John 'Tarm' Armistead has recently rediscovered his 1960s diaries, covering the full Raiders' period (except for 1965! As we speak, Tarm is scouring the vaults for this vital piece in the jigsaw).
The original hieroglyphics have been faithfully transcribed, and authorised excerpts are shown below as 'The Tarm Diaries'.

(Sadly, the full unexpurgated diaries, like Sherlock Holmes' 'Giant Rat Of Sumatra', contain tales "for which the world is not yet prepared...". Perhaps in another forty years ...)


JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 1960, Leeds Grammar School held its traditional Annual Music Festival.

This sounds grand, but the Music Festival actually amounted to a two-hour concert in the large Upper School hall before proud parents and the odd civic dignitary.

The format was uninspired. ‘Houses’ would put up junior, middle, and senior choirs in competition with each other. Small boys with a rather shaky mastery of the reed would blow tentatively down clarinets; and
The Tarm Diaries

Saturday 13th January 1962
"Went to town in eve with Rob & Beau, Rob got his new solid guitar, a “Broadway”. Looks nice, but no amplifier yet."

*
Saturday 10th February 1962
"Allen Rob & Beau up in eve (Rob with new amplifier - very good)"

nervous prodigies would thunder on the big grand piano which was always specially tuned for the occasion. So it was, and so it would always be - until this year.

Towards the end of the two-hour marathon the music master, Gerry Raper, stood up and announced "And now we have something a little unusual. Ladies and gentlemen, ‘The Earthquakes’!"

Trevor Midgley - ‘Beau’ to his friends and associates - sat up! I wouldn’t say they were loud, and they weren’t on for very long. But they were there! Sod ‘Nymphs And Shepherds’
The Tarm Diaries

Monday 19th March 1962
"Went to town with Rob Al & Beau to Kitchens & Scherrers to see if any electrics there. Tuxedo at £14-10s-0d OK. Saw a good amp."

*
Monday 26th March 1962
"Went to Kitchens at 4.00 with Rob, saw & had a go on Framus super job. Had talk with Mum on guitars. Perhaps getting the Framus!! An awful decision to make!!"

*
Tuesday 27th March 1962
"Went down at lunch hour to get my guitar with Beau. Had final listen & play on it .. satisfied .. so bought it. It’s a pale green going to black at the edge Framus bass guitar. Semi solid, 1 pick up. Base treble & vol controls. Got cover strap & plectrum free. Rob & Beau came over in eve, & general opinion very good. Looks fab."

*
Friday 13th April 1962
"To Fred Carr’s to get amp & speakers. Had quick tea then went with Rob & Beau to collect it ..."

and ‘The Moonlight Sonata’. At the 1960 Leeds Grammar School Music Festival, The Earthquakes played Duane Eddy’s ‘Forty Miles Of Bad Road’. And the reaction was tree-mendous.

ROBIN WHITE AND I had actually been part of the show. Both of us were in a house choir (and I do believe he also played the clarinet!). A couple of days later Robin, John Armistead and I got together in my bedroom at 25 St Chad’s Avenue to try out an idea.

Robin had recently acquired an appalling (but cheap) Spanish guitar (one with a round hole). I had a small piano accordion which dated from the 1930s and had been bought some time before from a neighbour who needed quick cash. Robin knew two chords (C and G7), which fitted in perfectly with my rudimentary accordion technique.

John Armistead, ‘Tarm’, didn’t have an instrument, so he pounded piles of books which gave off different thumpy sounds depending
The Tarm Diaries

Saturday 21st April 1962
"Went to Beau’s to meet Beau & Al & then on to School Room for guitar practice, back to Beau’s for tea then back to School Room. Played there in eve for Tennis Club evening. We were great. On for about 3 hours. Long session of solid non stop twist. Good lighting."


[This was The Raiders' first paid gig - TM]

on their thickness. I have to say, we rather liked what we heard.

Within a few short months, Robin had mastered a third chord. The Shadows had not long since released ‘Apache’, and a fourth, even a fifth chord became essential. We were struggling. That’s when we came across John Allen, another guy in our year at Leeds Grammar School. Al had much to recommend him; a guitar that stayed in tune, an amplifier (small, but perfectly formed), a brother with a car (ideal for transportation), and a devotion to The Shadows. And he knew those elusive fourth and fifth chords. So we said "How about it?"

