Elgin bands The T-Set and Windy Miller

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Brothers Fred and Brian before they first made their debut at Two Red Shoes Ballroom [7oct1965] as the Delinks…

As teenagers, Fred and Brian McDonald were part of the Delinks who performed around the north of Scotland

 

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/

 

“Memories of The Delinquents, The T-Set and Windy Miller.”

Delinquents with Fred McDonald,Alan Anderson, Brian McDonald, and Kenny King

“Growing up in Elgin with my brother Brian, our early musical influences, (mid to late
1950’s), were from artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, The Everly Brothers,
Little Richard and Elvis Presley. I remember my first guitar was a plastic Elvis Presley
guitar to be replaced with a solid bodied electric guitar (think it was a Broadway) in the
early sixties when The Shadows came to the fore. I joined my first Band when I was
about fourteen and think I got to join because I knew the chords to The Shadows –
‘Wonderful Land’ We were called The Delinquents and played at school dances and
youth clubs in the area. The band consisted of myself, Alan Anderson on drums, Kenny
King on bass and David Duncan on guitar. My brother Brian joined the band on bass after
David Duncan left to go to University and Kenny King took over on guitar. This was the
line-up in 1962 when we were lucky enough to get a fifteen minute spot on a BBC Radio
Scotland program called “Young Artists” playing The Shadows and The Ventures covers.
I still have a clipping from the Radio Times showing the listing for the program
In the mid 60’s, The T-Set was formed, with Finlay Grant on Drums, Mike Boaler on
Bass, my brother Brian on vocals and myself on Guitar and vocals. It was then that we
started getting gigs from Albert Bonici and did the circuit which Albert had set up and
included The Ballerina Ballroom – Nairn, The Vic – Forres, The Two Red Shoes – Elgin,
The Longmore Hall –Keith, The Town Hall – Cullen and the air and naval bases at
Kinloss and Lossiemouth. Finlay Grant later left to join another Band and was replaced
by Doug Low on Drums. We played the chart hits of the day and supported a lot of the
big named bands that Albert Bonici brought to the area
In 1970, Doug Low left the band and we formed a new band called Cyril Plugg with my
brother on Drums and Vocals, Mike Boaler on Bass and myself on Guitar and vocals
doing covers from bands such as Black Sabbath and Spooky Tooth. Later that year, my
brother and I were lured away by Kenny MacDonald (guitar) to form a new band with
Charlie Gerrard (Bass) and Finlay Grant (Drums) and so Windy Miller was formed. We
continued to play at dances and clubs in the area from Thurso in the north down to
Edzell, Angus in the south
My brother Brian left the band for a while to play with the Two Red Shoes Band in Elgin,
but returned later on drums/vocals to replace Finlay Grant when he left.
In 1974, as a four piece with Brian, we recorded an album entitled “On The Rise” with
Albert Bonici’s Norco label. This was recorded at The Two Red Shoes in Elgin on a four
track tape machine with Bill Cameron (The Copycats/My Dear Watson) who did a
brilliant job as sound engineer. All songs were written by Kenny MacDonald apart from
one by Charlie Gerrard. Vocal harmonies were the strong point of the band and I hope
that came through in the album.
In 1974.we got a spot on a Grampian TV program called “On Camera” doing a bit of
music and comedy. (Well, we thought it was funny!!) It was all good exposure though

