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Bexley man reunites band from 1960s

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:54 27 September 2018

From left: Ray Craigie (bass guitar), Mike Pritchard, (rhythm guitar), Brian Terry (drummer and event organiser), Terry Nelson (lead guitar) and Paul Jenkins (vocals). Picture: Tricia Terry

From left: Ray Craigie (bass guitar), Mike Pritchard, (rhythm guitar), Brian Terry (drummer and event organiser), Terry Nelson (lead guitar) and Paul Jenkins (vocals). Picture: Tricia Terry

Archant

A man from Bexley who was in a band in the 1960s last month had his dream come true when his former band members reunited to play at a charity dance.

Brian Terry, Mike Pitchard, Paul Jenkins, Ray Craigie and Terry Nelson in May 1964. Picture: Brian TerryBrian Terry, Mike Pitchard, Paul Jenkins, Ray Craigie and Terry Nelson in May 1964. Picture: Brian Terry

Brian Terry, now 71, formed the band, previously called The Sombreros, in 1963.

He said: “My friends Paul Jenkins, Ray Craigie, Mike Pritchard and I were pupils at Crown Woods School in Eltham.

“We loved the range of music that was being played at that time by our icons such as Buddy Holly, Chuck Barry and others.

“We wanted to not only listen to it but play it as well, to local audiences and our friends.

From left: Ray Craigie (bass guitar),  Mike Pritchard, (rhythm guitar), Brian Terry (drummer and event organiser), Terry Nelson (lead guitar) and Paul Jenkins (vocals). Picture: Tricia TerryFrom left: Ray Craigie (bass guitar), Mike Pritchard, (rhythm guitar), Brian Terry (drummer and event organiser), Terry Nelson (lead guitar) and Paul Jenkins (vocals). Picture: Tricia Terry

“Terry Nelson became our lead guitarist - he joined us in September 1963 as his former Group The Alley Cats had disbanded.”

The band changed its name in 1964 to Vesta’s Bards, before the members went their separate ways in 1965.

Brian said: “I was preparing to take my A-level exams – as were Paul and Ray.

“Mike had already started work in London and Terry wanted to further his career in music.

“I sold my drum kit in July 1965 and thought I would never play the drums again, which was very sad for me.”

Over the last few years, Brian decided to try to get the band members back together.

Brian initially tracked down members of the band in 2016, after being apart from them for 51 years.

“After two years of trawling the internet, I tracked down our former lead guitarist, Terry Nelson, who now lives in Switzerland,” Brian said.

“All five original band members reunited at my house in Bexley.

“Then a year later in August 2017, we played at our first gig for 52 years, here on the outskirts of Bexley.

“All those attending did not have to pay and a as gesture from us in the band, they all had their first drink paid for by us.”

When asked how it felt to be playing as a band after so long, Brian said: “It was very emotional for me, nostalgic - and I was slightly nervous on the evening, as it was the first time that I had drummed in a band for 52 years, but most of all a dream come true.

“But it was also exhilarating that all of us could go back and play our favourite music of the late 50s and early 60s once again, after only nine hours of rehearsal at my house.

“My wife Trish, who I met after we had disbanded in 1965, had never seen me play the drums.

“When she saw us play she was blown away, on how quickly all of us gelled together, after 52 years of being apart, plus the sound we produced.”

Last month, the band played again for another charity dance, where 120 people attended.

They managed to raise £650 for their three chosen charities: The Alzheimer’s Society, the Motor Neurone Disease Association and MacMillan Cancer nurses.

“None of us can stop the passage of time and we have to accept that as each of us gets older, debilitating diseases can develop to many of us.” Brian said.

“Sometimes these conditions manifest sooner to younger people, which has to be devastating.

“The other four band members share my view that additional help by way of extra donations, has to be a continual way forward.

“Our three chosen charities are close to the hearts of the five of us band members, related to personal and family experiences.”

When asked about the future of the band, Brian said: “After 55 years we are widely spread apart, with Terry in Switzerland, Paul in Wales and Mike near Derby. Ray lives about 20 minutes from me in New Eltham, so both of us are the only local members.

“It’s not an easy task to get us all together, but we hope to before Christmas to discuss the possibility of us doing another concert next year.

“As they say, watch this space.”

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