Steve Darrington writes:
Musicians don't grow old, they just go out of tune!
Sad to say that I no longer play real pianos due to arthritis in my left hand, and the effects of poliomyelitis on my mobility have got me back in a wheelchair again.
Good job I've got the Swanage Blues Festivals to keep me busy!
You never know what's going to come back from your past, do you?! Take a look at You Tube to see me at Wembley with The Roxon Roadshow nearly 30 years ago!
Out Among The Stars - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8yzacuFduI
Orange Blossom Special and Women Are Smarter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbtHTV7GQDE&feature=related
I recently came upon a vinyl copy of Chris Jagger's LP The Adventures Of Valentine Vox The Ventriloquist, featuring some of my accordion work at a Rockfield session in 1974. I was in good company, for appearing on the album are: Chris Jagger, Peter Frampton, Dave Edmunds, Pick Withers, Micky Waller, Andy Bown, John Mealing, Bob Cohen, Jim Ryan, Dave Pierce, Chris Stainton, Buster Cherry Jones, Neil Hubbard, Pete Sears, John Rousseau, Alan Spenner and BJ Cole. It was engineered by Pat Moran and produced by Steve Smith.
Then in August 2008 - 34 years later and not having seen each since - Chris invited me to join him and Ben Waters on stage at Lulworth Castle for a couple of numbers!
My old mate and Brewer's Droop frontman, Ron Watts has retired to Weymouth and now has his autobiography in print:
Hundred Watts by Ron Watts, ISBN 0954388445 from all good bookshops (and a few dodgy ones!) or send a cheque for £7.99 to Heroes Publishing, PO Box 1703, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 1UZ
The Dorset Echo has heard about him and there is an interview here
Ron Watt’s interest in music began as a teenager when he was a teddy boy, attending the 2is coffee bar in Soho. The Slough-born lad then found his passion for the blues.
His first music promotion work was at Farnham Common village hall, in 1967, and he went on to promote venues around the Home Counties, the most famous and longest lasting of which was the Nag’s Head, High Wycombe. Here, he put on blues legends such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, as well as the likes of Marc Bolan, Thin Lizzy, Status Quo and David Bowie while they were making names for themselves.
He moved to London, setting up the National Blues Federation to promote blues in Britain. At this time Ron began promoting at the 100 Club, where he continued to book top blues names, as well as acts ranging from rock n’ roller Duane Eddy to soul legend Jackie Wilson. Ron also sang for several years with the High Wycombe-based Brewer’s Droop, whose Cajun-influenced R&B and outrageous stage act made them a favourite of the college and festival circuits. One incarnation of the band featured Mark Knopfler, later of Dire Straits.
In February 1976, Ron saw the Sex Pistols at, what was then known as, High Wycombe Technical College. He realised their potential straight away. He booked them for a residency at the 100 Club, in London and later promoted the 100 Club punk festival, featuring the Pistols, Clash, Damned and Buzzcocks, amongst others, and which has gone down in history.
The venue became the home of punk and throughout 1977 Ron booked what would become some of the biggest acts of the era The Police, The Jam and The Stranglers for example.
As punk faded, Ron returned to the Nag’s, where he remained a source of opportunities for up and coming acts such as U2 and Marillion, with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in the audience on occasions. Ron moved to Staffordshire in the late 80s and ran a blues club in Birmingham for several years, where his reputation attracted top names to cross the Atlantic.
Canadian label Deuce has released a double CD set called 'Blues Legends' featuring Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Peter Green and Steve's 1970s band BREWERS DROOP! Check out BX98492-2CD.
It was amazing enough to meet those guys, let alone be on the same album as them.
Festival-goer Jim McKie saw the debacle at the Buxton Festival, when Chuck Berry left after 20 minutes on stage and Brewers Droop were elected to calm the furious crowd. He writes: "The set that you did after Chuck Berry was one of the bravest things that I ever saw. There must have been a couple of hundred beer cans on the stage, thrown at you lot because everyone was pissed off at Chuck Berry's very short set. I have vague memories of your lead singer inviting people to have a look at his tits!"
I rememberwhen we appeared immediately after Chuck Berry - we walked out to a hail of cans thrown in frustration at Chuck's curtailed set. Our lead singer, Ron Watts, braved the hail of cans and harangued the crowd, telling them that it wasn't their fault, it wasn't our fault, it was the promoter's fault - at this magic point, a helicopter appeared on the horizon. "There he goes now, the bastard!" shouted Ron, "There's the bastard promoter going off with our money AND yours!" The crowd were immediately on our side, allowing us to play the set. We were, however, 'mugged' during our performance by Hells Angels going through our pockets looking for cigarettes, and again afterwards in the dressing rooms.
When we next played in the area at a college, some serious looking gentlemen were shown into our dressing room. They introduced themselves as members of the constabulary, bought us a drink and thanked us for our efforts at Buxton, and averting what could easily have been a riot! Apparently we got a mention in the Police Gazette.
PAUL SHARMAN R.I.P. ROGER DEAN
PAUL SHARMAN R.I.P.
ROGER DEAN R.I.P.
It is with deep regret that I note the sad passing of Roger Dean on 3 August 2008 following an illness. I first met Roger in the 1970s at The Carriers Arms in Watlington, Oxon. We'd been playing at the same jam session for weeks when I mentioned that he had the same name as the guitarist on the album Live At Klook's Kleek by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Oops! One and the same guitarist!
There's a fascinating website about Roger at www.rogerdean.info - check out the Guest Book to begin to understand how much he was admired, loved and respected.
JANET INNS R.I.P.
Ah, Janet. You were my first love when we were teenagers, we went our separate ways, and after 28 years you came to find me and we nearly married... So sad to hear of your passing on 29 October 2007. The world will just not be the same without you.
PAUL DARRINGTON R.I.P.
It is with much sadness that I have to announce the passing of my brother Paul Darrington on 21 December 2006 following a short illness. He was a great brother, much loved by all who knew him, and a jovial, supportive personality at many gigs over the years. Our thoughts are with his wife Julie, son James, granddaughter Scarlett, my sister Susan, her daughter Laura, and our parents, Peter & Brenda. We will all miss him deeply.
There just aren't enough words.
NIMROD PING R.I.P.
BOB WALKER R.I.P.
It is with deep regret that I note the sad passing of Bob Walker in a nursing home on 8 June 2005 following an illness. He was a lovely guy and I had the pleasure of playing in Brewers Droop, Shucks and The Blues Shakers with him. His drumming, conversation and sense of humour will be greatly missed.
SPIKE JONES R.I.P.