BEAT on Orkney Island

Popular local band from Orkey Island were the Alphabeats heard playing to appreciative citizens of the Island: “The Alphabeats in the Cosmo. (Dave) Alan Hale has put together this excellent homage to the heyday of the Cosmo Ballroom in Kirkwall.”

Note: Alphabeats members Alan Keldie was killed in a motor accident 25Jan71 [age 27], Brian Peace died in a drowning accident 19Jun77 [age 29], and Robert Swanney died in last ten years.

The Nomads were first in Orkney to record pop music [I’m Coming Home/Hey Little Girl] L-R: Brian Peace, Ken Ross, Roy Wood, Ian Farquhar [photo copyright “Images in Time” V.2&3]

“The Nomads were the first [beat band] to appear. The Kossacks started in early ’60s and lasted two or three years. The Alphabeats came into being in the mid 1960’s starting as a four piece band. We were the support act to several famous bands that came to Orkney in the ’60s. They included Sounds Incorporated, Christian St Peters, Four Pennies, David & Jonathan, The Luvvers minus Lulu, and Neil Landon & The Burnettes – all good fun and enjoyable. I called it a day on 31 Dec 1969 and the band continued for about a year or 18 months before becoming basis for a band called the Orcades…” Robert Milne [former member of Alphabeats and The Kossacks]

The Kossacks were Bobby Corsie,Colin Omand,Rob Milne,Alan Kelday and me- started off as the Echoes with Colin,me,Jim Park and Wullie Winnick.The Nomads were Ken Ross,Roy Wood,Ian Farquhar and Brian Peace- they were the first band to keep going for some time.The Dominoes started in the West Mainland and moved on to Saturday nights in the Cosmo later on in the sixties.If I mind right the Vampires were Dimmy Kelday and some others. And that’s how Rock and Roll was born.” John Schollay [Orkney Past and Present]

Elgin, Scotland promoter, Albert Bonici, was known for hosting most of the top British musicians and vocalists to the north of Scotland from the mid 1950’s to mid 1970’s. Besides recording several Scottish musicians on the Norco Records label, he is noted for sponsoring the Beatles tours in Scotland 1963-64. Albert had flown to Orkney Islands on several occassions though not to manage venues. Besides various concessions, he sold ice cream to vendors on the island besides scheduling acts on tour. I heard a story from nephew, John Ruggeri, how “Uncle Albert” returned from Orkney in a shuttle airplane with a paper sack of money on his lap…

Besides the Faley brothers of Glasgow who sent acts to Thurso, Albert Bonici booked some top beat groups in Wick besides sending some out to Kirkwall, Orkney Island to perform for inhabitants in this sparsely populated part of the world.

Kirkwall was host to beat music venues in the 1960’s… Innes [Fit Like, New York?] recorded John Rennie’s recollection of traveling with The Jacobeats in ’64 when they did a gig on Orkey Island:


The Orcades Dance Band played at dances, weddings, etc from 1971-81 L to R: Ruby Chalmers [aka Rendall] became a national radio broadcaster and recording artist, Robert Swanney, Albert Linklater, Jim “Mosh” Marwick, and Brian Peace.  [photo copyright “Images in Time” V.2&3]

Thorfinn Football Club held a Beat Festival in the Phoenix Cinema, once a month for four months during 1964. The concerts, arranged by Ernie Donaldson, were very well attended and the local artistes played to full houses. Some of them are seen here about to fly off “on tour”. Back row, L to R: Hazel Ground water, Jill Leonard, Bertha Flett and Olive Flett. Front row L to R: Davie Sinclair, Bobby Leslie, Roy Wood, Ivy Corsie, Bobby Corsie, Ian Farquhar, and John Schollay. [photo copyright “Images in Time” V.2&3]

Shuttle airplanes made it possible for bands on tour to visit the island and local bands going abroad as an alternative to catching the ferry to the mainland. From the back L to R: Elizabeth Tait, Anna davidson, Isobel Herdman, Michael Corsie, Ernie Donaldson, Alan Keldie, Pete Davidson, Colin Omand, Eddie Black, and Robert Milne.  [photo copyright “Images in Time” V.2&3]

Eddie Peace’s Band at a dance in the Royal Hotel, Kirwall. The band members are, L to R: Mike “Piker” Parkins, Jimmy “Dimmy” Kelday, Sandy Windwick, Jim “mosh” Marwick, and Eddile Peace. The band played at various funtions in the ’50’s and ’60s. [photo copyright “Images in Time” V.2&3]  Local music has continued to thrive on Orkey Islands with a popular folk festival and talented people from the area  More about life on Orkney

