Rockingscots is a website dedicated to
Scottish beat groups of the '60s and early '70s.
Rockingscots homepage for more groups or to e-mail
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)
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.
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…
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.
Members: l-r Alan Hornall (Bass), Stuart Chambers (Guitar and Backing vocals)
Tommy O’Donnell (Drums), Iain (Jockey) Wraith (vocals), Craig (Toad)
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
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/
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…
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
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
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
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
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.
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
In December of 1979, as a result of
the sale of the company to Racal Electronics,
The Decca Studios in West Hampstead
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
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
‘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
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
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
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
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.