"NEW" GANDY DANCER
The UK's leading magazine for rock instrumental music
We began NEW GANDY DANCER in 1976, some thirteen years after rock instrumentals had ceased being fashionable. The halcyon days of classic 45s by The Shadows, The Hunters, The Cougars, The Fentones, The Outlaws and so many more pioneering UK guitar bands had long gone.
I had always been passionate about music - listening to it; writing about it; composing the occasional song and playing drums here in North East England around my home town of Gateshead. I got married in 1974 and decided to take a short break from drumming (I had been playing in top North East rock trio KIP, who recorded an album of original material that, much to my regret, never saw the light of day) but I did want to keep in touch with music in some way. I decided to go back to my roots, as it were, and write about the music that influenced me as a teenager in the 1960s.
I was at that time running the UK Appreciation Society for The Ventures (my main guitar heroes), publishing a regular newsletter, and it seemed a natural step to extend to writing about other instrumental bands like The Shadows, The Spotnicks, Johnny & The Hurricanes and more, but in a separate format and so NEW GANDY DANCER was born. (As regards the title, about which I am asked often, “Gandy Dancer” was a favourite instrumental of mine from 1962 written by Don Wilson of The Ventures.)
NEW GANDY DANCER has helped us write dozens of liner notes for important instrumental CD issues this last 20 years, and has encouraged many veteran groups to reform and play again. We have also always taken every opportunity to publicise and promote the recordings and performances of the newer, more recent instrumental bands through the pages of NEW GANDY DANCER like The Rapiers, Sir Bald Diddley and Man Or Astroman – all of whom we have managed to catch in concert at some stage in their careers.
Through NEW GANDY DANCER, I have also had the chance to meet many of my early heroes like Steve Douglas (sax sessioneer extraordinary); Jet Harris (former leader of the Shadows); Johnny Paris (Johnny & Hurricanes) and Clem Cattini (Tornados). Transatlantic phone calls from the man who inspired me and thousands of drummers – the King of Drums himself, Sandy Nelson - were not unusual. I’ve taken in many great shows and written about them in NEW GANDY DANCER like those of Davie Allan & The Arrows in London; Dick Dale in Newcastle; Link Wray in South Shields; Tommy Emmanuel’s first concerts in the UK and drumming alongside Brian Locking for a few numbers in Gateshead was something I’d never thought I’d do.
I’m still just as passionate about music – I’m currently drumming for my son’s indie rock band, Diablo, creating an impression already on the North East music scene and also for the long established party combo The Johnny Baboon Band. I sit in with other bands whenever I can and have equally enjoyed a variety of music playing for country unit Colt 45, R&R trio The Rattlesnakes, and folk-rock group The Folk Pistols. I also get back to instrumental drumming by sitting in with various guitar based bands at the annual June Tyneside Shadows Guitar Club Festival.
My most treasured memory however, is of travelling around Scandinavia in 1989 viewing The Ventures highly successful tour there. For most of the time, their legendary drummer Mel Taylor kept me company and regaled me with stories of inside and outside the world of rock instrumental music.
And here we are post-Millennium with NEW GANDY DANCER still around, despite every musical and financial crisis possible, flying the flag for the music we all grew up with all those years ago – as always, side by side with contemporary instrumentals inspired by that very same music.
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