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british soul 1960’s


The Exits [Bonici Archives]

“Widespread British interest in soul music developed after the advent of rock and roll from the mid-1950s and the subsequent interest in American music. In the early 1960s, rhythm and blues, including soul, was particularly popular among some members of the beat music boom, including the Beatles,[1] and among bands of who contributed to the British blues boom, including the Spencer Davis Group, the Small Faces, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who. Most of these were popular with members of the Mod subculture, out of which grew the northern soul movement, in which northern English youths avidly collected and played rare soul records.”

There was a plitria of American black soul singers and musicians who made deep impressions in modern western culture whilst lesser known British bands were putting their own stamp on “soul” music.

The Copycats [aka My Dear Watson] by Fiddler’s Bow at Port Knockie near their homes in neighboring Buckie, Scotland. Whilst The Copycats who trained under jazz band leader Alex. Sutherland and began with pop songs in ’63, were dubbed “instigators of soul in a British music magazine (Progressive, NS- 1 July ’67)  there were many British and American bands who toured Scotland and the UK. Like beat music, soul music became popular in Scotland as with the whole of the UK.

In 1968, American R&B and soul singer, Clyde McPhatter, was living in England and represented by Class Managements Ltd when performing around the UK. Years before he became a solo act, the Drifters were founded as his back up band. Thank You Love: Such A Night: Nothing But a Heartache The Flirtations were an American group who made an impression in the UK on tour. They became the resident vocalists on BBC’s, It’s Cliff Richard” in 1972″ [Nothing But A Heartache]

The Rolling Stones and the Animals are amongst top British band who injected soul into their unique sound. Alan Price who founded the Alan Price Combo, The Animals, and the Alan Price Set had a bluesy, soulful sound going on. I Put A Spell On You [Alan Price]:

Alan Price [top left]


Dusty Springfield who was first introduced in the British scene as folk singers The Springfields, was a fan of Motown and became known for her soulful tunes. “In 1964 Springfield became the first British Invasion act after the Beatles to chart well in the US.[4] A string of US and British hits followed.[4] In 1965 Springfield hosted a television show The Sound of Motown which has been widely credited with introducing what was called “The Sound of Young America” to British audiences.”

The Foundations were amongst the British soul bands who performed in Scotland when mixed race bands were considered a novelty.


The foundations were featured on Top Of The Pops and became internationally known.

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The Phantoms of Buckie

Buckie, Scotland, a burgh town on the northern coast of Scotland, produced some talented young musicians in an area that supports the arts. Whilst most known for celtic music through the popular Speyfest, the area produced musicians performing contemporary music genres including jazz and beat music.

In several articles published in SCOTBEAT, Johnny and the COPYCATS [aka My Dear Watson] are highlighted as the Buckie band who made an impression in the beat era [1960s-70s]. The PHANTOMS were another group who came along a year after the Copycats were gaining momentum as a touring band. In December, 1963 The Phantoms were young teenagers who supported Johnny and the Copycats at Buckie’s fisherman’s Hall to the delight of the locals.

Author’s note:  The tracks presented on Sound Cloud were produced by Pronit Records in Warsaw and published by the People’s Republic of Poland in August 1966 [Featured on Norco Records site and SCOTBEAT with consent of Stephen Wojcik of of The Phantoms [for educational use only]

Though they were quickly becoming a popular band in the area, they came under scrutiny when they took part in a music contest in nearby Nairn, Scotland after the October 1964 event. Stewart Geddes was under 15 at the time and thus unwittingly broke a law that forbade children under 15 from playing at a paid function without out a permit from the education authority.  “There was also an unusual incident that resulted in legally being punished by the band manager and the two fathers of young musicians. The reason for this trouble with the law was that members of the group, the oldest of whom were seventeen, played in clubs for money, which according to Scottish law was unacceptable at the time. This solution was supposed to prevent youth demoralization.”

Though the young drummer Stuart left the band until becoming of age, he continued as a founding member and went on a month’s tour with the Phantoms in Poland [July 22 – Aug 21 1966]. Thanks to the work of their manager Emil Wojcik, father of keyboard/guitarist Stephen Wojcik, the band had three years of great memories as a semi-professional beat band. Fortunately, a few of their songs [including original compositions] were committed to recordings during the Polish tour.

