Birth

In the autumn of 1963 I grew tired of just messing about with a primarily instrumental group so put forward the idea to the rest of the group that we should get a vocalist and play a more varied set, with the hope we would get more bookings. Whilst working in Whiteheads I met Adrian Williams, a 'good looking' colleague who was working in the sales office. I asked him if he fancied singing in my group and despite his initial reticence, agreed to audition at the St John Bosco Hall, where we practiced.
    
Adrian came along to our next practice and I asked him if he knew any songs. We went through several suggestions before he said he knew Lucille, by Little Richard. The next thing was to try and work out what was the best key for his voice. I asked him to just sing a couple of lines and thought that the key of ‘G’ would be ok. We then started playing the opening riff to the song until he came in. He was dreadful. As well as coming in at the wrong time he kept switching keys so I thought to myself, we have a challenge here.
    
After a couple of attempts we decided to take a break. At this point, a couple of my colleagues had a word with me saying they didn’t think he was good enough to join the group and if he stayed, they would leave. I quickly, and not very politely, said goodbye to them.

When we practiced we often had a few people, including girls, watching us. I could see that, along with his good looks, Adrian had a personality that certainly attracted those of the female kind. Now all we had to do was to extract a singing voice out of him, which for a Welshman, should not be too difficult.
    
Adrian improved with every practice and before long we were confident enough to play in front of a bigger audience. I am not sure where this was but it was likely to have been in the very place we practiced as they often ran dances. We had also brought in two players to replace those that had left. Dave Sargent joined on bass and Steve Strong on drums. At some stage we also added another good looking young man, called Will Lowe, who played the harmonica and who could sing one or two songs. We auditioned a couple of girls to assist on backing vocals but despite their good voices and very attractive looks, we decided it might be a distraction to the rest of us so never pursued the idea.

We had decided that we really needed a new name for this group, so with the help of Roy Winston Davies, who came up with the name, the Pieces of Mind were now ready to be unleashed on South Wales. Roy had somehow got himself involved with the earlier group; I am not sure whether it was through school, as I think he went to St Julian’s or whether it was through the Bosco Hall.

For a while Roy, who unfortunately suffered from epilepsy, was our manager. He took to using ‘Winston’ as a middle name when referring to himself because of Andrew Loog Oldham, the then Rolling Stones manager. He thought it was a cool name, so plain Roy Davies became Roy Winston Davies. I can’t remember why Roy stopped being involved, but eventually he did, so we needed to find someone else to become our manager.       

John Beardmore, a colleague of ours at Whiteheads, had started coming to our practices at the Bosco hall, shortly after Adrian had joined and before long he took on the role of our manager. By the beginning of 1964, we started getting known around the pubs and clubs in South Wales. As with our previous group, the more we became known, the more gigs we got. We also started to be called the ‘Pieces’ and by the abbreviation ‘POM’ as well.

By this time, my parents had moved house from Elgar Avenue to Myrtle Grove, in Somerton. One Friday night in November I came home from work and was about to have my tea, before I went out. I was walking through our living room when there was a news flash on the television. John F Kennedy, the President of the United States had been assassinated. It was the 22nd November 1963 and yes, I can remember where I was on that dreadful day.

In July 1964, John Beardmore started to keep a diary of our gigs. The first he recorded was at the British Legion Hall in Rogerstone, on Thursday the 9th July 1964. I have no recollections of the particular gig; however, the crowd must have liked us as we often returned to the village. Just over 3 years later I would end up marrying a girl from the same village.
     
At one gig in St John’s Church hall Rogerstone I won a raffle prize, which was a large tube of Smarties. A certain girl presented the prize, because she was the reigning Miss Rogerstone. Today my wife doesn’t recall when she gave me the tube of Smarties so memory loss doesn’t just afflict men. 
     
John Beardmore kept his diary for around 18 months, and in that time, we played nearly a 100 gigs. His diary stops at a gig at Trevethin on Friday the 5th November 1965, when he had decided to spend more time with a girlfriend and relinquished his post. We were as busy from that time right up to when I left the group sometime in the spring of 1967, but unfortunately no one kept a diary as John had done. I never dreamed that in 2013 I would be trying to recall things that happened in the years 1963 to 1967.  

One particular visit to Rogerstone in 1966 was the only time the Pieces of Mind were ever recorded. My girlfriend, later to become my wife had a small portable Philips reel-to-reel recorder at the back of St Johns Church Hall. She held the small microphone up and managed to record 15 songs, probably just one set. The sound quality on the tape was not that good; the vocals were not that clear and noise from the audience was a bit excessive.

In addition Andy Gibbon, our bass player had a problem with his amp so he used my modified Vox AC30. I think I played through a spare amp head, probably a Selmer; however, it might have been through the PA. So they were not ideal circumstances for a live recording.

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