Read for the Rumbuncious, Rotund and Rum amongst us few Brumbeat survivors.  Including, naturally, you myriad readers from all parts of the world who welcome me into your own bit of cyber space.  I love you and so does Mrs Bob and the dogs, well except for Charlie, he needs persuading with a chocolate digestive and then he could be yours for life. 
In 1965, us Brummies and the rest of the western world, all went crazy for The Byrds 'Mr Tambourine Man' with it's chiming 12 string guitar intro.   Some Brummie groups adopted the Byrds sound along with a lot of The Byrds material included in their repertoires.    Hartley Cain, guitarist of The Monopoly who included Raymond Frogatt in their line up, went absolutely barking mad and made his own eighteen string guitar, I seem to remember something like chess pieces being used for tuners.   Hartley is still playing with Froggy .   The Move too played quite a bit of Byrds stuff and would finish their act with 'Eight Miles High'.  Flashing lights, strobes, fireworks, explosions, with Charlie Wayne destroying a TV with an axe as Roy Wood Wah Wah'd his way way to the end end, the sign of effects to come from the 'bearded one'.

Lots of 12 string action since then, Jeff Lynne's acoustic sound trademark, Tom Petty, The Eagles and Jimmy Page to name but a few.  If you want to hear the real possibilities of it though, then listen to Leo Kottkes classic CD. 6 and 12 String Guitar
The 12 String has been around since the 1930's and was an instrument favoured mostly by Blues singers, notably the fabulous Huddy Ledbetter, Rev Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and also Folkies like Pete Seeger.   It's advantage was added volume and presence as an acoustic instrument but the disadvantage being that you were limited by its playability as a single note instrument. It was regarded as something of a novelty for many years and owing of its limited playability there was never a large amount of those guitars available in the early days.
Pete Seeger

The first commercial 12 string 'hit' was 'Walk Right In', released in 1962 by a trio called The Rooftop Singers, the song itself, was a cover of a 1921 blues song.   The two guitarists decided to use two 12 strings to get a bigger sound but, such was their rarity, they had to have Gibson make two acoustic models for them before they could record the track.   
It's often said that The Byrds copied the Beatles sound but David Crosby is quoted as saying that they had been impressed by the sound of Liverpool's, The Searchers.  They had a big 1964 hit with a Jackie de Shannon song 'When You Walk in the Room' and should you listen to the opening riff of that song it is not a million miles away from the feel and notation of Mr
Mike Pender The Searchers
Tambourine Man. The Searchers were heavily into that 12 String sound from then on, following up with Malvina Reynolds, 'What Have they Done to the Rain' which was in the current 'protest song' vogue.  The Byrds were of course influenced, like every musician of the day, by the sounds and innovations of The Beatles but the comparison stops there.

RICKENBACKER, made the first electric guitar so it was only right that they would make the first prototype Electric 12 string in 1963 and by the time the Beatles toured America in 1964, that prototype had just evolved into the famous 360/12.   Rickenbacker seized the opportunity of gifting one to George Harrison, supposedly the second ever made by them.  On his 21st birthday that guitars' sound was first recorded by way of The Beatles 'You Can´t Do That', which was the 'B' side of 'Can't Buy Me Love' and from then on they used it liberally and as a foil to the sound of the sitar on Norwegian Wood and others.  

Harrison's 12 string riffed, 'If I needed someone' was recorded by The Hollies as a single so that fuller, melodic 'Sound' was really popular then and the R&B Beat  Phase coming to a close.

The Who's Pete Townshend bought a harder and grittier aspect to the guitar as he thrashed it around a few stages and when I saw The Who, live at Midnight City in Birmingham its effect on the opening of "Anywhere, Anyhow, Anyway" was brilliant and full bodied.  It chimed it's way right through the Summer of Love with all those, trippy solo's man'.   

I have to say, this early 360/12 was, and still is, a beautiful guitar, the neck was unbelievably light and the sunburst, lustrous.  The famous, art-deco like, F Holes made it very attractive and the sculpting for the tail piece beautifully echoed the same design line across the scratch plate. The later models had more rounded edges that gave the guitar a 'toy like' look , I've never liked them since.  To me that design difference is like comparing the first E Type jaguar with later models, they got it right the first time.  I can tell you that the sound of this guitar is luscious and warm and if I could, this would me mine right now. 

