When I was about 15, I was the singer in my very first Rock’n’Roll band with my school mates. Vince played lead guitar, Mo (Maurice) played rhythm guitar and Geoff, Vince’s 12 year old brother, played drums, although he couldn’t reach the base drum pedal for at least another year!
We loved playing Beatles songs, which were just being released at that time, but we knew that we didn’t sound right. It wasn’t until we went to see a more polished local band that I realised that our high pitched scratchy sound resulted from the absence of a bass guitar! I promptly borrowed some money from my Dad, who was hard pressed financially but wanted to help, and went to the local music shop, where I fell in love with a “Paul McCartney” Hofner Violin bass guitar in the window. It cost me £56, which in those days was a lot of money.
I didn’t have a guitar strap or the money to buy one, so I learned to play my Hofner on my knee, with my foot up on a chair. At that time I couldn’t play the guitar so learning to play the bass and singing at the same time was quite a challenge but I muddled through and the band did sound much better.
A couple of years later, we had an additional band member called Chris who played the mouth organ and a large conga drum (but not at the same time) and we came second in a national bands competition. We were the only finalists to play an original song, which was later on albums by Cliff Richard and, separately, The Shadows. The song was called “In the Past” and my band was called The Summacumlaudes.
I’ve still got that old original Hofner bass. Browsing the internet recently, I was delighted to discover that it is now worth around £2500!
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