Moody Blues legend has never quite been able to unravel this chapter, with frequent
mis-spellings and confusion with seemingly unrelated bands of the same name, this
is my best attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery so far but more information
may come to light in the future.
Back in the late 1950’s Brian “Licorice” Locking and Brian Bennett joined Marty Wilde’s
Wild Cats, the names being familiar to Shadows fans. Moving over to France, they
became the backing group for Dick Rivers, translating their name to Les Chats Sauvages.
Enlisting the talents of Big Jim Sullivan and Tony Belcher, this band renamed themselves
as the Krew Kats, releasing the single “Trambone” on HMV in 1961.
In November 1962, Rivers was scouting for a replacement band and happened to see
a show given by Birmingham’s very own Rocking Tuxedo’s (though after Mike had departed).
This band comprised of (John) Norman Bradley (bass), Carl Fenn (vocals), Ted Tunnicliffe
(lead guitar), Rob Nicholls (rthythm), Ian Hines (piano), Ricky Barnes (tenor sax)
and Don Hawkins (drums).
Rivers enlisted the band for his engagements and they duly took up the resident name
The Krew Kats. The band passed an audition at Pathé Marconi and recorded 8 instrumental
tracks released on two French EPs during 1963.
With Eddy Sparrow now on drums, a number of bookings were made for various German
venues in Hamburg, Lüneburg etc.. but Rob unfortunately had to go back home.
The group’s leader Norman Bradley enlisted Mike Pinder on organ/clavioline (from
their Tuxedo’s days) and he convinced Ray Thomas to join him (as they’d performed
together several times in El Riot & The Rebels).
The band played around 3 weeks at Hamburg’s Top Ten Club, a gruelling regime of 8
hour shifts with few breaks, 6 days a week. With the appalling accommodation and
guns being fired in the audience during their act, it wasn’t long before the disillusionment
made up their minds to go back home.
With no money, they dropped the bombshell to their bandmates that they would not
be fulfilling the rest of the bookings. Pinder & Thomas tried unsuccessfully to
scrape together the return fare home. Finally, after much persuasion, the British
Consulate agreed to provide them with tickets home and a loan of 5 shillings each.
They quickly departed, putting the whole sorry episode down to experience.
Some time later, Dick Rivers released his own French cover of Go Now, Va-t’en, Va-t’en,
probably unaware of the connection of the Moodies to his own backing band!