One hundred of these banners were distributed in Poland between July/Aug 1966

Phantoms beginnings…

Above: Cullen House Beat Festival – lead singer with glasses is Kenny Lawson

Frankie Hay [center] at a competition in Kemnay also sang with The Phantoms – Brian Calder and William Smith on guitars

The Phantoms performed at barn dances in the north of Scotland besides dance halls like Fisherman’s Hall, Buckie and Two Red Shoes, Elgin. Band members continued performing in Scotland for another year after their Polish tour though left the music scene for jobs as tradesmen.


In 1964, Albert Bonici was fined £2 for hosting the Phantoms when the drummer was under-aged.  Above L to R: Stuart Geddes, Frank Hay, William Smith, Stephen Wojcik, Brian Caulder

The Phantoms were regularly booked around Scotland between 1964-67 though unknown outside of Scotland until they toured Poland.

L to R: William Smith – lead guitar, Stephen Wokcik – keyboards, Stuart Geddes – drummer, Steven Coull – saxophone*, and  Eric Farqunar – bass guitar. The Phantoms were treated as music stars whilst on tour of Poland arranged by their manager and the Jazz Federation of Poland. It is said that they helped break down the barriers between the east and western world years before the wall came down in Berlin. *Note: Steven Coull died in an accident in 1971.

At the beginning of their music career, The Phantoms purchased used equipment from The Copy Cats [aka My Dear Watson]. Like the Cat, they eventually passed the equipment on to another group when they bought Vox.

The two EPs must have been pressed in very limited quantities and due to lack of publicity, they didn’t sell too well. Nowadays they are probably the rarest beat 45s released in 1960s communist Poland. Compared to other records of this genre released through every one of the three recording labels active in the country, The Phantoms are close to being unfindable unless one wishes to spend several years searching for a playable copy.” 


Pronit founded in the late 1950s became the People’s Republic of Poland’s second Major label though the early recordings were less than high quality and poorly distributed. 

sample of Pronit sleeve


Stephen Wojcik with rare guitar produced in  early 1960s, once owned by Doug MacLennon [Apaches/Jacobeats]. Stephen began playing music in his early teens gaining guitar instruction from his father Emil, an amateur guitarist who ran a snooker hall besides helping local bands get regional bookings through promoter Albert Bonici.  He also arranged their Polish tour with the Polish Jazz Federation though past contacts.                                                                                                                                     Besides his father’s encouragement to pursue music ambitions, Stephen  became friends with Bill Cameron who  in 1962, worked with the Phantoms giving tips on guitar cords and drum beats eighteen month before their first performance.  He was also encouraged when  he accompanied Bill down to London and attended the beat music contest  where Johnny and the Copy Cats placed second in the national beat competition singing their first single, a cover version of “I’m a Hog For You Baby”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Besides a skilled guitarist, Stephen was the keyboardist for The Phantoms who later toured Poland in 1966. Though three of the band members has since passed, there was a bond developed among the band that is still felt by those who were part of it. Fortunately, the memorabilia of the groups 3 year journey is preserved thanks to Stephen’s father who managed the group.  A special thanks to Stephen who laid out the clippings for this presentation. Currently, Stephen is currently working with Bill Cameron and Rob Larson [CopyCats] on some new music and will be making their debut soon.  Press & Journal article [2016] about the Phantoms:






The Burns guitar London was produced in early 1960s. Burns guitars were also used by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and The Shadows besides other popular musicians.




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Opium Trail Scotland” In the 1960s and 70s the likes of The Silver Beetles, Rod Stewart and Status Quo all descended upon the county. In the 1990s, an Ian McCulloch-free Echo & The Bunnymen turned up in Thurso, as did a young Snow Patrol, the latter leaving town just as perplexed as the audience they played to.”

Because the British Government built a large-scale nuclear reactor at nearby Dounreay at the tip of Scotland in 1954, the workers sought music and entertainment at the end a long week.  Beside being active with new comers seeking work, the area also became home to the Admiralty Reactor Test Establishment that brought in the British and American Navy besides the local and Gaelic incomers. One of the most famous entertainers to perform there, was Sir Rod Stewart when he was just beginning his music career.

