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the Pale

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The Southend Scene (Paramounts-era)

from The Southend Standard, 2 December 2005

Letters extra

Photos of all the old bands
I am John Ricks, formerly of Central Avenue, Southend and I was the photographer of so many groups in the Sixties.

The Studio Jazz Club in Westcliff was my favourite haunt and I witnessed Donovan’s first ever public performance, as a fill-in spot for The Cops'n'Robbers.

I am curious to find out just what happened to The Cops'n'Robbers, The Monotones, The Avengers (I have hundreds of shots of them, too), Doug Sheldrake, The WesMinster 5, and many others.

County Kerry

Exciting days at The Elms
In the late Fifties, rock ‘n’ roll was getting underway.  The feeling was magnetic and I wanted to be part of it.

One sunny morning, myself and Ted Knott, standing on Pier Hill, decided to form a band.  I called it The Barracudas.  Ted would be lead guitar and I would do bass guitar and vocals.

It’s true to say Ted was the best lead guitarist in the area.  A first-class drummer, Brian Edgings, joined us and we were off. 

The band had started to rehearse at The Elms pub in Leigh and, because we made so much noise, we attracted the attention of the drinkers next door and they would come into the hall to listen.  Soon the place was packed, and that was the start of it all.

Many friends out there will remember Thursday nights at The Elms with The Barracudas.

Among our early fans were a young lady, Colleen Regan, and her friend.  They supported us every week from day one.  I got to know Colleen quite well and in 1962 we were married – and still are.

One particular Thursday night, I remember when we were joined on stage by Harry, Jim and friends to give backing vocals to the Buddy Holly song, Think It Over.  Imagine it, about 15 blokes (all sober) on stage with us giving it their all – pure magic!

All groups have their complaints about noise.  We were no exception, and one day we were summoned to appear in court.  A local by-law prohibited the use of amplifiers above ten watts output – we were using 30 watts, big for those days.  Now 100 watts has to be the minimum.  Yes, we were fined and told not to use our amps.  But we carried on as if nothing had happened.

Later, we became contracted to the big band leader, Howard Baker, for a Saturday night spot at the Kursaal dances.  Our job was to introduce some rock during the evening.  In some ways it quite a privilege then. [sic]

By the early Sixties, The Barracudas were well-known locally and by then we had started dances at the then London Hotel, in Southend High Street.

These dances became even bigger than The Elms and about that time Denny Knott, a well-known figure in Southend, helped us out running them and also “to keep an eye on things”.

Those days were unforgettable, exciting – pure magic.

Collins Way

Thanks, John; and Jill, for the typing

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