Quick! Run for your lives! Here comes… The Rock ‘n’ Roll Society!

Genius or lunatic? Hmm, it’s difficult to say for certain quite which category these boys fall into, but there are those who might suggest they belong in both. Either way, nobody else could pull off a stunt like this with such style and aplomb. And now, behold, it is time to introduce the musical giants of this extraordinary some might say freakish Big-Beat brotherhood.

Perhaps we should start with the man at the front, non other than Danny Brittain. At the age of only three months, Dan was discovered lying beneath the wreckage of a 78rpm George Formby record. The sole survivor of a daring raid by a savage tribe of North London Teddyboys on his parent’s local music shop, Dan was brought up amongst the velvet collared tribesmen as one of their own. Imitating the strange chanted war cries and plaintive, haunting laments of his adopted clansmen, his incredible talent as a singer soon became apparent.

Dan honed his skills constantly until one day in his mid teens, he became curious about the distant, murky shadows of his past. After an emotional farewell party where big chief Knuckles Ron presented him with a ceremonial bike chain and razor-blade, Danny bade farewell to his crepe soled surrogates and set off in search of civilization and an uncertain future. Little did he know that despite his feral upbringing and physical disability (Dan had been born with virtually no eyebrows), he would one day rise to international stardom.

By chance, the wandering juvenile happened across an adolescent street performer who held his small but enthusiastic audience spellbound with a succession of truly amazing licks and riffs on a big blonde Gibson semi-acoustic guitar. Peter Davenport (for it was he) and young Dan got talking inbetween numbers and Pete explained that he too had a somewhat unusual background. It turned out that as a toddler he’d always been fascinated by the workings of the family phonogram. It was of the variety built into a huge walnut cabinet so as to provide storage for all one’s LPs, EPs, and 7” Singles. Once, noticing that an adult had carelessly left open the lid of this miraculous music-box, the infant Davenport grabbed his opportunity to give it a closer inspection.

Needless to say the lid slammed shut and the hapless tot was trapped for a full three weeks! When at last he was rescued it transpired that in order to survive, the resourceful youngster had consumed every single Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis platter, and was about to make a start on Elvis Presley. He would never be the same again. Somehow, Peter had actually absorbed the essence of these fine recordings on a genetic level! Overnight, he became a first rate R’n’R guitar hero and soon completed the transformation by adopting his trademark chubby aspect, alarming countenance and sinister haircut – a move that his hero, Bill Haley, would have wholeheartedly endorsed.

Danny and Pete became firm friends and soon helped create one of England’s most successful Jive bands – The Stargazers. Meanwhile, some 90 miles south of the capital in the picturesque seaside resorts of Ramsgate and Margate, another young rebel was already making a name for himself on the Rocking scene.

In the days before it was outlawed by Brussels legislation, Tim Purkess had been a professional deck-chair hunter (and keen amateur drinker) and strange though it may sound, it was during a hunt along the treacherous Goodwin Sands at Pegwell Bay that he became obsessed with mastering the black art of the slap-bass. From his hiding place beneath a pile of reeking kelp, Purkess spotted a giant turtle which had become entangled in a mass of old fishing lines. In a trice he was sprinting toward the stricken beast, formulating a plan of action as he ran. The huge animal was beached at the water’s edge and thrashed around in the surf as Purkess bravely fought to salvage the valuable fishing line.

A firm believer in re-cycling, he was determined to rescue the precious nylon, yanking and plucking at the strands until his fingers bled. Eventually, the doomed leviathan expired and at that moment Tim heard a noise that was to change the course of his life for ever. The lines, slapping back across the shell of this mighty sea creature, produced a sound so sweet and so perfect that he was utterly captivated. There and then, he vowed to haul the bulky carcass around with him wherever he went, ready to pound out his newly discovered - and quite unique Rocking rhythms at a moment’s notice.

It was hard work on the road and Purkess eventually added wheels to the bottom of the turtle’s shell, dragging it around behind him via a special tow-hitch which he gripped betwixt his powerful buttocks. It was a great system, although it did earn him the remarkably silly nickname “Trundle”. After touring England and Europe for many years with the cult Kentish R’n’R band Red Hot, fate one day decreed that he should bump into none other than Pete Davenport. The Stargazers happened to be sans bassist at the time and as Red Hot were also in the midst of a metamorphosis (the remaining members would go on to form Lucas and the Dynamos), Purkess was offered – and gladly accepted the vacant position. Luckily, the stench of putrid turtle guts had all but gone by this time. Had it not, history may have taken an altogether different turn! At that crucial moment, a partnership was forged betwixt Brittain, Davenport and Purkess that has lasted for decades.

Elsewhere, Jim Russell, future tub-thumper of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Society, was heading up the test crew at Ludwig’s top secret experimental military snare-drum facility, hidden deep under the mountains of Monroe, North Carolina. It was a dangerous, demanding job and although a highly decorated veteran, J.R. was beginning to realize that no man, however strong, could endure the strain of sharing a room with six other drummers forever. After much soul searching, Jim handed in his sticks and emerged from his soundproof subterranean session room, never to return.

Blinking in the bright sunlight, the pasty-faced percussionist pondered his next move and after careful consideration, trudged off to look for the nearest ale house. Jim had learnt an awful lot during his years as a test jock (including the art of stealth drumming, which is virtually inaudible) and it was time to put all that knowledge to good use. He knew that if he really put his mind to it, there was nothing he couldn’t achieve! Three weeks later Jim could barely walk and the landlord had closed his slate. He was burnt out, washed up, and cleaned out. Nothing, short of a miracle, could save him now. Just then, the saloon doors swung open and a mysterious figure carrying a saxophone approached the bar. Enter Aaron Liddard.

