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CENTURIONS

Left - Right & Centre: Cat's Squirrel: Isambard Kingdom

 

Preston

**

Centurians 1963..

Tony Darbyshire: Bass Guitar. Terry Nightingale: Guitar - Vocal.

Mick Eaves: Guitar - Vocal. Phil Eaves: Drums - Vocal.

 

 

THE CENTURIONS  

1963 -1965

 

Mick Eaves – Lead Guitar/Vocals; Phil Eaves – Drums/Vocals; Terry Nightingale – Guitar/Vocals; Tony Derbyshire – Bass Guitar. 

 

Playing mostly covers of the late 1950’s to early 60’s Pop, The Centurions built a reasonable following during these formative years in and around the Preston area. Mick Eaves left during 1964 to join up with 2 other ‘more experienced’ musicians in a band called The System, but this was a relatively short-lived outfit.

 

  Carrying on as a three-piece, The Centurions played at many of the area’s local youth clubs, together with a few larger venues, including several times at the  Top Rank Ballroom in Preston. Also appeared  at Southport Floral Hall where we supported Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. We also played at the Harris Technical College, also in Preston, supporting David John and the Mood, on the release of their minor hit single – ‘Bring It To Jerome’.By late 1965 The Centurions adopted the new ‘Mod Image’. The Who and The Small Faces became our idols and we felt we needed a new name to suit the new image.

 

Poster: Peter Illingworth

 

The Centurions later became the band

Left, Right & Centre around 1966..

Phil - Terry - Tony

 

LEFT - RIGHT & CENTRE 

1966 - 1967

 

 Gigs plus the amount of travelling increased considerably during this period, averaging 10 gigs per month over the next two years. Larger venues played included Southport Floral Hall supporting The Small Faces in 1966, Nelson Imperial with Chris Farlowe, Morecambe Pier, Wigan and Bolton Casino's, and Lancaster University.

 

  We entered a ‘Beat Group Competition’ in Kirkham in May 1966 – I think six bands entered. We were the third band to play and thought we had done okay – that was until the forth band took to the stage –

The John Evans Blues Smash with Ian Anderson fronting the band – they blew all other competition away. A couple of years later, Ian was topping the album charts with Jethro Tull.

 

  While playing a gig at Blackpool Winter Gardens, Terry was electrocuted and thrown across the stage in front of a thousand drunken Glaswegians! It was certainly a dramatic opening chord, but he spent the night in Blackpool Victoria Hospital. For many years afterwards, Terry carried  a rubber mat around to stand on when playing.

 

  Left, Right & Centre worked a lot in Cumbria, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire – busy days! By mid 1967 we started to get quite a lot of work through William Leyland’s L.E. Agency based in Wigan.

 

  The band was also changing direction yet again – Pink Floyd - Hendrix with their underground and blues influences lead to a further name change.

Then in 1968 we were Cat's Squirrel..

Terry- Tony - Phil

 

CATS SQUIRREL - 1968

ISAMBARD KINGDOM - 1969

 

 

  William Leyland was not too happy with the name changes or the musical direction we were taking. We were banned from a number of the venues he booked us into, including Wigan and Bolton Casinos, Warrington Co-op.Hall, The Sportsman’s Club in Wigan and The Embassy Club in Burnley. Virtually all these venues catered for dancing – Soul & Disco. We, however, were quite happy to leave these venues behind as we retreated to the hills once again.

 

  We did find some suitable venues in South Lancashire when we started working for the Parabil Agency based in Culcheth, near Warrington. Parabil had a number of signed bands on its books, including Gravy Train, Blind Eye, Sleep, Purple Gang, Goliath and Greasy Bear. Although Isambard were not signed to the agency, Ray Makin and Heather Lloyd from Parabil, found the band some good work which suited us, including Loughborough, Manchester, Bangor, Lancaster, Salford and Liverpool Universities, Padgate and Edge Hill Teacher Training Colleges; Bluesville, St Helens and The Pig Market in Culcheth.  

 

  By mid-1969, Preston had virtually no music venues presenting live music, especially of the alternative and underground variety. In common with most Northern towns it was Disco Crazy!

 

  Terry, Tony and myself decided to establish our own venue in town and having found suitable premises, the ‘Amethyst’ Club opened in September 1969. Despite reservations from some people, Amethyst became a major club venue on the national circuit and within 6 months of its opening we had almost 2000 members. With average event attendances of around 300, it served Preston well for four years. Bands - Artistes who appeared included:- Amazing Blondel, Audience, Barclay James Harvest, Caravan, Chicken Shack, Gary Moore, Genesis, The Groundhogs, Hawkwind, John Martyn, Lindisfarne, Pretty Things, Renaissance, Supertramp and Van Der Graaf Generator.

**For full listings – see under ‘Venues’ – Amethyst Club

   FATGUT 

1970 - 1977

   

 Phil Eaves: Drums - Vocal. Terry Nightingale: Guitar - Vocal. Tony Derbyshire: Bass Guitar. Kim Nicholson: Guitar - Vocal.

Whilst running and performing at the Amethyst Club, Isambard Kingdom came across a guy called Kim Nicholson, who at the time was playing bass guitar - vocals with a blues band called After The Rain. They had performed at Amethyst but were about to split up. We were suitably impressed by Kim’s delivery and offered him a job with Isambard. He accepted the offer and Isambard Kingdom became Fatgut in May 1970.

As well as playing regularly at the Amethyst Club, the band played a number of University and Blues Club gigs, as well as 18 gigs at the original Cavern Club in Liverpool - the last being  a month before its final closure.

 

  Kim left the band in early 1974, whilst Fatgut continued until 1977.

Our bass player, Tony Derbyshire, left in 1975 to work in Kenya. He was replaced by a guy from Leyland called Glen Eckersley. Fatgut also expanded on a number of gigs to a nine-piece outfit and went out as The Rest of the World. The many problems involved in running an outfit of this size however, took its toll and in June 1977, Fatgut was no more.

 

  For myself this was the end of an era. At thirty years old, I was looking for different musical directions and the old threesome of Terry, Tony and myself was broken up after some fifteen years together. Since then and up to the present day, I have continued to play and have taken many different musical directions, including still playing with founder and fellow musician Terry Nightingale.

 

Bands since 1977 and up to the present day include..

 

Jazz Fusion

The Joe Williams Band

Xtrabop

Django

The Steve Hesketh band

Fully Qualified Survivors

Roger Higgins Band

Pigs on the Wing

Pinto Beans

The Band with No Name

Bob Johnson and the Bobcats

The Lee Wharton band

The Hellfire Preachers.

 

But that’s another story!

Phil Eaves: November 2011

 

 Their core members that I knew of were Terry Nightingale, Phil Eaves and Tony Darbyshire. Late in the 1980s Terry Nightingale and Phil Eaves formed Xtra Bop and The Joe Williams Band and then later a band called Moving Pictures.                                                            Martin Dodd: September 2011

 

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