More to come…
Tom Riley popped over today and asked what I though about the idea of releasing a limited edition of the 1973 Memphis Bend album “Good Rocking Tonight” on CD? (Also containing bonus tracks)
I said I thought it would be a fantastic idea. Can anyone interested fill in the form below and Tom Riley will contact you. I’m sorry but for some technical reason I haven’t been receiving emails through the contact form on this site. The problem has now been resolved and is working correctly, so please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a CD or for any other reason.
Comments or questions are welcome.
SCHOOL DAYS AND AFTER – By Phil Morgan
I went to a school in Rumney Cardiff which was then called Caer Castell and which was and is situated on a council estate on the then eastern outskirts of the city. This was all newly built and most of us had lived elsewhere in the city, usually in old rented accommodation. Now families had their own front door and we lived next to green fields and farmland.
In this school therefore you had a strange mixture. But nevertheless, there was aways this one guy still stuck out from the rest. He never wore school uniform or carried any books, football kit etc.. But he would often be seen carrying an old acoustic guitar, hung on a cord across his back. It was nothing special, but was still unusual as us kids didn’t own any musical instruments.
During break times he would wander off on his own and sit crossed legs out on the playing fields. Then very shortly afterwards others would trek over to see what he was doing. He would be oblivious to those watching, unless they had something to say about the music they had heard on the wireless or television the night before. So, we all wondered how could someone be that focused? The sounds he made weren’t great, anyway not to our ears. This was Michael Gee!
Caer Castell had a music room but the kids didn’t have any instruments. It was a specially built room upstairs at one end, and it was larger than the other classrooms, and had a piano.
The music teacher eventualy, allowed the lucky ones with instrments to take them in at lunchtimes, but we were never given any lessons. Some kids from the the well off end of Rumney known as the village had piano lessons, violin, cello, etc. in the evenings so we would try and jam with those. It never worked. However when Micky started showing up he was able to show us a few things. This was during his last few years at school, and he left in 1959 but by then he already had a band! These were called The Searchers … nothing to do with the Liverpool band of the same name. They played in the youth club a couple of times per week. For some reason I was always intriged by the bass player, Frank Smith,who played a Tuxedo bass guitar, which looked like it was plugged into an old wireless set with the valves exposed, and coupled to a large speaker. The rhythm guitarist had a small Fenton Weil and his nickname was Chuffa, and Les Rockey played the drums. I remember his kit had a huge bass drum from a marching band and recovered in blue sparkle to match the rest of the kit.
Youth Club started after night school at 9.00pm. This was brilliant as the hall was huge and had a full sized stage with all the latest curtains and lighting, and which was often used by drama groups from throughout the city because it was the latest high tech. It also had a good PA which was also used for playing our 45’s.
Micky’s band looked fantastic on this stage, often playing on the stage apron in front of the red curtains. Whilst, at other times, perhaps for school dances, more than one band would play. So that behind the curtains would appear a mystery band. Sometimes The Solid Six played. These guys later changed their name to The Gary Edwards Combo and appeared on Thank Your Lucky Stars with Brian Mathew.
They were a little older than Micky and had minor hits later with ‘If Litz Could Do The Twist’ and ‘Twistful Thinking.’ Gary ‘Duffy’ Cooper, who was Gary Edwards, is Charlotte Church’s Grandfather, and today can be seen in The Robin Hood pub in Canton usually on a sunday evening.
I don’t know if there are any photos of Micky’s first band, but there is a photo of Micky with the Burns Guitar he played in that band that was taken in the front room of his house in Harris Avenue. He could make it talk and there was something very special about the pickups on that guitar.
So in the Searchers Micky played this cherry red Burns, Vibra-Artiste as it was called. It had three Tri – Sonic pickups just like Brian May would use on his guitar in ‘Queen’ many many years later. British made, they were in production 1960 – 62. It was Burns first solid and had a short scale that suited Micky. He wasn’t that bothered even then about the tremolo arm simply because he was able to bend the strings easily to get that effect, and too even greater effect!
He had this guitar at the time of Man of Mystery by The Shadows, and before he even had an echo chamber he could get the sound of this track near perfect. But it was the track on the B side that he went to town on. This was The Stranger. Here on this instrumental he played it in a raw way and totally different to Hank Marvin. His rendition has stayed in my mind all through Micky’s career. Because the style then with The Stranger, and that sound, could still be heard in much of what he did afterwards. The attack and the way he made that tune his own, he repeated over and over in everything he played from then on!
In that known photo Micky can be seen with his Burns and playing through a Selmer Truvoice echo chamber, but this was a borrowed one I seem to remember. Micky actually had the first all valve Watkins Copycat echo chamber. Which was two tone blue and white. I remember this distinctly because our lead guitarist in the Square 4 was so impressed with Micky Gee’s set up when he performed at the youth club, that he went out and bought both the very same Burns and the Watkins echo chamber.
I’ll mention amplifier’s again. This photo also shows Micky’s incredibly thick hair and in the truly rock n roll style of the day. Nobody today would believe he could have had such thick curly hair. He was set and ready and determined to be an ace rockabilly guitarist. He knew what he wanted but the rest of us were in awe and a little mystified by him.
The Searchers were given a room in the school to practice whilst night school was on, where they could rehearse the numbers they would later play in the youth club. This was at the extreme end of the school which was the geography room. The Searchers were getting louder and this was out of earshot. Our band the Square 4 would also practice here in the hour after Micky and he would give us some tips.
Micky now had a Dallas Rangemaster amplifier, as did Chuffa for rhythm guitar. These were red and white with a sloping back panel, and we thought them loud. They were just 15 watts!!! However, they were all valve and Micky was also using an echo chamber with it mainly to increase the volume.
They needed this volume because by now they had a drummer with a full set of blue sparkle drums and they also had an electric bass guitar. Which was the first electric bass we had ever seen. In the years just gone skiffle groups had been the big thing, and often The Alleycats skiffle band had played in the village church hall. No amps then and a tea chest bass!
Another later addition to The Searchers was the vocalist, as Micky Gee didn’t sing in those days, and various singers would step forward to sing a song through the school’s P.A.. No surprises here that the most popular number was Johnny B. Goode and sometimes singers would double up for this. The Chuck Berry LP titled “Chuck Berry” in mono 1962 was the most popular album and Johnny B Goode was on this. Ironically, another lifelong favourite track of Micky’s was here too “BETTY JEAN”. When I walked to school with Micky he would often be singing ‘Up in the morning and off to school’ a line from Chuck Berry’s “SCHOOL DAY” from his album. We would cut across the fields together until the farmer installed an electric fence to stop his cows getting out. Soon though around 1960 this particular field was sold to the council for more housing. These were cast concrete and went up very quickly. Another name from rock n roll was to move in here and that was Lincoln Carr who was later to become Micky’s bass player in Memphis Bend. Only a young lad then.
