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‘Hades’ bobbin’

Former members of this rock band from Largs Craig (Toad) Thomson, Tommy O’Donnell and Alan Hornall have produced this piece of Ayrshire musical history in memory of their late colleague Iain (Jockey) Wraith.  

Floral Arrangement: 1966/67 
Members: l-r Alan Hornall (Bass), Gary (is there a piano in the house) Kidd (Keyboards, when available), Campbell (Charlie) Bone (Borrowed Guitar/Vocals), Craig (Toad) Thomson (Guitar) and Tommy O’Donnell, sitting, (Drums,) This, our very first band, can confidently lay claim to having being thrown out of some of the best venues on the west coast! But thankfully, the band improved dramatically over the coming year.  

Alan Hornall

In early 1967, as a result of still not owning keyboards, Gary (is there a piano in the house) Kidd left the band and was replaced by Craig McSherry (later to become Sheriff McSherry) from Ardrossan.  Craig owned a very commanding pair of Foster Grant sun glasses, a sparkly Swedish guitar and a decent amp. Armed with this state of the art equipment, a new band was born…

Wilderness: 1967
Members:  l-r Craig (Toad) Thomson (Guitar), Craig (Sheriff) McSherry (sparkly guitar lender and lead vocals), Tommy O’Donnell (Drums), Alan Hornall (Bass), Campbell/Charlie (can I borrow your guitar) Bone (Guitar/Vocals).  With more rehearsal time, and better equipment, we were beginning to sound like a proper band, but it wasn’t long, until, as a result of other commitments (educational) in late 1967, Craig McSherry and Campbell Bone chose academia and left the band.

The Illusion: 1967/68  
Members: l-r Alan Hornall (Bass), Stuart Chambers (Guitar and Backing vocals) Tommy O’Donnell (Drums), Iain (Jockey) Wraith (vocals), Craig (Toad) Thomson (Guitar)
The Illusion
was initially a four piece band. But one evening, after a gig, we were approached by a chap, in the audience, called Stuart Chambers. He was from Ayr, and he said he liked the band a lot and wanted to join. In spite of his age, (he was considerably older than we were, or so it seemed at the time) we decided to give it a shot.  Stuart’s experience, and professional approach, introduced a previously lacking discipline to the band and soon, with a new and more commercial repertoire, our fan base increased, generating more gigs than we knew what to do with.

This line up worked well for a while, but eventually, with differing musical opinions, Stuart and the band took off in different directions.  The Illusion struggled on as a four piece for another few months until Iain (Jockey) Wraith was invited to join forces with Davy Miller and Charlie Evans, during which time, Graham Lyle and Benny Gallagher wrote and recorded a song of encouragement for the three busketeers. It was unpredictably entitled: “To David, Charlie and Ian (After all, what else would you call it?) In the weeks and months that followed, Tommy, Alan and Craig, took up knitting, but when Fanny Barrie’s, wool shop closed, materials became difficult to acquire. As a result, we quickly reverted back to music, and a new band was born


Hades’ bobbin: 1968/ 1970 
Members: l-r Alan Hornall (Bass), Kevin Mc Devitt (Lead Vocals), Tommy O’Donnell (Drums), Craig (Toad) Thomson (Guitar).
The name Hades’ bobbin was taken from the poem Byzantium by W.B. Yates. At that time, it was hip to plagiarise a name, or a song title, from the work of one of the great literary masters, and in our opinion, Yates was fair game. Needless to say, having read this classic piece, many times over, to this day, the content of Byzantium and the significance of Hades’ bobbin remains a mystery.
Alan had met Kevin (none of us can remember where) and came backing raving about both his strong vocal ability, and his stage presence. It transpired that Kevin had seen us perform too, and expressed an interest in joining the band. A rehearsal was organised, and pretty soon, we knew it was going to work. Over the coming months, we rehearsed a completely new set, combining a mixture of covers and original material. Hades’ bobbin was much heavier than any of the previous bands, but it was bang up to date with the new blues/ heavy metal style of music that was emerging at the time. This band quickly became popular with the punters, and we soon gained quite a reputation as ‘A must see’ band.


Hades’ bobbin played most of the popular venues from Greenock to Stranraer in the south and Glasgow and Edinburgh in the east, until late 1970, when Alan announced that he was leaving the band to join Chase - who were now based in the north east of England - followed shortly by Kevin, who was about to embark on a career with the police. Not ‘The Police,’ the other police…
Alan was replaced briefly by Alex Thomson (bass) and Kevin by Jim Davison (lead vocals) both formerly of the Ardrossan based band, ‘Phsycle.’ The band retained the name ‘Hades’ bobbin,’ and continued to play the same venues as before. A few months later, however, Tommy and Craig received a call from Alan, to say that Chase had broken up and that he and John Walker (former drummer with chase) were putting a new band together in Sunderland and were we interested? It was early 1971, and we had nothing better to do, so, we packed the van, said our goodbyes and six hours later, we were in Sunderland.  We spent nine depressing months in the north east, mostly rehearsing and trying various different members in the new band (namely Alistair Alan, former keyboards and vocals with the ‘Smoke Beef Band’ from Gourock) but sadly, we had all lost something in transit and playing working men’s clubs was not our forte!
We returned briefly to Scotland, to take stock, and within four weeks, Tommy, Craig, Alan and Alistair were heading for London  

Aslan: 1972
 Members: Tommy O’Donnell (Drums), Alan Hornall (Bass), Craig (Toad) Thomson (Lead Guitar), Davy Miller (guitar and vocals)
We arrived in Bromley in the late summer of 1972.  Alistair Alan left the band. He wanted to live nearer the centre of London, while we opted to remain in Bromley. It was there that we met up with an old friend, Davy Miller, also from Largs.  Davy had been gigging in and around London as a solo artist, playing his own songs on acoustic guitar, accompanied by harmonica. A solitary existence by all accounts and to cut the story short, after a few rehearsals, Davy joined the band and Aslan was born.

This band was quite unique in its style and original material, but over the coming months, with each of us having to work a day job to pay the rent etc. it was becoming more and more difficult to find time for song writing and the band. Slowly things began to grind to a halt. Some months later, Gallagher and Lyle, who lived in Bromley and knew us quite well, offered Alan a job as bass player. Quite naturally, he accepted the offer and went on to record and tour with the band. He appeared on Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test on several occasions. Meanwhile, we tried to continue as a band. We auditioned several bass players, John Bentley being a contender. But an offer from Squeeze put an end to that.  At this stage, we realised that it just wasn’t going to work, and with sadness in our hearts, we went our separate ways.

Alan continued to play bass with Gallagher and Lyle until the band was dissolved, after which time, he went on to assist Stewart Grant, G&L’s manager, run their P.A. hire company. Later, Alan moved to the USA and started his own tour management/ production co. (Sweaty Productions) He now has full US citizenship and and lives happily in Orange county USA managing major tours for bands such as Counting Crows and Maroon Five and Lionel Ritchie to name but a few.
Tommy O’Donnell :    (picture Tom with Gallagher and Lyle - recent)

After the cessation of Aslan, Tom auditioned for a band called ‘The Actors.’ Needless to say, he got the job. The band members included Richard and Fred Fairbrass, who later became ‘Right said Fred.’  ‘The Actors’ toured extensively around the UK, sharing the bill with ‘Suicide,’ a New York punk band and later, on the same tour, supported by Joy Division, in Manchester, prior to Ian Curtis’ untimely death. After the tour, Tom left the band. Richard and Fred Fairbrass continued to play as The Actors for a time until, Mike Gerard, the guitarist, followed in Tom’s footsteps and left the band too. With the Actors in tatters, the Fairbrass brothers hooked up with a new guitarist by the name of Rob Mazolli, and the band was renamed ‘Right Said Fred.’ The rest is history.

l-r Tommy; Jeff; Davy; Joe King

A year or so later, the hand of fate put Tom back in touch with Davy Miller, who by now had changed his name to D.J. Kane. Davy was in the process of forming a new band called the D.J. Kane and the Millionaires. He was in need of a drummer and quite naturally, Tom was his choice for the job. There was still a position for a guitarist, and one of the early contenders was none other than Adrian Fisher, an old friend of Craig’s and ex- guitarist with Sparks.  D.J. Kane and the Millionaires gigged successfully in and around London, gaining a strong following and the attention of a certain A&R man by the name of Stuart Hornall (Alan Hornall’s brother) who, on hearing the band live, promptly signed them up for an album and singles deal, with Radar Records.
To high acclaim, the band toured the new album with Toyah Willcox, at the height of her career. During this time, Radar Records became involved in a take over and in the process that followed, D.J. Kane and the Millionaires disappeared into the void left behind when the new company and its shareholders clashed over cash.

Alexis Corner was a fan of the band, and played tracks frequently on his radio show, but sadly, with limited publicity and few albums cut, the record failed to gain the recognition it deserved.
With the demise of The Millionaires, Tom put his energy into session work, playing the London circuit with a number of different bands. It was during this time, that he joined up with Joe King’s box of tricks (guitarist with The Millionaires) The band consisted of John Bentley (Squeeze bass player) Keith Hale (Keyboards with Ginger Baker, Hawkwind and Toyah etc.)  Joe King (guitar and vocals) and finally, Tom on drums. “It was short lived, but good fun!” Numerous projects followed, including a further collusion with the infamous Davy Miller. Davy had changed his name again! This time, to Harry Kane and the Moneymakers.  This new band continued for a number of years, gaining a cult following and always creating a sense of intrigue amongst the fans, with its constant change of personnel. This included John Bentley (Squeeze), Alan Derby (Cado Belle, Robert Palmer, Eric Clapton, Lulu etc.) Dave Briggs (of Scotty Moore fame) and of course, Tommy O’Donnell on drums… To add to his ever increasing and impressive CV, on a Graham Lyle and the Splendido’s tour, during a three night residency in the Pizza Express in
Soho, Tom had the privilege of playing alongside Hamish Stewart (Average White Band) and Lulu, who were guest artists on the 2nd and 3rd nights of the gig.  Tom still lives in the Bromley area and in addition to playing drums on Graham Lyle’s solo album, ‘Something Beautiful Remains,’ he still appears live with Gallagher and Lyle, from time to time.  If you are extremely lucky, and can secure a ticket for the event, Tom can be seen and heard every New Year (2nd January) live in Largs with a band of quality musicians from both Largs and London.  This gem of a gig has been a well kept secret for more than thirty years.
Craig (Toad) Thomson:  When Aslan broke up, Craig moved away from Bromley and took up residence with his now wife, in Belmont, Surrey.  In 1975, Craig started work with The Decca Record Company as a tape operator, but soon worked his way up through the ranks to become a Recording Engineer. He worked with many acts including, Justin Hayward, Geoff Wayne, Thin Lizzie, Gary Moore, Jim and Gerry Rafferty, Back street Crawler, Cado Belle, Slaughter and the Dogs, Pat McGlynn, The London Symphony Orchestra, The D’Oyly Carte opera company Kenneth McKeller and many others. In December of 1979, as a result of the sale of the company to Racal Electronics, The Decca Studios in West Hampstead finally closed.
Craig continued to record on a freelance basis, working from London to New York, for many of the major record labels until 1996 when, as a result of hearing damage, he retired from the industry.
During his career, Craig engineered and produced albums and singles for many name acts including: The Lambrettas, The Damned, Helen and the Horns, Eddie Tenpole Tudor, Marillion, Trevor White (Sparks) Def Leppard (Pyromania) Twisted Sister, The Cult, The Pogues, The Screaming Blue Messiahs, Thin Lizzie, Gary Moore, Benny Gallagher, Tom Verlaine (Television) Andy Gill (Gang of four) The Boomtown Rats, Mick Greenwood, Halo James, The Young ones (Cliff Richard piss take of living doll) and more.  Today, Craig lives in Surrey, with his wife and dogs and writes Fantasy fiction adventure Novels for young adults. His first novel, ‘Search for the Sunlight,’ will be available in July 2017, as both an e - book and paperback, available on Amazon/ Kindle.
What a guy list’  
From the outset, we required help. During the Floral Arrangement/ Wilderness days, none of us were old enough, or qualified to drive. As a consequence, our main problem was travelling to and from gigs. On most occasions, Tom’s father, Curly O’Donnell, was there to help. What a good bloke!  Another source of transport came in the form of David Duffield, a friend of Charlie Bone. David even had his own van! A Thames Trader, if our memories serve us well, He was often available, but the lack of transport remained a problem that had to be addressed. Eventually, we were able to buy our own van, a Bedford something or other, and at long last, we were self sufficient!  Initially, Tom did most of the driving. He had been driving since he was about thirteen, but we were never entirely able to relax with this arrangement (especially when, on more than one occasion we were followed, nearly all the way to a gig, by the law!) Needless to say, it was a great relief when Tom finally came of age and passed his driving test. Sadly, a few months later, the old Bedford died…
With the birth of The Illusion and the consequent increase in equipment, a bigger van was required. But with little or no funds in the kitty, we had become dependant on friends again. Billy (please stay) Kelly: was one of those friends. He worked for a florist, and had access (legal or otherwise) to the works van. Billy was a God send and as a reward, we gave him a solo spot, singing his favourite song, ‘Please Stay,’ (An old Drifter’s standard, later covered by The Cryin’ Shames in 1966). Brian Wraith: (Jockey’s brother) was another savoir. He had access to the family roofing Co’s van and helped us out on numerous occasions.
Andy McMahon: Another friend, and an excellent bass player, had his own van, and when his band, The Dingos broke up, he had time on his hands, and often helped us out.  Alan Finn: A good mate, and an excellent chef to boot, used to help out as a roadie and often doubled up as band entertainer. He was a very amusing guy! Sadly, we heard, only a few months ago, that Alan had died in Jersey, where he and his wife Mary owned and ran a successful hotel. Kenny  MacPherson, was another good friend and roadie. Kenny became Billy Connolly’s tour manager and later moved to the US, where, amongst other things he went on to run Chrysalis Records, in the US and now fronts his own music publishing company, ‘Big Deal Music.’
Scott Johnson: An Englishman! But none the less, a good roadie, often helped out.  His uncle was Edward Woodward, The original ‘Wicker Man’.  George Martin: (No! Not that one) Hung out with the band for many years. George, known as Geno, met his first wife at one of our gigs.   Alan McGee: (No! Not that one either) was a driver and a roadie with Hades’ bobbin, until the band eventually left Largs for Sunderland. Later he joined us in London where he went on to work in the Record Industry. He now lives somewhere in the south of England.
Last but by no means least: Philip (Ijaz Ali-Mir) Osborne.  Philip was a Joiner of outstanding skill. We got to know him properly, when he offered to build a partition and bench seat, in “The New Van,” a state of the art (for it’s time) ‘COMMER.’ It even had a toilet, in the form of a big rust hole, located in the floor of the front passenger side foot well. (Useful on long journeys).  The quality of Philip’s work was such that the said partition remained solidly in place, without a single screw, or any other fixing, for the entire life of the vehicle. In addition to his fine woodworking skills, his sense of humour was second to none and he quickly became a crucial, must have, member of the band.  One particular tale he used to tell, that made us all laugh, related to an incident with the owner of the miniature zoo at the bathing station (opposite Nardini’s) in Largs. He was seldom seen without ‘Bimbo’ a small, grey monkey, sitting on his shoulder and it even lived in the family home in Largs. One day, Philip, as an apprentice joiner, was accompanying his boss on a job of work at the house. On their arrival at the address, the front door was ajar. Philip courteously knocked and a moment later, the monkey appeared.  “Is your faither in?” Philip enquired…   The owner then appeared and said nothing at that time but he had overheard and the next day he lodged a complaint at the offices of G.H. Tyre and Sons, the joinery co. for whom Philip worked, demanding that be sacked immediately for what he called 'his insulting remark'. Later on, Graham Lyle and Benny Gallagher offered Philip the job of Road Manager with McGuiness Flint, but for reasons unknown, he turned it down.  As far as we know, Philip now lives and works as a master carpenter in Macclesfield in Cheshire.

Tommy O’Donnell, Alan Hornall
and Craig Thomson remain the best of friends to this day.