Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pete Waterman, The Coventry Days. R & B band, Top Soul DJ, Soul Hole, Radio One, Philly Sound.


Pete Waterman's Early R & B Bands

Pete Waterman's own and fuller story can be found in his autobiography I Wish I Was Me. What follows is from my recollections and interaction with Pete in Coventry, in the 1970's before he was well known.

c 1965, Pete Waterman took a leap in his musical development and played in a Coventry R & B band called The Pilgrims. Not much is known about this early band but soon after Pete joined Tomorrow's Kind.

In his book, I Wish I Was Me, Pete talks about the band -

By 1965 the whole Beatlemania phenomenon had gone barmy........for a while at least I was in a
I Wish I Was Me
band called Tomorrow's Kind who actually looked like they might have gone on to be famous. They didn't, of course, but we did pick up a bit of a following and we started gigging three or four nights a week while I was still holding down the day job at the GEC. That continued for a couple of years but I  eventually realised that I didn't have any genuine talent. I could fake it like buggery, but I was never going to be top of the charts.

One night in 1966 we were playing a gig and one of the other bands didn't turn up, so I dashed home, got my records and played them before the band came on. Now no one really did this at that time and the Landlord of the pub where we were playing said he really liked it. He offered me 10 bob to come back again and play records the following week. This wasn't some kind of complicated system, it was a record player with a microphone next to it going through the PA,but for 10 bob. I wasn't about to complain. So by a quirk of fate, I went from being the lead singer in a not very good band to being the only DJ in Coventry. ....I began to play records more than I played instruments, and because I got to know the right people, I started to get people asking me to play records.
"

Tomorrow's Kind c 1965 with  Pete Waterman -
Photos supplied by  Paul Hatt

Tomorrow's Kind were apparently the band R & B and Talma Motown and the line up was

Pete Waterman on guitar and vocals,
Keith Jackson on bass,
Duncan Hall on drums,
Richard Hollis on lead guitar ,
Paul Hatt on vocals.








Tomorrow's Kind - with Pete Waterman 1965

Tomorrow's Kind at the Navigation Inn, Coventry c 1965 / 66

It wasn't long before Pete Waterman became the top Soul DJ in Coventry, working with Friars Promotions, who had an arrangement with the M & B brewery to run gigs and discos in their Coventry pubs and Pete's Soul discos at Coventry's Locarno Ballroom were legendary, noting what kind of records got the punters on the dance. A huge Talma Motown, Northern Soul and black music fan, Pete began to make contacts with record pluggers  develop some of the skills and knowledge of the industry that would later inform his work with SAW in the 1980's.

Early Songwriting
I met Pete Waterman in 1970, working at the GEC (General Electric Company), Stoke Works, Coventry - Telecommunications dept. I knew him at first as my Shop Steward, and ironically jotted down my lyrical idea while he was in full flow at Union meetings! I was 19, with long hair and hippy boots and involved with the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club, booking the bands for the Friday night sessions. One day in June 1970, the boss was away, the supply of  Telephone Exchange Racks we had to inspect, had dried up for a while and I began  to write a new lyric called A Lotta rain is Fallin' . The rain was indeed bouncing off the glass roof  but the song was both a symbolic personal statement and a social statement at the same time and influenced partly by Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall and the newly released King Crimson album, especially the track called Epitaph. My friend came over "What are doing?" "Writing a song lyric" "You should have a talk to Pete Waterman". I had no idea that Pete was anything more than a fellow worker and my shop steward but next thing I knew, Pete was standing over me, looking at my lyric. He took the lyric away and said he would put some music to it. I was both pleased and annoyed, as I hadn't finished the lyric at that stage. Nonetheless, the next week he came over with mono cassette player. His voice sounded like a combination of the smooth tones of  Paul McCartney and rough R & B edge of Bob Dylan. He loved the line "There's a lotta rivers flowin' but the sea's learned how to fly" so much that he repeated that line in his version of the song. I finished the lyric and gave it to him. It was the beginning of an association with him lasting through the early 70's. He promised to play it at the walsgrave, where he ran a progressive Music night for Friars Promotions. Here's the lyric - 


A LOTTA RAIN IS FALLIN’

A lotta rain is fallin’ but the earth has moved aside.
There’s a lotta bullets flying but the victim’s found somewhere to hide.
There’s a lotta rivers flowin’ but the seas learned how to fly.
There’s a lotta clouds a wondering which rockets nicked the sky.
Cos the roads are moving fast but the cars are standing still
And so much is happening, yet nothin’s ever done
Oh we want to see the light but we’re dazzled by the sun.

