Adrian’s first band experience was with the TROUBADORS, a band formed from kids mainly from Sanford Street School. They went to Aunt Dot’s (Dorothy Sprittles) for guitar lessons in her apartment above the music shop in Farringdon Road. Adrian can still picture the clouds of smoke in her upstairs room, and the cigarette burns in her clothes! He also remembers that she bought a Guild ‘push button’ semis acoustic guitar, which was a lot of money back then. The band only played instrumentals, as nobody wanted to sing!

The band members were, CLIVE GEORGEBROCK SMARTPETE COUSINSBRIAN LEWIS, and Adrian. This was back in 1962, and they did some gigs at the Mechanics Institute on Saturday nights.

Adrian then joined the ZODIACS, which were the Walcot Boy’s Club band, but he can’t remember who approached him to join the band or the names of any members except the drummer, KEITH BAILEY, who Adrian thinks ‘went on to better things’. When Adrian left the ZODIACS, his best friend STEVE BRASS took over from him on Bass.

He then auditioned with CAROL JACKSON & THE AVENGERS, and got the job, taking over from KEITH PANTING. He was told that he had to buy a Fender Precision and a Vox AC30 Bass amp, which he did (the Fender, and the Vox, were brand new from Kempsters). They were £120.00 pounds each and cost Adrian £2.00 pounds a week on the HP. This was around 1964 he believes, and the band had a lot of work, thanks to Carol’s good looks, and stage presence, especially when playing American Air Force bases.

ROY BARNETT was dating CAROL JACKSON, and they decided to break away from the AVENGERS, and with, MICK MASTERSON formed CANDIE-‘N’-COOKIES.

Adrian decided to  stay with BOB O’DELL and they formed the ROOSTERS with GRAHAM NULTYJEFF MCCORMICK and MICK BREWER ex SONICS singer, lead guitarist and guest writer at essay writing service. They did well as a band opening for ‘The Who’ at Hereford University, and a couple of gigs with ‘Alexis Korner’s Blues Band’ and the ‘Mojos’.

Adrian in the Roosters, Weymouth, 1965.

He thinks the ROOSTERS broke up and were then reformed by MICK BREWER in 1966, and was asked to join ALL THINGS BRIGHT by MIKE GREENLAND and KIM AYRES. They also recruited drummer ROBIN HABGOOD (ex DANDYLIONS), and stayed together until 1971,with just one change of lead singer when Kim left Swindon and was replaced by BILL ETSON. Later Kim returned to Swindon, and the old line up was back together again.

Adrian in All Things Bright,1970.

Adrian had an offer from MERV GILBERT (of THE MERV GILBERT SOUND) and joined him in 1972 after All Things Bright  had disbanded. He was the youngest band member in what was a 5 piece, with drums, organ, sax trumpet and Adrian on bass.

He left Merv in 1974 and didn’t play again until 1979 when a chance meeting with JOHN HILLIER (ex HIGH ON THE HOG and the son of PHIL HILLIER, trombonist with the JOHNNIE STILES BAND), got me back to playing. John formed SIDEWINDER with Adrian, MICK WAREHAM and DAVE KITCHING. They went professional in 1980 for two years then split.

He decided to stay with John and then formed a duo called DUECE, later they were joined by COYLE HEDGES on lead guitar. The band had great harmonies and became very popular locally. They then formed another country band named SWINDLER which later became CACTUS JACK.

Adrian in Cactus Jack, 1987.

The final band which JOHN HILLIER and Adrian formed WAS SPECS, because they all wore glasses! This included MIKE GREENLAND and DAVE DAVIES, again great harmony, doing 60’s stuff, and the good old four piece, three guitars and drums!

Adrian (far right) in Specs, 1989.

This article is based upon emails and other information provided by Adrian Pickett in August 2011.


Justin Hayward

It was clear from an early age that Justin Hayward would carve out a career as a musician and singer, but few who heard him sing in the Church Hall at St Saviour’s Church, Swindon in the late 1950s could have guessed that he would one day lead one of the world’s most famous ‘supergroups’.

