Former Shadows bassist Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking will join Newport based guitarist Maurice Woodcroft (Guitar Moods) for an evening of Shadows Music and anecdotes in a show entitled Guitar Moods and a Shadow at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on November 2, 2019
Brian joined the Shadows in 1962 after original bass man, Jet Harris left the group to pursue a solo career. As well as performing on hits such as Atlantis and Guitar Tango, Brian also appeared with The Shadows and their frontman, Cliff Richard in ‘Summer Holiday’ and performed on the top selling EP soundtrack for the cult film, The Boys. As well as playing bass guitar, Brian also featured on several Shadows tracks playing harmonica.
Joining Brian on stage will be Newport-based musician, Maurice Woodcroft, who for many years, fronted The Shadows tribute act, Bungle Flint. Maurice still regular features Shadows numbers in his solo act.
Andy Howells recently spoke with both Brian and Maurice about the forthcoming show.
BRIAN LICORICE LOCKING
(Shadows bass guitarist, harmonica, 1962-63)
What can people expect from the forthcoming Guitar Moods and A Shadow?
It’ll be very nice! They’ll be a bit of mood music, singing, Strat stuff, all the golden oldies really, like Apache, Atlantis, Guitar Tango. There’s a lot to get through but I’m going to be doing a lot of chatting in between with some stories that perhaps nobody knows about!
Were you from a musical family?
Not at all, the only musical one in my family was my mother. I recall her playing a Mandolin when I was very young. One day I came home from school, there was a musical children’s programme and playing St Louis Blues was the famous Harmonica player, Larry Adler. He blew me away when I heard him. There was a shop in town (Bedworth) that was selling a harmonica, so I bought one and a mate of mine had a passion for playing it as well, that started me off and I picked it up straight away. We formed what was called a Skiffle group, the only thing that was left for me to play was a bass, a tea chest bass, it was a long old thing, then I bought a proper double bass.
When we left home to go down the 2ii’s coffee bar in Soho I played a double bass. Down there I met Brian Bennett and we became great friends! We became a team, a drummer and a bass player and we’ve been going ever since!
Bass guitars were a new concept in the 1950s. Do you remember your transition from Double Bass to Bass Guitar?
I remember a guy playing one down the 2iis coffee bar which no-one else would touch. I thought “I’m not going to play that thing” and I stuck to my double bass. Jet (Harris) used to come in and I think he used to play a little bit on it. He was one of the first ones, it all began to take off from there.
I carried on and never played it until later, when I was with Marty Wilde and the Wildcats. Marty bought me a Framus bass guitar, I picked it up from there, then I got my Fender!
You became affectionately known as “Licorice” how did that come about?
It was way back in the 1950s. We were looking for nicknames for each other on stage and I had a toy clarinet, clarinets were called “liquorice sticks”. It was our singer, Vince Eager, who called me “Licorice” on stage as a nickname. I thought, “That won’t last long!” and I can’t get rid of it!
Brian and yourself joined Vince Taylor’s Playboys?
I, Brian Bennett, Tony Sheridan and another chap, Tony Harvey all played together as Vince Taylor’s Playboys. He was a real rocker, we got on to the Oh Boy! television show, left Vince Taylor and went with Marty Wilde and became his band. We then got another guitar player in (to replace Tony Sheridan) called Big Jim Sullivan and toured with Marty for two and a half years.
We would also switch to back different artists. When Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent came over. We backed Eddie on his British tour! It was awesome, Eddie was the one who turned us around. We were swing rock n roll in those days. Marty was a rocker alright, but all our Rock n Roll was like Blue Suede Shoes and Rock Around the Clock. Eddie was the catalyst that turned British Rock n Roll around, Summertime Blues was a different tempo. We had to play differently, so were very fortunate to do an 8-week tour with Eddie and Gene.
Do you recall the events that led Brian Bennett to join The Shadows in late 1961 and later yourself, in early 1962?
Brian and I were playing, not on the stage, but in the pit orchestra on a 6 to 8-week tour with Tommy Steele. He used us as a rhythm section. Just as the tour started, Tony Meehan left The Shadows and the replacement was Brian.
I was doing nothing for about 3 to 4 months, I thought “That’s the end of my career”. Then Brian rang me and said, “Jet is leaving. Would you be interested in taking his place?” I nearly died, “Me? I’m not the mean and moody type – the total opposite!
