The 'N Betweens 1965

October, 1964
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Taken outside Wolverhampton Civic Centre. The Jimmy Saville lookalike in the centre is Mick Marson (he is still sensitive about it apparently) and the others are, left John Howells (back) and Dave 'Cass' Jones. and right, Dave Hill (back) and Don Powell. The first known gig as The 'N Betweens happened on the 8th November 1964 when they played at The Ship and Rainbow in Wolverhampton. Our Historian is researching at every opportunity though and it's quite possible that an earlier date might turn up?

On Jan 30th 1965, The 'N Betweens took part in the final leg of a Staffordshire 'Battle Of The Bands' competition. There were nine groups, each representing their district, and each got to perform two songs. The 'N Betweens performed Lover, Not A Fighter (a Lazy Lester song made popular by the Kinks) and Twilight Time (Platters). Their performance won them the title "Champions Of The County" giving them a rather impressive start to the year.
"The band practised regulary at St. Giles Youth Club in Willenhall. A coach load of us went to a Battle of the Bands somewhere in Staffordshire once to cheer them on and during the interval some of us went to their dressing room to say hello and I remember strumming away at Dave’s guitar. 
My father-in-law tried to book them to play at our wedding reception, but unfortunately they had another booking that night."
Geoff Pearson 21st. July 2010 Express & Star.com
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The band had picked up a 'Blues Night' residency at The Plaza in Kings Heath, Birmingham, every Monday night and the rest of the week was usually booked too. After a group discussion, the guys came to the conclusion it was a good idea to give up the day jobs. At that time Dave Hill had an office job with Tarmac.
"When I was about 16 years old the Beatles made it and everybody was trying to grow their hair. We couldn't have long hair at work so I used to keep my stage clothes in the drawer of my office desk and I had flares with bells on. I'd hop in the van and go straight to the gigs until one day somebody saw me and said 
'Isn't that the boy from the buying office.... he's a flipping yob!' 
Well, it wasn't really on at Tarmac. So they basically said I gotta cut my hair and tidy up my act or leave. My Dad said 'What do you think?' and I said 'Well, I'm good at this.'....
...years later, after we were famous, I used to see my ex-colleagues going into work at Tarmac. I thought it was quite a shame as that they were doing the same daily routine – I was lucky, my career had given me the world."
Dave Hill
Unfortunately they failed to include their manager in the discussion. Maurice Jones was not a happy man, the Astra agency were not ready to bill The 'N Betweens as a professional act at that point and it gave them a headache. In return Astra gave them a haircut?
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The 'N Betweens turned professional on Monday 8th March 1965. The agency decided to send them to Germany but there were a lot of bookings to honour and passports & work permits to arrange.

The group had some healthy bookings lined up in 1965. They had played with the Moody Blues at Christmas and performed at a Blues review with Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Alexis Korner but later that year they would play with The Fourmost, The Merseybeats, The Hollies and The Yardbirds.

The Fourmost
had released three singles (two penned by John Lennon) and had a Top Ten hit with A Little Loving which reached #6 in '64. They were managed by Brian Epstein and played The Cavern before The Beatles. The Merseybeats were also an Epstein group and had two hit singles with I Think Of You earning them a gold disc in '64. The Hollies had three Top Ten hits in '65, Yes I Will released in January and I'm Alive released in May reaching the much coveted #1 spot. These were prestigious bookings, support spots that would be good for The 'N Betweens ever-growing reputation.

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"The most common gig was a dance... at a Youth Club like St. Giles in Willenhall. That venue became one of the most famous and I still have no idea how John Squires used to be able to book so many top groups to play for him and the club. He was one of the biggest fans and champions of The 'N Betweens."
Barry Hodgson 'manager' of Rockin' Rustlers
John Squires was a local man who ran the St. Giles Youth Club. He was heavily involved with the church and organised many of the concerts in the St. Giles name. Although this sounds amateur in today's environment, during the Sixties and in The Black Country, live music was catered for by the church. Youth Clubs and Church Halls were just as likely to host live music as the local Town Hall, Public Baths or Public House's, well known bands as well as local 'wannabe's. Squires was responsible for many of The 'N Betweens bookings throughout 1964-'66 and he also ran their original fan club.
"It was John Squires who gave us our first booking supporting The Hollies"
John Howells
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Saint logoIt is said that Squires claimed to be somewhat hurt that after a couple of years of nurturing, The 'N Betweens dropped him. Having turned professional and got themselves a record deal they changed from the youth club to a church hall in Wednesbury for rehearsals, where the vicar there, known as Holy Joe, got the publicity and Squires was forgotten about. Howells certainly never forgot him but unfortunately, John Squires is no longer around to ask, as he passed away around 1992.

