During the late sixties and early seventies, while I was playing in Newcastle bands, I would occasionally come into contact with two Newcastle musicians; vocalist, Brian Goulden and his brother – drummer, Colin Goulden. Although I never played in the same band as the brothers, we knew the same musicians, a handful of which played alongside myself and at different times with the Gouldens. Brian and Colin were well known, respected musicians in the sixties and seventies, eventually playing in the Newcastle based band, Spyda. This is the story of the Goulden brothers and Spyda, as told by Brian: –
THE FACTS O’ LIFE
“In Autumn ’64 I went home one night to find my youngest brother, Colin and two of his school friends in our kitchen. Colin was known to play a perfect rendition of the drums for “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris. His friends were Dave Winter and Jim Sharp. They had guitars and little amps. Our Colin only had a snare drum and a hi-hat and they were learning a Chuck berry song called “Sweet Little Sixteen”.
“I was asked to sing so I suggested ‘Baby let me take you home’ by The Animals, which was in the charts. I suppose the band was formed there and then and we arranged to meet again. We called ourselves ‘The Facts of Life’ after a suggestion by Mickey Watson – (you know who you are).
“Having practised like mad for months, we had one problem – we didn’t have a bass player! This did not stop us doing a couple of ‘bookings’ at local youth clubs to dip our toes in the water and we went down well enough to boost our growing confidence. However, we knew we had to get a bass player so we enlisted a guy from Shieldfield whose name was Keith Penfold. Around about the same time, Jim left so we brought in a young organist called Ian Pearce. Ian had a new Vox Continental, which were the keyboards of choice at the time. Looking back at our early years it was definitely a case of ‘Light blue touch paper and stand back’.
“We went to youth clubs to see the top local bands of the time like the The Elcort. This was when Terry Fairlamb was the bass player. I remember Dek with his big Gretsch guitar. We thought they were the bee’s knees. They used to play an Edvard Grieg instrumental, “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” (from Peer Gynt). Rob Turner – (I think it was Rob) – used to dress up as a bloody mummy and go down into the audience to scare the girls, which became a dangerous thing to do. Great band!!!
“Another was The Unknowns – classy, competent and who did songs nobody else did. Of course they went on to become The Chosen Few. We were forever poaching songs from other bands. There were lots to admire; we had no shame! We did a gig at the Banqueting Hall in Jesmond Dene with another local super group of the day, The Lectrons. When we asked them what they thought of our performance they replied, “crap”, which we thought was very encouraging of them. Thanks lads for your input!
“Over the next two years the band, which now had my elder bother Alan as Roadie, quickly gained popularity and we went from playing church halls and youth clubs to playing bigger gigs.
“One experience I must share with you from this time is this; we were booked at Consett Co-op Hall and on arrival we went into the rear of the building. After setting up our gear we went to get changed in a back room which must have functioned as a small kitchen. After playing our one hour set we retired back to the room. The room had large sash windows to one side, one of which was open to the fire escape which ran up the side of the building. All of sudden a young man stepped through the window into the room. It was Colin Blunstone closely followed by Rod Argent. We were dumbstruck. It was The Zombies. We all said hello to the band; we could not believe our luck. Later on, they got into a huddle on the other side of the room and rehearsed a four part harmony of ‘Tracks Of My Tears’ – it was absolute perfection. They played to a virtually empty room and after every song the only thing you could hear was our band’s applause for them. It was a disgrace when you think how big they were and how huge they were to become in the States.
“We had also started playing venues like the Rex Hotel (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), the Mayfair and the Locarno in Sunderland. We never seemed to be away from those venues. The first time we played the Mayfair was with my heroes, The Animals and The Gamblers. We played a few gigs at the Mayfair in our early days. We were booked through a guy called Allan Brown who I believe may have been the Mayfair’s manager at the time. The Facts had found favour with him. He ran gigs each month featuring six bands. One I recalled was billed as “The Rhubarb Tart Giggle” featuring band such as “Saucy Sect” and the “Fruity Facts”.
