How It All Started...
Red-E-Lewis And The Redcaps were a semi-professional rock 'n' roll band from North London, moulded on American Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps. Fronted by singer William Stubbs aka “Reddy Lewis”, they were formed in mid 1958 and their first line-up consisted of Johnny Patto on guitar, Johnny Spence on bass, Frank Farley on drums. Spence and Farley were previously with the Wayfaring Strangers and The Ramrods alongside guitarist Mick Green, 2 skiffle groups from Wimbledon. The Redcaps were "discovered" at the same Wandsworth Town Hall once frequented by Frederick Heath & his Combo who later emerged as Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. In late 1958, the Redcaps eventually parted company with Reddy Lewis who recruited a new backing group called the Red “Cats” comprising guitarist Bobby Oats and drummer Jim “Tornado” Evans. They had played a few gigs at the Ebisham Hall in Epsom and Jimmy Page would chat to the musicians and using Bobby’s guitar played a few licks and riffs and some Chuck Berry solos. In early 1959, John “Jumbo” Spicer joined the band on rhythm guitar.When Oates announced that he was going to leave them to go to drama school in Easter 1959,The Redcats’ manager, Chris Tidmarsh, contacted Jimmy Page and invited him down to Shoreditch, where the band rehearsed in a room above a pub with a view to auditioning for the vacancy.Jimmy Page became their new lead guitarist and Jumbo Spicer switched to bass. In spring 1960, Chris Tidmarsh replaced Lewis on vocals and the band took part of the coffee morning parties in London given by Ray Mackender, who was an advisor to Cliff Richard's father and eventually discovered and became the manager of Mark Wynter. Mackender introduced them to the Beat poet Royston Ellis who was searching for a band to back him on his poetry readings called “rocketry”, as a replacement for The Shadows who became so much in demand after the success of their single “Apache”. Royston Ellis eventually did performances of rocketry just with Jimmy Page on guitar, from Late 1960 to July 1961, giving Page his first stage and TV shows. It was around this time that Royston Ellis learned about the benzedrine nose inhaler trick from Don Wood, the road manager of the Red Cats. It was a useful aid to staying awake in their all-night lives as musicians. He eventually showed (not fab’) four young lads from Liverpool how to use the nasal inhaler. They were musicians in an unknown outfit that backed Ellis when he performed his rock and roll poetry in Liverpool and finally took his advice on modifying the spelling of their band name… Now with Chris Tidmarsh as new vocalist, they reinvented themselve as “Neil Christian And The Crusaders”.
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