Pages 1-93 also included in > www.gradedgrains.co.uk & likewise pages 141-143 feature in > www.858jg.co.uk > the “Graded Grains Updates”
ONCE UPON A TIME ...
... there was a cycle speedway team called the “Flowerpot Flyers” later "(Flowerpot) Saints" - even wearing "Simon Templar Logo" breastplates!
On Saturday nights they went to St Matthews Youth Club in Newtown, Exeter where they stood on chairs and mimed to the hits of the day - Beatles, Freddie and the Dreamers etc. – greatly influenced by the new TV show called “Top of the Pops”.
They then decided, at the ages of about fifteen, that they were getting on a bit to ride pushbikes and came upon the idea to form a group.
It was virtually - Tommy (Searle) you play drums, Brian (Sandy) rhythm, Chris (Forte) bass, John (Gregory) lead and Roger (Collett) singer.
The “Spartans” were born in Fortes Ice Cream Factory, Preston Street, Exeter - using the ice cream van as group transport - 809 AFJ.
Left - Brian, John, Roger, Tommy & Chris. Thanks to this photo from the archives of Peter Thomas.
Middle - Brian, Tommy, Roger, Chris & John.
This line-up lasted about two years. Humphrey Loram was the roadie and he was persuaded to take up the organ and he replaced Brian on 04/06/65.
Right - Chris, Roger, John, Humphrey & Tommy.
Humphrey left in 29/07/66 & the group continued as a four piece.
During the three years or so of the "Spartans" there were a few temporary additions to the group – Janet Perks on vocals and Graham Sclater on organ to name two.
One claims to fame was auditioning for "Opportunity Knocks". Hughie Green was "in the chair" - but the band failed!
John struck up a close friendship, through school and college, with Ian “Bud" Street and their target was to form a new band and turn professional.
During this transformation period of 1967 Alan Curtis (brother of Tony in "Contraband") was lead singer for a short while.
John & Bud rehearsed with numerous drummers. Mick Collins was the choice but he would not turn professional & then after auditioning close on twenty drummers Cliff Andrews was chosen.
Graded Grains - Mk 1
“Clockwork Orange” was used temporally as the chosen and closely guarded secret was to be named the “Graded Grains”.
The name of the band is a long story:
In the mid-sixties there was a band called "Marmalade" & on the bass drum front skin there was a “gollywog” found on Robertson’s jam - this logo is not used now as it is classed as racial!
John & Bud tried to think of a well-known logo and “Fred” came along from Homepride.
"Fred" was, and still is, on their product and one of the famous lines was “Graded Grains make finer flour”.
In 1967 flower power was creeping in from California and they played on the words with flour/flower power.
A bit deeper there was a hint of drugs with the expression “graded grains” and in the period 1969-1971 pot, speed and LSD was taken – hastily to add not John!
The name the “Graded Grains” was launched at the first official professional gig at “Butlins”, Minehead on 29/07/67.
Left - Cliff, John & Bud.
Lesley Ireland was added to the line up for the six-month tour of Germany 1967/68 – a girl singer was a necessity for the basically all male clubs.
With the tour over Cliff became uneasy and he was replaced by Tommy – from the “Spartans” days and then Terry Pascoe was added on organ.
Middle - Bud, Tommy, John & Terry.
This was probably the best musical line-up of any of the groups and was very successful on tours in Germany, France and Italy.
A couple girl singers were used in Germany but their names have been long forgotten!
The group spent a lot of time in Germany near another Exeter group called the “Magic Children”. Roger from the “Spartans” days was now playing the organ, John Carpenter – a close friend of the “Graded Grains" was on drums, Dave Meakal on lead guitar and Paul “Harry” Crane on bass.
On their return from touring the two groups divided. Tommy & Terry went with Dave & "Harry" and continued professional as the “Magic Children” and the “Graded Grains” carried on semi-pro with the two Johns, Bud and Roger, now as lead singer. Alan "Brad" Bradbury was also in the line-up for a while on organ.
Right - John (Carpenter) and Roger - sorry no pictures of "Brad".
This group carried on until 29/05/71..
It came to an end when Bud was offered a more lucrative job with “Gary Kane and the Tornadoes”.