“We also did a couple of gigs at the Majestic one of which was as the support band for Cat Stevens. The other was possibly with the Sect. We did the Cellar Club on Beach Road, South Shields a few times. When it changed site to Thomas St, they had new formica-topped tables installed with all the band’s names on them from the old site. We were thrilled to see ours on them – “Facts o’ Life”. When we were booked at the gig of the day – the Club a’GoGo, we really did think we were stars!
BERT’S APPLE CRUMBLE
“We played at many other venues and my memory recalls that it was a very exciting time to be a teenager, let alone be in a band. It was now into ’67 and the band’s music was changing as was the music of most other bands. We were doing Spencer Davis numbers and a couple of Alan Bown songs, along with the popular numbers of the day. In ‘66 we had come across single by a London mod band called The Quik. We were already doing one of their songs ‘Love Is a Beautiful Thing’. Their second single was ‘King Of The World’ c/w ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble’ which is an instrumental. We thought it would be really cool to change the band’s name. The Elcort had split and we had become friends with Rob Turner and he was asked to join the band, which he did. The transition from ‘Facts o’ Life’ to ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble’ was seamless and gig-wise we were introduced to pastures new.
“As well as playing at the Quay Club, we often frequented the club to see other bands. On one occasion we saw the Real McCoy from Teesside, which was fronted by John McCoy who owned the famed Kirklevington Country Club. They had just released a single called “Show Me How”. We had become friends with Bill Keith who managed the Quay Club and he took us under his wing. Through Bill, a gig was arranged for us at Kirklevington Country Club, a very prestigious venue at the time.
Bill Keith also introduced the band to an agent in Carlisle called Monica Linton, who booked lots of venues over there. So as well as our hometown gigs we were now going to such venues as Wigton Town Hall, Brampton Town Hall, The County in Carlisle, Whitehaven Rugby Club and a gig which became a favourite of ours, the Tow Bar Inn, which was a big caravan park situated at Egremont. When you played the Tow Bar you were booked for two nights – Saturday and Sunday. The management used to supply the band with a ‘used’ caravan for the weekend. This arrangement was fine during the summer; in fact, it was fantastic; but during the winter it was far from glamorous. This was in the days of gas mantles and little wood burning stoves in caravans. Have you ever had to look for something to burn on a caravan site, especially on a icy cold winters day? We had a little cooker to provide a meal; that’s if we had the foresight to take something to cook. Picture this – 6 in the band, 1 roadie, plus other ‘guests’; it was not ideal. Besides this, the bar only sold pickled eggs and beer. It was wild, but we loved it!.
“Rob was not with the band that long as he left to join a band in Carlisle but we carried on towards the back end of ‘67. Colin and I had come across an album in ‘Windows’ in ’66. We had been encouraging the band to start doing songs from that album but they were not interested. We decided to find other like-minded people and announced our departure from the band. The album was, “The Doors”!!!
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of both the “Facts”, and “Bert’s”, for ‘being there’ during the early years. You were magic!
“On one of our nights out to see another band, we went to the Quay Club; Just Bent were playing, fronted by Rob Rudd (see Sneeze). We were acquainted with all the band as they came from the same estate as Colin and me. We were really impressed with their lead guitarist – his name was Alan Gay. He was a student of fine art at Newcastle University and he was a great guitarist. Colin and I are only little guys but Alan must have fell asleep in a grow bag – he was over 6 foot. The band played a song called, ‘Hey Grandma’, which had been released that year on a album by Moby Grape, which was finger picked by Alan throughout. We were sold! After talking with him during the break, we devised a ‘cunning plan’. We joined Just Bent, (their drummer joined The Village) and we added to their gig diary with our Carlisle connections. The band were very commercially safe, but, save the lead guitarist, were not very adventurous musically. This was very apparent when we were booked at the Newcastle University Ballroom supporting The Jeff Beck Band, featuring Rod Stewart. It was total clash of musical abilities and musical styles. The music scene in the North East was changing rapidly and we tried to change the band into something they could never be. Three of the band were against the other three in the band, so we were not with them very long. We left, taking the lead guitarist with us. Sorry Lads!
WEST SIDE STORY
“In late ‘67, early ‘68, we set about recruiting other band members. The first being John Bunford, who I had heard of but did not know. John was the bass player of the Footappers, who were a local band and they had been big in the early sixties. He had not struck a note since. After much cajoling and pestering, he agreed to come on board. If we were to do ‘Doors’ tunes, we had to have a organist, so we sought out, and poached “Bert’s” organist back from The Village; (sorry Roger). We started to rehearse in a class room at our old school youth club and got our set list together. We must have been doing at least six Doors numbers from the first and second album, which included “Light My Fire” and “Love Me Two Times”. We also did “Fresh Garbage”, a song by Spirit. We also included, “She’s Not There” by the Zombies and “Summer In The City”, a Lovin’ Spoonful song. We did a blistering version of “And Your Bird Can Sing” – the Beatles “Revolver” track, because it showed off Alan’s picking skills. We did “Sunshine Help Me”, which was a Spooky Tooth number, and “Rock and Roll Woman”, by Buffalo Springfield.
“We started gigging, but nowhere near the rate that we had previously enjoyed. I remember regular gigs at the Rex and Lampglass Cellar at Ashington; also Wigton Town Hall where we twice bumped into The Cobwebs, who were a band from around the Carlisle area. They had in their ranks a guy who played the most beautiful white Gibson SG. It is remarkable what sticks in your mind. Coincidentally, this was the band Rob Turner had left Bert’s for. He only auditioned for the job, but didn’t get it.
“Around this time we became the first band to ever play at Annabel in Sunderland. We also did a gig at York Assembly Rooms, which was an all-nighter. I cannot recall who was on but our set was followed by Wynder K Frog. We were on at some ungodly hour but apart from that it was remarkable. We also made a return visit to Kirklevington to play support to Tramline, which was John McCoy’s new band.
“We still had our friendship with Bill Keith but he no longer had anything to do with the Quay Club. He decided to create an office above a garage in Jesmond. My brothers and I assisted in painting it out etc. It was carpeted out and a desk and phone were installed. My elder brother is Alan who has always been our stalwart roadie. With Bill’s connections and help we were going to start an agency called ‘Boro Entertainments’. The plan was to swap bands up and down the country. In that way we could up the profile of, not only ourselves, but other worthy bands from Newcastle. And may I say, they were numerous. In order to give the agency some credence, they had to start big!
“We had done a couple of gigs at Hillheads, situated behind Whitley Bay Ice Rink and was capable of holding three to four hundred people. Who could he put on to fill the place? We put our heads together and came up with The Alan Bown Set! My brother Alan booked the band for a fee of £200 with us in support. It was ticket only entrance; a sell out; and a great success. The Alan Bown Set did not disappoint. Alan, next turned his attention to The Lampglass Cellar in Ashington and asked Dougie, who ran it, who he would really love to have at his club? He chose and got, for a fee of £200 – Fleetwood Mac! This was unbelievable when I think back how big they were at the time and how small the place was. Again it was easily sold out and has gone down in the annals of rock in that part of the North East. I remember a lot of promo photos, arriving from London, pushing up and coming bands of the day – among them were Jethro Tull, Ten years After and Chicken Shack. Just when Alan was getting into his stride, Bill was involved in a horrific crash on the Coast Road and wrote off his Mercedes. He was badly injured and without his input the whole idea just lost its momentum, which was a real shame as we will never know where it might have led us. Mr Bill Keith, died a few years ago. Gone, but not forgotten, what a great guy he was!
“We had the use of a brand new Commer van at the time, but it got damaged one night when we ran over some broken glass outside the Rex. It went to get fixed and I never saw it again, so we were vanless! We had been in contact with an agent in Coventry and he booked the band for 3 months playing American Army bases in Germany, but no transport! On the Wednesday of the week we were due to leave, Bill purchased an old Thames Ambulance for £50 from Coopers Auction Rooms at the bottom of Westgate Road. With no Tax, no insurance and a £25 kitty that Alan Gay managed to wangle from his bank, we left on Saturday morning. We were booked firstly for one month at the ‘9 High Club’. It was on a sprawling military site on the edge of Heidelberg, which is in the south of the country. Being young and stupid, we didn’t factor in just how far south it was. We arrived on Sunday evening, too late to play. They fed us, allowed us to shower, then bedded us down on the club floor for the night.
