My memories of Micky go way, way back, circa 1958/59.
By Geoff Edmunds:
Brother Dave and I had formed our first group – “The Stompers” in approx 1957. Prior to this, Dave and I had a boogie piano act – “The Edmunds Bros Duo” (he’s a great boogie piano player, too) and we would play at church hall concerts (Dave was 12 and me, 16.) The stompers were our first band, where we cut our rock’n’roll teeth – Dave on Lead and me on rhythm. We became a bit more sophisticated, eventually morphing into “The Heartbeats” with Denny Driscoll on vocals and the great Johnny Stark on drums, with Ton Edwards on bass. One of the gigs we liked to play was the Victoria ballroom. Every time we played, two guys used to hang around front stage. One, in particular, stood there all night, transfixed on the band. It was Micky Gee.
At that time, I was playing a horrible ‘f’ holed guitar, that I picked up at Grimwades second hand shop on Cowbridge Road, as I was broke and it was the only thing I could afford. I bought a really cheap pick up, attached by a rod with the volume and tone controls attached and hanging down – real ugly. But I did have a Vox AC30 to plug into, which was half decent. Anyway, the weird thing was that I got the most unusual sound out of this pile of crap.
I played rhythm and was intent only on laying down a wicked rhythm base for Brother Dave to ‘ride on top of’. I hammered that guitar until my fingers literally bled every single gig, because the frets were sharp and it was like a cheese cutter! But the band really rocked and Dave was emerging as a phenomenal lead. So anyway. at the Vic ballroom, on every gig, Micky would stand with his head three feet from my amp, just staring and absorbing. I had no idea who he was, but eventually got to chat with him in intermissions. He was very shy, as I recall. We would talk guitars and that was about it. I could detect that he was a real afficionado of ‘pure’ 50’s rock and good country music. CUT to many years later – about 1982, I think……Vancouver, British Columbia….Micky on tour with brother Dave…I arranged to meet Dave and the band to see their show and renew acquaintances…I knocked on the door of the suite in the hotel. The door opened, I walked in, said hi to the band sitting around having a brew, but before I could say anything else, Micky jumped up, came towards me, grabbed me by both lapels and stared intently into my eyes…”How did you get that sound!!!” he blurted out..”How did you get that F*****ing sound!” I had no idea what he was talking about and looked at my brother and the other guys for help…they just shrugged. I got Micky to calm down and explain to me what was going on. It was then that he told me that he had never forgotten the sound I had got from that old “Otwin” guitar back at the Vic ballroom and had been trying to recreate it ever since! I fell apart laughing and told Micky how it was all put together, the cheap guitar, the rotten Chinese pick-up and the AC30 and that I had no idea how it created that sound. He told me he didn’t believe me and that there had to be something else. This discussion went on for a long time as he insisted there was a special something installed in the unit. I was told that Micky often stripped down the pick-ups on his Fender and re-build them on numerous occasions. Was this an attempt to get “that sound”? We’ll never know. Not that he needed “that sound” as his was perfect – his very own – distinctive and stylish Micky Gee.
I left later that night with Micky convinced I was holding out on him.
Micky was a wonderful guy and on the occasions I chatted with him in those early days and later on tours with Dave, found him to be always gracious, polite and friendly. I marvel at his superb talent every time I see his videos…I only wish I could have answered his frustrated questions on how I got “that sound” way back at the Vic Ballroom…and if you’re watching and reading this up there somewhere, Micky..Frankly, I still haven’t a clue, honest, buddy!
Oh…incidentally…the other guy, who hung around at the stage from time to time, was Shakin’ Stevens…but that’s a whole other story…