A Brief History of Samisen by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… A brief history of Samisen. Thank you Peter Thomson for providing this rare recording playing live during the 1970s. This is a video featuring local Hastings band Samisen who played in the area during the latter part of the 1970s. It tells of a brief history behind the band and includes a rare recording of them playing live. The venue of the recording is unknown as is the line-up of the recording but it is thought to be, Graham Barratt on vocals, Dave Shirley on lead guitar, Bernard Jeffery on drums and Steve Turner on bass.

Alan Esdaile… Well done Sarah, great information. The last comment made my smile, about some of us have changed over the years.

Pete Thomson…. Further to Sarah’s video accompanied by Hard Monkeys, I can confirm that the track was recorded by me on a tin-pot, little, one-track machine during a practice session at Ore Centre. I have also been in touch with Steve Turner who confirms he was the bassist at the time.

Dave Nattress… This is a wonderful little video history. Although I was vocalist in the last line-up of Samisen for a couple of years or so, I actually never knew the history of the band – thinking, when I saw Samisen a few times before I joined, they were Hastings home-grown – but not so! Even when I was in Damaris, Samisen,along with Stallion of course was a local band to look up to and after the demise of Damaris, I was delighted to audition for Samisen after Graham Barrett (RIP) left I was delighted  to get the gig. I remember all the guys well, although regretably I’ve lost touch but truly hope some of us can meet up soon. I remember all the gigs well – albeit 35 years ago!! Once we (almost) had a Summer tour – 4 gigs in about 10 days. Rehearsals at Ore Centre and at Dave Kent’s parents’ shop in Kings Road, St Leonards and support to Hat Trick at Ore Centre. Great days, re-lived again thanks to this piece of history. All power to this website, Alan Esdaile, Peter Thompson and my old friend, Sarah Harvey.

Sarah Harvey… Well I am trying (thus far in vain) to organise a reunion gig which would if nothing else be great fun. So if any of the many past Samisen members want to have a go….you know where I am! If I don’t hear from you then just remember I am a great nag-bag nowadays! 🙂

Wendy Weaver… Great video Sarah, ‘specially the last bit 😉 x

Conan Howard… I am the founder member of SAMISEN I formed this band in the early 70s , LEN BASS guitar .

Samisen – Hastings News write up 6th November 1975

supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey….Amazing what you find clearing out your loft. A cutting from The Hastings News (A free delivered paper in the 70s) November 6th, 1975. One of the Samisen Line-ups… this time with two members of the band from Bromley. From left to right, Ralph Lee, Bernard Jeffery, Big Len (now Conan) Howard, Graham Barrett and Dave Shirley. Fresh from a gig supporting Felix at The Carlisle.

Bernard Jeffery….yeah I remember the gig as well

Pete Fisher… nice to see Pueblo get a mention!

Yvonne Cleland… Felix!

Felix write up & Samisen photos – 29th July 1975

cutting and photos supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey…..Article about Felix and a preview of their forthcoming gig at The Carlisle, which I remember very well. I was talking to Conan Howard about this very gig at Friday’s SMART meeting and how he had a very lucky escape afterwards.


Sarah Harvey…..The Carlisle in 1975 when supporting Felix – Conan (Len) Howard (Bass) , Ralph Lee (Rythm) and  (although not too clear) is Dave Shirley (Lead Guitar). Health permitting there is hope of a reunion over the coming months

Hat Trick – Maybe Now recording and history by Sarah Harvey

Hat Trick featured Barry French, Dave Shirley, Roger Carey and Dennis Wootton.

Sarah Harvey… ‘Hat Trick’ when supporting ‘Head On’ at the Pier…. ‘The Rooter’ was a progressive rock song about derelict railway steam engines (Roger described it is an epic) …. would have appealed to Mr. Cooksie. Opening number ‘Maybe Now’.


Slearys Horsemanship – 1973, Teisco Guitars and Colin Jarvis memories


supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… This is a very rare photo indeed I have just found in the loft. And both John Storer and Lucy Pappas will particularly know these two. This was a picture taken around 1973 of two thirds of Slearys Horsemanship (who have been mentioned on here some time ago) …. Dave Shirley (Guitar) on the left and the late Colin Jarvis (Drums) on the right. The missing member (taking the photo) was Kevin Potter who played bass.  This is a band that was formed at school by three musical beginners who never played a gig, but practised quite a bit normally to the annoyance of Dave’s neighbours.
The guitar in the picture was purchased for £15 from Kevin Wood, who will be familiar to many including the members of Factory.  Colin died in unfortunate circumstances some years ago and Kevin Potter went to work in Cumbria and as far as I know is still there.  What did come out of Slearys Horsemanship was some early renditions of some Samisen compositions such as ‘Commercial Cash-In’.  Thankfully Dave’s hair has got a little more style to it nowadays and the outfits are a little better too……well I think so anyway! 😉

Wendy Weaver… I  used to work at the same office as Colin. As for the other fellow 🙂

Lucy Pappas… Aw, Sarah , I’ve never seen this pic! Wonderful xx What happened to Kevin Wood? Is he still around?

