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THE JOHN BENNETT PAGE - Number 5,  July/Aug 2016


In this issue I'm going back a long, long way; almost before time began.... Well, that's what it feels like!



1953, aged 17.   Daydreaming about things to come perhaps.........


1953.    Ken, aged 23, on National Service.    Ken had the right idea - keep your battledress uniform on when sitting in and everyone will think you're a hero!      A couple of years later I was on National Service myself, and I used to sit in with the Cy Laurie Band in Windmill Street Soho, fully clothed in khaki.   (That's just me; not the Cy Laurie band!)


Summer 1956.   An impromptu session on the roof of a house on Hampstead Heath.   Note Ken Colyer, visible just above my head; and the diligent chap who's making tea in the foreground.    Those were the days!



A nice sleazy picture of Trevor Williams (tpt/bandleader) and me 'giving it one' as they used to say back then, at a gig in deepest Soho.



Spring 1956.   Still with Trevor Williams, but about to join the Terry Lightfoot Band


Spring 1956.   Ken still with the Sid Phillips band.



1956.    The semi-pro Lightfoot band: Johnny Richardson (dms), Bill Reid (obscured - bass), Terry Lightfoot, Colin Smith (tpt),  John Bennett (tmb).   Seated: Al Wilcox (bjo)

One month later the semi-pro band became a pro band.   Band members were given a stark choice by manager Ken Lindsay; if they wanted to keep their day job they'd have to leave the band!   Simple as that.  

Some hard decisions had to be made.    Al Wilcox worked in the printing trade.    He decided not to risk his job, so he left and was never heard of again.    Johnny Richardson had arguably more to lose: he was on his last year as an apprentice in the jewellery trade.  He decided to give that up and ever since has enjoyed a long and fruitful career in the band business.   Trumpeter Colin Smith did not like the cold way the decision was put to us by Lindsay.  He left on principle, but was to return to the band a year later.     Bill Reid and I decided what the hell?  It's worth the risk.   And it was!