Samisen – early 70’s

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supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey….Local band Samisen – 2nd Line Up – Early 70s rock…. with Dave Shirley on guitar, an unknown vocalist and percussionist (anyone know them?)… there were actually three line-ups – The first was a made up of three members from South London + Dave – The third included Bernard Jeffery on drums, Steve Turner on Bass and Graham Barratt on vocals.

Bernard Jeffery….Where did you find this? I started off in the band with the London line up which turned into the third line up and I think there was another one after that

Sarah Harvey…..You are absolutely right…. you jogged my memory…. the original drummer was from Catford and you joined when he left…. I think the London band members names were Ralph, Den and Graham… no idea of their surnames. Graham was the original drummer.

Bernard Jeffery…..Ralph and big Len on guitar and bass, probably got some pics somewhere.

Sarah Harvey….right again….. I misread my scribbled diary notes of yesteryear.

Dave Nattress…..These photo’s show Samisen’s line-up comprising Mick Bridgeland, Drums, Dave Shirley, Guitar, Dave Kent, Keyboards, Steve Turner, Bass (I think Steve, it was a long time ago) and me on vocals having taken over from Graham Barrett.  I remember the gig at Herstmonceux Castle well where Mick worked at the Observatory!!  Actually I recall well also my audition at Ore Centre – House of the Rising Sun was one track I had to do,  We played a good few gigs with this line-up. The Archery Eastbourne, The Caves, Ore Centre with Hat Trick more than once.  Lost contact with all the guys, if any of you read this give us a post!!

Sarah Harvey….Thank you Dave for filling in the blanks of the missing band members names…. apart from Graham (RIP), everyone is live and kicking albeit changed somewhat in 40 years. Some more than others.

Bobby Walker…..If memory serves, did they not originally call themselves “Sleary’s Horsemanship”? Remember they did a cracking instrumental which was, I believe, called “Rock-a-Nore”

Bernard Jeffery…..Yes there was one called Rock-a- nore.

Sarah Harvey…..Yes, ‘Slearys Hosremanship’ ….a very very early line-up that became Samisen….. spot on Bobby. Rock-A-Nore was a song that came out of that early line-up. The early band was formed from Hastings Grammar School boys included a guy called Colin Jarvis who sadly took his own life many years ago. The name of the group came from their A-Level English Litertature study book by Charles Dickens….Hard Times.

John Storer….Well, this site is definitely a blast from the past! Dave Shirley looks so young in the photographs!  Mention of Colin Jarvis (my best friend) brings back lots of memories. I wonder if Dave Shirley and Roger Carey remember the incident in my back garden around 1972. My folks had taken the rest of the family to London for the day so I decided it would be a good idea to have a jam session. Colin was on drums. Dave Shirley and, i’m pretty sure, Phil Gill were on guitar, Roger Carey and Kev Potter were both on bass.  Me? Couldn’t play a note on any instrument . Anyway, we set up all the equipment (and quite how we didn’t blow up my house, as everything went eventually into one socket) and the lads started playing. My next door but one neighbour immediately started complaining but we ignored her. The  police turned up during the second number and the “Ore Free Festival” came to an abrupt end. Colin was a pretty good drummer but never really took it that seriously . Did he ever play in “Sleary’s Horsemanship”? Am sure Dave Shirley can remember. “Rock-a-Nore” was a bloody good song, by the way

Sarah Harvey….Ah wow, John Storer… a wonderful fella’. If I remember his fave track was CSN&Y – Marrakesh Express…..went in the Millers Arms and Oddfellows Arms. I think he is now somewhere in the East Of England. I know the guy who wrote Rock-A-Nore. Remember the riff and can still play it, but can’t for the life of me remember the rest of it.

John Storer…..”Marrakesh Express” now relegated to third fave track of all time. Was originally usurped back in the 90s by Stone Roses’ “Fool’s Gold” and then by “By The Sea” by Brooklyn indie-pop band Summer Fiction around 3 years ago. All three tracks take turns being my ringtone du jour,however And yes … left Hastings for Manchester and then moved to Boston, Lincolnshire in 1987. That was intended to be a 2 year stay and then probably back to Manchester. Still here 27 years (and two more kids) later. We might be in the middle of nowhere but I fell in love with the town. Found out Roger Carey has played here a few times but wasn’t aware until too late. Have seen Ray Fenwick play several times in one of our local hotels, though

Mick Mepham….The singer’s doing a very good impersonation of Paul Rogers.

Dave Nattress…..I recall doing Rock-a-Nore – a great track that I learned when I joined Samisen.  Funny and a real tonic that Mick Mepham should say the singer – me, modestly I might say, looked like I was doing an impression of the truly, outstandingly marvellous Free vocalist Paul Rodgers!!  I actually wasn’t, and we certainly never tried any Free tracks.  Samisen’s stuff was definitely un-Free like! However, strangely, PR was my idol right through from Tons of Tobs and was I chuffed when going to see Free at Brighton Dome in about 1971/1972, in a pub round the corner – a few minutes pre-start of the support act for the gig, Paul and the band were having a beer and PR was wearing the same cheap Freeman Hardy Wills (brand) trainers as me.  I’m sure a few gigs on, Paul could afford a decent pair of early Adidas or Puma’s – about the only “labels” on trainers around at that time.  Samisen, a great experience, great band and great tracks.  Must dig out those rehearsal cassettes and reel to reel tapes.

Mick Mepham…..Hope you didn’t mind that Dave…..

Sarah Harvey….Rock-A-Nore….must have been a great track….wish I could remember it….and I wrote the bloody song!

