New Dawn Chorus by Tyneside band Beckett was the first track played on Saturday morning 5 May 1974 by presenter Dick Godfrey for Bedrock, a new radio show from BBC Newcastle.
Originally broadcast from Christina House in Jesmond, the programme featured music, reviews and candid interviews with national and local bands to give them exposure in the music industry.
The presenters ran through a weekly list of gigs booked in pubs and clubs across the region, among them were The Wax Boys at the Burglars Dog in Blyth, Satan at Spectro Arts, Southbound at the Honeysuckle in Gateshead, the Caffreys at South Shields Legion, White Heat at Balmbras Newcastle, East Side Torpedoes at Darlington Arts, Tygers of Pan Tang at Sunderland Mayfair and Raven headlining Newcastle Mayfair.
There was a local band that Bedrock used to play regular, ‘he was a good bassist with a decent voice’ said Godfrey. That was of course pre-Police Sting and his jazz influenced Last Exit who were a major band in Newcastle towards the end of the ‘70s.
Musician John Farmer, formerly of the Steve Brown Band who wrote the signature tune for the programme ‘What was good about Bedrock was it gave unsigned bands an opportunity to get their stuff on the airwaves, it was a great thrill to do it’.
One of the most familiar radio voices was Ian Penman (writing as Ian Ravendale, music journalist for Sounds).
‘I first heard about Bedrock when I read a piece in NME. Dick Godfrey called it Bedrock because most rock fans at the time of broadcast 10.30am Saturday morning, would still be in bed. At first it was only half an hour then it got moved to Monday evening’.
‘The first interviews I done were America and Mike Nesmith it was very interesting to be hanging out with American rock n roll stars in the Newcastle Holiday Inn. I interviewed Paul McCartney and had a load of clever questions to ask but when it came to it I forgot them all’.
Penman was a champion of local music regularly playing demo tapes and singles from North East bands including Raven, Mythra, Total Chaos and Penetration. ‘Sunderland punks The Toy Dolls were so keen to get their 7” single ‘Nellie the Elephant’ played on Bedrock they delivered the record to my front door’.
Penman, who stayed for four years, was joined in the studio by a local guerrilla team of Rik Walton (Newcastle City Hall photographer), Tom Noble (Tygers of Pan Tang manager) and music journalist Phil Sutcliffe (interview links below).
In a recent interview Sutcliffe recalls the Bedrock team…’Ian Penman was drawn to the media and made a life within it, which must have taken a lot of gumption to prove what he could do because he wasn’t a flash bloke’.
‘Rik Walton was a good friend and photographer of the Newcastle scene, one who worked via mild manner rather than being pushy and sharp-elbowed’.
‘You wanted Newcastle music pix, Rik was the man. Rik’s pix are still valuable in every sense and he’s still the man for images of that time and place’.
South Shields punks Angelic Upstarts brought their own energy to the North East music scene, Dick Godfrey recalls a Bedrock promoted gig at Newcastle Guildhall where the Upstarts had a pigs head on stage.
‘They were really giving it welly, chewing and gnawing at it, then threw it in the audience where it hit someone and knocked them over, they were laid out for a few minutes’.
When Phil Sutcliffe announced he was leaving for a job at Sounds, Norman Baker joined Bedrock ‘It was the essence of music, getting to terms with it and sussing it out. Bedrock was such good fun and some interviews were spectacular’.
Baker told Godfrey the Angelic Upstarts first single released in 1978 ‘Liddle Towers’ was still on jukeboxes in South Shields and a bit of an anthem. After 25 years the last Bedrock programme broadcast 5 May 1999 and Godfrey played in all its glory ‘Liddle Towers’.
Gary Alikivi January 2022
Thanks to Jimmy McKenna & Rik Walton for Ian Penman’s Bedrock radio tapes. More articles will be added in future posts.
Ian Penman 2018
Rik Walton 2019
Phil Sutcliffe 2021