Over the couple of years we were playing we had great fun and all sorts of things happened. Most of them are lost in the mists of time but here are a few that have stuck with us –
Like most groups we received requests to play certain hits. But at the Acklam Garden City Social Club we received a more unusual request. “Please don`t play any Dave Clark 5 numbers” said the club secretary, and then offered by way of explanation “we have just had the floor done and we don`t want them all stamping their feet in there!”
In 1964 The Cyclones played at the Astoria in Middlesbrough as part of the Evening Gazette’s “Battle of the Bands”. We were knocked out by The Kalvins, who had a residency at the Astoria. The competition was eventually won by the Downbeats from Spennymoor followed by Stockton’s Bluecaps and Whitby’s Renegades.
One of the best gigs was Eaglescliffe Village Hall, the scene of our first successful gig and numerous return visits. I remember one occasion there when we played Brian Poole and the Tremeloes’ “Do You Love Me?” for the first time - we had to play it 3 or 4 times in a row before we could move on.
Stillington Workingmen’s Club – where we incurred the wrath of the locals when one of us knocked the bingo caller’s table over during the interval. Fortunately he had only called a couple of numbers so the situation was recovered.
Oxbridge Workingmen’s Club – where we used the club’s PA for vocals only to find that while this was fine for the concert room we were playing in it also resulted in Geoff singing a capella in the bar downstairs.
Another thing I remember was playing at half time for a dance band. They were an 8 or 10 piece outfit called the Bert Waller Dance Band. We did 2 or 3 gigs with them. The one I particularly remember was a Marks and Spencer staff dance, at the Ladle in the Boro. The reason I remember this one is that someone got them to announce Pete’s engagement to his girlfriend at the time. He never found out the culprit, and would still be
interested to find out who it was, so that suitable retribution can be exacted, even after so many years
As students we did not have any income with which to buy top of the range equipment. In fact we were one of those groups that hired a couple of amps from Burdons Music Shop in Yarm Lane, or Hamiltons in the Boro, on a Saturday and return them on a Monday. There is still a Burdons’ receipt amongst the group’s archives !
The very first amp we used was a Selmer Stadium and we hired this usually from Burdons, but once from Hamiltons – a difficult journey on a push bike. We also used a Watkins Westminster 10 watt amp and a Watkins Dominator , which according to my research sold for £38/10/0d at the time. Total output 17 Watts!! We must have blasted them out in some venues. We also bought a Watkins Copycat echo – essential for some of the Shadows stuff.
We were renowned for building our own equipment - I think Vox pinched a few ideas on the use of expanded metal!
The amps we used were Linear. We definitely had a Linear Conchord 30 Watt and I think we might also have used a Linear Diatronic, with an assortment of cabinets including “the coffin” (3 x 10” speakers) which Pete used for lead. The PA used another Linear amp with 2 Goodmans speakers, an Axiom and an Audiom (which is still in Pete’s garage today). When Dave Nicholas took over from Cliff on Drums we also acquired his woodworking skills and Norm’s bass was now played through a new cabinet with another Linear amp and 2 x 15” Goodmans speakers.
Initially the guitars were Hofners - Pete’s was a 1958 Colorama - a silver / blue one with an unusual flat plate tremolo, Mike’s was a red 1961model.
Pete eventually moved on to a Burns Sonic. We called it ”the spade” because of its small body – incidentally I saw one of these in a shop in Colchester recently and it had a neck like a tree trunk, they wanted £400 for it.
Mine was a much better instrument and I remember I paid 66 guineas. Norman’s first bass guitar was a Futurama.
We faced major problems amplifying old pianos for gigs, but Brian thought he'd got it made when he was able to hire a Clavioline - a major improvement on Rolf Harris Stylophone and ideal for that authentic “Runaway” sound!
Initially we used a couple of Reslo microphones for vocals but later we invested heavily in a Beyer which I lost many years after we broke up.
And talking of equipment we can’t forget the blue Bedford Dormobile with the red horns!! We needed this to carry around the gear although none of us could drive. We relied heavily on parents to ferry us around. We also came out of one gig at Acklam Steelworks to find it had been covered in lipstick by some of the women there.
There was a brief spell where we even had a manager. I don’t think he did much for the band, and we can’t even remember his name, but at least for a short while he relieved our parents of the van driving duties.
Our early repertoire was a strange collection – it included a mix of Shadows and R & B and as Mike can testify we had many amicable discussions on the relative merits of the Shadows and Muddy Waters! I well remember the hours spent in learning Guitar Tango and Wonderful Land! We should resurrect some of those 'greats' - maybe including Stars Fell on Stockton!
The call of education affected our line up. First Geoff left and after a major audition session, held at Cliff's brother's house, Brian got the job as vocalist and ditched the piano - and the Clavioline!
Norman left to join the Model Ts and was replaced by Graham on bass and we continued for some time with that line up. The next change