Katie Nattress….This site is brilliant, so amazing to see a picture of my dad “singing” and find out more about the bands. Hastings has always had a thriving musical culture, long may it continue.

Dave Nattress….Mick – delighted about your comment, you’ver made an old man very happy, as I said, although Samisen didn’t go near Free, Paul Rodgers was an idol and the trainers was just one of those weird incidental things one remembers.  I also had a phase wearing stacked wooden heels and a White indian kurta + my old 501’s just like Steve Gadd of Stray who was suitably kitted out just the same on several appearances at the pier.  First time I ever saw strobe lights – Stray!! Saw you many times all those years ago Mick and glad you’re still rocking. Katie – catch you soon!!
Sarah – I promise I’ll go into the loft and try and find a tape of Rock-a-Nore.  I used to take my portable ITT stereo cassette recorder to most rehearsals and occasionally a primitive Philips reel to reel – the old cassette recorded gave some seriously duff recordings!!

Mick Mepham….Hey Dave!!!! Happy days indeed!!!!!! Cheers, Mick.

Sarah Harvey…..Thanks Dave, I really must hear Rock-A-Nore……it is starting to bug me I can’t remember it…. I feel a 2014 remix coming on!

Conan Howard… glad a few people liked rock a nore , as that was a song I wrote about being in the back of my old ford zodiac in the 60s with a girl   etc etc . all the best Conan….. formally (Len)  the bass player that formed Samisen

Sarah Harvey… I now have some recordings of Samisen, but don’t think Rock-A Nore was in there. Such a shame. I am intrigued to find out what happened Conan x

7 thoughts on “Samisen – early 70’s”

  1. Dave Nattress – These photo’s show Samisen’s line-up comprising Mick Bridgeland, Drums, Dave Shirley, Guitar, Dave Kent, Keyboards, Steve Turner, Bass (I think Steve, it was a long time ago) and me on vocals having taken over from Graham Barrett. I remember the gig at Herstmonceux Castle well where Mick worked at the Observatory!! Actually I recall well also my audition at Ore Centre – House of the Rising Sun was one track I had to do, We played a good few gigs with this line-up. The Archery Eastbourne, The Caves, Ore Centre with Hat Trick more than once. Lost contact with all the guys, if any of you read this give us a post!!

  2. If memory serves, did they not originally call themselves “Sleary’s Horsemanship”? Remember they did a cracking instrumental which was, I believe, called “Rock-a-Nore”

  3. Well, this site is definitely a blast from the past! Dave Shirley looks so young in the photographs! Mention of Colin Jarvis (my best friend) brings back lots of memories.

    I wonder if Dave Shirley and Roger Carey remember the incident in my back garden around 1972. My folks had taken the rest of the family to London for the day so I decided it would be a good idea to have a jam session. Colin was on drums. Dave Shirley and, i’m pretty sure, Phil Gill were on guitar, Roger Carey and Kev Potter were both on bass. Me? Couldn’t play a note on any instrument

    Anyway, we set up all the equipment (and quite how we didn’t blow up my house, as everything went eventually into one socket) and the lads started playing. My next door but one neighbour immediately started complaining but we ignored her. The police turned up during the second number and the “Ore Free Festival” came to an abrupt end.

    Colin was a pretty good drummer but never really took it that seriously . Did he ever play in “Sleary’s Horsemanship”? Am sure Dave Shirley can remember

    “Rock-a-Nore” was a bloody good song, by the way

    • I recall doing Rock-a-Nore – a great track that I learned when I joined Samisen. Funny and a real tonic that Mick Mepham should say the singer – me, modestly I might say, looked like I was doing an impression of the truly, outstandingly marvellous Free vocalist Paul Rodgers!! I actually wasn’t, and we certainly never tried any Free tracks. Samisen’s stuff was definitely un-Free like!

      However, strangely, PR was my idol right through from Tons of Tobs and was I chuffed when going to see Free at Brighton Dome in about 1971/1972, in a pub round the corner – a few minutes pre-start of the support act for the gig, Paul and the band were having a beer and PR was wearing the same cheap Freeman Hardy Wills (brand) trainers as me. I’m sure a few gigs on, Paul could afford a decent pair of early Adidas or Puma’s – about the only “labels” on trainers around at that time.

      Samisen, a great experience, great band and great tracks. Must dig out those rehearsal cassettes and reel to reel tapes.

  4. This site is brilliant, so amazing to see a picture of my dad “singing” and find out more about the bands. Hastings has always had a thriving musical culture, long may it continue.

  5. Mick – delighted about your comment, you’ver made an old man very happy, as I said, although Samisen didn’t go near Free, Paul Rodgers was an idol and the trainers was just one of those weird incidental things one remembers. I also had a phase wearing stacked wooden heels and a White indian kurta + my old 501’s just like Steve Gadd of Stray who was suitably kitted out just the same on several appearances at the pier. First time I ever saw strobe lights – Stray!!

    Saw you many times all those years ago Mick and glad you’re still rocking.

    Katie – catch you soon!!

    Sarah – I promise I’ll go into the loft and try and find a tape of Rock-a-Nore. I used to take my portable ITT stereo cassette recorder to most rehearsals and occasionally a primitive Philips reel to reel – the old cassette recorded gave some seriously duff recordings!!

  6. glad a few people liked rock a nore , as that was a song I wrote about being in the back of my old ford zodiac in the 60s with a girl etc etc . all the best Conan….. formally (Len) the bass player that formed Samisen

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