(Bridge)
And some people’s only sunshine
Is their Cornflakes in the morning time
And the age of  'Instant Sunshine',
 in packets bright of bright display,
I know will be dawning, in some future day.

There’s a lotta tears a fallin’, and more are being cried.
There’s a lotta people trampled on as man takes another stride.
There’s a lotta smoke arising but the sky’s learned how to swim
There’s a lotta faces smiling but their hearts are feeling grim.
Cos a lotta tension’s forming and the bag’s about to burst
There’s gotta be an answer cos the world is getting worse.
A lotta help is needed to get that truck back on the road
Cos too many people are pullin’ too heavier a load.
(Bridge repeated)
Lyric copyright Trev Teasdel June / July 1970 Coventry.



Pete wrote the music using  7th chords in his version of the song but I don't have a copy of that version but I put my own chords to the lyric some years later, using minor chords and this is an acoustic version with Middlesbrough guitarist Steve Gillgallon playing lead.


A Lotta Rain is Fallin' - Trev Teasdel from Trev Teasdel on Vimeo.

Pete teamed me up with Bill Campbell of Coconut Mat to write a song for them. They were a 'heavy' band and Bill was the bass player. Black Sabbath were out about then and so I thought I'd write a bit of gritty lyric that I thought my be sung in the style of  Robert Plant to heavy power chords.

Coconut Mat 1970

Martin Barter (keyboards) Errol McGrath (Lead Singer / Guitarist) Terry Price Drummer / Billy Campbell (Bass).
This was the lyric - 




THE CITY FIRES

Amidst the conflagrations

Living substances survive.

Squandering their energies

In the furnaces they do thrive.
Making haste that’ll only guarantee
An early grave.

Bridge..
And the cities burn
And the cities burn
And the cities burn
You’re gonna die
You’re gonna slowly die
You’re gonna slowly die too young
In the city fires
In the city fires
In the city fires.

Preachers scream from the steeple
That we’re heading for hell
But tell me people if this place ain’t worse than hell.
Making waste; it’ll only guarantee an early grave.

Bridge..

The evil witch has cast her jinx
Beelzebub now rules.
Pandemonium’s the song he sings
As he swallows all you fools.
And he’s gonna drink your blood
As your bodies slowly burn

Bridge..2

As your bodies burn
As your bodies burn
As your bodies burn
You’re gonna die
You’re gonna slowly die
You’re gonna slowly die too young
In the city fires
In the city fires
In the city fires.

Copyright Trev Teasdel July 1970 


Bill's reaction to the lyrics was not favourable. "You can't have a pop hit with the word 'beelzebub in!!". I had no idea the band were considering a single. I now know that Bill was in the Eggy with Nigel and Roger Lomas who had been in the Sorrows, a hit Coventry band from c 1965, and so they did have the contacts. The Eggy had made a single called You're Still Mine/B: Hookey (Spark SRL1024 1969). The music was described by Broadgate Gnome as 'Freak Beat' and vocalist Bill Bates was formerly in The Boll Weevils.



Bill was a nice bloke and a good bass player but had a bit of a sense of  humour. He worked at the GEC too, and when he saw me, he'd rasp "Beez-leebub", stressing the Bee! I'd love to have see his face 5 years later when Queen had a No 1 hit with Bohemian Rhapsody! What word is in that song - Beelzebub! Nonetheless, Bohemian Rhapsody is a classic and they would have had to be really good to emulate that band.

Pete knew that I had started off doing the door for the Umbrella Club and was now putting on the bands on a Friday night and said he needed some one to do the door for the his progressive Music night at the Walsgrave. I started to go down every Tuesday from June 1970, after work, getting the early enough to help him and the bands set up. Sometimes I'd book the bands for the Umbrella, sometimes I'd suggest bands we had had that went down well. Pete would be there setting up the decks, going through the hits, working out the sequence. A few records I remember him playing in mid 1970, were In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, Yellow River by Christie,  Itchycoo  Park, Small Faces, Groovin with Mr Bloe, Mr Bloe, The Green Manalishi, Fleetwood Mac, American Woman, Guess Who, Spirit in the Sky, Norman Greenbaum, Psychedelic Shack, Temptations and most of the hits of the time. He have a two or three bands on each week. The venue was one of several run by Friars Promotion in Coventry who had a contract to provide entertainment in Coventry M & B pubs. Friars was started by Vince Holiday who headed Coventry's first Rock n Roll band, Vince Martin and the Vampires in the late 1950's. pete worked for Friars at several pubs and also at the Locarno, doing a Soul disco at the weekend.