“VETERAN rock star Rod Stewart officially became a Sir when he was knighted this week over 50 years since he performed at Thurso Town Hall as a teenager. The 18-year-old appeared at the venue in the autumn of 1963 with his group as part of a Jimmy Powell and The Five Dimensions making a mini tour of Scotland [PYE Records managed by Malcolm Nixon]. His trip north was recalled this week by journalist Bill Mowat, who was editor of the Caithness Courier in the 1960s.”

Thurso Town Hall was available for local entertainment and hosting music venues from out-of-towners.

The beat movement made inroads throughout Scotland from the Glasgow area to many small towns and villages and even to Thurso and Orkey Islands beyond. In 1967, the Opium Trail was a popular local band in Thurso, Scotland that caught the imagination of young Scots.

Tim Hunt reporting on the Opium Trail

Opium Trail members 1967


BBC Television footage Opium Trail

Opium Trail at the BBC


Opium Trail was a pop band from Thurso. Besides member Graham Walker who played drums for many of the most accomplished musicians in the rock music,  Roger Niven is an accomplished musician who went on to study classical guitar besides participating in playing various types of music from Beat to Jazz styles. in 2002, several years before he reunited with drummer Graham Walker to record with jazz singer, Roger wrote, “Still playing a lot. I have a 7 piece salsa/ latin soul band , “Latitude57”,which I formed with a girl from Ecuador last year.  I also have a classical guitar teaching diploma.  I play lute and cittern in a renaissance music group called Coronach (check our site).  “
(I think this is the Link Roger mentioned:
2011 Also checkout this site for more on Roger:

Graham and Dick Levens and I played together in London for 3 years in “A Million People” from 1971 to 1974. We all met up in 2000 at a school reunion in Thurso. Dick lives in Orkney and I still see him a lot.  Your site has brought back a lot of fond memories.  I have accumulated
 lots of guitars including a 57 strat, SG, 12 string Rickenbacker (the one in that very silly picture you have of me (on the desk on the web site) a 335 and my latest baby, a Paul Reed Smith. Current amp is a Mesa Boogie.”

Roger Niven with Opium Trail [1967] Related post:

Ron Gesch, one of the members who performed with the OT on BBC, is currently a singer/songwriter in the Christian Rock genre

Ron Geschwind webpages: Intro: History: Photos:

For updates from the OT line-up, refer to

“Another local outfit seen on the small screen was the exotically named Opium Trail, recorded by the BBC at a Scapa House gig performing Sam and Dave’s soul standard, Hold On I’m Coming, then a big favourite with Caithness teens. The Opium Trail included Detroit-born guitarist Ron Gershwin, Graham Walker, Roger Niven, Mike Sutherland and singer Spike Milligan, who was later replaced by ‘Five One’, otherwise Fred Wilson. Later travellers on The Opium Trail were Alastair Macleod and Duncan Gray. The Trail started out playing chart hits, R&B standards and a few dated but popular Shadows instrumentals.”



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Donovan promo shots [1965] sent to AA Bonici, Elgin, Scotland

In 1965 Donovan was homeless briefly until he replaced his manager who got him enough gigs and a recording contract.  In March of 1965, Pye Records released Donovan’s first recorded version of “Catch The Wind”. Donovan’s personal details: Born 10 May 1946, Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland. He spent most of his childhood in Glasgow before he moved with family to the north of England. Folk Singer; Early career [1965] Appearances: In 1965 “several talent scouts heard some of Donovan’s music, and signed him to perform on the rock program Ready Stead Go.” He also appeared at the NME Poll Winners Concert, Wembley, 1965; and the Newport Folk Festival with Bob Dylan later than year. His first single recording was “Catch The Wind” followed by “Colours” and “Universal Soldier” 1965. Catch the Wind: Colours: Universal Soldier:

Released on PYE Records 12Mar63

“Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do?” March 1965  Coming across this copy in great condition in charity shop was a real find. Donovan captured my imagination as a teenager when the albums came out. I also loved the soundtrack of Brother Son, Sister Moon featuring Donovan compositions [1972]:


Donovan went on to gain a large following in the UK before his popularity grew in the United States. Before he hit the big time, Donovan befriended the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, whose friendship “change my whole life” according to Donovan. He described Brian as an extraordinary talent whose “superfame was too much for him”. Songs:


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Spiggy Topes – Aberdeen band


