Chance Vought and the Crusaders
The Liberty Takers
Ellisons Hogline with Nelson Fletcher
Rehearsal at my parents house in Mount Pisgah Otley early 1966
l to r: Liz Rawcliffe (vocals), Allen Pyrah (guitar), Pete Windgate (drums), Tich (bass) and Dave Oliver (rhythm guitar).
Outside posing early 1966
Spotted Dog Pub Leeds 1965 (Drummers local).
I have decided to start right at the beginning, back to 1963. I apologies to anyone who is not named, probably because some group members came and went in a short period of time and it is 53 years ago. So I had just started college and met up with a like minded guitarist Nigel, and my parents put me in touch with a singer, name of John Humphrys who in turn had a mate who also played guitar. Nigel consequently changed to bass and John came up with the name of Chance Vought and the Crusaders.We started rehearsing and set off for our first gig at a pub near the Mechanics Institute in Otley armed with one amplifier, a Bird if I recollect, a cheap microphone and seven songs under our belt. Needless to say the songs were played several times over during the night. We played in working mens clubs, pubs and the occasional youth club. After a few changes in personnel and after John left we became The Crusaders with a line up of Liz Rawcliffe (Vocals), Allen Pyrah (Guitar), Pete Wingate (drums), Tich (Bass), and Dave Oliver (Rhythm Guitar).
We had a bit of a melt down in 1966, both the vocalist, Liz and bass player Tich left the band so we had a week of auditions for a new singer and bass player. Vocalist first, so enter Alan Perman. Bass player later in the week with Des O’Hara romping in, unfortunately for Pete (drummer) he couldn’t make the bass auditions so an old friend of mine from Yeadon, Andy Myers filled in and agreed to join as well, even though he didn’t have a drum kit. It was at that time we came up with a new name for the band - The Liberty Takers -
The band travelled the length of England, Scotland and Wales performing in clubs and festivals, and shared the stage the artists such as Joe Cocker, Fleetwood Mac, and Spencer Davis Group, Amen Corner, Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum to name but a few. The biggest gig in Wharfedale was 'Chain Reaction' at Otley Rugby Club in 1967 with the line up of Ellison’s Hogline, The Mouldy Warp and topping the bill Chris Barbers Jazz Band. It was compered by the somewhat now tarnished DJ, Jimmy Saville (see poster right).
During this period we had a couple of changes in bass players, the likes of Paul Wood who then switched to trumpet and was replaced on bass by Andy Baldock, to be replaced by Brian Duffissey. Thanks again, Sons of Sin, it was like having a training ground for new recruits.
New line up, New set list, and an urgency to switch from playing at Working Mens Clubs to Dance Halls & Clubs.
We rehearsed, auditioned and before long Working Mens Clubs became history. On the last Club gig before our last set, as if by some weird sign, the PA amp decided to short out and filled the club with black smoke and put an end to the evening. This period in the band was the most enjoyable for me, we had a great bunch of guys in the band and we all had the same goals. There were many great times through out the life of the band but this time seems to pull on the old heart strings more than the others.
The Liberty Takers. 1966-67
Alan Perman (vocals), Andy Myers (drums), Allen Pyrah (lead guitar), Dave Oliver (rhythm guitar), Des O’Hara
During this time Alan Perman moved on to other challenges. Eventually we settled with the line up that cemented The Hogline as a top soul band in the north of England. The line up was John White - drums (sadly passed away a few years ago), Brian Duffissey - bass/backing vocals, Allen Pyrah - guitar/backing vocals, Brian Ellison - tenor sax, Terry Suffield - Trumpet, Steve Isherwood - trumpet, Keith Barker - Baritone sax and of course Nelson Fletcher - vocals.
We again missed out on recording a record but had many interesting and exciting experiences. Touring with American artists, Billy Stewart (Summertime) and Inez & Charlie Foxx (Mocking Bird)were but two of them. The tours were hard work, with having to appear at 28 venues in 14 days. We did have a day off but had to be on Radio One Club that day with Inez & Charlie in Birmingham, no rest for the wicked. The tour with Inez & Charlie was a absolute pleasure. They were fantastic to work with and the tour opened up a lot of doors for the band, clubs around London for one and securing a summer season at the Ye Ye club in Rimini, Italy.
The band arrived back from Italy at the end of August 1969 and with many of the regular clubs and venues changing to Disco’s with just DJ’s and no live music life became very hard and sadly this brought life on the road with The Hogline to an end. Many fond memories though and every fews years when I am back in the country we gather together a local pub to remenis travelling back in time 50 years, reliving the past.
L>R Chris Smith (standing), Alan Perman, Tony Reidalsh (laying down) Andy Myers, Allen Pyrah. Old poster now the centre piece of an ornate mirro in my study.
One that springs to mind was It Takes Two by Mavin Gaye & Kim Weston. Brian drew the short straw and had to sing Kim Weston’s part. It raised a few eyebrows and got some laughs.
It was a few months after the introduction of saxes in the line up that our agent Danny Pollock of S & D Enterprises suggested that the introduction of a coloured singer would now enhance the soul material and put forward Nelson Fletcher as a candidate. It wasn’t long before Nelson became the front man for the band which led Danny to suggested a change of name to fit the new line up, 'The Hogline’ (American slang for the neck strap that hooks on to a saxophone, or hog, as it is referred to in the US). We played about with the name for a while until it became 'Ellisons Hogline, featuring Nelson Fletcher'. A few modification followed over the course of time until it finally became 'Nelson Fletcher and The Hogline’.
L>R Dave Oliver, Tony Reidalsh, Allen Pyrah, Alan Perman, Andy Myers and Roady Dave Gibson. (Taken at Alan Permans parents house in Cookridge).
L>R Alan Perman, Dave Oliver, Andy Myers, Allen Pyrah, Tony Reidalsh and Dave Gibson (Taken outside Alan Permans parents House).
Posing on the trusty old ambulance.
Back: L>R Steve Isherwood - trumpet, Brian Ellison - tenor sax.
Front: L>R Paul Wood - bass, Nelson Fletcher - vocals, Eric Robinson - drums, Allen Pyrah - guitar,
R & R in a pub in Blackpool (between gigs)
L>R Allen Pyrah, Steve Isherwood, Andy Baldock - bass, four friends of Andy’s, Keith Smith (Smithy) - roady, Eric Robinson, Allen’s ex girlfriend Jenny Tonkinson.
Just hanging around.
L>R Steve Isherwood, Andy Baldock, Paul Wood - trumpet, Nelson Fletcher, Brian Ellison, Eric Robinson, Allen Pyrah.
We received an invitation from the management of the Small Faces, Tony Hatch Enterprises, to see them in concert at the Leeds Odeon which turned out to be the closest we got to a recording contract but fate intervened and we missed out.
As with most bands the line up changed occasionally. Des was the first to leave replaced By Tony Reidalsh (Radish), then Andy, making room for Eric Robinson on drums. Chris Smith (organ) was added to the line up while he was home from college. We heard on the grapevine that The Sons of Sin singer Brian Ellison had bought a Tenor Sax and shortly after, on New Years Eve we were on our way to our gig and passed Brian on our way out of Otley. So we stopped and persuaded him to come with us. Alan Perman then bought an Alto Sax which resulted in some amazing harmonies and the introduction of soul numbers into the mix.
Allen Pyrah who lives in Australia now, still playing guitar today
Earls Heaton Youth Club Bradford Left to right Allen Pyrah and Alan Perman
wearing our Carnaby Street gear
A trip to London to visit Carnaby Street to by some clothes
Earls Heaton Youth Club Bradford Left to right Allen Pyrah and Tony Ridealgh