Youth Centre Band Contest 1964

Canvey News; The Premiers are Top of the Pops.

In the early 60’s c1963/64 there were at least three Canvey bands doing regular gigs at the Youth Centre at Furtherwick Park School; the Roamers, our band the ‘Premiers‘ (me on vocals, my brother Chris on drums/vocals, Ian Fullicck, lead guitar, Ian Thompson, bass and the late Dave Newitt, rythm) also I think the ‘Essex Five’ were on the scene too.

The Premiers on stage at the contest

In 1964 a big Pop Group contest was organised, presumably by Canvey Warden Rodney Vinall, between bands from Rochford, Hockley and Canvey Youth Centres. The contestants numbered app 8/9 bands including the aforementioned Canvey outfits and names remembered from the ‘mainland’; Tim Gentle and the Gentlemen, The Rivals, Jokers Wild, and Ian and the Dimensions.

The Premiers won, probably by default as we were the last band on and a Canvey band to boot! The local support was overwhelming as the majority of the audience ran towards the stage and started screaming before we even played a note. However we had the benefit of two major prizes, again through the good offices of Mr Vinall.

  1.  A non fee-paying Sunday afternoon gig at the’ 2 i’s Coffee Bar’ in Soho.
  2. The opportunity to make a 45 record of a self-penned original number.

The ‘2 i’s’ gig generated three supporting band jobs for top bands of the time; Tony Rivers and the Castaways at the Whitehall, East Grinstead, the Nashville Teens at Haverhill Town and Lulu and the Luvvers at Clacton Town Hall. The recording was made at Curly Claytons studio in Highbury N.London. (Google up Curly he was an ‘old school’ jazz guitarist whose fame includes producing the first demo by the fledgling Rolling Stones in 1962).

The record N.B. Stamp for payment of royalties to Chuck Berry for B-side, ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ Good luck Chuck, I hope you spent it wisely!

Our effort on his Silver Phoenix label was entitled ‘Tears, Tears’ written by Chris Stevens and we managed to self-finance and sell 500 copies. Nevertheless I think we can claim that we were the first Canvey band to cut vinyl (Thanks to Mr Vinall) Even Force Five didn’t release ‘Don’t make my baby blue’ or ‘Shaking Postman’ till 1965.

Shortly after making the record the Premiers were joined by ex Whirlwinds/Force Five bass player and pianist Fred Ford. After a stint bashing pub pianos (apart from his classical background from the age of five his great mentor was ‘Dave’ at the Monico) he had acquired an electric keyboard and very much improved the band’s sound and musical abilities.

Click on the link below to hear a copy of the recording.

Sadly due to amicable musical differences the Premiers dissolved around the time of the ‘Lulu’ gig and the guitarists were joined by a new drummer, singer and sax player to become ‘Saxe Blue’.

Guess what? After nearly 50 years and several re-incarnations Fred, Chris and myself are still playing in a band together.

Comments about this page

  • As a foot-note it’s worth mentioning the aforementioned Roamers were, John Wilkinson(Wilko), lead guitar, his brother on rythm, John Martin (Big Figure) on drums and Terry Halsam on bass, 50% of the future Doctor Feelgood. I am also convinced that the little girl peeping through the curtains in the main photo is Irene, then John Wilkinson’s girlfriend.

    By Graham Stevens (18/04/2012)
  • I remember a band called the Noughts and Crosses who also played a few gigs at the youth centre around this time. Tony Dubridge was the lead singer and John Bynorth played I think bass. Was someone called Tony on the drums? John never returned my copy of ‘Don’t make my baby blue’.

    By Ann Henriques (03/03/2013)
  • The Roamers, more accurately were: John (Wilko) Wilkinson, Terry Hounsom (bass), Ian Southey (rhythm) and John Martin (The Big Figure), drums. Wilko and I (his brother) only played together in our busking band , the North Avenue Jug Band.

    By Malcolm Wilkinson (18/10/2013)
  • Further to the above: It was the North Avenue Jug Band who were playing when they were spotted and engaged in conversation by three younger chaps who were: Lee Collinson (Lee Brilleaux), John Sparkes (Sparko) and Chris White (future manager) of Dr. Feelgood. That band formed about four years later, but that was the first meeting in The Casino Ballroom.

    By Malcolm Wilkinson (19/10/2013)
  • I had this record. My Dad bought it for me one Sunday when the Premiers were playing live outside the Lobster Smack and selling their records 🙂 Most every sunday lunchtime in the summer one of the local groups would play outside the Lobster Smack it was always packed and strangely always sunny !!

    By Christine Campbell (26/10/2013)
  • Hi Christine, Have you still got it? A couple of weeks ago a record collector in Barnsley put one on e-bay at a starting bid of £49.99, unfortunately no takers, even so they must be worth a current price of around £40. I think your Dad must have paid about 5/- cos my brother Chris and I cannot remember the exact price they were sold at (a standard 45 rpm record was 6 shillings and 8pence then). History repeated itself in August this year when Chris and myself were members of a band which played at the charity music event outside the Lobster Smack.

    By Graham Stevens (28/10/2013)
  • Hi Malcolm, good to see you’re still keeping up with your Canvey roots. I appeared on the same bill as you and John (as he was then) in a Command performance at Canvey Secondary School – it must have been 1965, as I was in my final year at primary school, singing with my class. Must have been one of your first performances! I still have a newspaper photo somewhere.

    By Linda Naylor (Van Schagen) (16/03/2014)
  • What days , I am the John Martin of the (Roamers and Dr feelgood) was there in flood time and started playing with Wilko 1963 he then in 1970 asked me to join Dr Feelgood. I now live in France and welcome any interest

    By john martin aka the big figure (10/02/2015)
  • In 1962 my friend at the time was Christine Cutbush her boyfriend was Ian Fullick. I remember going with the band to a teachers party in woods or a garden and a few other gigs in a white van. My name then was Janet Pearson I lived in Namur road Canvey. Chris Stevens had a three wheeler car and was a prefect at school.

    By Janet Lucas (01/11/2015)
  • Hi Janet, Yeah, this a very appropriate time to remember that party cos it was a Halloween party held by the teachers from Furtherwick Park in the woods at a place called ( I think) Margaretting Tye nr Chelmsford. It was quite an elaborate affair with a bonfire and teachers and their friends in very convincing ‘get up’ as witches, wherewolves, hobgoblins etc. Electricity must have been supplied from somewhere close-by as the band DID START PLAYING, however within a very short time things developed into cacophony of jangled chords. The apparent reason for this appeared to that the hooch being served was ‘ Snakebite’, a mixture of cider and lager which had a rapid and startling effect on our line-up of 15/16 yr old guitarists who soon disconnected their guitars and wandered off giggling into the woods. Hey Ho those were the days !!

    By Graham Stevens (04/11/2015)
  • My friend Christine Cutbush was going out with Ian Fullick in the early 60’s,  I remember going with The Premiers to a few gigs, one a teachers party in his garden And remember falling out of your white van.  Did Chris Stephens have a three wheeler car when still at school? Do you know what happened to Ian Fullick And Christine. I remember your record very well. Jan

    By Janet Lucas (nee Pearson) (20/01/2016)
  • Hi! Graham, that’s probably why I fell out of the van.Do you know what happened to Ian and Christine?How are you and Chris?

    best wishes Jan

    By Janet Lucas (12/03/2016)
  • Hi, Thanks to the publication of this page by the Archive I was recently contacted by Mark Punter of BBC Radio Essex with an invitation to go to Chelmsford to record a chat about the band and the record to be included in his Vintage Vinyl show. So on Sunday June 26th my brother Chris and I spent a very pleasant hour talking to Mark at the BBC Essex studios. We have just heard that the edited result will be aired at 1.30 pm this Sunday on the Mark Punter Vintage Vinyl Show. PS. I also believe that due to info gathered from the Archive he was also able to contact Pete Gosling(rythm guitar Force Five) and an interview with him was broadcast a few weeks back. I guess all this will all be available on BBC i Player. Regards Graham.

    By Graham Stevens (15/07/2016)
  • Ann, I think I’ve still got that copy of Don’t make my Baby Blue by Force Five! Are you on Facebook?

