Revised January, 2011Geoff Brown rhythm guitar, lead vocal
Formed in Harborne, Birmingham in 1960, The Castaways were typical of many local groups who played vocal and instrumental music during the pre-Beatles era. Geoff Brown who was lead singer & guitarist for The Castaways has provided much assistance in writing the story of the band as follows:
Geoff Brown was born in Foundry Road, Winson green Birmingham in 1946. The Castaways first got together as a group of friends at Lordswood Technical School in Harborne. The line-up at that time was Geoff Brown, (rhythm guitar and lead vocals), Richard Pannell (lead guitar), Sudashan Khalsi (bass guitar) and Graham Smith on drums. According to Geoff, the style and sound of the group was something of a cross between The Shadows and Buddy Holly.
The first gig for The Castaways was in a youth club in Handsworth around 1960. Acquiring the proper instrumentation for playing in a group may have been a problem in those days for at least one of the band members. Geoff said; "I was aged 16 at the time. I remember making my first guitar at school in the woodwork class as I couldn't afford to buy one, and there is a picture of it on a brochure from the Barn Restaurant where we had a residency for around a year in 1962." As there was no car, van, or driver, transportation for the group was also improvised. Says Geoff; "We'd finish school and I'd get the bus to The Barn from Winson Green and the night service home and still manage to finish my homework!"
The Castaways were kept quite busy with ever-increasing bookings during the next year or so. Geoff Brown still has some of the paperwork from these gigs. "The first document I still have is an invite dated December 1st 1962 for a 'Rock 'n Twist Night' at Yardley Wood Youth Club and another one for the same place dated August 31st 1963. I also have a flyer from the Plaza Handsworth for Monday April 1st 1963 where The Castaways are supporting Ricky Valance."
Like many groups who formed at a young age, there were the inevitable changes in line-up. By the time of the above photo shown of The Castaways, Sudashan Khalsi had been replaced by Colin Timmins who stayed with the band for a while. New trends were also emerging in the pop music scene. The Beatles had broken out of Liverpool and introduced the 'Mersey Sound' to the rest of the U.K. Likewise, The Rolling Stones down in London were starting to make waves with their rhythm & blues based sound.
One of Geoff Brown's booking invites indicates a date of 7th March 1964 for St Michael's School Hall. Geoff said; "By that time we had changed our name to The King Bees." It was in early 1964 when Geoff Brown was introduced to blues music by a friend who owned an imported American blues album. "I became obsessed with singing and playing the blues" he said. Geoff's love of blues was to have a profound effect on the band's direction. In order to suit this new format, 'The Castaways' became 'The King Bees' (see The King Bees).
Many thanks to Geoff Brown for his assistance in preparing The Castaways story and providing images of the group shown here.
You can visit Geoff Brown's MySpace music page at: www.myspace.com/geoffbrownrecords
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Copyright © 2011 John R Woodhouse