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 as
    The Searchers, The Easy Beats, The Merseybeats, Christian and The Crusaders, Dave
    Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, The Casuals ,The Alan Price Set, Cream, Dantallian’s
    Chariot (Zoot Money), Mud, The Sweet, The Tremeloes, Slade, Marmalade, The Bay
    City Rollers, Gino Washington and The Ram Jam Band, The Luvvers (Lulu’s Band), Carl
    Denver, Frank Ifield, Simon Dupree and The Big Sound, The Gun, Pickety Witch, The
    Dooleys, Marsha Hunt, The Glitter Band and not forgetting a couple of comedians, Chic
    Murray and Andy Cameron.
    One of the first “Chart Bands” the T-Set supported at Cullen Town Hall was Christian and
    The Crusaders who had a chart hit at the time with ‘That’s Nice’ in 1966. Their guitarist
    then 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 this
    country and the USA, but they were already sporting their tartan outfits that made them
    so recognizable.
    Another Gig that I’ll never forget was supporting Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and
    Ginger Baker) at the Ballerina, Nairn on a Monday night in July, 1967. They were
    supposed to have been playing the Friday before but I believe that their equipment didn’t
    turn 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 Beat
    Festival which was headlined by Gino Washington and The Ram Jam Band. There was a
    competition for the best local band and we were fortunate enough to win the Cup which
    was 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 topping
    band Smokie. Chris Norman, who was the lead singer with Smokie and sang on nearly all
    their chart hits, married local Elgin girl, Linda Heddle and, after leaving the band went on
    to have a very successful career as a solo artist.
    Another gig that sticks in my memory was with The Easybeats, an Australian band who
    had hits with ‘Friday on my Mind’ and ‘Good Times’. The T-Set supported them at the
    then Royal Naval Air Base at Lossiemouth. They turned up for the gig minus their
    equipment as their van had broken down somewhere and they ended up using all our
    equipment and still sounded fantastic in spite of that.
    Other bands that the T-Set supported at the Naval Air Base were The Merseybeats who
    had a string of hits, with probably ‘Sorrow’ being their biggest and The Gun who had a
    hit 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 Army
    with Ginger Baker (ex drummer of Cream). The Casuals were also another band we
    supported there and had a hit with ‘Jesamine’ which went to no.2 in the UK charts
    The Mid Summer Balls at the bases in Kinloss and Lossiemouth were always a big
    occasion 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 or
    Forres and then head down to one of the bases and start playing there at around 2.00 am
    in the morning. We were always well looked after with food and drink and, if you stayed
    long 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-Set
    played there quite often. The ballroom was upstairs and the stage was higher up on an
    overhung balcony that felt like it was going to fall down any minute with the only access
    to it being a very narrow winding staircase that made it extremely difficult to carry the
    band equipment up and down. Because it was upstairs, the ballroom floor was on a
    suspended 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 featured
    Zoot Money of Big Roll Band fame and a certain guitarist called Andy Summers who
    later went on the form The Police with Sting. The T–Set supported them at The Ballerina
    Ballroom in Nairn in 1967. The band was dressed all in white, all their equipment was
    white including guitars, keyboards, drums and amps with a white backdrop at the back of
    the stage. This was to greatly heighten the effect of their highly impressive psychedelic
    light show.
    The T-Set played at a Marquee dance in the grounds of Banff Castle on a very still
    summer’s night in the mid 60’s. The gig went well but we were asked by the police to
    turn down halfway through as they were receiving complaints about the noise. We did
    turn it down a bit, but probably, as the night wore on, got louder and louder again with
    the result that, at the end of the night we were charged by the police with breach of the
    peace. Albert Bonici was really helpful and had his Solicitor represent us in Court at his
    own expense. We were all admonished and were later inundated with press reporters
    wanting a story. I think that Albert had tipped them off and, as a result, we were was all
    over the national newspapers the next day saying that crockery was falling off the shelves
    in houses two miles away because of the volume from the band. Albert’s philosophy
    seemed 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 with
    an impromptu open air concert which made headlines in all the national newspapers. The
    T-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 in
    Elgin 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 another
    memorable one. They were one of most exciting and loudest bands around at the time and
    had 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 another
    that comes to mind. Marmalade had just released a new album and proceeded to play all
    the songs from it in their one hour set much to the disappointment of the packed crowd
    who wanted to hear them play all their hits. After they finished their set, we went back on
    and started with one of their hits ‘Ra Dancer’ to the biggest cheer of the night with the
    members of Marmalade glowering at us from the wings. I seem to remember that we also
    played Obla Di Obla Da later on in our set.
    Mud and The Sweet were the two other bands that Windy Miller supported at The Town
    Hall, Elgin
    Wind Miller played at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on several occasions. There was
    the resident band there and a guest band on every week. The Ballroom floor was round
    and those that weren’t dancing used to walk round and round the floor. We came up with
    the idea of recording the backing to two or three songs to tape and the four of us would
    go out front and perform a four piece vocal harmony act with the backing. This stopped
    the audience in their tracks and we were told later that very few bands had stopped them
    walking round and round. We like to think that we were maybe one of the first ‘Boy
    Bands’ with this
    I seem to remember another occasion when we stopped them was when Kenny sat cross
    legged 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 The
    Coylumbridge Hotel near Aviemore. On one of the nights, we noticed the then Prime
    Minister, Jim Callaghan, dining in the hall. During our set, he sent up one of his party to
    ask if we could do a request for him. I seem to remember that it was the Harry Neilson
    song ‘Everbody’s Talking’. Luckily, it was a song that we already new and, when we had
    our break, he came up and thanked us all personally for playing the song saying how
    much he had enjoyed our music, which was nice. During that time at the hotel, a young
    waitress called Elaine was working there during the summer months while studying at the
    Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. We found out that she could
    sing and, after finishing her waitress shifts, we would get her up to sing a few songs with
    the band. She later went on to have a successful career in TV shows such as ‘Naked
    Video’ and ‘Rab C Nesbit’ and has recently completed a series for STV called ‘Burds Eye
    View’. Her name was Elaine C Smith.
    I think it was New Years Eve at The Coylumbridge Hotel during our residency that we
    did 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 off
    stage as he was on.
  • The T-Set also supported Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, The Alan Price Set and
    Simon Dupree and the Big Sound at the Balerina Ballrom, Nairn, – Pickety Witch at
    Dingwall Town Hall – The Tremeloes at The Ice Rink, Inverness and The Searchers.
    Windy Miller supported The Glitter Band at Dingwall Town Hall, – The Searchers, The
    Dooleys, The Glitter Band (on their own), Carl Denver and Frank Ifield at the
    Invergordon 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 of
    top 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
t set 1t set textt set

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

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About

My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music
3 comments on “Elgin bands The T-Set and Windy Miller
  1. Stephen Murphy says:

    OMG, a blast from the past. Vividly remember going to The Two Red Shoes in Elgin late 60’s(14/15 yrs old), walking around the dance floor eyeing up the girls in the middle dancing and listening to the local band The T-Set…….brilliant

  2. Linda Norman (nee Heddle) says:

    Great write up. Brings back a lot of memories of my time living in Elgin..1964 to when I left in 1970 to marry Chris of the said Elizabethians later Smokie.A lot of water under the bridge since then. He is still going strong with his own band these days and still enjoying it.

  3. Fred McDonald says:

    Thanks Linda. Good to hear from you again. Could probably write a book of memories and experiences in the 60’s and 70’s with the T-Set and Windy Miller. It’s great that Chris is still gigging with his own band and still enjoying it. Hope you’re both well.

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