    By john Bynorth (07/12/2016)
  • Hi Graham – I’m helping with a bit of research work with Andy MvAvoy who’s writing a book on Southend mods in the ’60. He somehow got in touch with me as I was in a ’60 group called ‘The Right Attitude’ – a soul band from Southend. Ian Thompson was on bass when I joined but not for very long. I knew your brother Chris quite well after he opened the music store in Southend. He actually sold my ‘Gretsch Tennessean’ – 75 quid!! A good price at the time. Please send Chris my very best regards. Tony Wilson

    By Tony Wilson (15/07/2021)
  • Hi Tony, spoke to Chris yesterday at band practise he remembered you and somehow has become involved in this research by Andy McAvoy as John Bobin contacted him about it. From my own point of view it was interesting to hear re Ian cos all I knew was that the Premiers had fused into a soul band called Sax Blue which must have then become The Right Attitude. I was just involved in the Premiers at the time and being 5 yrs older, unlike, brother Chris I didn’t have any contact with the music scene for 20yrs. Will be interested to see how this develops. G

    By Graham (19/07/2021)
  • What great times. I was and am still a drummer on Canvey. I first started in early 60s with the” Silver Buttons”,Mick Goodhall,Melv Vickers,Pete Simpson and Nicky Arthurs, managed by Petes brother. Always present was Tony Maguire roadie and friend to the band. Then we morphed into “IT” a fourpiece mod band with Micky Becker on vocals. We became bigger and moved into soul becoming “The Central Heating Big Band” now featuring a horn section ,Micky Booth trumpet,Melv Vickers now on sax,Paul Jaggers on bone, Crunch,lead guitar and bass a big bloke whos name eludes me. We also had the brilliant keybord player John Plunkett. His Dad had the Haystack pub. Frank Willis also played sax with us as did Digby Fairweather who often guested. Yes, we played at the Lobster Smack,the Studio in Westcliff, Cliffs pavillion supporting. Great times. If anyones interested the current band Im in “MIDKNIGHT BLUESBAND” are appearing at Canveys Starr Sports bar on sat 26th Feb 2022. Would love to see you all.

    By Spud Edwards (08/02/2022)
  • Hi Spud,
    I think the big bloke who played bass was Roger Brown who later was with brother Chris in Chemise then for a long time played bass in Chris’s band Triangle. Then a few years ago when our bass player Buzz passed away Chris got him to join our’ old boys band Free Spirit (exception was lady singer Kay). Unfortunately Big Roger was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during last summer and passed away just before Christmas. He often spoke of his time with the Central Heating Band and actually gave me a cd of one of their sessions.
    I think you were a good mate of my youngest brother Trevor
    If I can get some Transport I will try to get to your gig at the Starr.

    By Graham (09/02/2022)
  • Hi Graham
    Back in the 70’s I did a short spell at weekends working upstairs at Chris Stevens Music Centre in Westcliff, repairing amplifiers, along with Barry Meade. I think Barry was building amplifiers, and I think he went on to set up Centre Electronics in Rayleigh. Barry and I were both working at Southend Tech as Lab Technicians, but I lost touch when I left in 1970. Any idea about what happened to Barry etc. Me and my mate Marc (the Lad) Valade, often talk about those good old days and wonder what he went on to do. Any ideas?

    By Alan Rivers (04/03/2023)
  • Hi Alan
    I will make Chris aware of your comment. He might be able to help and give me some info or even better might make a comment himself. So keep an eye on this page,!!

    By Graham Stevens (05/03/2023)
  • Hi Alan
    Barry Mead now lives on the south coast Rye in Sussex
    I think, although I know he also now does a fair amount of international travel and he regularly posts on my FB page: Chris M C Stevens..there is plenty of stuff on there relating to the Music Shop from other ‘Southend music people’ who you also know or remember and I’m sure we can get you back in touch with Barry email me
    Good to hear from anyone from the glorious days of the 70’s Southend Music scene Chris Stevens

    By Chris Stevens (17/03/2023)
  • Hi Chris
    I was in my early twenties back in those Music Shop days, and often it’s not until we get much older, do we look back and realise how the things we did and the experiences we had, shaped what we went on to do with the rest of our lives! I still harp back to the 60’s and 70’s “proper” music, with Guitars, Bass and Drums, mainly thanks to my exposure to the local music scene way back then. I will look at you FB page and catch up with what been going on.

    By Alan Rivers (19/03/2023)

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