The places Micky hung out in Rumney were first and foremost The County Cinema followed by the Village Cafe followed by the Chip Shop. Micky would still return to school for the youth club and three other bands had started to play on our patch. The Chevrons, The Graduates, and The Strangers. The Strangers had a talented lead guitarist called Bilgy who was soon be snapped up by the Ronnie Keene Orchestra (Terry Greenslade from the Tequilas and Heartbeats was on bass), who had recently supported Buddy Holly on his UK Tour. Great though these bands were they all had something in common, they resembled Cliff and The Shadows. With matching guitars, suites, etc.. The Strangers had matching Burns guitars and sported Gambler Ties. The other two had similar gimmicks!
Micky and the band had left school by now and Micky had tried painting and decorating with his uncle in Llanrummey. That uncle had given him his first guitar lessons. But Les the drummer was driving a lorry for Brains Brewery and Les was able to get Micky a job as a drivers mate. This introduced Micky to the valleys where he would experience other bands. The Searchers would travel around for bookings even though they only had a small van, an Austin A35. But were in for a shock closer to home. There was often a dance at the Rumney Village Memorial Hall on a Friday night and a band that played there on one occasion would herald a major rethink.
The band who played in the village Memorial Hall one Friday was the Raiders. Probably these dances were to raise money for the drama group or the general hall up keep or something similar. This band was Dave Edmunds band, and they were loud! But there was only three people in the band. Edmunds on lead/vocals and probably Nicky Still on bass and Ken Collier on drums. That was it and nobody else and more cash to be earned shared between three. They looked smart in red jackets and they played all the tunes of the day. Sweet Little Sixteen stood out as this was rock n roll as Micky liked it. Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues and Come on Everybody. Other stuff they did was by Joe Brown, Dark Town Strutters Ball and Shine. Johnny Kids Shaking All Over, or Duane Eddy’s Caravan. Not just great vocals but sizzling guitar playing too as demonstated by numbers like Hava Nagila when Edmunds would play his guitar behind his head. The Searchers were floored and Micky knew he needed a great vocalist and fast.
We saw a bit more of Micky at this stage as many of his friends had gone to work in London with the band the Gary Edwards Combo. One of Micky’s best friends Dusty Miller was their lead guitarist, and Dusty had had the first Fender Stratocaster we had ever seen. It was a sunburst one just like Buddy Holly’s. It was just a short walk for Micky to Dusty’s house who lived near the village cafe. I remember Dion was on that juke box at that time with Run Around Sue and I personally always selected that but it was very very popular.
This juke box was a main attraction for Micky and we puzzled how the bass sounded so loud. The large speakers that they had actually over emphasized the bass sound and the fact that they were large hollow structures. We hadn’t known this then, and bass players all over the country were building large speaker cabinet’s to try and get that sound. Bass players might have been the most limited musically but it helped if they had carpentry skills and a little eletrical knowledge.
The Gary Edwards Combo had signed to Oriole, so they weren’t coming back for a while. They consisted of Dusty on lead guitar, Gary on guitar, Mally on electric bass, Mac Todd on drums, and Earl Toots Watson on saxophone. They had been joined in London with Cardiff’s Tony Sheveton, who later had a minor hit with A Million Drums, and who was also signed to Oriole! They appeared on TV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars compered by Brian Mathew, performing If Litz Could Do The Twist. The twist was big at that time! They released at least four 45 singles before splitting up to do other things in the music industry.
We found out they were to be on TV from Mally’s uncle who was an insurance collector and rode a bike to collect the weekly contributions. Its hard to think now how bad communications were back then. There were few homes with a telephone, so Mally’s uncle’s news was vital in keeping in touch. They also played at the 2′I’s Coffee Bar, and The Flamingo.
Another way of keeping in touch with the scene was wth the weekly trip to the music shop. We had Gamblins on City Road, and Hendersons in an arcade in town, where Edmunds had a part time job. Strings were always breaking in those days, so perhaps that helped because you had to make lots of trips, usually on a Saturday. But we also had to make the payments on our instruments. Everything was H.P. in those days. I liked these trips and the basement at Gamlin’s had a double bass I could play on. Bands would have rehearsals down there and eat lunch together at Dyers or the Excel cafe and fish n chip shop’s outside.
At Gamblins you could try out instruments and have a jam with others. As well as a double bass down there, there was new drum kits. You might find out from posters here that Cal Ford was to play our church hall which he did, or Tommy Miller, no relation to Dusty, with his Rebels. They would travel over from Roath or Splott. By the way Cal was a geat country singer, and we thought him american because of his accent. Micky was very friendly with Cal even though this was “country and western”. But country was to offer something crucial for Micky’s style when Dave Timothy, who lived on the top road and also a country singer and friend of Cal, lent Micky an L.P. by Merle Travis.
Micky still didn’t have a rock n roll singer, and one of the singers from The Searchers had joined the merchant navy. That particular singer bought a motorcycle whilst home on leave and that too was a sign of the times. It was a HONDA the first anyone had seen. The motorcycle gang down the cafe all rode British Bikes. It was a Red Honda Dream 250cc just like Elvis had been seen riding in those disappointing movies. Micky had seen all those movies at The County Cinema. It was cheap to get into the flicks as the films had already been shown in town and they often got shown over and over. We would be watching for any clues connected with guitars, chord changes etc.. But one film we all had to see many times over was The Young Ones.
Micky wasn’t that fussy on the Shadows by now, however, his favourite member was Bruce Welch. It was well known that Micky could play all the Shads stuff. You only had to walk to the shops, near where Micky lived. He lived opposite the shops and to the left, so even shoppers could hear him. If he was practicing then there would be a crowd of kids sat on his garden wall. He liked the scene in the cafe from The Young Ones where the Shads played Peace Pipe. Bruce played rhythm on an acoustic guitar, a Gibson. He also liked the cream Telecaster that Bruce had on the cover of the Shadows album.
The Square 4 had a practice once when we were trying to learn The Savage and Micky came along and sat in with us. He must have been bored as we tried to get the chords sorted out. Whilst we were doing this he was picking out other tunes in the corner. He was listening to the TV in the other room, and an advert was playing. It was the Fairy Liquid advert…..”Hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid”…………Micky had picked up the tune on just one listen, and was playing it perfectly. It sounded better than The Savage! Well he had given it the same treatment. We were still working on the chords running down and along the neck from A major. He then turned to us and said “this is how Bruce played the chords in one position”. He respected Bruce’s playing a lot and Micky had already learnt all he could from them.