John spent the next year trying out various ideas. Firstly, a lot of time rehearsing with a new band in Exmouth - John & Ray Kemp on dual lead, “Harry" from the "Magic Children" on bass & Richard Harvey on drums.
This never got on the road. John then formed “Contraband” which immerged on 29/04/72.
Left - Trevor Pugsley on organ, Tony Curtis on bass, John & John Carr on drums.
This line up lasted about a year.
Trevor & John (Carr) was replaced by Trevor Inch on rhythm guitar and Gary Gray on drums.
Right - Trevor, Tony, Gary & John.
During this year John made a couple guest appearances with "Gary Kane and the Tornadoes”.
Bud and Dave Smale (drums) wanted John to stay as a permanent feature but Gary Kane would not part with the services of John Greenslade (lead guitar).
Bud and Dave left “Gary Kane & the Tornadoes”, John left “Contraband” and the “Graded Grains” were back.
Graded Grains - Mk 2
The picture on the left of Bud, Dave & John is sadly the only photo available to date & probably taken at The Waye Country Club, Ashburton circa 1974/5 - Bud just about got in the picture!
Dave left after about nine months and was temporally replaced by Rob Shaw until a more permanent member was found in Steve Orgee.
Middle - Steve, Bud & John.
This line-up did a lot of work and was featured on BBC Radio 4 “Morning Sou’West” many times and BBC TV “Spotlight Southwest” and even a live radio broadcast from the “Devon County Show”. Comedy was beginning to creep into the act. Steve left in September 1976 and was replaced by Gary from “Contraband” days on 29/09/76.
Right - Gary, John & Bud.
This line-up lasted nearly ten years - a lot of work & fun - 1160 gigs.
Probably not the best musical line-up but the three complimented each other. Bud was the best musician; John was a good front man & stand-up comic & Gary's impressions & comedy sketches rounded off the act.
They had a brilliant sound system & lighting rig helped by the roadies – Rod, Paul, Clive, Mike, Malcolm, John, Pete and many more.
The white suits were ditched near the end of their "reign" & replaced by white jeans & shirts and even white shorts with union jack t-shirts on the last set of the gig!
This final rather tatty publicity hand-out was taken in the early eighties.
During the ten years only one stand-in was used - Andy Carpenter (brother of John) on bass as the band did not want to cancel some lucrative gigs for a fortnight while Bud was unavailable.
The final gig was on 31/01/86 when the group was taken off the road to make time for the opening of “Crediton Snooker Club” (now “Potters”).
The "Graded Grains" never materialised again.
In the twenty two years the band supported many acts but sadly not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones - the Who was the biggest claim to fame!
Listed in alphabetical order:
Brian Poole & The Tremeloes
Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Dave Lee Travis (he also jammed on drums with the band)
Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen
Long John Baldry
Paul Young (with Q-Tips)
Swinging Blue Jeans
Terry Lightfoot & His Jazzmen
Tony Beard - The Wag from Widecombe
Another claim to fame was on 24th December 1966 the "Spartans" topped the bill at the "Flamingo Club" in Camborne/Redruth, Cornwall.
The support band was the "Reaction" - the drummer was Roger Taylor - with "Queen"!
And now for something completely different:
The naming of the "Graded Grains" was a play on words - likewise:
In 1984 John & Bud bought the old cinema, in Crediton, intending to turn it into a night club & call it “Prides” – (Home)Pride - even "Fred" was to be weaved in the carpets.
Planning and licence was refused and after a lot of hassle the building was converted into a snooker club - "Crediton Snooker Club" >> “Potters”.
Now we were off to "pot" balls or going for a "pot" (a pint) - the licence was granted on this project.
This first section shows equipment from the 60s to the 80s but brought up to date.
GIBSON LES PAUL - the "Classic" shown above left was a 2003 bought second hand in October 2006. John bough another one (not shown as exactly similar) - a 2001 bought second hand November 2006. The Les Paul Standard was always classed as the best - the "Classic" was built the same standard but with slightly less powerful pickups.
The Studio, Deluxe, Classic, Standard & Custom variations are virtually unchanged since their inception.
There is now a GT available which is based on the Standard & coil taps have been added - these turn off half of the double pole pickup. The pickups, as the Standard & Custom, are the 490R & 498T.
