Have you had a good Christmas David?
Um, well... are you like me and you can’t answer any
question with a straight yes or no?!
Well, I’m not a politician.
It’s not evasive just that the festive season seems to
have gone on forever.
What’s been really remarkable about this Christmas,
certainly for me and my wife as we discovered walking
through the snow on Christmas day; We looked at each
other and agreed it was the first white Christmas
we’ve ever shared together alone in a new house. We
moved here because we had to because of an idea we had
and then we found our house in Hoddesden had a water
leak as you know. It’s all in hand now and all the
ceilings are being ripped out and so on and it’s a
very sad place to go to. It’s much better for me to
stop here and let them get on with it.
Have they sorted out the insurance?
It’s been done but I did have to get on my knees in
tears to tell these people to hurry up. They wouldn’t
give me an answer and I had to extract one from them.
Is it a big insurance company?
No, not a huge one but I dare say this last cold snap
hasn’t done their accounts a great deal of favours. I
mean my estimated damage, David, is up to £50,000.
Wow. They don’t have to have too many of those before
it starts to hurt.
Yes, but that’s why you pay your insurance premium for
decades, isn't it? It’s accidental damage.
The snow and ice had a huge knock-on effect on so many
things – travel, business and so on.
Yes, only today it’s all official that the VAT’s
gone up. And people don’t want to have to pay the
government more money. Because, really, what happened
was that everybody was merrily getting on with their
lives and then we were told that the banks that we all
trust with our money had all been lending it recklessly
to a load of people that can’t pay it back. Now the
bottom has fallen out of the economy globally, but guess
who’s got to pay? We have.
Did you see Al Murray? He’s very astute behind that
Pub Landlord veneer – and he was saying that we paid
to save the banks, we’re paying the interest on the
money borrowed, we’re paying for the shortfall that
causes service cuts and we’ll pay again to get the
country out of the mess with increased taxes, bills and
charges. So we’re paying several times over.
Yes, the more you scrutinise it – not that having some
sort of chaotic anarchy is going to help, but you
realise that you are being done. We are all being done,
when you consider how much money is out there. It’s
like my wife – her fairs have gone up a pound a day.
When I commuted for years it was an inevitable increase
every year on the railways and the service never
No, that’s the thing.
We’re victims of our ancestors success. We were the
first to have a railway infrastructure and we’re
having to now live with the fact that it was built 150
years ago or more and it’s getting a bit creaky and
has lacked investment.
I think if you go to India you’ll find that their
service may not be more desirable but probably runs
We built that one as well – it’s probably falling
apart there too but they seem to be more accepting in
countries like that if things are a bit Heath Robinson
I think that’s why people turn to music and comedy and
art. They turn to any form of escapism really because
they’re disillusioned with the world. I looked at your
questions, and I was fascinated by why there’s such an
interest in sixties music. To me, it’s very broad and
also it’s very narrow. It’s very narrow in the sense
that it’s very strong – it’s like the pyramids
which have lasted because they’re strong and things
last if they’re good, I think. I can imagine a great
deal of rap music disappearing into the ether.
Let’s hope so!
It should be fronted with a big letter ‘C’.
I agree. It’s incredible isn’t it?
It’s infantile. And while there’s a great deal of
rhythm in popular music and popular culture and it’s
all considered very clever the way they bounce words
along and it all rhymes, it’s done in such a banal way
in my opinion. There’s no colour in it and it’s dull
and repetitive and doesn’t take you anywhere. Music
surely has to transport you and not keep you rooted.
Then again, I’ve got a whole bunch of younger friends
who love the medium of rap and even Den our bass player
– his son is a rap writer and he’s creative in the
process. When you talk to him you can see why they’re
coming from that point of view because they can’t do
anything else because they’re young. They appreciate
all the music of the ‘old people’ and the generation
gap has closed despite the fact that I can’t get on
with rap music. I don’t like it because it doesn’t
take me anywhere apart from round and round and round
listening to someone snarling and saying pretty much the
It is repetitive and also you see someone just posing. I
know we all pose when we’re young and we all try to
join – they’re big joiners, aren’t they, youth?
They have to belong to a cult or a sect or a group
or a gang or a club or a fashion. They need acceptance.
It’s all about sub-culture.
We came out of the world war and then suddenly
you’ve got all these war heroes coming home and
you’ve got that generation and then the baby boomer
period from the fifties through to the mid-sixties and
the advent of the teenager. Full employment and, of
course, everything the older generation didn’t take
for granted the new generation did and almost resented
them for it and of course out of all that comes all this
music and asking questions – the John Updike sort of
“Why? Why not?” Music was very much a part of that
process and it was very creative and very strong and
it’s still there.
The sixties had lots of styles and genres being created
at roughly the same time as well.
Yes, they were all together. You look at Presley doing
things to women – you had nothing and then all of a
sudden you had a white bloke behaving like a black bloke
grinding his groin into the stage. It’s not surprising
people going Doo Lally and there’s even footage of
women crying at Nazi rallies when Hitler was doing
speeches. It’s not really new that people get excited
about that sort of thing. His power was oratory and
Elvis Presley’s power was hybridising black culture in
a white boy.
These days, it seems as though the modern pop stars are
actually the comedians. Have you noticed how comedians
become really big for a while and then they go off the
boil a little bit. They do huge tours.
Yes, well comedians are doing stadiums now. I love
comedy and I’m fascinated by it but some comedians do
it for me – I love Lee Evans and my wife absolutely
I’m with your wife. It’s a difficult thing comedy
and why one thing works for one person and not another.
I kind of understand why people don’t like him –
Does she see him, like I do, as a poor man’s Norman
Wisdom? It’s predictable and derivative, although all
comedy and music as well is derivative.
Yes. His act hasn’t changed over ten years and it
can’t change because he’s stuck. I probably
couldn’t watch Lee Evans every five minutes and I
probably only watch his performances once every few
years. I sit and watch it ands he just tickles me. I
discovered Lee Evans back in ’91 I think at The Comedy
Store, not expecting much really and it said in Time Out
"An energetic and
frenetic performance by Lee Evans – don’t
miss it" and went to see it and came out almost in
raptures thinking “Wow, that was funny.” And not
realising until years later that, of course, it’s
Norman Wisdom isn’t it? You look at the stuff Wisdom
did at The Palladium and he was really a hard worker.
And I think that’s what, coming back to The Bootleg
Sixties Tour, it’s all about. As I say to a lot of
people when they say “You’re great.” I say “No,
the music’s great.” We are the postmen but you have
to pay a little care and attention if you want to get it
right. And we constantly try to do better but we can
always do better and better but in the end you’ve got
to sacrifice. I’ve seen some bands doing sixties
music and I don’t get it because, to me, there’s got
to be an element of rawness and excitement. And all the
people that I know who have seen The Beatles, The Stones
and The Who in the sixties. I was in a band with
ex-members of The Kinks for a few years in the 80s –
John Dalton the bass player, nicknamed Nobby who took
over from Peter Quaife for a while and the keyboard
player John Gosling who they called The Baptist – a big, big
guy. And the guitarist in the band who I didn’t take
much notice of at the time because I was a bit of a Punk
rocker, was Eddie Phillips of The Creation.
Wow, we interviewed Eddie quite a few years ago.
Eddie is just a gentleman, sweet and polite.
His wife Ruth and he have something that some friends of
mine have and that’s that they have been a couple for
so long they speak like each other! They use the same
phrases and they speak in similar rhythm and musicality.
She’s a lovely lady Ruth. We used to have a group
called The Bullettes and every now and again we had
various guests come along – The Argents and the bass
player... what was his name?
Yes, he used to come now and again so I was working with
The Zombies and The Creation and The Kinks, so that was
something I started to do after Punk and New Wave.
Can’t really get higher than that can you?
Well no. I learned so much – I learned to calm down
and to get behind the grove and as Eddie Phillips said
to me afterwards, he said “I appreciate you’ve
listened to and studied Keith Moon. Now go and study
Charlie Watts. There’s a good chap.” And I knew what
he meant. He’s always been lovely and we’ve had many
a great rock and roll night and brought the house down
and it was a great honour and privilege to work with
these guys. And John Dalton came to my wedding which was
What was the impact of the sixties and what is it's
The sixties had a huge generation of disillusioned kids
coming out of the Teddy Boys and going into the beat
generation and then The Beatles came along and
everything changed, didn’t it?
They’ve got a lot to be disillusioned with at the moment
and I like the fact that the students are revolting but
I’m not too keen on the way they’re doing it.
No, I’ve lost sympathy with their cause completely
because it’s one thing channelling your anger but I
felt anger in the seventies and nothing changes and
that’s why you have to look at governments and say
what has changed. Look at Barack Obama - what has changed
there as a result of
a black President? Nothing.
There was so much excitement and hope to start with him.
Yes, and it’s just the same. If they had a black, gay
President it wouldn’t change anything . The simple
matter is they’re all puppets and I think the world is
controlled by industrialists and by that kind of world
It’s market forces, isn’t it?
I think it is and it’s about territory and it’s
dangerous out there now. Never mind the cold war. You
can’t argue with someone sitting next to you with a
rucksack full of explosives saying “I don’t like you
lot. Bang!” What can you do?
We’re so international these days with all the
communications and Internet. That’s the other thing
the kids have got – so much technology compared to
what we had. We’d only one radio station that used to
fade in and out every thirty seconds. Now they can
access anything that ever existed at the touch of a
We were having dinner the other day, my cousins and
myself. They are slightly older than me and there were
about twenty of us sitting down having a bit of lunch on
Sunday. We were talking about religious education and
the fat lot of good it did for any of us because we all
hated it. We questioned its relevance and we all became
atheists. I’m somebody who supports Christopher
Dawkins? He talks so much sense. I love it when he
confronts a religious fanatic and just calmly reasons
with him logically as the fanatic’s arguments appear
more and more ridiculous and extreme.
Yes, Dawkins because he does make a lot of sense. It’s
a huge universe out there and we’re just a small part
of it and you think “What’s it all about?” I
remember my R.E. teacher writing JOY on the blackboard
and I said “What’s this all about?” and she said
“We’re going to discuss this very shortly Steve but
I want you to tell me what you think joy is when you
first wake up in the morning?” And I said “That’s
Tony Blackburn.” And I met Tony Blackburn and he was
so miserable! He went to a show of ours and he didn’t
even introduce himself to us and so we were gutted.
Having a bad day, was he?
I think he was having a bad day, bless him.
I remember he was in the Fairy Liquid ads in the 70s and
a young lady asks him to sign her bottle in the
supermarket. Well, I went along and saw him at a Radio
One charity football match he was playing at and asked
him to do the same on my Fairy Bottle and he told me
where to go. I thought it was hilarious. I was a cheeky
teenager. So I had a similar experience to you. Maybe he
was having another bad day.
I said to the teacher “What does JOY stand for? “
and she said “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself
last.” And I thought “That’s not the way I’d
line it up, with me it would be YOJ.
Good for you. I was dragged up a Catholic until the age
of fifteen – I didn’t witness any abuse or anything,
but I saw so much hypocrisy and blame and guilt. And
unfairness. I went to Latin America and the poor
villagers were living in shacks with tin roofs but the
cemetery had huge marble and gold memorials and the
church was overly ornate. The dead were better looked
after than the living!
Science provides proof and I like proof. When I tap a
piece of glass, although it’s full of molecules and
atoms I can tap it - it’s real. The reason we all
believe the world is round is because originally we were
told it was round, but we didn’t know it was round
until Apollo 8 took those photos in deep space and
looked back at the earth.
Lovell and Anders and Borman. Then you look at
Brian Cox’s programme just on over Christmas – The
Wonders Of The Solar System and wow, it’s just
incredible. And one thing I never got a straight answer
to from our R.E. teacher was - if Jesus can heal a blind
person then why doesn’t he heal blindness? Why stop
Because people have to have a cross to bear, they will
Yes, we were created sick and commanded by this power.
We were also created with original sin which I always
thought was rather unfair and unforgiving.
No, it isn’t fair – we didn’t ask to be born and
we were born with failings. Out of this super failure
comes music and as we just agreed upon, the current
music is electronic rap – dull, dull, dull music and
our generation just hit a wall with that. That’s why people say
“There’s a Bootleg Sixties Tour. Let’s go and see
that. Let’s have a bit of fun and some good music.”
And that’s hopefully what we put across David.
Can you give us an idea of your play list?
Well, this time round we’re doing more medleys.
what we were concerned about was that we would spend
five or six minutes doing
a song or two when if we did some good medleys
then we could get in a lot more artists. Generally it
kicks off with The Beatles. We have now included Presley
because people complained “How can you have a sixties
show without him?” So there will be some Presley in
there this time. We are going to have a nice little
touch with Elvis Presley and I won’t say anything
more. He’s going to be part of the medley, but he’s
actually going to be there and it will be a weird and
ghostly experience. We’ll be bringing Elvis to every
theatre that we do on the tour and we’ve got about 35
I Know you’ve got The Hollies, The Kinks, The Animals,
The Stones, The Manfreds, The Who.
Yes, all the big guns. And a lot of the other bands as
well that you don’t immediately go “Oh!” to.
We’ve got The Fortunes medley where we have The
Fortunes, The Nashville Teens, The Zombies and The
Yardbirds. There are a few bands that we decided not to
put in like The Applejacks or there’s a Scottish band
called The Poets – I love them. Or The Mighty
Avengers. I think the song was a Jagger/Richards
composition called So Much In Love and it came out on
Decca. The Mighty Avengers do such a great version of
this song but it sounds like it could be The La’s and
Lee Mavers singing it. There was another band –
they did a song that was only one minute and 57 seconds
and they were called Just Four Men and the song was
called Things Will Never Be The Same – a great little
beat combo recorded at Abbey Road, allegedly, for
Parlophone. They went on to become Wimple Winch. Their
lead singer had a Greek name.
I wonder if that might have been anything to do with
Aphrodite’s Child? That band included Demis Roussos.
They had a hit with Rain And Tears and then split and
Demis had his big career in the seventies.
I don’t know. I never thought about that. A lot of
these sixties bands did all that stuff before seventies
Yes, most of the people who we think of as seventies
stars did their apprenticeships in the sixties. David
Jones, Reg Dwight, Ambrose Slade, Paul Gadd, Marc Feld
–all trying to do stuff but they didn’t hit until
the early seventies. I interviewed Kiki Dee recently and
I really had no idea of what she’d done in the
sixties. But Fontana are releasing all of her sixties
catalogue this year and I’m really looking forward to
that. I would really recommend listening to that if you
haven’t – there’s a few performances on Youtube
and there’s some fantastic stuff there.
I will, I’ll just dive in.
There’s a clip from a film she was in with The
Small Faces and she does a track called Small Town.
She also does a version of Tammi Lynn’s I’m
Gonna Run Away From You called Why Don’t I Run Away
From You. Because she was signed to Tamla, of course.
There’s some great stuff on that album they’re going
to release and I’m really looking forward to it.
She’s touring as well David. I think she played at The
Hertford Corn Exchange.
Yes, well she lives round that way these days.
Oh wow, I didn’t know she was around here. We should
get in touch with her.
We should ask her to come and see one of the shows.
Peter Noone has already expressed an interest in seeing
one of the shows. He’s great, because when we did this
TV show with him last year it was after doing a private
party for Nigel Lythgoe. And he was at that and Lulu was
there – she came and sang with us and Olivia Newton
John came along and they both did backing vocals.
That must have been a great gig.
That was nothing. At Lulu’s party that we did in 2008
Elton had asked us if we’d do Lulu’s party – he
hosted it and David Furnish. Lulu came up and sang Shout
with us but before that Elton and Lulu and Kiki Dee came
up and sang with us doing backing vocals. Now we’re
just thinking “This is nuts!” But all we’re doing
is playing people’s favourite music. So then when we
saw Lulu again... (Laughs) – it’s terrible
name-dropping this, isn’t it? At Nigel Lythgoe’s
party Peter Noone was there and then he met us on this
TV programme – he said “I can’t f***ing believe
it, you guys were in Vegas. I was going to get up on
stage with Lulu but I had no chance after what you
did.” So he sang along with us on this TV show along
with Robin Gibb and he did I’m Into Something Good. And
then Robin Gibb was compromised into doing a bit of
Massachusetts with us!
(Laughs) I like some of The Bee Gees early stuff that
they did as Spicks and Specks. There’s also some
strange stuff – there’s a very homo-erotic lyric in
one of their songs (Steve laughs) I don’t know if
you’ve heard it.