Born in Dean Street, Swindon, on 14 October 1946, Justin was the son of two teachers. He went to Shrivenham Primary School and then on to Commonweal Swindon, and was already an accomplished musician when he left school at the age of sixteen.

Music was his true vocation, as became apparent at the age of ten when he formed a skiffle group called THE RIVERSIDERS, followed by THE WOODPECKERS and SATELLITES groups.He had to wait another three years for his first real taste of show business, which came while he was on family holiday at Lyme Regis. He volunteered to help out as emergency accompanist for a musical called Boy in the Blues Jeans, and ended up staying for the rest of the summer.Back in Swindon in November 1960, he became a member of THE REBELS, who later changed their name to THE OFF-BEATS, and were booked for the whole of the 1961 summer season at a theatre in Jersey.

For the next three years or so he was in popular Swindon bands THE WHISPERS and ALL THINGS BRIGHT, during which, for 18 months, he worked as a trainee salesman for the local building firm, Bradley’s. His first big break in the music industry came from an association with established pop star Marty Wilde. On 8 April, 1965, Justin played alongside Wilde in a televised charity show at the London Palladium and within a month jetted off on a Forces entertainment tour as part of The WILDE THREE – Wilde’s wife, Joyce Baker, completing the line-up.

The Wilde Three issued two Decca singles during the year and shortly after the second one, in November 1965, Justin amicably opted out to start his solo career. But while Wilde’s career was on a downward path, Justin was a rising star. His first step was to find a manager and found one in Lonnie Donegan, a former skiffle singer who had moved into artist management. Justin’s first self penned single was released by Pye in December 1965, followed by his second, on Parlophone, in August 1966. For these singles Justin had put together another Swindon band, THE SHOTS. He left Swindon to move to London and it was there that he joined the Moody Blues in late 1966. He actually learnt that he’d secured the lead singer role while browsing guitars in Duck, Son & Pinker in Fleet Street, Swindon.


It’s quite remarkable that his recording of the first version of ‘Nights In White Satin’ was less than a year away.


Six months ago, the name of The Whispers was rarely seen on the Swindon beat scene, yet here was a group with enormous potential and greater musical ability than many beat groups. However, in the annual Rock Group Competition of last year at the Locarno Ballroom, the judges commented that although the group’s ability was evident, it was not being fully exploited.

This has proved to be a milestone in the history of the group, for with two changes in personnel and the appointment of a manager; The Whispers have made rapid strides since the competition and are now held in high regard by most local promoters. It seems fairly certain that early in 1964, the group will be generally accepted as Swindon’s top group and the 1964 competition should prove the point. Several of the top groups (The Searchers and The Hollies), for instance, have recently commented very favourably on the group having seen and heard them perform.

The Whispers at the Locarno Ballroom

Founder member, lead guitarist and principal vocalist of the group, is Justin Hayward, only 17 years old, but without doubt the most talented guitarist on the local pop scene. He formed The Whispers a few years ago, while still at school, having previously played with another local group. He has some experience as professional performer in summer season shows, and this experience is clearly put to good use in his expert leadership of the group. At present he is employed in the sales department of a local building company, but his ambition is to make a full-time career in show business.

Bass guitarist of the group is Nigel Norman, who, in his early twenties, is the grand old man of the group. Formerly with a dance band, Nigel decided that the popularity of dance music had waned and took up the guitar. He has been with the group since the early days and is at present a full time student.

Rhythm guitarist Michael Greenland joined the group in the autumn of last year, having been the lead guitarist with The Alpines, a local group which, as yet, has made little impression on the scene. Michael is also a capable vocalist and plays an important part in the performance of duets and harmony numbers, which are currently extremely popular. He is employed in the accounts department of a television rental company, but is very keen to enter the entertainment field on a full-time basis.

Drummer Chris Richardson joined the group last autumn, also from The Alpines, having been recommended by a local drums expert. He, too, is a good vocalist and one of the most popular numbers in the group’s repertoire is that in which Chris rises from behind his drum kit to sing a duet with the lead guitarist. He is a ladies’ hairdresser, but is also enthusiastic about becoming a professional entertainer.

