Thanks to Chris Gray here's the story of The Cosmonauts
It all started when my mum entered me for a talent contest at Bugle, in 1965. I was to play a drum solo which I think was 'Wipe Out'. I was at the grand old age of 11....!! Below is a letter from the organiser, Mrs Pyle, to my mum informing her that there would be some other youngsters there who it might be useful to meet up with. As it turned out, it was Linda and Colleen Cross, from Foxhole, who had also entered the contest. Very amazingly I won the contest that night, beating all these other people who were mostly grown ups, including a couple of bands. Below is a pic of the envelope which contained my prize money, 10 shillings...!!! I also won the cup, which had to be returned the following year.
Shortly after the contest, our respective parents contacted each other and arranged for a get together for myself and Linda, who played guitar. We rehearsed at my home in Par and gradually began to build up a repertoire of current songs, but for the time being without a singer, so it was all instrumental.
It was decided that we definitely had possibilities so the search was on for more members to fill out the sound, and most importantly, to provide the vocals. I remember a girl called Trisha Trethewey, aged 15 and also from Foxhole, joined us on rhythm guitar. I think it was then that Keith Yelland, 15, also known as Yakkie, and also from Foxhole, appeared on the scene. He was our new singer and everything was finally falling into place.
I cannot remember if Colleen, aged just 11, had joined us at this point. Our first gig was at the E.C.L.P. social club on Par Moor, St Austell in 1966. I was now 12..!! We were kitted out with a new PA system, on HP, various guitars and amps, and my Premier drum kit, complete with a new tom tom. Below is the receipt for it, for the princely sum of £5, plus accessories....!!!! We were now officially the ''Youngest Group in Cornwall'', complete with our own business cards!!!
The gigs began to come in, with Linda's mum and dad, Eileen and Gordon, managing us. My mum drove me and my drums around in her Austin 1100. And to be really sad I can still remember the reg no....GRL 752D....!!!! We found ourselves playing all the local village halls and social clubs. The ones I remember were Penwithick S.C., Foxhole V.H., St Dennis S.C., Charlestown S.C., I'm sure there were many other clubs and halls but we also played some pubs, such as the Polgooth Inn, and the Plume of Feathers at Mitchell. I certainly remember doing a gig at my local youth club in St Blazey.
At some point, I cant remember exactly when, Trisha left the band and we found ourselves with a bass player, Les Gill, from St Dennis I think it was. The difference this made to the sound was naturally stunning. And also Colleen was definitely now playing keyboards with us.
Our repertoire consisted of most of the current hits, by artists like Dave Dee & co, Beatles, Wilson Pickett, Small Faces, Stones, Percy Sledge, Kinks, and even The Seekers..!! as well as old instrumentals by The Shadows
The biggest gig for us though was supporting Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds at Carlyon Bay, July 30th 1966, when he was No 1 with 'Out Of Time'. I cant imagine how we actually got the gig, but there we were along side The Vigilantes and The Smokey Joes, performing on the same stage as a No 1 pop star....unbelievable...!!! Especially as I had to go back to school in Fowey on the Monday and try to convince my teachers and mates how I had spent my weekend..!! At the end of the gig I got invited up to have a play on their drum kit....heaven...!!! I also remember after the show, being impressed with the sight of all these famous pop stars diving into the swimming pool with their clothes on...!!!
We appeared at Carlyon Bay again but I cant remember who with. All I can remember is having to set up in the wrestling ring which was a real novelty. Another different kind of stage was the snooker table at Penwithick S.C.....but we were only kids...!!!
We carried on gigging away all over Cornwall for the rest of that year, 1966. Then in January 1967 came the Rock n Rhythm Championship at Truro City Hall. This was to be quite a milestone for us. Oddly enough, the main thing I remember about that night was the number of times I had to visit the WC on account of how nervous I was. I just couldn't stop weeing..!!! I was also panicking because my freshly polished cymbal stands kept sliding down as they were so slippery. Emergency pliers had to be found to tighten everything up.
We were all lined up behind the curtains, with our instruments, while the band before us played. Les was happily playing along on his un-amplified bass when he managed to break a string......major panic....!!! Luckily the bass player from the other band lent him his bass, and as it turned out, it was a Hofner Violin bass like Paul McCartney's, so that looked really cool..!! We played our two songs, 'Midnight Hour' by Wilson Pickett and 'When a Man Loves a Woman' by Percy Sledge, and bought the house down. We just couldn't believe the response we got from the crowd. Unfortunately, because of our ages, we were not able to be placed as the prize was to appear at one of the big venues in Cornwall. Which makes me wonder why they let us enter in the first place..!! Anyway, we had our picture taken which appeared on the front page of the Western Evening Herald and that did us a lot of good gig wise. Sadly, that was the only picture ever taken of us to my knowledge. Of course there may be some others in existance of which I'd love to see.
Following this we continued to gig regularly as we were now quite popular. I cant remember exactly when, but we travelled up to Plymouth to audition for Hughie Green's Opportunity Knocks. We performed the same set as at Truro City hall, with the addition of 'My Minds Eye' by the Small Faces. Obviously we weren't up to the standard of Teddy Alexander and his George Formby style of comedy, or the Keep Fit Rhythm Team from Exeter, but we gave it our best shot and subsequently failed to get on the show.
The band carried on regardless, but eventually Keith and Les decided to pack it in. I think Keith stopped singing altogether and Les joined a band called Saffron. This left myself with Linda and Colleen, back where we had started. I think then it just fizzled out and that was basically it. For the relatively short time The Cosmonauts were together I had the time of my life, and for someone so young it has had a lasting impression on my life.
I left the area when I finished school in 1969 and moved up to south east Cornwall, Cawsand. Here I met new people and eventually formed a band called 'Hades' in 1972. We gigged the local area, including a memorable night on a Royal Fleet Auxilliary ship, anchored in Plymouth Sound. The guitarist was a crew member, Pete Bailey.
I joined the RAF in 1974 but was able to continue playing drums in various bands at home and abroad. Upon leaving the forces in 1980, I settled in Norfolk, and have been playing in bands here ever since. One particular high point was releasing a vinyl LP in 1988 with my band at that time, The Veil.
I last spoke to Linda Cross when I visited Australia in 2004. I'd heard she'd moved there and was able to get her phone number, so we spoke briefly, which seemed very strange after all those years. I've no idea where the others are now, perhaps one day they might find this website and get in touch. I am still playing, with a band called FireWire, and it's still great fun. I even own two sets of 1970's vintage Ludwig drum kits, one of which is stainless steel, very collectable..!!