IT HAD ALREADY BEEN AGREED that Tarm would play bass. He was six feet four-or-five at this time (one metre ninety-two), and we reasoned -
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 16th June 1962
"In eve went to Michael Allen’s (John’s elder brother) Speedway Club Hall with Rob Beau & Al to play there. V. successful ..."

*
Friday 6th July 1962
"Beau’s in aft, had rehearsal & did some V good tapings. In eve went to Michael Allen’s Speedway club in town. Rob bust a string right away 1 hour hold up. Then Al bust a string short hold up otherwise OK ..."

big guy, big instrument. John Allen’s chord mastery - and devotion to The Shads' Bruce Welch - pushed him inevitably towards the rhythm-guitar slot, whilst Rob played lead. (This changed round over time however, when Al donned his Hank Marvin-style specs and took over lead guitar. Rob then became our new chord-meister.) All of this meant we needed a drummer. I bought a snare drum, hi-hat and cymbal and started from there.

Naming the band was a problem (actually, we called them ‘groups’ back then, but don’t let’s get bogged down). A fairly heated
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 10th August 1962
"Went to town. Rob got “Guitar Tango” & a 1st string & I a felt pick"

*
Saturday 11th August 1962
"Rob & Beau came round here in eve, & had musical aft & eve."

*
Monday 13th August 1962
"Went to Beau’s to help him move his furniture from bedroom (present) to attic (new bedroom). Rob came later. Al Rob & Beau round in eve had a musical eve. Thrashed out “Guitar Tango”. Not bad."

*
Tuesday 14th August 1962
"Rob & Beau round in aft & eve for a practice; a really good one. Did a lot of good work."

*
Wednesday 15th August 1962
"In aft to Al’s with Beau & Rob for aft & tea & eve. Had a good practice."

discussion occurred one lunchtime outside the Grammar School’s Junior Library, when various names were thrown up and thrown out. Only one came up to which no-one had any rooted objection; "The Raiders".

So that was what we became - pretty much by default.

I MENTIONED John Allen’s brother. Michael Allen had another big plus, at least for me; he was a great Elvis fan.

This man had Elvis’s original ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll No. 2’ and ‘Best Of Elvis’ LPs on HMV, PLUS a mint collection of The King’s HMV 78rpm singles. As he had versions of all the singles on his vinyl albums, I persuaded Mike to sell me all his HMV 78s. I still have them today, they’re still mint, and aren’t you jealous? But back to the plot -

THE RAIDERS GAVE THEIR FIRST PAID PERFORMANCE at St Chad’s School Hall, Leeds on 21st April, 1962. It went down well; group and audience oozed several gallons of sweat and, to everyone’s surprise, bookings followed. Trouble was, we had no singer. We did audition one or two, but quickly learned
The Tarm Diaries

Sunday 9th September 1962
"Rob, Beau & al round in eve to decide future of group. Rob decided to leave ..."

*
Monday 10th September 1962
"Beau’s in aft practiced with Al. Rob came round & agreed to play this Sat & week on Fri; a good job."

the value of that show-biz nicety, "Don’t call us, we’ll call you!" To cut a long story short, as the band member with the most raucous voice and least shame, I got the job.

Around this time, I also did a little moonlighting on the drums with a band amusingly called ‘The Four Skins’.

ALTHOUGH I WASN’T PLAYING GUITAR with The Raiders, I did buy a very old, very beat-up f-hole instrument and began to learn. And,
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 19th October 1962
"Off with Beau & Alan Petch to meet Al, then on to conservative club type place. Played with group after film & talk ... played well."

*
Saturday 20th October 1962
"Went round to Al’s in aft with Beau & Alan Petch; had quite a good practice."

because I was always playing with people who were just a little bit better than me, I learned quickly. Which was fortunate, because in late 1962 Robin decided to take a sabbatical from the group to study for his exams. I moved into the rhythm guitar slot, and we imported a new drummer for the duration by the name of Alan Petch.

