The Symbols

The 70s continued


Driving back from South Carolina at about 3 a.m., we were looking for a diner and found one in Washington. We all walked in and ordered our food and whilst we were waiting we noticed that everyone in the diner was black. Suddenly several very large guys, who must have been between 6’ and 7’ stood up and started clicking their fingers. We started speaking in exaggerated English accents about the gig we had just done and the very large guys asked if we were English musicians. We told them that we had just been playing down south. They asked us “what kinda music do you guys play”. The obvious answer was Soul and Tamla Motown! Everyone laughed and we ended up shaking hands.


Bob Powis had left the army and rejoined the Group as full time Road Manager for the Group’s visits to Jersey in the Channel Islands. However, when the Group decided to tour the USA in October that year, he decided not to go and Mick Barnard joined having been working as Roady for ‘Tony Rivers’ and ‘Harmony Grass’. Mick Barnard left the following year to get married and Bob Powis returned to continue with the Group until they split in 1972.
In 1970 ‘The Symbols’ returned to Jersey to play at ‘The Deep’ night club in St Helier and ‘The Bal Tabarin’ in St Ouens. At that time they also received an award for being voted the best visiting Group to Jersey. During this period a short break was taken and me, Tony Philips and guitarist from the ‘Honeybus’ travelled to Birmingham to appear on Muriel Young’s TV pop show “Lift Off”. This was to promote a record on Larry Page’s label Penny Farthing. The vocal trio were called ‘The Magic Valley’.

In 1970 we played at the Cambridge May Ball. Also on the bill were the Alan Price Set, Jon Hiseman’s Coliseum, Ossibisa and Julie Felix.

‘The Symbols’ continued to work regularly throughout the UK doing cabaret alongside acts such as ‘Jimmy Ruffin’, ‘Billy Fury’, ‘Rolf Harris’ and the legendary ‘Bill Haley & The Comets’ at the Excel Bowl, Middlesborough. Later in 1970 another tour of the USA was undertaken and a recording session in Boston Massachusetts was organised by Danny O’Donovan and referred to as ‘The American Tapes’. These sessions resulted in the following recordings:


When working at the Fiesta Stockton and Excell Bowl, Middlesborough, we would either stay with Eve in Durham or Margaret in Middlesborough. On one occasion when we were staying with Margaret, P.J. (Jim) Proby arrived with his 12 piece band and girl back-up singers. Jim was wearing his Stetson, tight black leather trousers and cowboy boots and was overseeing his roadies who were bringing in his crates of apple wine. Margaret didn’t know where to put them all and ended up having to accommodate the girls all in one small bed.


Mick Barnard (our Roady) met a girl when we were giging at one of the clubs in Newcastle. He fell for her in a big way and after a short courtship a wedding was arranged. At the time of the wedding we were working with a New York vocal group called The Fantastics (Something Old Something New) and their backing band The Orange Rainbow. We were all invited to the wedding and the reception was held in a 2 up 2 down house in a typical Newcastle street. Two of The Fantastics singers one called Jerry was about 6’4” wearing a white suite and huge white hat, John was about 6’6” and they both had to stoop in the house as the ceilings were so low. Imagine all these musicians in this situation with aunts uncles, and grandmas etc. it was all quite hilarious.

There was another time we had to a judge a beauty contest with Jimmy Ruffin and one of the Drifters.

The Sands in Whitley Bay was another very popular Club and we would stay at Muriel’s Hotel where most of the acts at the time stayed including The Grumbleweeds and Belmonts.

“Daddy Rolling Stone, Paper Back Writer, Charade, Sleepless Nights, Coming Home, Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, Every Day People, The Feeling I Get and Rainbow”.

The line-up was John Milton lead vocals, Mick Clarke bass and vocals, Shaun Corrigan guitar and vocals and me drums and vocals. Some of these recordings can be heard on a new CD compilation issued by President Records.

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player