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The 'N Betweens: 1965 Fan Club Memorabilia

The first recording by The 'N Betweens as John Howells, Mick Marson, Dave Hill, Dave 'Cass' Jones & Don Powell, to be made in a 'proper' studio was actually commissioned by the French Barclay label. Sometime around May they attended an audition held by Bobby Graham. The group auditioned at the Le Metro (nice French connection there) in Birmingham and Graham was impressed enough to sign them up to Barclay Records and arrange a recording session at PYE Studios. He did insist on managing the group jointly with Maurice Jones though. When Graham was asked if Jimmy Page (who was Graham's studio session guitarist) had played on the Barclay sessions, he told Chris Selby:
"Dave Hill was a good guitarist and Johnny Howells vocals were excellent. Jimmy Page looked in during the session in case he was needed but Hill had been good enough."
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John Ogden in the Express & Star on June 24th 1965:
"The 'N Betweens have put down four raving tracks for the Barclay company from France. The tracks have a typical 'N Betweens sound with a hard driving bluesy beat."
The four tracks which John Ogden had witnessed being recorded were not the four tracks which the company released as an EP by the 'In-Betweens'. He had been in the studios during the making of I Wish You Would, Can Your Monkey Do The Dog? , Ooh Poo Pa Doo and Respectable which were the four, hard, driving, bluesy numbers. This EP was pressed only on a single acetate (according to John Howells) which has long since, gone missing. Howells does have a recording of it though and this was the source for the tracks featured on The Genesis Of Slade compilation.

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By July 1965, Midland Beat considered The 'N Betweens one of Wolverhampton's most rated groups. With high hopes for their 'Little Nightingale' single produced by Bobby Graham for the Barclay label, they had fan clubs overseas as well as in their Carole Williams run home town. I guess the Little Nightingale single is The In-Betweens EP although it seems strange that a track from the flip side is quoted. There's no mention of Little Nightingale as a single anywhere else except for The Hills 'Juanita Banana EP' where it is Side 2 track 2.
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I think it's safe to assume that all involved had high hopes for The 'N Betweens immediate future. The agency, the management, the fan club and the press were all riding the wave expecting great things to happen.
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It don't get much better than that, how can they fail?

An article in the Express & Star, later that year, suggested that the group were to record further tracks for Graham but nothing has yet been found. It does show, once again, how much was involved and subsequently, how much was at stake for the group and all connected at this point in their career.

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Express & Star, September 30th 1965

The group finally left for Dortmund, Germany at the end of October 1965. They played the 29th October 1965 at the Woolpack in Wolverhampton, it was advertised as...
"The 'N Betweens last night before they leave for Germany"
...and they left next day. The next 'N' Betweens gig in the UK appears on 5th December 1965 at Wolverhampton Civic Hall with Zero 5.

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John Howells and Don Powell Off on the M6 to Liverpool to collect the passports for their first trip to Europe. The Commer van, which carried the group and their equipment across the continent to Dortmund in Germany, was as much a requisite for a live group as their instruments. The group left from Harwich on a ferry bound for Ostend, Holland and it was on this trip that Hill and Powell met up with Holder.

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St Peters Fountain, Wolverhampton

Howells recalls leaving Ostend on the road through Belgium and on to Dortmund. Come midnight, they were lost somewhere in Germany.
"As we drove up to a snack bar on a plaza another van approached from the other end. 'Oy, yo lot, what you doin 'ere?' Inside the van was Steve Brett & The Mavericks including Noddy Holder. We had played together on several occassions and had a high regard for each other. They were off to Frankfurt."
John Howells
What John didn't know was that Hill & Powell already knew Holder quite well, Powell rated him as a vocalist and thought he was wasted on backup vocals. Hill was still being sold on the idea because he hadn't had much to do with him. They were not happy about The 'N Betweens though and they discussed this with Holder. They were considering putting a new group together.

It appears several things were becoming serious issues within The 'N Betweens. First of all, the other guys had got themselves steady girlfriends and had started skipping rehearsals. This irked Hill and Powell because they had steered clear of relationships and kept their love lives strictly on a casual basis. Another aggravation for Hill was the Mod trend which had bitten Marson.
"I hated all that Mod business. I wasn't a Who fan, I didn't like scooters and I didn't like short haired pillocks in Parka jackets. The Stones were good but I didn't get the rest?"
Dave Hill
Ironic statement for a guy who would become a Skinhead in three years time but at the time, it was a problem.
"I had a drink with them on the ferry and they told me they were not happy with their band and wanted to split from the rest. They asked if I was interested in joining them and I said I'd think about it."
Noddy Holder
The band forged on and eventually arrived at the Habenera Club in Dortmund where they were met by Frau Tillenger who owned an old farm house about 12 outside the town. The hours were long and hard in Germany and the group had to revive some classics from their old set as the germans were still into Rock 'N' Roll. Howells describes the 'time-warp' which the German music scene seemed to be in when they went out:
"The audition was organised by Astra. I think we were one of several groups being auditioned by German Club managers.