Fender, not wanting to be outdone, made their 
own model, The Fender XII, and they obviously took this guitar seriously as it was a brand new design, not just a Stratocaster adjustment.    Wow!, we had been living with those fab Fender guitar names so what a shocker then, when they gave it such a bland obvious name, albeit in roman numerals? and if the product name of the guitar wasn't that inspirational, this 'thing' was the best they could come up with.  It must have been the result of a bar room brawl by the design team, with the dopiest one winning. They somehow managed to combine total blandness with a hideous disregard for style and I particularly hate the headstock.   It was a very playable guitar though and was used extensively by a whole host of folk and interestingly also by The Beatles.  In later years some people took off the thinner set of strings, raised the action and used it as a slide guitar.   This was the type of 12 string used by The Move.

BURNS.  Not to be excluded from the musical fun, Cliff and The Shadows had a 1964, 12 string, hit on their hands with 'On the Beach' and for which Burns had designed a 'One of a kind' Double 6 for
Hank Marvin, the only one fitted with a Rezo tube tremelo.   This was a popular 12 String and even Elvis used one. I think it looked great in Green, great playability and much prettier than the Fender. Burns still make this guitar and it now comes with a Trem system like Hanks.

VOX  bought out their Teardrop and Phantom 12 strings, and the teardrop was certainly used a lot by The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones and acoustically, was to the fore, for songs like Ruby Tuesday, Angie and As tears go By.

I was never a fan of VOX guitars so can't really comment on its playability, I can't seem to remember anyone else playing this model of 12 string either.

As soon as you pick up a 12 string you would instinctively play Mr Tambourine Man and Beatle songs and in later years Hotel California then you would run out of suitable songs for it.  I never bought one  because it's expense was wasteful, considering it's usefulness.  Once again, in 1967, Rickenbacker came up with an ingenious idea to solve that problem..

This Ricky 620/12 has a comb device which, when levered into position, hooked onto the high set of strings and pulled them down, leaving you to play it as a normal six string guitar.  I can't say it's attractive in any sense and it's mechanics seem to be a bit Heath Robinson but apparently it worked effectively.  This would be a good guitar to have in a collection.
Ricky 12 string  Convertible with Damping Lever
This comb fitting was available on the the 360/12 too between 67 and 1970.
So if you see one, snap it up, it's only going to become rarer and rarer, a real keeper.
These days I do have a 12 string acoustic with a pick up fitted, just to have that sound available if something suitable ever comes along when I'm writing, or maybe to use in company with friends.  I have to say that it is my least used guitar of all.

If you had a mind to want to record a twelve string sound but don't have the dosh to get one then you could try using a spare guitar and change all the strings to use what is known as Nashville Tuning.  After removing all your strings, replace them, starting from the high E with the following strings

010 Plain
014 Plain
009 Plain
012 Plain
018 Plain
027 Wound
nashville strung guitar

Then tune your guitar as follows:
First two strings E and B as normal
then the remainder of the strings are tuned as normal (GDAE) only ONE OCTAVE higher so you'll really have to wind up the tuners and use an electronic tuner if you have one.   The result is very pretty and if, when recording, you overdub a normally tuned guitar with the nashville tuned one, you will have the 12 string sound.  It also sounds nicely different played on it's own.

Tanya Day, Raucous Brummie singer during the early 60's was backed by The Beatles at the Star Club, now that's living the dream eh?.   Several Brummie bands sought their fame and fortune in Germany, probably in the hope of emulating The Beatles success.

So here's a call to all you people who went to Germany during the 60?s, playing those interminably long hours for little money but improving as a band and experiencing life outside of Birmingham for the first time.    Brian Nicholls,
Brumbeat guitarist and music historian is writing an e book about the 60's and is looking for contributions and stories from those of you who went on the overnight ferry to Hamburg or one of the many other German destinations that Brummie bands played at.  If you have photos that would be even better!!

