name is John Parkes ..... and it all started back in 1962 when I was 16;
I liked the sound of this English version of Elvis, on 'Oh Boy!' on the
television. Good looking, too - in fact, I thought he was better than Elvis
because he had this fabulous guitar sound backing him - his name was Cliff
Richard and the guitarist was Hank B. Marvin from 'The Drifters' (later
The Shadows). I wanted to play like that, but at that time I had never even
held a guitar, so I made do (like all budding guitarists) with a cricket
bat in front of mum's wardrobe mirror.
My first guitar was an old 'Levin' Spanish guitar - but only for a very short time as the neck was too wide to play what I wanted to play, a mistake made by most people buying their first guitar. I was then bought a 'Hofner Clubman' and a 'Selmer' 10watt amplifier. Now this was a real guitar, and I started to play seriously but it still did not sound the same as Hank! Why not ?? This needed looking into....
I bought all the records to play along with and I had them on auto play on the Dansette record player - you know, with the arm back - but I still could not make the same sort of sound that was on the recording. This was getting frustrating as I wanted this sound so badly. Then I found out that Hank's guitar was different from mine, and so was his amp. He even had an echo box - something I had not got.... This had to be put right!!
We called ourselves 'Steve Jackson and The Boys' (above) and our
manager was a guy called Ray Brooks (no, not that one!), who used to get
us bookings and also drive us and our gear all round the Doncaster area.
Some of the members' interests changed from groups (bands were known as
'groups' in those days) to girls and the band eventually parted company.
I began looking around for another group to play in just at the time that
'The Four Deltas' (right) were looking for a guitarist so
I auditioned, and was lucky enough to get the job as lead guitar.
This time we used an agent for bookings or gigs; there were two, Ernie Beattie Varieties and the Robin Eldridge Agency, who seemed to have the area tied up between them, and we played the whole clubland circuit and most of the dance halls from the North East to the South Midlands. One foggy Wednesday evening at the Doncaster Co-op Emporium (on the third floor which was a restaurant that was converted into a large dance hall every Wednesday night and known as 'Beat Night') we were booked to support a band from Liverpool.
Ernie Beattie did not think they would turn up due to the foggy weather but they did, and set their gear up on stage alongside ours. They were one of many British groups occasionally working abroad and had just returned from Hamburg in Germany - yes, it was The Beatles! - and a scruffy lot they were at that time too, and not particularly well-known outside of Liverpool.
During my time with The 4 Deltas (who comprised of Mick Ivinson - rhythm guitar, Jeff Clennell - bass guitar, Terry Belcher - drums, with myself on lead guitar) we played alongside such artists as The Bachelors - at The Lyric Hall, Dinnington near Rotherham, the only place for miles with electric stage curtains - our drummer Terry actually played on stage with The Bachelors as they had no drummer with them, only Connery, Deckland and John on double bass; Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders (at The De-Montfort Hall, Leicester); Johnny Kidd and The Pirates (at St James Street Baths, Doncaster); The Corvettes (recording artists from Manchester) at The Doncaster Co-op Emporium and Shane Fenton and The Fentones at Bentley Pavilion, Doncaster, a gig known as "Friday Night at The Piv".
At various venues we also appeared on the same bill with groups such as The Barron Knights, Denny and The Witchdoctors, Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages, Jimmy Crawford and The Ravens, Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee. Following my stint with The 4 Deltas I also played for a short period of time with a group called 'The Chantons'.
Then came the gap……
| It was in the
early 90s that some friends from work were talking about Sixties bands and
how they used to play 'back in the good old days" so, what do you know,
after a 30 year break from playing in public we decided to have another
go at forming a band.
This one was called 'Freeway' and consisted of John Parry on rhythm, Andy Stock on bass, Martyn Huskisson on drums, me on the lead guitar and two vocalists - a male singer called Malc Cousins and my wife, Ruth. This band played rock'n'roll, country, standards to Dire Straits and almost anything in between. John Parry was later replaced by Dave Thomson and eventually the band broke up due to personality clashes.
to 'Theme For Young Lovers' and
by The Apaches
Images and original text supplied by John Parkes
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