It was at jams like this that he showed us how he used his electric guitar. With his Dallas amp, which was only 15 watt, he would turn everything up. The tone controls would reduce the volume so they would be turned right up to get max volume. He then controlled his sound from the guitar. He would stick to that method over the years and that gave him his unique sound. He shunned all pedals and effects, always preferring to keep things simple. But he would always keep a sharp eye on the new equipment coming out. He came along once when we had a loan of Joey Escott’s Blue VOX 20 watt amp. Joey had been in The Solid Six and was making a name for himself as a singer guitarist performing Bobby Darin songs like Lazy River and Multiplication and other similar songs of that vogue.
However Micky still needed a singer to rival Edmunds and he had seen an advert for a guitarist wanted for Tommy Scott and The Senators, a valleys band and this attracted him. He had seen Edmunds going from strength to strength often playing at The Kennards Ballroom, which was a short trolly bus ride from the bus depot near Rumney river. Both the Edmunds brothers played here. Dave in the Raiders and Geoff in the Heartbeats. Geoff was the older brother and they had it sewn up between them. They played other ballrooms too including the Victoria Ballroom across the other side of town. Perhaps because the Edmunds brothers had taken part in the Carol Levis talent show at the Gaumount cinema in town most teenagers were aware of their talents and they had a massive following, and were well promoted.
One show Dave Edmunds did that I remember going to was at St Peters Hall in Roath near to Orbit Street where the Edmunds brothers lived. This was a dance in aid of The Youth Clubs of Wales, and teenagers came from all over. The Raiders were at their peak and the sound was better than ever. Ken Collier the drummer had built amplifiers for the band which were huge for their day. Ken was a loud drummer and he was good with electronics. On bass now was Rockhouse who had the not unusual blonde hair. Still only a three piece they were without doubt Cardiff’s top band and probably the best in Wales. It was this three piece sound, I believe, that forced guitarists to develop and build up their style, and this can be seen in both Edmunds and Gee to compensate for not having a rhythm player and other musicians around them.
Micky answered the advert for guitarist for The Senators, auditioned, got the job, and also got that singer and voice he needed. Little did he know that this singer would go on to be world class and become a friend and rival to Elvis the King!
By Ari Niskanen
I have tried to mention every song only once. However in some cases it would be confusing to mention some song only once. For example, when Shakin’ Stevens’ LP “A Whole Lotta Shaky” was released in 1988 it was combination of new songs and old songs from the early 1980’s. Not to mention old songs would leave wrong impression that Micky didn’t play on those cuts.
Information of recording sessions that are not listed here is welcome.
SHAKIN’ STEVENS & SUNSETS
I’M NO J.D. LP
CBS Records, 1971
Right String Baby / Come Along With Me / Rock’n’Roll Singer / Honey Don’t / Superstar / Sea Of Heartbreak
MARIE MARIE LP
Epic Records, 1980
Baby If We Touch / Marie, Marie / Lonely Blue Boy / Make It Right Tonight / Move / Slippin’ & Slidin’ / Shooting Gallery / Revenue Man / Make Me Know You’re Mine / Two Hearts / Nobody
Comments: Micky told me that he played on all the other songs on this LP than except “Hey Mae”. Roger McKew plays lead guitar on “Lonely Blue Boy” and “Make It Right Tonight”.
THIS OLE HOUSE single
Epic Records, 1980
This Ole House / Let Me Show You How
Comments: Micky also sings background vocals on “This Ole House”.
Epic Records, 1981
Mona Lisa / You Drive Me Crazy / I’m Knockin’ / Don’t She Look Good / It’s Raining / Don’t Bug Me Baby /Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles / I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter / This Time / Baby You’re Child / Don’t Turn Your Back / Let Me Show You How / I’m Lookin’
IT’S RAINING single
Epic Records, 1981
It’s Raining / You And I Were Meant To Be
Epic Records, 1982
Shirley / I’m For You
GIVE ME YOUR HEART TONIGHT LP
Epic Records, 1982
Oh Julie / Vanessa / Shirley / Too Too Much
HOW MANY TEARS CAN YOU HIDE single
Epic Records, 1988
How Many Tears Can You Hide / If I Really Knew
HOW MANY TEARS CAN YOU HIDE maxi single
Epic Records, 1988
How Many Tears Can You Hide (extended version) / If I Really Knew
Comments: In this case an extended version means an extra guitar solo in the end of the song.
A WHOLE LOTTA SHAKY LP
Epic Records, 1988
What You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For / How Many Tears Can You Hide / Jezebel / Sea Of Love / True Love / Just One Look / Oh Julie / Do You Really Love Me Too / I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter / Hello Josephine / Woman (Look What Have You Done To Me) / Heartbeat / Tired Of Toein’ The Line / Mona Lisa
I MIGHT single
Epic Records, 1990
I Might / Love Won’t Stop
THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF MUSIC… ROCK’N’ROLL LP
Telstar Records, 1990
Love Attack / I Might / Yes I Do / Tell Me/Tear It Up / My Cutie Cutie / The Night Time Is The Right Time / Pink Champagne / If I Lose You / Queen Of The Hop / Rockin’ The Night Away
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE LP
Epic Records, 1991
Rockin’ Little Christmas / White Christmas / Sure Won’t Seem Like Christmas / I’ll Be Home This Christmas / Silent Night / It’s Gonna Be A Lonely Christmas / The Best Christmas Of Them All / Merry Christmas Pretty Baby / Christmas Wish / So Long Christmas
Comments: Album credits claim that Micky plays on all the tracks but he’s not the guitarist on “Merry Christmas Everyone” or “Blue Christmas”.
Epic Records, 1992
Radio / Oh Baby Don’t (Outtake)
Comments: Micky plays only on the b-side.
I HEAR YOU KNOCKING single
MAM Records, 1970
I Hear You Knocking / Black Bill
BORN TO BE WITH YOU single
Rockfield Records, 1973
Born To Be With You / Pick Axe Rag
Comments: Micky plays only on the b-side.
Swan Song Records, 1981
Baby Let’s Play House
Comments: “Baby Let’s Play House” was recorded in 1968 but it was released 13 years later.
Arista Records, 1982
Deep In The Heart Of Texas / Louisiana Man
Comments: Micky told me that he played on “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” although record sleeve doesn’t mention that.
THE WANDERER EP
Arista Records, 1982
The Wanderer / From Small Things Big Things Come / Your True Love
Comments: Some pressings of “D.E.7” had this free live EP which was recorded at The Venue (London).