I didn’t get it automatically. I went to Brian Bennett’s house with Hank and Bruce and went through some numbers. I’m glad to say, I passed the audition!
Your 18 months with The Shadows was a very busy period.
It was what I like to call “the golden period”. It was non-stop! The first thing we did was record all the numbers for Summer Holiday, then we went to Athens to do all the filming, then we were back in Abbey Road studios doing what are now The Shads golden oldies as well!
One of your signature pieces in The Shadows was the harmonica led number, Dakota.
We were looking for a single and tried to make one up. It didn’t work and then we looked through the cupboard in which people had sent in tapes and discs for us and we found two! One was Dakota and the other was Dance On! So, they were found on the same day. It was recorded early but put on a later album.
What was Cliff Richard like to work with?
He was good, he’s always had a lovely musical sense and gets it! We always recorded together and didn’t actually “fill in”. For Summer Holiday, Bachelor Boy and The Next Time, it was all five of us doing it at the same time and if you made a mistake you had to do it all over again.
Is it true you left The Shadows to concentrate on your beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness?
Yes, it was, that was the main reason. I didn’t have to leave; it was my own choice at the time. Nobody influenced me and I wasn’t unhappy. I’d made a personal decision to move out and it was as simple as that. I’ve learned by experience that if I was half-hearted about a situation, it was that which would make it difficult. What made it easy was that I’d made that decision, so it wasn’t hard from that point of view.
Do you have a special memory from your time in The Shadows?
The best audience I’ve ever played for was at Township just outside of Cape town. We did a concert there with Cliff. It was jam packed with lovely people, all families sitting together. The first number was Spanish Harlem. As soon as we started singing, the whole audience of men, women and children started singing at the top of their voices. I thought they’d rehearsed it, but the men folk have got a natural musicality to do harmonies for whatever they are singing. That was really something!
The other one was in Paris, the audiences were fantastic, because if you played something halfway through that they liked, they would applaud you. No other audiences would do that.
MAURICE WOODCROFT (GUITAR MOODS)
Maurice, were you a Shadows fan from the offset?
Not really, I first saw The Shadows in 1963, I used to work in a barber’s shop in my birthplace, Luton. I bought an old Juke box single of FootTapper and on the flipside of the single was The Breeze and I. That kicked me into wanting to play guitar, that’s how it really started. I remember this record kicking me off and saving up all my paper round money and doing all the Christmas post that year.
In the same year, The Shadows played Luton’s Ritz Cinema with Cliff and they used the house PA which was awful. You couldn’t hear a note because of all the girls screaming.
Did you regularly follow The Shadows on tour after that?
I followed them on record and saw them in Coventry on an afternoon matinee when John Rostill was still with them on bass around 1969. Sadly, it was poorly attended, I think an evening performance would have been better. I remember seeing them and been knocked out with the sound, they were so professional.
I started playing in lots of bands around the clubs, playing the hits of the time as well as The Shadows. In a way I’ve come full circle, coming back to where I cut my teeth having played in dinner dance bands and strict tempo jazz.
You saw Brian playing bass with The Shadows in Luton back in 1963, it must be surreal preparing this show with him all these years later?
It certainly is, the amazing thing was I got to meet Brian in 2004. I had my own Shadows tribute band called Bungle Flint (a play on the name featured in the Shadows hit, The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt). We were asked to play in Blackpool at a Cliff and The Shadows convention, Brian was up there as a guest and our regular bass player couldn’t make the gig, I got talking to Brian and asked him if he wouldn’t mind standing in with us for the show we did on the Sunday. It was just incredible, I turned around in almost disbelief looking at an original Shadow on stage with us!
There’s so much Shadows material to chose from, it must be difficult to choose what to play in Guitar Moods and a Shadow?
Funnily enough, I’ve come up with an outline programme and we’ve just fine tuned it a bit. I’ve been doing a one-man Shadows tribute show, so like Brian, I know what works and what doesn’t. What we are doing is playing the mainstream Shadows numbers as part of the act and there are a couple of gems, album tracks and b -sides which we’ll include as well. There will be some vocals, a good cross-section. I’ll be handing over to Brian who will be performing several numbers with his harmonica, giving the show some light and shade.
- For tickets visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk or alternately call the box office on 01633 656757