From the many gigs had with The Hi-
1957. Aged 13. A vivid memory I have at a rehearsal, involved an amplifier that Ian Duncombe had made, he was like that, very handy, he had to make his own guitar because he was a left hander, electric guitars were rare, expensive and getting hold of a lefty was unheard of back then. Anyhow the amp blew up and filled the room with thousands of waxy snow-
1957. The first gig I remember was at London University near Kings Cross station. Cramped onto a small stage Ian Duncombe accidently hit me on the forehead with his guitars machine heads, I had a very spotty face at the time and blood was all over the place, luckily a plaster sorted it.
1957. Remembering one of the early gigs at Roger Newell’s sisters school in Wallington, a young Jeff Beck gazed at us all night, he had started learning to play the guitar and was fascinated with the home made, left handed guitar of Ian Duncombe’s and the Cliff Gallup styled solos of Ian’s, Jeff we found out later, was also a Gene Vincent/Cliff Gallup fan as he still is today.
1957. Ian and I used to get together a lot, in his front room learning Gene Vincent songs amongst others, Cliff Gallup (his lead guitarist),ruled as far as we were concerned. We perfected a slow song, “Up a Lazy River” and persuaded singer Roger Newell to learn it also and then performed it at The Putney Ballroom (St Margaret’s Church Hall). Well that was a big mistake as the crowd started throwing money at us, they did not like it, but Ian saw it through to the end. When we finished he picked up all the monies and it paid for fish-
1959. 17th January. Cheam Public Baths on the same bill with Cliff Richard and The Drifters. “Move It” was number 1 in the charts and we learnt to play it, also the B side “Apron Strings”. We performed this on stage and The Drifters were behind the drawn curtains setting up. They were not amused, as they turned up their amps and made a racket, to register their disgust that a support band should play one of their songs. Anyway it did not result in trouble and they actually remarked how good we did it. What a sound they made on stage, it was fabulous. We were amazed, because Jet Harris had a 4 foot square speaker cabinet to put the bass through, it purred. The following day Len Ford & Malcolm Wright set about making one for us, we put 4 x 18inch speakers in ours. It not only improved our sound, it also doubled up as seat rest in the back of the van and stopped all the other gear moving forwards when braking.
1960,12th June. Ed Waller, owner of The Park Lane Ballroom, hired the MV Royal Daffodil for a cruise from Tower Bridge to Gravesend or was it Southend-
1961. We used to look forward to playing in Barnet (we played there at least 26 occasions). The small hall(name unknown) had a great sound, probably because the pub was a few doors down the road. Every visit we would play bar billiards and cribbage, challenging the elder local regulars, as well as having a good drink between sets.
Foolishly we had started leaving the gear stashed in the cloakroom, as we used to perform Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays. It made life a lot easier, but I will never forget that disbelief that someone would nick it and the sick feeling in my stomach. Luckily a guitar was borrowed from somewhere. The next day we had a gig in Maidstone, luckily I had some money saved and I borrowed the rest from Mum. I became the proud owner of a Les Paul Gibson Junior with twin pick-
1961/2. The Hi-
Fri;5th July 1963 Stockholm TV show
Mon;8th Gullspangs Pensionat
This was a hard tour as it covered 21 venues, which involved 2 venues per night and a TV show in Stockholm. Most of the gigs, if not all were performed in the open air. Sweden had a large amount of parks with bandstands or auditorium type venues. This was possible due to the fact that the summer days are very long and it hardly gets dark. We started each show covering The Beatles songs, “Please, Please me” and “From Me, To You”. This went down well with the crowds as I’m sure some of them thought we were The Beatles (if only).
The one with Len Ford & Brian Bennett below, is from a holiday at Butlins in Skegness, (we met Rory Storm & The Whispers, with Ringo Starr on drums). Len & Brian won the talent show heat and got a free return holiday for the finals, we did not win this. Croydon Advertiser press cutting
The Pigalle Club was Len Fords' last gig with The Hi-
He subsequently spent 6 months in the Hermitage Cottage Hospital, Upper Norwood. The Hi-
It took a further 6 months convalescing at home before Len was declared fit and recommended not to follow the musicians lifestyle and so joined the everyday work place.