The Rebels Rock Group began in 1957 as The Gamblin’ Saints, a skiffle group comprising
Ken Emerson, Keith Panting, M.Morse and Jeff Bull, all keen members of the St. Mark’s
Church Youth Group.
In 1959, the Rebels, minus Morse played at St. Barnabas Church, Gorse Hill, Swindon.
Following Morse’s departure, Mike Collins took up lead vocals, seen here at the St.
Emmanuel United Reform Church.
The Rebels Rock Group were photographed in 1960 at the Penhill Common Room
1960 also saw the four-piece entertain the crowds at Swindon’s Jubilee Carnival from
the top of the moving float, as part of the Walcot Youth Club (with a wonderful robot
By November 1960, Justin Hayward was to join the ranks, seen here for the very first
time on camera as part of the Rebels, sharing vocal duties at Queen’s Drive Methodist
Church in 1961.
As the article says, the 14 year old Justin had stepped in to help the repertory
theatre perform their Boy in Blue Jeans show at the Lyme Marine Theatre, whilst
on holiday, staying until the end of the season, helping save their show. Even then,
his ambitions for becoming a professional singer were clear.
Keith Panting fortunately kept a pictorial record of the band’s performances in this,
now tatty, exercise book / photo album. The inside cover displays the amazing full
set of signatures, including the earliest Hayward autograph seen and quite different
to his more recognisable modern signature.
1961 saw their final shows under this name, here performing at the Social Club at
Headlands Grammar School, now minus Mike Collins.
1961 also saw newspaper reports that the band were intending to submit a tape of
their material to a competition, with first prize being an audition with a recording
company. Unfortunately, It’s not clear whether this actually happened, or, what
the tracks were.
Meanwhile, Justin had kept in touch with his friends at the Rep who invited him to
join them once more for the 1961 summer season. The invitation also extended to
his band, now known as The Offbeats.
In the 1990’s the group had a reunion meeting, with Keith, Justin, Ken and Jeff (now
sadly no longer with us).