|1956-1958||Formative years of Kidd's Rock 'n' Roll career|
|BATS HEATH AND THE VAMPIRES||Fred Heath (vocal/guitar); Frank Rouledge (guitar); Brian England (banjo); Clive Lazell (washboard). (1956 - 1957)|
|Bank Holiday (unknown)||Fred marries Ada Price at a local Register Office. They celebrate by going to see Harry Secombe at the London Palladium. Soon after they settle down to life, based as they were in his parents' front room.|
|Skiffle is the "now" craze amongst UK youngsters, taking a lead from Lonnie Donegan. His "Rock Island Line", released early in the year became a surprisingly big hit. The tracks were actually recorded in 1954 on a Chris Barber LP and released on a Decca EP credited to Lonnie Donegan's Skiffle Group but did not a lot, instead it was a "sleeper", taking it's time to catch on, in this case nearly two years. When it broke big Pye records snapped him up and encouraged six years of continuous sizeable hits, especially with his unique renditions of American folk songs in an energetic style that became known as Skiffle. "Cumberland Gap" and others proves that he wasn't a million miles away from the heart and spirit of Rock 'n' Roll.|
|Brian Gregg becomes a professional musician playing double bass and later electric bass guitar. His first professional gig is with a band called "Les Hobeaux" who are resident at the place where it was currently at - the "2 I's" coffee bar in Soho.|
|August Bank Holiday||Roundwood Park, Willesden - 13 groups took part in a skiffle competition at the Willesden Carnival, and it lasted the best part of four hours. Fred and the Frantic Four come third, after playing "Cumberland Gap" in the final round. The competition finale featured Mickie The Most, future producer of the Animals amongst others.|
|THE FIVE NUTTERS||Fred Heath (vocal/guitar); Frank Rouledge (guitar); Johnny Gordon (bass); Clive Lazell (drums); Brian Donalon (washboard). (1957 only)|
|August 19th, Monday||
Edgware Road - As The Five Nutters Fred and the group do well in a
Skiffle Competition. However, they are amazed that they appeared to
receive the loudest
reception - in the best "Opportunity Knocks" tradition - and yet they didn't win.
After some discussion and negitoation there is a part-capitulation toward the group who are promised some good venues for gigs plus a television spot!! The promised TV date doesn't materialise but appearances at three top variety theatres, the Chiswick Empire, the Finsbury Empire and the Metropolitan itself do.
|The Five Nutters perform on BBC Light Programme's "Skiffle Club" (which would later be re-named as "Saturday Club")|
|Date?||Most of the Five Nutters go to Wilkinson's Radio Shop to make two private recordings - "Shake, Rattle And Roll", plus group original "Blood Red Beauty", a tribute to Ada Heath's red hair. Line-up was Freddie Heath (vocals), Frank Rouledge (guitar) and Clive Lazell (drums). The group disbands soon afterwards.|
|THE FABULOUS FRED HEATH BAND||Fred Heath (vocals); Frank Rouledge (guitar); Johnny Gordon (bass/piano); Brian Saunders/Don Toy/Tony Carlaw (drums); Pete Newman, Pete Cotton (sax). Plus Geoff Wiggins, Ken Tootle, Jimmy Digby (sax), + 4-5 other occasionals. (October 1957 - August 1958)|
|September||Fred has formed the Fabulous Fred Heath Band with local entrepreneur Don Toy, the latter acting as Manager, agent, promoter and even sometime drummer! He also took over the drums temporarily for the Pirates in 1959. For the record, the drummer in the photo is Tony Carlaw. Saxophonist Pete Newman is second-left (facing Kidd, who was interviewed for the "Jukebox Heroes" programme in 2000). He was drafted in despite the fact he had only just started learning the instrument!|
|October 2nd||On this day, the Krazy Kurzon Klub (KKK) is started up by Don Toy, and is based in the White Horse, Willesden. The new band's reputation starts to spread and soon promoter Guy Robinson (real name - Guy Tynegate-Smith) begins attending gigs there. He is impressed with what he sees and is soon involved with the running of the band, offering lessons in presentation and stagecraft. The photo shows a typically enjoyable evening at the Klub.|
Green, Johnny Spence and Frank Farley (+1) are playing as the Wayfaring Strangers
and enter many talent competitions. In one at the Tottenham Royal
Ballroom, they reached the finals and came second to a band known as the Quarrymen, later
to become the Beatles). Not bad at all. Johnny Spence remembers
his first encounter with Mick Green which took place in 1958.
