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1966 – The Year That Built Rock: Before The Fame

The 1966 bands that spawned the rock superstars of the 1970s.

They might be household names now, but back in '66 when they were first dipping a toe in the water they were barely known even in their home town. Some of the people who were in the same bands and took those early steps with them look back at some of the stars-in-the-making.

Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

Before earning his doubloons with Deep Purple, NICK SIMPER was part of this buccaneering combo.

**Nick Simper (bass): **“1966 was a fantastic year for us – until Johnny died in a car crash on October 8. As you can imagine, the band came to a complete halt after that. But before then we were gigging all the time. I’d say Johnny was among the greatest vocalists this country has ever had.

“But the scene was changing in sixty-six. Bands like ours had made their mark with a theatrical style of presentation, all the dressing up and the lights. But the younger rock bands coming through, like The Who and The Move, were changing all of that. They were smashing things up and being far more adventurous than we were. A generation of very explosive talent was coming to the fore. It was a very exciting time.”

Cliff Bennett And The Rebel Rousers

Gertcha! Featuring CHAS & DAVE before they became rockney cowboys.

**Cliff Bennett (vocals): **“This was a manic year for us. Because we were managed by Brian Epstein, we opened for The Beatles on what would be their last European tour. I recall in Germany, Paul McCartney and John Lennon came into our dressing room at one gig, and Paul said: ‘We’ve got this song you might like to do.’ He then sang the lyrics for Got To Get You Into My Life, while John hummed what would become the brass section. Then, when we got back to England, Brian rushed us into Abbey Road to record it, and it became our biggest hit, getting to number six.

“Chas Hodges was in the band at time. Charlie, as we called him back then, could turn his hand to playing any instrument. Fiddle, guitar, piano… he played the lot so well. Dave Peacock also played with us occasionally. It was such a fluid time that people were constantly in and out of the Rebel Rousers.”

The Steampacket /Trinity

ROD STEWART thought he was sexy even as long ago as ‘66. Plus: an early sighting of Jimi Hendrix.

**Brian Auger (keyboards): **“This was a major year for the band. In the summer we were offered a three-week residency at a major club in St Tropez. Now the money was shit, but we’d be fed and given drinks, and get to lie on the beach during the day. What could be better?

“But Long John Baldry was unhappy the pay was so bad. So a few of us had a meeting, and it was decided we would take the gig – but we’d have to leave someone behind. All of the musicians in the band were needed, and John was an established name, so it came down to one of the two other singers we had: Julie Driscoll or Rod Stewart. Rod had been treating Julie poorly, and he never helped when we loaded in the gear – we only had one roadie – because he would disappear in a cloud of hairspray and park himself in front of the nearest mirror. Rod was always dressed to the nines in the latest Carnaby Street gear. So we voted to leave him behind. Even John, who regarded Rod as his protégé, agreed. The idea was that Rod would rejoin the band later in the year when we had more engagements. But he decided to walk out of the band, although when he became famous Rod loved to tell everyone that I had fired him! 

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