Site Note: Our menu includes an article on Whitstable's most
celebrated pop group of the 1960s... The Rock-a-Beats (click
here to view) . Since publishing that item, we have
received a very welcome message from Rock-a.Beats drummer, Roger
Head - giving an inside view of the group. We would like to
thank Roger for taking the time to share these memories with our
readership. We would also like to thank all four of the
Rock-a-Beats for all the entertainment that they have provided
over the years.
I was delighted to see
that your site was to include a Rock-A-Beat page as a permanent
feature! I thought it might be of interest to know what being in a
“Rock Group” was like from the inside.
As a merchant seaman, my
friends all had naked women pinned up in their lockers but I had
pages torn from the 1958 Premier drum catalogue in mine!
By plying the resident drummer with beers, I have played
the drums in many dockside bars around the world, and while on
leave, I went to Chatham with Bert Butler and his mate Charlie
to sit in with traditional Jazz bands who played there.
As an ex-Whitstable Sea
Cadet, I knew Lou Lawson who introduced me to “Pip” Hadler.
Pip and Dave Harvey came round to my house in Woodlawn
Street to see me, and (I’m sure it was just because I had a
real drum kit!) asked me to join their Band, called “The Black
Cats”. We used to
practice in a shed behind Dave’s house (near the Lantern Café),
and I trundled my drum kit up Sydenham Street , along Stream
Walk, and down Cromwell Road on a builders hand cart and back
We started to be asked
to play for parties and then, later, along came “proper”
work for the band. I remember we agonized for hours over a name change as we
wanted a name that reflected more the style of what we were now
playing “Rock and Roll”!
We met Tony McCowan, who
became our manager, and his persistence got the band work every
Wednesday night at “Dreamland Ballroom” in Margate, a gig we
did for years! To
hold on to this work, we had to play new songs each time.
If a record was released on the weekend – we were
playing it on the Wednesday night.
We were by now either playing or practicing 7 nights a
week, and adding on average, 3 new songs each week
With this pressure
cooker type of schedule the lads went from just talented to
brilliant! On a
good night (and most of them were) I would look up from the
drums and be spellbound by the three guys in front of me! Ray Page – the
fastest, cleanest chord changes in the world; Dave Harvey – playing a pounding, intricate bass line and
improvising a sax solo on a Kazoo at the same time!; Pip Hadler – for my money, the best guitarist ever – bar none.
Their talent and the “tight” feel of the music made
them one of the most exciting bands I have ever worked with.
Rock-a-Beats: Roger Head (drums), Ray Page (rhythm guitar),
Dave Harvey (base guitar), Phil 'Pip' Hadler (lead guitar)
(Photo kindly supplied by Roger Head)
On many a Saturday night
at Dreamland, I saw top-of-the-bill artists like “The Tremeloes”
and “Sounds Incorporated” out in the audience watching US!
Our fan club in Folkestone even included a certain Noel
Redding, soon to become the bass player with Jimmy Hendrix.
Despite the fact that
people seemed to like us, there was never any display of ego
within the band. We
all basically liked each other, and respected each others
skills, but knew that the band was bigger than any one of us.
We each paid for our own personal instruments but group
equipment was funded from any money earned, divided up before we
were paid! Dave Harvey was in charge of finance, and we always
had the best when it came to equipment. Right from the “Black Cat” days,
the money was always shared equally.
Eventually, Ray Page
said he wanted to stop. The
stress of working all day and then playing without pause all
evening was taking its toll on all of us, but once Ray had gone,
the magic went soon after. Carol
and I were married in 1963 and, as we were living in Margate, I
soon lost touch with the others and started to change direction
After the Rock-a-Beats.... Roger
(second left) with 'Style'
- a band formed for cabaret work in Denmark and for
played “Rock and Roll” with “The Triple Tones” and did
“Opportunity Knocks” as a duo with Gerry Impett on keyboards....
Above: Duo with Gerry Impett
..... but, if you went out to a dinner-dance at this time, you would
have seen me playing with “the Derek Day Band”, “the Dave
Port band”, “The Ron Groves Orchestra”, playing an
original 20’s drum kit with 30’s style close harmony group
“St. Valentines Day Orchestra” and guesting with many local
Jazz bands including “Les Herberts”, “Bill Barnacle’s
Band” and “Bert Butler”.
St Valentine's Day Orchestra
Below: With the Derek Day
band at The Winter Gardens
After many years in Road
Haulage, I now own Southern Storage Ltd., a self storage company
in Broadstairs and the only music in my life now comes via a
walkman while cycling along the bank of the River Cher, in the
Loire valley of France with Carol on our twice yearly breaks.
I did drop in to see Ray
Page recently, and he was still keen to play again, as was I,
but the terminal illness of a close friend deprived me of the
time to call round again, otherwise you may have had the
“Creak-a-Beats” on the road.
Like your many friends
all over the world I want to thank you for “our” site, Dave,
With kindest regards,