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BLUE RUST

Wigan

   

 Winter Gardens Ballroom Blackpool.

 

Phil Wakefield: keyboards - Vox Continental two manual - Vocal.

Bill Halliwell: Fender Jazzman Bass - Lead Vocal.

John Watkinson: Fender Guitar - Lead Vocal.

Derek Westhead: Premier Drums -

 

Winter Gardens, Llandudno.

 

"All the material was pop - harmony type stuff and some of our own interpretation. When I left the group it was decided that we'd visit The Answers recording studio in Farnworth and record four tracks - not necessarily the best tracks - but one each that we each did the lead singing.  Several copies were produced - an EP - and we dished them out.  As far as I know I have the only one remaining copy. The tracks we recorded were - Derek: Bluberry Blue. Phil: Here Comes The Sun. John: Carpet Man and the fourth one by Bill - I simply can't remember?

 

Winter Gardens, Llandudno.

 

  After I had left, Bill Halliwell bought the one-off bass speakers - mentioned elsewhere in Lanky Beat from The Answers when they disbanded and we used them until Blue Rust folded after a bad road accident in Sheffield.

 

 

  In 1978 I was given a challenge by one of the top local groups to build a three pylon, four colours lighting-set that would run off a 13 Amp socket.  I did it!  Couldn't get to sleep last night racking my brains as to who it was.  I know we tested it out for the first time at Gidlow Lane Bowling Club in Wigan - I think Billy Birchall might have been the drummer at the time.    One Saturday night will I was still building the rig, the group went to Halifax for a gig and then realised the lead box was at my house!  After a quick dash from Hindley Green to Halifax they managed to start their first spot on time! Manic!"

 

 

 

  

 

  After about three months of serious practice we messed around trying to break into the Cabaret Circuit but as soon as William at L. E. Agency heard us he wanted us to be a straight harmony pop group working for him.  We all got on well together and soon we were building up quite a following and a good reputation.  The good old red Bedford van had to go and the greyCommer JU van took over.  Boy did that van have a character – like rust in the fuel tank!  How many times we must have run the engine being fed from a 1 gallon can of petrol via a bit of plastic pipe!!

 

  Again packed out with much bigger gear and little room for the four of us and two roadies.  Phil, the keyboard player was always concerned that his Vox Continental Duo was susceptible to condensation which affected the tones somewhat so each evening we had to unload the key board on dropping him off! New Premier Drums arrived - Dec 1970 which I still own today - to quote Doug Larby – 'the smartest antique drum set in the world!'

 

 

Bill Halliwell: Bass Guitar. John Fishwick: Answers: Kettle: Keyboards.

John 'Wokky' Watkinson. Billy 'Winston' Birchall: Drums.

 

Below I have listed a few of the most memorable venues we played..  

 

Milnthorpe Memorial Hall – now everyone said this was a place to be avoided!  And they were right.  We were told ‘make sure you back your van right up to the doors so no-one can get around the sides’.  What!  Basically there was no-one in until the local pub shut then they flocked in. The organisers collected the money and when everyone was in, cleared off!  Fighting was part of the night including a do at the group.  We managed to befriend the leader of the pack and survived to play another day!

 

The Pink Elephant Club - Colours- Who didn’t play here as it was William’s own club? – 'Don’t play for me son and you don’t get any work.'  To be fair we had some great nights there and it was good crowd.  Obviously what comes to mind was the ‘Stripper Nights’ Who could forget sitting in the dressing room at the side of the stage with girls wearing absolutely nothing but a smile.  What you’ve got to remember is that when they turn their backs on the audience at the end they are facing us!!!

 

 

Kirby Central LC - A massively popular club packed on a Saturday night.  Who can forgetstanding at the bar at the end of the night drinking pints of orange juice as the melee windsit’s way past you and on to outside.  The night was incomplete without a bust-up but generally speaking they were so drunk - women and all! - that no-one really got hurt.

 

Reeces Club, Liverpool - Now this was a true frightener!  It was on the second floor of a department store and during the day was a restaurant.  Everyone we spoke to telling them we were booked here told us it was the ‘last place on earth’ you wanted to play.  Stories of groups being beat up and vans overturned and smashed up – we were scared to say the least.

It was true – most of the lads hadumbrellas that you drew out a sword!  To pick a fight with us the leader came across to where we were sat and drunk Phil’s pint – we said nothing!  It was clear at this point we were in trouble so a strategy was formed.  When they charged us we would each pick up a mic’ stand and take a few down with us.  Second spot – they all gathered at the back ready to charge.  They charged – we picked up our weapons and then lo and behold, they split and went to the windows at either side of the stage. 

 

  Ian Paisley the  Irish politician had just arrived on the ferry from Ireland and was on the soap box shouting at all.  They all dashed out the place as it would be far more fun out there.  Never have we left a place so fast – no getting changed – all the gear thrown into the van, nothing packed up – bugger! The cases and the clothes are in the kitchens!  We dashed back for them switched on the lights and the place was awash with cockroaches!!  So much for a food establishment.  Once we were clear of the place we had to park at the side of the road, get changed and load the van properly.  Never have I been so glad to get away from a place without being paid.  As far as I know, no-one went there again from the L.E. Agency.

 

 Winter Gardens, Llandudno - A great place to play.  We always went early so that we could play footy on the beach and eat in the posh Forte Restaurant upstairs.  The window table was always reserved for us.  We used to put mustard on the chips and feed the seagulls – you could watch them crash!  The next time we visited there was a big sign up saying ‘Do NOT feed the Seagulls!

  

The Cavendish Club, Blackburn - 13th Nov 1970. My best memories were double billing with The Hollies.  They were superb and great to be with. Also billed with Dave Berry, The Paper Dolls just to name a few.

 

Top Cat Club, Keswick- Interesting place!  Anyone who was in a group will tell you it is not good to have members of the audience behind you.  Nothing better than a solid wall!  Well this place was an old converted theatre where the stage was now the bar so you had the audience all around you – not good!  Inevitably trouble started when pint pots were flying over and bouncing off the drums – immediately a fight broke out below us but what happened next was amazing!  The side doors were suddenly flung open and the fighters were thrown out by the organisers straight into the river  where a section of the fence had been removed.  They were then not allowed back in until the evening was overyou’ve never seen such a cold miserable quiet set of people!  Worked a treat!

 

Nevada Ballroom,Bolton -Without a doubt our favourite place.  We felt like and played like pop stars!  We double billed with the likes of Pickety Witch, Mud, and The Sweet etc. but we were always the 'local favourites' group.  I’ll never forget the first time we played there to a full-house – as soon as you started to sing the solo spot – the pencil spot-light came on you and you felt like a million dollars!  We always tried to do something different like supposedly filming for Top of the Pops - my brother–in-law with a cine camera and massive floodlights!  What used to go down a storm was playing some songs that involved getting up on stage members of the audience to play something or other.  The audience loved it!!  One night on leaving I went out the main entrance to open up the van.  The next thing I knew there was this bloody great big barking mad Alsatian pinning me to the wall.  Glad to see that there was a police dog handler not far behind.  On seeing I wasn’t part of the trouble he called it off – scary stuff Alsatians!

 

  Finally, I left the group on the 21 June 1971.  Billy Birchall took my place and what a great drummer he was.  I remember thinking that I wish I had formally learned to play as Billy had but at least I could whack out a great beat! - Or sopeople say! After that saw me doing stand-in drumming in the clubs and building working at the L.E. Agency Recording Studio with the likes of Rainbow Cottage."

Derek Westhead: March 2011

 

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