We were asked to play The Walk, a Jimmy McCracken number, and luckily we had just learnt it so we must have sounded pretty good and got the spot. To us, a spell in Germany could only be beneficial to the group."

"At that time we ate, slept and lived the group and the music. Germany was to be part of the learning process. The strange thing was when we got out to the clubs we had to play Chuck Berry and rock stuff which we felt we had grown out of some time before. The Blues or R&B had no real place in the German clubs. It was like playing 1963 in 1965."

"The one mistake we made in Germany was that we did not take the opportunity to learn a load of new stuff while we were there. As a result we probably went a bit stale although we became a much tighter outfit."

"I do remember that everything we played in Germany seemed so fast. We cranked everything up and just let rip. When we got back it took us a little bit of time to slow down again. I remember playing the Civic and the kids who had listened to us before we went out to Germany couldn't believe how fast we were playing. We had to slow down.”
Cass Jones confirms the 'time-warp' that the group discovered:
"In Germany it was as if the Germans had discovered the Beatles and therefore expected us to do a lot of Beatles stuff, especially the early stuff. We used to play Love Me Do, Anna, From Me To You and No Reply. I think we made a pretty good job of most of the numbers. We had most of them well sussed.”

"We played mostly in Dortmund to audiences with an average age of about twenty five. Although the long stints on stage were particularly long, they did help us to tighten up as a unit. We did one session for some German OAPs. We had to switch everything off because the amplification was deafening them. We became a group comprising drums and tambourine for that session.”
By the end of November they were glad to be heading for home. their next booking was to be the Civic Hall, which was like their second home. There were also plenty more bookings and a message from Bobby Graham to return to PYE Studios to record another four tracks.

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The released record, incorrectly titled as The In-Betweens, comprised four tracks on an EP featuring Feel So Fine, Take A Heart, Little Nightingale (often said to be written by Jimmy Page, it was not) and You Don’t Believe Me.

Apparently Bobby Graham who was the A&R man for Barclay France, the recording session felt that the four numbers which were released by Barclay were more 'acceptable' to the French record-buying public. The 'N' Betweens' Feel So Fine EP was released in late December 1965. It was only available in France and South America, not in the UK?

Later the next year, two of The 'N' Betweens' tracks, Take A Heart and Little Nightingale, found themselves on a sampler re-issue. They were on the flipside of two tracks by a band called The Hills. The Juanita Banana EP was released in France in early 1966. It was also available across most of the European Continent but not in the UK?

It should have been the best moment of the bands career except for the fact that they were coming apart at the seams. The Agency knew nothing of this though and so it was business as usual. The 'N Betweens have had a great year. They turned professional, got a contract, recorded and released a record and have returned from a stint in Germany that has honed their skills to a point where they are better than they have ever been.

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next page


Alan re: Dortmund Habenera 1965,
Please get in touch. 

You can also find me on Facebook or several Slade forums. 

Mickey P. ;-)



sexy divider

Much borrowed from the excellent 2002 online book by Keith Farley. 'N Between Times: an Oral History of the Wolverhampton Group Scene of the 1960s It's certainly worth a read. Other sources are The Genesis Of Slade sleeve-notes (thanks to John Howells & John Haxby), Feel The Noize and Who's Crazee Now! My undying gratitude to Chris Selby who supplied much advice, research and media and also Dave Kemp who, thankfully, listened and, more importantly, repeated what he'd heard..

