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. https://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/buckie-spey-bay-p237611 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.” http://rytmipiosenka.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/the-phantoms-english-version.html

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.” http://rytmipiosenka.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/the-phantoms-english-version.html 

 

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 https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/bill-ca/ 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: http://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-press-and-journal-north-east/20160116/281689728813492

 

 

 

 

 

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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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
2 comments on “The Phantoms of Buckie
  1. Gordon says:

    Great piece about the Phantoms – some good photos too, especially the one taken outside the Thistle. Are any copies of the Polish 45s still around? Would be good if they could be put on YouTube.

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