Top Picture: Cliff and The Shadows. L to R. Jet Harris, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, Cliff, Hank Marvin in 1961. (Tony Meehan had left in 1960)
Second Picture: Who remembers the ill fated Portsdown Park?
Jet Harris who died on the 18th March aged 71 was a founder member of the Shadows and played bass on such hits as Apache, Kon-Tiki and Wonderful Land, and backed Cliff Rich¬ard on many more.
Arguably the first British pop group of the rock'n'roll era, the Shadows were responsible for several other firsts. While the lead guitarist Hank Marvin became Britain's first guitar hero, Jet Har¬ris was the first British musician to record with an electric bass guitar, in place of the traditional upright acoustic double bass as was seen in groups such as Bill Haley and the Comets, this was in 1958.
However Jet Harris left the Shadows at the height of their fame in 1962, just before the rise of the Beatles. Unfortunately his departure was triggered by depression and alcoholism. But after leaving the band he enjoyed further success with the 1963 the chart-topper Dia¬monds, recorded with another ex Shadows member, the drummer Tony Meehan. On the record he made groundbreaking use of the bass guitar as a lead instrument. But after a couple more hits with Tony Meehan, Jet’s career ground to a halt following a bad car ac¬cident and his continued drinking.
He attempted a solo comeback in the mid-1960s but when that flopped, he drifted away from music and worked in various manual jobs. He resumed re¬cording in the 1980s and enjoyed some success on the nostalgia circuit.
He was born Terence Harris just before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 in Kingsbury, North London. His first instrument was the clarinet, which he played in school bands. But by 1956, influenced by jazz and the skiffle scene, he had made his own double bass, which he played in a jazz trio named the Delinquents. He then bought a professional double bass, and began playing with the jazz drum¬mer Tony Crombie, who in 1958 urged him to experiment with an electric bass guitar, an instrument that was unknown in Brit¬ain at the time.
He had a Framus Star bass im¬ported from West Germany and intro¬duced the instrument in the Vipers skif¬fle group before joining Cliff Richard's backing group, the Drifters, in 1959. With the Drifters, he played on the singer's early hits, including his first number one, Living Doll. The group re¬ceived no royalties, only a session fee for playing on Cliff's records, and so in 1959 the Drifters landed an EMI re¬cording contract of their own, while continuing to back Cliff.
It was now that the American vocal group the Drifters threatened to sue over the use of the name, Jet Harris suggested they be¬come the Shadows and so the Shadows they became.
Apache, (a record that Hank Marvin always said was his pension fund) was their second release under the name and it gave them their first hit in 1960, when it knocked Cliff's Please Don't Tease off the number one slot. It was followed by further hits including Man of Mys¬tery. The Stranger, FBI, The Frightened City, Kon-Tiki, which became their second number one in 1961, The Savage and Wonderful Land, which topped the charts in early 1962.
By then the Shadows had also backed Cliff on further hits includ¬ing The Young Ones, and Jet along with other group members ap¬peared in the 1961 film of the same name. But away from the happy-go-lucky character depicted on the film set Jet Harris was a troubled figure. Unhappy in his marriage, he was drink¬ing heavily, and after a series of disa¬greements with the rest of the group, he parted company with the Shad¬ows in April 1962.
He recorded two singles, Besame Mu-cho and The Man With the Golden Arm, both of which reached the charts in 1962, before forming a duo with the drummer Tony Meehan, who had left the Shadows shortly before Jet had. The duo's first single, Diamonds, which also featured the then unknown Jimmy Page as a ses¬sion guitarist, replaced the Shadows' Dance On at number one in the charts in January 1963.
Before the year was out, the Harris and Meehan Duo had two further hits, Scarlett O'Hara and Applejack. But serious inju¬ries suffered in a car crash in 1964 ground Jet’s career to a halt. He returned to make a handful of un¬successful singles in 1966-67 and was considered for the bass role in Jeff Beck's group. But his heavy drinking wrecked any chance of a serious come¬back. Over the next decade he was vari¬ously reported to be working as a la¬bourer, a bricklayer and a bus conduc¬tor.
He eventually returned to making music, performing with a backing band called the Diamonds and with the Shadows tribute band the Rapiers. He also teamed up from time to time with former members of the Shadows at vari¬ous events and reunions, although he was hurt not to be invited to join the Shadows for their 50th anniversary, at the Royal Variety Performance in 2008.
He was appointed MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours and spent his last years living in a cottage in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight but died at the home of his partner Janet Hemingway, in Win¬chester. What a sad nd to a troubled life!
Stay in touch,
I'm with you Peter!
They were virtually non existant weren't they. I remember the trips out for the Boy's to look at what was on offer and how dismal the prospects were and as far as I remember the boys I looked around employment places with were Keith Conlon, Barry Dunnaway and Bob Webster.
Depressing work places we visited as a group to say the least and the one that will always stick in my mind was the trip to Portsmouth Corporation Bus Servicing /Overhaul Centre at Eastney. I actually walked out the front door after 5 minutes for a ciggie because the place just overwhelmed me with an instant depression and it was at this point I think I had made my decision to do something a bit more exciting with my life and to do this I needed to join the RAF or the Navy. I had been accepted as an Apprentice at De-Havillands located next to Portsmouth Airfield but with my Dad dying from the Big C the previous year ( he was a Manager for DH.... nothing like a bit of nepotism eh! ) and with the DH factory moving to Hatfield that was now out of the question.
To be fair I had always been interested in aircraft from a young age so career wise it turned out to be a good choice and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my 25 years service of flying and excitement with just the odd exception which is normal in any job over a period of time.
It's true Norman Folland did encourage ALL his boys to join the RAF as he was ex-RAF (so was Bert Ray & Ray Dobson ) and I remember Norman saying to me in a very short 1 minute career advice room interview " Wise choice Melvyn! ".......and that was that.
Manor Court and Court Lane provided the Armed Forces and in particular the RAF with a lot of new entrants.
5G Miss Blit's class provided 3 of them alone Myself, Alan Clarkson & Martyn Smith. If your reading this Melvyn Bridger I always thought at the time you, as a top ATC Cadet would have tagged along with us all into the great unknown.
Cheers Everyone ....Melvyn ( Griff )Griffiths.
I think the Furniture Factory for the Careers visit was White & Newton at Milton.
News and Views:
A case of bacterial pneumonia has forced Jerry Lee Lewis to postpone his show in Chicago
On this day 15th July 1960-1965.
15/07/1960the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth 13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Italian cyclist wins Tour De France.
15/07/1961the number one single was Runaway - Del Shannon and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth 13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
15/07/1962the number one single was I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth 12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
15/07/1963the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth 12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
15/07/1964the number one single was It's All Over Now - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth 12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Donald Campbell breaks land speed record.
15/07/1965the number one single was Crying in the Chapel - Elvis Presley and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth 11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.