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And yet a third page of Readers Broadway memories

The Revellations

 

Ian Shaw contacted with the story of his 'Great White Wail' - a white Broadway Plectric 1922! Ian takes up the tale.

 

"My first guitar, in the early 60s, was a cheap acoustic costing about £7.10s, together with the obligatory Bert Weedon “Play in a Day”. So musically emboldened, I started to frequent the Youth Group at Bispham Parish Church in Blackpool, which had, to my mind, the most amazing-looking girls to delight the senses of the callow 14 year old that I was. A few of us there had guitars and started to play songs together and eventually morphed into a four-piece group. That however required something a bit more musically stylish and although I was still at school, I managed to just scrape together about £12, enough to buy a second-hand solid electric guitar from a friend, together with a crude amplifier and speaker which were nakedly uncased,

 

The guitar had no manufacturer’s name, no serial number and no distinctive shape or features by which to define it, but very recently I found it to be a Broadway Plectric 1922 with the very recognisable dual oversized, oval-ended chrome single-coil pickups, and I have a vague recollection that it may even have had a 3.5mm 'mini-jack', which required conversion to a modern, standard 1/4" jack lead.It was in a slightly battered state then and ended up with the body being hand-painted white (not sure what the original colour was now but from belt buckle scratches on back, probably mahogany), and the headstock varnished and a letter E transfer stuck on it as at that time, I had rebranded myself as “Eyan”. In later years this degenerated even further when my career took me to Liverpool and certain secretaries there called me “Eeeeeen” in their lovely nasal “Scouse” accents. Later, my white guitar (not a common colour then) acquired the name “Moby Dick” after the story of the Great White Whale and that then morphed later into “The Great White Wail”

 

The driving force of our 4-piece band at that time had been Mark, the bass guitarist and singist, but when he decided to leave, in order to continue making noises, we had to recruit 2 replacements, firstly someone who could play bass guitar, and then crucially, someone who could sing, a talent that the rest of us lacked. I was then the youngest and still at school, but as a five-piece, we acquired some local success in and around the Blackpool area as “The Revelations” or “The Revs” and played many times at the Youth Coffee Bar at Bispham Parish Church (“The Shippon” as it had formerly been an old cow-shed). We also even had our own green Ford Thames Crew Bus with wooden side benches – not very comfortable for travelling any great distance in and a potential nightmare when packed with both us and all our gear, especially the cymbals which were likely to decapitate someone if they ever broke loose under braking.

 

We ventured as far afield as the Manchester Catacombs Coffee Bar and the Lake District, with then then newly built and iconic Forton Tower services on the M6 a regular stopover for late-night sustenance after playing. One notable gig was at Inskip, a small village dominated by large Royal Navy radio masts with intermittent crackles and messages being picked up and rebroadcast through our amplifiers to jolly things along!

 

Sadly in 1968, after 3 heady and very formative years together, I left the Revs to go to college in Chelsea, London, which was the centre of the world back then. Moby Dick languished at my parent’s home, unloved and unplayed for many years, with the total ignominy of being relegated to the loft when I moved to Liverpool, married and bought a house on the Wirral. I lost contact with the other 4 band members and totally ignored my guitar, so much so that my wife didn’t even know I had been in a band at all until years later when it all came together again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then in about 2004, through the wonders of the internet and Friends Reunited, our bass guitarist Ken contacted me and we all met up again, almost immediately picking things up as if it had been only yesterday when we had last met. The same sense of humour, the same old jokes, Goon Show quotes and Round The Horne innuendo all re-emerged again. Although now scattered around the country we still meet up fairly regularly for meals and weekends, and even sometimes jam together.

In 2013 we even played a reunion gig back at Bispham Parish Church in Blackpool with the same 5 original members of “The Revs” back together as started out there!

In the intervening years, our generation have become relatively affluent from our professional lives and have been able to acquire up-market guitars and amps, just because we can. After Ken contacted me and we met up again as band members. I started to play guitar again and shred the finger ends and have now become the proud owner of a collection of guitars including a Gibson SG, two wonderful Gretsch guitars, and a couple of Yamaha Pacificas which I inherited from a relative after his divorce. About 3 years ago I happened to require a capo, and remembered that I had had a capo with my old Broadway guitar. A search of the loft failed to unearth the capo, but it prompted me to bring the Broadway down into the light of day again after so many years of neglect and solitary confinement.

It still played reasonably after almost 50 years, though the original machine heads were somewhat bent and troublesome. My guitar had achieved some notoriety when on one occasion a string broke, and with no replacement strings available (that’s how poor we were), I played it with a string knotted together from what remained of the formerly intact one. However, a new set of strings and new shiny metal machine-heads have now brought it back to life and it still keeps its tune pretty well.

The removable chrome string plate cover is still present and intact and it was, as I remember it, never removed for an alternative use as an ashtray, as happened with some of these guitars. The original very thin brown leather barely-padded shoulder strap has now been replaced with something brighter and more modern. At one stage in the late 60s, the white body paint was adorned with trendy psychedelic “hippy” logos, but these have now been removed. Played through a Blackstar amp on overdrive, it holds its own against my other guitars, and I just love to take it down and play it now and again, just to show it I haven’t after all forgotten it, and I still love it, as it was such a major part of my very miss-spent youth!

Just like the International effort to “Save the Whale”, so I firmly believe there should also be a campaign to “Save the Great White Wail” And now I know a little of its history and its origins, for me it is irreplaceable!"