THE RAIDERS WERE LUCKY. We had a hard core of loyal fans in what was termed the "Shaw Lane Gang",who travelled miles, week in, week out, to see and support the band. Some were unpaid roadies; some took photos; some just foot-stomped and screamed their way round the dance halls and Town Halls of the north of England. But they were always there.
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 21st December 1962
"Went to Al’s in aft Beau there. Al in bed with chill - can’t come tomorrow. Had a practice in eve in School Room. Rob is in to take Al’s place."

*
Saturday 22nd December 1962
"Practiced in school room in morn & aft, also helped with decorations. Tea at Beau’s. Did dance in eve, not bad considering Al wasn’t there & Rob had to come in ..."

*
Saturday 9th February 1963
"Al can’t play tonight so Rob will play with us again. Practice here in aft ... Went up to West Park Congregational Church Hall, not bad place, went down well."

*
Saturday 16th February 1963
"Al off with cold. Practice in aft with Rob & Ralf . Beau came in eve. Quite a good practice in eve."

*
Saturday 9th March 1963
"Group practice at Beau’s in aft. Al didn’t come. Tea there. Rob came round. Row with Al & he went home in a huff before playing. At West Park in eve & did a good show with Rob."

*
Wednesday 13th March 1963
"Al with proposition of joining him, also asked Ralf. Negative.


[I didn't know anything about this! This was John Allen's last contact with The Raiders - TM]

And we knew we owed a lot to Sandra, and Sue, and Icky, and Pod, and DeBug, and Karen, and Katie, and Anona, and many many others.

As the group became progressively more in demand, so our repertoire expanded vastly and we tooled-up with better equipment. We couldn’t afford Fender and Gibson guitars in those days (only high-rolling recording bands could, and even then they were scarce), so we worked with European copies - Höfners in particular, and, in Tarm’s case, a Framus bass. I’ve never told him, but those Framus’s are now ‘Vintage Collectibles’ in the States and can be worth a small fortune. If only he’d hung on! But then, Tarm became an accountant; in my experience, such people know very little about investments. Sorry, I keep getting sidetracked…

WE DID HAVE VOX AMPS and, later on, ‘the giant’ had one of the early Vox T60 bass models. These things sold on the fact that they had ‘new transistor technology’ and used to overheat with a vengeance; but those twelve-inch speakers could shift a lot of air.

Then, in October '62, The Beatles released "Love Me Do". Now the truth of the matter is probably that we had outgrown John Allen. I’d seen The Beatles' first-ever TV performance on Granada’s ‘People And Places’, and thought they were awesome. A change was in the air! Al, however, still wanted to stick with The Shadows. Luckily, during my time as rhythm player, I’d learned the lead parts as well. So, when exam-time had passed, Rob came back on rhythm guitar, I moved onto lead, and Al took early retirement.

It was during this heady period of musical upheaval and group politicking that drummer Alan Petch decided to leave. Alan had stayed with us longer than he had originally planned, but now we were once again looking for a new drummer. Enter the remarkable Ralph Sims.



RALPH WAS A COUPLE OF YEARS younger than us. He was also at the Grammar School, and had seen us play a number of times. We heard on the grapevine that he was
The Tarm Diaries

Saturday 12th January 1963
"Practice in eve at Beau’s, Ralph Sims came; a good drummer, well suited with him & vice versa I hope."

*
Saturday 19th January 1963
"Went to Ralf (sic) Sims in eve for a practice with Beau & Al. My gear taken over in morn, we were all brought back in eve. Beau knackered his guitar."

*
Saturday 2nd February 1963
"Band practice at Beau’s in eve, quite good, Beau got his new Hofner V3."

keen to join, and set up an audition.

He was fine. He had personality, a great drumkit, style, a great drumkit, looks and confidence, and he had a great drumkit.
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 21st June 1963
"Had group practice at Bennett Road in eve with Jonty Thompson on rhythm in place of Rob who’s still in hospital"

*
Saturday 22nd June 1963
"Played at Bennett Rd in eve with Jonty Thompson on rhythm, OK. Hard crowd there."

