Fifty years on I am still playing the bass guitar in public, and like to think a lot better than back then.
I am currently with a popular local 50's/ 60's rock 'n' roll Band -
The Bognor Regis Concert Band. http://www.brconcertband.org.uk/
The Concert Band of course requires playing from notation – a skill I did not have in the 60's, but acquired in the 70's when I took lessons in reading for bass guitar, from a teacher based in Croydon, strangely enough.
'The AceTones' can be perused on the Facebook page via www.theacetones.bandcamp.com
Bass guitarist from 1961 to 1962.
In 1961 I adopted an alternative 'stage' surname of 'Tony Sharron'-
After leaving the City of London Freeman’s School in Ashtead Park Surrey in 1959/60 with minimum (poor) 'O' level exam results, it was there that I teamed up with a guy who played the guitar and was fan of the Everly Brothers (John Fibbens) and another guy (Phillip Green) formed the close harmony duo and I helped out on acoustic guitar. 'Get a job' was my parental instruction, which materialised in working for 2 retail food stores in my home town of Epsom in Surrey.
One of these jobs was at 'Tesco' where I trained as a 'provisions hand'.
My failure to achieve good exam results was probably due to the fact that I had started to learn the guitar, from the age of 16.
This interest in 'modern' music was totally contrary to my Father's wishes – I read the other day that whereas in 1960 this was the normal parental reaction, in today's world teenagers are actually encouraged by parents to become pop stars!
Suffice to say that Dad finally relented and one Christmas, my main present was a 'Selmer' arch-
After studying Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day' guitar tutor and mastering the basic chords in the popular keys, I was ready to embark on a musical career, and the Tesco day job had to go!!
Somewhere along the line I decided that the bass guitar was the instrument I had to have, initiated by the presence of 'Jet' Harris, Cliff's backing group bass player.
Jimmy Page Connection
Tony in an early pic with Jimmy
Jimmy Returns Years Later
Tony & Jimmy Page meet again
An early picture from the 60’s
My first bass guitar was a Dallas 'Tuxedo' solid body model – of which I still have some photos, and was the instrument that did me great service in local amateur 'groups' in the early days.
Eventually in the early '60's Dad bought me a Fender 'Precision' bass in sunburst finish, and I can sill recall going to 'Jennings' in London on the day I became a proud Fender player.
The price was around £130? as I recall, with hard case. Today you can buy the equivalent for 10 times that amount. In the promotional photo I am using that very instrument
Armed with the finest bass money could buy, I felt destined for a life in pop music and subsequently answered an advert in 'The Melody Maker' for an audition with Croydon based group 'Vern Rogers & The HiFi's'. Their bass player – Alan Reynolds, was leaving I understood -
This was an established name known to me -
Due to the paid engagements the group had lined up, the day job just had to go and I can remember that my local paper ran an article under the heading -
This was initiated by a staff colleague – John Cutler who had earlier ‘managed’ a local amateur pop group of which I was a member.
Because of my friendship with local guitarist Jimmy Page-
There followed a short period of, 'in at the deep end' rehearsals at the family home of Malcolm Wright the drummer, and then I played the first live gig – as I remember at 'Blair Hall'? In Bletchley, Bucks, (Milton Keynes) followed by a regular booking, courtesy of two London agents who worked on our behalf – along with many big names of the day, who we often supported on the same bill.
So picture the situation-
This was maybe a chance to meet and mix with established pop musicians – and maybe even my idols!
As things turned out, it had a less glamorous side of course, for example
a lot of travelling up and down the country in a basic Ford 'Thames' van with a non efficient heater, sleeping semi-
There were more memories than I can currently recall, but gigs when we backed or supported artists such as 'Sounds Incorporated', 'B. Bumble and The Stingers', and Rolf Harris made us feel one of the scene. Being screamed at by Elvis fans at a venue in Liverpool is a vibrant memory.
At the time Elvis was popular everywhere and the group that played as support to us, performed in the Elvis mode, and as such set the scene with the girls ready to scream at Vern and the group.
After about two years, The HiFi's split from Vern Rogers – not sure why we did, as 'Vern' was popular with the ladies and also had an excellent voice and stage presence. I think there was a rift developing with the group and him, these bad vibes caused the split at a certain point.
Personally I felt that we should have continued as we were, but the rest of the group felt that The HiFi's could progress more on their own.
I remember Vern had a good day job, and he was not in full agreement. He found it hard committing to the overall plans for the future, including rehearsals and learning new songs.
Once on our own we were offered a four week slot as a backing group as part of the Robert Stigwood stage show –' All Stars'63', where we backed Duffy Power, Don Spencer, Billie Boyle and Daily Mail reporter turned singer – Bick Ford. and also female singer Grazina Frame.
To this day I still have the vinyl live 'album' of the tour, which was released as 'One Night Stand'.
Personally I was not keen-
Very soon after that busy time, despite vowing to take a break, I was offered the position of bass player with a Sutton based group -
We were very busy and often played three or four times a week through an agent and most of the band also had day jobs to juggle. Did I say I wanted a simpler life!! That's rock'n'roll.
Tony Sharron (Busson)
The Ace Tones
26th May 2013 at Worthing Lido
Tony Sharron (Busson)
The last Presidents gig in 1965 at The Oldfields Hotel, Greenford, Middlesex.
Tony & Len Ford 2012 click to enlarge
Around 2008/2009 I was a member of 'Simply Shadows' Tribute Band. We were musically excellent and admired by Shadows 'anoraks',but not diverse to get enough gigs on the pub and Club scene.
After making an excellent private CD, personality issues caused the band to fold – but hey, it was all experience and a learning curve.
I have played in a lot of other musical combos, but bring to mind working with the late Colin Hindmarsh, a 1970's Australian piano playing pub entertainer. Colin had a large following and was a forerunner in the style of Chas and Dave – i.e piano, bass and drums. God bless you cobber.
As I approach 70 I can say that I intend to carry on playing as long as I am physically able to do so, and still obtain pleasure and personal satisfaction from being creative in music.