Then it was to be hell for leather up to Hamburg into the safer zone of Manfred Weissleder, knowing full that the gangsters from down the south wouldn’t want to mess with him as he had a reputation as a very tough man and the people who worked for him also had a reputation: people such as Horst Fascher and his brother Freddie, a couple of nice guys to us lot but anyone else used to give them the largest berth one could or one’s facial designs could be speeded up to ugly quite quickly.
Manfred had us work in Koln for a month and then to Gelsenkirchen for a month, and eventually back to the Star Club in Hamburg for a month. He used to get us to do one night stands too. I remember doing Harburg just outside Hamburg and Itzehoe. These gigs I believe were for some friends of his and the word came back that Manfred was very proud indeed that his friends were very impressed with us and of course he made it known that we were his little blue eyed boys which, Horst and Freddie told us, was a good compliment.
Manfred was always really kind to us and we never felt worried as if anyone tried to give us any trouble on the street we would only have to mention that our boss might get annoyed and have a word with them. When they asked who our boss was and we said Manfred they just disappeared very quickly.
Anyway it was time for us to head back to England so we eventually made our way back to the Hotel to find that the van wasn’t there. We rang the Police in case it had been stolen, only to be told that as it had been parked there so long they thought that it had been dumped and so they had it scrapped: which means they took it to a scrap yard and had it squashed! Our faithful mode of transport was now dead and we now had no means to drive back home.
We all stood there and said a little prayer for our poor van which had never let us down considering all of the miles it had taken us without a single moan ever, we spoke to Manfred about our van, but he said that there was nothing anyone could do as the Police are a law to themselves and there is never any comeback even if we tried to file a complaint. In fact, if we did, the Police would ensure that we would never get back into Germany they would always find some excuse not to let us back in.
So we arranged transport to get us to the ship leaving from the Hook of Holland to Harwich then we would have to hire a van to get us back to Liverpool with all our guitars and drums. We were a little disgruntled I must add, as now we would have to try to get another van.
We carried on gigging around for about another six months or so and things within the band started to look like a split up was on the cards so I started to keep my eyes open as to what other bands would be doing the same. Out of the blue I was in the Peppermint Lounge club watching Earl Royce and the Olympics play when Brian the bass player in the band ‘dragged’ me to the bar for a drink. He said that he’d heard that our band may be breaking up and would I be interested in playing with his band as their lead guitarist was leaving.
They had lots of gigs still to honour, so he arranged a meeting with the band and their manager George Blott. I got on with him immediately. I really liked him he seemed so genuine in amongst all the lots of dodgy ‘Managers’ about. He really did care about the band, so even though I hadn’t plied my trade as a lead guitarist, I thought “Into the deep end I’ve got to have a go”.
Next episode: Enter The Fourmost.
Editor’s Notes: The Renegades were a Wallasey-based group who formed in 1961. They comprised George Peckham on guitar/vocals, Dave Myers on lead guitar, Bob Evans on drums and Derek Peckham on bass guitar.
Immediately following the Renegades, George became rhythm guitarist in Lee Curtis And The All Stars. The other members comprised Lee Curtis on vocals, Mushy Cooper on bass guitar, Paul Pilnick on lead and Don Alcyd on drums. Don left to join the Delmont Four and Paul to the Big Three. The record they cut at the time ‘What About Me?’ c/w ‘I’ve Got My Eyes On You’ was released on Decca F 11830 in February 1964.
The Pawns appeared regularly at the Iron Door, which was then managed by Les Ackerley, who also managed the group. The group
traveled to London to make a record, ‘Casting My Spell’, but it was never released. The group comprised George Peckham on guitar/vocals, Mushy Cooper on bass guitar, Howie Casey on sax, Syd Knapper on drums and Dave Myers on lead. The group appeared in Germany between February and July 1964 – and as Syd was so young at the time, the group had to agree to chaperone him. Howie left them to join the Krew.
George Blott, with the help from his brothers, ran the Peppermint Lounge, a particularly good club situated above Sampson & Barlow’s restaurant in London Road. George also managed several groups including Denny Seyton & the Sabres and the Blackwells. Virginia once went to work for his agency.