I promised a Royal Wedding story: in the late 1970s my musical life was pretty quiet until I got a call from some London-based pals. We’d played together in Skys is Cryin’, an acoustic country-blues band, in the mid 1970s but they’d mostly gone to London and formed a band called the Operation which played various gigs but also busked regularly at the then newly re-vamped Covent Garden
Their singer went abroad so they called me up and every Friday night I’d leave Pompey and spend the weekend in London. We’d earn plenty at Covent Garden and there I am (above) singing; on the left is Denis Reeve-Baker on guitar (also with Pompey bands, the Mooks, the Reds and Reet Petite & Gone) and on the right is drummer Paul Hookham – a Pompey teaching student previously, who also played with the Redskins. Pompey boy Keith Matthews played saxophone and Andy Rankin later of the Pogues was also a member
The Operation often had 10/11/12 members. One weekend a guy arrived at Covent Garden and signed a bunch of the regular, varied acts to play at the opening of the London Film Festival. So off we went to the South Bank National Film Theatre (good dosh) where we performed and were presented to Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I think they were married by then, I can’t remember – but it’s absolutely true. We played lots of R&B, rock & roll, rockabilly, blues etc – mostly dance stuff – although I can’t recall if they danced.
It was a delightful band but impossible to maintain and organise. We finished busking around Christmas 1981 and I came back to Pompey to play regularly with Steel Mill – especially Friday nights at Charlie Hurdle’s (Eastney). I didn’t get an invite for tomorrow so I’m off to the cricket.