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Chapter 1:
·  Start Me Up

Chapter 2:
  Get Rhythm

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:
  Travelling Band
Urban Gorilla
Driving Sideways
The Story of a Band
by Henry Ayrton
Henry Ayrton 1968

1) Start Me Up

There’s an old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland film (“Babes in Arms”, I think it is) in which a bunch of eager young kids are sitting gloomily in a barn where they’ve been rehearsing a show they want to put on, but have been thwarted in their attempts to find a suitable venue. Cue Master Rooney, who leaps to his feet and cries, “Let’s put the show on right here!”

That’s Hollywood for you. In reality, most of our great ideas occur round about closing time and never make it past the following morning’s hangover. Just occasionally, though, the old Rooney spirit asserts itself and a madcap plan actually comes to fruition.

The idea of forming a blues band occurred to Howard Fraser and me in one such drunken moment in the summer of 1967. We were both students at Lancaster University coming to the end of our first year there and feeling that The Future Beckoned – even if we were pretty hazy about what kind of future that might be. We had no firm foundations on which to build a band, simply a shared enthusiasm for the music and a naïve belief that if you wanted to do something, well, you just went ahead and did it. We didn’t let our lack of experience as performers put us off, either. I’d been teaching myself the guitar for the past two or three years, picking up what I could from records and through attending my local folk club back home in Harrogate. Although some school friends and I had formed a short-lived beat group (as such rhythm combos were then endearingly known), my current style was essentially an acoustic finger-picked one, taking the likes of Davey Graham and Big Bill Broonzy for its inspiration. Not only that, but I’d only just started to play in public in this style a few months earlier, having made my nervous debut at a pub in Skerton at the beginning of the year. For his part, Howard could scarcely be called a musician at all, though he reckoned he could sing a bit and play the harmonica.