Great Britain

Singer shares memories of Bradford 60s music scene

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.

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