What is in store for the future? To be on the top of the local scene is not enough and manager Tony Bowd is confident that the group could hold its own in the professional world of pop music. However, with such an enormous number of professional groups in the business today, entry into the business without a hit record can be very risky. So, The Whispers are due to cut their first disc early in the year and a short summer tour is planned on which the group can gain firsthand experience of the hard life which a tour of one night stands entails.

The Whispers are certain to emerge as the town’s top group of 1964 and maybe we shall see a hit record by the group in ‘the charts’ sometime during the year. This would certainly be a fine achievement for the group and a chance for the ‘Swindon sound’ to take a tilt at the ‘Mersey Beat’.

This article by Peter Antony originally appeared in the Swindon & District Review, Volume 3, Number 11 in February 1964 (front cover shown below).


It is with great pleasure that I can provide the final figures generated from our latest MAJESTIC DANCE NIGHT held on SATURDAY 22ND OCTOBER 2011 at the STRATTON LEISURE CENTRE, SWINDON.

The group has worked tirelessly for the past 12 years to provide not only an event to keep alive the days of the old Majestic Dances but to provide an ongoing charitable stream of income to the PROSPECT HOSPICE, a charity close to everyone’s heart.

A decline in attendance and the current economic climate prepared us for a downturn in the events popularity BUT A PASSION STILL TO CONTINUE.

With the rooms prepped and ready by the Staff of the Leisure Centre and volunteers we opened the doors to 259 people.  100 down on last year but a great response.

Sadly ill health meant that we didn’t have the sounds of Amy Cullen but the band still provided  background music for the first hour and our energetic LINDYHOP DANCERS LED BY ERIC FOWERS were amazing to watch.  8.30pm saw THE GEORGE THORBY BIG BAND swing into action.  Dancers covered the dance floor and the sounds flooded the hall.

A break by the Big Band and the AMY CULLEN BAND performed their set with Leanne who would normally support Amy – what a star she was, rising to the challenge of entertaining the crowds when normally she would be the one behind Amy… we cannot thank the Band members enough for their continued support of this event, their professionalism in attending even in the face of loosing their main singer to illness.

The raffle sadly down on prizes was still a success and added to our final coffers.


Dave Miller has been a musician playing in local bands for over five decades.

His first band was a skiffle group formed on March 11th 1955 and called THE RED DEVILS. He then moved on to THE FOUR ZODIACS, which was basically the same band with a different name. For the remaining part of the 50’s Dave played with JOHNNY GRAHAM AND THE DUKES, who later became THE DUKES.

As the 60’s came Dave played in a variety of bands all hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles – the closest Dave got was playing all over Germany. He started the new decade in THE BEATVENDORS and migrated to THE WHISPERS and then ALL THINGS BRIGHT, for his first tour of Germany, both bands featured Justin Hayward, later to become a key member of The Moody Blues of course.

Next there was THE CORONETS, with Chris Sandford of Coronation Street fame, and then back to Swindon, where he was with Justin Hayward again in THE SHOTS. Dave finished off the 60’s with DOC JEFFERSON’S MEDICINE SHOW, returning to Germany for two further spells.

The 70’s saw Dave’s musical taste take a different direction as he joined YELLOW DOG, which he refers to as a folksy band and then a duo, with MARTIN STEVENS, calling themselves GLOBAL VILLAGE. Dave then reverted to rock music, initially playing with PERSIAN WOOD and then moving onto BRASS MONKEY.

As Dave entered the 80’s his musical preference change again with COUNTRY ROADS, then HIGH ON THE HOG, who released an album and supported various US Artists in BBC broadcasts and on the road. Dave completed the 80’s with DEALEr.

The 90’s saw Dave continuing his enthusiasm for playing live music when he got together with some acquaintances from the 60’s reforming a band called THE SOUNDCASTERS. He then moved onto playing in the Swindon based BOB BOWLES BAND and eventually migrated to THE CARTOON HEROES. They took him on into the 21st century but stopped playing in 2002….and finally Dave joined BUILT FOR COMFORT, a blues band, and is still actively involved with the band.

Dave plays a 1977 Fender Jazz bass, using a Peavey Combo 300 with 2 x 15” Black Widow cabs.