For me, it all began …

Some of you will know that about 15 years ago I wrote a book about Pompey Pop called Almost. The second paragraph opened with those words above and continued

“For me it it all began with envy, one rainy playtime at Highland Road Infant and Junior School, Southsea in the mid 1950s. A group of my classmates were invited to stand up in front of the class to sing “Rock Around the Clock”, while the rest of us sat and admired … I desperately wanted it to be me”.

That school changed its name some time ago to Craneswater and now occupies not only the buildings in St Ronan’s Road (above) but also the front bit which used to be Southsea Modern for Boys. But despite the name change, the tradition continues …

There is a delightful story in today’s News of Michael Williams of the Drifters visiting the school to sing with the children there and later next month he and they are appearing together at the King’s Theatre. You can see them on video in the classroom singing “Stand By Me” together (portsmouth.co.uk/video).

But the coincidence goes further because again as some of you know, the little boy who so much wanted to sing pop in the mid 1950s was doing just that a decade later – and in 1968 with Harlem Speakeasy he made the one ‘real’ record of his life. It was a 45rpm single on Polydor called “Aretha” and it was a cover version of a song that had originally been a ‘B’ side to a song called “Baby What I Mean” – by the Drifters.

Do you believe in magic?



Another Question

Anyone out there got an original 45 of “Kites”? Can you please tell me who wrote the flip-side (Sun … Fire)

ta very

Albie got it – see the comments. Many thanks Albie, it’s Paul K Smith & Evelyn King. I know nothing about Mr Smith but Evelyn was the Shulman Brothers’ ‘ big sister’ and she was a singer too around Pompey in the early 1950s. I have a recording of her singing with SD & the BS

That ‘B’ side is one of my tracks on this week’s Radio Show

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Where are they now?

Lots of Comments from ‘Oscar’ – many thanks, keep checking them out.

Also this from Linda ‘The Bird’ – honestly Andy Pandy was merely a whim as I sat indoors watching stair-rods through the window but she asks this which is worth ‘flagging up’

“I’ve always wondered if anyone remembered “Gordon Road”‘ the two brothers from North End who set up a “roadie” company, with a Van, and a PA of their own. Did they develop into a major multi-national? Join a group? Or just get married and give it all up?”

I’ve no idea – anyone know? Maybe Pompey was especially good at producing roadies, lighting guys etc? We’ve mentioned Martin Richman and Phil Freeman – Dave Gautrey (Heaven) worked with Rikki Farr’s company in USA for years I believe, Richie Anderson (Harlem Speakeasy) ended up with Mott the Hoople and then Brian May. There may be others…..

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Calling ‘Oscar’

Now then, Paul ‘Oscar’ Wild has added a few Comments this weekend including one about a (new?) Vanguard label compilation – which I have tried and failed to find – so any further info gratefully received. The illustration is merely that really but it makes the point about what a fine label it was – it’s a double vinyl collection that includes the beloved Country Joe & the Fish, Bob Dylan the Farinas, Flatt & Scruggs, Ramblin’ Jack, Baez. M John Hurt, Doc Watson, Buffy Sainte Marie, Paul Butterfield, Staple Singers, Chamber Bros, Judy Collins, Kweskin Jug Band and the sublime “Violets of Dawn” by Eric Andersen that me & Lenny T used to play in Rosemary.

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From John Upton – and many thanks John:

“I was the drummer in the band Dragonfly, which gets several mentions on your 1969 page (see the Pompey Pop website). As you report, we were a group of 4 or 5 14-16 year olds, still at school at that time. My brother Dave was the lead singer. He now lives out in Tenerife. I am not very good with names so I don’t really remember the other guys in the band, except our guitarist was Mark Lundquist. I lost touch with him, but more than ten years ago, I went to see a Joe Meek tribute evening at the King’s Theatre in Southsea, featuring Billy Davis, The Honeycombs, The Tornados (featuring Clem Clattini), and Mark was up there on stage playing his guitar as a member of Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers! I was gob-smacked.

Our dad, Dennis Upton, acted as our Manager and Roadie. Being still at school, none of us were old enough to drive, so he had a dormobile to take us to gigs. He did very well booking us into gigs across the area; we played the universities along the coast, Brighton and Bournemouth as well as the Portsmouth Polytechnic. It was interesting that we on stage were younger than the students to whom we were playing. I seem to recall (unless it’s my mind playing tricks on me) that we were once booked as support band for Caravan at Kimbells. They had no idea who we were, but I think we did OK as an opener for the evening.

Dad of course was the one who spoke by telephone to Spinner on the Portsmouth Evening News, feeding him all the information about the band, which is why we got mentioned so frequently. He was never a musician but he loved what we were doing and being part of the scene at that time. He passed away last Christmas at the age of 80 and it would be good if you could mention him on your page of people who were part of that scene and who are no longer with us.

For more band members names, my brother Dave might be able to help. I sent him a link to a couple of your pages earlier this evening so he should know what you are referring to if you should contact him. I regret that I don’t have any publicity shots of the band that I can share.

Finally, you might be interested to know that I am still in a band which was formed at the end of the ’80s and took the name of Dragonfly, so the banner is still  flying in the Portsmouth area (actually I believe there are 2 bands using that name, but I would claim the rights due to my membership of the original 60s band of that name). We play covers of 60s, 70s and 80s material and mainly play for charity fundraising events. We played in Fareham Town Centre earlier this month as part of Fareham’s Music Month programme.

I hope this helps. If I can be of any more assistance, please don’t hesitate to come back to me and I’ll see what I can do to help.”

Well I remember those guys – any other memories out there?