‘IN 1971 WE SIGNED TO THE BEATLES COMPANY, APPLE RECORDS’ – interview with former Halfbreed guitarist Pete Dodds

I first picked up a guitar when I was twelve years old. My influences were Lonnie Donegan, Buddy Holly, Beatles, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.  My first gig was in 1964 at The Portland Hotel in Ashington, Northumberland. After that it was gigs in clubs, pubs and village halls.

What band were you playing in then ? Played in a band called Halfbreed and the line-up was Bill Elliot, Colin Mason, Les Connolly, Tom Farrier and Bob Purvis – who was a non- playing songwriter. I was a member of the band until 1974 when things happened, but unfortunately the group split. Bob and Billy went on to become Splinter who were famous for the single Costafine Town that was on George Harrison’s label Dark Horse Records.

What was your experiences in a recording studio ? In 1971 we had signed to Apple records and the first time in a studio we recorded demos for  The Beatles company. We did an 8 track demo with George Martin and Mal Evans as producers. I have a copy of the tracks, they have been cleaned up ready for further work.

My first album was recorded in 1987, that was Full Circle. The studio was Baker Street in Jarrow. It was run by Howard Baker who used to be vocalist with Warbeck. I’ve recorded a couple more albums in various North East studio’s since then, like The Cluny. The latest was in 2016.

Have you any road stories ? I was playing a gig when my guitar touched the mic stand, next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital. There was a fault in the electrical system – I must have lit up like a Christmas tree.

We were rehearsing for a gig at the Marquee club in London when my amp blew up. The Beatles roadie Mal Evans, sent our roadies round to Apple to pick up an amp. They came back with John Lennon’s gear – a 200 watt Marshal amp and two Sunn cabinets. One of the cabinets had a revolving speaker, that was an insight into Johns sound.

What are you doing now ? After my mother’s death I came out to Spain to clear my head, write a book and record a new album which I have now finished. My book is finished and is now being proof read and checked for grammar plus just waiting on the art work.

What does music mean to you ? Music has been with me most of my life I hope it will still be there after everything and everyone has gone.

 Interview by Gary Alikivi  April 2020.

 

 

 

‘PERSUADING BIG GROUPS TO APPEAR WAS IN THE LAP OF THE GODS’ Highlights from the book ‘Rock at the Sharp End’ by Sunderland author Geoff Docherty.

Docherty talks about his life from being doorman, club promoter and band manager. He remembers some of the big names that he attracted to Sunderland’s Bay Hotel ’The door leading to Marc Bolan’s dressing room was jammed with female admirers desperate to meet him. Some were crying with emotion. Others waited to meet their new heroes, Free, especially Paul Rodgers. I’d never experienced female adulation of this intensity and found it impossible to empty The Bay that night’.

Docherty fills the book with stories about bands on their way to making it, and groups already there, but next he needed a bigger venue….’During negotiations involved in moving to The Locarno, there were important hurdles to overcome. The first was the name. Over in the States were two highly respected venues called Filmore West and East. I unashamedly plagiarised the name by renaming the Sunderland Locarno, The Fillmore North, on the night I hired it. Whether I could persuade the best groups to appear was in the lap of the Gods’.

He did – and the book contains a chronology of gigs that Geoff promoted from the Bay Hotel – Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and The Who – to the Locarno – T.Rex, Mott the Hoople, Kinks and Bowie – admission and price paid for the act are included in the details, £150 for Bowie and 10 shilling to get in.

 

After a visit to a local nightclub, Annabels, he spotted a band who were playing and ended up being their manager…’In the three years I managed them, Beckett did two John Peel radio shows, 33 dates supporting The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, 19 dates supporting Captain Beefheart, 22 dates supporting Slade, five supporting Wizzard, three supporting Ten Years After and countless University and College gigs. They also made an appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test’.

Docherty gives great detail of the meeting with Peter Grant and the subsequent Newcastle Mayfair booking of Led Zeppelin on the 18th March 1971. Not short on anecdotes and how the music world affected his personal life, Rock at the Sharp End is a must read for any fan of North East music.

Gary Alikivi  May 2020