Me And My Shadows

by Chris Colverson

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Introduction

It will have occurred to many of my acquaintance that I am a life-long devotee of The Shadows – a Shadows’ Fan. Between 1960 and 1964 I suffered from a fairly common disease called Shadowmania. There’s no real cure for this condition, but it can be treated and to a certain extent controlled. If you can find a sympathetic therapist, you could try a “talking cure”, although in some cases this has been known to make it worse.

Hank Marvin - Jet Harris - Bruce Welch - Tony Meehan

This web site is my attempt to trace the origins of the ailment. It often helps to ask, “When Did the Trouble Start?” This line-up lasted until October 1961, by which time I was already sadly afflicted. For many sufferers, the symptoms persist until the present day.

Nearly seven million people have watched these Youtube videos* of The Shadows playing their first No.1 hit, Apache. Nobody knows why. 

*Parental Advisory: Some twelve-year-olds may find the content of these videos vaguely disturbing.

Shadowmania: Some Symptoms

The world is littered with Shadowmaniacs. My dentist, for example, felt he had to join the Fan Club, buy a guitar just like Hank Marvin’s and have a mug with a picture of a Fender in his treatment room. My poor husband has just spent Lord Knows How Long making himself a copy of a 1950s guitar called a Telecaster, like the one Bruce Welch is allegedly playing in the pictures above. For me, however, the problem was already well underway by the time I’d heard the first 12 seconds of Cliff Richard singing Please Don’t Tease, which would have been sometime in July 1960.

Cliff Richard - Please Don’t Tease

I was 12, travelling in our family car with Dad driving and listening to the radio. After hearing the first few bars, I asked my Dad, “What is that noise? No – not that noise - the one in the background?”

“I think it’s an electric bass guitar,” said Dad. This was very astute of him, as Jet Harris was just about the only person playing electric bass in the country at the time.

Picture from The Shadows By Themselves

Anyway, I bought the record and the next step was to find out who was making “that noise”. Turns out it was one of this bunch. The blond one, I think. The whole thing got out of hand very quickly. I was, I repeat, 12.

Well, who are The Shadows? And why should they affect people in this way? To trace the origins of Shadowmania, we shall have to go back in time to discover How It All Came About, document the activities of this group of young people and establish how it was that they came together, thus actually causing the problem. Some Shadows’ Fans maintain that nobody would have heard of “The Shadows”, were it not for Jet Harris coming up with the name in a pub called The Six Bells near Ruislip in July 1959. Others stubbornly insist that it all started in a flat in Hampstead with a little boy called Tony Meehan. So what we need here is a TIMELINE. 

It’s not easy to diagnose Shadowmania, but if you’ve read this far, you might well benefit by seeing a doctor. Please proceed with caution.

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