My conversation with Phil (below) takes me on another path. I watched plenty of local bands in the days when I was just starting out to play – for example in those early weeks of 1966 I saw the Teapots and Klimaks for sure, while the year before, there were the Diplomats, J Crow Combo, Shamrocks and Crow – and of course the regular Rendezvous support acts, Roadrunners, Sons of Man and Challengers from late 1964. Later in 1966 I saw St Louis Checks and Soul Society and maybe there were others (not sure whether I saw Academy and Wrong Direction when they played the Birdcage).
My memory is that most if not all of those bands covered other people’s material and I think that was largely true locally from the late 1950s onwards, variously rock & roll, Shadows/Ventures instrumental stuff, Beatles, R&B and Blues, soul and mid-60s pop.
Harlem Speakeasy, my first ‘proper’ band covered soul and Motown. When we got a recording contract, spring 1968, we were told we must start writing, so we wrote the flip to our single. Before that it had never occurred to us. We wrote the next single too but it was never released.
By that time, Coconut Mushroom were playing ‘West Coast’ stuff but mostly covers I think. My first ‘writing’ band Rosemary started out in January 1969 and was playing a completely original set by the end of that year. I think Heaven probably were too and about the same time Aubrey Small. I’m not sure that Cherry Smash were really ‘local’ but they wrote.
Was that when it started – 1968/1969? Were there other local bands writing lots of material? It’s a funny thought that unless decent recordings survived, those songs pretty much just faded away and one day soon will be gone for ever.
PS: Nice Comment from Tony ref the Classics. It’s just occurred to me that the Dynamos had to write an original song for the final of ITV’s Ready, Steady, Win! although I don’t know whether they wrote other stuff.