(Account written by Kenny Higman with much help from Tony Coxon - Additional photos from Dave Bassett)
The Intruders began as a group of three St Austell Grammar School friends (myself, Tony Coxon and Dave Bassett) getting together to play music. We had grown up together and knew others who were already playing in bands (Nick Dower, Phil Bassett, etc). I had played a range of different instruments in St Austell Silver Band (Juniors) as well as 2nd violin in the Grammar School orchestra, Tony started classical/Spanish guitar lessons in January 1963. Dave was already very proficient at playing the piano - but really wanted to play drums.
(Tony Coxon) I studied guitar with Mr Stan Haynes for about 4 years. Mr Haynes had a band on the radio during the war, the Stan Martini band, and was at that time one of very few guitar teachers in Cornwall, and I was very lucky he happened to be in St Austell. Although a good musician, he worked as caretaker for the NatWest Bank in the centre of town – the big red bank. His flat was at the very top of the building. My father had bought me a Spanish guitar for Christmas 1962, and later that year I was allowed my first electric. This was a hand-made Fender look-alike bought at Yardley’s Plymouth. It weighed a ton, was almost impossible to play but it served me until I replaced it with a Burns.
By the end of 1963, we had acquired two guitars and a set of drums, learnt a few tunes and had our first performance in early 1964 at a private family party in a hall at Mount Charles with me on lead guitar, Tony on rhythm and Dave on drums. The colour picture of the Intruders was this very first performance - gold lame trousers, pearl bow ties and all.
In the early days we alternated practices playing in the living rooms of each other’s houses. How the parents and neighbours tolerated this is hard to imagine! After a while, we hired Trethowel Village Hall every Tuesday for practice sessions.
The first paid gigs were a regular Friday night at Polgooth Youth Club playing all the instrumentals of the time - Shadows, Cougars, Ventures etc. At this stage we could fit the band and all the gear into Tony’s dad’s car!
Dave Bassett, Polgooth Village Hall
By the summer of 1964, we were joined by Pete Hicks on bass guitar. Pete was a fellow classmate at St Austell Grammar. Dave had taken on lead vocals (still on drums) with me attempting backing vocals. We now had a regular Friday night spot at Bugle earning three times what we had at Polgooth - it felt like we were on the way. I can remember playing a few "pop" tunes but we were mostly swayed by the sound of R&B, MoTown and Soul. Following various gigs at other venues, we played Xmas Eve 1964 in the New Church Hall St Austell and New Year's Eve at St Brannock's Hotel Newquay - this was the start of quite a long association with St Brannock's.
Intruders, 1964. Front garden of Tony's parents house in Poltair Avenue, St Austell
With the amount of gear and bodies expanding (but none of us old enough to drive) we first started to hire a van and driver for our gigs. But after some very hairy trips home with a driver worse for wear, my father sold the family car and bought us our own van – and became our driver. How many parents would do that? After a while, another friend, Terry Cross, came around with us and helped with the gear. As soon as he reached driving age and passed his test, he became our official Road Manager. We had a lot of fun with that van, every bit of space jam packed, long journeys across Cornwall and into Devon on narrow roads – and post gig suppers at the Port & Starboard at Fraddon which was always open until the small hours.
(Tony Coxon) like many bands of that period we started by emulating the Shadows. When we could afford a microphone we added a little rock & roll (Long Tall Sally etc). With the arrival of the Beatles our hair began to grow, we bought Cuban heel boots & even Beatle jackets – the world was changing! We copied the entire Rolling Stones 1st album as well as other R&B acts such Pretty Things, Downliner Sect, the Yardbirds and were listening to Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Wiliamson & other blues musicians.
In March 1965, we entered the Cornwall Rock Contest at Truro pitting ourselves against several other groups such as the Individuals (St Austell), 3 and a Bit (Bodmin), Shades of Blue (St Austell), The Misfits (Mevagissey), The Reaction (Truro) and Del Spartan and The Dominators (St Austell). Truro City Hall was packed with hundreds of teenagers that night, the atmosphere was amazing. Although The Individuals came first, we came a very respectable second (we were 15 year olds!!!) and part of our prize was to be the top act at the Plymouth Guildhall backed by a Plymouth group called The Tac-Tics. What an event that was! Also, in May, we had a double gig with the Individuals at the New Church hall in St Austell to celebrate our victories in the contest. Phil Bassett, the lead singer of the Individuals, is the elder brother of our own Dave Bassett.
In June 1965, Pete Hicks left the band to move to Croydon and my brother Dave Higman (who had also played in St Austell Silver Band - both junior and senior) joined the band and picked up bass guitar. With the new line-up and our evolving style of music, it seemed the right time for a change of name and image. The Dissatisfied were born and had their first performance in July 1965.