The Les Paul Robot recently released even tunes itself - http://www.gibson.com/RobotGuitar/guitar.html
YAMAHA SG 2000 - above next. This is regarded, by many, as the best electric guitar ever made. It is superbly built, a through neck, a brass sustain block under the bridge & coil taps. This gives a full Gibson thick sound with even more sustain & untapped behaves like a Fender Telecaster. This was bought as an ex-demonstrator from a local shop in May 2007 - http://www.axe-music.co.uk
There is a SG1500 & SG3000 which had the same specification with less & more trim respectively.
FENDER STRATOCASTER - three shown above. All have five way & S-1 switching
The American Deluxe SSS imported from the States new in December 2006 - http://www.wildwoodguitars.com
Next the American Deluxe HSS imported from Germany new in October 2007 - http://www.thomann.de
Finally, the American HH HT (Hard Tail) - a fixed bridge with no tremolo which gives the guitar more sustain. This was bought second hand from the States in March 2008. This guitar is very rare & has been discontinued for some obscure reason as it is a very clever instrument as it emulates the SG2000, albeit not quite so meaty, but it is a lot easier to live with than the SG but it has S-1. It varies from the Deluxe series as it has not mother of pearl on the fret board & the tuners cannot be locked
Below on the left is the Vox AC30 CC2. These amps were used by everybody from the sixties & still going strong today. The original ones are fetching crazy money but new technology has left these old one’s way behind. The new AC30 CC range - pages 6 & 7 for the properties of the amp - http://www.voxamps.co.uk/downloads/PDF/AC30CC_EFGS2.pdf. Bought new in 2007
The Vox DA10 on the right is an amazing practise amp - http://www.voxamps.com/downloads/PDF/DA10_20_OM_E1.pdf. It has eleven Digital Effects - auto-wah, chorus + delay, chorus + reverb, compressor, compressor + chorus, compressor + phaser, delay, flanger + reverb, reverb, rotary + reverb & tremolo + reverb. There’s also a Tap Button that makes it easy to set the delay time or modulation speed. The sound is a bit thin compared the valve powered AC30. Bought new in 2008
Now the older equipment - some photos are a bit rough & the rest are taken from the internet
Below are two example of the first British electric guitar made - the Dallas Tuxedo
Below left to right - The Spartans Guitars - the colours are authentic - John's first electric guitar was a Dallas Tuxedo as above but in red, his next guitar was an Arbiter Semi Acoustic (no picture available), then an Epiphone Casino & a Fender Stratocaster. Brian's first electric guitar was a Freshman 5800 & then a Hofner Verithin. Chris's first bass guitar was a Futurama Deluxe then a Hofner President (500/5)
Below December 1969 - At the Golf Drouot in Paris - Bud's Hoyer in Cherry (copy of a Gibson EB3), Tommy's Ludwig Kit, John's Hoyer in black (copy of a Gibson Les Paul Standard) & Terry's Thomas Organ - these guitars were used on the Paris recordings.
Arnold Hoyer showed John & Bud around his factory & these guitars were made specifically for them - cost £35 each.
Below left June 1969 - At Herzogenaurach, Germany - John's Rickenbacker 330 & Vox AC50.
Below right 1973 - At Pontins, Brixham - Tony's Fender Jazz, Gary's Premier Kit, Trevor's Gibson Les Paul Custom & John's Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.
Below 1975 left & right at Carnabies, Yeovil, middle at Club Ruda, Croyde Bay - Bud's Hoyer, Steve's Ludwig Kit & John's Fender Stratocaster.
Steve's Vistalite Ludwig Kit can be seen in "Recordings".
Below left 1977 - A Street Party at Rexona Close, Exeter - the Queen's Silver Jubilee - The Graded Grains - Bud's Gibson EB3/Orange Stacks, Gary's Ludwig Kit & John's Fender Stratocaster/Orange Stack.
Below right 1979 - At the Devon County Showground - Bud's Fender Precision & John's Yamaha SG1000.
Below as at 1986 - John's Roland Juno 106, Yamaha DX7, Gibson Les Paul Standard & unknown make of banjo. This was a tenor banjo but tuned as a G banjo. Some banjo players tuned their instruments to the four strings of a six string guitar.
Below left the Roland G-303 & the GR-300 - centre top & right the Roland G-707 & the GR-700 - centre below.
