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Members: NICK SIMPER

Bass Guitar - 1966-1967

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Nick Simper

 

Neil Nelhams was cousin to Terry Nelhams, better known as Adam Faith.  Nick Simper (born 3rd November, 1945) was asked if he wanted to join his band the Renegades on the basis that they wanted to use his guitar in the line-up.  They offered him the post of bassman, using a home made bass and the band gigged in basements, youth clubs and the like for around a fiver between them. Simper acquired a taste for the stage.

"I originally played lead, wanted to be Hank Marvin and I was learning that kind of stuff, but it was a case of 'If you want to join us, play this.'  The Renegades didn't last long, had a few line-ups and then I was asked to join the Delta Five, who's big claim to fame was having supported Jerry Lee Lewis at the Southall Community Centre!..... The lead guitarist played Rhythm 'cos I said I wasn't going to.  I was a lead player, sold on Johnny Kidd and trying to play like Mick Green and Micky King (of the Rebel Rousers) but there was no way I was going to be good enough."

Around this time Simper was knocking around with legendary bass player Cliff Barton.  Cyril Davies, the legendary British blues exponent told Simper to "forget all about these twin guitars, I'll show you a real band."  The band in question was Buddy Britten, backed by the Regents with bass, drums and only the one guitar in their ranks.  Simper watched in awe as they powerfully performed their R&B repertoire including songs like "Money" and "Tricky Dicky".  The following week it was Johnny Kidd and his Pirates under the spotlight.  Simper was simply blown away and wanted to pursue that style.  But as the rest of the Delta Five didn't want to know, he formed his own group called Some Other Guys.

"Trouble was we couldn't find a bass player and everyone who came along was playing lead better than me.  So in the end I went up to Jim Marshall's shop and he'd just brought out that big 4 by 12 which was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.  So I traded in my Fender amplifier and Gibson Melody Maker and I turned to bass full-time and loved it."

Terry Marshall (son of the famous Jim) had heard of a post with going begging with his band led by Buddy Britten's Regent's via their drummer.  On contacting the drummer, it turned out to be Roger Truth who'd sometimes stood in for the Delta Five's regular skin-basher.  Simper became a Regent, working up and down the country for five Pounds a night, earning more than his father was after 20 years at the top of his trade!  The act was allowed to tour Jersey where they attracted huge crowds, having been banned after the crowds verged on near riot on appearances there.  Keith Moon nearly joined the band at one stage, such as their standing, but he opted for the Who instead.  Simper appeared on two 1965 singles with Britten, "She's About A Mover" and "Right Now" for Piccadilly/Pye but the popularity with their wild act didn't translate into hit records.  Britten decided to change direction, altering their image and name to the Simon Raven Cult (after the author), followed with another single "I Wonder If She Remembers Me" which passed away unnoticed by the chart statisticians. 

While the bands' new image suited Simper, what didn't suit was when Britten secured a residency on returning from Jersey.  The idea of being stuck in one place night after night did not appeal to him one bit, so everyone minus Raven opted out and became Cyrano And The Bergeracs and hit the road.  After a handful of gigs, organist Ray Soaper (another ex-Regent) phoned Simper up one day with the news that he was currently backing Johnny Kidd.

"I said 'You're joking!' because he knew I idolised Kidd.  On asking who else as with him he said he'd got a little group working with him on odd dates.  So I got our drummer Roger Truth and we went round and knocked on Johnny's door 'cos we all knew him, seen him at gigs and so on, and said "We're the Pirates", and he said "You've saved my life" and we went on the road as Johnny Kidd and his New Pirates."

Nick Simper (right, highlighted) in the first, industrious Deep Purple line-up

 

Simper didn't look back - while the Bergeracs played on without him, Simper was now playing in a band behind his hero, Johnny Kidd.  Things were looking pretty shipshape and the future looked quite bright with the possibility of a revitalised career on the cabaret circuit.  Studio time was also booked resulting in a single, "Send For That Girl" / "The Fool" but this was issued posthumously as Kidd was killed three miles south of Bury, Lancashire, while being driven home on October 7th, 1966.  He was cremated the following Wednesday.  Simper survived but was hospitalised with injuries to his head, arms and back and was unable to work for a while until his badly-smashed arm healed.  The Pirates eventually re-grouped (Truth was replaced by John Kerrison at the last moment) and toured Scotland, gaining in confidence to carry on without the Guv'nor at the helm. Initial reaction was favourable but when the bookings began to slowly peter out they folded in May 1967.

Simper went out on the road with Billie Davis and took part in session work before joining the Flowerpot Men.  Their "Let's Go To San Francisco" was simply a studio creation which then hit the big time when released.  Thus, a touring version of the band was hastily assembled to capitalise on its success and Simper joined as bassist.  When the original keyboard player dropped out his compatriot from earlier times Jon Lord was drafted in although neither appeared on any Flowerpot Men recordings.  Both joined a new group to be called Roundabout, built around former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis.  Things didn't work out and half the band including Curtis left, they were replaced by vocalist Rod Evans and drummer and Ian Paice who joined the remaining trio, Simper, Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in the spring of 1968.  After a mildly successful tour of Scandinavia they re-christened themselves as Deep Purple.  With the group Simper appeared on singles on such "Hush" (their debut), Kentucky Man" and "Emmaretta", plus three studio albums in nine months - "Shades Of Deep Purple", "Book Of Taleisyn" and "Deep Purple".  Strangely they were initially more successful in the USA than in Britain.  By the time their third album was available in the shops in 1969 Simper and Evans were history, the rest of the band having plotted for some time to oust them and bring in favoured replacements vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Jon Glover before entering what can be described as their 'purple patch' (sorry!). 

Toward the end of the decade and into the Seventies simper joined the Marsha Hunt Band before she became pregnant and left.  The remaining band members evolved into the quite popular Warhorse who released a couple of albums before separating a few years later.  During his time with the band Screaming Lord Sutch assembled some "heavy friends" in 1971 for a pub gig (which Simper was involved in) and had the evening secretly taped - this later appeared as "Hands Of Jack The Ripper".

Since then he has rarely been inactive, playing in a succession of groups such as Fandango, Flying Fox and Quatermass II.  More recently he was a member of The Good Ole Boys which was formed in conjunction with Peter Parks after Flying Fox collapsed, and where on some gigs he was re-teamed with old shipmate, John Kerrison.  In 2000 he was interviewed for and appeared on the "Jukebox Heroes - Johnny Kidd" programme, shown on BBC2.

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