3 May 1968 – Rainbow FFolly release debut album on Parlophone

Rainbow FFolly, High Wycombe’s pop band in the making, debut album ‘Sallies Fforth’ hit the record shops on Friday 3rd May 1968.  With heavy pop and psychedelia influences from the time, the band were looking to hit the big-time, with 21 year old vocalists and lead guitarist Jonathan Dunsterville stating (with tongue in cheek) that his ambition from fame would be to own a ‘gold plated house’.  His dream didn’t quite work out but the album has since become a collector’s item and prompted the band to reform and release a follow-up some 38 years later!

Sallies Forth – 1968 Parlophone release from High Wycombe’s Rainbow FFolly

Rainbow Ffolly consisted of Jonathan Dunsterville, 21 years old (lead guitar), Richard Dunsterville, 23 (guitar) Richard Newell,19 (bass) and Stewart Osborn, 21 (drums).  The band had originally formed in early 1967 under the name ‘Force Four’ and had played many of the local smaller venues, including High Wycombe’s Needham Bowl and Townfield House.

Band ‘leader’ Jonathan Dunsterville was a former student at ‘High Wycombe College of Technology and Art’ and designed the cover for the album which had been partly recorded in the front room of Stewart Osborn’s house in London Road, High Wycombe – however, the main recording had been carried out at John Jackson’s legendary studio in Rickmansworth. The recordings were intended as demo tracks for distribution to record companies but EMI were so impressed they agreed to issue the recordings ‘as is’ on their Parlophone sister label – the same label the used at the time by The Beatles.

During my research for this article I found several mentions of the band in the 1968 editions of the Bucks Free Press. An article from 3 May 1968 – the day the album was released reports that a reception for the album was held at the EMI offices in London the week before its release. The BFP feature says the group made their way to the occasion using their ‘trusty ambulance’.  It also reports the fact that fans of the group had gathered in Hazlemere (at the home of Manager John Sparrowhawk) earlier that day to wish them off on their trip to London.  The ambulance they used for transporting their gear to gigs had been decorated with a clockwork key on the roof, rainbow coloured wheel hubs and cartoon caricatures of the group on the windows.  The band themselves wore what was their usual regalia – an assortment of Edwardian clothes, embroidered silks and silver jewellery.

Rainbow Ffolly and their clockwork ambulance – picture from www.rainbowffolly.com

 

The reception included a photo session with Paul Fleviz and Beatle label mate George Harrison was apparently on-hand to watch the boys pose for photos on top of the ambulance.  The photo also attracted the attention of nearby office workers, while a female traffic warden was put-off ticketing the ambulance via the gift of a Rainbow FFlolly card.  The band then continued their photo session in other well-known locations in London before ending the day by visiting HMV records in Oxford Street to see their album on special display.  Back in High Wycombe, local record outlets Percy Prior and W.H.Smith also had picture displays of the band to promote the release.

Rainbow FFolly – montage of press cutting from the Bucks Free Press – 1968 – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

The album was followed by a single release, ‘Drive My Car’ (not The Beatles song). In August 1968 another Bucks Free Press article revealed they were due to play at the famous Star Club in Hamburg – the same venue where The Beatles had made a name for themselves earlier in the 1960’s.  The feature also said a tour of Canada had been planned – starting in Montreal and taking in most of the country.  Radio and television shows were also said to be planned in Canada.  By contrast UK dates appear to be fairly low-key but perhaps exclusive affairs?  Following the release of the album they played at a number of London clubs, including ‘Hatchetts’ in Piccadilly, while the BFP article from August 1968 claimed the band ‘have plans for a tour of East Anglia’.

The album also featured on BBC Radio One’s ‘Saturday Club’ show on 13 July 1968, where DJ Keith Skues gave the band close to 20 minutes of airtime. Sadly, for the band, the album and single crept under the radar and they split-up later in 1968.  However, over the years the Rainbow Ffolly recordings have acquired cult status.  That demand was partly responsible for the band reforming in 2016 to bring out a long-awaited follow-up – aptly named ‘Ffollow Up’.

There are a number of articles on the web relating to Rainbow Ffolly. I’ve listed what I have found below, including a website set up by the band in 2016 at the time of their new album.  Do you have connection with the band or remember seeing the band back in 1968?  Please get in touch, or post in the comments section.  Did they ever get to perform on Canadian TV?

