GEOFF COWLER, who was at the heart of Bradford’s music scene in the 1960s, looks back on that golden era for local bands:
Watching 6-5 Special on a Saturday teatime was a rite of passage for all kids my age, so it followed that being in a band was something we all aspired to. I had a good singing voice so I thought ‘Go for it’.
I saw an ad for a singer in the T&A to front a band so I contacted them, auditioned and the rest as they say is history - Geoff and the Fairlanes were on the road.
Reading Derek Lister’s memories of Bradford bands of the Sixties in the T&A recently started me thinking what a shame it was that we didn’t have our own Brian Epstein. Who knows, Bradford could have been up there with Liverpool, Manchester etc.
As I remember you could see a live band here seven days a week. Some of the bookings were for seven nights running; Star and Garter in Leeds, the universities and many more venues playing until 1-2am, and don’t forget we had to be up again at 7-8am the morning after to go to work, but we loved what we did so it was never a problem.
The majority of bookings we had were in working men’s clubs, mostly Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was usually a noon and night, the noon session usually shared with a stripper - girls just earning a honest crust like we were.
All of us had to play second fiddle to the ‘star of the show’ - Bingo. A deadly hush would fall, with only the caller shouting “Two little ducks” etc, then someone would shout “Bingo” and woe betide if it was a member of the band who won...
We also used to get many pub bookings, where now and again a fight would break out - tables and chairs would go flying but the band kept on playing. Oh happy days. Of course we had the usual ‘hard cases’ - you had better be good or you won’t get out alive - but I have to say in the main audiences were very good. Transport to and from gigs could be a problem, there weren’t many bands with a van in the early Sixties so cars were the main transport and passengers would usually end up with a amp on their knees and a cymbal as a crash helmet. You wouldn’t get away with it today.
The majority of bands knew all the others on the circuit and were usually there to help if needed. I remember we once helped out Gerry and the Pacemakers whose kit had been delayed so they had to borrow ours - no problem.
We had many memorable nights but one that stands out was when we were on the same bill as Long John Baldry and his Blues Incorporated Band; little did we know that two of the members would go on to be legends of rock - Sir Rod Stewart and Sir Elton John - wow.
I don’t think I’ve done a shout out yet to the 60s bands I was lead singer for - Geoff and the Fairlanes and Geoff and the Prosecutors. All were great guys and I enjoyed every minute. Last but not least, I would like to say thanks to Dal Stevens (Derek Lister) for putting together his book When Bradford Rocked; a great launch party and a brilliant book.
If anyone is interested in the 1960s band scene it is a must buy. Let’s keep the Sixties rocking.