I first interviewed former Beckett guitarists Les Tones and Arthur Ramm in April 2018. Recently, Arthur and Les got back in touch with more stories from their days in Beckett….As we all know time passes so very quickly. It’s been 50 years since the conception of Beckett and all the experiences of the Beckett years now tend to fade from memory.
Every Sunday evening if we are not gigging, Les and I usually meet with friends at the Vigilant Inn, South Shields where we can watch a local band perform and enjoy a good natter over a beer.
When you’re in good company, sometimes these stories and experiences return. The next stories which we have submitted to you are an example. Who knows, there may be more that come to light. Let’s hope so.
Where did you rehearse Les ? We used to practice in Porchester Street, South Shields in a prefabricated hut. We’d start about 11am and finish around 4pm. Sometimes I’d go to Arthur’s parent’s house in Fulwell Avenue, South Shields, and the two of us would rehearse.
What can you remember about playing live Arthur ? We used to play regularly at nightclubs in the North East. The stage area was usually upstairs and extra help was appreciated. At one particular nightclub as the band were setting up the gear on stage, a friend of the band wandered into the restaurant kitchen and noticed some uncooked beef steaks on a plate.
He realised there were no staff present in the kitchen and removed some from the plate and hid them inside his coat. In the dressing room he revealed the steaks to the band, and they told him to return them to the kitchen immediately.
He decided otherwise, and wrapped the steaks up in paper towels. Well the band used to use Vox AC30 amplification, which were designed with an open compartment in the back of the cabinets. The culprit decided to hide the steaks in the backs of the amplifiers so that he could retrieve them after the gig.
However, during the performance when the amplifiers started to get hot, the band members on the stage could smell the aroma of cooking meat. Thinking this was coming from the kitchen, they thought nothing of it.
All was revealed when the amplifiers were put back in the van. The consequences for the band would have been quite severe if found out! He was never invited to any gig again. Who got the steaks? We don’t know. It put a new meaning to the expression ‘The band was cooking’!
What are your memories Les ? Beckett had an afternoon gig at Jarrow ex-Servicemen’s Club during the miners strike, playing to a mainly male audience – all the blokes in their duffel coats. We were also booked to play at the club in the evening to a mixed audience, and we went to Wetheralls nightclub in Sunderland after that to play another gig.
Between ‘69 and ‘71 a guy called David Walker worked for the BBC and arranged for us to play live on Radio 1. We hadn’t played on radio before. When we arrived at Hartlepool Town Hall for the gig, the place was crammed.
The strange thing was that they told us to turn our backs to the audience, and turn our amplifiers and speakers round as well so the audience were behind the band. We asked why we needed to do that and the BBC sound engineer said ‘Forget about the audience, we’re only interested in the 12 million listeners on the radio’, which made us panic!
The DJ Stuart Henry introduced us and the gig went surprisingly well. David Walker had a professional recording made of the whole gig, and passed a copy on to us.
Are you still playing Arthur ? I am privileged now to front a band with Val Hansen, called Justuzfor. The band played it’s first gig on 24th March 2013. Since then, some of our musicians have changed. Val joined the band in 2015 and the band is still going strong.
We always try to play every week and upcoming gigs can be found on our Facebook page. We have videos on You Tube and on Twitter https://twitter.com/justuzfor.
Read the first interview on the blog with Arthur Ramm & Les Tones in April 2018.
Edited by Gary Alikivi March 2020.