Excerpts from Birth to Reunion

Rehearsals 

On Wednesday 20th February 2013, which was the day before our first mini practice at the YMCA in Newport, I travelled down to South Wales. Andy had generously offered to put me up in his house in Pontypool for all the rehearsals and the gig. I am not sure how his cats took my presence, however Andy and Jayne, his wife, certainly made me welcome.

I arrived around midday and after lunch we made our way up to the radio station BRFM Lakeside Studios, in Nantyglo. BRFM are a Community Media Centre based in… Read more

Early Planning 2 

I then switched my attention to Will Lowe. John Bentley, who I remembered from the 1960s, had contacted me and said that Will lived about 10 kilometres from his home in Australia. He said he would mention the reunion, and pass on my details, when he next saw Will. He also posted some photographs that included Will Lowe, one of which was taken at Bullmor Lido. Eventually Will, through his wife’s Facebook account, sent me a message that he had seen the photographs and they had brought back a lot of memories.… Read more

Early Planning 1 

I started thinking how I would go about planning the reunion more or less as soon as I got back home on the Friday after the Celtic Manor meeting. How would we find anywhere to play?  Would anyone want to see us after nearly 50 years?  There were 6 of us at the Celtic manor, but how do we find the other people who played in the various versions of the group?  What songs would we play?  What about rehearsals?  These and many more questions were going through my brain, while I tried to enjoy the rest of the… Read more

Seeds are sown 

Sometime in early October 2012, Adrian Williams and Rob Evans were having a drink in a London Pub, when the news of the Rolling Stones having a 50th Anniversary tour was announced on TV. Adrian remarked to Rob that the 50th Anniversary of the Pieces of Mind forming was coming up in the next year and they should try and get as many of the band members together for a drink and perhaps a meal. Adrian sent me the following email on 15th October 2012:  
Hey Ducksy, how you doing?   I was in London lastRead more

A bit about me part 10 - Music Wilderness Years 

Within 2 years, I was back at RAF Brampton in Headquarters Support Command, this time working in IT. For the next 4 years, until I left the RAF in March 1993, my role was that of a system analyst, analysing and design computer systems for use within the Command. It was during this time that I was introduced to software from the Oracle Corporation who would eventually employ me.     

In late 1988 or perhaps early 1989, my mother became ill and went into a coma. She was admitted to hospital and then released… Read more

A bit about me part 9 - Music Wilderness years 

When my 3-year tour in Germany was over, I was posted to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. I only spent 6 months there, working in the Stats and Records Investigation Flight, before I was promoted and posted to Headquarters Inspectorate of Recruiting, based in Stanmore, North London.      

I ran a small section responsible for planning entrants into recruit training to enable a smooth and efficient flow into their subsequent trade training. My family joined me shortly after arrival, and moved into a house at RAF… Read more

A bit about me part 8 - Music Wilderness years 

Like many in the RAF, I found the idea of an overseas posting very attractive, so I had applied shortly after arriving at Brampton. At the end of 1972, I received the news that I would be posted to Germany at the end of the following March. At this time, I still held only a provisional licence, so I really needed to pass the driving test, before I went overseas.      

I quickly arranged for a test in Peterborough and, despite the fact I had been driving for a few years, I failed. I arranged another one and… Read more

A bit about me part 7 - Music Wilderness years 

When I got back home  I wanted to take a complete break from playing guitar in groups  and I also needed a job, so I could support my family. I was approaching the age of 25 and the only qualifications I had were 4 GCE ‘O’ Levels. I also had a foot in plaster that did somewhat limit my employment choices.

I was reading the employment pages of the South Wales Argus one night in January 1971 and noticed an advert for Statisticians to join the Royal Air Force (RAF). I knew next to nothing of what people in the… Read more

A bit about me part 6 - After the Pieces 

When I left the Pieces of Mind, I played in a few groups until I eventually teamed up with some friends and founded a new group called Waterfield ISE. Don’t ask me why it’s ‘ISE’, I always thought it was ‘ICE’ until a few years ago, when Chris Sharley, the drummer, put me right on the spelling.
 

Chris, Andy & Me outside my house in Rogerstone

As with the Pieces of Mind, there were a few versions of the band over the years. We differed from them in the style of music we played, concentrating more on… Read more

A bit about me part 5 

I started at St Julian's on the 9th September 1958 and joined Class 1S. I was aged 12 years and 9 months at the end of 1958 whereas the average age of the boys in the class was 11 years and 5 months. My Form Master, a Mr. J Newton stated that ‘John seems to have settled down quite well and is making satisfactory progress’. He marked me as achieving a term position of 12th out of 30 boys in the class.
     
I found it a bit strange at first going from a mixed primary school to a boy’s only Grammar school. The… Read more

A bit about me part 4 

Wild horses used to graze the same fields and the braver of the children used to ride the horses bareback often at alarming speeds when playing Cowboys and Indians. I was not that brave and also quite terrified of horses. These fields were adjoining Ladyhill Road where the Alway Health Centre and a Jehovah’s Witness Church appear to be now.     

It was at Alway that I was first introduced to having pets, particularly dogs, in the house. The first pet I can recall was a tabby cat called Billy. My parents had… Read more

A bit about me part 3 

In hospital we were allowed monthly visits however the distances involved and the fact my parents didn’t own a car meant that they were unable to visit me as often as they wished so I lost touch with all my school friends and even my brother and sister. I cannot be certain but I believe I had 3 visits in the 18 months I was in hospital. My parents borrowed a car from my grandfather to make the visits. I was so shy when I left hospital that it took me weeks before I would even speak to my sister.     

Read more

A bit about me part 2 

In the autumn of I think 1954; my father borrowed a car to take us to see the Illuminations in Blackpool. The car was a Ford Popular that my grandfather had bought a few months earlier and at just under £400 was the lowest priced car you could buy in Britain. It was black in colour and extremely basic compared to modern cars; however it did the job rarely breaking down. The weekend holiday was almost a family outing as my Aunty and Uncle also came along in their car.      

We hadn’t booked into any… Read more

A bit about me part 1 

I was born in Newport South Wales on the 21st March 1946, which apparently was a Thursday. I was the second of three children my parents had and was one of those born in the baby boom after the Second World War. My older sister Judy would have just been old enough to understand she now had a baby brother to play with and look after.     

I was given the forenames of John William Patrick, which was and still is a bit of a mouthful however it could have been much worse. In spite of it not being shown on the… Read more

July 2014 gigs 

We played 3 consecutive gigs in July 2014, starting with the PILCS Club at Pontypool on Friday 11th.  Only around 50 people turned up, which was a bit of a shame as the acoustics of the place are great and the beer is cheap. Still it was great for us getting back together again since we hadn't played since the end of March.  We managed to play for around 3 hours in stifling heat.

The next day, we played at the Cellar in Caldicot.  We had a small band rehearsal there in 2013, however, this was the first… Read more

Who were the Pieces of Mind? 

The Pieces of Mind underwent a few personnel changes in my time with the group and a few more after I left in 1967. It is difficult to come up with firm dates for when people joined or left the group, especially as the events happened up to 50 years ago. We are lucky that John Beardmore kept a gig diary for 1964 and 1965, but even that is probably not complete.
 

1964 Publicity Pic

    
There are very few fixed milestones we can base events around. The Aberfan disaster on 21st October 1966 and Andy getting… Read more

Getting a Guitar 

I  am not sure of the exact date my parents first bought me a guitar, but from looking at remarks such as ‘too frivolous’ and ‘ very disappointing’ in my school reports, I would guess it was Christmas 1961. The Broadway Plectric 1922 guitar I appear to be using in early Pieces of Mind photographs came out in 1961 however, I have memories of having owned a Selmer Futurama III, which was released earlier so I probably started on that guitar and bought the Broadway afterwards.



The Broadway Plectric solids were… Read more

Holidays 

Cornwall
One Bank Holiday Chippy decided he wanted to go for a drive in his small van and asked if I wanted to go with him, along with Glyn and I think Andy. Glyn recounts the story a bit later, however, the one thing he misses out is when the police in Cornwall stopped us. We were on the A30, heading towards Bodmin, when they stopped us. As far as we were aware we hadn’t been doing anything wrong. The van was serviceable; Chippy had a full licence and had not been drinking.

We all got out of the van and… Read more

Aberfan 

On Friday the 21st October 1966, there was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil. The spoil tip engulfed the local Junior School sadly killing 116 children and 28 adults. That night was also the night before Andy got married and the night we ran out of petrol when we were playing out Hereford way. When we eventually got the van going, I remember going across the roundabout, outside of Abergavenny, on the A40 where the Heads of the Valleys Road… Read more

Kubie 

Later on in that year, around October we decided that we wanted to increase the size of the group and try to find a keyboard player and maybe some brass. We were playing one gig; not sure where but it was up the road from Risca, perhaps in Cross Keys. At the end of the night, as we were packing up, I heard someone playing a piano in the hall. I think it was some sort of rock and roll; however whatever it was, it sounded good.      

I wandered over and saw this thin faced young chap who had a spikey sort of… Read more
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