Backbeat Memories: Mark Goodwin Recalls An Early Music Influence

Newport-born musician and photographer Mark Goodwin not only played drums in one of South Wales leading bands of the 1960s, The Interns, but later became drummer for Skiffle legend, Lonnie Donegan. In the first of a new series, Mark recalls growing up in South Wales and his music inspirations.


I was born in the heart of Pill in 1942, where the Transporter bridge was every child’s playground, walking to Alexandra Primary School every day. At the age of 8, after my parents’ divorce, I moved to London. I lived within shouting distance of the Arsenal Ground in Finsbury Park. I attended Pools Park Primary in which I got beat up every day because I was Welsh! (and that included by the teachers)!!

A few years later, I returned to South Wales and continued education at Belle Vue Secondary Modern. Because of my parents’ divorce I was brought up by my grandmother. She had 8 children and the youngest was Terry who was 8 years older than me and had already started collecting records and owned a Radiogram. I wasn’t allowed to play his records but of course when he was at work I would. His collection contained the likes of, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Frankie Laine.

A young Mark Goodwin posing on Kenny Duff’s drums at Butlins in North Wales in the 1950s. Photograph courtesy of Mark Goodwin Collection.A young Mark Goodwin posing on Kenny Duff’s drums at Butlins in North Wales in the 1950s. Photograph courtesy of Mark Goodwin Collection.

A young Mark Goodwin posing on Kenny Duff’s drums at Butlins in North Wales in the 1950s. Photograph courtesy of Mark Goodwin Collection.


No one in my family played a musical instrument, although for some reason there was always an old upright piano in the front lounge which I would often tinkle with.

I don’t recall seeing a live musician until I was 12 years old, when my great Uncle Ivor took me for a week’s holiday to Butlins, North Wales.

On the first night, we walked into the ballroom I saw the Les Douglas Orchestra. I was blown away by the dance band and spent every night from there on sitting on the front edge of the corner of the stage just watching the drummer. His name was Kenny Duff. I think it was from that time on I decided that was what I wanted to do.

Before we left Butlins, my Uncle asked the drummer if I could have his autograph.

Duff said “Of course!” then turned to me and asked, “Do you play drums?”

I replied “No, but I think I want to.”

He said, “Okay, get this book!” of which he showed me the Buddy Rich 26 American Snare Drum Rudiments which was (I later discovered) the drummer’s Bible.

Duff then gave me a brand-new pair of drumsticks and allowed me to have my photo taken behind his kit.

Fast forward, many years later, I was performing in Scarborough’s summer season backing Lonnie Donegan (see photograph at top of the feature) as his drummer. Also, on the bill were the Dallas Boys, Freddie “Parrotface” Davies and Ayesha Brough.

As we had Sundays off, Ayesha asked me if I would do a Sunday Concert for her in Morecambe, as the house drummer in the theatre there was not very good and couldn’t manage her parts. Of course, I said “Yes!” and went to Morecambe and did the gig.

At the end of the gig as I was packing up my gear, the house drummer came into the pit. I immediately recognised him as Kenny Duff. I was flabbergasted but went over to shake his hand and say “Hi!” He was very stand offish. Here was this long-haired drummer who was brought in because they thought he wasn’t good enough!

I shook his hand and said “You know, I have so much to thank you for…”

Duff looked at me with a very sour faced expression.

I asked him if he remembered the kid in Butlins all those years ago that he had given such good advice too and had given me a pair of Premier E Drumsticks. He had no recollection.

I said “Well because of the generous nature you had and because of the good advice, I am here today and have a career as a pro drummer, all because of you! And I want to thank you and apologise that Ayesha didn’t think you were up to it.”

Unfortunately, our little chat didn’t do much good. He was obviously not impressed with my little story and how he had helped me and basically left without saying “Goodbye”. I was so disappointed, as he was my first drum hero when I was just a 12-year-old schoolboy!

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