Here's a great chance to get your fifteen minutes of fame and keep your history alive.  

You can contact Brian at:

Had a comment from Jeff King saying that he has got two private Hollick and Taylor 78 rpm recordings (Goodness gracious that's going back some!!).   They have the H and T yellow label with two hand written titles on one of them, 'Home Sweet Home' and the other, a strange title here
 ' Just a Wearing For You'.   

The second 78 has nothing written on it at all and there are no marks in the dead wax either.    So if you were the person or band and recorded either of these pressings, although I can't imagine anyone saying
"Yes, I was on the second??"
I know Jeff would love to hear from you on 0121 3730394.

A fond farewell to Jack Bruce, I'm glad I was alive to enjoy him.
Special Christmas Blog next Month and only 54 shopping days till Christmas.

OK you guys, I'm off to continue knocking out the living room fireplace, I left Mrs Bob barrowing out the rubble whilst I came in to 'touch the blog up a little'.   
I know she's had a recent injury but really, if I don't keep an eye on her she slows down to a dead stop.    She's made up her own work chant though, I can hear her singing it now....."Oomebak....Oomebak....oomebak!".   How inventive she is.  Where's my guitar? I'll see if I can come up with some music to go with her lyrics.

Toodle Ooooo!

Copyright Bullsheadbob

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Watcha Brummies,

Well the old 'cyber box thing' has been repaired and although I lost a load of stuff I am now able to re-enter my man cave and dive, delve and rummage about once more into the grubby little world of the Brumbeat days when men were men, women hadn't burned their bras' and thousands of spotty youths congregated in garages and front rooms to get together with their new-fangled electric guitars, guaranteed to annoy the neighbours.    Those were the days when there were thousands of jobs available and only a few people had a car, most of which were manufactured in Birmingham, but now we seem to have gone from one extreme to another.  No jobs, millions of cars, and only a handful made in Brum.    

Electric guitars still exist but fewer spotty youths are playing them, probably because the garages are full of cars.

Longbridge, the home of Brminghams automotive industry has now
disappeared and has been replaced with some more attractive buildings and restaurants and the area is being landscaped to include a large leisure park.   I was there the other night and I have to say that although I bemoan the loss of all Birminghams industry and jobs, the Longbridge plant that echoed to the sounds of Red Rob encouraging everyone to strike was a real eyesore.

One highlight of my 'spotty youth' days was the opening of a small music shop on Colmore Circus called Ringway Music.   The shop had been opened by a group of musicians who were the 'trio' accompanying organist, Jerry Allen. They were drummer Lionel Rubin, bassist Ken Ingarfield and Vibraphone player, Alan Grahame and they were the resident band on ATV's daily show 'Lunch Box' and were the first TV celebrities I had met, there was also a flautist named George, whose surname I can't remember,who had a natural sense of pitch and you could ask him to give you an E for example and he would simply hum it, quite a trick .   They were all real nice guys and were very generous towards us all, not only with advice.   With this kind of attitude the shop soon became  the focus of attention and it wasn't too long before they moved to much larger premises further down the road.       
LtoR Jerry Allen, Alan Grahame, Lionel Rubin, Ken Ingarfield
The above picture taken at the ATV studio on Broad Street portrayed them like old fashioned, regimented cabaret musos to us young budding musicians who were just beginning to listen to the Blues and thinking we had it all and the music we played was radical, how naive we were.   However, during my very early youth I had listened to all the great 'Big Bands' on the radio, one of my favourites and certainly one of my Mothers, was Nat Gonella and his Georgians who had first been formed way back in 1937 but had been through many transformations by the time I got to hear them as
The Nat Gonella Band and subconciously, this band influenced my musical direction performing songs like Hesitation Blues.  

The outstanding song though that, above all others, made me like them was 'Georgia on My Mind', still one of my favourites and I was blown away to discover that Lionel Rubin had been Gonellas drummer.  I held him in high esteem, he was truly brilliant.

At the time of the opening I was in a group that was playing all the well known venues and everyone who came into the shop on the opening day signed the ceiling and we were one of those, quite an honour back then, I thought.