“I’m not going to bore you with you with details of this trip but I’ll leave you with these thoughts. America’s involvement in the Vietnam war was in its infancy, its army were very young conscripts. Young lads plucked off the streets of the U.S.A., transported to Germany and given 6-8 weeks training before being sent to Vietnam. A tragic 250,000 plus, never saw home again. The ones we met were terrified and resentful of their circumstance.
“If you have ever seen the film, ‘Good morning Vietnam’, it is to me a stark portrayal of the attitudes we encountered regarding music. The last thing the powers that be wanted, was a long haired band that reminded these young lads of the homes they had left weeks earlier. After all, our opening number was the Doors “Light my Fire”. I will conclude by saying that if it had not been for the kindness and generosity of these Gls, we would have starved. We were away 19 days, and personally I lost a stone in weight.
“When we returned, our first gig back was at Alnwick Castle Hall. We were second on the bill to a band called Pickets Steam Coffin, who I had never heard of. Their claim to fame was their rendition of ‘America’ by the Nice. Being second fiddle to them got right up our nose. They, themselves, will know how good they were! We did a few gigs booked through a Scots agent called, ‘Drunken Duncan’, who had a liking for fine Malts. I remember towns like Hawick and Selkirk – (the other names of which are now a blur in my memory), plus another visit to the Tow Bar and ending at Newton Stewart, which is situated right over to the west of Scotland above the Solway Firth. It was a very long drive in our old ambulance. The gig was at the local town hall and when we got there it was a drunken Saturday night hop. We did our gig and on the way out we met the main band unloading equipment. Seven lads with large afro’s. They were called The Tamla Express. ‘Those who are about to rock, we salute you’ – AC/DC.
“On the way home it rained; and it rained; and then it rained some more. Our windscreen wipers broke. We ended up pulling them back and forward with a string contraption we had to rig up – all the way home. The band had a blazing row. Everybody, including myself, was saying things that on reflection we should not have. As a result we split up! Looking back now in 2012, that band would have today been a fantastic pub band, Shame – I salute a GREAT band. Victims of circumstance.
“Early ‘69 saw myself, Colin, and John Bunford with no band!! We frequented a local watering hole called ‘The Station’ in Killingworth. We busied ourselves in the function room upstairs, which we had been given free use of. We contacted loads of people, eventually finding a lead guitarist called Nick McGuckin. Nick played lead in, ‘The Pleasure Machine’ who were a popular Tyneside band. We remembered we had come across an organist when we had been viewing Hillheads the year before – his band had been practicing there. We managed to contact him and discovered that he lived locally. So Bob Braidwood joined our ranks.
Left to right: John Bunford, Colin Goulden, Nick McGuckin, Bian Goulden; seated – Bob Braidwood
“We had become interested in a new band called “Yes” and were well impressed with their first album, so along with some material from West Side’s days we added a few ‘Yes’ songs. The band had an immediate asset in that four of us sang. The harmonies the band achieved were to become a real signature of ours. We had a problem; Bob played a Farfisa organ which was not conducive to either our music or our image, so we bugged the poor lad over the months to get a Hammond, which looking back was an outrageous thing to do as they were very expensive. He got one – a Hammond L100. It weighed a ton but sounded magical. We practised for months, eventually launching ourselves at the Hadrian Youth Centre, Wallsend, where we were greeted to much acclaim. We were booked through the Birchall Agency for all of our gigs and I should point out that Nick McGuckin was Ivan Birchalls brother-in-law. The band got its gigs on merit, but our profile was further enhanced by our connections.
“The band was phenomenally successful and the months were just a haze of gigs – The Mayfair, Redcar Jazz Club, (we played there so many times; twice with Rory Gallagher; twice with Terry Reid; plus others including Edgar Brougton Band and even The Sweet.) The Rex, Change Is, The Viking, and just about every college and university in the North East as well as the Golden Slipper in South Shields, a couple of Liverpool clubs, Dundee University (with Nazareth) all the local youth clubs, plus Sands in Carlisle.
“During those early months, such was our success, that we decided to go ‘Big Time’. The band went into debt to purchase new sound equipment across the board. We purchased it all from Greg Burman Sound. His workshop was in Handysides Arcade which was situated just off Percy St, Newcastle. We purchased 2×412” cabs and an amp for lead, 2×412” cabs plus amp for the bass, 1 x 4 15” cab plus a horn cab and amp for the organist and finally 4×412” columns, a six channelled 100 watt powered desk (1st of its kind in the north east) plus a 100 watt slave for the PA. Boy was it impressive when it was set up.
