Me, Myself & Music

.... or....

My Life Already !

Hi. - I'm Brian.
First - A quick note on Internet Etiquette.
Please don't copy or reproduce any photographs displayed on this site, without first requesting permission.
(see the Ownership section on the Home page).

Last Update - 22/July/2012

So, now for the story....
I was born at a very early age, and then went on to become older (a fairly common progression so I'm told ;).
During my last few years of secondary school, I developed an interest in music (scroll down to see the pictures!).
After this, things could only get better!

Actually I don't think I ever went through adolescence.
I passed straight from childhood to being old (but I've never been one to act my age - and I still don't now).
I didn't mind school either, really! - After all, it was that or working!

During my exam years, I got together with another lad called Ron who shared similar interests, and together we formed a very basic band, calling ourselves Sounds Unlimited, and playing mainly old Shadows music and similar instrumental pieces. Sadly, the name was wildly inaccurate as the sounds we produced were in truth very limited. I played Lead Guitar (yeah - right!) and Ron played Rhythm, but without the benefit of either Bass or Drums to give the sound some depth, it all came across very weak and empty.

Even so, the tunes were catchy enough and we did a few pocket-money gigs at local working men's clubs in the area where the audiences seemed to like our stuff. This encouraged us to continue. Before very long we both had full-time day jobs, but we still got together occasionally to jam.

Meanwhile Ron (an excellent hairdresser who at the time owned a couple of salons in the Peterborough area), put a string of bands together one after another, playing folky stuff that I liked, but wasn't too keen on playing. But I hung around, sometimes operating their slightly underpowered PA system for them, and did the occasional stint as a roadie for them too.

A crowd of us often went mob-handed to the local pubs & clubs where music was on the agenda, and Ron and his regulars had frequnt offers for gigs. Of course, these paid little more than beer-money. Soon though, Ron's musical tastes had shifted toward Country Rock - something I had never heard much of before (not to be confused with Country & Western). Liking the sound, I became interested and was invited to join up again.

By this time I had shifted to Bass Guitar, having realised that my skills were fairly lacking in the Lead department, and we really needed a Bass player to give the sound some depth and power. This was around the time of Jimi Hendrix (and The Experience), Carlos Santana, and Brian May (of Queen fame) et-al.
Man could those guys ever play!

And so, to the world, a new band was born - Roads!

The picture here shows the original Roads line-up.....
Early Roads lineup - Promo Picture ... with myself (playing Bass & vocal) on the left, next to another guy also called Brian (Rhythm & vocal), then Alan (on Drums), & finally Ron (playing Lead guitar & vocal) on the right. (for each picture, click the image to enlarge it - then click the 'Back' button in your browser to return here)

We put together a fairly respectable repertoire of several dozen songs, borrowed mainly from American bands like The Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Dobie Gray, to name but a lot! Ron also wrote the odd song or three, as did Brian (not me - the other one!).

We also played some Soul stuff in later years, but Roads was essentially a Country Rock band. Concentrating on vocal harmonies, and with the help of Steve Allen (a really helpful local agent) and a healthy local following, we found ourselves in regular demand and we were out working most weekends.

I was heavily into electronics, and with regular gigs now coming in, I decided to build a proper public address system for the band (we could never afford to buy one). Although I say it myself, this was a fairly impressive piece of kit (a 250 Watt RMS Stereo PA Amp, with four 120 Watt 2x12" speaker stacks), which was way above what most other bands of our class were using at the time. And this was just for the vocals - Guitar and Bass amps were separate.

Ron decided to splash out too, and bought a Transit van (standard group transport for the period) to carry all the gear around. Ron's father-in-law, Lionel, was a keen and very capable photographer, and he offered to do some promotional shots for us. All the photos included here are Lionel's work.

This second picture shows a later line-up...........
Later Roads lineup - Promo Picture After my namesake, Brian Gummer, had left the band, he was replaced by a guy called Kevin Towning (thanks to Viv for reminding me - July 2012), seen here in the centre. Kevin was an excellent lead guitarist and neatly filled the void left by Brian G.

The extra guy on the left is Richard, who was our regular roadie. Unlike most other bands, we actually paid our roadie an equal share of the night's takings. After all, he had to turn out and work along with the rest of us, and with doing all the driving too, he probably worked harder than we did! Anyway, that way we could be fairly sure to keep him (well, it's not easy finding a reliable roadie who knows what he's doing!).

By this time Roads had become quite popular, with a fairly loyal, local following. We were regulars at the Riverside Club in Stamford (Lincs.) and many of the pubs and clubs around the area booked us over and over again. It seemed we were always busy! The gigs didn't pay very much (little more than expenses really) but it was all great fun.

This last picture is the final line-up.....
Final Roads lineup - Promo Picture ... when our original drummer, Alan Gregson, left the band (Viv thinks his nickname was Spider - but I don't recall that) he was replaced by the guy next to me in this picture (second from right). Very recently, I was reminded that his name was Paul Wilde (thanks again to Viv :) but apparently his nickname was Wilf (no idea where that came from).

Now for Interesting Fact Number 437 ;)
Did you notice? - After the first few, early shots, We ALL have beards!
That was completely accidental !!!
I still have mine, but it's a bit more grey than black these days.

Now have a close look at Ron's white jacket. That's right! - It's a T-Shirt!

Anyway, I guess all good things must come to an end sooner or later....
More than just the odd few problems and grievances between band members meant that Ron, who had always been the driving force, and also owned the wheels! (no pun intended), got fed-up with the problems and decided to quit. I was still keen to keep going but the others didn't seem to care. Inevitably, practice sessions became a rarity, offers of gigs dried up, and slowly we all drifted apart.

