Opium Trail Scotland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caithness” 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.” http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/a-beacon-for-talent-1-1151010

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Stewart http://www.rodstewartfanclub.com/about_rod/bio/bio_60.php 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy-Di1qpDdk 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.”  http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Thurso-memories-of-Sir-Rod-Stewart-14102016.htm

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: http://www.coronach.co.uk/)
2011 Also checkout this site for more on Roger: http://www.circusfm.com

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: https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/spiggy-topes-aberdeen-band/

Ron Gesch, one of the members who performed with the OT on BBC, is currently a singer/songwriter in the Christian Rock genre https://www.reverbnation.com/rongesch

Ron Geschwind webpages: Intro: http://www.rgcgraphics.com/radioman3rdclass/rgeschwind/trail.htm History: http://rgcgraphics.com/OPTrail2/Local%20Publish/BackGround/background.html Photos: http://rgcgraphics.com/OPTrail2/Local%20Publish/Pictures/pictures.html

For updates from the OT line-up, refer to http://rgcgraphics.com/OPTrail2/Updates.html

“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.” http://www.internet-promotions.co.uk/archives/northlands/north5.htm




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 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. http://en.gravatar.com/scotbeat

Tagged with:
Posted in 1960's pop music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: