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FEELIN' GOOD Newsletter Issue 39/April 2005
Published with friendly permission of editor John Butterfield.
Dr. Feelgood Information Service
How to supply to the printed newsletter? Look here!
It doesn't seem like 20 years ago since the Information Service opened the surgery doors to provide fans of Britain's premier live rhythm and blues outfit Dr Feelgood. Throughout the years I regularly get asked what ex members are up to these days so I'll start this issue with an update.
Wilko, as regular readers will know, lost his wife Irene in 2004 but is now getting back on the road with his band. Details of dates on a later page.
Sparko is still living on Canvey Island and regularly gets up and plays a few tunes at Lee's Birthday Memorial and was playing with Lew Lewis in 2004 whereas the Big Figure and his wife have retired to France although he did come out of retirement last year when he picked up the sticks and sat on the drum stool with Dr Feelgood for a tour of Spain.
Gypie Mayo played with the Yardbirds up until last December and recorded an excellent CD with them titled ''Birdland''. No news on his present activities.
His replacement in the Feelgoods Johnny Guitar is living and working in the USA and did return the other year to play at the Memorial. I have no news of his friend and fellow member of the Count Bishops, Paddy McMullen.
The shortest lived line up of the Feelgoods consisted of Buzz Barwell who died in Denmark in 2004, Phil Mitchell and Gordon Russell. Gordon is still touring the globe with Two Timers who have released 4 CDs up to press. More details can be found at www.twotimers.org.
Craig Rhind bass player when Dave Bronze took some time away from Feelgood, hasn't been in touch for sometime but he did play with Steve Walwyn's Blues Band a couple of years ago.
Dave Bronze can still be found playing bass with Eric Bibb, and Ian Gibbons plays with Ian Hunter and Roger Chapman's Shortlist. Incidently, Mickey Jupp was asking about Southend musicians when Phil and I met up with him last year and Mickey told us that Roger Chapman always liked Juppy's song ''Shortlist '' - could that be the inspiration for the name of his band?
Pete Gage is back in the UK but no news on whether he has a band or not and he guested with the Feelgoods on one song in the Autumn UK tour as reported in the last issue of ''Feelin' Good''.
Each quarter there are always new members to write to the Information Service and sometimes hey ask for the current line up so for those people the frontman is Robert Kane who joined from the Animals, Kevin Morris on drums and Phil Mitchell on bass (both joined in 1983) and Steven Walwyn on guitar joining in 1987 from Steve Marriot and the DT's.
Since the first issue of Feelin' Good of 2005 the Feelgoods have visited several countries commencing with a gig at Newcastle in Staffordshire - The Full Moon. I collected Robert at lunchtime after he had completed a telephone interview for a radio station in Stoke and off we went down country. Arriving at 5pm with the rest of the band on their way up country. We were staying in Stoke and left around 6pm to travel to the venue. We were pleased (especially Phil and I) that on display was a fine selection of real ales and it was next door to an Indian Restaurant where we decided to eat later. The Feelgoods hadn't played almost one month so it was agreed to play two longer sets than usual to blow the cobwebs away. The first set contained ''She does it right'', ''I can Tell'', ''Too much trouble'', ''Roxette'', ''Baby Jane'', ''Don't start me talking'', ''Milk and Alcohol'' before the Will Birch classic ''Down by the Jetty Blues''. The second set was a like a steam roller with ''Take a tip'', ''If my baby quits me'', ''The Walk'', ''All through the city'', ''Instinct to survive'', ''Back in the night'', ''I'm a hog for you'', ''Down at the Drs'' and ''One more shot'' along with several encores. It's good to see we will be back there on the 1st December.
