The Symbols


Peter Jones of the Record Mirror called me up and asked if we would play at a private party for Sir John Junor the owner of Record Mirror and Sunday Express. This was to be held at his country home in Surrey. The gig was very successful. At the party we met Sir Quintin Hogg (Lord Hailesham) who was very friendly and told us a lot of funny stories. Several weeks I received a call from Lady Quintin Hogg who wanted to book us for her son and daughters party in the Strand.

The Joe Loss orchestra were playing for dancing and we were the cabaret. There were many prominent MP’s invited including Sir Edward Heath. The show proved to be a big success.

In 1964, the Group were playing at the Cricketers Pub in Southend and were spotted by songwriter Geoff Stevens (“Tell me when” and “Crying Game”). Geoff signed the Group and together with producer Mike Leander, recorded three songs at Regent Sound in Denmark Street, London. The tracks were “Sugar’n’Spice”, “Alright” and Geoff’s own song “A Girl named Sue”. This resulted in “A Girl named Sue” being released on Decca Records but it failed to chart. Later the same year the Group went into the studio again with Chris Palmerton of Fontana Records and recorded an American R‘n’B song called “Cry Baby”. In the line up was Jon Lord on piano from the Artwood combo and later Deep Purple. The Group featured the song on Ready Steady Go but again it failed to chart. Julie Grant, who was also on the show, commented that she loved the record but felt it was too ahead of its time. That year Paul Servis left the Group and was replaced by Mick Clarke ex ‘Joe & The Teens’ and ‘The Milestones’. Geoff Stevens parted company with the Group and they were signed by Rak Management which was owned by Micky Most and Peter Grant. Micky decided that the Group should change its name and came up with the idea of ‘The Symbols’. A Van McCoy song called “One Fine Girl” was recorded in a four part vocal harmony sound and released in January 1965 on Columbia Records.

Micky Most and Peter Grant also decided that the Group should appear on Ready Steady Go with a new image, no instruments, but slick suits and a routine choreographed by dancer Ross Taylor. The record again failed to chart. ‘The Symbols’ appeared with ‘The Hollies’, ‘The Checkmates’ and ‘The Rolling Stones’ (Red Rooster tour). Other artists on Ready Steady Go appearing with ‘The Symbols’ were ‘Ivy League’, ‘Hermans Hermits’, ‘The Kinks’ and ‘Cliff Bennett’.

During 1965 Micky Most promoted a concert in Portsmouth featuring The Symbols, Elke Brooks, Dave Berry and several other acts. Unfortunately some of the artists musicians didn’t realise that there was a matinee show so I ended up playing drums with a make shift band to back some of the acts including Dave Berry and Elke Brooks, Micky Keene a session guitarist whom I also knew well from De Hems played guitar with this band. He also played the solo on Dave Berry’s ‘The Crying game’ and later was a member of ‘Steelers Wheel’.

In May 1965 Ricky Smith left and was replaced by Shaun Corrigan lead guitarist and vocalist with ‘The Rebounds’. Another record “You’re my Girl” was produced by Micky Most but unfortunately “The Rocking Berries”, who were already established, covered the same song. This was to lead to the separation from Rak Management because ‘The Symbols’ had decided to sign to with the Henry Sellers Danny O’Donovan Organisation. In May 1966 Mick Clarke left to join ‘The Tremeloes’ and he was replaced by John Baccini. The next two years 1966 – 1968 we’ll call The President Years. ‘The Symbols’ by now had established a four part vocal harmony sound in the ‘Four Season/Beach Boys’ American style.

Danny O’Donovan had negotiated a record contract with President Records and together with the Keith Mansfield Orchestra a single “See you in September” was released. Unfortunately, because it was the first record on the President label, distribution was poor. Tony Blackburn commented that people were contacting Radio Caroline asking how to purchase this record. Although it became a radio turntable hit and still is to this day, it failed to make the national.

Earlier in 1966, ‘The Symbols’ had recorded a ‘Four Seasons’ ‘B’ side “Silence is Golden” in demo form but President said it was not hit material. ‘The Tremeloes’ later proved them to be wrong. Later that year John Baccini left the Group to work with Paul and Barry Ryan and Mick Clarke returned to replace him. London clubs where ‘The Symbols’ had played included The Whisky a Go Go and Flamingo, The Marquee, Hatchetts in Dover Street and Tiles in Oxford Street. Keith Moon of the Who was a Beach Boy fan used to pop in to see ‘The Symbols’ at Sybillas in Swallow Street.

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