1978 - 1987
Bill Hart: January 2011
"Being a band born of the 1960s and still on the road professionally through the 1970's and for a further decade until around the late 1980's, these keen young men and their partners experienced many a trauma, trial, tribulation and sometimes hugely rewarding triumph's too - but at what personal price?
Choosing glamorous working lives as musicians playing in a rock band and earning an honest crust in many a far flung place - was truly a gamble worth a long-shot bet - or was it?
And, what a life it turned out be however. But perhaps not in the way that we might understand it or indeed, what we might have expected from it either?"
A Short History
1978 - 1987
By Joe Moss: January 2011
Following the break up of Funnybone in May 1975 I stayed away from an active role in music for a couple of years, although I went to watch a lot of bands and was already on good terms with both Copper Kettleand Rainbow Cottage, whose line-up at the time was Tony Houghton, Graham Hill, Brian Gibbs and Steve Morris.
I did accompany them to Switzerland for three weeks in September - October 1976 for a short residency at The Blackout Club at Zurich Airport. This was Brian’s farewell trip with the band as he wanted to move into ways of music-making and to spend more time at home.
Tony Houghton: Steve Morris: Graham Hill: Brian Gibbs:
After extensive rehearsals Rainbow Cottage returned as a five-piece and a brand new show. Andy Gleave - Guitar & Keyboards - and John Duckworth - Keyboards - joined Tony, Graham and Steve. John, however, only stayed until the end of December 1977, leaving Andy to take over both guitar and keyboard duties. The fact that he was grade eight on both guitar and keyboards together with a degree in music meant that this was quite within his grasp.
During the year of 1977 I had been spending more and more time with the band following their purchase of a new P.A. system which brought in a mixing console - and I’m sure that Winston were the only other band around Wigan that were already using one? None of us had any idea how to use this new fangled thing and I took it upon myself to figure out how to make it work. So whenever it was possible I would go to the gigs with them or under my own steam - at this time I still had a job with the Natwest Bank- so life became a little hectic.
Eventually, in early 1978, it was decided that I would go full-time with them and quit my 'proper' job. I finished with the bank at the end of April 1978 and started my professional life as a sound engineer or 'roadie' if you prefer, and promptly went off to a three week stint in Guernsey with them at 'Rockafella’s, which was part of the Savoy Hotel in St. Peter’s Port.
John Duckworth: Joe Moss: Andy Gleave:
From the beginning, Rainbow Cottage had established a good name in the music business and this meant that we were kept busy most of the time - as it was necessary to earn a crust - and this meant lots of travelling to keep the diary full. We were quite often away for weeks at a time working all over Britain, especially frequenting areas like Tyneside and Teesside, Cumbria, in and around Portsmouth Naval bases etc, Wales and Scotland. In September 1978 we even did a short tour of the Shetland Isles - now there is a bleak place! Into 1979 we hurtled - still gigging away doing mostly one-nighters up and down the country until in late June we started a sixteen week season at the 'Planet Rooms' which was part of the Winter Gardens Blackpool. We were all looking forward to a lazy period of less travelling and no gear humping only to start the season and find that it was probably the most tedious unsatisfying and almost pointless gig ever. If we weren’t being ignored by holiday-makers, having young children playing games on the large dance floor the we were dodging the battling Scottish gangs taking on the locals. I seem to remember the band being so frustrated at being ignored that one night they whistled the whole of the middle set to see if anybody noticed or even cared.
Tony Houghton: Graham Hill: Steve Morris: Andy Gleave:
Shortly after we had survived that ordeal, Tony Houghton decided to leave so that he could earn some proper wages in order to be able to support the family that he and his then wife Lynn were planning. So at the end of October 1979 Tony departed and in stepped Arthur Kerevan, a Liverpudlian who had worked with bands such as 'Colonel Bagshot'. Arthur was a very good guitarist and had a tremendous gob on him, and also had a typically quick scouse wit. Life was never dull.
Arthur Kerevan: Steve Morris: Graham Hill: Adrian Tunstead:
The line-up featuring Graham Hill, Steve Morris, Andy Gleave and Arthur Kerevan stayed together for about six months until May 1980, But Andy had recently got married and this together with his feeling of being stifled in a band making its living playing covers of hits in clubs was making him look for other ways of getting musical gratification. He left to go as head of the music department of Wigan and Leigh College at Leigh . He is still there as far as I know and he also gigs regularly in a wide scope of musical styles. To replace him in stepped Adrian Tunstead, a fellow Liverpudlian to Arthur, who was also a very capable songwriter. Several of his songs were recorded at L.E. Agency’s own studio including one I still have on an E.P disc called 'Private Eye' - not the same song as written by Hall & Oates. Going to gigs became a marathon at this time because apart from three Wiganers there were now one from Speke and another across the river in Bromborough. It could take two hours just to pick the band up.