“Around about the same time, we were doing yet another Mayfair gig and a young man introduced himself to us. His name was Joe Robertson and he was the manager of local giants, The Junco Partners and Brethren, who later became Lindisfarne. He asked if we would be interested in him becoming our manager and we agreed he should. He shared a small office in Handysides Arcade and ran his band dealings from there. So not only did we have gigs through our own merit plus the support of the Birchall Agency, now we had input from Joe’s connections. Joe set up a audition for a 2 week stint at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg. The audition was at Change Is which was a night spot situated on Bath Lane, Newcastle. The guy we had to impress was Ricky who we were not introduced to on the day. I remember other bands being there including Sneeze. We were on first and we did a ‘Yes’ version of a Beatles song, ‘Every Little Thing’ plus we had been doing our own arrangement of another Beatles LP track, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, so we included that. I remember receiving support from Sneeze during our spot, so we reciprocated during theirs. They did an original ‘Stodge’ number called ‘Take It Easy’, which was good.
“In late summer of 1970 we got our 2 week stint at the Top Ten for the sum of £900; it was a lot of money in those days, but boy did you have to earn it! When you were booked at the Top Ten you didn’t need to take any amplification as it was all supplied, but we needed drums and the Hammond organ, so we had to take our Transit van. The club was situated on the Reeperbaun, in the red light district of Hamburg, which is like a wide Northumberland Street but with bars, night clubs, sex shops, and brothels; indeed on one side of the club was The Palace Del Amour and the Telephone Club on the other.
“We met the other band on the ferry going over. They were called Stonewall and hailed from South Shields. They were Mal Hooper on guitar; Vic Malcolm on lead (later of Geordie fame); Micky Golden on bass (I loved his style); Paul Thompson on drums (later of Roxy music), and a guy called Sammy on vocals. He gave the impression that he had been here before and warned me of “Hamburg throat”, which he said I would suffer from. He was right!
“The arrangement at the club was a 7 o’ clock start, doing 45 minutes on and 45 minutes off, between the two bands. This went on until 3 o’ clock in the morning on weekdays, and 5 o’ clock in the morning at weekends. It was gruelling work where you would repeat your entire repertoire over and over again as the audience were changing all the time. I lost my voice the first night and to make life more difficult the equipment provided was crap. The bands were provided with free accommodation at the Hotel Pacific, which was a 10-minute walk away. The ‘Hotel Pacific’ sounds quite ‘exotic’ doesn’t it? But we were not quite in the hotel; we were in an annexe above the kitchens at the rear of the building, which I can only describe as ‘0’ star. We climbed into our beds in the very early morning only to awoken by hotel staff, bin men, and girls on roller skates – skating up and down our lino covered hallway shouting, ‘Wake up Top Ten boys!’ But thankfully we did not suffer every morning. We did our 2 weeks, got paid and came home. It was one hell of an experience and not one I would have shared again if the offer had come along; but it gave the band a very tight sound.
“On the day we returned, we were doing a gig at the Five Bridges Hotel in Gateshead and it was a mighty relief to get back to our own gear and sound normal.
“Whilst we were away, Joe Robertson had been contacted by Ivan Birchall. They met up and decided to set up Open Door Management specifically to manage the band. Both thought we were going to be Big!
“We gigged like mad and did some recording at the BBC studios in Maida Vale, London to feature on Radio One but we never heard anything more about it. (Close, but no cigar!) The band gigged all the way to just before Christmas 1970. We were doing a gig at a school in Corbridge and John the bass player was having issues with Nick’s lead playing. John and Nick had a row in a cloakroom, which we were using as a dressing room and John promptly sacked him. It was fatal
SPYDA (mark 2)
Early 71 saw myself, our Colin and Bob Braidwood searching for new band members. First on board was a very good guitarist called Micky Burlison, who hailed from Low Fell, and then we were surprised to be contacted by George Otigbah, otherwise known as ‘Stodge’ the bass player from Sneeze who wanted to join. We were astonished to hear he had been writing new material with us in mind. Bob Braidwood also had a couple of songs that he had penned, so we started to get the band together with our new songs, plus some songs from the previous band.
