Me And My Shadows

by Chris Colverson

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1961 Live And Kicking

Everybody else queueing for tickets looked like this, with their DAs, leather jackets and winkle-pickers!

According to Bruce: “Cliff attracted female fans by the thousand, but in our case most of the fans were guys, many of whom came along to ogle at Hank’s guitar playing… Sometimes, during a concert we could see guys in the audience staring mesmerised at our fingers, watching every note we played. Others would make copious notes on our stage performances, their heads buried in a book listening to the music.”

Not me, guys!

Parents are renowned for getting it wrong, but sometimes mine got it just right. It was Dad who spotted the poster, later announcing that, unless he were much mistaken, a musical troupe called The Shadows was due to perform at the Granada, Tooting. At least that’s what he’d seen on his way home from work.

I couldn’t possibly go to Tooting by myself, not even to buy the tickets, so it was me and Mum queueing outside the cinema early on Saturday morning. On the night, Mum and Dad came, too: front row of the circle - 7/6 each! 

The Shadows, now topping the bill in their own right, were on tour with other artistes. According to the programme for the Granada, Tooting, on Saturday, July 15th 1961, these included Helen Shapiro and the compere, who was one George Martin. Search me! I only had eyes for the fellas in the mohair suits and bow-ties, who were swinging their guitars to the side and doing the cross-over steps. I was a screamer, so I discovered, carried away by the sheer delight of seeing these real, live figures that, until then, had been only in still photos or on black-and-white TV. I was looking at approximately this, only in 3D all-action colour.

Stockton Globe, 7th February, 1961

My actual copy of the EP

Then there was the sound! Take it from me, not even the Crackerjack video shown below has been able to capture the thrill of seeing and hearing FBI performed live on stage in those days…

FBI Crackerjack

It’s a long time ago, but I think this is what I heard. If you play the following videos back to back, it will give you some idea of what it was like to see The Shadows live. When I saw this concert, they were probably still filming The Young Ones on the weekdays.

Shazam

Shadoogie

Sleepwalk - live SA

The Frightened City

Man Of Mystery

The Stranger

Love You More Than I Can Say & Midnight

Quartermaster’s Stores

Fancy an encore?

FBI Live in South Africa

Inspired by a group called The Treniers and by The Dallas Boys, says Bruce, they had worked out “an arrangement of kicks and steps on stage, to give the audience something to watch while listening to the music. And that’s how the ‘walk’ evolved. It was all very simple at first – steps to the side, steps to the back and kick.”

According to Wikipedia…

'The walk' is three steps within a 60–60–60-degree triangle, with a reverse right-heel back-kick, with optional can-can finale. This was varied throughout a gig during certain numbers, for example "FBI".

It was by far the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me! If you were lucky in those days you might have got their autographs as well. I didn’t, of course, being far too shy to go anywhere near the stage door. The collection shown here was built up over several years, and some autographs were acquired for me, rather than bagged in person; but no less than three generations of my family have managed to get Hank’s autograph. To this day I still don’t know quite how I got hold of this one of Tony’s…the one in the green ink…I’m pretty sure I’d remember it if I’d ever met him!

But, Yes! The “Chris” in question here was me! By some miraculous circumstance, the girls in the typing-pool where Mum worked were given free tickets to a BBC radio lunchtime concert that was being recorded close by.

Mum and her mate both went, but they separated so that they could maximise their chances of catching one of The Shadows as they left the studio. I’m still enjoying the vision of Mum, having finally caught up with Jet, saying, “Would you mind putting, ‘Love to Chris’?” or was it more a case of Jet looking at Mum (35 at the time) and asking, “Is it for you?” I got Hank’s autograph in person and Bruce’s, too, at the ABC, Kingston in 1964. My son Dan got Hank’s again for me at a Jeff Beck concert at the Royal Albert Hall in June 2004, when he spotted The Shadows in the audience, sitting in the box behind him! I got Tony’s autograph and signature in a letter. And Boy! Am I going to be telling ya about that later…

After the Granada, Tooting, there was another treat in store. Rehearsals for The Young Ones movie had begun in May. It was shot at Elstree throughout the summer. The film-makers originally intended the parts eventually allocated to bespectacled Richard O’Sullivan and blond Melvyn Hayes to be played by Hank and Jet, but it was found that they appeared in scenes which also included The Shadows as the youth club resident band, so it couldn’t be done.