I HEAR YOU ROCKIN’ LP
Columbia Records, 1987
Girls Talk /Here Comes The Weekend / Queen Of Hearts / Paralyzed / The Wanderer / Crawling From The Wreckage / Slipping Away / Information / I Hear You Knocking / I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock’n’Roll) / Ju Ju Man
Comments: This is a Live LP which was recorded at Roseland (New York City), The Venue (London) and The Capitol Theatre (Passaic, New Jersey).
BACK TO THE BEACH (Various Artists) LP
Columbia Records, 1987
RIGHT STRING BABY single
United Artists Records, 1973
Louisiana Hoedown / Right String Baby
UBANGI STOMP single
United Artists Records, 1976
Ubangi Stomp / Tennessee
GOOD ROCKIN’ TONITE LP
United Artists Records, 1977
Boogie Woogie Country Girl /Mystery Train / Big River / Ting-A-Ling / Honky Tonkin’ / If You Can’t Rock Me / It’s My Own Business / Maybelline / Settin’ The Woods On Fire /Good Rockin’ Tonite / Tennessee / Red Hot / Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Comments: Album credits claim that forth song is “Ain’t Got No Thing” but it’s really “Ting-A-Ling”. Micky sings lead on following tracks: “Mystery Train”, “If You Can’t Rock Me”, “Maybelline”, “Good Rockin’ Tonite”, “Red Hot”.
IT’S ROCK’N’ROLL VOL. 2 (Various Artists) LP
Super Beeb Records, 1978
Don’t You Lie To Me / Flip Flop & Fly
GERAINT WATKINS & DOMINATORS LP
Vertigo Records, 1979
Man Smart Women Smarter / Casting My Spell / In The Night / Grow Too Old / Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Gotta Find My Baby / Paralysed / Nobody / Deep In The Heart Of Texas / Don’t You Just Know It / If Walls Could Talk / My Baby Left Me / Cakewalk Into Town
Comments: Micky is one of the vocalists on “Don’t You Just Know It”, he plays bass on “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”. On “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” and “If Walls Could Talk” he sings background vocals. He also plays percussion on “If Walls Could Talk”.
IT’S ROCK’N’ROLL VOL. 2 (Various Artists) LP
Super Beeb Records, 1978
Matchbox / CC Rider
JET PROPELLED THE 1978 COMEBACK CD
Sanctuary Records, 2002
Matchbox / CC Rider / Glad All Over / Be Bop A-Lula / That’s All Right Mama
Comments: This CD includes Carl’s complete 1978 It’s Rock’n’Roll session. Micky’s name on record sleeve is Micky King!
BLUE SUEDE SHOES: A ROCKABILLY SESSION CD
Snapper Records, 2006
Ringo Starr: Honey Don’t / Ringo Starr, Carl Perkins & Eric Clapton: Matchbox / Mean Woman Blues / Turn Around / Rosanne Cash & Carl Perkins: Jackson / Rosanne Cash: What Kind Of Girl / George Harrison: Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby / Carl Perkins, George Harrison & Dave Edmunds: Your True Love / Medley: That’s Alright Mama, Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Night Train To Memphis / George Harrison & Carl Perkins: Glad All Over / Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On / Gone Gone Gone / Blue Suede Shoes / George Harrison, Dave Edmunds & Carl Perkins: Blue Suede Shoes / Gone Gone Gone
Comments: This CD was recorded live in London, October 1985. Micky plays acoustic and electric guitar. He doesn’t play on following songs: “Boppin’ The Blues”, “Put Your Cat Clothes On”, “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise”.
CHRISTMAS AT THE PATTI 10″ LP
United Artists Records, 1973
Dave Edmunds & Micky Gee: Jingle Bells / Run Rudolph Run
Comments: Welsh band Man held Christmas party/live concert at the Patti Pavillion (Swansea, Wales) on December 19th 1972. This record is a document of that night.
Warner Bros Records, 1980
Night Time Djuke-Ing / Hard Hat Boogie / Whole Lotta Someday / Bingerama
PARTY PARTY LP
A & M Records, 1982
Dave Edmunds: Run Rudolph Run / Sting: Tutti Frutti / I Need Your Love So Bad
Comments: Album credits claim that Micky plays on the Dave’s track but I think that there’s only 1 guitarist, Dave.
PHIL EVERLY LP
Capitol Records, 1983
Phil Everly & Cliff Richard: She Means Nothing To Me / Phil Everly & Cliff Richard: I’ll Mend Your Broken Heart / Phil Everly: Oh Baby Oh (You’re The Star)
Comments: Mark Knopfler plays lead and Micky handles rhythm on all the 3 tunes.
BLUE SKIES single
EMI Records, 1983
Blue Skies / Tonight Will Be Alright
WORRYIN’ KIND single
Worryin’ Kind / O Kay
DE BOER IS TROEF LP
WEA Records, 1983
De Boer Is Troef / Kisjeskearl / Ies Kan Liehn / Lever Moar In / De Atoombom / Ik Val Altied Um (Vroum Hanselman)
DE KLOP OP ROCK LP
WEA Records, 1984
Deur Sneeuw En Kolde Veute / Luie Leen / Dansen
STEEN-STOAL EN SENTIMENT LP
WEA Records, 1985
Elektronika Woemahoeptjoep / Diana
WILLIE AND THE POORBOYS
WILLIE AND THE POORBOYS LP
Mercury Records, 1985
Baby Please Don’t Go / Can You Hear Me /Revenue Man / You Never Can Tell / Saturday Night / Let’s Talk It Over / All Night Long / Chicken Shack Boogie / Sugar Bee / Poor Boy Boogie
Comments: Micky is the lead vocalist on “Revenue Man”.
ONE AND ONE LP
Naturally / I Wanna Love You / Worryin’ Kind / Friday Night
PINKER & PROUDER THAN PREVIOUS LP
Demon Fiend Records, 1988
COMIN’ TO YOUR TOWN CD
Kat Records, 1992(?)
All Work And No Play
READY TEDDY! LP
Teldec Records, 1982
Cool wie Humphrey Bogart / Ready Teddy / Alte Liebe
rostet nicht / Jetzt oder nie
JUST A COUNTRY BOY single
Rockfield Records, 1977
Just A Country Boy / I Need You Every Hour
PROMISED LAND single
MCA Records, 1984
Promised Land / Somebody To Love
Polydor Records, 1984
Tous Les Sarmedis Soirs (One More Saturday Night) / Bye Bye / Je Me Sens Loin De Vous / Le Rock a Billy / Quand J’serai Grand J’serai Vieusc
Comments: Micky plays electric and acoustic guitars on these tracks.