Sometimes, we'd go walk about, return before 8pm when the doors opened. We'd go up to his house at Walsgrave or to his parents house, now on Pete Waterman Way, to collect equipment, or into Coventry precinct to pick something up from the electronics shop and some of  Pete's disco fans would wave to him. On one occasion we went up to the Folk Club at the Earlsdon Cottage, where Rod Felton was performing. Pete had introduced me to Rod the week before "as the only star that Coventry has produced". Rod was hailed by the local press as "A newcomer in the Bob Dylan Folk Tradition", he had toured the continent, played with Coventry born Beverley Kutner (later known as Beverly Martyn,), Beverley had recorded for Decca with the likes of  Jimmy Page on her R & B records. Rod had formed The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band with Guitar maker Rob Armstrong, and toured the country's folk clubs with their riotous jug band act. Pete had gone along to pick up his flute. If  I'd had an iPhone back then, there would be some YouTube footage here. Rod was sat out the back on the grass with friends and I watched Rod play one of his songs with Pete Waterman playing melodic flute. It was over too soon and headed back to the Walsgrave to get things started. That night we had a blues band on called Gypsy Lee, playing a startling version of  Led Zeppelin's The Lemon Song. Pete joined them on stage to sing a raucous version of  Rock Me Baby, giving the flute some wellie, Jethro Tull style.

Here are some of the tickets from the Walsgrave summer 1970.




Profiles of some of the bands Wandering John - Local and very popular progressive blues band in 1970, their reunion in 2010 is on YouTube, and features Neol Davies of  Selecter as guest, Asgard were a trio band in the style of  The Nice and Pink Floyd with their own material and were being nurtured by John Peel early 1970 who put them on at Mothers in Birmingham. The were written about in John Peel's column in Disc and Music Echo.

Pete Waterman's Soul Hole 1973
Tilly Rutherford
By 1974 both Pete and I had left the GEC and I was now running Hobo Magazine. In August 1973 I went in to I Am, a hippy boutique in Hales Street Coventry. They had placed a full page ad in Hobo and I went to see if they'd do it a 2nd time. As I walked in the was bouncing with soul music. "What's going down in the cellar?" "It's Pete Waterman, he's renting the basement for his new Soul Hole Shop. Why don;t you go down, he'll give you an ad for the magazine, he's trying to get it off the ground.". Obviously I already knew Pete and went down. The place was heavin' and I pushed my way the counter. Pete was selling Northern Soul imports and already doing a good trade. I have never seen a record shop before or since, so packed and full of such energy. Pete was hugely popular on the disco circuit in Coventry and veritable mover and shaker on the Coventry music scene. He ran the shop with his mate and fellow DJ, Tilly Rutherford, who later worked for Pete's PLW label.
Pete Waterman sticker 1973

Pete gave me one of the promotional smiley lapel stickers he was handing out and drafted a top 15 of records that were selling in his store (except that there were only 14!). Nonetheless it went in the magazine by way of an advert. By 1974, Pete had found a larger room upstairs above the new Coventry Virgin Records shop in the City Arcade.



In 1974, we reported in Hobo reported that "Dave Simmons, Radio One DJ on the Saturday Soul programme, dedicated last week's programme exclusively to the Philly Sound, thanks to the efforts of of our own Pete Waterman, who has just returned from the very place with a hoard of interviews and information about the Philly Sound. Pete was interviewed throughout the program by Dave and the interviews Pete himself did were broadcast.. Next issue, if Pete gets it together, we will have an article for Hobo on the Philly sound from the expert!" We didn't that second article but we did his review of a Three Degrees concert.

This is what Pete says about 1973 in his book p34 of  I Wish I Was Me published in 2000.
"It was 1973 and it was time for me to put the final bits of the jigsaw puzzle together. Time to stop sitting on the sidelines and start participating. I'd been so inspired by American music....through initial contacts, I had a standing invitation to go over to Motown and to Philadelphia International to meet Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Tom Bell. So I thought - this was the kind of arrogance that was motivating me at the time - that what I would do was make a radio show about r 7 b. Not the r & b that Mike Raven played, which was serious soul but a different side of it., pop, r&b, Motown, Three Degrees and Billy Paul...I bought myself a little tape recorder, booked myself a ticket and jumped on a plane. I'd decided to go to Philly rather than Motown because Philly seemed to be the coming thing. Motown, I'm sorry to say, seemed to be over....The trip to Philadelphia was going to be research and I had also considered writing a book about the mechanics of the r&b industry."

By 1974, Pete had found a larger room upstairs above the new Coventry Virgin Records shop in the City Arcade. Virgin Records was a sales point for Hobo Magazine and they also advertised in the magazine. Once again Pete Waterman obliged with an advert and offered to write a Soul article for the magazine. 

Virgin Records  Store in Coventry - Pete Waterman and Tilly Rutherford
ran the Soul Hole upstairs in 1974.



