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BLUES ANONYMOUS

Last updated: 10-05-2017

Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Keys: Alan Barnes

Lead Vocals, Drums: Chris Ian Culpin

Sax: Dave Thaxter

Guitar: Jeffery Pike

Guitar: Rado Klose Jan64-Sept64  (2)Ivan Carling + Lead Vocals Sept64-??64

Bass: Nigel Smith

 

Chris Ian Culpin had previously played in The Newcomers

Alan Barnes forms The Hollerin' Blues who later become Those Without

Nigel Smith goes onto join Those Without

Rado Klose leaves to join Leonards Lodgers

Ivan Carling goes on to join Wages Of Sin

 

Jeff Pike 2017: Chris shared lead vocals with Alan ‘Barney’ Barnes, who also played harmonica and occasionally piano (when one was available); Rado left in August/September 1964, replaced by Ivan Carling, who also took over lead vocals from Barney.

Jeff Pike 2017: I met Rado Bob Klose in a Cambridge street in January 1964; we’d played guitar at school together (Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, ‘the County’). He told me he was forming a rhythm ’n’ blues group with a drummer called Chris Ian Culpin (formerly of Chris Ian & The Newcomers, with Dave Gilmour). They needed a bass player, and Rado knew I played double-bass as well as guitar. We played a few gigs together with me on bass and Chris Ian singing.  One of the first was in an Indian restaurant in Regent Street, where Cilla Black came (with Brian Epstein) for a meal after her gig at the Regal. She politely described Blues Anonymous as ‘gear’.

 

But un-amplified double bass wasn’t powerful enough to hold its own with the drums and Rado’s guitar, so we drafted in Nigel Smith on bass guitar, and I switched to joint lead guitar. Chris continued to do most of the singing, until we recruited Alan Barney Barnes. Barney had a powerful blues voice, played good harmonica and also piano (when one was available). Then Dave Thaxter joined us on tenor sax (he also played vibes occasionally, but that was a rather cumbersome piece of kit to lug around.)

 

We steadily built up a repertoire of gutsy R ’n’ B. We were listening to the same American records as the early Rolling Stones, and borrowing songs from the same performers – Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley etc – as well as reproducing anything from the Hit Parade that had a vaguely bluesy, soulful feel.

 

As a six-piece band, we played in all the major Cambridge venues – the Dorothy, Victoria Ballroom, Corn Exchange, Alley Club, Red Lion etc – as well as some USAF bases in East Anglia and various Cambridgeshire village halls. For a while we ran our own ‘club’, playing every week in the cellar of the Dolphin P.H. Coronation Street, Cambridge (now demolished). It was crowded, noisy, sweaty and probably broke all the fire regulations.  There was also a constant threat of the band receiving shocks from the dodgy electrical circuit.

 

In August 1964 Rado announced that he was leaving Cambridge to study architecture at Regent Street Poly in London. By this time, Barney had become somewhat erratic, often missing rehearsals and sometimes failing to show up for gigs. It made sense to recruit another guitarist who could sing. Enter Ivan Carling, a stalwart of the Cambridge scene (The Vikings, Sundowners, Swinging Hi-Fi’s etc). 

 

The pictures (see Gallery Pictures) show Ivan’s first appearance with the band, at the Alley Club, probably late August 1964. It was also Rado’s last gig with the group, and we presented him with a Wes Montgomery LP as a leaving present. Also pictured: myself (sitting down playing Rado’s guitar, while Ivan plays mine), Chris Ian, Dave, Nigel and Barney on vocals. In fact, just about everyone who was ever in Blues Anonymous. 

 

In London, Rado joined with Roger Waters (also from the County school), Richard Wright, Nick Mason and others in a rhythm and blues group that appeared under various names. When Syd Barrett (another County alumnus) joined, they eventually evolved into ‘The Pink Floyd Sound’, but Rado left in mid-1965, before they shortened their name and started recording.

 

In October 1964 I went up to Queens’ College, Cambridge, but continued to play occasionally with Blues Anon, even after I joined a University/Town band called The Soulbenders. Sometime in 1965 Chris Ian left BA to pursue other projects (I think he was a DJ for a while) and the group began to peter out. Their last ever gig, to my knowledge, was a University party at the Real Tennis Courts, where they shared the bill with The Soulbenders and a trio from the University Jazz Club. Soulbenders drummer Graham Hardwick and I played in all three groups!