We used to live at 106 Harris avenue Rumney Cardiff and Micky was nine years older than me, so my earliest memory was when I was four, he was thirteen.
One memory was of my Father going nuts because Micky was playing the same record over and over again; picking up the needle, moving it back and forth, trying to learn some Chet Atkins or Chuck Berry lick until either the record broke or my Father (Happy days)
Micky was always doing something else, usually something to do with the guitar whereas with Bob (My other brother) I have stronger memories.
Fast forward seven years. I don’t have any more memories until I was about eleven, apart from knowing Micky went to the states, though many of his friends have numerous stories ; including Dave Timothy, Phil Morgan and many more. I will be adding more stories to this site from them.
Next thing I knew, we were about to move to Caerwent Road, Ely, trouble was, nobody told Micky when; and my mother had a problem contacting him. So, a note was left pinned to the front door telling Micky of our new address. Shortly afterwards, Tom Jones and the squires turned up and dropped Micky off. Micky walked to the front door, saw the note and turned around, guitar case in his hand and proceeded to chase after them.
Tom and the rest of the band were pretty peeved, you see, this was Christmas week 1963, they’ve just completed a heavy playing/recording schedule and driven about 250 miles on B roads cooped up in a transit van! (This was before the M4 was built). All they wanted was to get home for Christmas and now they had to drive across the other side of Cardiff and find our new address.
An LP from Cardiff rock ‘n’ roll outfit Memphis Bend, who disbanded two years ago, will be released in the autumn.
Bend – Mike Gee (guitar), Lincoln Carr (bass) and Tommy Riley (drums) – got together again for the “one-off” album at Rockfield Studios which will be put out by United Artists.
The company have just put out a 45 from the band called Ubangi Stomp, taken from tapes the band made two years ago.
Tom told me, “This all came about because United Artists dug up the old tapes. But we have absolutely no plans to get back together – we are all into different things now.
If the record sells all we will do is pocket the royalties. The LP is rock ‘n’ roll ‘Fifties style, with a country feel.”
Cardiff pop star Dave Edmunds, B.J. Cole and Mick Weaver played on the session at Rockfield. Bend’s single of two years ago Louisiana Hoedown has become a collector’s item – selling for £5 a time in London.
I’m using OCR software to extract the text, so if you see any gibberish please contact me using the button above.
If you had been in Cardiff at midnight on a Wednesday night in 1975 and had made your way to the bottom end of The Hayes, you would have heard music coming from the dimly lit backstreets behind the old Mill Lane open air market.
The music would have become louder if you had gone into the backstreets, turned into New Street and found a narrow staircase that led up to the New Moon Club.
Inside the club you would have seen Red Beans and Rice playing an eerily authentic mixture of Chicago and New Orleans blues, Cajun music and rock and roll.
The New Moon Club is not there anymore because New Street has been demolished, but rhythm and blues is still alive and well in Cardiff. Red Beans and Rice forms part of the trunk of the Cardiff rhythm and blues family tree a tree which has spread its branches wide.
Tommy Scott was to revert to his original name of TOM JONES … and he never looked back.
The instigator, and only constant member, of the band is drummer Tommy Riley who formed Red Beans and Rice in 1975. Under his guidance the band has resisted the fads of the last nine years and has continued to produce music of quality. Red Beans and Rice has proved to be an enriching experience for dozens of musicians wishing to explore a wide range of American R’n’B music.
Tommy Riley said of the band: “The idea of Red Beans and Rice was to play all types of R’n’B music rather than just one particular type, whether it was just soul, just rock and roll or just blues. We wanted an amalgamation of all of it. ”
His roots in RWB go back a lot further than the forming of Red Beans and Rice. In the early and mid’60s he was the drummer in a rock and roll band called The Sons of Adam. Dave Edmunds was on the same club circuit with The Raiders and so was a rock and roll band called Tommy Scott and the Senators. Tommy Scott was to revert to his original name of Tom Jones … and he never looked back after that.
(Left: The original Memphis bend left to right: Lincoln Carr, Micky Gee and Tommy Riley.)
The guitarist in The Senators, and later with Torn Jones and the Squires, was Mickey Gee, now one of the most respected rock and blues guitarists in Britain a musician’s musician.
During the mid’60s both Tommy Riley and Mickey Gee played, at separate times, with Dave Edmunds’ band, Love Sculpture, and in 1968 they both joined Joe Cocker’s Grease band.
They were together again in 1973 playing the dreary working men’s clubs of South Wales. Recalling that time, Mickey said: “We were playing some nowhere gig up the valleys in between the bingo sessions. The singer collapsed in the middle of a number. Tommy and I looked at each other and he said: ‘We’ll share it, you sing one, then I’ll sing one, so we can get our money’. “They did just that and it worked. With the addition of Lincoln Carr on bass, the trio became Memphis Bend.
The sound was rockabilly. It was, added Mickey, “just like the Stray Cats are doing now, except we didn’t have a string bass and I didn’t have the hair”
In 1973 the New Moon Club was a down market ‘chicken in the basket’ night club. Mainly frequented by bus drivers, it was open only at weekends until Memphis Bend secured a Wednesday night residency. For a year the trio entertained the more discerning members of Cardiff night life before splitting up in 1974.
