It is with great sadness that I pass on the news that our vocalist in John’s Followers has died. He has been fighting bone cancer for many years and passed away on 31st October 2021. John moved to New Zealand in 1978 and continued to play in Bands around Auckland and had a large following. He will be sadly missed by us and all his followers and especially three daughters Jayne, Susie and Karen.
Back in the crazy days of the late 60’s I was in a band called Johns’ Followers. So called because three of the band members were called John : John Loveday (Vocals), John Martin (Guitar) and John (Chucky) Swain (Drums), with Trevor Tillotson (bass) and myself – Andrew Pickles (Keyboards).
As a band we were quite successful in the North, and as many bands did in that day we chanced our arm working in Europe. We started in Zurich and then traveled on to Milan where we came across an agency and label called Arlechino. They had a song they wanted to promote called Buone Vacanze, and needed a song for the ‘B’ side. I was 17 at the time, full of flower power and hope and had just written a song called Crystal Mountain, which we had just started rehearsing.
It never sold many, but a lot of years later it appeared on a compilation CD called “Cornflake Zoo 20” which is available on Amazon.
It is clearly a record of its time, flower power, Maharishi Mahesh,Procol Harum and the belief that we really could change the world and bring about peace. That mantle now passes to the new generation and I believe there is still hope.
People asked about the title “Crystal Mountain”. At the time it was just a place and title that came into my head. Many year later whilst studying Buddhism I found that it was a real place in Tibet, which is now quite popular. I returned to Tibet (metaphorically speaking) with my song “Blood on Scarlet Robes” which is about the Chines invasion of Tibet and the massacre of the Buddhist monks in the 1950’s .
The recording is available on YouTube, click here to listen .
Following John’s Followers and another Yorkshire band called originally “Hepworths Good Impressions” or later just “Hepworths” I worked as a backing organist in the Yorkshire clubs. These were great days with a lot of talent touring . Names such as Billy Fury, The Harper Brothers (later Canon and Ball, the wonderful Marti Caine, Billy J Kramer and many others. I worked with the drummer from Wee Willie Harris (Paul Minchella) and we still work together occasionally.
They were hectic times. Artists would arrive and present the manuscripts for their performance. You would have ten minutes to talk through the arrangement in the dressing room and then that was it. On stage, live, sight reading what often were some complicated parts.
Whilst doing this I met up with Tony Shane and wrote a demo album and released a single with the tracks “The loneliest Band In Town” and “A bird without Wings”.
Hercules and Co (1980’s)
I teamed up with the director from Keighley youth theater and together we wrote the music for the musical Hercules & Co which was performed locally and at a few schools across the country. This was really well received and we tried valiantly to get some wider interest for national and regional promoters, but without success. This was a real shame as it was a good piece of work and many of the tracks still sound fresh today.
Back to College
And as the and of the century approached I took myself back to college to study at Leeds College of Music. This was a great time, my only wish is that I had done it sooner.
Then came Covid and the start of international collaboration in a virtual band called Eboracum.