ON A RECENT impromptu visit to Regis Colour Labs in Lower High Street, Cradley Heath (writes Brian Nicholls) to purchase some picture frames, my attention was immediately drawn to the various items of musical equipment (microphone stands, amplifiers etc) in a corner of the workshop. So, what ostensibly should have been a five minute transaction turned into a two and a half hour interview with proprieter Geoff Crew.
Geoff, it turns out, was a founder member of 1960’s seminal Black Country pop group and Decca recording artistes - The Strangers.
From early in 1960 through to late 1965, Geoff was the frontman and evidence from gig diaries subsequently supplied by The Strangers’ bass player, Ken Warr, show that the group played no less than five nights a week - including Christmas days and Boxing days - throughout the period, both in and around the Black Country.
The Strangers, all ex-skifflers, started out in early 1960 like every other provincial group (including the then unheard of Fab Four from Liverpool!) performing covers of Cliff Richard and The Shadows numbers from Cliff’s eponymous first album in 1959 - itself a compilation of covers of Americn 1950’s R & B and Rock ‘n’ Roll numbers. The Strangers’ name was derived from a Shadows’ chart hit ‘B’ side called, The Stranger.
Another customer in the shop for the same reason as myself appeared to be very attentive to my conversation underway with Geoff Crew.
It transpired that he was Tony Bradley, the one time bass player with another top Black Country group of the 1960’s called The Jackpots - or, as Geoff was quick to assert, “The “fabulous” Jackpots”!... as they were always publicised, and were so revered by by all other local groups of the day they became known as..... “the group’s group”...
They too worked prolifically within the Black Country.
In musician’s parlance, I asked of both Geoff and Tony...”do you still have a crack these days?”...
Geoff said that he and Tony both still play - as and when - in their own group called The Rinkleybeats and that, ””we do mainly charity work for Alzheimer’s and the last gig at the High Acres pub in Kingswinford on 6th April, raised a respectable £425, but this time we are supporting the Air Ambulance appeal”.
Bugle readers will be aware of the life saving efforts which, via the three helicopters, provide a rapid response across a wide area of the Midlands.
The charity is solely dependant on the relentless work of volunteers and does not receive government or lottery funding, so,= please come along to The Rinkleybeats next charity bash and support them in their support of the Air Ambulance which will be held this time at The Summerhouse, The Portway, Kingswinford on 16th November, 2012 and, all proceeds will go to the charity.
The Rinkleybeats will be performing hits of the Sixties and supported by two other singers Louise Lee and Big John. The event starts at 8.00pm and goes through to midnight. Tickets are just £3 each, or two for £5. Adding to the fun will be a raffle.
The Rinkleybeats are, Geoff Crew, lead singer, Tony Bradley, bass and vocals, Maria Broster-Dyke, guitar, and vocals and Mark Bettis, keyboards.
On departure, Geoff and Tony added a message for Bugle readers who may have a musical prowess...... “If any of yer wants ter gerrup un ‘ave a goo on the noit - doh be froitened, we doh bite!”.....