After Tom Jones – Back To Wales

By Ari Niskanen

Ari and MickyOn leaving Tom Jones, Micky  returned to his home town Cardiff in Wales, which, during the late 1960’s, was a melting pot of musicians where Micky had many friends. One of which was Andy Fairweather Low who lived in the neighbouring district to Micky. Micky lived in Rumney and Andy lived in Llanrumney and they would each hang out at the local youth clubs, coffee bars and pubs.

Andy also worked in the Barrett’s Music Store in town where he met musicians from all over the city. Andy’s band at the time was The Sect Maniacs which was in main a soul band and it had had a number of personnel changes. Micky joined them for a while. Members had included Roger Jones, Trevor Wright, Kenny Sherlock, but also Gary Cooper formerly of The Gary Edwards Combo who had minor hits during the twist craze. Gary was an old friend of Micky going back to school days.

But there were more changes to come because Andy was putting together a brand new band assembled from three local bands. There was Clive Taylor bass and Neil Jones guitar from The Dekkas, Dennis Bryon drums and Derek ‘Blue’ Weaver from Brother John and the Witnesses, and Andy from The Sect Maniacs. Then add a couple of sax players, Alan Jones and Malcolm Davis and you had a new super group to be called Amen Corner. But this was not for Micky!

Micky’s next local band was Arthur Mellow who played 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and versions of psychedelic Beatles songs. Arthur Mellow was a three piece band and the Beatles’ songs were full of overdubbed instruments and sound effects. These would have been pretty interesting for us to hear. For example, one song they use to play was ‘Day in a Life’ on which Micky fingerpicked the
melody!

It was now in any case the age of the studio with it’s added sound effects and post production so it isn’t at all surprising that another of Micky’s Cardiff friends was experimenting with sound recording. Step forward Dave Edmunds. Dave also had his own band Love Sculpture, and was enjoying success in the charts with the rock version of Katchutarian’s classical piece ‘Sabre Dance’ which reached number 5 in the UK in November 1968.

However whilst the band were enjoying their success they had already decided to split. But the management company AMA, later to become MAM, offered the band a six week tour of the States and to this they reacted “Great!” The band thought they would do a stint in the States and then break up. The tour was of the USA and Canada and it was thought that the band needed a better drummer and guitarist, so in came Terry Williams on drums from Swansea and Micky Gee on guitar, just for the tour.

The tour turned out to be a disaster: people expected classical pieces like ‘Sabre Dance’ but the band played for example, Elvis Rockabilly recordings like ‘Baby Lets Play House’. It was also a badly organised tour – gigs were too far away from each other and so on. At one point they were the warm up band and the band had to play to a really big crowd. Nerves were the the order of the day and the band panicked. But showing true grit Micky went out front on his own and played some Chet Atkins tunes to albeit a baffled audience!

The tour ended in Canada where they discovered that they had earned barely enough money to buy the return tickets home! Anyway, after the tour the band did split up. Dave Edmunds concentrated even more on his studio work, the studio he had helped to build at Rockfield near Monmouth, Wales. Here he was allowed lots of free studio time.

One of the songs he started to record was a quite unique version of Smiley Lewis’ – ‘I Hear You Knockin’ and it was for this recording that Dave invited Micky to play on. It was Dave’s next single release and out of the blue it became a massive number 1 hit in the UK and a number 4 hit in the USA. But we know that only Micky could have made this happen.

________________________________________

(This is another chapter from Ari Niskanen’s biography of Micky Gee and hopefully more chapters will follow together with a complete bibliography and discography – Phil Morgan)