For your listening pleasure

Sallies Forth – Rainbow Ffolly – full audio of 1968 album

References

http://www.rainbowffolly.com/ – band website launched 2016

https://www.loudersound.com/features/rainbow-ffolly-release-second-album-48-years-after-their-debut – Louder Sound interview with bassist Roger Newell from September 2016

http://www.radiolondon.co.uk/sixties/rainbowff/reccoll/rffstory.html – article from Record Collector magazine published in November 1999 – including comments from Roger Newell

http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/09/rainbow-ffolly-interview-with-roger.html – another interview with Roger Newell from 2011

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Ffolly

11 May 1978 – Wayne County (cancelled)/Stukas – Nag’s Head

High Wycombe favourites Wayne County and The Electric Chairs were due to play at The Nag’s Head on Friday 11th May 1978. This date appears in printed and online histories but my research some 40 years after the original date had revealed that Wayne was forced to cancel the gig late in the day due to illness.  Those arriving at the London Road venue hoping to see Wayne with The Electric Chairs would have been shown a telegram taped to the wall from Wayne apologising for the cancellation and indicating a new date would be arranged as soon as possible.

Wayne and The Electric Chairs – circa 1977

Wayne County and The Electric Chairs had appeared in High Wycombe on at least three previous occasions prior to the scheduled May 1978 date. The first, as part of the March 1977 US Rock Week at The Nag’s Head, drew a decent crowd and prompted promoter Ron Watts to invite them back for another appearance just a month later on 9th April 1977. However, a November 1977 headlining show at The Town Hall proved a step too far, with audience numbers not that much greater than a crammed Nag’s Head and an atmosphere toned down from the intensity of The Nag’s Head stage.

The return to the Nag’s Head on 11th May 1978  was billed as a ‘farewell’ concert for Wayne County – farewell being to the name ‘Wayne’ and hello to the soon to be ‘Jayne’.

The few who stayed on at The Nag’s Head on Friday 11th May 1978 would have seen support band Street Chorus, followed by headliners The Stukas.  Street Chorus appear to be a soul band with horns and a Hammond Organ.

Stukas debut single – reverse of picture cover with details of band members

Meanwhile, The Stukas were returning to The Nag’s Head having supported Chelsea at the same venue a year previous. They had built a small following throughout 1977.  However, by mid-1978 it appears their momentum had waned and they gradually faded from grace leaving a small back catalogue of songs from 1977-1978.

Jayne County and The Electric Chairs would return to High Wycombe later in the year.

30 April 1968 – Bill Haley and the Comets – Town Hall

Rock ‘n’ Roll legends Bill Haley and the Comets played a nostalgic concert at High Wycombe Town on Tuesday 30th April 1968.  The Bucks Free Press advert promoted the evening with the strap-line: ‘A Legend in Their Own Lifetime! From U.S.A. – the Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ 8/- (40p) would have gained you entry with ‘Seats available in the balcony for non-dancers’.

Bill Hayley and The Comets – High Wycombe Town Hall – 30th April 1968

The U.S.A. group had first hit the charts in the 1950’s, with ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ becoming the first rock ‘n’ roll single to break in the UK charts in December 1954. Their most famous song, ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was originally released before this date as a ‘B’ side and its success didn’t take off until it was used in the opening credits to the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’, released in March 1955.

Returning to their 1968 appearance in High Wycombe, the Bucks Free Press previewed the gig by saying: “Perhaps the greatest group to come out of Rock and Roll was Bill Haley and the Comets. They will be playing at High Wycombe Town Hall on Tuesday.  Though for most teenagers the days of rock and roll are a bit distant, Bill Haley has a fantastic stage act and this should be an evening worth watching.”

Unfortunately there was no review of the gig in the BFP but mention of the gig can be found in the August 2016 edition of Record Collector magazine where a letter from Dean Smith recalls: “I did get to see Bill & His Comets, at High Wycombe Town Hall. I was in the darker area at the back of the hall enjoying not only the full spectacle but also lots of 30-40-something couples trying to get space enough to jive amongst clumps of young teenagers jigging up and down and trying to throw shapes copied from rock’n’roll film posters.”

The gig appeared to briefly relight the old school rock ‘n’ roll scene in High Wycombe and a ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Show’ was subsequently arranged at the Town Hall on Tuesday 14th May 1968.  However, a brief mention in the BFP of that evening suggests it was not well attended and further Tuesday evening concerts tended to stick to the more current ‘pop’ acts.

For you listening and viewing pleasure

Bill Haley returns to England – 1968 Pathe News

References:

http://recordcollectormag.com/letters/hail-haley

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haley_%26_His_Comets