While Andy was still with the band we performed a showcase at The Theatre Royal, St.
Helens which led to a series of auditions for the London Weekend Television Programme 'Search For A Star'. One of these auditions meant driving straight to London after a gig in a nightclub in Birkenhead to do the audition in a hall in central London and then drive straight back up to Middleton, Manchester to do another show. We eventually recorded the show over a period of five days in November 1980 with Adrian by then on keyboards. The show was broadcast in January 1981; we came second - if my memory serves me well. At the start of the 1980's William Leyland was in the process of setting up a sub-office in Germany - West Germany as it was then. In December of that year we made the first of fourteen tours working mainly for the armed forces out there. We tended to go on average twice a year although in some years we went as much as four times. During the tour of December 1981 we performed in front of The Princess Royal - Princess Anne. If there was enough space I could tell of all the security procedures we had to go through to do that gig! Adrian even had to remove his cap to perform and he never ever took his hat off- even in bed - as we used to joke.
Graham Hill: Phil Ashcroft: Paul Ayre: Steve Morris:
To tie in with the earlier point about auditions and travelling, L.E. Agency were prone to sometimes stretching us as much as possible. One such trek was to play in Crickhowel South Wales one night and then Dortmund West Germany the next night!
By early 1982 Arthur had grown tired of the constant stream of travelling, humping gear and performing, especially as we always seemed to be struggling to make ends meet. The size of the show had expanded in 1979 when we were very fortunate to be allowed to use a complete lighting rig provided by Frank 'Fatha' Harrison who was brother of Graham Hill’s then girlfriend Sue Harrison. This meant that we had to buy a larger van - Mercedes - to truck all this around and of course all this added cost and physical work in transporting it and operating it, not to mention the fun we had trying to find enough local power to run it. In Germany especially it was difficult and quite often the power came from army generators which weren’t meant to do that kind of job. As a result of this I also became the lighting engineer as well as sound. Those people that saw Rainbow Cottage in those years would say ,I hope, that the lighting greatly enhanced the shows.
Atmospheric shot of Paul in full flow.
Arthur left the band in April 1982 and we got Tom Bennett - a.k.a Jackson - to come in his place. However, this now meant we had a band that was split between Blackburn - Tom - to Bromborough - Adrian - and this was now becoming unmanageable; so , as Tom had been working in residency with a keyboard player - Phil Ashcroft - we brought in Phil and got rid of Adrian. From April 1982 to January 1984 the line-up of Rainbow Cottage was; Graham Hill, Steve Morris, Tom Bennett & Phil Ashcroft. The arrival of Phil and Tom brought new life to the band and the following twenty months were very busy but the reverse side of this was that the increased time spent away from home eventually caused problems at home and so Tom decided that by January 1984 he had had enough and left to be replaced by Nigel Miller, who hailed from Macclesfield.
Nigel never quite seemed to settle into the band way of doing things and by early 1985 we came to the mutual opinion that a parting of company was necessary. We held auditions to replace him and picked on a young - compared to us - guitarist called Paul Ayre who lived in Ashton-in-Makerfield. Graham felt strongly that to continue we should ditch the whole show and take a fresh approach, and so we took a month of the road in April to learn a complete new show.
Paul Ayre: Caroline Turner: R.I.P. Dave Kay: Phil Ashcroft: Steve Morris: Off camera.
In June 1986, whilst setting up the lights at Owton Manor Social Club in Hartlepool, Graham lost his balance at the top of some stepladders and fell backward to the floor and in doing so broke both his wrists and some bones in his spine. He wouldn’t be fit to work again for almost four months. As an emergency measure in order to be able to carry on working and keep the band afloat we brought in a friend of Paul’s called David Kay to play Bass and sing and also Graham’s then girlfriend and later wife Caroline Turner to sing. This enabled us to keep afloat but it did bring some problems from some clubs who said they had booked one band and got another. However, by October Graham was fit to return to work and we resumed our normal show.
In late 1986 Steve Morris departed after nearly twenty years with the band leaving Graham Hill as the last original member. Dave Kay , who was equally proficient on drums took his place and this formation carried on until June 1987 when by dint of Graham getting married to Caroline and wishing to work with her, Rainbow Cottage performed for the final time on 17 June at Goose Green Labour Club in Wigan.
Dave Kay: Paul Ayre: Phil Ashcroft: Caroline Turner: R.I.P. Steve Morris: