The 'N Betweens 1967

Having a Number 1 hit in Wolverhampton didn't have a dramatic effect on the lives of The 'N Betweens much other than giving them the opportunity to include 'Columbia Recording Artists' on their ads. They continued to perform regularly throughout The Midlands.

New Years Day saw them play the Connaught Hotel. The Move, Soul Seekers and Prim 'n' Proper joined them at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall later that week. At the end of January they shared the same stage with Zoot Money and John Mayall. They played the Silver Blades Ice Rink followed by a local Irish Club in Birmingham.
"We'd do a couple of one and a half hour sets at the ice rink and then do three one hour sets at The Garden of Eden. The pay was £38 for the two bookings... not bad money and it was cash in hand"
Don Powell
They travelled to Scotland frequently for long weekends of club appearances in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The transport came courtesy of an Austin J2 which they nicknamed 'Betsey'
"It was falling apart but it never let us down. Dave's Dad was a good mechanic and he kept it running for us."
Noddy Holder
1967 was the beginning of the Psychedelia set and Flower Power was setting in. The group had acquired a set of stage lights from the Wolverhampton Gaumont Cinema. They had a variety of colours on a revolving filter. Swin would spin the filter by hand to create a 'psychadelic rainbow effect'. At the Wolverhampton Civic Hall as support to The Move, they got a lot of stick over it.

"We changed our set and started to get into Flower Power. I remember that at about this time we played the Civic Hall and it was the first time that I saw the crowd stop and watch the band. It was due to us having some lights, nobody had lights in those days you see. Also we filled the place with balloons and plastic flowers. Everyone was so amazed that they couldn't stop looking at us: We were always trying to do odd and different things."
Jim Lea Interview Apil 1980
On one occasion they sent somebody to the British Oxygen plant to pick up some helium for the balloons but he asked for hydrogen by mistake. Fortunately, as he was leaving, he was asked what he was using it for. Needless to say, a rather disastrous tragedy was narrowly avoided, more by luck than judgement, and the press were deprived of a spectacular headline.

The Wolvo Civic wasn't the only venue on The 'N Betweens hitlist. A few suffered from the groups experiments. One of the bands stage numbers was Groovin' (On A Sunny Afternoon) by The Young Rascals. The original has birds (feathered variety) singing on the intro. In an attempt to create atmosphere, the group tried adding atmospheric ambience using a tape player and aromatherapy via the burning of incense sticks. Unfortunately the tape player was somewhat erratic, never playing at a constant speed and occasionally rising in volume. In the case of the Wolfpack Hotel, the performance took place in the basement where the incense failed to disperse requiring the evacuation of the building.
"Everybody was choking. We had to clear the building, nobody could breathe... they had to open the windows and wait half an hour. You couldn't see a foot in front of your face."
Noddy Holder
The Nashville Teens, The Montanas and The Californians can probably bear witness to these events as they were regularly appearing alongside them.

Abbey Road Studios, April 20th, 1967, their contract with EMI, courtesy of Fowley, bought them the opportunity to record "a couple of tracks*" at the Abbey Road studios. In the session conducted by the legendary Norman Smith, they produced Delighted To See You, upon which Smith has written 'Not suitable for long term contract'.

Seems a bit harsh, I wonder if that refers to the group or an unheard song? Although it was never actually released it would be interesting to find out what label Delighted To See You was expected to come out on? Oh for a Polydor contact?
The 'N Betweens themselves (at least Abbey Road got their name right) were far more fascinated by the fact that The Beatles were recording in the next room. It would turn out to be the Sgt. Pepper's album.
"We were taken to Abbey Road to cut a couple of tracks. As soon as we got there we knew the Beatles were recording there, because their cars were outside. All four of them used to drive around London in black Mini's with dark tinted windows.

We didn't see them but we could hear all these weird sounds coming out of the control room next door. they were locked away recording Sgt. Pepper. We couldn't hear any of the songs of course but they were obviously having one of those days when they were just trying out different tricks, like running tapes backwards. It sounded bizarre to us because it hadn't been done that way with music before. We were thrilled to be in the same studio as The Beatles.

The tracks we did there never came to anything but it was worth it for the buzz. The Beatles were Gods to every band and we had recorded next door to them."
Noddy Holder
Express & Star: May 4th 1967

The song can be found on the 1994 compilation "Psychedelia At Abbey Road".