To quote Boy George's famous statement (about Culture Club):-
"The band never actually split up.
We just stopped talking to each other, and went our separate ways!"

Here are a few of the promotional shots that Lionel took for us, all those years ago - featuring a couple of extremely rare pictures of me without a beard! (as always, click on the image to enlarge it - then click your browser's 'Back' button to return here)

Original Roads lineup - Early Promo Pic Original Roads lineup - Early Promo Pic Later Roads lineup - Professional Agent's Promo Pic Later Roads lineup - Professional Agent's Promo Pic
Later Roads lineup - Posing Later Roads lineup - Posing Final Roads lineup - Peterborough Cathedral Precinct Final Roads lineup - Peterborough Cathedral Precinct

After the split of Roads, Ron and I still played together occasionally. One gig which I will never forget was in the mid 80's when we played as a support band for Adrian Byron-Burns, a friend of Ron's, who wrote all his own material. The venue was the new Key Theatre in Peterborough, a wonderful modern theatre (well it was then!) with an unusually cosy atmosphere, and a capacity of around 400, built on the grassy bank overlooking the River Nene.

Adrian performed solo to a packed house for the first half - mostly acoustic, while Ron and I provided backing for his second half. See the pictures below. I still have some recordings (on open-reel tape - that's how long ago it was) taken from this, and a couple of other concerts, all gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere (maybe one day I'll cut them onto CD).

This was the second time we had played at The Key. Our first time there was as Roads a couple of years earlier, shortly after Brian Gummer had left. In fact Brian was in the front row of the audience when we played a charity concert there, organised by Ron and a few others, to raise funds for a number of worthy causes. Roads came on last and we blew everyone away.

We had often played in the Theatre Bar at The Key on Sunday lunchtimes, as did almost every other local band at the time. It was a very popular meeting place and any self-respecting amateur musician would be glad of the chance to play there for free, just to get an airing and to try out their new material on the punters. Adrian Byron-Burns at the Key Theatre

Sunday lunchtime in the Theatre Bar was always packed (what with cheap beer and a live band to watch for free, it was hardly surprising!).

But these gigs were in the main Auditorium !!!
Here's one of the best pictures I have of Adrian Burns caught unawares while rehearsing for his concert. Adrian went on to work with a number of household names, and is still gigging today. Visit his web site for details, and information about where you can see him performing today. I saw him at The Musician recently, and I was so impressed.

The next few shots were taken while we were rehearsing for this concert.
I only recently re-discovered who the drummer was - shame on me for forgetting! His name is Harry Ovenall, another close friend of Adrian's, who was the original drummer with the band Family, of 70's fame. Sadly, I only met him the once.
We nicknamed him Superman - can you guess why?

A.B.B Concert - Rehearsal A.B.B Concert - Rehearsal A.B.B Concert - Rehearsal A.B.B Concert - The Man himself
A.B.B Concert - Ron Fairfield A.B.B Concert - 'Thingy' the Drummer A.B.B Concert - Adrian Byron-Burns A.B.B Concert - Mois - Brian Etherington

(As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image).

In my early years I worked in electronic engineering - Telephone Exchanges and the like. But these days I do IT Support to earn the odd crust (well nubbady's perfick!). I've worked on computers (in one form or another) for around twenty five years now. Recently I was privileged to spend some time with Leicester City Football Club, doing PC support there for a while.

I consider myself fortunate to have known and worked with some of the nicest, friendliest people anyone could ever wish to meet, everywhere I have been. But my time with LCFC had to be just about the best year-and-a-bit I can remember spending anywhere!
A great crowd of people.
I shall miss them all.

I've lost track of almost everone now, but with the help of Friends Re-United, I recently managed to contact Ron again. Ron is now working as an artist in Penzance, Cornwall, after a period exploring his formidable artistic talents in Scotland. Ron makes (among other things) Angel sculptures from cut glass mirrors. You can see some examples of his work at Gallery 18. If he's half as good at that as he was at hairdressing, then he won't do too badly. I know he still plays, as I went to see him there last year (2004). Maybe we'll get together and play again? (who can tell!).

I still have my old Rickenbacker 4003 Bass, and a few other instruments, which I drag out and blow the dust off now and then. But these days I only play when I have the house to myself. Then I pour myself a large brandy, drag out the Bass (or my battered old Gibson SG Copy) & amp, and try to blast the windows out, playing along to a CD or a tape of something from the seventies.

A little while ago, I treated myself to a REALLY COOL new guitar !!!
An Ibanez SA2120XAV. Click here or... here and be Soooo jealous.
This thing plays like a dream (I've hardly touched the SG since)...... Just Awesome!

Then early last year (2005), I splashed out on a Headless 5-String Bass guitar !!!
A Hohner B2AV in Sunburst. This instrument is so neat and easy to hold, and it takes up very little space compared with most guitars. But these aren't available in the UK, so I had to import it.

I found a company called ABE Music online selling them. So I got in touch and imported one.
Click here or... here or... here to see what it looks like. But if you want to hear what it sounds like, you may have to wait until the family are all out, then listen at the windows ;-)......
This too plays like a dream! (maybe sounds like a nightmare?)

A couple of years ago now, I went to see Adrian Burns at The Musician - A popular Live Music Pub, tucked away in a corner of Leicester. A very impressive performance. I'd almost forgotten just how good a musician he really is. Check out his Web Site - for his itinerary and take yourself to see him. You won't be disappointed.

Well - That's it!
I hope you enjoyed sharing my reminiscences.
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I promise I'll reply if I'm still around.

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