The next day it was off to the annual Rock and Blues Festival at Butlins, Skegness. Phil and I set off after breakfast to meet up with friends in the Sun and Moon before the rest of the band arrived at teatime. Opening the festival was Connie Lush and the Feelgoods were playing two shows in two venues, firstly it was Centre Stage then ending the night at Reds. Needless to say even after a late night there was the usual invite to a party courtesy of the Blairs from Hartlepool. The band went home the next day but again as usual I was there for the full weekend. Eddie and The Hot Rods who had actually arrived at Butlins late the night before after a gig with Otway in Hull played an afternoon session at 3pm and then followed it up with another to open the night's session at Reds. As they had just done an early show they asked for requests to give a bit of variety and they included a couple of Feelgood tunes ''I can Tell'' and ''Riot in Cell Block number 9''. I was with Steve Hutchinson (aka Stevie Hutch) (ex Animals Keyboards) who was also there for the weekend and we watched John Coughlan's Quo and The Sweet before the evening closed with a Santana tribute band. I missed John Otway's Big Band (sorry John). After The Sweet came offstage Steve introduced me to Andy Scott and the rest of The Sweet and a three hour drinking session followed once John Coughlan joined us. It was interesting to hear Andy talking about Lee as he knew him well in the late 70's, early 80's and had the same agent Nigel Kerr. Steve had played with The Sweet once and anyone wanting more details on this ex Animal can go to www.steviehutch.com. There is a picture of him and Robert in the Animals days on the site. I met up with Richard Holgarth whilst going back to the chalet at 3.30am and we had a chalet crawl (thanks to Riggy and others for refuelling us). All night parties are okay but Richard was back on stage at 12 noon with Otway but even after little sleep we managed to get there on time. The Sunday afternoon was a crazy one with Otway and Richard, Otway and old adversary Wild Willie Barret (who demonstrated the moniker is still apt) and closing the afternoon Wreckless Eric. Whoever dreamt up that line up wants applauding. The evening had The Hamsters, Nine Below Zero, Len Tuckey's Legend. Barry from The Hamsters told me he had spoken to Wilko the day before and Wilko had told him there was a feature in the Independent on Wilko. Too late for me to get the paper so I was pleased that on my return home there was a link on Gabi's web site to the article. Barry also told me the plans for a 4 month autumn tour with The Hamsters, Wilko and John Otway called ''The Mad, the Bad & The Dangerous''. More details in the next issue as dates are announced. Nine Below just get better each time I see them. I remember in 1976 or 77 my three favourite bands were Dr Feelgood, Nine Below Zero and Eddie and The Hot Rods and being really disappointed when Nine Below split up later. Glad they are back!! Confession time is that ''The Sweet'' were in my top 3 in 1974!! Other bands over the weekend were Danny Bryant's Red Eye band, Paul Lamb and others but I didn't manage to see all of them. It was great to see so many Feelgood fans - old and new, but it's impossible to name everyone I met.
Back to Feelgoods who were supposed to be in Denmark and Sweden for two weeks early February but when Kevin contacted the promoter in January there had not been shows booked. So the Feelgoods had an unexpected holiday as there was no time to arrange new shows anywhere else! There were trips to Italy, France and Finland in February and March.
Lee Brilleaux's Birthday Memorial this year is on May 6th. Tickets are no longer available with the accommodation at the Oyster Fleet hotel selling out before the end of 2004 and tickets at £15 being snapped up as soon as announced. All the monies go to the Fairhavens SCENT team who supported Shirley and Lee in Lee's final days.
Thanks to all the contributors, Ian Fawkes for several articles, Gordon McNeil for the Dumfries Review, John Alderdice putting everyone out of their misery by telling us the answers to the Leeds Feelgrid (he has supplied another Feelgrid for the next issue), Andy C for the design and print.
As always looking for any articles or ideas so please e mail me [See link to eMail address below]. Next issue out in July 2005 so please ensure you have saes on file if you want a copy.
In the meantime - Keep on Feelin' Good
current e-mail address from John is available here
- please keep you address books up-to-date.]
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ON THE COUCH with Chris Fenwick (Whitey)
Q: Someone once said you'd probably forgotten more about the music business than some would ever know but it must have been one hell of a journey. Can you put into a few sentences how you would describe Dr Feelgood from its start to the present?
A: Like a very long roller coaster ride, which in the main has had very, very many pleasurable moments, and also some extremely scary things.
