Alex Harvey Soul Band – Hastings Pier Sat 8th August 1964 by Andre Martin



alex harvey

cuttings supplied by Andre Palfrey-martin collection

What a week that turned into – Bank Holiday August 1964 – will go down in the local history for so many reasons, but more of that another time, here we are back in the Happy Ballroom on Saturday 8th August, and tonight be have on stage Alex Harvey Soul Band, supported by Johnny and The Spirits. Harvey was born in the Kinning Park district of Glasgow, where he grew up. By his own account, he worked in a number of jobs, from carpentry to waiting tables at a restaurant to carving tombstones, before finding success in music. He first began performing in skiffle groups in 1954. On Friday, May 20, 1960, at the Town Hall, Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, Alex Harvey and his Big Beat Band opened for Johnny Gentle and His Group, “His Group” being the Beatles (John, Paul, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore), on this the opening night — and biggest audience — of the Beatles’ seven-date tour of Scotland with Gentle.
His musical roots were in Dixieland jazz and skiffle music, which enjoyed considerable popularity in Britain during the late 1950s. From 1958 until 1965, he was the leader of Alex Harvey’s Big Soul Band, playing blues and rock and roll songs and spending considerable time touring in the United Kingdom He also won a competition, that sought “Scotland’s answer to Tommy Steele”. Harvey became strongly identified with British rhythm and blues music, although he was equally able to play rock songs. The supporting band – Johnny & The Spirits, no information can be found, other than it was believed they came from South London.
The previous night, Ready Steady Go had featured music from —The Rolling Stones – “It’s All Over Now.” –Cilla Black – “It’s For You.”–Kenny Lynch – “What Am I To You?”–The Nashville Teens – “Tobacco Road.”–Brian Poole and the Tremeloes – “Twelve Steps To Love.”
A quick mention of the Witch Doctor – on the Saturday one of the regulars in the early days in St Leonards – Steve Marriotts Moments , destined for big things and on Wednesday 12th – The Animals, so the competition was building up.
I could not write this week’s History, without mentioning that the local press – The Hastings & St Leonards Observer, had several pages devoted to the previous weekend’s activities and the post actions : Magistrates Court, locals letters to the editor, the official feedback from the Police and Local Authorities. But I am sure that we have over the years heard a lot about what happened just over half a century ago, and drawn our own conclusions as to who really was behind these events.                                                                                  Andre Martin

Alan Esdaile……Apparently he won a Tommy Steele talent competition when he was young. Here he is, a few years later in 1974.

David Miller…..Now you’re talking…! The clip of Midnight Moses from the same gig is excellent too….Alex and Zal are very disturbing indeed…..!

Yvonne Cleland… Wow look at him – all clean and crew-cut!

Peter Thomson… The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were the support act for Slade when I saw them at Brighton Dome in ’73. I remember reading of his longevity in the music business even then. I was impressed that he had been supported by the Beatles for some early Scottish gigs in the ’60s.

Neil William Michael McGuigan… Shocked, never knew that. I’m a big sahb fan

The Rattles plus support Johnny and The Spirits – Hastings Pier 18th April 1964



Andre Palfrey-martin collection

Andre Martin…Well for us in Hastings today it’s just coming up to the start of the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend 2014 – but for your history lesson from 50 years ago, it’s Saturday April 18 1964 in the Happy Ballroom. You can truly say that we are going International and top of the bill are the Rattles from Hamburg West Germany. Let me till you a little about this band -The Rattles performed in Hamburg, and played at the same venues as The Beatles on several occasions in 1962. In 1964 the group recorded “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, which charted in the UK.
The supporting group – Johnny & The Spirits, which after extensive research has shown no details, images or stories, it’s as if they have just disappeared in the great world of rock and roll, never to be seen again.
From reports on the gig, from several who attended, “ it was one of the worse nights that I have ever attended in The Happy Ballroom” “ the band were awful” “why did I waste my money going to see them” “ hardly anybody turned up” “after 5 minutes, I thought enough is a enough and I went back to the PamDor”
So all in all, not a good Saturday Night. – We should have better entertainment next week – but that’s for the next History of the Happy Ballroom.

Alan Esdaile…..I bet Swinging Blues Jeans were good, the following week.

Andy Qunta…..Yes, Swinging Blues Jean had some good stuff!

Jim Hobbs…..The Rattles had a great single called ‘The Witch’ in 1970, played a lot on Luxembourg.

Malcolm Bucket… With reference to Johnny And The Spirits, I personally to date know of the bass player and Malcolm Bucket now live in Littlehampton West Sussex and are still both actively playing in a Shadows tribute band workshop in Barnham Village Hall. The band still meets once or twice year and the reunion with Bill Dayman and Pete fro lead guitarist. They made a demo disc record called Guess Who with Emi archives unknown but was recorded pan music company Waldorf Street London. Era 64/65. The singer John Mccload of the band passed away 20 years ago.

Alan King… Saturday, April 18th , 1964 Hastings Pier THE RATTLES (billed as The German Beatles on the poster) anyone remember this one ? was it the inspiration for The Rutles ?