Tony Bennett’s recent article on the Derby Beat Groups competition in the 1960s prompted Paul Richardson, of Wirksworth, to send in his own recollections.
I WAS sweet 16 when I first auditioned to be a guitarist for The Trekkas beat group, which was from Wirksworth.
As I knew four chords including, rather importantly, a minor chord, I was in.
I had my first practice on the Wednesday and, on the Saturday, we were supporting Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band at the Matlock Pavilion, which was then a pretty big venue.
I only knew how to play about half of the songs in our repertoire, so my amp was turned down to zero for the rest.
Willie Burns, a Derby lad, was the lead singer and, when he left us, I took on the vocals.
We were gigging regularly and soon Sue and Jo, two sisters from Wirksworth, came on board.
I’m pretty sure The Trekkas played the same night as The Imps at the Derby Beat Groups contest – we probably came last!
The Locarno, where the competition was held, had a divided, circular stage and we were on one side with The Imps being on the other.
The theory was that one band would seamlessly and smoothly replace the other as the stage revolved. However, as the stage stuttered around, our bass player and half our stuff fell off!
We ended up splitting up for all the normal reasons – the distraction of girls and being basically average, although we did have our moments.
On one occasion, we played at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool supporting The Ashes, who were the remnants of Wayne Fontana’s Mindbenders.
Then came Saga, a Derby folk group with Chris Mordey, Roger Warren and John Squires.
In 1972, completely out of the blue, we were offered a record deal.
I was now playing a pedal harmonium, which came from an old Methodist chapel and weighed half a ton.
This was all the incentive we needed to get a van.
The harmonium rattled, squeaked and groaned and proved very hard to record.
I think, when we did do any recording, it tested the limit of the sound engineer’s ability!
A copy of one of the three albums we ended up recording, called Sweet Peg O’Derby, recently sold on the internet for 160 euros. Alas, I only have the one copy myself!
My last band, which was formed in the 1980s, was called Rich Perks, which consisted of myself, David Perkins, who is now the preceptor at Derby Cathedral, and Tony Clarke, who could play anything.
I rarely pick up a guitar these days… but have no regrets.