Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I feel like there has been a lot of coverage of alternative 80’s bands within They’ve Been Around for Ages Mate, sure we have covered some amazing bands but personally I feel it's time to step further back in time. To the 1950’s to be exact, where music was just finding its feet in terms of electric guitar, blues and Elvis. If the Fonz is anything to go by, then fashion was also pretty rad; leather jacket, white t-shirt and slicked back hair, the fashion style fitted the music. This artist is considered to be important within the rock genre in British music, both visually and musically, introducing Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.
Led by singer/songwriter Frederick Albert Heath A.K.A Johnny Kidd, the group released their first single in 1959 titled "Please Don't Touch", which became a minor hit reaching number 25 on the UK singles charts. Johnny Kidd & the Pirates success came with their track “Shakin all Over”, which reached number one within the UK in 1960. After a few failed attempts of another single in the charts, band members Clem Cattini, Alan Caddy and Brian Gregg, decided to jump ship and join Colin Hicks as his "Cabinboys" on a 6-week tour to Europe.
A new pirate trio was formed and their first single with Kidd; "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues" (coupled with "I Can Tell") entered the lower reaches of the chart towards the end of 1962. The band adopted a new visual style while on stage, where the band decked the stage with a 19th century pirate themed performance, Johnny Kidd took to wielding a cutlass which he swayed in time to the music. After losing out on the chart front, the group recorded their version of Gordon Mills' "I'll Never Get Over You", the cover reached number 4 on the UK chart in the summer of 1963. The hit put Kidd and the Pirates firmly back in the music scene.
During the mid-60’s, the Pirates actually split from Johnny Kidd to create music on their own. Johnny Kidd continued to create music with various backing musicians. In 1966, one of the anonymous musicians, organist Ray Soaper gathered some musicians. Mick Stewart (lead guitar), Nick Simper (bass) and Roger Truth (drums) came together with Soper and presented themselves to Kidd as his new Pirates. With his newly-christened "New Pirates" (necessarily distinguishing them from the other "Pirates"), a revitalized Kidd worked towards a comeback and the possibility of recording a new album.
Sadly, Johnny Kidd was killed in a car crash after returning from a cancelled gig at the Imperial in Bolton, Lancashire on 7 October 1966, with Nick Simper being injured. A number of tracks were recorded in early 1964. Not much is known about how far a Johnny Kidd album progressed. The rest of the Pirates continued to tour for a few years before calling it quits in May 1967 due to a lack of bookings and a change in the music scene.
Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, where to start? It’s timeless and just pure fucking genius in terms of both sound and lyrics. The Pirate outfits seem a bit dated but back in the 60’s that would have been considered pure carnage. Although they never released an album so to speak, there are more than enough tracks to keep you going for hours. Although a tragic ending for Johnny Kidd at age 30, this creates more mystery and suspense around the band and their music. Start with their most famous track “Shakin all Over”, honestly, they don’t make music like this anymore.