Brothers Brian and Fred McDonald of Windy Miller were members of a popular Elgin band, The T-Set in the mid ’60’s… with contributions from brother Brian, Fred wrote about their music experiences of the 1960s> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZQL2g-jtrA [Brian McDonald vocal] https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/on-the-rise-windy-miller/ https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/windy-miller-reunion-elgin-museum/
and we got a lot more work as a result.
Looking back, we were very fortunate to have supported a host of “Chart Bands” such asThe Searchers, The Easy Beats, The Merseybeats, Christian and The Crusaders, DaveDee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, The Casuals ,The Alan Price Set, Cream, Dantallian’sChariot (Zoot Money), Mud, The Sweet, The Tremeloes, Slade, Marmalade, The BayCity Rollers, Gino Washington and The Ram Jam Band, The Luvvers (Lulu’s Band), CarlDenver, Frank Ifield, Simon Dupree and The Big Sound, The Gun, Pickety Witch, TheDooleys, Marsha Hunt, The Glitter Band and not forgetting a couple of comedians, ChicMurray and Andy Cameron.One of the first “Chart Bands” the T-Set supported at Cullen Town Hall was Christian andThe Crusaders who had a chart hit at the time with ‘That’s Nice’ in 1966. Their guitaristthen was Ritchie Blackmore, who later went on to play with Deep Purple and Rainbow.Previous guitarists with The Crusaders were Albert Lee and Jimmy Paige.The Town Hall, Cullen was also the venue where we supported The Bay City Rollers.This was before Les McKeown joined them as lead singer and ‘Roller Mania’ hit thiscountry and the USA, but they were already sporting their tartan outfits that made themso recognizable.Another Gig that I’ll never forget was supporting Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce andGinger Baker) at the Ballerina, Nairn on a Monday night in July, 1967. They weresupposed to have been playing the Friday before but I believe that their equipment didn’tturn up and Albert Bonici re-scheduled them for the Monday night and we (The T-Set)were the lucky ones to get the support slot.Also around that time, the T-Set were one of the many Bands to play at The Cullen BeatFestival which was headlined by Gino Washington and The Ram Jam Band. There was acompetition for the best local band and we were fortunate enough to win the Cup whichwas presented to us by Gino Washington himself. I think possibly our two glamorous Go-Go Dancers may have had something to do with us winning as well.I remember a gig at The Two Red Shoes in Elgin with a Band called The Elzabethans.Two of the members, Chris Norman and Alan Silson went on to form the chart toppingband Smokie. Chris Norman, who was the lead singer with Smokie and sang on nearly alltheir chart hits, married local Elgin girl, Linda Heddle and, after leaving the band went onto have a very successful career as a solo artist.Another gig that sticks in my memory was with The Easybeats, an Australian band whohad hits with ‘Friday on my Mind’ and ‘Good Times’. The T-Set supported them at thethen Royal Naval Air Base at Lossiemouth. They turned up for the gig minus theirequipment as their van had broken down somewhere and they ended up using all ourequipment and still sounded fantastic in spite of that.Other bands that the T-Set supported at the Naval Air Base were The Merseybeats whohad a string of hits, with probably ‘Sorrow’ being their biggest and The Gun who had ahit with ‘Race with the Devil’ which featured brothers Paul and Adrian Gurvitz. Paul was
a brilliant guitarist and both he and his brother went on to form The Baker Gurvitz Armywith Ginger Baker (ex drummer of Cream). The Casuals were also another band wesupported there and had a hit with ‘Jesamine’ which went to no.2 in the UK chartsThe Mid Summer Balls at the bases in Kinloss and Lossiemouth were always a bigoccasion and they would have bands playing right through the night. Quite a few times,both with the T-Set and Windy Miller, we would have a gig locally in either Elgin orForres and then head down to one of the bases and start playing there at around 2.00 amin the morning. We were always well looked after with food and drink and, if you stayedlong enough, they would serve you breakfast in the morning as well.The Assembly Rooms in Elgin was another popular venue for local bands and the T-Setplayed there quite often. The ballroom was upstairs and the stage was higher up on anoverhung balcony that felt like it was going to fall down any minute with the only accessto it being a very narrow winding staircase that made it extremely difficult to carry theband equipment up and down. Because it was upstairs, the ballroom floor was on asuspended ceiling that virtually bounced up and down when the crowd was dancing.A band that was not so well-known at the time was Dantallian’s Chariot which featuredZoot Money of Big Roll Band fame and a certain guitarist called Andy Summers wholater went on the form The Police with Sting. The T–Set supported them at The BallerinaBallroom in Nairn in 1967. The band was dressed all in white, all their equipment waswhite including guitars, keyboards, drums and amps with a white backdrop at the back ofthe stage. This was to greatly heighten the effect of their highly impressive psychedeliclight show.The T-Set played at a Marquee dance in the grounds of Banff Castle on a very stillsummer’s night in the mid 60’s. The gig went well but we were asked by the police toturn down halfway through as they were receiving complaints about the noise. We didturn it down a bit, but probably, as the night wore on, got louder and louder again withthe result that, at the end of the night we were charged by the police with breach of thepeace. Albert Bonici was really helpful and had his Solicitor represent us in Court at hisown expense. We were all admonished and were later inundated with press reporterswanting a story. I think that Albert had tipped them off and, as a result, we were was allover the national newspapers the next day saying that crockery was falling off the shelvesin houses two miles away because of the volume from the band. Albert’s philosophyseemed to be there’s no such thing as bad publicity.Another Band that was very popular in this area was The Beatstalkers from Glasgow.They were a great act to watch and once created a riot in George Square, Glasgow withan impromptu open air concert which made headlines in all the national newspapers. TheT-Set supported them on quite a few occasions and we got to know them quite well.When they played in the area, we used to meet them on a Sunday outside the Park Café inElgin for a game of five a side football in the park with our ‘roadie’, Wee Willum,making up our fifth member.
