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Lead Guitar - 1965-1966

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John Moreshead

John Moreshead in 1970


John Moreshead took over from John Weider as lead axeman in the Pirates in September 1965 but does not appear to have been involved on any recording session as these were quite scarce for Johnny Kidd at this time in his career.  Te stayed with Johnny Spence and Frank Farley till the end of April of the following year when the Pirates split from Kidd to make it on their own.  They lasted for three months or so, during which time they released "Shades Of Blue" on the Polydor label before he suddenly quit just before a tour of Germany's American Air Force bases.  While a raw recruit was embedded in for the final weeks before the Pirates finally ended Moreshead joined Shotgun Express, a group packed with some of "the" names of the British blues circuit, headed by singers (pre-fame) Rod Stewart and Beryl Marsden. 

The Express was a short-lived venture though, and Moreshead joined Julian Covey and the Machine where he was later re-united for a short spell with Spence.  This group was tipped for the big time and were signed to Island records for five years yet after one single release they disappointingly disintegrated.  At this juncture Spence decided to leave the pop world and instead turned his attention to the second-hand car market, and did rather well too until 1976 saw a return of the Pirates.  Morshead's next venture meanwhile, was to join the talented Ansley Dunbar's Retaliation, who released five albums during their two-year existence.  The final Retaliation LP "Remains to Be Heard" was released on the Liberty label in 1970 and was not just a collection of leftover cuts and oddities if inclusion of a track like the slow blues "Downhearted" is anything to go by.  During the 1980's John Holmes described this track in "British Blues Review" as "one of the finest recorded guitar solos by a white Blues player". 

When Dunbar went off to form Blue Whale Moreshead teamed up with former Undertaker (Merseyside group, not profession) Jackie Lomax and former Animal Barry Jenkins in the creation of Heavy Jelly (mk II in 1971), where Lomax's distinctive vocals were given free reign.  One album had already been released by the group, whose name was apparently a joke that got taken seriously.  With Morshead on board making more excellent contributions to the onstage experience and on at least on single release, things looked good.  They even recorded a session for the BBC, which at that time was a mark of the respect held for any group.  (CD releases of these BBC session recordings are eagerly awaited by loyal legions of fans of may acts.)  However, the band never really settled, with seven recorded line-ups being a testament to that.  Shortly after came a spell in Graham Bon's Holy Magick", and in 1973 he contributed to Denny Laine's first solo collection.

The late 1980's saw Moreshead as part of Dorset four-piece Dr. Jims' Wonder Tonic", the group being described as electric four piece who, for their night's performance paid their respects to the 'three ings' in their choice of numbers. Paul 'Shunter' Smith (vcls. and gtr), gave his everything in performing with light and shade in both his singing and guitar playing. Taking it high, and laying back, in full confidence of the band's rhythm section, playing through a set well-rehearsed in both material and presentation.

In the mid-1990's he made appearances as guitarist in the Ansley Dunbar Trio, the drummer having tired of life in various big US name bands and returned to the UK shores, Moreshead's weapon of choice being a natural finish Fender Telecaster.  Despite his name being spelt numerous ways (depending on which source you read) he seems a well-respected and talented exponent of electric blues and consequently rarely out of work but it seems he remains enigmatic, not much being known about the man himself who does not stay in one place for too long.  Nevertheless he has been cited as an excellent interpretator of the blues, to the point where he was once described as playing in a more "American style" than most of his UK contemporaries - praise indeed! 

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