TOM JONES ON STAGE EP
Decca Records, 1965
Bama Lama Bama Loo / I Can’t Stop Loving You / Lucille / Little By Little
Rob Ash is a Welsh gospel musician. Micky did sessions with him, but I don’t know any other details.
I’d like to thank Jaap, Stuart Colman and Phil Morgan for their help.
Towards end of his life, I had opportunity to watch Mickey playing a couple of times in a small pub in Nwport, South Wales with his three-piece band, The Sneakers. Although he wasn’t in good health, he picked up his Fender Telecaster, plugged it into his amp (no effects!) and Wow! I was just mesmorized by the sound and his brilliant playing technique.
Miss you, Mickey.
Lyndon Needs (Lyndon is guitar player of Crazy Cavan).
Now Dig This magazine, March 2009
By Ari Niskanen
On 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
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)
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…
After Dave Edmunds band Love Sculpture disbanded following the success of Sabre Dance. Micky and his mate drummer Tommy Reilly, also from Cardiff, put an advertisement in Melody Maker stating they were both looking for work. A singer, then unknown to them, Joe Cocker answered the ad and before too long Micky and Tom found themselves moving to London. This was actually in the April of 1968, before Sabre Dance had charted in the following November. They were to play with Joe Cocker and The Grease Band. Micky later commented that Joe had a “set that was a real mixture ranging from the Beatles to Chuck Jackson, during which Joe would stand on stage holding his pint and telling jokes between numbers. But what a singer! He was tremendous!” The band quickly established themselves on the hip London scene and in no time at all the band was making a lot of waves. Along with the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix and the Stones. Brian Jones of the Stones, Clapton and Hendrix would even attend their gigs, the best of which was at the Albert Hall supporting The Move and The Byrds.
After weeks of concentrated gigging, Micky and Tommy were given a brief holiday and they nipped home to Wales. But unknown to them studio time had been booked to record a Beatles tune “With A Little Help From My Friends.” This had been a Cocker stage favourite that Micky and Tom had helped to arrange. On finding out about ths Micky and Tommy quit in January 1969. There is a book out about Joe Cocker that states that Micky and Tommy weren’t up to it, which seems hard to believe. Anyway “With A Little Help From My Friends,” now with the now famous Jimmy Page on guitar, became a smash hit in October of 68 and a UK No 1.
Micky now back home in Cardiff started to work with various Cardiff rock n roll bands, musicians and singers, and then in 1970 Micky launced himself into a brand new venture. This ran alongside his other projects, and saw him once again working with his old buddy from the Joe Cocker Grease band days, Tommy Reilly. With Tom on drums and vocals, Lincoln Carr, also from Rumney in Cardiff where Micky grew up, on upright and electric bass, and Micky on lead guitar and harmony. But now in this band Micky would sometimes take the lead vocal. This band was quite successful and the Welsh Rockabilly trio stayed together for the next seven years.
Memphis Bend played local gigs from 1970 to the mid 1970’s and on Wednesdays they played at the Moon Club in Cardiff, which was on the top floor of a fruit and veg warehouse, located on the Hayes. Sometimes they had guests like Dave Edmunds and Geraint Watkins. Usually playing local gigs, Memphis Bend did go to Holland in the early 1970’s. Their set consisted mainly of 1950’s Rock’n’Roll like: “Bird Dog”, “Honey Don’t”, “Queen Of The Hop”, “White Lightning”, and “My Way”. But Micky would also feature in three guitar instrumentals: Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk”, Jeff Beck’s “Jeff’s Boogie” and the Yardbirds’ “Steeled Blues”.
During the mid 1970’s they recorded two singles. The first one was “Louisiana Hoedown” with the flip side “Right String Baby”(1973). “Louisiana Hoedown” is a quite unique Memphis Bend song. Whilst the other stuff that they recorded was Rockabilly or Country music, “Louisiana Hoedown” reminds me of The Band. Micky was really into The Band but he wasn’t so keen on Robbie Robertsons guitar playing, rather it’s the drumming and singing of Levon Helm that he loved. Not just for the way he sung but the whole persona of the man. Although Memphis Bend were only a three piece band, for this song they did a lot of overdubbing. For example, the song’s intro has three different guitars, and the result is a little bit garbled. This “wall of guitars” sound, makes Micky sound like a typical 70’s rock guitarist! Then again on “Right String Baby” Micky’s guitar has a lot of overdubbing. Here there are two lead guitars that trade licks. So the overall sound on this single is much rougher and modern than on other Memphis Bend records. In contrast the second single was “Ubangi Stomp”/”Tennesee”(1976), and the A-side is a good, solid version of Warren Smith’s Rockabilly classic.
By the middle 1970’s Memphis Bend were to back one of Micky’s heroes: Chuck Berry. Memphis Bend, plus a piano player, backed Berry on two gigs: at a festival at Buxton in Derbyshire, England on 21st July 1973 and at The Rainbow Theatre in London on 7th September 1973. However, the Chuck Berry whom Micky admired didn’t exist anymore. During the 1950’s Berry had been an innovator of popular music, wrote great songs and played wicked guitar. But by the 1970’s he had a “couldn’t care less” attitude. Even his recordings were just rehash versions of his old material. Then when he played live gigs his guitar was often out of tune. Another thing was that Berry hadn’t had his own band since the 1950’s, so concert managers provided bands for him. Then Berry often had this habit, during the first few numbers, of giving his backing musicians solos. Chuck would then ask the question to his audience “isn’t he great?” But when he gave Micky, a master of Chuck Berry style solos, who could play Berry riffs like a demon, a solo, there were to be no questions to the audience! Not only that, Chuck never gave Micky another solo. It’s impossible to know what Chuck thought but he acted in a similar way towards Keith Richards in 1972, who was also a disciple of Berry. Keith later told reporters: “Chuck didn’t want to be upstaged.” Micky and the band were going to go to Paris to back him the very next night, but Tommy decided that Chuck was a waste of time, and they pulled out.
Memphis Bend recorded their only LP, “Good Rockin’ Tonite”, in 1977. During their gigs they played all kinds of 1950’s Rock’n’Roll music and country stuff, but with recorded material it was Memphis and Sun Records that was their focus. Sun Records was a legendary Memphis record label where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins started their careers. For “Good Rockin’ Tonite” Memphis Bend recorded five songs that were originally released on Sun Records: “Mystery Train”, “Tennesee”, “Big River”, “Red Hot”, and “Good Rockin’ Tonight” plus the A sides of both their singles, “Right String Baby” and “Ugambi Stomp.” Carl Perkins’ “Tennesee” was in praise of Tennesee itself, and it’s music. Even the graphic on the “Good Rockin’ Tonite” sleeve reminds us of the Sun logo.