The Gig with Slade, also at The Ballerina in Nairn with Windy Miller, was anothermemorable one. They were one of most exciting and loudest bands around at the time andhad a string of hits in the seventies. To hear Noddy Holder belt out the opening lines to‘Get Down and Get with It’ was something else.A Windy Miller gig supporting the band Marmalade at the Town Hall in Elgin is anotherthat comes to mind. Marmalade had just released a new album and proceeded to play allthe songs from it in their one hour set much to the disappointment of the packed crowdwho wanted to hear them play all their hits. After they finished their set, we went back onand started with one of their hits ‘Ra Dancer’ to the biggest cheer of the night with themembers of Marmalade glowering at us from the wings. I seem to remember that we alsoplayed Obla Di Obla Da later on in our set.Mud and The Sweet were the two other bands that Windy Miller supported at The TownHall, ElginWind Miller played at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on several occasions. There wasthe resident band there and a guest band on every week. The Ballroom floor was roundand those that weren’t dancing used to walk round and round the floor. We came up withthe idea of recording the backing to two or three songs to tape and the four of us wouldgo out front and perform a four piece vocal harmony act with the backing. This stoppedthe audience in their tracks and we were told later that very few bands had stopped themwalking round and round. We like to think that we were maybe one of the first ‘BoyBands’ with thisI seem to remember another occasion when we stopped them was when Kenny sat crosslegged on the stage floor with a lap steel guitar and we played ‘Statesboro Blues’.In the mid seventies, Windy Miller had a four nights a week residency at TheCoylumbridge Hotel near Aviemore. On one of the nights, we noticed the then PrimeMinister, Jim Callaghan, dining in the hall. During our set, he sent up one of his party toask if we could do a request for him. I seem to remember that it was the Harry Neilsonsong ‘Everbody’s Talking’. Luckily, it was a song that we already new and, when we hadour break, he came up and thanked us all personally for playing the song saying howmuch he had enjoyed our music, which was nice. During that time at the hotel, a youngwaitress called Elaine was working there during the summer months while studying at theRoyal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. We found out that she couldsing and, after finishing her waitress shifts, we would get her up to sing a few songs withthe band. She later went on to have a successful career in TV shows such as ‘NakedVideo’ and ‘Rab C Nesbit’ and has recently completed a series for STV called ‘Burds EyeView’. Her name was Elaine C Smith.I think it was New Years Eve at The Coylumbridge Hotel during our residency that wedid a show with Chris McClure and the Section and Chic Murray, the Scottish comedian.We had a chat with him at the break and he was a really friendly guy and just as funny offstage as he was on.
The T-Set also supported Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, The Alan Price Set andSimon Dupree and the Big Sound at the Balerina Ballrom, Nairn, – Pickety Witch atDingwall Town Hall – The Tremeloes at The Ice Rink, Inverness and The Searchers.Windy Miller supported The Glitter Band at Dingwall Town Hall, – The Searchers, TheDooleys, The Glitter Band (on their own), Carl Denver and Frank Ifield at theInvergordon Golf Club and Marsha Hunt at the Town Hall, Forres.The North of Scotland has a lot be grateful to Albert Bonici for bringing such an array oftop bands to the area that you would only normally see on shows like ‘Top of the Pops’and his name will always be part of Rock/Pop history.” Fred McDonald
Above: T Set after winning a competition
Below: “Four Loons plus Findley” were known as Windy Miller and most of the songs included on their album “ON THE RISE” (1974) were written by Kenny MacDonald [second from end] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_zIqERpgfU