Q: What made you take the plunge into rock management and not maybe the ''safer'' road of say a bank manager or whatever?
A: I was actually a professional actor from the age of 15-19 so when the Feelgoods started breaking I had to make a choice whether to keep in acting or continue with the management of the band. I chose the band as I thought it would be more fun to travel around the world with your mates and if and when the band broke up I could go back to acting. That was 34 years ago and the band is still going strong.
Q: Away from Dr Feelgood do you have any other interests? Someone told me that you have a sea-pilot's licence.
A: I enjoy shooting and sailing and I hold a day skippers' certificate which was a 26 week navigation course which I did while Lee was ill in hospital.
Q: There's been one or two musicians in and out of the band, is there any who stand out or were most influential?
A: There have been many musicians who have played in Dr Feelgood over the years. I love them all in their own way but I think Lee will always be the closest to me.
Q: There must have been some bizarre happenings / situations in all that time on the road, are there any you can share with us?
A: I guess one of the most bizarre moments was standing at Barcelona airport in the 70's, the whole band had been arrested for taking 2 million pesetas out of Spain. The police let the band go and I was in court for the next four weeks but everything was okay in the end and the judge gave me our money back.
Q: Out of all the gigs can you name any that were special or memorable?
A: Orange 1976 & Tunisia 2003 - sometimes there's just that extra bit of magic!
Q: I remember reading somewhere about the Feelgoods owning a pig farm in Spain - is this true?
A: It wasn't the Feelgood's who owned the pig farm. In the late 70's early 80's we had a Spanish agent Jerome Martinez and it was he who owned the pig farm.
Q: Do you think Dr Feelgood can carry on for another 10/20 years or so?
A: It's all in the lap of the Gods!!!
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A View from the (up North) Waiting Room
Everyone has moments in their life that change things or point them in a new direction. In 1973 I was a 14 year old schoolboy heavily into anything ''pop music''. I would often sit round mate's houses listening to Led Zep, Sabbath, Quo et al. Then Lee Brilleaux and the Feelgoods appeared onto the scene and smashed into the music business like an exocet missile. You see up till then ''rock'' had been a fairly safe environment and going to a gig, a sedate affair. All long hair and longer solos. The Feelgoods changed all that.
Whilst the majority of people and the press concentrated on Wilko, and for good reason, I was intrigued by one Lee Brilleaux. His name for a start was so original. At first before pictures in the press appeared I imagined a long haired Frenchman (I don't know why but I did). Of course photos started to be printed and that notion was quickly dispelled. Lee looked like a jailbird, a real hardman, fag in mouth, bathed in sweat. This to me was the real thing. I saw Lee and the band ''live''. First of all on the Granada ''45'' show and I was hooked. While the band tore up the stage, Lee stood still, fist pumping, snarling and barking out the words to ''She does it right'' and ''I don't mind'', a riveting frontman.
It's hard to explain to any new Feelgood fan just what impact they made back in the late 70's but the band could generate a real sense of violence at a gig. Such was the aggression they had in the music and of course they ''smashed'' a road through for punk. In my schoolboy mind I envisaged that Lee must have come from a bad background or rough school so was very surprised when I read he had practised as a solicitor. He was quoted as commenting on this, ''If I'd not left to do this, I would probably have committed GBH by now''. Maybe a nice soundbite but nevertheless I thought that was great, you see rock singers just didn't say things like that back then. Looking back, it's also uncanny to think that Lee was only in his early 20's then yet seemed years ahead of his time in style and looks.
Of course Wilko left and the Gypie years began. The music of the Feelgoods became less ''speedball'' and more in a rock/blues style. Lee and the boys also seemed to embrace being the absolute ''good time'' band on the road. Pictures of Lee would more often than not be accompanied by drink in hand. Journalists followed the band on tour and the resulting article would be hilarious. As Gypie said ''Lee seemed to treat it as this 'music lark'and having a 'jolly up' on the road was the norm''. In one article, Lee was asked about the niggles of being on the road and he replied ''It's silly things that get on your nerves, like if a bloke has too much salt on his chips! It gets to you''. One journalist remarked that he would gladly have spent more than the one week with the band than some of the ego mad musicians he had in the past. Such was the Feelgood's easy going attitude to the music scene. Yet away from all the off stage activity, Lee never was anything less than 100% when on stage. You never saw him treating it as a laugh or looking stupid. It was business time and they also found time to record classy albums like ''Private Practice'' and ''Let it Roll'', proving the band were very capable musicians.