The 'N Betweens Known Gigs

1964
08/11/1964 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
(with The Little People)
29/11/1964 Ship & Rainbow
(with The Paramounts)
04/12/1964 Casino Club Walsall
(with Zoot Money)
05/12/1964 Walsall
(with The Sonnets)
13/12/1964 Ship & Rainbow
(with The Spencer Davis Group)
20/12/1964 Ship & Rainbow
(with Alexis Korner)
26/12/1964 Casino Club.Walsall
( with The Moody Blues
)
28/12/1964 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with The Marauders)
31/12/1964 Youth Club, Moseley Estate, Bloxwich
(with The Sound Tracks)


1965
03/01/1965 Ship & Rainbow
(with Clayton Squares)
09/01/1965 Walsall Town Hall
(with Lee Castle & the Barns)

10/01/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
13/01/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(Two performances 6.30pm and
9.00pm with Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Alexis Korner and The Soulseekers)
15/01/1965 Walsall Town Hall
(with Kenny Ball & his Jazzmen and The Sonnets)

20/01/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
22/01/1965 Bilston Youth Club, Bilston
30/01/1965 Rising Brook School, Stafford
21/02/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with Phil Ryan & the Crescents)

22/02/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
05/03/1965 Walsall Town Hall
(with The Litter)

14/03/1965 Rollerdrome, Wolverhampton
16/03/1965 Bilston Youth Club, Bilston
(with The Subjects and The Earl King Three)

26/03/1965 Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
(with George E. Washington and The Tempos)

06/04/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
11/04/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
13/04/1965 Willenhall Baths
(with Spencer Davis, Derek Day & The Trekkers and The Spectres)

17/04/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with The Martells)

19/04/1965 Walsall Town Hall
(with Simon Scott & the Leroys and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates)

29/04/1965 Ship & Rainbow
08/05/1965 The Woolpack
09/05/1965 Le Metro Club, Birmingham
(with The Measles)

10/05/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with The Wayfarers)

22/05/1965 Willenhall Comprehensive School
(with The Jurymen, Johnny Tremaine & the Liberties)
23/05/1965 Ship & Rainbow
(with Alexis Korner)
27/05/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
29/05/1965 Memorial Park, Willenhall
04/06/1965 Bushbury Arms, Wolverhampton
(with The Woden)
11/06/1965 400 Club Torquay
20/06/1965 Le Metro Club, Birmingham
23/06/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with Spencer Davis)
25/06/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with The Misphits)

04/07/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
(with The Boston Dexters)

09/07/1965 Quarry Club.Upper Gornal
18/07/1965 Ship & Rainbow
03/08/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
07/08/1965 Walsall Town Hall
(with Ides of March)
19/07/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with The Size Seven)
25/07/1965 Le Metro,Birmingham
26/07/1965 Civic Hall,Wolverhampton
(with The Size Seven)
30/07/1965 Ship & Rainbow
21/08/1965 Le Metro, Birmingham
22/08/1965 Le Metro Club, Birmingham
23/08/1965 Queens Head Edgbaston
24/08/1965 Wheel of Worfield, Wolverhampton
31/08/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
05/09/1965 Ship & Rainbow
(with The Crawdaddies)
09/09/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
24/09/1965 Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
(with Tommy Burton and Bobby Coral & the Tremors)

05/10/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
18/10/1965 Willenhall Baths
21/10/1965 Willenhall Baths
(with Sound Incorporated and Les Jordans)

23/10/1965 Y.W.C.A. Thornley Park, Wolverhampton,
23/10/1965 Blue Flame Club, Wolverhampton
25/10/1965 Willenhall Baths
29/10/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
31/10/1965 Dortmund, Germany?
05/12/1965 Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
(with Zero Five)

08/12/1965 Casino Club, Walsall
11/12/1965 Willenhall Baths
(with The Sabres)

12/12/1965 Silver Blades, Birmingham
21/12/1965 Woolpack, Wolverhampton
23/12/1965 Ship & Rainbow, Wolverhampton
24/12/1965 Civic Hall, Brierley Hill
29/12/1965 Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
(with Zuider Zee)







Sources

Holder. Noddy   Who's Crazee Now?
Ebury Press,  1999   ISBN: 0-09-187503-X (p. ?)

Charlesworth, Chris.   Slade: Feel The Noize!
Omnibus Press, 1984.   ISBN 0-7119-0538-X  ; (pp. ?-?) 

Bennett, Roger  "Staffordshire Groups Do Battle"
Midland Beat:  January 1965 (Page 17)

Ogden, John  "Let's Hope It Isn't For France Only"
Wolverhampton Express & Star:  Thursday, 24th June 1965 (Newspaper; p.? )


From Roots To Boots © 2008-2012.

This material may not be reproduced without permission. 


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic site, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Excellent - loved Slade since I was 13 (1973) but much of this is new - thank you very much indeed!

Paul.

Anonymous said...

Will the real fab four please stand up ?

Anonymous said...

.....one time nbetweens member Dave "Cass" Jones has expressed and interest in the site and may be willing to contribute to it via yours truly.

the Postman

Mickey P. said...

Well Hello Postman,

Cass Jones, we have many questions. How do we get in contact?

Mick ;-)