SOME SAY IT BEGAN with a chance suggestion by Barry Wills, a long-time Raiders fan.

Others reckon it was the incessant hinting from a certain drummer now resident in the Antipodes.

Yet others contend the announcement by John (Tarm) Armistead in July 2001 that “I’m thinking of taking up bass again,” was the catalyst.

I don’t know; I just play guitar!

Whatever it was, on Saturday 15th December 2001 The Raiders played a “mystery guest” spot at the Old Leodiensians Club in Alwoodley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

The whole thing was bizarre. To say we were under-rehearsed would be an exaggeration. We had no rehearsals at all, save for fifteen minutes unplugged in a side room at the Club on the night. The first time we plugged in was when we were up on stage!


BUT LET’S TAKE IT BACK to the beginning.

We heard some time in late October that Raiders’ drummer Ralph Sims was due to pass through the UK in December. It seemed it was possible that he was going to be in the country for at least a few days.

(Professor R. E. H. Sims, Director, Centre for Energy Research, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand – to give him his rather unpercussive title – flies all over the world trying to convince us to use energy more efficiently. Ralph even knows how much gas he produces every time he crosses the Atlantic. I believe Tarm once did a similar calculation… But I digress.)

Turned out that the one Saturday Ralph would be able to make it was December 15th.

John Armistead, the man with the new Precision Bass, lives way up on the North Yorkshire coast. His work also takes him to foreign parts – most frequently, the US – but as fate would have it, ‘Tarm’ was also going to be around on the 15th.

I lived just north of London at the time. December looked like being a busy time for me but, strangely enough, the weekend of Saturday 15th was free.

Rhythm guitarist Paul Marshall was not only available that weekend; he was also in a position to make things happen.

Paul has now moved to France, but in those days he was living in Leeds. He also had close connections with the Old Leodiensians Club and, crucially, access to the bands who forty years on still played the Saturday night gigs. It was Paul who persuaded the excellent Bullfrog Jones (check 'em out!) to allow four rather venerable musos to use their backline and drum kit for a “mystery guest spot”.

And so it was that The Raiders’ original line-up from 1964-65 came together one more time on a cold night at the Old Leodiensians Club in Alwoodley, North Leeds.


PUTTING A SET TOGETHER had of course been the first of many small problems.

Accepting that rehearsals were out of the question, I pushed out an e-mail to the guys in early December suggesting three songs that we could probably carry off with a minimum of embarrassment despite the thirty-six year time lapse. Tarm and Paul were OK; and Ralph signalled agreement from his laptop on some beach just south of Brisbane, Australia.

(Another aside on Ralph; the wife of his taxi driver in Brisbane apparently saw The Raiders at the Mecca Locarno Ballroom in Leeds, a venue we played regularly during the early ‘60s. It takes a special talent to elicit such info during a short taxi ride in Brisbane. But I’m digressing again…)

We arrived at The Leos, guitar cases and sticks in hand, with not a little trepidation. I mean, wasn’t this just a little bit arrogant? Not to say a touch foolhardy? Four guys who haven’t been onstage as a band in thirty-six years, who’ve had no rehearsals whatsoever, who haven’t as yet even agreed the running order for their short set, propose to stand up in a crowded club and play the interval slot with the highly-regarded Bullfrog Jones.

We said a big “Hello!” to each other, and a big “Thank-you!” to Bullfrog Jones for their generosity, and for loaning us their mixing engineer! Then we disappeared into our side room for our fifteen minutes.

TARM AND I STRUMMED on unplugged electrics, Paul played his electro-acoustic twelve-string, and Ralph tapped his sticks on an upturned guitar case. We agreed a running order, went through the start and finish of each number, and checked our tuning. Then we just crossed our fingers!


BULLFROG JONES finished their first set around 10pm, and suddenly The Raiders were on stage. We plugged in and I said a few words to the audience (many of whom were wondering who these old guys were!).

Then Sims clicked his sticks...

Hundreds of watts of borrowed power kicked in as we took off with Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’. Instantly, something happened in the audience. Something electric. We felt it from behind the lights, even though we couldn't see it. It was like our power and energy was bouncing off an invisible mirror. It came at us in waves; indefinable, but very definitely there.

I for one was running on pure adrenalin. Paul Marshall said, with heavy irony, "We're on our way back!" 'Cos after thirty-six years, the band gelled. We knew what we were doing, and we were doing it LOUD.

As one girl in the crowd said later, “I didn't know what to expect, but it hit you between the eyes!”

The audience was truly wonderful. We followed up ‘Johnny B. Goode’ with The Stones’ version of ‘It’s All Over Now’, and ended our short set with Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘Whole Lotta Shaking Going On!’ Or so we thought.


Trouble was, the audience weren’t through – they wanted more! The boss-man from Bullfrog Jones came to the front of the stage and said to me, “Stay up there!” Which was fine and dandy, except we had nothing else to do. We hadn’t reckoned on a fourth number!

Paul said, “Let’s do ‘Twist And Shout’, but do it in ‘A’”.

Now, not only had we not rehearsed ‘Twist And Shout’, even in the band’s heyday we didn’t do it in ‘A’! Tonight we did.

THE OLD LEO’S CLUB is about half-a-mile from the nearest building. It’s as well, because on Saturday 15th December 2001 The Raiders and audience together made the old place shake. We all just wished that Rob White, our other long-time guitar player, could have been there on the night to share the moment.

We found ourselves back onstage a little later for a community version of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’. But that was it!

This was a one-off. We live in different parts of the country – indeed, in different parts of the world. But as I made my way through the crowd after our main set, a young guy shouted at me “Now, that’s rock ‘n’ roll!”

Indeed it is, my friend. Indeed it is…


AND NOW... if you'd like to see Sandra Midgley's record of the night,
"Rough 'n' Ready - The Raiders at The Leos", you can!! Enjoy...


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