An Oral History of the Wolverhampton Group Scene of the 1960's
written by Keith Farley
Published by K. Farley 2001 (ISBN 0-9541583-0-X)
This well-researched book will be of special interest to those who have lived or grew up in the Wolverhampton area during the 1960s as well as for anyone that wants to know about the groups of that era from the West Midlands. While Laurie Hornsby's book Brum Rocked! dealt mainly with the Birmingham group scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, 'N Between Times does a great job of documenting the neighbouring "Black Country" and City of Wolverhampton.
Sad news in early 2010 concerned the loss of author Keith Farley whose contribution to the documentation of West Midlands music history has been considerable. Keith's last book entitled 'They Rocked, We Rolled!' was published recently and is described as "A personal and oral account of Rock 'n' Roll in and around Wolverhampton and the West Midlands 1956-1959". As far as I know, 'N Between Times was the first book ever to document Wolverhampton's 1960's music scene.
Keith Farley had lived almost his whole life in Wolverhampton and was a teacher as well as former Head of History with a number of local secondary schools. He has written various books on local history including At The Flicks and Comrades In Arms and was also Chairman of the Wolverhampton History and Heritage Society.
In writing 'N Between Times, Keith interviewed dozens of local personalities who were once a part of Wolverhampton's and the surrounding areas thriving 1960s music scene. These interviews form the major part of the book and are reproduced and placed into context with Keith's knowledgeable narrative. Beginning with the mid 1950s local scene through to the late 1960s, the interviews come from those who were actually there at the time and not just drawn from reports of the period. The text is supplemented by an extensive selection of photos, most of which have been supplied from the different contributors' personal collections.
Some great names from the past who are documented in 'N Between Times include the late and great Tommy Burton (to whom the book is also dedicated), Danny Cannon, Dane Tempest, Steve Brett, Lady Jayne, and Raymond Froggatt as well as members of well known local groups like The Black Diamonds, The N'Betweens, Giorgio & Marco's Men, The Montanas, Finders Keepers, The Californians, Herbie's People and Trapeze amongst many others.
Most fans of Wolverhampton's world famous hit group Slade will know that The N'Betweens was the original name for the band before it was changed to Ambrose Slade in the late 1960's. Keith Farley managed to interview Jim Lea who is probably known as the least likely member of Slade to give interviews. Who could have known at the time that a group who originally started out in the "back streets of Bilston and Walsall" would eventually become one of the most successful British chart acts of all time! Members of other groups who were connected with Slade's early years also contribute material. John Taylor of the legendary Hollick & Taylor studios in Birmingham also recalls what it was like to record Steve Brett and The Mavericks whose members included future Slade star Noddy Holder.
Another great Wolverhampton group that very nearly made the "big time" was The Montanas who were popular throughout the West Midlands and even managed to have a record in the American charts but were almost unknown to the rest of Britain. Various members of The Montanas tell their own story for possibly the very first time as do members of other local groups who also made records (and there were quite a few of them) although many were only known locally. One better known example (that almost managed a record deal) is the legendary Band Of Joy whose Walsall vocalist Robert Plant and Redditch drummer John Bonham would eventually attain superstar status as members of Led Zeppelin. Keith's book includes a 1964 photo of a very young (and short haired) Robert Plant - don't ask me where he found that one!
As with Brum Rocked!, the book 'N Between Times also remembers the many different venues throughout Wolverhampton and the Black Country that hosted live music in the 1960s. Places like the Civic Hall, The Gaumont, The Cleveland Arms, Club Lafayette, and the "Woolpack" in Wolverhampton; The Ship & Rainbow (Dudley Road), The Plaza (Old Hill), "The Caves" at Wren's Nest, and the Three Men In A Boat (Walsall), to name just a few.
Totalling 112 pages in all, 'N Between Times is thoroughly recommended and certainly makes for a good read as well as an excellent and useful reference for all those who are interested in the groups from that era. It will also likely bring back a lot of great memories for anyone who was a part of or participated in Wolverhampton's local music scene in the 1960's.
For information on how to order a copy of 'N Between Times, you can e-mail Keith Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © John R Woodhouse 2002 BACK TO BRUM BEAT REVIEWS PAGE