Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron and David Dills

Bill Cameron and David Dills

“Albert had a vision that there might be something in beat music” and was looking for talent when he became the manager of Johnny and The Copycats. At the time, he had also booked the Beatles with a November ’62 contract with Brian Epstein through London liaison, Jack Fallon…

A special thanks to Bill Cameron whose impute has helped me to develop a snap shot of his career with Johnny and The Copycats. Bill was on hiatus from playing with the Copycats after an industrial accident. It was 10 years before he was able to play guitar with the band again. During his recuperation, he gathered notes chronicling his career with the Copycats [AKA My Dear Watson].  In my visit to his home overlooking a beautiful view of the North Sea, Bill mentioned that without the contributions of their first manager, Albert A Bonici [and associates], the music scene of the 1960’s in Scotland wouldn’t have been the happening it was. Bonici’s efforts created possibilities for Scots wanting to develop a career based on musical talents and encouraged many who he booked and recorded. It was quite impressive to see that some teenagers from the small town of Buckie, Scotland had the opportunity to play with so many other talented musicians including;  Alan Price Set, Arthur Brown, Bay City Rollers, Beatles, Billy J Kramer, Dave Berry & The Cruisers, Fleetwood Mac, Foundations, Geno Washington, Hermans Hermits, Hollies, Jack Bruce/Cream, Joe Brown, Johnny Kidd/Pirates, Kinks, Manfred Mann, Marmalade, Mersey Beats,  Mindbenders, Mungo Jerry, Moody Blues, Nashville Teens, Paramount [aka Procol Harum], Peter & Gordon, Pink Floyd, Sandi Shaw/Paramounts, Searchers, Slade, Small Faces, Status Quo, Tremolos, Troggs, and Wayne Fontana. Bill has many fond memories of performing with many of the top acts in the 1960s – ’70s though they were disappointed when the Beatles weren’t able to appear to share the bill in Keith in January 1963 [due to snow and winter conditions]. They were young teenagers at the time just starting out with Albert Bonici’s promotions [LCB Agency] performing at a local New Year’s dance in the small community. Albert made up for it when he negotiated with Brian Epstein to get The Copycats on the bill with The Beatles later that year. See:

In 1965, when Albert asked his London colleague, Jack Fallon [Cana Variety] to help get them work, they had an opportunity to do a month’s worth of gigs at Miesau Army Base in Germany. Jack sought out to find them a German agent to help subsidize their activities in London when he contacted Rudy Pfeiffer. Jack told Rudy that the group was worth checking out so he drove two hours to see them perform. According to Rudy, he decided that he wanted to represent them before he saw them. When he got to the door of the club and heard them singing, he knew that they were a great act. During their engagements in Germany, The Copycats had a number one single in Germany with “Angela” in 1966 [Cornet Record, Koln]. In the mid ’60s they continued doing clubs and British and American bases in Germany through Rudy Pfeiffer though also working in London and in the north of Scotland through Albert Bonici.

The Copycats the had the opportunity to record singles over their career beginning on Mr. Bonici’s label [Norco Records Limited] and enjoyed the process with assistance of seasoned musicians and engineers. Besides great times working with The Easybeats [1967-’68] they enjoyed their time with Nicky Hopkins who was sought after by the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and Jeff Beck. Notably, their last recording sessions were with Elton John when he was a studio musician at DJM [Jan/Feb ’70].

My Dear Watson [minus John Stewart] had 11 days at DJM studios to record an album’s worth of material and worked afternoons into the night with two engineers in an otherwise unoccupied space with the weekend off. This was the place where Elton was said to had been using without permission until he was discovered. Dick James hired him as a studio musician and he was able to continue working and recording there. “‘Basically’, continues Cameron, ‘My Dear Watson was a guitar, bass and drum outfit, and during the first week of recording, someone at DJM asked whether we would like to use a keyboard player.”

Elton John was a struggling musician who was serious about his craft. Bill and band mates got on well with him and Bernie and described him as a quiet man with a brilliant sense of humour. Besides his talent on keyboards, the band were impressed with his voice and were excited about the sessions. Before an amazing career that enabled him to buy a football team and hire his choice of tailors, Elton had a keen interest in football and clothes besides music.  Bill recollects one of the guys from the band making a comment about his new clothes and John responding in with a French accent that it was from his personal tailor at “mil-lets” [Millets -UK  military surplus stores]. To the amusement of My Dear Watson band members, he also tried on a Scottish accent when speaking about his favorite Scottish football club, Cowdenbeath… “‘Basically’, continues Cameron, ‘My Dear Watson was a guitar, bass and drum outfit, and during the first week of recording, someone at DJM asked whether we would like to use a keyboard player.”

Bill Cameron [circa 1970]

Bill Cameron [circa 1970]

My Dear Watson recording

My Dear Watson recording

Johnny And The Copycats – Drummonds, Aberdeen, 7 Dec 2013

New tunes:

Update 2017: Bill tells me that he and another Copycat have formed a new group including an original member of The Phantoms who recorded the Hollies “You Must Believe Me” and Small Faces “Hey Girl” whilst touring Poland in ’66.

Btw, your comments and memoriabilia regarding the subject matter presented on this blog are helpful and appreciated. cheers, David “scotbeat”


My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. With a fascination for the beat music era that took place throughout the UK, my research investigates the late '50s through early 1970s. Relying on interviews, the Albert Bonici archives, and other resources, I continue to gather materials to tell the story of a special time in music in the mid 20th century. Scottish promoter, Albert Bonici, brought many of the top beat music acts to Scotland which delighted music lovers during the early days of the beat music era. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and remembers the contributions of promoter, Albert Bonici, 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. 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 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 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
One comment on “Bill Cameron
  1. Great article. I would love to chat with Bill Cameron about the My Dear Watson/Elton John connection for my upcoming definitive biography, ‘Captain Fantastic: Elton John in the 1970s’. Best, David

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