Below more similar guitars as used by John - the colours are authentic
In the sixties there were many amps available but the Vox AC30 dominated the market for years & still going strong - used by everybody including John & Bud, Beatles, Stones, Shadows etc.
The three amps below were used by the Spartans - John's Bird Golden Eagle, Brian's Watkins Westminster & Chris's Watkins Dominator.
The three bass amps below are similar to Chris's Vox Foundation & Vox T60. Bud used a Selmer Treble-n-Bass Fifty amp & a pair of Selmer Goliaths.
In the seventies the stack system came into use & both John & Bud used Kelly, Marshall & Orange systems as seen below left.
At one stage the band had all Orange - Bud has 4, 4x12" Orange cabinets, John 2, 4x12", P.A. 2, 4x12" + 4 horns & 2, 2x12" for fold back - see "History”, last photo
In the eighties some bands downsized their amps to combos as they were beginning to use the sound system rigs
The Graded Grains tested a HH Concert System at the Devon County Showground on 6/8/79 & eventually bought one in 1982. Its debut was 30/8/82 in a marquee at the Queen Elizabeth Lower School in Crediton
At last the group could outdo the discos like the Riverside Club in Exeter & The Fiesta Suite in Plymouth - where they used to struggle playing to up to 1,000 people
At one stage the band had a complete spare HH Concert System which was bought in anticipation of using it in their own club which was to be called "Prides". Sadly, the club never materialized as planning & licensing were refused - however the old cinema, owned by John & Bud, was eventually opened as "Crediton Snooker Club" & then renamed to "Potters"
Many thanks to HH Amplification for the photos below - http://www.hhamplication.com
The poster above right shows a 12 channel mixer - a 16 channel was used
The two rigs were linked together once & used at the Riverside Club & it was brilliant
Also, not shown, there was a case for the electric cross over & a 2x150 watt amp which drove the horns - a total of 2.3KW.
To complete this set up a pair of HH Dual Concentric 2x12" cabinets were added for fold back - see photo below, left
The main microphones used from the 60s, 70s and 80s – right, left to right. The Reslo RB, Shure Unidyne 3 and the Shure SM58.
Premier or Ludwig was used by all the band's drummers - Ludwig was generally regarded as the benchmark.
Tommy - Premier & Ludwig, Cliff - Premier & Ludwig, John (Carpenter) - Premier, John (Carr) - Premier, Gary - Premier & Ludwig, Dave Smale - Premier, Rob Shaw - Ludwig & Steve - Ludwig (Two Kits).
There are pictures of the kits included on other pages.
The Vox Continental - single manual by Humphrey in the Spartans & the double manual by Trevor in Contraband. Terry used the Thomas (model unknown). A Hammond was used by Brad - possibly the L100 - below right.
The Transport - A model of the VW served the Graded Grains on both of the German & the Paris based tours - registered LFJ 816F.
The car was used for advertising driven by John mainly at Newton Abbot Racecourse.
This blue Transit was used from the second phase of Contraband & then transported the Graded Grains for many years.
This Transit started life as a diesel but was converted to a V6 petrol - it went like hell but gobbled petrol. It eventually caught fire on the M4 - ironically returning from gig at Cinderford on 03/02/79. All the equipment was saved but the only item lost was John's leather coat - he only found the hook of the hanger.
Here are some photos of similar vans used.
There were about three more Transits - two white and finally a dark blue one
Clockwise above - Two Commers - a yellow one served the Spartans and a dark blue took the Graded Grains to Germany
The Morris J2 in medium grey, with windows, looked after the early days of the Graded Grains prior to Germany. This van was later painted psychedelic. The colour change had to be entered in the log book but the clerk could not spell psychedelic so it was recorded as “multi coloured”! On the back of the van it said - “Don't Laugh - Your Daughter Might Be Inside!”
The VW Kombi was the faithful transport for many trips – authentic colour as in the picture
There was a couple of Ford Thames 10/12 or 15cwt. The most faithful one was in blue/white one used for the Paris/Rome tours. This was later painted orange and black and lasted until the end of Graded Grains Mk1 ... this picture, on the left, was sent yesterday, 29/06/14, by Tony (& Sue Palmer) - John & Andy (Carpenter)'s brothers in law. John is driving the van & Sue driving the Vauahall Viva in 1971. The one on the right was found in the family archives