Of course the 'Godfather of  Brummie 60's Guitarists' the
Pete Oliver (second from left)
brilliant Pete Oliver worked there also.   I had a great relationship with Pete over the ensuing years and, although no longer with us, I think of him often.
I'm glad he turned Jeff Lynne down when asked to join ELO, it would have been a waste of his considerable talent.   
Last month I mentioned my small part in the getting together of Johnny Neal and Paul Carter but John Woodhouse, Editor of BRUMBEAT, has also helped to cybernetically reunite Norm Crandles, a regular on this blogs 'Brummies Abroad' slot and a friend he met from Newcastle many moons ago.

In the early 60's Norm, was better known as Lee Stevens
Lee and Satellites
with his band The Satellites and he received a letter simply addressed to The Satellites, Birmingham. In those days the post office would actually get letters to people with such a sparse address as this.   There was only one thing wrong, this letter was from the girlfriend of a guy called Peter Johnson who was the bass guitarist with The Satelites, with one 'L' from Newcastle and happened to be on tour in Birmingham at the same time!

Geordie Satelites Peter Johnson far right

Norm opened the letter to get a return address which started a chain of correspondence, he then sent Peter and Pat  a copy of Midland Beat which featured his version of The Satellites. 
Pat with Maggie Crandles at The Elbow Room
This resulted in Norm inviting Peter and his girlfriend Pat down to Brum for a week and he took them out to see the sights and also to see some of the many bands 
at places such as Chateau Impney including Danny King and the Mayfair Set.
So impressed was Peter with the Brummie scene that he considered moving to Brum permanently and when he married his girlfriend Pat they ended up having their honeymoon at Norms place!!

Norm and Peter last saw each other in 1966 at New Street Railway Station, (co-incidentally the place where J Neal and P Carter recently met up)
New Street Farewell 1966
when he waved them off back to Newcastle and later that same year Norm and his wife Maggie moved out to Canada. 

Fast forward to 2013, Peter who now lives in Portugal found himself in the company of some old Brummie musicians who got around to talking about some of the early Brummie bands i.e Danny King and The Mayfair Set, Chris Kefford etc etc.   A day on the internet brought up BRUMBEAT.Net and with a Dear John email to John Woodhouse he managed to get hold of Norm and sent him a surprise New Years Greeting EMail on 1 Jan 2014. 

They are now in contact and, although they are much farther apart than when they first made contact, they are looking forward to meeting up one day to reminisce about their good old days.... it really does show what a brilliant thing the Internet is and also what a valued service John Woodhouse provides for us 'old and bold' Brumbeat musos and music aficionados.  So thanks John.  

Norm Crandles "It was a great start to 2014 for me, getting back in touch with Geordie Pete has really squared the circle for me, if only by EMail" 

A brilliant little R&B band of the 60's, The Yamps featured heavily on the circuits of Birmingham, The Black Country and The Potteries and had a great following.

The last 'Brummie Abroad', Will Hammond, recently made a flying visit to Brum to re-unite with his old Yamps and Traction cohorts Bob Styler and Malcolm Palmer.    "I hadn't seen these guys for around 50 years and although it was just an overnight stop we met up for dinner and managed to cram in many happy stories of our beginnings and the various gigs we did" said Will.
THE YAMPS CIRCA 1964  L to R Leigh Higgnson, Tony Walters, Bob Styler, Will Hammond, Malcolm Palmer

The Yamps  2014.  L to R Malcolm Palmer, Bob Styler, Will Hammond

"In fact, it was such a nice experience, we met up again the day after for lunch out at The Bluebell at Earlswood before I had to leave, we had some great food and got to relate a few more war stories. To be back in each others company was a fabulous experience for us all, it was so successful that Bob bought all the beers!!  I was last in the UK in 2004 for The Uglys re-union and never managed to get to see these two marvellous guys at that time, I'm really happy I got to see them this time around."   Bob and Malcolm are still active on the Birmingham music scene and Will is playing out in Spain.

So there we are, full of coal and with a good head of steam now pouring out of the Cyber Box Thing, the Bulls Head Bob Blog is back on the rails.  

So, see you next month.


Copyright:  Bulls Head Bob