"This little kid in short trousers turned up on my doorstep one day, we were both fourteen, holding a guitar and said; "I'm told you know the opeing bit to 'Cumberland Gap'. Can you teach me?" That was Mick Green."
|March 3rd||Fred and friends catch Buddy Holly & The Crickets appearance on "Sunday Night At The London Palladium". Crickets' rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan had quit just before this UK tour commenced so the group are performing as a lead guitar/bass/drums trio.|
|March||"The Golden Disc" is released starring Terry Dene. The film features Brian Gregg and Clem Catinni with their respective bands. A prophetic title, for Dene is not going to achieve what is expected of him. Britain is desperate for an "answer" to Elvis, and the talented Dene is seized upon, thanks to the similarities with Elvis which are extended when drafted into the British army. However, he will be discharged due to nerves soon after, and his career never recovers. Today he is well-received at many Rock 'n' Roll revival shows.|
|May||Brian Gregg and Clem Catinni tour Italy as members of Colin Hick's Cabinboys. The group appear in a film (translates as "Europe By Night") which ensures Hick's popularity and success over there.|
|July 26th||Brian Saunders, drummer in the Freddie Heath Band, is getting married and asked Don Toy if he could get a band for his wedding reception. During the reception, itself, Don appeared and on being asked replied yes, the band is here. Fred next walks through the doors and reveals it's their own band - with Don on drums! After a few numbers Saunders took over and ended up playing all night.|
The Krazy Kurzon
Klub ends one Tuesday in August due to a disagreement with the White Horse
owners. Angered, Fred runs a power cable from a shop owner they knew
over the road and bring the cable to right outside the pub, allowing the
Fred Heath Band to play on the pavement that very night (pictured, right)!
This impromptu performance
attracts so many onlookers that Willesden High Street comes to a standstill -
police are called in to break up crowds of dancers in the street,
threatening to use their truncheons if necessary.
Thus, this was the last "official" gig of the Freddie Heath Band - A later court case is won by the group, but in the meantime they don't perform again and just fall apart, pretty much leaving Fred to his own devices. He begins to take a bigger interest in writing songs.
this day was released what is considered the first true British Rock 'n'
Roll record: Cliff Richard's "Move It" which went all the way to no.2.
It was originally destined for the flip to an otherwise nondescript
US-sourced song, "Schoolboy Crush". "Move It" was once described by
John Lennon as "the most influential British record
ever made" and it went on to be listed in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of
Fame's five hundred most influential songs of all time.
Why is it mentioned here? Simply because it is one of the few genuinely-original, British rock 'n' roll songs before MerseyBeat, and led the way for the likes of Billy Fury and Johnny Kidd who both wrote a lot of their own material. The songs' gestation was similar to "Shakin", being written in a hurry by Ian Samwell (on his way home from work by bus). It was also destined to be the b-side before Norrie (Cliff's producer) Paramors' daughters heard it and literally flipped. It proved that the UK was not a barren pop wasteland as some writers would have us believe. Although maybe arriving a little late in the rock 'n' roll day, "Shakin' All Over" would continue the creative trend.
|October - November||Picture of a thoughtful Mike West, who features in the next phase of Fred Heaths' musical career. His band, the Mike West Group is currently resident at the notable and very popular Wandsworth Town Hall. Guy Robinson takes Freddie along to see them, who gets up onstage and sings "If You Were The Only Girl In The World" which goes down well, and Fred is asked to join. For the time being all three vocalists - West, Tom Brown and Heath - share the spotlight although in time it will be Heath, whose stronger vocal chords are agreed to be the strongest - takes most centre-stage.|
|Guy Robinson obtains a booking at the Derby Arms, East Sheen. Proprietor Len Harvey, the ex-boxer must have known a good thing when he saw it and from here the group appears every Sunday. As time goes by their act becomes more polished and professional. Record companies are beginning to take note.|