Errol Taylor, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Hi Roy & John,
A musician friend of mine who I believe has been in touch with you suggested that I put this little episode on paper to you.
I've had dance/entertainment bands/groups since about 1953. As a 13 year old I had a quartet then in 1955 a 9 piece band (all reading orchestration). By the time the Peddlers became know in New Zealand, I was in charge of a 7 piece band and we were soon performing our versions of...'Girlie', 'Who Can I Turn To', 'Stormy Weather', 'Smile', etc. By the time the Peddlers first came here, our group was also a trio of Bass, Drums, and Organ (that's me).We first saw the lads in a hotel dining room venue in Hamilton and were blown away with the presentation. Just as well, we drove 200 miles to get there and made it with 20 minutes to spare.
Next time they came, they came to my home town of New Plymouth where we have an outdoor amphi-theatre that has a 'sound shell' type stage looking out and up onto a sloping 'seating' area, the lower portion of which has bench type seating for about 5000 and grass seating for a further 15,000. Between the stage and the seating area is a small artificial lake about 150 feet wide and about 50 from stage to seating. For a 'curtain', a long fountain the width of the stage can be turned on sending water jets 15 feet or so into the air. Big stands of trees behind and to each side of the sound-shell and the whole thing in the middle of a huge park. (Lakes, boats, green houses, the 'botanical garden' sort of thing.)
I called down to the venue about 4pm the afternoon of the performance expecting (hoping) to hear the boys doing sound checks. Instead there were three very glum musicians sitting in the middle of this stage, big enough for a symphony orchestra, that has been graced with the presence of Cliff Richard and the Shadows a couple of times, The Hollies, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, The Seekers, many others and now The Peddlers.
I wandered down to the stage and spoke to a couple of stage hands who told me that the amplifier for the 'Lesley' Speaker system on the borrowed Hammond organ, had 'blown' and a local technician was working on it (between a wedding ceremony and the reception he was a guest at). Shortly after, a message came that the amp was ready but would have to be collected from the technicians house, and did anyone know where he lived. I was the only person that even knew him so I drove off to collect it. When I got back and handed it to Roy, he plugged in the various leads and promptly blew it again. Oops!
From the amplifier to the organ was a nine core cable with a plug one end that had to plug into the amplifier. So that it would only connect in one position the plug had two pins fatter than the rest. (Standard practice as for radio/amplifier glass valves at the time.) Because the plug had been in and out a few times in its life, the holes in the receptacle socket were quite worn and allowed the plug to go in in any of nine positions. Worse than that, a 'toggle switch' had been screwed to the left end of the organ keyboard which was to change the 'Lesley' speed from slow to fast etc. From it dangled about 6 feet of twin wire, soldered to the switch at one end and just bared back at the other. The trick was to push the two ends into the appropriate holes in the socket, then push the plug in (in the correct position). This theoretically would hold the wires to make the connexion and all would be well. Guess what? The plug got pushed in out of rotation and promptly did some more damage to the amplifier, in that the Lesley unit would not work.
By now the guys were tearing their hair out, and decided they would just have to do with out the Lesley. Hey! The superb and judicious use that Roy made of the Lesley was also one of the things that made 'The Peddlers'. I offered to take the amplifier to my workshop, (I'm also an electrician and had built my own amplifiers and sound systems). They didn't have a lot of choice, l was going to the show and wanted to see and hear the guys as they should be heard.
I took off to my workshop, sorted out the problem and with out parts did a certain amount of 'modifying' to the switching circuit, then hightailed it back to the venue. I plugged it in myself this time, and made sure it was working properly. By now there was a crowd of about 10,000 people out front. The water 'Curtain' was going and the Roy, Tab and Trevor were happy that the organ was now working. The show started about 15 minutes later. The guys wanted to pay me, but my reward was simply hearing them as they should be heard. (I also managed to get them to autograph a copy of their 'Birthday' LP which takes pride of place alongside a few other autographed LP's I have of top entertainers. (I was part of a trio that backed Roger Whittaker at a one night stage show here some years back and his is there too.)
The last time I saw the Peddlers perform was not a good night. Trevor had just announced that he was quitting to get into a rock band and he appeared to be mucking around and did not have his heart in it. It's good to know that Roy Philips is still here in New Zealand and still performing although I've not seen him since the group disbanded.
What is your website name, I will have to have a look.
Hi Roy & John
Congratulations on a great site. I must fish out my LP's when I get home shortly and give them an airing. I must also look out for some recording I've not got. These guy's were not only brilliant innovators and very good musicians, they were also very nice down to earth guys. No bullshit, Not Prima Donnas (like some 'stars') just pleasant people. Glad you liked my story of the Hammond Organ breakdown here in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Something I forgot, the organ was loaned to the group by man in Auckland. It was a B3 or similar, great sound and all that but was very much the worse for wear to look at. The odd four inch nail hammered in her and there to keep the case together. Only a real Musicians Musician would have even accepted it to play on. Only a guy with the talent of Roy Phillips.
Keep up the good work,