Spiggy Topes were originally a Thurso band that formed in 1969 as Roger Niven, Graham Walker, and Johnny Gray were looking for new when Thurso vocalist Dennis Thompson was unable to tour with the group.  As Spiggy Topes was established, journalist Bill Mowat who became their manager [former bass guitarist for Blues Union] introduced them to Marek Kluczynski, a butcher in Inverness who was also an amateur musician, singing with local bands in his spare time. Recognizing his talent, Bill Mowat encouraged Marek to pursue music as the band were developing a unique style of progressive rock. Marek quickly became an asset to the newly formed group with his “strong and distinctive voice and his instrumental ability” that played a large part in the groups sound.   Marek went on to form a song writing partnership with Johnny Gray that was later employed for Chris Bennett’s “Revolution” album. Lead guitarist Roger Niven who later joined the Gullum Underdogs when Johnny Sutherland moved on as a soloist, said that after working with the Opium Trail [1967], Gail Force [1967-68], and The Thought Criminals [1968], he became part of Spiggy Topes before STopes relocated to Aberdeen [from Thurso] whilst Graham Walker began studies at University of Aberdeen.  Drummer Graham, busy with studies, soon left the STopes and the new line up became Marek Kluczynski, Johnny Gray, Arthur Farrel, and Korky Weir on drums.  Living together in small quarters in Aberdeen, the boys were performing regularly between the north of England and throughout Scotland. With manager Bill Mowat’s help, Spiggy Topes also went to London to record four demo records through Bill’s connections. Years later, three  of the songs materialized in the unauthorized collection called “Dustbin Full Of Rubbish” after they were found in a yard sale for 10 pence each. They wrote or arranged the tunes they covered and were innovative in creating their unique sound. Twenty five years after the band split up, three out of four of their songs were published in the compilation album “Dustbin Full Of Rubbish” of British “golden age of pop” acts. “The London studio which recorded them had a clear out” and American recording executive Dave Brown found them at a boot sale while visiting England. Two songs were taped in Grampian Records Studio in Wick [1969] and the others in London. “Songs recorded [1969] as I remember were My Sunday Feeling , Come away Melinda, Communication Breakdown and an original of Marek’s” Below are the three tunes included on the compilation album:
Come Away Melinda – Spiggy Topes
Love Is In The Wind
My Only Chance Is You


Thought Criminals [1968] were before Spiggy Topes

Spiggy Topes with Dennis Thompson


Spiggy Topes gain popularity in Edinburgh


Spiggy Topes arranged and performed several cover tunes in performances besides original compositions

Spiggy Topes recording in London



Graham Walker, and Johnny Gray of Spiggy Topes got into the music scene performing with John Sutherland [JOHN GEORGE  ‘J Fats’ SUTHERLAND, b. 22.08.1944 Thurso, Caithness,  d. 08.12.11 Aberdeen]. Peter Innes, author of FIT LIKE, New York? [1997] refered to Johnny Sutherland as “the founding father of Northern rock music” and described Caithness where he earned his chops, as “the remotest community on the UK mainland”. Johnny Sutherland founded various bands in the area, including “The Jam” with Johnny Gray and Graham Walker”. John “J Fats” Sutherland w/Graham Walker on drums:  In 1968, Roger, Graham, and Johnny Gray of Thurso, formed Spiggy Topes along with vocalist Dennis Thomson. Because Dennis wasn’t able to travel with the band for gigs, he was soon replaced by Marek Kluczynski of Inverness through their manager Bill Mowat’s introduction.

In 1967, Roger and Graham played together as part of The Opium Trail” before forming Spiggy Topes with Johnny Gray and Dennis Thomson.

Innes describes how the area the construction of Dounreay nuclear research facility became a catalyst for local rock music when 30,000 construction workers were set up to complete the job. The first local rock & roll band was The Rhythm Four with Johnny Curran who came up to make bread for the expanding populous. Dave and Bill Fehilly, site painters from Glasgow “abandoned their Dounreay work to establish Glasgow Dance Promotions” and promoted American rocker Gene Vincent, besides British acts including Alex Harvey Band and Nazareth.John Sutherland obituary:

In 1969, Graham  left Thurso to attend the University of Aberdeen so the rest of the band moved into a mobile home in Aberdeen to continue gigging. In 1971, the band was renamed “Rebellion” after they relocated to London to work on an LP with Cliff Bennett.


