Alan Ross (Bass)
Mike Bunt (Drums
Colin Pryce –Jones (Guitar)
Spike Hooper (Guitar)
The Shades were one the most popular bands ever to come out of Cornwall. They had a devoted following of fans not just in Cornwall, but across the UK and throughout Europe, many of whom still speak highly of their raucous rock and roll shows.
Alex Kendall has recently written an excellent Biography of bass player Alan Ross. For anybody with even a passing interest in the band and the Cornish music scene in the 70s it is recommend reading and can pick up via Alex - Here
Below is a brief history of the band, check out Alex's book for much more.
The guys in the band already had musical careers before the band came together, all highly talented musicians they were already well respected musicians.
Alan hailed from Essex. He played in numerous jazz and clubs bands around London and Essex and was also a recorded artist, having being part of the band The Acid Gallery who's only 45 'Dance Round The Maypole' (featuring Roy Wood) also included Alan's 'Right Toe Blues' on the b-side.
Spike Hooper was a highly regarding St Austell musician, having played in numerous bands since the skiffle days. A musician of natural ability he could turn his hand to any instrument and is regarded by many as one of the most talented musicians to come out of the county.
Colin Pryce-Jones also had a long pedigree of playing in bands in Cornwall. A highly skilled guitarist he was much in demand, playing in many bands throughout the 60s. His love of The Shadows was also well known.
Alan made the move to Cornwall in the early 70's after his brother set up Smile surf shop in Newquay. After a couple of years playing in cabaret bands in 1974 he ended up in a band with Colin Pryce-Jones backing cabaret acts 7 nights a week in St Ives. Then in the summer of 1976 along with Spike Hooper and Malcolm Hooper they started a rock & roll show at the Four Burrows pub in Grampound Road. This proved extremely popular, at the time there were plenty of people performing Elvis and the slicker end of the 50s, but nobody was playing the sweaty rock & roll and rockabilly like this band, and the public lapped it up.
Alan knew Colin was a born rock & roller and when he bumped into him again he invited him to join the band. Soon after Malcolm Hooper left and was replaced by Mike Bunt on drums. They would then become known as The Shades. The band's management also had another Shades on the books, a cabaret band, so they would find themselves also going out under the moniker The Rockin' Shades.
Around late 76/early 77 they recorded a demo at the Four Burrows and unknown to the band the owner sent this off to the BBC. This was picked up by DJ Stuart Coleman who signed the band up for some radio sessions. While in London they played a few hastily arranged gigs and went down a storm. There was a burgeoning rockabilly scene in the city and the band fit right in. They would play London a lot over the coming few years, building up a solid fan base.
They soon built up a strong reputation across the UK and ditched their unreliable first manager, Barry Bethel. Barry was involved in the Double Booked compilation LP from William IV and would go on to be the face of Slim Fast, but more recently hit the headlines for being jailed for sexually abusing a young girl. He was also rubbish at securing the band gigs, as well as promising gigs that were never booked.
The band's second manager, Graham Sclater, would help secure them a fanbase in Europe. When visiting a music convention in Spain he met up with representatives from Trova Records who would fix up the band gigs throughout the country, as well as releasing several records, one of which a cover of the rockabilly classic 'Sunglasses After Dark' would achieve No.2 in the Spanish charts and make them overnight sensations in the country. Sadly, it was an all too familiar music industry story in that Trova were scam artists and the band saw little or no money.
Their next big break would come via Adrian Owlett, their 3rd manager. He also managed Shakin Stevens and the band would back him up from time to time. With The Shades now in the heart of the rock and roll revival they were a natural pick for Jack Good to include in his re-launch of his 50s show Oh Boy! (later renamed Let's Rock).
The show featured the Shades each week, performing 'live' (live vocals to pre-recorded track). They even recorded the theme to the show 'Rock and Roll is Good For The Soul', which Pye released as a single and should have put them in the charts alongside Shakey and the others. Sadly the ineptitude of the label and lack of understanding of current trends resulted in little or no promo and the single bombed.
They carried on regardless but their unfortunate run of bad luck would continue. They played the annual rock and roll weekend at Caisters in Great Yarmouth. The event was being filmed for a major movie release and although the band's audio was taped (and released on an EP), no visuals were recorded so they never appeared on the big screen.
Despite a few more records and a strong loyal following, around 1983 they decided to call it a day after one final tour of Holland. It had been a hard slog and they never achieved the break they deserved. They split as friends, it has just been hard work for so little reward.
Colin would move to London and form the very successful Rapiers with Jet Harris, a band which still continues to this day.
Mike, Alan and Spike would form the Flying Tigers with Pete Mawson. Very much a continuation of The Shades, they stuck mostly to playing in Cornwall with no grand illusions of hitting the big time. Pete would leave for Australia and was replaced by Pete Flaskett for a while.
All were now holding down day jobs and around 1990 Alan called it a day, the drudgery of touring taking its toll. Dick Bland would come on board for a while as replacement. Dick played previously with The Onyx in the 60s and 70s, as well going on to play with Shakin Stevens, Joe Brown and with Cliff Richard at Wembley.
Alan would go on to work with Pete Berryman, Tosh and Porky amongst others and still does the odd gig here and there.
Spike sadly passed away in 1999 and was sorely missed amongst the Cornish music scene.
Live on Oh Boy!
Flying Tigers live in Newquay
Alan Ross interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall
Le Roy/Tongue Tied Jill (7", Tabatha. 1978)
Hello Josephine/? (7", Trova. 1978)
Shades (LP, Trova, 1978)
Grafas De Sol Para La Oscuridad (sunglasses After Dark)/? (7", Trova, 1978)
Live at Caister (7" EP, MCPS, 1979)
Rock and Roll Is Good For The Soul/Grizzly Bear Boogie (7", Pye, 1979)
Jack Good's Oh Boy! OST (LP, Pye, 1979)
Rockin' Redwing/Good Ol Sal (7", Honky Tonk, 1980)
Ace of Shades (LP, Magnum Force, 1981)
With kind thanks to Alex Kendall
Links to other bands:
Did you play in this band? If so please get in touch!