1964 Another chart decline, searching for a new direction
January 3rd RELEASE: The Pirates without Johnny Kidd have "My Babe"/"Casting My Spell" released (HMV POP 1250).  Both titles were cut in one take each at the "Hungry For Love" session and this single was a test of the waters to see if the Pirates might become a going concern in their own right away from the Captain of the Beat.
January 5th The Ronnettes have arrived in the UK for a George Cooper organised tour for a month.  They kick off today at the Rex Cinema in Haslemere in the heart of rural Sussex.  Johnny Kidd and the Pirates joined it for two only, as highlighted -

Jan 6th - Granada, Harrow
Jan 7th - Adelphi, Slough
Jan 8th - Granada, Maidstone
Jan 9th - Granada, Kettering
Jan 10th - Granada, Walthamstow
Jan 12th - Granada, Tooting
Jan 14th - Granada, Mansfield
Jan 15th - Granada, Bedford
Jan 20th - Granada, Woolwich
Jan 22nd - Granada, Shrewsbury
Jan 27th - Colston Hall, Bristol

February 1st Roxy Cinema, Ulverston.  Two performances, 18:00 and 20:00

One of the gigs on this tour of the north organised by band leader turned promoter Denny Boyce.  Also appearing were the Fabulous Free-Rekkers; Heinz & the Saints; Ricky Valance; Vince Eager; Danny Rivers.

February - March


During February and March, the group appear on the Larry Parnes' Your Lucky Stars Show, which takes a host of big names to towns across the UK including; Finsbury Park, Worcester, Taunton, Mansfield, and (possibly) the Essoldo Cinema in Tunbridge Wells (exact dates unknown).  Manfred Mann were enjoying their first top ten success with "5-4-3-2-1", which was adopted as the theme from "Ready Steady Go!" for a while.

Manfred Mann's drummer Mike Hugg was sufficiently impressed by Big Frank Farley's drumming technique to alter his style from the more jazz-orientated approach he utilised up until now.

Click here for a review of one of the shows on this tour.

February 19th

Larry Parnes' Your Lucky Stars Show, Gaumont, Bradford.

Joe Brown & his Bruvvers; The Crystals; Johnny Kidd and the Pirates; Heinz and the Saints; Daryl Quist; Mike Preston; Manfred Mann; Kevin Kirk.  Al Paige (compere).

Joe Brown was a showman - just like Kidd - who was used to headlining tours.  But not for too much longer.  Fifth on the bill was a band who would take R'n'B into different avenues with their jazzy overtones before becoming a more outright pop band in the late sixties.  Their drummer Mike Hugg was to be impressed with Frank Farley's loud style which persuaded to alter his style to become more beat-orientated.

March 1st, Sunday The Guildhall, Portsmouth

Joe Brown & The Bruvvers
The Crystals
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
Plus a big all-star show

The group are clocking up many miles covering the many bookings their recent popularity has engineered. 

Click here for some insights into touring.

March 6th, Friday Another date on the Larry Parnes' "Your Lucky Stars" tour featuring his headline act Joe Brown and the Bruvvers.  Joe's face adorns the front cover while visiting American act the Crystals are the back cover pic.

The venue is the only information I don't have but the person who attended this show on this day scribbled the date on it, so we know at least there was something going on on this day in Kidd's calendar, if we know not where. 

March 14th, Saturday The Imperial Ballroom, Nelson, Lancs

The Fourmost
David John & The Mood
Mr. X and the Mystery Group
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
(was this the mysterious Mr. X and co?)

The Imperial was good to the Kidd and his group, in fact just over two and a half years later he would be found investigating the place again with the New Pirates after a cancelled booking, at a time when they were getting a little rarer. 

March 6th, Friday



RELEASE: "Always And Ever"/"Dr. Feelgood" (HMV POP 1268).  A-side is essentially "Santa Lucia" with English lyrics attached.  All three Pirates plus Johnny Irving (the group's roadie) and George Cooper (Kidd's Manager) sang on the song's refrain.  But is not quite in the "Blue Beat" style as Johnny promised to at least one pop paper.  On the other hand, the flip - a Dr. Feelgood and the Interns song - is an astonishing powerhouse R&B side that is in contrast to the topside and shows how the group were struggling for commercial success that was opposed to the group's Rhythm 'n' Blues roots.  Ironically, Dr. Feelgood had a new single out the same week on Columbia, "Blang Dong".

