Brumbeat personality Graham Ashford is now living far away from the West Midlands and in one of the world's most desirable locations. During the 1960s, Graham - alias Bobby Ash - was the leader of some well known Birmingham groups including The Brumbeats who were signed to Decca Records in 1964 and The Bobby Ash Sound. The following is his own account of what he has been up to since those days:
BOBBY ASH STILL ROCKING IN AMERICA...
In 1968 I decided that life in Birmingham was not fun anymore. I had the opportunity to emigrate to the U.S. No brainer, I left. I felt bad about leaving the guys without a singer but I just had to go. So, Bobby Ash arrived in the U.S. on June 30, 1968. I was done with the music business. Right!
Two weeks after I arrived in Connecticut I was singing with a band and had a weekly radio show (one of the guy's dad owned the radio station). That didn't last too long as they got mad with me because I wouldn't do drugs with them! It was time to go and see California anyway.
A couple of months later I'm in L.A., living at David "The Fugitive" Jansen's house (my Mom was working for him and working for the Rolls Royce dealer) when this guy drives in, hops out of his Roller and says "Aren't you Bobby Ash? I need you for this band I'm recording", so there I was back in again. We recorded a song called 'For Ever And A Day' about L.A. for DOT Records. I think it sold 5 copies! After that I went back to the East Coast and concentrated on working (making some real money).
In 1974 I moved back to California and met someone I knew from Stechford, Phil Elwell, who had just opened an English pub in Santa Monica called 'Ye Olde King's Head'. We became good friends and I helped Phil with the pub (I was working as General Service Manager of Rolls Royce of Beverly Hills).
Pretty soon we started to have music at the pub on Friday and Saturday nights and I found myself singing with a band called 'Perchance' on a fairly regular basis both at The Kings Head and another pub called 'The Mucky Duck'. We used to have some great jam sessions as all the British bands visiting L.A. would come to the King's Head and many of them would get up and play with us. Music was fun again!
During this time, 1977 to 1981, I was also doing session work at some of the smaller studios in Hollywood, e.g. Star Studios, doing demos. I ended up, in 1982-84, singing with a heavy metal band - Yuk! I did not do a lot of singing for the next few years, just the occasional appearance.
In 1990 we moved to Seattle and I opened an art gallery and became involved in organizing a couple of local arts festivals. These included live arts and before long I became a regular, singing with my own spot of about 30 minutes at these events and leading the carol singing during the local Christmas tree lighting show each year.
We sold the gallery and moved to Kauai, Hawaii, in 1998 and, of course, it was not that long before I was singing over here. I am still performing and still do some of my old songs from the 60s in about a 1½ hour show. Bobby Ash and the Brumbeat sound are alive and well in Hawaii and life is good!
Note: Graham is also a talented artist and photographer who has his own website that can be visited at www.hawaiian.net/~cgashford/index.html.
Bob Watkins (formerly of The Wild Cherries and The Bobby Ash Sound) writes...
After Graham left for America the band (The Bobby Ash Sound) broke up. The personnel had changed by this time - I was still on guitar, with Jigger Evans still on drums. We had a different bass player, John Bradley ex Carl Fenn and The Mysteries from Sutton Coldfield. We had also invited Denis Ryland, A brilliant saxophone player to join us. Denis also played flute and did an amazing version of 'Summertime'.
Denis had played with "The Rockin' Berries" for some time but obviously wanted less money and fame!! I only found out from Graham recently that he had bumped into Denis outside the 'Rum Runner' a night club on Broad Street, on his way to our gig there and asked him if he had his sax with him. Denis said yes, so Graham invited him to the gig, and the rest as they say is history!
John Bradley carried on playing with another band, but, I think, gave up some time later to concentrate on running the business of which his father was a director. I stopped playing for a couple of years, but eventually started again in about 1972, gigging on the Social Club circuit. "Social" that's an interesting term - at some of the clubs we played if they liked you they let you live. They used to run the club according to the maxim "leave no turn unstoned"!
My last/current band was/is 'THE TAYLOR MADE BAND' which ran through the 1980s. We've recently started up again doing covers from the 1960s and a number of current chart hits. The line-up for anyone remotely interested is; Bill Taylor - vocals, John Taylor - guitar, John Kent - bass, and myself on guitar.
We also have a 24 year old female singer, Erica Bond who keeps us old geezers in our place. All the gigs are around the Bromsgrove/Birmingham/Worcester area, so if anyone remembers me/us and would like to come along I'd be delighted to renew old acquaintances.