Yes, I’ve heard of this.
And if you look at the lyrics they are saying that
he’s just has an argument with his girlfriend but the
coalman, who’s a ‘whole man’, makes him feel
better. The lyrics are quite bizarre. You’ve got to
listen to that Steve. It’s very funny. I thought
“Did they really say that?” It’s on Spotify.
I’m not too sure about Spotify in terms of the songs
being paid for, nor is my wife.
It’s fine. You can register for free and so long as
you’re prepared to listen to the occasional ad for
British Gas, you can play tracks for free. To get the
premium service you have to pay a few quid a month and
no ads. They make their money from the advertising and
the subscriptions and, don’t worry, they do pay the
royalties for the tunes being played. You can’t
download tunes – only play them on the Spotify site.
I see. Well, we have got some Bee Gees on the set. In
fact, if you kept telling me names I’d say “Yes, got
them, got them.”
The Honeycombs? Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours? The
Now you’re going. What was that track by Billy Nichol?
London Social Degree. That was another track I fancied
doing and some of The Creation’s stuff as well. I
think the good news about our show is that we could do a
show that was full of Pinkerton’s and that kind of
stuff. I was winding Den up at rehearsals and said “I
think we should be doing Simon Says.” And he said
“Why?” He’s such a purist and he could tell you a
lot more than I ever could about sixties music. You’d
have a lot more fun at dissecting stuff because I am, at
the end of the day, just the dull boring drummer at the
back who makes a big crashing noise at the end.
No. I don’t know what it is about drummers –
they’re always doing this and it annoys me. Even
Ginger Baker, I spoke to him as you know.
Tried to speak to him.
I’ll invoke the fifth amendment on that. But when I
asked him what he would say to someone who was thinking
about being a drummer and he said “Get a different
instrument.” He said get a flute. You have to lug
upstairs, you never get a chance to get to the bar
because you’re either setting them up or packing them
What you do is get a roadie.
I suppose what he’s saying is that in the early days
you can’t do that.
No, I had twenty five years of humping my drums around
but nobody made me do it.
But this thing about not being a musician if you’re a
drummer just ain’t true- you have to put in just as
much work to do it well as any other instrument.
Imagine The Beatles without Ringo. Imagine The Who
without Keith Moon – well you can, of course, because he
went and they tried a few drummers – Zach Starkey’s
very good. And one of the drummers I’m pleased to say
I speak to on a regular basis is Chris Sharrok who is
now with BDI because Oasis have split up. He’s just
recorded a new album with the band and it’s basically
Oasis without Noel Gallagher. So the music’s all new
and it’s all brand new recording. So he’s very
excited about that and, of course, he’s a great sixties
fan Chris Sharrok and he’s an enormous authority on it.
I sit there rather embarrassed when he tells me
about this track and that track and I say “Er, really?”
Because he’s just that little bit younger than me –
not much I should add – about three or four years. He played with The La’s playing the drums on There She
Goes, with Robbie Williams and The Lightning Seeds, with
World Party and he’s got great credentials. He’s
been in Oasis and now he’s in BDI so he knows his
sixties stuff. He’s a big fan of The Overtures and
he came to see the show in August at The Liverpool Philharmonic.
We had 2,200 in there and I’m glad he saw the show
because it went very well and we got rather drunk at the
end of it. It’s very nice to have someone who, as far
as I can see, has made it literally to
the top and who can come to see us and say ”Do you
know what? This is bloody good.” I said “What was
your favourite song?” and he said “Traffic’s Hole
In My Shoe.” We do a lot of visuals with that.
Do you do any Spencer Davis material?
We could double, quadruple the number of bands we fit
into the show. We’ve got some Spencer Davis stuff –
we did Somebody Help Me but there’s not a lot
happening with that so we stick with the dynamic Keep On
Running. But I think as time goes on with our sixties
show and as it progresses – this is our second major
outing. We did a small outing in the summer of three or
four dates and included The Philharmonic in Liverpool
but the last tour was forty dates and this one’s over
thirty five and we’re bankrolling it all. It’s quite
a risky business when you’re hoping people are going
to part with their money and go out and sit in a
theatre. And VAT’s just gone up.
Well, many thanks Steve. If I need to get any more information from
you can I email you?