Pete's notes for an advert in Hobo Magazine.

This is the first article Pete Waterman wrote for hobo Magazine in 1974 - the second one on The Philly Sound didn't transpire. it may well be that Tilly wrote it down for him as he has said that he could read or write at that stage. 






The article transcribed -
PETE WATERMAN'S SOUL ARTICLE (1974) from HOBO - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine

As you know by now our small shop (The Soul Hole) has now moved to the top of  Virgin Records in the City Arcade. Our new shop will, we hope, bring more people into the faith. We had a good time at the shop in the I AM boutique but the stock was getting too big for our small shop. The move will not, we hope, change the service that we are so proud of. The new shop will give us more room to serve and talk. Also you can stand up! (The Soul Hole was originally in the cellar of the I AM boutique with a low ceiling!!)

THE THREE DEGREES
Anyway, down to business. As most of you know by now, I spent the 5th and 6th of March with the Three Degrees. Sheila, Fay and Valerie. On Monday the 5th I went to the Mayfair Hotel in London to see the girls do their own thing. The girls got on and did When Will I See You Again. The first thing that took our breath away was their see through dresses, but they are far from just good looking foxes. At dinner I sat with Peter Winfield (for all those who don't read sleeve notes) Peter is the cat who played keyboards for BLOODSTONE on both Natural High and their new album. For all the foxes and cats not into our faith, Pete also plays for COLIN BLUNSTONE, and writes for a National rock paper.

Pete is a soul freak, like myself and we both agreed their harmonies were the tightest we'd heard for some time. The voices were fantastic, Sheila takes the lead most of the time. The next in line was Dirty Old Man, this was fantastic, with the girls showing they can handle the audience with fun and firmness. Then they did "A Woman Needs Love" proving they can sing ballads as well as up tempo Nos. Their footwork was as good as any I've seen before, and if any in the audience weren't sold on that, the next was they're single Year of Decision. It had everybody on their feet shouting for more. But it was all over, Pete and the Colin Blunstone band went off to record the Old Grey Whistle Test, and I went to the girls bedroom to have a natter to them about their early years for all the people who knock our music- God knows why!

Just as a boost to our egos, David Bowie was there to pay homage to the three ladies of soul. It seems that Rock stars are getting back to their roots with Bowie telling me that he is soon to be recording with top black acts in the states and John Lennon saying Ann Pebbles I Can Feel the Rain  is the best record for two years.

New Sounds to Look Out For

The Ojays new single is a track off their latest LP (as are all the new Philly singles) and is called For the Love of Money. The Intruders - I’ll Always love My Mama (2 Pts)

Trammps new single is a track off the 1970 British Motown company, picking the slower track. USA Marvin Gaye scores with his controversial single You Sure Like to Ball taken from the Let’s Get it On album. A new single soaring up the American charts from the M.F.S.B. band on Philly International is called Tsop, taken from the TV series Soul Train.The end five bars feature the 3 Degrees.

LP of the month - too many really to pick one but look out for Blue Magic and import Out Here on my Own Lamont / Dozier. Superb LP’s. Next Billy Paul single The Whole Town’s Talkin’ .

Also check out - Rock me Baby - George McCrea / Help Yourself - Undisputed Truth / Dancing Machine - Jackson 5 / I Lied - Bunny Sigler / Mighty Mighty - Earth, Wind and Fire / Be Thankful For What You’ve Got - William Devaaughn / Chameleon - Herbie Hancock / Sagittarius - Eddie Kendicks / If You’re Ready - Staple Singers / Got To Get You Back - Sons of Robin Stone / Pepper Box - The Peppers

See ya soon. Keep the faith right on -

Pete Waterman (1974)

In 1974, a look at the Hobo Whatz On columns, Pete Waterman is DJing at The Tree Tops Club - Apollo on Monday nights / Pete Waterman's Soul Club on a Thursday night. Tiffanys (formerly Locarno), Baginton Oak - Soul Explosion, Mr Georges Nite Club.

The following are verious Coventry press cuttings from 1974 and below that two more recent articles on Pete Waterman by Pete Clemons for the Coventry Telegraph






Pete Waterman, John Bradbury and Pete Chambers putting up a Two Tone Plaque at Virgin records C oventry c 2007 - Photo John Coles I think.

Coventry Locarno where Pete Waterman was top soul DJ through the 60's and 70's

Pete Clemons article on Pete Waterman from Coventry Telegraph recent years, in two parts.


Pete Waterman's Childhood home in Coventry.



An earlier article on The Walsgrave with Pete Waterman - by Pete Clemons in the Coventry Telegraph.




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