Cousin Jacks were one of the most popular bands in Cornwall, being a hugely popular draw wherever they went through their entire 10 year existence.
The band started out as a five piece, playing the hits of the day. They would 'raid the top 20' for the new and popular songs, learning several new numbers a week. A versatile band of talented musicians, they could cover virtually any musical style and always had the latest hits in their set list. They would rehearse twice a week and started out practicing in Steve's parents’ house in Penwithick before moving on later to Mike's parents’ house in Sandy Hill.
Starting off mostly playing pop they introduced more Rock & Roll and soul, such as James Brown and Wilson Pickett, when Tony moved on to playing the Hammond organ.
They played nearly everywhere in Cornwall and through their links with BCD also travelled into Devon to play clubs such as the Blue Angel in Torquay and the Park Ballroom in Plymouth.
The band used to meet up with many other local groups to swap stories at the Milk Machine in Church Square, St Austell late at night after gigs. They would regular chew the fat over a glass of milk (!) with the likes of Illinois State and the Vigilantes, with all the bands vans parked up outside.
Being one of the bigger local groups they also had the opportunity to play with a large number of big name visiting bands including The Riot Squad (Flamingo, 1967), Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers (Winter Gardens, 1967), Wishful Thinking (Seahawk Club, 1968), Pinkertons Assorted Colours (1968) and Status Quo (Flamingo, 1969). They supported Johnny James and the Bandwagon at the Winter Gardens in 1969, and Tony remembers that group spending nearly two hours arguing about what colour brogues to wear! They also played with The Godz at the Winter Gardens in 1969 and remember the band stencilling their band name in thick black paint all over town!
One particularly memorable gig was supporting the Jeff Beck Group in 1967. At the time Ronnie Wood, Aynsley Dunbar and Rod Stewart were with the band and Ronnie blew his speaker stack. He wanted to borrow Mike's but it was brand new and he refused, leaving Ronnie Wood having to try and get the local music shop to open late at night so he could get hold of some new kit!
One the big regular gigs was at the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth. It was here that Tony had a run in with Phil May from the Pretty Things. Phil Mistakenly thought the band had taken his microphone and it ended up with first being thrown and Tony and Phil having to be physically pulled apart! Thankfully it was resolved and they ended up friends.
Cousin Jacks were also a regular support band at the New Cornish Lido, where they played with The Kinks, Wayne Fontana, Fortunes, Honeycombs, the Applejacks, Poets and Johnny Kidd and The Pirates. Glen's dad, Taff Reece, ran the printers Elliot Marshall's in St Austell who designed many of the posters for the venue. Glen and Dave also worked there and part of their job was to design the posters and on many of them the Cousin Jacks name would be seen as big, if not bigger, than the featured star artist!
Another regular gig was the Blue Lagoon. They would play the Tuesday or Saturday slots with the liked of The Californians, Taste of Honey and Onyx. When Onyx and Cousin Jacks were playing together the place would be rammed. They also supported many of the bigger names on the Friday night slot, including Status Quo, Obissa and Geno Washington. Although they were an extremely popular and in-demand band, playing most nights of the week and sometimes weekend parties, they never had any plans to turn pro. They remained a semi-pro outfit throughout their entire time together. They were all having too much fun to think about becoming a serious professional band, the pro groups they played with didn't seem to be having as much fun as them so they didn't see the incentive to turn pro. During their time they did write a few songs, mostly in the harmony style, but didn't have any plans to make any records.
By the early 1970s the musical climate was changing. The Village hall dances had died out, with discos and the DJ now becoming more popular a lot of the venues were putting on less live music. Cabaret and light entertainment was becoming more popular, and there were a lot of Irish show bands starting to appear around the county. Cousin Jacks were now looking to find a niche for themselves and could either go down the rock or entertainment routes.
The obvious choice for them was to go down the entertainment route. They were already a polished group and they could see that venues were choosing to pay more for reliable, professional, well turn out club acts, rather than scruffy unreliable rock bands! They started to deck themselves out in white suits and introduced entertainment and comedy elements to their stage act. They were now often playing on the same bills as the likes of John Austin and his Big Band, and Manny Cockle.
There was something in a shift in the venues the band were playing, although the continued to play the Cornwall Coliseum they were now playing more holiday camps and entertainment centres, such as Talk of the West, Mount Charles Social Club, Cabaret Club and Perran Sands Holiday Park.
Throughout the 70s they had a very successful run playing these venues and their popularity continued to rise, making them a popular draw with locals and holiday makers alike.
By 1975 the band had run its course and played its last gig with the original line-up at Mount Charles Social Club. Dave and Tony left and the band continued for a little while with various members coming and going, but after a couple of years they called it a day.
Sadly Steve died young after suffering an asthma attack, and Paul would tragically commit suicide.