To say that the recording sessions of the LP were unusual would be an understatement. Memphis Bend had to record secretly. There was another band in the studio during the daytime, and it was only when this other band went to bed, that Memphis Bend were able to sneak in and record their own LP. So Memphis Bend used this other band’s studio time, and at 4 am. they would put the microphones back in the places where the other band had left them. This routine went on night after night. Who was this other band? Queen!!! Freddie Mercury and the guys! They were recording their legendary LP “A Night At The Opera” right there in Rockfield. This was the LP that included “Bohemian Rhapsody” and I think that even today the Queen guys didn’t have a clue what went on. Memphis Bend had been having problems with their record company so this was probably the reason why they had to record this way.
Micky’s playing is great throughout the album and inspired. He plays a fluid James Burton style ‘chicken pickin’ lick on “Big River.” There is also a great intro on “Settin’ The Woods On Fire.” Here Micky and guest musician, pedal steel player B.J. Cole, play the intro, with Micky playing descending notes and B.J. playing ascending notes. Both these things are happening at once. On the title track’s first solo, there is a great “question – answer” session with phrases, where Micky plays the first lick on the lower strings and then “answers” it on the higher strings. Then later on the song’s second solo there are beautiful Chet Atkins inspired rolls. On “If You Can’t Rock Me” Micky again does some great fingerpicking. At the end of the first solo Micky plays one of my all time favourite guitar licks. The song’s key is C and the first six notes of this lick are part of the C major scale (G,F,E,D,C,H) and the last six notes are part of the C minor scale (Bb,Ab,G,F,Eb,D)!! I remember when I asked Micky about this lick, and he smiled and said something like “that lick don’t make any sense but when you play it fast it sounds great.” After this album Memphis Bend disbanded, a clash of ego’s perhaps, who knows! All in all, although the guitar picking on this album is brilliant, I personally prefer Micky’s later work with Shakin’ Stevens, where even more of Micky’s personality came through.
(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)
SHAKIN’ STEVENS – FIRST ENCOUNTERS – By Ari Niskanen
In the Autumn of 1971 a Welsh Rock’n’Roll group called Shakin’ Stevens and the Sunsets started to record “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent” LP for CBS Records. They started to record with guitarist Carl Petersen but they needed a new picker as they had to record another six more songs for the LP, and it was Micky who stepped in and played on the remaining cuts. The highlight of which was “Right String Baby” on which Micky played two great solos with a great, slightly distorted sound. He plays some great finger picking stuff and ultra fast pull- off licks. Another cut “Superstar” also includes some great finger pick playing. Unfortunately, the guitar has been mixed down on this record, and it’s difficult to hear him clearly. “I’m Not a JD” didn’t sell too many copies when it was initially released, however, when Shakin’ Stevens hit the big time ten years later, it was re-released and it sold very well both in the UK and all over Europe.
Micky played a few gigs with Sunsets but as they played all over UK he didn’t want to go on the road recalling the traumatic Love Sculpture tour in the USA one year earlier. Paul Barrett’s book of Shakin’ Stevens gives a different explanation saying that the other Sunsets were too wild for Micky, and that’s why he quit. But actually Micky told me that it was his reluctance to tour was the real reason.
In 1980 Shakin’ Stevens was a rising star and he had an excellent record deal with the big Epic label and also performed on the rock n roll “Oh Boy” TV series which was broadcasted in the UK and Germany. It was the same year as he got his first hit “Hot”Dog”. Everything was going fine but then the current lead guitarist Albert Lee quit, because he had a chance to play with the Everly Brothers who were his childhood idols. For a replacement Shaky suggested Micky who had made a big impression on him nine years earlier, back home in Cardiff. Micky’s first session with Shaky produced a second hit single “Marie Marie” and he was accepted into the
band and performed on “The Entertainers” TV show.
The line up now was Shakin’ Stevens vocals, B.J. Cole pedal steel guitar, Geraint Watkins piano, Howard Tibble drums, Roger McKew rhythm guitar, Stuart Coleman bass, and Micky Gee lead guitar.
It must be emphasised that many times when great players play 1950’s Rock’n’Roll they don’t look at it with respect, and they think it’s too easy for them, not appreciating it’s key components. Then the result usually sounds boring. But now that Shaky had technically great players who loved 1950’s music, he had the tools to do something positive. All the songs Shaky recorded were typically simple 1950’s Rock’n’Roll but the musicians were able to add all kinds of clever twists to the songs. Perhaps tempo changes and other little tricks that made the music much more interesting and exciting. Additionally, with soloist like Micky and Geraint that had fire in their playing, and a great vocalist, they had created a hell of a Rock’n’Roll band. Furthermore, the bass player Stuart Colman was also Shaky’s record producer and band leader and an avid collector of 1950’s Rock’n’Roll records. Too often modern rock n roll artists record familiar rock n roll songs. Shaky wanted to record good obscure cover songs and the band usually then did a completely new arrangement. Micky too, over the years, would suggest to Shaky songs like “Revenue Man”, “If You Can’t Rock Me” and “Singing The Blues” etc.
Stuart and Micky worked really hard on the guitar parts, and Micky didn’t often use an amplifier on these sessions. He plugged straight into the mixing desk in the control room where Stuart sat. In there they both worked on the guitar parts, swapping ideas, and trying to create something that, quoting Stuart’s words, “really means something.” They often worked solos bar by bar which helps to explain why many of Shaky’s songs have a really melodic guitar solo. Stuart said that Micky liked it when somebody made him really work hard. Many times Micky, who has a reputation for being a great player, would be asked to play something, and Micky joking, would object and remind Stuart that he used to play in a ‘pop band’ called Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, back in the 60’s. Nevertheless, Stuart got Micky some great session work during the 1980’s, and over the years Micky has had most of his session work from musician buddies. He was never an actual session musician as he could not read music, and as a matter of fact, he has lost many possible sessions because of that.
Roger McKew was another guitarist in Shaky’s band in the early 1980’s. Years later Micky commented that “when I went to London I played with other musicians and I found it hard, playing alongside them (other guitar players) they are very good, probably better than me, but they are, dare I say, getting in the way. I know that’s a terrible thing to say but that’s how I really feel about it.” Stuart Colman comments that this was a problem especially with rhythm guitar playing. When Micky, for example, plays Chuck Berry style, he has a powerful style which covers a lot, add another electric rhythm guitar, and the result would have been a mess. To resolve this Micky would first put down the rhythm guitar track and then over dub the lead parts.