Transplant [Glasgow] was a popular Scottish music magazine by late 1960’s featuring various Scottish pop bands on the go. Their manager was Bill Mowat who helped them with London connections [including recording time in Tin Pan Alley] though AA Bonici offered them gigs around the north of Scotland. Transplant cover [June 1970] included an advert for Spiggy Topes as they were to perform in Glasgow with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and other popular bands in the UK. Unfortunately, the promoter canceled the program in the last moment.

Albert Bonici’s LCB Agency managed/promoted Spiggy Topes and My Dear Watson [aka CopyCats] in Transplant magazine.

The band played various gigs around Scotland and the north of England before they went to London to record with Cliff Bennett.

Roger Niven and Graham Walker had already left Spiggy Topes when they were living in Aberdeen and doing various gigs. Two vans were hired for the Christmas 1970 tour around the north of Scotland arranged by LCB Agency. They went as far north as Thurso where the original line-up was formed accompanied by My Dear Watson who were promoting new singles. In 1970, the band members consisted of Roger Niven (guitar), Johnny Gray (bass), Graham Walker on drums), Dennis Thomson (vocals), Marek Kluczynski (vocals, flute, harmonica), Derek “Corky” Weir (drums), Arthur Farrel (guitar). Bill Dalgarno worked in the offices of LCB Agency with Albert Bonici and John Ruggeri who went on tour with the bands to manage the gigs. Wick and Nairn were two of the locations that the agency supplied with a steady flow of performers.


Spiggy Topes were living in the north of England before settling in Aberdeen as a band in 1969. They were regionally popular among the beat fans and those heard their demo records aired BBC Radio 1. Years later the three songs were released on a compilation album, “Dustbin Full Of Rubbish” as recordings were purchased for pennies a yard sale.

In a recent phone conversation, Marek Kluczynski related that it was financially difficult trying to make it in the music business and took conventional work while living in London. Before the London recordings for Cliff Bennett’s Rebellion LP, Spiggy Topes members were living together in a mobile home in Aberdeen whilst performing regularly between Scotland and the north of England. The music scene was thriving and there were plenty of places to play to young fans out to dance and see the new bands on the go. Marek’s younger brother Mark came up from Dundee to help out as their roadie.

Spiggy Topes on stage [circa 1970?]

“The band’s big break was when they went down to London in 1971 to record as the back up band for Cliff Bennett who was under contract with American company CBS”  “Fit Like, New York?” [Peter Innes – 1997]  Arthur Farrel, not wanting to relocate to London, returned to his home in Glasgow when Spiggy Topes [whose name changed to Rebellion under Bennett] developed tracks for the Rebellion album. Marek and Johnny Gray worked fast to develop a set of tunes bouncing ideas off each other. After the LP was complete, Marek left the music scene as the new group was shifting away from the progressive style of Spiggy Topes favoring a bluesy one under Bennett.

Rebellion LP:  and Note: “The album is loaded with originals that are mostly the work of bassist John Gray and flautist Marek Kluczynski, who do a decent job of supplying generic soul-rock templates through with Bennett can show off his singing and elevate their work.”

Cliff Bennett’s Rebellion band including former members of Spiggy Topes [composers Johnny Gray and Marek Kluczynski left of Cliff Bennett] and Korky on far right

Smiggy, Johnny Gray, Derek Weir ( Korky ), Cliff Bennett and Marek Kluczynski [front row sitting].

Toe Fat was Cliff Bennett’s band before “Rebellion”.

 Cliff Bennett’s current band was Toe Fat but manager Clifford Davies suggested a new line-up. Bennett attempted to replace drummer Lee Kerslake with Spiggy Topes’ Derek “Korky” Weir but Korky’s answer was “No. way. You take us as a package, all or nothing”. Marek became second singer and the group was expected to relocate to London. Arthur Ferral quit as Spiggy Topes relocated to London as the Rebellion band was formed and bought himself a taxi-cab in Glasgow. He was replaced by lead guitarist Robert “Smiggy” Smith. Meanwhile, former guitarist Ken Hensley and drummer Kerslake [of Toe Fat] became part of Uriah Heep. Lead singer Cliff Bennett, was looking for a keyboardist for the changing line-up and added Belfast born keyboardist Lou Martin who was living in London as Marek left Rebellion.  Though the Rebellion album sold under 9,000 albums and members of Spiggy Topes  had disbanded, Mareks’s brother Mick stayed on under Clifford Davies management for seven years and went on to become road manager for The Pink Floyd through connections made.

