"We used to
play at wedding receptions, fetes, birthday parties, any
occasion in fact. I would keep an eye on the Express &
Star for the announcements of forthcoming celebrations
and contact the people as quickly as possible. It became
quite common for people to book live bands for their
common gig was a dance at one of the pubs in the area
like the Bushbury Arms on Showell Circus or at a Youth
Club like St. Giles in Willenhall. That venue became one
of the most famous and I still have no idea how John
Squires used to be able to book so many top groups to
play for him and the club. He was one of the biggest
fans and champions of the 'N Betweens."
"I set up an
index system which included the names of the venues, the
social secretaries, licensees or the right people to
contact, the telephone numbers and the fee etc. It was
rather like an early form of data base. Many of the
bookings would come by word of mouth when a social
secretary or someone would come over to you at another
gig and tell you how desperate they were for a group on
a particular evening. Remember in those days all the
pubs and clubs wanted to have a group playing."
the group made one serious attempt to gain greater
recognition when it was arranged for them to go over to
Hollick & Taylor in Birmingham and make a demo. The demo
was sent off to one of the TV companies, probably ATV,
to be included in a national group competition called
Ready Steady Win. We never heard anything else about it.
I suppose that and Mick Brookes leaving the group
probably hastened the end of the Rockin' Rustlers."
"We were just
a very small part of a growing business and we needed an
organised system. It is not surprising that the bigger
the group the greater the need for a centralised system.
You can see why Astra and other local agencies succeeded
if they offered a group a means of getting bookings,
receiving fees etc. and leaving the group just to play
did not stay in the music business, although he did have
some involvement with another group, a little later,
called the Syndicate. They were a group of
apprentices from Stewart and Lloyd's and included
Percy Davies who was to become a member of both the
Bossmen and the Ebonies.
Perhaps the most
intriguing local example of a group manager was
Michael Crook who managed Giorgio & Marco's Men.
He became the parish priest at St. Mary and John's
Church on Snow Hill in Wolverhampton in 1963:
"I arrived in
February 1963 and was asked on my first Saturday morning
by a group of local teenagers from the parish, if I
would continue to run the flourishing Youth Club which
was based in Tempest Street, by the side of the Gaumont.
"The club had
its own group which included Marco Ucellini, Mike
O'Dowd, Peter Burns and Podge Birkett. They used
home-made instruments and amplifiers and were not too
bad at all, especially Marco who was a very talented
started to get bookings at other Catholic Youth Clubs
like St. Mary’s on Cannock Road and down at St. Peter
and Paul’. As I had an estate car at the time I started
to take them and their instruments to their gigs. I
suppose it was that involvement which ultimately led to
my becoming their manager."
who deserves a lot of credit for the later success of
the group was Bishop Cleary who remained very supportive
of the group and actually agreed to loan the money which
I used to supply them with their new instruments and
amplifiers. The amplifiers came from a friend of mine
who owned an electrical business in Sutton Coldfield,
the new instruments came from Yardley’s in Birmingham."
parish commitments meant that I could not always take
the group to bookings, so it was fortuitous that a later
member of the group, named Rex, was involved in the
motor trade and able to get hold of a diesel van which
became the group’s van. He drove it as well. Another
parishioner, who was a sign writer put the group’s name
on the side of the van."
as a priest worked to the advantage of the group in many
cases because I was able to get into some places via the
dog-collar which otherwise I would never have got into.
It also opened doors with certain performers like Gerry
and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, and Dusty Springfield."
"We never had
any links with Astra in Wolverhampton. We worked through
ADSEL in Birmingham (Arthur Douglas Smith Enterprises),
although I can't remember how the link came about. It
was through ADSEL that the boys got to do the Silver
Blades Ice Rinks quite often."
"When we were
featured in Midland Beat I remember I had to try and get
local companies to buy advertising space in the paper.
Once again my dog-collar was advantageous and I managed
to get King’s, His Casuals and D 'Anna’s to take space."