Nevertheless, The Young Ones really did star Cliff and The Shadows and it was in glorious Technicolor, too. The film firmly established Cliff as “Boy Next Door” and the title song sold over a million on advance orders and went straight to No.1.

All Shadowmaniacs will be familiar with every scene of this film and can probably quote the script as well.

Cliff plays Nicky Black, son of property developer Hamilton Black (Robert Morley), who wants to buy the site on which Cliff’s dilapidated Youth Club stands. Cliff’s friends at the Youth Club include his girlfriend (Carole Gray), but none of them know that he is Hamilton Black’s son. The kids decide to put on a show to raise the money to renew their lease and prevent building plans from going ahead. A well-known singer, Dorinda Morell (Sonya Cordeau), volunteers to take part in the show. Cliff becomes the Mystery Singer, whose voice is illegally broadcast to attract an audience but, at the last minute, Nicky’s father is on his way to close the show by announcing that he has bought the theatre. Cliff rescues his Dad from an attack by some Youth Club members. The show goes ahead with Dad joining in, and promising to build a new Club for them.

Filming, directed by Sidney J. Furie, began at the end of May, often, said The Shadows, “from 7.30 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. with interviews and recording sessions jammed into any spare moment”. They were so bored between shooting scenes that they took to racing toy boats and fishing for newts at the artificial lake at Elstree, nevertheless still finding time whilst on set to co-write The Shadows by Themselves, with Royston Ellis.

As soon as the movie was released in December, my father risked arrest by carting nine semi-hysterical teenaged girls, all arms, legs and elbows, crammed into the back of a mini-van, to see it. After that, I think I saw it twice weekly. On one occasion, beset by misfortune, and with my head split open after a fall, I was deemed not well enough to go to school, with my stitches and my bump, but not too ill to stop Mum taking me out for the afternoon to see it AGAIN.

Well, nobody makes them quite like that anymore, but for those who don’t mind a bit of repetition, here are the best bits…

Gotta Funny Feeling

Lessons in Love

The Savage

We Say Yeah

Note to Shadowmaniacs: OK, you can scream now!

Meanwhile, in September (wonder of wonders!) came the first LP, simply named THE SHADOWS. It was a showcase of such varied musical talents that Wikipedia still carries the entry:

“The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom, were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence… The Shadows are the third most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No.1 selling EPs.”

This album was a long time coming; and the search for perfection in the recording studio is, perhaps, never better illustrated that in this version of just one number, Gonzales – Take 58!

Below is a picture of my own grubby, much finger-printed and paint-splattered copy of the original mono record. To be honest, I couldn’t say whether I spent more time listening to it or gawking at the cover and the photos on the reverse! In the corners you can still see the rusty marks of drawing pins used to attach it to various walls…

The Shadows’ first album stayed in the LP charts for, says Bruce, “an incredible fifty-seven weeks”. For 51 of those weeks it was in the Top Ten and for 5 weeks it was No.1. There were 14 new tracks, here as listed by Jim Nugent on www.malcolmcampbell.me.uk/shadows-uk-lps.pdf 

“SIDE ONE: 

1. Shadoogie 

2. Blue Star 

3. Nivram 

4. Baby My Heart (vocal with electric guitars) 

5. See You In My Drums 

6. All My Sorrows (folky vocal with acoustic guitars) 

7. Stand Up And Say That! (piano-based instrumental; Hank on piano) 

SIDE TWO: 

1. Gonzales 

2. Find Me A Golden Street 

3. Theme From A Filleted Place 

4. That's My Desire (vocal with electric guitars) 

5. My Resistance Is Low 

6. Sleepwalk 

7. Big Boy

Shadoogie, Nivram, See You In My Drums, Stand Up And Say That!, Gonzales, Theme From A Filleted Place and Big Boy were group-composed originals.” 

The first track Shadoogie, Jet’s showpiece Nivram and Tony’s drum solo See You In My Drums are probably quite familiar by now, so here are some of the lesser-known tracks,

Blue Star

Big Boy

My Resistance Is Low

Find Me A Golden Street

Baby My Heart

Theme From A Filleted Place

All too soon, though, it was autumn 1961. No need to remind any Shadowmaniac what happened then. For teeny-boppers throughout the land, never was a story of more woe…

Tony left The Shadows.

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