Summer brought The Cream and The 'N Betweens to the Civic Hall again supported by three other bands. Other interesting artists include Hari Kari (Billy Bonham's latest group), The Mindbenders and A Clockwork Orange. The Bread made an appearance in August and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (minus Clapton) in September. Other interesting names sharing the bill include Finders Keepers (Dave Holland of Trapeze), The Small Change and the mysteriously named U No Who?

"The ‘pop’ industry was now well on it’s way. Everyone in a band found loads of work and got paid too, and they also got to travel not just the full length of Britain but Germany opened up more alleyways with the Star Club."
"Manfred Weissleder owned the Star Club and had started opening other ones using the same name. His gig’s always had really big artists....the gangsters from down the south wouldn’t want to mess with him as he had a reputation as a very tough man..." 
George Peckham - Growing Up In Liverpool
Towards the end of '67, the Astra agency booked The 'N Betweens for a month at The Star Palast (Star Palace), a former cinema owned by Manfred Woitalla. The band again made the long trip via Holland, but this time they were all in the same van. Kiel is a coastal town just north of HamburgIt was not the famous Star Club in Hamburg, frequented by The Beatles. The band were expecting another dingy club of the variety they were used to. They were somewhat surprised to find a converted cinema with a raised stage, dance floor and dining area. Being a coastal resort, the club attracted sailors and by default: trouble. Jim Lea was the first to notice that the waiters carried guns.

The resident band was Paul Raven & The Boston Showband and they were taking a month long break. Paul Raven of course, later called himself Gary Glitter (before becoming the world's most detestible popstar) but at present he was clad in leather with a big quiff, playing Rock 'N' Roll. 

The band had spent all their money on petrol and they were pretty skint so Raven took them around the town and showed them where they could eat cheap. They worked daily from 20:00 till 04:00 . There were two bands trading alternate hours. The German venues were notoriously tight with wages and the band were given a pittance of an advance which was mostly spent at the bar between sets. They were also provided with very poor accommodation. The Boston Showband were taking the month off but staying on site. The other band had arrived first and taken the available beds.
"They put us up in the cinema, on camp beds, on stairs that led to a fire escape... we all slept at different levels on a flight of stairs."
Don Powell
There were fights almost every night, usually between locals and sailors, usually over women. They often heard guns going off while they were playing. They were a rowdy and raucous band, the audience loved their heavy sound but the club owner didn't, he wanted them to play pop hits.
"We soon found out why, he'd bought these amazing new Fender amplifiers and they were his pride and joy...

To be fair they were superb and it was the first time we'd used really good equipment. We were twice as loud as the other group. The moment we came on, the boss would coming running down the front screaming at us that 'we were ruining his boxes'. He'd make us play at a pawltry volume. It really wasn't our scene but Paul Raven said put up with it if you want to get paid."
Noddy Holder
They got paid as little as possible and eventually, when they complained, they were told they didn't deserve any money, 'You're too loud and you don't play enough hits' he told us, says Holder.
"We lived on potatoe omlettes and pea soup. The promoter hated us because we played too loud and we knew we wouldn't get paid so after a week we decided to do a runner. We were desperate to get back home."
Jim Lea
After a few weeks it became clear to the band that they were not going to get paid properly. They were skint and playing a watered down version of their set. A pointless exercise for an aspiring band trying to make their name. The band decided to pack their gear and leave but Holder decided it was personal.
"Just before we split Noddy got this pointed stick and poked it through all of their speaker cabinets. He ripped all the cones..."
Don Powell
"I wasn't going to let him get away without paying us... I decided to destroy his beloved 'boxes'.

The club owners kids used to play with toy bow and arrows which were left around the club. I got a razor blade and an arrow and made a slit in the cloth... slipped the arrow through and punctured the speakers... You couldn't tell they had been tampered with. Then I messed with the fuses so that the amps would blow when they were switched on."
Noddy Holder
They then drove like maniacs across Germany and Holland for fear they were being chased. Further worry came from their petrol tank. It had a hole in it and could only take four gallons at a time.

Fifteen hours later, when Kiel would definitely be on red alert, they pulled in to port just in time to see the Harwich bound ferry leaving the quay but Holder managed to talk somebody into letting them board. In his book, Holder claims they actually brought the ferry back for them but I find that impossible to believe. Having said that, this was the late Sixties?

Shortly after, Holder and Powell found themselves in London's Oxford Street, watching the 'Bouncer' from the Star Palast walking towards them. Thinking he had been sent over to 'break our legs' the guys ran and hid in Selfridges.
"Don spotted him first. 'Don't look now Nod, I think we're gonna die' he said... He was an enormous black guy, a real scarey character.

We found out later from the next band that went to Kiel, that the whole show had to be cancelled. The club owner was furious and kept screaming that he wanted us punished.