So, the band withdrew and after a couple of beers and a puff of white smoke announced that, yes, Ralph was in. So began what was, for most people, The Raiders’ classic period.

WE HOOKED-UP WITH AN AGENT called Albert Honeyman. Albert brought in a lot of work. One of his big contacts was at the United States Air Force Base at Menwith Hill, near Harrogate in North Yorkshire. Menwith Hill was part of the West’s early-warning system that kept an ever-watchful eye on the skies to the East. Remember, all this was taking place just after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Tarm Diaries

Friday 4th October 1963
"In eve played at Swillington again, did OK. Birds very friendly there."

*
Saturday 29th February 1964
"Played at Normanton in eve, in the baths. Not bad do. Other group “The Young Ones” good kit but not as good as us? Rough birds …"

*
Saturday 14th March 1964
"Went up to Sir Donald Kaberry’s house with our kit. Set up in the barn at the back of the house. Quite nice place. Played from 8.45 - 1.30 & played most of time apart from supper time. We had food in kitchen - what a case! Fab birds there."

*
Saturday 11th July 1964
"Off to Beau’s & picked up Sandra then Paul in Beau’s car. Arrived … at 6.15 helped erect a stage. Started at 7.15 & played 3 sessions, went v well & we played even better. Good dance all round but oh - what birds! Useless. Went to Hyde Park for drink in interval with lads … & some females."

Menwith Hill was a pretty good gig to have because, once you’d been security checked and given the
The Tarm Diaries

Wednesday 18th March 1964
"Beau round in eve for chat. Told him about group possibly going pro in summer - pleased."

*
Monday 23rd March 1964
"Did group work in eve - rang London & wrote letters."

*
Wednesday 25th March 1964
"Phoned up London again twice. Continental work."

*
Tuesday 28th April 1964
"Letter from London. They want an audition."

*
Wednesday 29th April 1964
"Phoned London twice in eve & fixed up audition at 2I’s coffee bar - all set!"

*
Saturday 23rd May 1964
"Set off for London with … Beau, Ralph & Paul. Going for German trip audition. Took us 6 hrs including stops for lunch etc. Uneventful trip … Staying at Ralph’s Aunt & Uncle, Mr. & Mrs. Tucker … Small posh house. Had practice there, other relations came over to … listen to us great; sounding as good as ever did."

*
Sunday 24th May 1964
"Off to City by bus & tube. Walked round all morn looking at sights. Met … at 2.30 at 2I’s coffee bar for audition. Played OK but excuse that Ralph & Paul too young - pos of French booking? Motored straight back in 4 hrs."

OK, repeat visits were almost automatic. At least, they were if you were good. And we were.

THEY SAY THAT EVERYONE who was alive at the time can remember where they were when President John F. Kennedy was killed. On November 22nd 1963, The Raiders were at the gates of Menwith Hill.

We knew the President had been shot and injured before we set off from Leeds; however, when we reached the gate, everything was in darkness. Security was tighter than anything we had seen before. Two guards came forward, both with guns, and asked us our business. We explained that we were playing for a dance in the Sergeants’ Mess. "Not tonight. The President is dead, and the base is off-limits. Turn around, and go home!", said one of the guards. So we did. It was a bad night. Bless them though, despite everything, the Yanks still remembered to pay us.

VERY FEW RECORDINGS of The Raiders exist today; but there are some. On January 7th 1964, the group turned up at the BBC’s studios in Woodhouse Lane, Leeds to record a session for a TV and radio producer by the name of Barney Colehan. From the moment we
The Tarm Diaries

Saturday 7th November 1964
"Took Beau & Paul to town to collect Paul’s Vox from Scheerers - been 3 months being repaired. Had a go on a Hofner through a T60 Vox. Not very impressed. Off to Normanton. Beau Pod & me in Beau’s car, Robin & Ralph in Robin’s. Brian & Paul in the MG. Played at baths there with the “4 Sabers”. About the same. We did 1 & 3 sessions out of 4."

*
Tuesday 8th December 1964
"Went to town in lunch hour to Scheerers to look at amps. Not much in - just T60, but probably too expensive."