Left to right: Bob Braidwood, Colin Goulden, George Otigbah (Stodge), Brian Goulden and Micky Balls
“I remember it not taking very long to get it together and we started gigging at the usual haunts. The band was a highly competent outfit so it was suggested we do some recordings that Joe could take to London, specifically to Charisma Records, to whom he had just sold Lindisfarne. Talk about strike while the iron’s hot!
“We went to Micky Mead’s studio, which was situated in Maxie Share’s old shop, on the west side of the Grainger Market. Pierre Pedersen was the engineer. We were recording a couple of original songs, plus we recorded our rendition of The Beatles “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”. We were informed that Micky Mead was working at a studio in Hamburg. Whilst we were recording Pierre took a phone call from Micky asking, ‘who’s in?’ and ‘what are they doing?’. We were not party to his phone call but Pierre must have said some kind things about us because he was told to ‘send the tapes over’. Around the same time, Micky Burlison decided to seek pastures new, but rather than drop us in it, he would stop on until we brought his replacement up to speed. Our new lead guitarist was another former Sneeze member called Micky Balls. For quite a few gigs we played with two lead guitarists, which was great. Out of the blue, we were informed by Joe that we had been invited on a 1 week, all expenses paid, trip to Hamburg to record an album. Of course on hearing this, Micky Burlison did not want to leave, but the die was cast and he played his last gig with us at Redcar Jazz Club, the night before we departed for Germany.
“We were driven to Harwich where we boarded the ferry and were met in Hamburg by a mini bus and taken to our Hotel. We were to record at Windrose Television Studios, under the guidance of our benefactor, a guy called Herbert Helderbrant who was a successful record producerand with Micky Mead to assist. With it being a very busy television studios, all our recording was to be done through the night. Over the week, we managed to record 9 tracks in total; 8 original band songs plus ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’.
Click below to listen to Spyda’s recording of “One On The Way” (an original Spyda track written by George “Stodge” Otigbah): –
(There are more Spyda recordings from 1971 on the Music Page)
“Feeling very pleased with ourselves and egos inflated, we headed back to be met at Harwich and driven home. We had been recording on an 8-track machine, and were given some rough mix, 2 track reel tapes, to take with us. These went immediately to Charisma records, but they were not in a position to consider our band at that time.
“In the meantime, Micky Meade had ‘parted’ company from his Hamburg job and had brought the 8-track tapes to Newcastle, claiming they were his! He demanded a percentage cut of any deal we made, which we were not willing to agree to; so no 8-tracks to remix. At Charisma another guy was present who had connections with a big time record producer of the early sixties. His name was Shel Talmy He had produced the early hits of The Who and The Kinks, to name but two. Colin and I were invited to London to meet him at his large apartment in Knightsbridge. We were also introduced to a guy called Hugh Murphy who was to become the record producer for Gerry Rafferty. Over the next few weeks the band made several expenses paid trips to his pad in Knightsbridge, where we sat around a table, played acoustically and sang him our original songs with harmonies. It was flawless. We knew something was up, when we started to receive demos of other peoples songs in the post, which they wanted us to learn and play to them on our next visit to London. “Amos Burke” was one song which Elvis Presley later recorded. “Freedom for the Stallion” was another, which I believe the Hues Corporation had a minor hit with. Plus a few others, which were mainly power ballads.
“We were not gigging very much with all this going on; so no money and consequently my PA got repossessed and we could not do any gigs at all. Stodge and Bob became totally disenchanted with the whole London thing and other peoples bloody songs. On our next visit down south Hugh decided he would buy me a new PA, which was great for me, but the final straw for both Stodge and Bob. Hugh had clearly displayed where his interests lay and it was not with the whole band. The band played a few more gigs; then folded along with my personal aspirations to be a rock star. Colin, Micky Balls and myself carried on with further versions of Spyda and did some recording of our own material at Olympic studios London for Hugh Murphy but he eventually asked for the PA back and we never heard from him again.
“Colin and myself continued in bands until we lost him in 2007. I continue to sing with a local pub band to this day 2012.”