The same day the group appeared on "Ready Steady Go!" with Adam Faith (another with a new release, "If He Tells You"); Mike Hurst; Louise Cordet; The Marauders.  They would get another plug on the same show later in the month.  "Always And Ever" was also taped for inclusion on the BBC's "Top Of The Pops" but was never used due to the single's subsequent poor chart showing.

March 21st, Saturday "Thank your Lucky Stars"
Host Brian Matthew
Adam Faith & The Roulettes,
Mark Wynter,
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates,
Sounds Incorporated,
Julie Grant,
Dave Nelson,
Chick Graham & The Coasters,
Janice Nicholls,
Guest DJ Sam Costa
JOHNNY KIDD & THE PIRATES #5 Johnny Kidd (vocals); Mick Green (lead); Johnnie Spence (bass); Frank Farley (drums); Vic Cooper (keyboards).  (March 1964 - July 1964)
March 29 Radio Caroline - the UK's first pirate radio station - begins broadcasting between 6am and 6pm just outside of the law, as far as distance offshore goes anyway.  Kidd and his sea-rovers were invited on board to raise the Jolly Roger while taking in the sea air and the sounds of 1964.  Other Pirate stations would follow, Radio Atlanta, and Radio Sutch - yes, Screaming "Lord" David Sutch!
April 6th/7th Four weeks after their recent single release the group spend two days in EMI's Abbey Road studios laying down eleven tracks for the long-awaited album.  (Read more about it here.)  They are joined by organist Vic Cooper who subsequently becomes a full-time band member.  Roadie Johnny Irving finds out just how bulky and heavy an organ really is, and the group have to invest in a larger 15 CWT (hundred-weight) mini-bus BMC van to accommodate everything!

Photo - Spence; Farley; Kidd; Green; Cooper.

April 11th, Saturday Imperial Ballroom ("Ballroom Of The Stars"), Nelson, Lancashire. 
April 30 Nearly two months after release, "Always And Ever"/"Dr. Feelgood" spends one week in the UK top fifty at 46 (source; Guinness) and was Kidds' last charting single.  The poor showing meant the album was put on hold for the time being, a major disappointment as the recordings were closer to the heart of the band.  At least one contemporary chart reported the single reaching into the Top Thirty.  TRIVIA: As well as the topside, "Dr. Feelgood" also exists in twin-track stereo, and has appeared on at least one European compilation CD.  A candidate for the "Lost Album"?
June, Whit Sunday Whit-Sunday Dance, Tamworth Assembly Rooms.  Admission: 5/- 8.00pm-11.30pm
The Clansmen, The Pirates, Johnny Silver and the Cossacks

Is this THE Pirates?  This is the time when the Pirates - Mick Green, Johnny Spence and "Big" Frank Farley had been officially given the name.  Did they go out on their own?  Or did another Tamworth-area band borrow the name?  Who knows?

June 5 The California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
The Incas with Lyn Barrie
Beat Six
"Always & Forever" Adm 6/-
June 12 RELEASE: "Jealous Girl"/"Shop Around" (HMV POP 1309).  This Gordon Mills-penned single was required to do the trick for any album release to take place.  It missed the charts entirely, and the album was postponed indefinitely.
June 26 "The Big Star Show" opens at the Rainbow Theatre in Blackpool.  The Rainbow was still being redecorated just before opening, after the theatre was burned down back in February.  Alongside the swashbucking sea-rovers were Joe Brown and his Bruvvers; The Tornados; Mike Preston; Lynne ("Coronation Street") Perrie.  Comedian Al Paige (with the usual corny jokes) was the compere.  The famous northern seaside resort of Blackpool was the place to be in the summer of '64, which was alive with pop shows in many places, some of which were well underway when Kidd & co arrived.

During the stay in Blackpool Johnny buys into a small club located near the railway station named the Picador.  Not the most salubrious of places it nevertheless becomes a popular meeting place for musicians.

June? "The Johnny Kidd Album Of Songs And Guitar Solos", a small booklet of group songs and melodies in sheet music form was published by Danver Music of Soho Street in London, who were linked to the George Cooper Organisation.  Most of Kidd's single's were released as sheet music, but this booklet was probably one of the most collectable.  Three songs were arranged by Johnny - "I'll Never Get Over You", "Then I Got Everything" and "What Shall We Do With The Drunken sailor".  The others were instrumentals written by Mick Green - "String Picnic", "Spanish Armada" and "Popeye". 

The instrumentals were played occasionally for sound run-throughs at gigs, and were not part of the Pirates act before Johnny took centre-stage.  The latter two at least were recorded, but it will take until 2008 before surfacing from the EMI vaults on a brand new 2-CD compilation.

July Still in Blackpool, Mick Green who is dis-satisfied with the way things are going - the group currently follow a poodle act - defects to Billy J. Kramers' backing group the Dakotas who were on their way to Hawaii and Australia.  Tornado guitarist Stuart Taylor helps out.  Kidd flies to London to seek a replacement and finds John Weider.  Returning to Blackpool by car, they are delayed by traffic in Preston and although arriving in the nick of time for their scheduled slot promoter Larry Parnes is unimpressed and gives the group four weeks notice.
JOHNNY KIDD & THE PIRATES #6 Johnny Kidd (vocals); John Weider (lead); Johnnie Spence (bass); Frank Farley (drums); Vic Cooper (keyboards).  (July 1964 - September 1965)
August An increasing amount of work comes Johnny's way from Surrey Promoter Bob Potter (of the famous Lakeside Club near Frimley Green) in his three venues - the Atlanta Ballroom in Woking, the Palais De Dance in Aldershot and his main venue, the Agincourt in Camberley where the Galleon backcloth hung for many years.  Photos of the band in action in front of the galleon backcloth are on The Pirates Website.

The photo shows incumbent axeman John Weider back row left.  On the right at the back is keyboardist Vic Cooper.  Front row;  Frank Farley, Johnny Kidd, Johnny Spence.

August 14th Johnny Burnette dies in a boating accident at Clear Lake, California.  His Rock 'n' Roll trio had been a big influence on the Pirates' appearance.

Despite that, Kidd is not deterred from buying a boat the following month, calling his new craft "Kidnap 1".  While this interest in boating may have seemed a good idea at the time it was short-lived however - when it sank.

October 24th "BBC Radio's "Saturday Club", edition 317.  Also appearing were - The Supremes, the Barron Knights, Skeeter Davis, the Merseybeats, the Fab Five and the Les Reed Combo.
October 30th RELEASE: "Whole Lotta Woman"/"Your Cheatin' Heart" (HMV POP 1353).  These tracks with a Country connection (although dealt the full Kidd punch) were culled from the doomed LP sessions.  The strongest cut was probably the flipside, although probably just TOO far out to be seriously considered as commercial material.  Both tracks demonstrate the gulf between last year's commercial song success and their more natural R'n'B leanings.

Read a review of the single here.

October 31st Johnny Kidd and Heinz - currently on a Dixie Cups & Hollies tour - fly to Brussels for an appearance on a Belgian TV special.
November 6th The Regal, Ammanford.  Support group were The Primitives.  Their guitarist Barry Hammett had modelled himself on Mick Green and the Primitives incorporated Kidd & co's material in their act.  He impressed enough to tour Hamburg as a temporary Pirate during January '65, John Weider at 17 being too young for the Reeperbahn clubs.
November 13th Floral Hall, Morecambe.  Support by local band the Milestones.  Admission 5/6 on the door, the whole evening lasting till 2am.
November 14th, Saturday to December 12th, Saturday



Brenda Lee tour, promoted by George Cooper.  Johnny Kidd & The Pirates played odd dates.  Support acts varied; Marty Wilde (backed by the Bobby Patrick Big Six); Manfred Mann; Bern Elliot; John Barry Seven (who also backed Brenda); Wayne Fontana; Heinz and the Wild Boys (another good group).  Compere was Bob Bain.

A whole host of television dates on all the regular pop shows are in place, notable additions to this normal itinerary are ATV's Jimmy Tarbuck Show, but most importantly the Royal command Performance which was recorded on November 2nd and was broadcast just six days later.

November 16th, Monday Johnny Kidd & The Pirates appear at the Odeon in chelmsford on the Brenda Lee tour.

Little Miss Dynamite was impressed with the UK groups, having a high regard for Marty Wilde, and Heinz's guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.  In particular, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates impressed her greatly, believing they would go down great in the US.  "My fondest memory of my British Tour was watching Johnny Kidd from the side of the stage.  He was great."

December 1st The City Hall, Sheffield -
2 performances of the Brenda Lee Show

Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
John Barry Seven (not "The")
The Beat Merchants
Carl Wayne & The Vikings
Geoff Moule and the Diggers
"Whole lot of Loving".  Tickets: 12'6 to 5'6

December 19th The California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
The Stilettos
Geoff Moule and the Diggers
"Whole lot of Loving". 
Admission: 7 shillings
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