Shaky’s next LP “Marie Marie” was released in October 1980. This record includes some of Micky’s greatest picking. “Nobody” for instance, includes a wonderful, angry Berry-style solo. Here Micky tuned down his low E string to D when he played the rhythm guitar; the song’s key is D. On “Revenue Man” the solo has a Jerry Reed or Chet Atkins style pull-off licks. Whilst, at the end of “Slippin’and Slidin’” he plays great lick with a backstroke technique. “Move” has some of his greatest playing, where Micky combines jazz licks, harmonics, Chuck Berry third intervals, great conversational “question and answer” licks with the pedal steel guitar and God only knows what else!
Shaky’s next single was “This Ole House” which was released in March 1981. It went straight to number one in the UK and all over Europe making Shaky a teenage idol! Micky’s solo on this record is epic. The guitar has a very observable role and he plays a very melodic lead break, which includes fingerpicking and Chet Atkins influenced rolls. It is good that when Micky plays fingerpicking style solo, he doesn’t always use that technique for the whole solo, because a solo full of that style would be too much. Fingerpicking style covers a lot, because you have alternating bass notes on lower strings and top of that there are lead notes on higher strings. So, for example, on “This Ole House” the rolls and the two note licks, make it much more interesting. Then again on some of his best solos, like Shaky’s “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles” and “I Might” he uses the fingerpicking style very tastefully, and never overuses it. Sometimes, to the annoyance of Micky, Shaky’s recording engineers changed guitar sound after the recording session, and “This Ole House” is perhaps a perfect example where the guitar sound is perhaps too bassy.
Shaky’s next single “You Drive Me Crazy” includes a brilliant solo and rhythm playing. In the guitar solo Micky uses the following trick where he changes the song’s key during the guitar solo. “You Drive Me Crazy” is originally in F but when Micky takes the solo, the song’s key changes to G. At the end of the solo the key returns to F. “You Drive Me Crazy” is a simple tune, so this sudden change of key makes it more varied. Dave Edmunds has also used this trick in the “Queen Of The Hearts” and “Singing The Blues,” so I’m unsure who invented it. The solo itself is very melodic and includes Micky’s typical “one moment sad, next moment happy” playing. The end of “You Drive Me Crazy” is also great, when Shaky repeats the song title and Micky replies with guitar licks. To the average listener this perhaps might sound like a jam session, but it was not. Here Stuart and Micky have carefully created melodic licks right through to the end of the song. Micky actually plays a two note lick (using thirds) which was inspired by Dire Straits’ guitarist Mark Knopfler, coupled with a great percussive lick on which he strums muted strings near guitar’s fingerboard.
At this high point of his career, Shaky released his next LP called “Shaky” in May 1981, and if you have never heard Micky’s playing perhaps this should be your first purchase. It has a wonderful variety of styles, with Chet Atkins style rolls and tenth intervals on “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles”, syncopated Berry licks on “I’m Knockin’”, twin guitar harmony by playing single note lines simultaneously on “Don’t Bug Me Baby”, fast pull off licks on “Don’t She Look Good” plus all the other Micky trademarks are here. On “Let Me Show You How” Micky plays “death thumb” style. He plays constant notes on the open low E string and at the same time plays the lead notes on the higher strings all in the key of E. He got inspiration for this from James Burton who also used this style on Ricky Nelson’s “My Babe”. On “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter” Micky plays a great pedal steel lick. First he plays a D7 chord of D, A, C and F# notes and then he bends the F# half a step higher which creates a cool sounding D7sus4 chord. He borrowed this idea from another great Tele player, Roy Buchanan. You can hear Roy playing this same lick on “After Hours”.
Micky played on the following sell out tours with Shaky:
UK May-June 1981
Europe September 1981
UK November-December 1981
Shaky was a great vocalist but on stage he moved so much that he often sounded out of breath. So Micky would help out by singing “It’s My Own Business” and “Revenue Man” on the Shaky tours, and although his voice was thin he delivered these with lots of feeling.
Micky started to play with the Dave Edmunds Band in Autumn of 1981. For a while he was playing for both artists, Shaky and Dave, which sometimes led to some funny situations. At the end of October Dave was doing a tour in Scandinavia, and Micky got a frantic call from Shaky’s manager. Shaky’s manager wanted him to travel to Holland where the TV station was about to film Shaky’s Dutch concert. Micky said he could but only if they got him another Telecaster to play. They did, and he flew down from the Edmunds tour (which probably pissed Edmunds off) and did the concert. During filming Micky broke a string but changed it so fast that no one noticed.
At this time Shaky often used to do many TV shows just miming to his records with the band and Micky didn’t like doing this, so that also was one of the reasons he left. Later when I asked Stuart Colman about this he suspected that was one of the reasons and similar pressures. Remember, Shaky was Europe’s biggest star at the time and the pressure from all directions must have been enormous. Stuart too told me that “the pressure was unbelieveable and as I had produced Shaky for four years by then, I needed a good rest.” Besides, Micky was drawn to Dave because he use to do 10 – 12 week tours of the USA, a place that Micky loved, and therefore a good reason to work with Dave.
The next LP to be released by Shaky was “Give Me Your Heart Tonight” released in January 1982. Micky plays guitar on four tracks and “Shirley” includes a brilliant string bending country solo. This track was actually the only time that Micky and Shaky’s next picker, Billy Bremner, played together. They play the song’s main riff in unison.
“Vanessa” is an excellent rocker on which he plays three choruses and a long outro solo. Micky here has a great and quite unique “dry” sound for this track. On “Too Too Much” he plays a twin guitar solo with the pedal steel. Then on “Oh Julie” which was yet another UK number one single, he does one of those incredible key changes during his solo. I have listened to that track for many years but only recently realised that there is a key change. Surprisingly, as Shaky’s music is suppose to be traditional simple rock n roll it does sound radical to change the key in the middle, even strange. But when I talked to Stuart Colman about this he remarked how it still impresses him how smoothly Micky handled those key changes.
(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)
TOM JONES DAYS – By Ari Niskanen
In 1964 Micky started to play with a Welsh band Tommy Scott and The Senators. He quit his day job when the band headed to London in the June and he was to be a full time musician from then on. When they reached London they changed their name to Tom Jones and Squires. But in the beginning life in London was rough living in a lousy basement flat in Ladbroke Grove, that the bands manager Gordon Mills had got them. Plus they were only given £1 a day each to live on, and most of the time they were starving.