I was delighted. In those days. bands didn't have a leg to stand on. If you got ripped off - which happened all the time - you had to use your brain to get your own back."
Noddy Holder
They changed agencies, leaving Astra Agency and joining the newly formed Astra Allen Agency formed by Maurice Jones & Roger Allen and owned by Nita Anderson. Confusing or what?
Midland Beat: November 1967

Far less confusing was the work. Back in the UK on the 3rd December, they played Wednesbury's Bolero Club on the 5th. There's no New Years Eve gig discovered yet, but Boxing Day was spent at the Woolpack.


*Noddy Holder - Who's Crazee Now? page 61. Much of this section is ripped straight from "Feel The Noize" by Chris Charlesworth. Media supplied by Chris Selby after many hours of research.

The 'N Betweens Known Gigs

01/01/1967 Connaught Hotel, Wolverhampton
03/01/1967 Ex Servicemans Club Coleshall
06/01/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(The Move, Parchment People, Soul Seekers & Prim'n'Proper)
18/01/1967 Town Hall, Walsall
(with Loves Lot)
27/01/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(Zoot Money, John Mayall, Savoy Jazz Band, Ken Ingram, Zenith Hot Stompers)
06/02/1967 Kigfisher Country Club, Kingswinford
(with Nashville Teens)
12/02/1967 Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley
(with Walkers Walkers)
17/02/1967 Robin Hood, Brierley Hill
20/02/1967 Park Hall Hotel
, Wolverhampton
(with The Peeps & The Californians)
26/02/1967 Bolero Club Wednesbury
01/03/1967 Queens Ballroom
, Wolverhampton
(with The Montanas, Dual Purpose, Soul Seekers & The Answer)
04/03/1967 College of Commerce, Wednesbury
(with The Moving Target)
06/03/1967 United Services Club, Bilston
20/03/1967 Town Hall, Walsall
(with Bossmen & Sounds Society)
23/03/1967 Tiles Club, London
06/04/1967 Public Baths, Willenhall
(The Montanas and Eric Haydock & His Rockhouse Band)
24/04/1967 Park Hall Hotel
, Wolverhampton
(with The Mindbenders & The Staffords)
05/05/1967 St Michaels Y.C. Tividale
09/06/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with The Cream, Parchment People, Peasant Set & British Standard)
07/07/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with The Flower Garden, The Montanas & Hari Kari)
08/07/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton
(with The Choice)
08/07/1967 Connaught Hotel
, Wolverhampton
(with The Clockwork Orange)
09/07/1967 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
13/07/1967 Regents Club, Langley Green
(with Californians)
28/07/1967 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
31/07/1967 Regents Club, Langley Green
(with Californians)
05/08/1967 Le Metro Club, Birmingham
06/08/1967 Queen Mary Ballroom.Dudley
(with The System)
07/08/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with The Treatment)
10/08/1967 Kingfisher Country Club.Wallheath
(with The Agony & The Flower Garden)
11/08/1967 United Services Club, Bilston
12/08/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton
(with The Bread)
26/08/1967 Wulfrun Hall
(with U. No. Who)
28/08/1967 Parkhall Hotel
, Wolverhampton
(with Lemon Limes & Barmy Barry)
01/09/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with John Mayall's Blues Breakers, Alan Bown Set, The Flower Garden & The News)
02/09/1967 Town Hall, Bilston
(with The Flower Garden)
03/09/1967 Queen Mary Balrom, Dudley
(with The Flower Garden)
05/09/1967 Joseph Sankey Sports & Social, Bilston
07/09/1967 Kingfisher Country Club.Wallheath
(with Dual Purpose & Barmy Barry)
09/09/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton
(with The Small Change)
29/09/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with Montanas, Californians, Hari Kari, Finders Keepers & Varsity Rag)
01/10/1967 Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley
(with Lady Jayne & The Royaltees)
09/10/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton
(with Proops Melodians)
15/10/1967 Civic Hall
, Wolverhampton
(with Californians, The Scarabs & The News)
06/11/1967 Queen Mary Ballroom, Dudley
(with The Tages)
11/11/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton
12/11/1967 Star Club, Hamburg, Germany
(approx dates only)

03/12/1967 Return from Hamburg
05/12/1967 Bolero Club, Wednesbury
08/12/1967 United Services Club, Bilston
10/12/1967 Connaught Hotel
, Wolverhampton
18/12/1967 The Broadway Club, Dudley
26/12/1967 Woolpack
, Wolverhampton

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