Notes: After recording the Rebellion LP, band members including Marek and John Gray were invited to record under Dandylion Music who offering to buy off their contracts for £250. As fate would have it, secretaries for the record companies got in an argument during negotiations and the opportunity didn’t go forward. In summer of 1972, they formed a new band called “Summer” which only lasted about that long. *notes from a recent interview with Marek Kluczynski


Marek [Inverness, Scotland 2017]

Johnny Gray [2017]

Korky Weir on guitar

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“Spiggy Topes were originally guitarist Roger Niven, Thurso, who later co-founded ‘Wolfstone’; Johnny Gray, Thurso (brother of Caithness amateur football successful manager Duncan and Inverness’s current Lord Provost Councillor Jimmy; has a had life-time career in live music; and drummer Graham Walker, also Thurso, who subsequently played on stage with blues legends incl BB King and is a successful session-man in London of several decades experience and was/is also member of Gary Moore’s Midnight Blues Band, with record sales over 5 million. Gray also later played with an ex-Thin Lizzy musician; Brian Robertson.  Marek from Inverness replaced Dennis Thomson, Thurso, who did not want to turn full-time. As well as singing, Marek played flute, harmonica and sax on stage with band.  Note: following obituary is about Spiggy Topes/Pink Floyd road manager Mick who died suddenly in Feb/2009 from a heart attack. He was the brother of Marek.

Spiggy Topes tunes were part of a “boot-legged” American LP called ‘Dustbin Full of Rubbish’ and concept idea dating back to Alan Lomax’s search for American ‘blues roots’ performers in jails, slums in the Deep (still segregated) South in 1940s/50s (incl Robert Johnston as in ‘Crossroads’)”.

Graham Walker [drummer] later joined Blodwyn Pig and has collaborated with Roger Niven Roger Niven on guitar:


Graham Walker and Roger Niven circa 1967 [below] 1967 photos from: [read more about the Opium Trail]

Graham Walker

Above: Roger Nivan with Opium Trail and a recent one with guitar

Graham Walker who continued his music career with Blodwyn Pig, was still working with Spiggy Topes during his university days. He was replaced by drummer Derek “Korky” Weir before manager Bill Mowat arranged recording time on Denmark Street “Tin Pan Alley”London.

“Graham was the drummer in The Web, The Fragments, The Opium Trail,  Gale Force 8, The Jam, Spiggy Topes and Gollum the Underdog from 1965 to 1970. He then went to London with A Million People and became a session man of note through the eighties. He achieved international recognition for his drumming with the Gary Moore Band in the nineties and has sessions for Mick Jagger, George Harrison and Whitesnake as well as many others of note.”

Below, Peter Innes “Fit Like, New York” excerpt from his book:

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The Diamonds, Apaches, and Jacobeats

John Rennie began a musical career when he and Bible class mates formed a skiffle group in Portsoy, Scotland. The Diamonds, Apaches, and Jacobeats  is an online exclusive to SCOTBEAT with permission from its author [copyright John Rennie 2009] . In a recent chat, John spoke about how he and life long friend Doug MacLennan worked under candle light creating instruments from a wood working book during a power cut. The next morning, John realized there was blood on his new guitar from a gash to his thumb during the process. The tunes covered and line-up changed along the way though John stayed through the transition before leaving the Jacobeats for health issues.


This booklet is copyright John Rennie and for education purposes only.

from Fit Like, New York? [c.1997]

Notes: If you have access to any audio tapes of bands represented in SCOTBEAT, please contact me online to have digitized.  Page 24: It was reported that the Cameron sisters were developing throat problems from a heavy schedule of performances. However, Lorna told me that she left the band for other regions [see Jacobeats post]. Her sister stayed of for a time and performed with Terry Russell and Graeme Nairn before the New Jacobeats were formed [a new line-up]. Page 21: John Rennie assessment about the possibility of performing on the Ed Sullivan show would have been for the novelty of their Scottish dress, but I believe an American audience would have loved the group based on the comments I’ve heard relating to their sound and performance skills. John related that their appearing on the popular television program became complexed because of a union agreement that meant Mr. Bonici hiring an American band to tour the UK in exchange for their publicity.

Nonetheless, the band had a rigorous schedule of performances in the UK and Germany though sadly they never were recorded on vinyl. I am suprised that promoter Bonici didn’t record them on the Norco Records label though he did record Terry Russell who was part of the Jacobeats with the Cameron sisters.



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Posted in 1960's pop music