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Lead Guitar - 1960-1961

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Johnny Kidd and The Pirates (Alan Caddy, right) put on a show..


Alan Caddy was born in Chelsea on February 2, 1940.  As a youngster he attended the Emanuel School in Battersea, becoming both head chorister and leader of the school orchestra.  As a treble, he regularly sang at Westminster Cathedral and he studied the violin at the Royal Academy of Music.  But he was enthralled by the emergent skiffle and rock'n'roll, became a fan of Ray Charles and switched to playing piano and guitar, which was his forte.  His true musical leanings were probably helped by his father who worked under the name Art Cadey, a dance band drummer who also ran his own jazz club, and Alan himself was sometimes referred to as Art.

Caddy became an estate agent once he left school and played guitar in with a string of groups around Battersea.  He was playing most weekday nights on a regular basis by 1958 and his current group held a residency at Wandsworth Town Hall.  The group was fronted by singer Mike West who fell back into the shadows after it was joined by the singer Freddie Heath.  Soon, they were picked up by HMV and under the name Johnny Kidd and the Pirates (Caddy on lead guitar) they cut a series of beat classics including " Please Don't Touch", " Feelin", " You Got What It Takes", "Shakin' All Over" and " Weep No More Baby".  By now the Pirates were a three-man power group with Caddy on lead, Clem Catinni on drums and Brian Gregg on bass.  Caddy was naturally shy and underrated himself, nevertheless he was talented enough.  The band's first appearance on the BBC's "Saturday Club" radio show also featured star guitarist Bert Weedon, then riding high in the chats with "Guitar Boogie Shuffle".  Caddy played a fast-fingered rendition of the song back to Weedon, who stood there gobsmacked.  Despite his talent he was happy to play second guitar on the groups' two biggest hits during this period, "Shakin' All Over" and its follow-up "Restless".  Both these featured the lead guitar of Joe Moretti who's solo on "Shakin" became a classic.

After the hits dried up the three Pirates played in Italy behind Colin Hicks (Tommy Steele's brother) where they received a great reception, but for the trio, Hicks was a disappointment after the Kidd.  At the end of the six-week tour they were prompted to return to the UK.  Answering an advert in Melody Maker, Caddy took Clem Catinni along for moral support he found himself auditioning for producer Joe Meek.  Meek needed a studio band after the Outlaws hit the road and hired Caddy and Catinni on the spot, adding Heinz Burt, George Bellamy and Roger LaVern. 

The Tornados, late 1963 - early 1964.  Back - Clem Catinni (drums); Alan Caddy )lead).  Front - Jimmy O'Brien (organ); Bryan Irwin (rhythm); Ray Randall (bass).


Given the name the Tornados their first single did nothing but the next did a little better.  As Meek was tone deaf his new demo, written in tribute to a communications satellite, required some translating into a form from which the other group members could work with; this was left to Caddy who went on to arrange the majority of the Tornados' recordings.  Under the name "Telstar" the resulting single raced up the UK charts to number one and soon afterwards entered the US charts.  Before long, the Tornados become the first British group to top the American charts, paving the way for UK artists in future.  Telstar remains one of Britain's biggest-selling instrumental singles with estimated global sales of more than seven million copies. 

After the top-ten "Globetrotter" the groups' chart success waned and Caddy decided to leave the Tornados in early 1964.  He released one collectable solo single under the name, " Tornado", which was released on HMV in 1964 c/w "Workout" (HMV 1286, 1964).  He also co-founded Sound Venture Productions enabling him to get properly involved with arranging and producing and co-formed the World Artists label with ex-Meek crooner Don Charles.  This label released a record in the US by the Moments (with Steve Marriott's third vinyl release) of the Kink's "You Really Got Me" in a bid to beat the original into their charts.  It failed, but the b-side was a Caddy original, "Money Money", described as a "handsome slice of embryonic R&B complete with harmonica, finger clicks and Steve's first recorded yell of "Come On Children!"

The following year Caddy joined most of the original Tornados in releasing " Spacewalk" (Columbia DB7638), a very topically-titled record at the time (even the group still recording under the Tornados' name had one out the same year called "Earlybird), but they were threatened with legal action from a furious Joe Meek if they dared to use the name Tornados.  The record emerged billed to the Gemini and as a token gesture titled the B-side "Goodbye Joe".

Alan Caddy seen at the 1986 Johnny Kidd Tribute Show


Caddy later worked for Polydor as musical director and arranger to singer Steve Rowland, whose career as a pop star had failed to ignite.  Instead Rowland became a producer for the Fontana label, later calling in Caddy to arrange material for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.  (Slight irony here, for the latter group was turned down by Joe Meek!)  Caddy also played on sessions and worked on arrangements for Tony Blackburn, Elkie Brooks, the Spencer Davis Group, Kiki Dee, the Pretty Things and Dusty Springfield.

During the 1970s he and former Outlaws drummer Bobby Graham Joined forces on budget label Avenue Records specialists in budget LPs containing cover versions of contemporary hits, working with the likes of Elton John before he hit the big time.  LPs were also released as the Alan Caddy Orchestra (and Singers) including a three-album set called "The Tom Jones / Engelbert Humperdink / Andy Williams Story" which has been said to still sound good today, that is if you can find them in a rare record search.  On the same label he also arranged and played on some 1970s Vince Eager releases, and some Harry Pitch 45 releases were even penned by Caddy.  Later, he produced the Canadian band Teenage Head for the A&M label and whose self-titled debut album is now out on CD, featuring the original Caddy mixes.  Abrahams' Children was another band Caddy produced whose first LP produced no less than three hits and whose Jimi Bertucci - lead singer and songwriter since inception - reports that he learned a lot from Caddy, who continued producing through to the late 1980's.

In 1991, Caddy made his last public appearance at a memorable Joe Meek Reunion Concert at Lewisham with the rest of the original Tornados who played, inevitably, Telstar.  Joe Meek fan John Repsch organised the event and personally paid most of the performers.  Except Caddy, who insisted on receiving just the exact amount paid him for his first gig with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates: 3 half Crowns (37.5p!) and 2 bottles of Coca-Cola.  He will be remembered for playing on that classic instrumental, and its incredible achievement of topping both the UK and US charts (a first for a UK pop recording), not to mention taking part in the recording of what must be Britain's' most recognisably original Rock 'n' Roll record, the classic "Shakin' All Over".  Having struggled with alcoholism throughout his life he died in August 2000 aged just 60, being survived by the daughter of an early marriage.

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