In 1966, aged 22, I joined the Gravesend office of the Kent Messenger as a cub reporter, covering everything except sport. I followed fire engines, did the rounds of local vicars and funeral directors, was nice to all local amateur actors and fete organisers and attended council meetings. There were three of us, in a small upstairs room overlooking Gravesend station. The pirate Caroline station was on the big old wooden radio, and the editor and sub editor were downstairs in the back room with an open fire. In the front office was the delectable Coral whom we all fancied but …..no.
After a few weeks I felt confident enough to approach the editor with the idea of running a music column. I could review and preview the acts coming to Gravesend Co-op Hall, review records and write about the pirate stations, those at lea on ships, and those on the forts in the Thames estuary. The forts were, illegally, serviced from Gravesend, so there was a local link.
The first band to play after the column started were the Small Faces who steadfastly refused to see me. But next was Episode Six, the first proper band I’d ever met (Bill Kent and his Kentish Men, who played the fete in the field outside my parents’ house and whose autograph I obtained, probably didn’t count). They and their manager Gloria Bristow were all so friendly and welcoming that I and my best buddy Roger became sophisticated groupies, going to all their gigs in the South East – Margate Dreamland being on regular spot. Episode Six, for the uninitiated, were brother and sister Graham and Sheila Carter-Dimmock on guitar and keyboards respectively, Tony Lander on lead guitar, Harvey Shields on drums, Roger Glover on bass and Ian Gillan on vocals. We became firm friends – Roger came to my flat in Sutton to go through my 45’s for inspiration, and Sheila came to our wedding for goodness sake, and is godmother to our daughter.
As well as playing London and the South East, Episode Six, who never had a chart record, also became Big in Beirut which I guess is where this photo comes in.
Taken in the basement Pimlico flat of Gloria Bristow sometime in 1966, we have, from the left, with the horn-DJ Keith Skues, DJ Mike Lennox, me in silly beaded thingy, Tony Lander, Roger Glover (top), Ian Gillan (bottom), Sheila Carter-Dimmock and Graham Carter-Dimmock.
Roger and Ian….well, you know what happened to them, and sadly that is now the Band’s main claim to fame, what was to be rather than what was. But they were a cracking good band in the late 1960’s.