One of the cherished gadgets in my music assortment is an audio-cassette which has virtually miraculously managed to be performed again and again over the a long time, whereas not being tangled and chewed up by the taking part in head. It was pressed into my hand within the circle bar at Bradford’s Alhambra theatre in 1991 by Emile Ford, who was a well-known pop star within the Nineteen Sixties and had gone on to be an ace document producer.
I’d final seen Emile 30 years earlier than that when, as performer of such smash hits as What Do Wanna Make These Eyes at Me For? and Gradual Boat to China, he had wowed the viewers at St George’s Corridor and considerably upstaged the highest of the invoice, Adam Religion. Throughout Emile’s act was the primary time I ever noticed knickers thrown on the stage!
And right here he was now, in his function as producer of a recently-recorded set of tracks by a gifted bunch of musicians who had entertained audiences round Bradford within the late Fifties and early ‘60s and have been nonetheless rocking on.
Now their time within the highlight had come once more because of the efforts and dedication of Derek AJ Lister who, as Dal Stevens, had been a type of performers in addition to, for six years from 1959, a DJ on the Gaumont and Majestic ballrooms in Bradford, which gave him the possibility to fulfill most of the huge rock ‘n’ roll names of the day.
I had first met Derek in 1988. I confess that I had by no means heard of him till he rang me and defined what he had in thoughts and requested me if, as a author with the Telegraph & Argus, I’d write a function a few challenge he was embarking upon. It sounded promising, which was how I got here to be sitting on the couch within the lounge of his Bingley house whereas he outlined his plan to me.
His intention was to jot down a ebook about these golden years, and hoped to get in contact with as many individuals as potential. And for that to occur he wanted publicity. As he ran via their names and sang their praises I warmed to the concept. I hadn’t heard of a lot of them – other than The Dingos and The Cresters, whose rhythm guitarist Malcolm Clarke had been a close to up to date at Belle Vue Boys’ Grammar Faculty, and Garth Cawood, who was associated to a neighbour of ours after I was a toddler.
Other than that, the entire scene had someway handed me by. I had left faculty, headed to London to seek out fame and fortune, quickly deserted that concept, returned to Bradford, obtained married and immersed myself in domesticity. In the meantime, a bunch of males (and a handful of ladies) two or three years older than me have been rocking round numerous venues in Bradford and in some instances past.
So I wrote my function, and it labored. Earlier than lengthy I used to be writing extra options as Derek assembled a lot of these musicians who had contacted him and introduced plans to carry a rock ‘n’ roll reunion evening, which turned out to be the primary of many.
In the meantime the ebook had gone forward. Bradford’s Rock ‘n Roll, which was launched at that Alhambra reception, quickly grew to become an area best-seller (it’s since been adopted by When Bradford Rocked, a extra bold, detailed challenge, and much more profitable). And the musicians, a lot of whom have been nonetheless lively on the music scene, obtained collectively for a reunion gig in 1991 on the Pile Bar within the shadow of Lister’s Mill chimney.
What an evening it was! I used to be blown away by it as I lastly obtained to see and listen to them in motion. These individuals have been very, superb certainly. Their musicianship and professionalism have been excellent. Why on earth had Brian Epstein not been round in Bradford throughout their glory days 30 years earlier as an alternative of in Liverpool managing the likes of the Beatles, Gerry Marsden and Cilla Black?
Folks like Mel Clarke, Mike Sagar, Sammy King (who wrote the hit Penny Arcade for Roy Orbison), Ray Kennan, Garth Cawood, Kenny Fowler, Drew Charles, Sandra Day, Richard Harding (an ace lead guitarist, Bradford’s reply to the ever present US virtuoso James Burton), and Derek himself who carried out a wonderful model of Transfer It on a CD of tracks recorded similtaneously my cherished cassette however launched later.
Sadly, a few of these individuals are not with us, or at the very least are not lively musically, although some nonetheless are as a result of rock ‘n’ roll tends to maintain your spirit younger (as anybody who has seen one of many 84-year-old Marty Wilde’s present not too long ago will know).
However Derek A.J. Lister has ensured that their legend lives on, because of When Bradford Rocked, a ebook which names all of them and lots of, many extra and offers particulars of their lives, musical careers and achievements.
And now all that data and vitality and the sights and sounds of that period have been made out there for a brand new technology within the twenty first century in an internet site painstakingly put collectively by Derek and his buddy and collaborator Reuben Davison, which brings to life that very particular time When Bradford Rocked. Extra of which subsequent time…