Phil Gill… Brilliant! That guitar’s a Teisco ET200. I’ve had one since the 70s, but can’t remember where I acquired it. Someone had sprayed or painted it black. Did Dave ever paint his red one black? Is it the very same guitar? http://drowninginguitars.com/2014/01/25/humble-pie-1963-st-george-mj2-teisco-guitar/

Alan Esdaile… Great photo Sarah but how did you come up with that name for the band?

Sarah Harvey… Slearys Hosemanship was Chapter 6 in the book ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens. We were studying it for O Level and thought it would make a good name for a band. Phil  …. never sprayed the guitar black but the pick-ups were changed. I think Roger Carey came across some good pick-ups and it made such a difference to the sound. I am so glad you identified the guitar….. I just couldn’t remember the make and model…. it had an amazing action on it and loved playing it.

Phil Gill… Nice guitar story Sarah. My Teisco is now natural wood. I had at it with an electric sander sometime around 1980….

Sarah Harvey… Love to have a play on that one day Phil…. it will bring back a few memories. Strangely enough this photo was enough to spark my memory of the ‘Commercial Cash-In’ riff…. just can’t remember the rest of the song. I feel a 2015 remake coming on! 🙂

Peter Gladwish… I’m sure I had one of these guitars, or extremely similar, in the 60’s (see pic). Sadly, I can’t remember the name, or model but I’m sure it had ‘Made in Russia’ on the back of the headstock, which doesn’t tie in with a Japanese manufacturer. The scratchplate was brushed aluminium with stripes milled in to the surface, which I know some Teisco guitars had. Does this ring any bells with anyone …… please?


Andy Qunta… Re: Kevin Wood, he was our next-door neighbour, and he used to come over to watch Factory rehearse. Later he became our roadie for a while. As an excellent guitarist himself, he played in bands too. Later he went to work on oil rigs in Aberdeen. After that he was in India for a while I believe, and doing well for himself. Haven’t heard about him for quite some time though.

Phil Gill… Definitely a Teisco Peter Gladwish. Mine has a brushed aluminium plate too. Maybe there was some kind of Russia/Japan detente thing going on in the 60s. Or the Ruskie’s copied it. Which would be kind of ironic, considering Japan’s approach to guitars…

Sarah Harvey….  Indeed Peter, it does look very similar. I wonder how you found it when you played it. Re: Kevin Wood, he used to live in that road adjacent to The Robert De Mortain……. other than you guys in Factory, Phil and Kevin were two of my main inspirations to play in my youth….both wonderful guitarists then and I know Phil is pretty damn good now. Always remember Kevin Wood giving me and Roger Carey a lift late one night and driving along the Ridge at 90mph in his dad’s jag…. scared the living **** out of me and Roger!

Andy Qunta… Yes, Sarah, Kevin lived by the RDM, we were in St Helens Wood Rd. Kevin’s driving! Well, he always was a bit of a lad!

Lucy Pappas… Haha! I remember him being a great guitarist but mostly, I remember he had beautiful hair.  I loved Colin. He was a great friend from being very young. I still miss him x

Sarah Harvey… He was also one of those guitarists that pulled the most amazing faces when he played lead licks. Priceless!

Eric Cawthraw… It’s good to see a picture of Colin – I remember a party in Parkstone Road that Colin, John Storer, me and a few others went to. Total mayhem ensued – happy days. This pickie ought to be on the rogues gallery. Oh yes, I’m still in touch with Kev Potter – still a good mate.

Andy Qunta… Oh yes, the faces!

Peter Gladwish…. Thanks Phil Gill. You’re thoughts are the same as mine. Strange though. As I recall, Sarah Harvey, the guitar was fairly heavy and not very well-balanced. Also, the neck was rather thick for my small hands but it proved good practice for playing 12-strings later on! We all tend to look back with affection at these things but I really wouldn’t want another. Guitar technology has moved on apace!

Chris Meachen…  Dear old Colin Jarvis;- I’ve missed him for many years..

Colin Fox… Thanks for that Phil. I’ve never heard of a Teisco. I was about to say it looked like a Hofner Colorama.

Phil Gill… Colin Jarvis was a great mate at school. He was great fun to be with, both at school and socially, with a fabulously surreal sense of humour. Class clown, as Chris M will remember. He could crack me up laughing with just a word or a glance. A sad loss. Shine on Colin, wherever you are mate.

Tony Davis… Colin was often round our house , to see my brother John .Always had a smile and as you said Phil , a sad loss!



Hat Trick – Dave Shirley – 1979

10606056_532787806866681_926054639591003527_n supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… Dave Shirley gigging with Hat Trick when they were a foursome. Can’t date the picture or identify the local venue but it was definitely between April and August 1979. That is Barry French’s backside towards the left of the picture….not that I go around identifying people by their backsides of course! 🙂 Other than being a bit older and the Antoria Les Paul now being a Gibson SG, Dave hasn’t changed a bit! 😉

John Storer… Its’s the smile I remember … my abiding memory of Mr Shirley

Alan Esdaile… Looks like Dave has a wicked grin in this photo, I wonder what he’s thinking?

Sarah Harvey… I think the grin says “Hello, Roger’s off on one again!” ….. that’s quite spooky really because the picture I found of John on the net, I was thinking the same thing! 🙂