The Cobwebs, from left, Tony Bennett, Allan Smith, Ron Maloney and Paul Arrowsmith

Leafing through some old documents, Tony Bennett, of Allestree, came across a newspaper cutting that took him back to the Swinging Sixties. Jane Goddard reports.

BACK in the 1960s, Derby was a hotbed for young musical talent, with local bands playing at entertainment venues across the area.
This era also saw the increasing popularity of talent contests, like Carroll Levis Discoveries and Opportunity Knocks.
In the mid-1960s, Derby staged its very own talent competition for local bands after a challenge was thrown out by one of the groups.
And it was a cutting from the Derby Evening Telegraph in March 1965 about the  Derby Top  Beat Group contest which took drummer Tony Bennett back to his band-playing days.
Tony said: “The competition was held at the Locarno  on Babington Lane. The Imps (formerly The Silhouettes) had thrown out a challenge to all the other bands in Derby in order to try to establish which was the best group in the town.
“In the end, the Imps won, with the group I drummed for, The Cobwebs, being named runners-up, while The Rapids (eventually to become Godfreys Grit and Soul), came third.”
According to the Telegraph report,  the contest was staged over three nights, with six groups appearing on each night. The judging panel comprised bandleader Derek Butterworth, Joe Leatherland and Ralph Smedley of Ted Poole’s Music, John Preedy (former beat group manager) and Roger Groome, licensee of the Corporation Hotel.
 The other groups that took part were the Carpetbaggers, The Teen Seens and the Villains. The report also asked why some of the town’s other leading bands, including the Vibrons, Centors, Cyclones and  Heralds, did not compete.
The report also said: “Rarely has such an event aroused so much interest among young people in the town.”
Tony said: “The  event was a total sell-out, having captured the imagination of the town for weeks, before and after. It was a huge success, giving Derby its first major taste of home-grown live popular music.
“I still play, but with an amalgam of bands from the Sixties which include former members of The Cobwebs, The Four Aces and The Vibrons.
“These days, we call ourselves The Krox of Rock, due to our advanced years!
“Since the Beat Group Contest in 1965, I have lost touch with a lot of the bands from that time.
“I know that some musicians are still going today while others are, sadly, no longer with us.”
 Do you remember the Derby Beat Group Contest in 1965? Perhaps you played in it, or were a member of the audience. We would love to read your memories.