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Names to faces, at the Shades Club

Letter to Southendís Standard Recorder, 19 August 2005

Mick Bray, who was also the Orioles' roadie, wrote the letter from which the material was drawn. His father Jack Bray was the Orioles' manager for some time too. Click here for a full-size clipping of the article.


Mick puts more names to faces 

Iím sitting here now, looking at an original print of the photo of Shades coffee bar and trying to remember some of the names that go with the faces.


Here goes Ö top left, in the white blouse is Sandy Simmonds, talking to Beryl Leach.  Moving left to right I donít know the two girls, but Iím next in the cap and my girlfriend, Jenny, is just in front of me.


The guy in the grey jacket (mid rear) is Will.  Trevor Ashton (dark coat) has his back to Will.  In the front row, thatís my scooter with Mick on it and standing just above are Maureen Kerrigan and Chris Jones.


These were happy days, before the Shades became too oversubscribed.


It started out as the Penguin Ė I used to bunk off school and go there.  We saw the Shades with Len and Shirley, The Paramounts Ė Gary, Robin, Chris and Mick, sometimes with singer Billy Kent.  Later, we used to see the Orioles with Mick Jupp.


It was the first real Modsí place in Southend.  The 77 was just around the corner and full of bikers, but there was never any trouble Ė until one night someone put a home-made bomb under John Greenhillís scooter and blew it up.


We paraded our scooters along the seafront, up the High Street and really thought we were the business. 


Sadly, one night Chris Blackwell was killed at the bottom of Lifstan Way.


As the Shades became more popular, people began to come from far and wide and us originals began to move to the Castle pub up the road.  Scooters were traded for cars Ė my scooter ended up in Woolworthsí window one Saturday night and I never got on it again!


We still followed The Orioles though, at the Cricketers, the London and the Middleton, which all had dancehalls.


Some 40-odd years on, we still ever see some of each other when Gary Brooker plays at Club Riga.  Iím talking about Jenny, Polly, Maureen, Christine, Sandra, James, Fran, Wilk, and Johns Howard and Yates.


There are others too who I donít quite recognise as they have changed over the years.  Itís always a fantastic night.


Happy days!


Mick Bray

Burnt Mills Tyres


Thanks, John Bobin, for sending this in ... and to Jill McMahon for typing it out

More about the Shades Club