Fringe Box



When Bob’s Drumming Kept The Beat At Local Venues

Published on: 27 Nov, 2014
Updated on: 27 Nov, 2014

This is the third instalment of Bob Hind’s memories – this time about his time playing local bands and the history stories he now writes his local newspaper the Portsmouth News. The first part, that includes his time as a butcher in Guildford, can be read here. And the second part, about his time on the railways, can be read here.

I had learnt to play the drums when I was young, and in 1974 took lessons from John Sankey of Knaphill (we have been  friends now for 40 years).

John taught me to read music, but most all I learnt so much more than just how to drum. I also took dancing lessons so that when I was playing, I could get the feel for what dancers were dancing to on the floor.

Latin American rhythms became my favourite and the bossa nova is still my favourite rhythm to this day.

I joined a country music band from Old Woking called the James Boys. I played with them for a couple of years.

Bob HInd on the drums.

Bob Hind on the drums.

They were led by Jimmy Algrove from Old Woking, a seasoned  player of many years. We played mostly country and western which can be a little limited for drummers.

I then played for Highfield, a club band and then another group called Charisma. We played everything from rock ‘n’ roll, ballroom, Latin American, songs by the Shadows, the Eagles and Status Quo. We were together for six years.

We ended up being so busy we had to book time off in our diaries otherwise we would work every Saturday and Sunday plus other days through the year.

We played mostly social clubs and some I can remember, that are now closed ,I should think were all the political party clubs in Guildford, Woking and the surrounding district. We played ex-servicemen’s clubs and British Legion clubs as well.

And also played at men’s clubs, such as Woodbridge Hill in Guildford and Walton Road, Woking.

Every November I used to meet with the social secretaries and ask how we were fixed for the following year.

They used to say: “I’ll give you three Saturdays and two Sundays. We’ll sort out Easter, Christmas and the New Year later.”

The next club would be the same and by the end of November we were booked up for the following year. Marvellous. We also had weddings and other functions of course. In all the time we played we never let anyone down by not turning up. Even when I put the knife in me at the butchers in West Byfleet, John Sankey filled in for me.

A freebe was the Gordon Boys School at West End near Chobham, where we gave a rock concert for the boys at Christmas. A bit like being a rock star. They screamed and yelled through the whole set.

We then did the Christmas dinner dance for the teachers. I also used to fill in for other drummers as I was quite well known on the circuit.

By the end of 1980 our lead guitarist Ray Mitchell and keyboard player Geoff Norman had been promoted in their jobs, and so at the end of 1981, we called it a day.

There was one time when Ray had to visit China. He timed his return to get  to Heathrow for 5pm and then rush home to Old Woking, change and then out with the band.

I then joined a modern jazz trio at a club in Richmond upon Thames, called Richmond on the Green. This band was a new set up for me and I had to be on my toes I can tell you.

The club was dark and smoky and full of south London gangsters! It was like playing on a Humphrey Bogart film set at times.

The piano player was a ringer for Oscar Peterson and could play like him as well. I remember on the first evening with no rehearsal he looked  around and said, “Take Five” and off he went with me trailing.

I did catch up I am glad to say. What a wonderful  nine-months that was. Not a lot of money but an experience which improved my playing.

Bob Hind pictured a few years ago while walking in the Lake District.

Bob Hind pictured a few years ago while walking in the Lake District.

I had by then joined the railway and drumming had to come second as I had a family, so the music took a back seat.

I still turned out when my shift work suited, but playing fell by the wayside I’m sorry to say.

One other story: One Friday I was playing at a charity dinner for the Woking Cottage Hospital and at half time the boys from the Jam walked in.

I got to speaking with the Jam’s singer and guitarist Paul Weller and he said he liked my style of playing. He gave me his phone number and I told him I would ring him in the morning. This was before they had become a chart-topping band.

I put the piece of paper in the top pocket of my shirt. On arriving home I went to bed. When I woke I asked my wife where my dress shirt was. “In the wash,” she told me. “What did you do with the phone number that was in the top pocket?” I asked. “I never saw any phone number,” she replied.

Yes, she had put the piece of paper in the wash with the shirt. No more number.

I often wonder what would have happened if I had given Paul a ring. As a lyric from a song by the band Fleetwood Mac goes: ‘Oh Well.’

I still play the drums from time to time, but I do find modern musicians hard work, especially when I ask about tempo and time. Many have not the faintest idea what I am on about.

We went back to live in Portsmouth (before I retired from the railways), and one day I was looking though a local photograph book called Portsmouth Area Then and Now and noticed an area of Bedhampton with some Nissen huts in the corner.

On my research I found out it was a naval camp called HMS Daedalus III, a satellite camp from Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent. There were other camps as well.

After the war Daedalus III  became a camp for displaced persons from the Baltic states, mostly Latvians.

Bob Hind's book: Naval Camps of Bedhampton, Havant and Leigh Park.

Bob Hind’s book: Naval Camps of Bedhampton, Havant and Leigh Park.

It took me for ever to research these people and I wrote to every newspaper in the three states to get information. After three years research I wrote a book on the subject.

I then researched the people of Portsmouth who died during the blitz, which became a bit of a mission, and I met some wonderful relatives of those who died. That was another two to three year’s research.

Both book sold out which pleased me. I also gave talks on the subjects as well.

I now write a history column in my local newspaper the Portsmouth News. Each time I write a main feature, plus five to six smaller items with photographs.

I must admit to having no training whatsoever as a writer or journalist and I do make a point of telling people when they do call me a journalist, that I am not. It keeps the professionals happy as well!

I am pleased to say that I am getting a bit of a name for myself for attending functions and meeting some amazing people with wonderful stories to tell.

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