Mickey Gee was quiet for the next few years until 1979 when Mik Flood, then Artistic Director of Chapter, invited him to play in Alan Osborne’s Terraces at Chapter under the musical direction of George Kahn of The People Show. Shortly afterwards Mickey joined the Shakin’Stevens’ Band alongside pianist Geraint Watkins, and they both also played with Dave Edmunds’ band. Whilst with both bands, Mickey was in great demand for recording session work, as he is today. Now he is working with Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones.
After the demise of the original Memphis Bend in 1974, Tommy Riley kept the band going until 1975 when he formed Red Beans and Rice with Lincoln Carr, Graham Williams on guitar, and Geraint Watkins. With the introduction of Geraint on piano and accordion, the sound became New Orleans blues. Then Geraint left for London where he worked with Stiff Records and formed his own band, Geraint Watkins and the Dominators.
Red Beans and Rice went through some changes, the most important of which was Tommy’s teaming up with local soul legend Lavern Brown in 1976. With the addition of Geoff Coleman on guitar, Mike Pace from London on sax, and Bennie Herbert on bass, Red Beans and Rice brought the soul sound of the ’60s to life.
That line up ended in 1980, shortly after Lavern secured a contract with Chiswick Records. Mike Pace joined the Jools Holland Band with bass player Pino Palladino, who is now with the Paul Young Band. Before joining Jools Holland, Pino had been a member of the Dominoes – a Cardiff-based trio Peter Wenger on drums, formed in 1980 by Mickey Gee.
Meanwhile Tommy Riley briefly adopted the name of The Sole Distributors for his band, but by 1981 had reverted to the name of Red Beans and Rice. Through the following years the band has, developed a’40s style swing blues. Indeed, by 1983 it had swelled to a seven-piece band with three saxophones.
In 1982 Lavern joined up with Geoff Coleman. Mike Pace joined the band, too, along with brilliant young pianist Rob Ford, Paul Westwell on drums, and Neil Jones on bass. That was the beginning of the Lavern Brown Band. The band’s soulful blues still survives now.
Many other local musicians developed R’n’B from the ’60s into the ’70s. Bands such as Stiletto, The Nicutinos and The Cadillacs all added to the strength and depth of Cardiff R’n’B. Now, in the’80s, Red Beans and Rice is still playing and so is the Lavern Brown Band. There is Snatch It Back, Fire Down Below and the crazed blues of The Red Hot Pokers, too. Soul music has been kept alive with Dansette and now the Madassa
Back in the 1960s Tommy Riley, Dave Edmunds, Mickey Gee, Lavern Brown and a handful of others developed an authentic approach to American R’n’B music. That approach reverberates through the music being played in Cardiff today.
It took me three years to learn those chords. C and G were easy, but F was hell!”
When asked what first interested him in playing music, Mickey Gee had to delve back to
1959: “The thing that started me playing was my Uncle Sid, and who knows Uncle Sid? But dammit if he hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have been here. Uncle Sid was a house painter from Llanrumney. He’d be there in his painter’s overalls with a two quid guitar, strumming three chords. It was magic. It took me three years to learn those
chords. C and G were easy, but F was hell! ”
Here’s to Uncle Sid and the continuing excellence of R’n’B in Cardiff.
1985 – Carl Perkins and friends.
Taken from sounds magazine November 02 1985
The line directly under the picture reads… “No 1 have not got a light, er. . . sorry, what did you say your name was?” Plc LFI
TWO FOR the show … two Beatles for the Carl Perkins (above right – you better believe it!) show, that is. After all, the Fab Four were the best advertisement Carl Perkins ever had. The royalties he got from their covers of ‘Matchbox’, ‘Honey Don’t’ and ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’ plus ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ were enough to ensure that he never needed to write another hit. Which is just as well, because he didn’t.
But no matter, Carl’s place as part of Sun Records (and therefore rock and roll’s) million dollar quartet is assured, and when he asked for assistance in recording his TV special In London, Ringo – looking more and more like a teddy-boy version of Yasser Arafat these days – and George Harrison -ageing elegantly and seemingly without a care – were among the first to send back their reply-paid slips (seriously – Carl had sent them each a personal video with a form for them to fill in!). Their example was closely followed by Eric Clapton, Dave Edmunds, Earl Slick and sundry ex-Stray Cats.
But amid all this glamour and glitter (obligatory female presence was provided by Roxanne Cash and Britt Ekland) sashaying in and out of the Limehouse TV studio lending their illustrious presence, one bald gentleman in a grandad vest, black cords and sneakers sat in the background hunched over a guitar growling out a tight, constant stream of rockabilly rhythm which was the foundation for the whole show.
Nobody knew who he was afterwards, and it took half an hour of persistent nagging (while the Fleet Street boys were trampling all over Carl in their futile attempts to get a word with George) to discover that his name was Micky Gee and that he was a close friend of Dave Edmunds. It figures. Don’t step on his blue suede shoes.
At this point people might be asking how can I get hold of The Memphis Bend Album?
Well, Iconic as this Album is, and extremely well known amongst the older set, it has never, in spite of many many requests to the holding company, been released on CD!
If your really lucky you might find a vinyl LP on ebay or a junk shop, so look out for –
‘GOOD ROCKING TONITE’ – MEMPHIS BEND – UAS 30036 – recorded at Rockfield Studios with John David in Monmouth in 1977. The place for many a good brew!
Any, and I do mean any, contempory ‘Rockabilly Band’ should listen to this Album. Because as the BBC D.J. Geoff Barker has so rightly said, ” Micky Gee was the finest Rockabilly Guitarist ‘ever’ to come from these shores” Your in for a treat!