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SIDEWINDERS, THE (2)

Last updated: 07-07-2015
SIDEWINDERS, THE (2)
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Basic Information

Area:
  • London, England, Uk
Genre:
  • 60s Pop
Active Years:
L1965 - C1966

Lead Vocals: Dickie Pride (2)Raymond "Boz" Burrell

Guitar: Len Neldrett

Bass: Tex Makin

Cornet: Marc Charig

Baritone Sax: Johnny Marshall

Piano: Matthew Hutchinson

Conga's: Jimmy Scott

Drums: Malcolm Penn

(Georgina Shaw, Manager)

 

"The band was active in 1965-66 and served to accompany Dickie Pride's swinging vocalese offerings (he was recognised as one of the best in the field at that time) as well as a selection of instrumentals which ranged from be-bop to soul. Boz Burrell joined later basically to fill in for Dickie after an accident put him temporarily out of action - Boz coped so well that he stayed on after Dickie's return and the band enjoyed the luxury of two fine vocalists. An appearance on George Melly's Jazz Beat show on BBC radio should have provided some well needed publicity but unfortunately the band featured in the other half of the programme included a "prima donna" (who shall remain nameless),  who insisted on monopolising just about all the studio time available - the Sidewinders just had time to record one take each of the four numbers with little or no sound balancing. Dickie, as usual, turned in fine renderings of "Walkin' ", "Little Boy Don't Get Scared", "Sack 0' Woe" and "Moody's Mood For Love" but the band sounded somewhat lack-lustre in comparison to its usual tight disciplined self. However, some time later auditions were held early one Sunday morning at the Marquee Club to provide accompaniment to a very young Stevie Wonder on his next British tour. Numerous groups of very smart young players went through selections from their repertoires while an extremely critical MD from Tamla Motown politely rejected each one of them until the last collection of musicians looking like they'd just fallen out of bed, stumbled on to the stand. (Johnny Marshall effectively was loaded into the gig-wagon in his pyjamas and miraculously arrived more or less fully dressed at the venue, thanks mainly to Jimmy Scott's cajoling) After a couple of not too well executed numbers, Mr.Tamla (Clarence was his name - amnesia hasn't completely set in yet)  stopped us to check that everyone could read a part and announced the Sidewinders had the job. There were some loud protests from some of the rejected throng but, as was pointed out, the suits and slick hair-do's don't get the job done. Said tour went off reasonably successfully, with shows around the country from the old Cavern Club in Liverpool (so small and packed out we nearly lost Stevie to a voracious crowd of young ladies) to the Boston Glider Drome et al. The star lived up to his name - played some surprisingly good piano, sang his heart out and beat the hell out of the drums as a special encore! He was extremely polite and appreciative to all and spent his free time trying to give his guardian come school teacher the slip so he could come out with the band to the jazz clubs.

The band in effect was short-lived as gigs were hard to come by - Boz told a story years later during an interview for Melody Maker: it went something like " the band was good but it was so disorganised - about a year after the band folded the drummer phoned to ask when the next gig was!" A slight exaggeration but not totally wrong. The last time we were reunited (with only one of the originals absent) was for a gig which Jimmy Scott had managed to pull off, advertised as Jimmy Scott's Oobladee - Oobladah Band at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley, south of London. He called everyone and surprisingly only Tex Makins and Boz weren't able to make it. Malc Penn and I (Len Neldrett) arrived early and met up with bass player Boots Slade (Tex's sub) for a pint at the bar. A nervous looking suit joined us to ask some embarrassing questions; he was the manager of the establishment. The conversation went something like: "What does the band sound like then?" 

A few furtive glances between all three, then Malcolm said, in all honesty, " I don't know - I haven't heard it yet!" The manager's face went white but after a few words of reassurance he sloped off.

Dickie was still on form; the band played variations on the old tunes and Jimmy was out front with his congas and wailing, as happy as he could be. And the hall was pretty full - miracles sometimes happen. And that was the end of the story." [source Len Neldrett 2015]