*
Saturday 12th December 1964
"Went to Scherrers to look at amps for me. Decided to take a T60 on apro. 2nd hand one but generally OK. Back to Paul’s for a quick play through it. Played at Wrangthorn (at Hyde Park) youth club. V enjoyable dance with a real party spirit. Only about 80-100 there. Amp was really great. Back via Sandra B’s for coffee with Beau then bed by 1.15."

*
Monday 14th December 1964
"Went to town in lunch hour & went to bargain with Scheerer about Vox T60. Ended up buying it for £119 all in, with new set of strings. Expensive but worth it."

[£119 in 1964 money is the same as £1470 today! – TM]

*
Saturday 19th December 1964
"Went to town in morn to pay Scherrers but forgot my cheque book! Played at Castle Grove in eve at a Masonic do ... We played well & went down great. Another band there. Paul slewed & puked - never sang so well before!"

pulled up at the door to leaving the building was just one hour; incredible I know by today’s standards, but it didn’t seem unusual then. We simply put down four tracks - all first takes - listened to a playback, and went.

It’s a strange quirk of fate that, fifty years almost to the day after it was recorded, The Raiders’ “I Remember” from that BBC session made its vinyl debut, courtesy of Fruits de Mer Records on their 2014 Annual. All copies have been sold, I’m afraid; but as luck would have it, you can check out “I Remember” on the video below.

The final line-up change as The Raiders came in the spring of ’64 when Robin bid his final farewell (exams again). Paul Marshall, another
The Tarm Diaries

Tuesday 7th January 1964
"In aft went down … to Broadcasting House for radio audition with Barney Colehan. Taped 4 numbers - OK. Stayed at Beau’s for tea then off to Headingley Pavilion for N.S.P.C.C. dance. Really good. Went well."

talented player from (yes!) Leeds Grammar School came in on rhythm guitar and tenor sax, and that was how the band remained until I moved on, halfway through 1965. Why did I go? Well, a new musical influence was pushing me very hard and very fast in a completely different direction.

Beau was truly coming into his own. But that must be his story.

Pretty soon after, The Raiders changed their name to "Next Of Kin". Ralph had now gone to uni. so Tarm and Paul re-vamped
The Tarm Diaries

Saturday 25th April 1964
"Pod came round here then we went to Rob’s & got the lads & went to Adle Memorial Hall to play at dance there. Started 8.00 ‘till 11.45, lots there, a really good do. It’s the last we do before A levels, don’t play for 2 months. Last time Robin plays with us? Took Pod then Robin home. Beau & Sandra walked back."


[This was Rob’s last gig - TM]

the sound, bringing in Steve Palmer on drums, John Verity on guitar, and a fine singer called Christine Thornton on vocals. Next Of Kin carried on with considerable success for several months, but then time and circumstance caught up and they disbanded. All good things come to an end...

OR MAYBE NOT!

You see, there’s a fascinating postscript to the Raiders’ story. On 15th December 2001, the band played a reunion gig at the Old Leos Club in Alwoodley, Leeds.

They always say things are never as good second time around This one was! I think you’d better click here to find out what happened!


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Meanwhile, before you go...


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LOTS OF PEOPLE REMEMBER and some still have mementoes of the old band. Some may even have original recordings. If you’re one (or any) of these, do get in touch. Maybe you were with the USAF at Menwith Hill in ’63-’64, like the guy I met a couple of years back in Tucson, AZ.? If so, do e-mail me. The butler has been told to let you in!


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These are the places to be!

The Raiders Repertoire - so just what songs did the band play...?
The Raiders at The Leos - the full story behind the remarkable 2001 reunion gig!
Raiders Picture Gallery No. 1 - the Picture Galleries may take a minute or so to download, but they're worth it!
Raiders Picture Gallery No. 2
Raiders Picture Gallery No. 3
Raiders Picture Gallery No. 4
Recorded Song Info.
Beau
HOME PAGE - from whence all good things flow...
Trevor M...
John Trevor
Simfonica
"Dylan: Contraband"
John Peel's "Dandelion" label


Instrumental Rock Music Webring
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