Directions and Influences - chapter 5

Angry young Them and Van Morrison

I couldn't write about my influences without paying homage to Van Morrison. Back in '64 and '65 Robin McClelland, myself and a few others from the Bangor crew would make the trip up to Belfast to see some bands. Saturday afternoon The Jazz club in (I think) Royal Avenue was a great place to go and hear some great R&B music as there was quite a strong culture of this kind of music in Belfast which was giving rise to many bands playing blues and R&B. On Saturday nightthere was The Maritime club where Them would often play. I remember we would go to Austins of Ann Street to buy our tab collar and button down collar shirts and Cuban heel boots. Ann Street was like the Carnaby Street of Belfast.

Them were always a great band to see live. Van always seemed like he was pissed off about something and would go off as the band progressed into their set. I remember seeing him kick mike stands and finally a Vox Continental organ off the stage in a frenzied rage at one of the 'Inst' dances (Royal Belfast Academical Institution) I don't know if it was rage or pure show biz, but it sure got the place pumping. We were all impressed that he was a 'wee hard man'. (A Belfast term for someone not to be f#*~ed with)

I was playing with my own band 'The Aside' doing local dances and clubs. I was the lead singer, Paul Lyttle on vocals and guitar, Mike Harrison (cousin of Billy Harrison, guitarist with Them) on bass, Len McCormick on drums, and Jon (Jonas) Brown on keys. We played everything from Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters to Stones, Them and the Animals. Some of our memorable highlights as a young band was doing support for The Troggs and I don't know why but, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch.

There is a book written by Colin Harper called 'Seaside Rock' which deals with the music scene in the 60's in North Down.

Next: Chapter 6 - Hendrix, The Who and beyond