Liddard had just finished a delightful round of concerts and studio recording sessions in the States with the hugely talented, yet painfully shy, retiring and demure Amy Winehouse. All the members of Amy’s orchestra had agreed that it would have been unforgivably rude and most ungentlemanly to drink in the company of such a delicate English rose and they vowed to abstain until their tour of duty was over. Well, this was the big day and Aaron intended to make up for lost time.

Aaron Liddard had shot to fame some years earlier when he smashed the existing record for the world’s tallest midget, measuring in at a staggering 6 feet and 5 inches. An amazing feat and one unlikely to be challenged at any time in the near future. On impulse, he decided to realize a childhood dream and rushed out to spend his prize money on a drum kit! Sadly, it soon dawned on him that he would never cut the mustard as a rhythm man. His friends had watched while the monstrous dwarf attacked his drums, arms and legs flailing around like a windmill in a hurricane.

They laughed, telling him that he had “blown it” and with their cruel taunts still ringing in his ears, he dragged what was left of his crumpled drum kit back to the music shop. It’s true, I’ve blown it, he muttered to himself as he was about to leave. The salesman mistook his words for a request to try another instrument and pushed an alto sax into his hands. With nothing left to lose, Liddard put reed to lip and blew. He wasn’t just a natural, he was a supernatural! The staff were so impressed they knocked a full 2% off the price of the horn and threw in a free reed! Now Aaron could hold his head up high and say YES! I BLEW IT!

Still harbouring a keen interest in drumming, Aaron listened intently as the slobbering drunk spun out his amazing story, recounting his days as a top Nashville session man backing up luminaries such as Scotty Moore, and of course his epic stint at Ludwig. The very next day, in a selfless act of charity, Liddard paid his confused drinking partner’s way back to the UK (both men are British born and bred) and promised to “ask around” for him, in an attempt to find some work for this former colossus of the Rock world. News on the pub’n’club telegraph is the only thing in the known universe which travels faster light and in no time at all, the pair were sitting down in a fashionable North London cafe for a steaming plate of escargot and chips in the company of one Henri Herbert.

Henri Herbert is a pianist and a very remarkable fellow. 50% English 50% French 50% Rock, 50% Roll and a whopping 200% Crazy! With a left hand like thunder and a right hand like lightning, he can reduce a Steinway to matchwood in twenty minutes. Though the exact details of his past remain veiled, it is rumoured that Europe’s answer to “The Killer” is quite literally that. A killer! Henri is a very private person and plays his cards close to his chest - but if the gossips are to be believed, he once did away with a persistent heckler at an after-hours show in a Parisian jazz bar, beating his victim to death with an ornate candle-stick which had been left on top of the piano by his overly flamboyant support act. Monsieur Herbert immediately fled the scene.

Before anyone had even thought of calling the Gendarmes he had reached the coast and, under the cover of darkness, swam the English channel to start afresh in a new country. With his film star looks, thick wavy hair, pencil moustache and rubber nose, Henri Herbert was an overnight sensation. Often working with the lovely and talented Laura B, Henri decided he would also like to experiment with bigger line-ups and it was at that fortuitous point that he heard of our friends Messers Russell and Liddard, and their own quest.

After polishing off a second helping of snails, the three new pals decided to join forces and look for some worthy confederates. Now restored to his former glory, sober as a judge and sharp as a tack, Jim recalled having worked with a bunch of wild men who might just fit the bill. He went on to describe this outrageous outfit in detail, explaining that he stood in for their regular drummer who was on trial for attempting to blow up Gerri Hall. (The plot had failed, firstly because she was wearing trousers, and secondly because she’s married to Mick Jagger and he’s the only one who’s allowed to do that kind of thing to her). Jim waxed lyrical about this amazing band and suggested it may be worth contacting them. He was of course referring to The Stargazers.

A brief ‘phone call was all they needed to establish that The Stargazers were in fact thinking along very similar lines, their ranks being somewhat depleted at that time. After a financially rewarding engagement at the Starlite casino in Las Vegas, they had been relaxing at the black jack tables and inadvertently blew every last cent of their takings. No money equals no food and if they couldn’t eat, they couldn’t play. Tough times call for tough measures - something this band had never shied away from. So, with the deepest reluctance, the lads drew straws. Cannibalism is not something they would normally resort to, but at least this way every member had a sporting chance. Gentlemen to the bitter end, there were no hard feelings from the losers. They recognized that occasionally sacrifices must be made for the greater good of the band, and they had all known the risks when they signed up.

Shortly there-after the rosy cheeked and well nourished Rock and Roll Society burst forth. A new band, with a new ethos. From now on, only the best of the best would do. Paramount players. Superlative songs. Definitive delivery. The evidence of their success is right here in front of you. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Society has somehow managed to capture and express the pure, quintessential spirit of the music in a way that hasn’t been communicated since 1957.

Danny, Pete, Tim, Jim, Aaron and Henri would now like to take the opportunity of thanking you for visiting their website. They would also like to relieve you of the cost of an exquisite 7” Vinyl E.P. recording (see Merch stuff) whilst urging you most strongly to buy additional copies for all your friends and family.

T. Rundle. © 2008

Email this page to a friend » Email this page to a friend »

Print this page » Print this page »