Lee's stage presence was second to none. As Will Birch commented ''his stage technique was unequalled''. I remember one gig at Salford in the early Gypie years, Lee stood stage centre cut in half by green and red lights, covered in sweat, he looked like a mad man and roamed the stage like a man possessed. He was surely the best blues frontman we have ever produced, larger than life in every sense.
The 80's found Lee and half of the present line up building the band back up after they took a dive when the ''new romantic'' scene seemed to put paid to anything with a guitar. Undeterred, Lee set about taking Dr Feelgood on a relentless gigging schedule all around the world and gradually the band's fortunes changed. I didn't meet Lee personally until 1985 and up until then I had looked on in awe. I walked into a pub near a gig and there he was, on his own at the bar, but rather than him acting outrageous with drinks in both hands I found him to be very polite, fielding questions from fans who came up to him. I realised that Lee took his frustrations, or whatever, out on stage and when relaxing like in that pub, he was just like anyone else. Well almost, but like Nick Lowe said ''You could feel a bit thick around Lee''. A French fan came into the pub and immediately Lee struck up a conversation in fluent French which I found very stylish. In another pub where I found myself with him there was a ''pub quiz'' going on, the question was on Italian art. He whispered the answer to me and of course he was right!
Lee would never come the ''I'm a big star'' thing. John Butterfield told me a story of Lee and him going for a pre-gig pint in Walsall. It was a bit of a walk so when it got time to return to the gig for show time, Lee tried in vain to call a taxi. Having no luck and time getting tight they decided to try the bus stop. By the time the bus arrived there was a dozen or so fans all going to the gig (which was about a mile away). Without hesitation Lee paid for everyone's fare, that was Lee.
Lee was a trouper, a truly British blues artist in every way. There was never a chink in the armour to suggest he was anything but the real McCoy. He was born to be the frontman of Dr Feelgood and I guess the image I will always have is him being up on stage at Salford split by the green and red lighting and snarling out the lyrics.
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CD Review: BOPTOWN - by Steve Hooker
Another CD to add to Johnny Green's ever growing collection is ''Boptown'' by the rockabilly blues and soul man Mr Steve Hooker fellow acquaintance of yours truly, Dr Feelgood and of course the manic axeman Wilko Johnson. Part of the CD was recorded at Mitch's old haunt Mushroom studios.
There are 10 tracks performed by differing musicians with the only constant being Steve. The opener ''Alligator Boogie'' is classic Chuck Berry before some songs which wouldn't be out of place in a Feelgood set. Close your eyes and you can hear Wilko playing ''Torture''. ''Jeannie with the dark blue eyes'' actually sounds like it could've appeared on the ''Fast Women, Slow Horses'' album with the Brilleaux sounding vocals backed with the Feelgoods racing backline. Steve shows his slide guitar skills with ''Steelyard (Hoodoo Mix)'' the final track and yes it sounds like Mr Walwyn.
10 tracks at great value at £1 each so buy it for £10 to include P&P in the UK, add £1 Europe, £1.50 elsewhere [Note by webmistress Gabi: These are the prices from March 2005, so if you read this newsletter from the archive some years later, please check back with Steve H. for availability and then valid price.]. Where can you get it? Try the website at www.stevehooker.co.uk or by mail from Steve Hooker Merchandise, 149 Lonsdale Rd, Southchurch, Southend, Essex, SS2 4LP, UK.
Following parts of this newsletter have been added to other sections of this website:
went onto the Lee Brilleaux Special Page
Sept. 8, 2004 - The Venue, Dumfries/UK went to Feelin' Good - New Gig Reviews
to Newsletter Issue 40/July 2005
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