The band didn’t get much money from gigs either, as they played old 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll music and it was difficult to get gigs. Micky: “It wasn’t very hip to be Welsh in those days. If you were Irish or Scottish, or best of all from Liverpool, you had a bit of credibility, but Welsh groups were unfashionable. All the other groups we met used to sneer and put us down, ’oh no, anything but bloody Welsh.’ We were definitely not the in thing. Welsh kids were then so naive, and we were more naive than most. We used to support bands like the Rolling Stones and all the other hairy groups and Tom would come out with his hair slicked back in a DA and wearing tight trousers and a frilly shirt. We would be in our little Marks and Spencers shirts that Gordon had got us, so we hardly looked like we came from the same planet. Worse still we had weird and wild looks so we had to have our hair dyed black to match Tom’s.”
Things changed when Gordon Mills and Les Reed wrote a tune called “It’s No Unusual”. Originally Mills wrote that song for Sandie Shaw and he wanted Tom and the Squires to make a demo recording of the song for her. Micky: “Gordon played it for me, he was a good musician, and straight away I smelled some interesting chords. I thought ’Yeah that’s for us. That’s nice, that’s different.’ But Dave Cooper and Vernon, rhythm guitarist and bassist of the Squires, couldn’t get it all. They couldn’t learn it, they were great blokes, but not great musicians. So we went in and recorded it without Dave and without Vernon, with no bass and no rhythm guitar. Tom sang, Chris Slade the drummer played tambourine, and I played lead and dubbed in some rhythm.” “After recording it we all went to the pub and I said loud and clear that I wanted Tom and the Squires to record it.” Finally Gordon agreed to give the song to Tom if Sandie Shaw turned it down. Fortunately Shaw did reject the offering so the song was handed back to Tom.
But Gordon had not failed to register the Squires’ musical limitations. He made Tom go into the Decca studios and record it again without any of the Squires playing. In fact it was Jimmy Page who played guitar on “It’s No Unusual,” which was released in January 1965, before Tom and the Squires started a nationwide tour with Cilla Black and Tommy Roe in February 1965. Tom had no promotion organised for the record, but one or two radio shows played it, and he started to get acknowledged both on air and on the tour. Then as he crept into the charts he got moved up another notch on the tour billing.
In March the song reached the number one spot in UK and Tom and the boys could afford a more comfortable life style. They moved away from their Ladbroke Grove flat in Spring 1965, and Tom bought himself a mansion in Shepperton whilst the Squires were rehoused in a modest, rented, semi-detached house in Hounslow. The Squires can actually be heard, from this time, on a Tom Jones Live EP, which was also released in 1965.
Micky later recalled the days of success: “At first it was great. Most of the times we would just get pissed and knock off birds whenever we could. Even when Tom was number one and we were touring on circuits like the Top Rank, and before we went on, you would find us up in the bar pouring beer down our throats and holding court in our mohair suits.” “We would have eight, nine or ten pints and then go on, so we were real pissheads. It was a bad habit to get into and I had a real problem for a time, as it got out of hand. In a way it was not surprising as we were living in Swinging London at its height and we had more booze and girls than we could handle.” “I remember I was twenty-one and I went to the doctor and he said, ’if you keep drinking at this rate by the time you’re thirty you’ll be twenty stone.’ Even so I was around thirteen stone. But it got worse when we went on tour to Australia, you would buy a round and get a great jug full.” But his whole time with Tom badly affected him as Micky recalls, “I remember Tom decided that because he had black hair all the rest of us had to have black hair. I’m sure that’s why I’ve gone bald, all that dyeing your hair is not good .”
Back when Tom and the boys lived in poverty, everything was shared equally but now only Tom got the big bucks. That really annoyed his band. Micky: “After the number one I would often complain about our treatment but Gordon would always tell me, ’there are plenty more guitarists in Wales, Micky.’” However, after this first hit the Squires got £10 a week and in 1967 they earned £40 a week.
Following “It’s No Unusual” Tom had many other hits like “What’s New Pussycat” and “Green Green Grass Of Home”. Micky: “Once Tom was famous I was made musical director and Tom used to fly me out to places like Bermuda to work on routines with him. But I only got the job because none of the others could read music. Tom found his best-known song, ’Green, Green Grass Of Home’ on a Jerry Lee Lewis album, ’Country Songs For City Folks’, and he gave it to me to write out the chords for the boys. Tom said, ’that’s a great song, I want to do that,’ so I just sat in a hotel in Wigan and wrote out the chords and said, ’there you are, lads, we’re doing that tomorrow night’. When I met Micky in 1990 he told me that he can’t read music, but that it is possible to write out a song without the ability to read.
On one particular Bermuda trip Tom and Micky were supposed to continue to the USA. Micky: “When we got to Bermuda, Tom and I were supposed to be going on to Los Angeles where Tom had some more concerts booked. More than anything in the world it was my ambition to meet Elvis Presley and I kept saying to Tom, ’let’s meet Elvis’ but Tom scoffed. He didn’t think it would be possible. He didn’t think we could get to see Elvis – but I did – and I kept on at him, and telling him that he had had a big hit in the United States. I remember telling him, ’how can you think about just lying on the beach when Elvis is only a few miles away?’ I knew we could fix it.”
“But then Linda, Tom’s wife, said to me quietly one night, she was supposed to be flying back to Heathrow, that she wanted to go with Tom to LA. She asked if I didn’t mind swapping tickets with her and I could go home? Mind! I minded like hell! I was devastated but what could I say, I couldn’t refuse her, as she hadn’t seen much of Tom for months. However, he didn’t seem bothered either way. Anyway, I flew back to Britain and then I remember a week later I was in the house in Hounslow when Tom came in and proudly showed me a picture of him with Elvis. I was green with envy.”
Today Micky feels that “It was fun while it lasted, but even after all that happened with the boys and that, I would never take away his singing ability. He had a remarkable voice and even in the van when we were going to a gig he would be singing Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Salomon Burke in that amazing voice.”
Micky played an Epiphone guitar when he was with Tom, and this is one of the few times that he played a different guitar to his trusty old Telecaster. He bought that guitar from his brother Thomas in the 1960’s. But his Tele is a hard-wearing instrument, and Micky likes that because it will take knocks many times over when he plays gigs on the road, and Micky knows that he can trust his Tele because it won’t break down.
Micky has never been a snob when it comes to equipment and in 1983 when he did a session for Phil Everly and Cliff Richard the lead guitarist was Mark Knopfler. There was Micky with his little Session amp and Telecaster, and on Knopfler’s side of the studio was a full range of guitars, amps and gadgets. Knopfler went over to Micky and said “Is that all you are going to use?”. Micky just looked at him and said “that’s all I f&#?ing need”!
(this is just one chapter from Ari Niskanen’s biography of Micky Gee
hopefully more chapters will follow – Phil Morgan)