Updated February 2023
Jim Capaldi drums, lead vocal
Gordon Jackson rhythm guitar, vocal
Dave Mason lead guitar, vocal (joined in 1964)
Dave Meredith bass guitar, vocal
John "Poli" Palmer drums, flute, vibes (joined in 1965)
This talented group was a part of the thriving Worcester beat scene during the early 1960s. Some of the members went on to be involved in the formation of well known and internationally acclaimed bands including Traffic.
The Hellions were formed in 1963 when Jim Capaldi (born August 2, 1944 in Evesham of Italian parents) who had formerly played drums in a local group called "The Sapphires", got together with guitarists Gordon Jackson from a band called "Unit Five" and Dave Mason who was previously in a local band called "The Jaguars".
One of Jim Capaldi's earliest bands was called Terry Webb and The Spiders who formed in 1962. They were well known around the Stratford-upon-Avon area. Jim played drums with them for about a year before he left and was replaced by a young John Bonham who years later found fame and fortune in Led Zeppelin.
Dave Mason (born May 10, 1946 in Worcester) was already known locally as a member of The Jaguars, a group that included guitarist Michael Mann and drummer Roger Moss. The Jaguars, heavily influenced by groups such as The Shadows, played mostly instrumental numbers and had taken the initiative to finance the recording of their own limited edition single which they sold at their shows and by word-of-mouth. This "independent" method of recording and distribution is common today but at that time was quite revolutionary.
The early Hellions line-up tried several bass guitarists before Dave Meredith from an Evesham band called "The Cherokees" was chosen to fill the position. By 1964, the Hellions were becoming well known around Worcester and performed regularly at the Flamingo Coffee Bar.
The Hellions "turned professional" and accepted an engagement at the famous Star Club in Hamburg, Germany in August of 1964 as backing group to Walsall singer Tanya Day who was a minor celebrity at the time after her appearance on the popular TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars". The working conditions at the club were gruelling but the hard work paid off and the band became a much tighter unit due to the long hours of performing.
Sharing the same hotel as the Hellions were fellow Midlanders The Spencer Davis Group whose young vocalist Steve Winwood, found much in common musically with Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason.
Following their return from Germany, The Hellions soon established a reputation as a musically proficient act and they were hired to provide backing to visiting celebrities such as Adam Faith and Dave Berry. By the end of 1964, the group had made the right connections to secure them a residency at the trendy "Whisky-A-Go-Go Club" in London.
While performing there, The Hellions were seen by visiting American record producer Kim Fowley and songwriter Jackie De Shannon who was at that time writing hits for The Searchers. Jackie was impressed enough by the group to offer them a song to record and helped to arrange a contract for the Hellions with Piccadilly Records, a subsidiary of Pye.
The Hellions first single, entitled 'Daydreaming Of You', composed by De Shannon, was produced by Kim Fowley, who would later produce The 'N Betweens (later to become Slade). With a lead vocal by Jim Capaldi, the Hellions record was certainly radio-friendly and had an American west coast feel, but neither it or two following underrated singles recorded by the band in 1965 managed to reach the charts.
However, a Hellions composition titled 'Shades Of Blue' was recorded by Piccadilly lablemates The Rockin' Berries as a track on their first album. According to Dave Mason, this was the first song he wrote with Jim Capaldi.
Though success in the record charts evaded them, The Hellion's work schedule remained busy and they soon went on a UK tour to back the notorious American vocalist P.J. Proby. The line-up was increased to five when John "Poli" Palmer (born May 26, 1943 in Worcester) joined the band on drums later in the year which allowed Jim Capaldi more freedom to front the band as their lead vocalist.
By 1966 with business expenses mounting, The Hellions moved back to Worcester, but the local music scene had changed while the group were away in London. Their record company issued a final Hellions single entitled 'Hallelujah' but under the group name of "The Revolution" (the band did not find out about this until after the single's release).
By this time, Dave Mason had left to play guitar with a few other local groups while earning extra money working as a roadie for The Spencer Davis Group. Undaunted, Jim Capaldi brought guitarist Luther Grosvenor (born 23 December, 1949 in Evesham) formerly from a group called "The Wavelengths" into the line-up and the band's name was changed to "Deep Feeling" (see Deep Feeling).
Many thanks to Gordon Jackson for assistance in writing this story of The Hellions.
Sunbeam Records has done a great job in re-issuing Gordon Jackson's solo album - also adding five extra tracks not included on the original release. For an exclusive in-depth review of Gordon Jackson's Thinking Back CD, click HERE or visit the Sunbeam Records web site at at: www.sunbeamrecords.com