Muskett was lucky to be around in those heady days when record companies paid for studio time, students got grants, gigs were plenty and someone had to sit on the engine.
Fast forward (remember that?) 36 years to 2010 and the same, not too rusty, Muskett ‘reloads’ at the Aspinall Arms in Clitheroe. It didn’t make the front pages but the room was full, it was great fun, so why not?
This winter has taken it’s toll on the music fraternity and sadly we lost another legend in January with the death of HSP Valentine. Although we at Muskett cannot not claim to have known him, it is possible to discern some tenuous link leading back through the mists of time.
It starts on an evening in the mid-1960s when yours truly was helping backstage at Boston Starlight Rooms (formerly the Gliderdrome). The sun had just risen on the glory days of the Animals and they were topping the bill. I can remember Alan Price and his Vox Continental (I could swear it had red keys), Chas Chandler using a thum-pick on his Epiphone Rivoli bass and Hilton Valentine playing those legendary arpeggios on a Gretsch Tennessean. I think the drums were silver.
All the name acts appeared at the ‘Glider’ and my own local wannabees, sometimes played support. This was a night off and with time to spare I somehow got into conversation with The Animals’ guitar player. We must have talked for at least 20 minutes. (I wrote about it in my diary when I got home). One thing I learnt was that John Lee Hooker’s blues varied from nine-and-a-half bars to thirteen bars, depending on how he felt. I am sure there must have been some mention of Dylan, as they were great fans. An NME interview with the Animals was the first time I’d ever come across him. I refrained from telling Hilton that our own lead player had just spent £305 on a brand new Grestch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, with two pickups as opposed to his one. A month or so later, and suitably inspired, two of us ventured down to Carnaby Street for the day and came back with a set of blue striped Animals-style jackets for the village hall circuit.
Ten years later and the sun had set on the original Muskett. Another ten and, now in a proper job, I was talking to a colleague who hailed from Newcastle. ‘I was the Animals’ roadie in the early days’ he claimed. He also told me something astonishing about Hilton Valentine – that it was his real name. Clearly a portent of stardom, I’ve always ranked it alongside Jackson C Frank in the list of great monikers.
Time moves on once more to The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe, circa 2015. The reformed Musketteers are having a bed-time snifter with Jerry Donahue when Peter Barton’s version of the Animals troop in from a gig in deepest Cheshire. Mick Gallagher, who had replaced Alan Price, is there but the only original member is drummer John Steel. ‘I’ve met you before - Boston Gliderdrome, 1964’ I said, not entirely truthfully. ‘Ah yes, revolving stage, great gig’ he said. Did the name of my colleague from work ring any bells with him? ‘Used to be our roadie’ he said, not missing a beat, and then proceeded to divulge a few more things about him that I had never heard. At last, inevitably, I recalled my conversation with his old mate and guitar player. ‘Every morning Hilton wakes up and curses Alan Price,’ he said, ‘I just tell him to forget it. Time to let it all go.’ Then came that infamous story of lost royalties once again.
There is a coda to this episode. The next morning after breakfast Peter Barton arrived ready to collect this latest version of The Animals for their tour of Scandinavia. As we wandered outside we began to wonder what we had drunk the night before. Waving gaily from the side of the van was the image of a jolly bearded man with a trowel and float, and the words: ‘Liam Barton – Plasterer’. Talk about a revolving stage.
Sadly there will be no more tours for Hilton Valentine. I’ve never forgotten our distant conversation and still sometime wonder quite why a famous rock star would happily spend his break-time talking to a 16-year-old youth from the sticks. I think it was probably because he was a decent bloke. Good player too.
A Heart Full of Soul: The Life of the Yardbird’s Keith Relf written by US author David French and published by McFarland Books is now available in the UK. This is the first full biography of the singer and harmonica player.
As Keith produced our 1973 album ‘Hunter Muskett’ David asked us to help him with a few memories from those times, both in the studio and later on tour with the Bradley’s Roadshow. Sadly we were unable to provide a photo of us with Keith (as far as we know none were taken), but David has kindly included the album sleeve in his book.
Many thanks to Yardbird expert Josh Cicek who also helped with the book. Josh contacted us from Australia with some Muskett tracks copied from Keith’s personal tapes – including an alternative version of Laze Around All Day.
To coincide with the book we are, for the first time, making a CD of the ‘Hunter Muskett’ album available. It can be purchased from this site in the usual way, using the links opposite. The CD features:
After performing Terry’s song ‘Leave It With Mine’ at the Edinburgh Fringe, Archie Fisher has now released a live version. It appears on the CD ‘The Best Times After All’ recorded in Canada by Archie along with Garnett Rogers. There is also a projected studio version in the pipeline. This is in keeping with Archie’s habit of recording Terry’s songs twice – he recorded two versions of ‘Silver Coin’ some years ago.
Terry's solo CD 'Falling More Slowly' is now complete. All but two of the songs are Hiscock originals and Terry plays the instruments himself with just a little help from Tom Leary on fiddle. Noel Gander and Gayna Taylor contribute vocals and John Ellis, who did Muskett's 'That Was Then This Is Now' CD, engineered at his Limefield Studio.
We could tell you how good it is but why not read an impartial review in FATEA on-line magazine Terry Hiscock CD review?
Copies of the CD are available by contacting Terry's website or by going to one of his solo gigs also listed on the site (assuming he remembers to take them along).
Copies of our comeback CDs – ‘Unafraid and Sober’ and ‘That Was Then This Is Now’ are still available from this site, along with our second 70’s album ‘Hunter Muskett’.
The band’s debut album ‘Every Time You Move’ remains, for the moment, unavailable.
As always, if you would like to get in touch do feel free to use our e-mail link on the ‘Contact Us’ page.
Spring Tour 2021 - all dates for April/May now cancelled
Rescheduled dates for 2021 so far:
If anyone out there would like to book us , or if you know someone who might, then please get in touch.
Please go to Terry’s Website for a full listing
With thanks to John Lamb for his reinterpretation....