It’s always nice talking to you David and I appreciate
it. You’ve got my landline so if you ever want to
catch up on anything just give me a ring. My typing is
so slow and I’m so rubbish at it – whoever made me
the band manager needs his head tested!
They know how hard a job it is. Do you remember Bobby
Yes I do.
He passed away recently but he was also down in
Hertford. I liked Bobby - though he could be stroppy he
had a big heart .
Yes, I went round to his flat one day and had lunch. He
put out all these fondant cakes.
He was very hospitable wasn’t he? I spent a couple of
afternoons there watching his old cine films from the
sixties with session players like some youngster called
Jimmy Page on them and talking about his old days as a
session drummer. Did
you meet his wife?
No. He played on The Kinks You Really Got Me, didn't he?
He played on nearly everything at that time really. And
in the nineties and early 2000’s, Bobby used to do a
series of gigs as The Bobby Graham Experience and he
toured around the schools teaching the kids about the
fifties and sixties music.
A prolific session player.
Yes, over 15,000 recordings. He used to produce and
manage as well. I can remember he used to get a lot of
aggro from the musicians in the band, not turning up on
time, not happy with their share of the fee compared to
his, not wanting to travel too far and so on. It was
very stressful for him with all that nonsense going on,
because they didn’t arrange the gigs or make sure that
everybody got paid.
If anyone says “You’ve got it easy.” I say
“I’ll tell you what, go out there for twenty five
years humping drums upstairs and keep the smile on your
face.” They couldn’t manage to do it. (Digger
laughs) But we’ve had a wonderful thing happen to us and
I’m just eternally grateful for the good people like
yourself and Elton John who support the band and
champion the band and actually go out and talk about us.
Because it’s a hard, hard business to get anywhere.
People shouldn’t differentiate between somebody like
Elton and somebody who is doing a tribute or is working
as a jobbing musician like you guys. They’re the same thing.
I mentioned you to Noel and Liam and they’re
fascinated – they saw a lot of the adverts in Mojo and
they said “Hats off to them.” Because I don’t
think there are many bands like us about that are out
there saying “Tell you what, we’re gonna do a
theatre show now.” We’re learning such a lot because
our agent Alan Field, who looks after The Searchers –
he’s been sorting out a great chunk of this tour and
putting it together. And Alan said “You’ll learn so
much from the theatres that you couldn’t possibly
learn from doing private functions." And he’s absolutely
right. Everything that we take from a theatre, David, we
can take to a private function and all our shows are
better now because of the theatre experience. I love
it because it’s controlled. You know what’s
happening every night, you go into a dressing room and
hang your clothes up and put your bits and pieces out
and you go out and do the show and the psychology’s
right. Because everyone’s paid money to come and see
you. Whilst at first base it’s terrifying, at second
base it’s not because the people are there because
they want to be there.
Some of the other drummers I’ve spoken to were very
positive like you – Bobby Elliott was wonderful as was Jim
McCarty – both with permanent grins on their faces and
love what they’re doing and passionate about it. Not
cynical and jaded at all. It can happen!
I’m gutted I didn’t meet Bobby because The Hollies
did this German TV show with us and they did He Ain’t
Tell him you'd like to meet and talk. He’ll go out of his way to talk to you.
Well I should have done really. I’m a bit shy with
things like that.
Don’t be. He’ll be fine. He’ll be happy to talk to
An amazing drummer – when you look at his stuff –
we’ve done about half a dozen Hollies songs but
they’re so hard. They’re harder to do than The Beach
I’ve tried but I can’t get close. I should have
practised several hours a day as a kid like they did.
I’m with you then. We should go out for a beer and cry
in our beer together.
We’ll do that.
If you need to speak to me about anything else just tell
me to get on my landline and then we’ll have a waffle.
This time next week I shall be in New Orleans – I’m
on holiday with a whole bunch of guys and in fact my
best mate, my best man wants to go on a swamp cruise –
he told me this morning and I said “No thank you,
I’ll be at the bar. Knowing my luck we’ll capsize
the canoe and be scoffed by gators.”
I wonder how much it’s recovered there from the floods
– what is it,
four years now?
I’ll let you know.
Have a good time there Steve and thanks again.
Will do, thanks and it was a pleasure.