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For more info on Tal, Sal, Johnny, Joe and Barney, and my current  favourite players too, try the "Jazzy Stuff" button at the top of this panel.

 

........  and whatever happened to Gwonk?    Anyone know?

 

  Early Days.
   
 

My first guitar was a Broadway Flat-top which I bought new in 1953.   After years of Violin & Piano lessons, and all those scales & arpeggios, this was fun ... this was freedom ... this was Skiffle!   Just a guitar, a tea-chest bass, and a washboard.    Three chords were quite enough.

At School (Dagenham County High) we added a second guitar and Keith brought along a real Bass.    We played the deep south stuff we found on the back of Lonnie Donegan’s early PYE EPs.  

   
 
 

Band No2 followed, more along the lines of Johnny Duncan, but we soon outgrew that.    

The great thing was that people with different instruments would just turn up and play along.    One morning Alan Skidmore called in and we played (4 or 5 of us in my Bedroom)  but he was already on another planet and never came back!    Even so, he played a different kind of music - Jazz!   It was an important moment.

  Band No2.    Keith, Rick, me & Colin.  
     
  Band No3 was different - my first  Jazz Quartet. 

Still with Keith on  Bass, Colin now on Piano and  Gwonk on Alto Sax, we won the School Music Festival for Ensemble playing Sweet Georgia Brown.   "Munser", our Headmaster was not amused!

  Band No3 rehearsing.
  Saturday mornings were always spent, Bootram and I, mooching in the  Pioneer Market in Romford.    Huge windows filled with second hand LPs and musical instruments.    I found an old copy of Tal Farlow’s Interpretations and bought it for 24/6  (about £1.24)!    I  played it endlessly.  I loved it.    I didn’t know how he did it but I loved it.    I was going to need an archtop and in those days a Hofner was just about the best archtop around!
   
    Cycling home though Chadwell Heath,  I called in at Pioneer's  other shop and there it was,  centre stage,  a nearly new Hofner President acoustic in Brunette and not a mark on it.    

When I opened the case it even smelled new.    It had to be mine.    I remember working all summer to be able to buy it.    My first archtop.   It was the summer of '57.  

I have been trying to play like Tal,  Sal, Johnny, Joe and Barney ever since!

   
   
  That President.   I added two pickups, a single Vol and Tone pot and engraved the pickguard.    A sign of things to come!!
   
   

 

At the same time I was building my first home-made guitar (and amplifier too).  

Click here for more details.

 
      Somewhere around 1959/60
         
 
  Learning the hard way (with Bootram) at Ten Bob a night  (each)!
         
 
  Still the best of friends!   Celebrating my 70th with Bootram at Rowleys.

He was so proud of his Hugo Boss label,  we just had to get it in the pic!!