Musicbox Through the Ages...
When I first thought of the idea for this web site, the history of Tamworth Bands, I knew that even though I had my own memories, my own press cuttings and could call on old friends for their contributions, there was only one source of the entire history of our local scene - the Tamworth Herald. Elsewhere on this web site you can read the entire History of Tamworth bands from 1960 to 1990 but here you can read details of the newspaper column that documented that history. The column grew through the Sixties and Seventies as the scene itself grew but then, as you will read, with one young reporter being employed to write for the paper in the early 80s, the scene and the column, grew hand in hand.
Click on the links above to read the entire history of Tamworth's local music column, see a list of each and every reporter that wrote in it's hallowed column inches and find out just how many different names the column had along with almost forty different logos.
In the Tamworth Herald of 1960 to 1962 the young music fan of the time would struggle to find a single column about the music of the day. You could only find which band was appearing locally by checking out the Public Notices section - seeing that Shane Fenton and the Fentones or The Blue Flames (with Georgie Fame) were playing at the Assembly Rooms. Or if you were a fan of local bands, you could see the advert for The Rebels playing a Rock and Roll Request Dance at Fazeley Parish Hall, it was going to cost you 2/- but refreshments were available and your hard-earned shillings were going to the Fazeley Darby and Joan Club.
The local music fan had to wait until Friday February 1st 1963 before they had a column in the Herald dedicated to popular music. And why that particular date? Well, a rather well-known band were appearing in the town that evening. The column, entitled "Record Spin" previewed that evenings concert – The Beatles at the Assembly Rooms. Read the entire tale of The Beatles in Tamworth.
The Herald column with the catchy name: "Keep an Eye on What's on" appeared the week after The Beatles played in the town (I wonder if the local paper suddenly realised that Tamworth DID have some teenagers in the town! - Ed). The column featured reviews of the latest films at The Palace and Tamworth's Top 10 selling records and Top 3 selling Long Players.
The Herald column "in Black and White" covered all things that might interest local people in the world of entertainment, hobbies, pastimes etc. You could read about rugby, cooking, who won the latest Young Farmers' competition and yes, hidden within the small column inches you could find details of national and local bands appearing locally including The Wanderers, The Bachelors and The Tremeloes.
First appeared on November 1st 1963 with a review of the Screaming Lord Sutch concert at the Assembly Rooms. The column also included details of latest cinema releases and a local Top Twenty compiled in association with Greens, Crowhursts and Weavers record shops. Record and Film Review was the first column to really promote local bands including large photographs of local bands such as Johnny Silver and the Cossacks and especially The Three Spirits who were regulars on a Friday and Saturday night at the Assembly Rooms. The column also featured the big name national bands appearing in the town including on November 29th 1963 a preview of the Rolling Stones' appearance at the Assembly Rooms and a review the following week.
Record and Film Review was replaced by a column called Pop Bar in 1964, first appearing on September 4th. It included local and national music news including details of all the top names appearing in the town incuding Peter and Gordon, The Zombies and The Honeycombs.
During 1965 the dedicated music column disappeared from the Herald for a relatively short time. However, it was clear the your local 'pop' fan was finding out who was on and where and when by checking out the enormous adverts placed on the Public Notices page by local pop supremo Vince Baker. Bear in mind the Herald at this time was a broadsheet newspaper, Vince Baker was buying up a third to a half of the entire Public Notices page to promote his events in and around the town.
1966 and 1967 saw Herald articles on local and national music appearing in the general
body of the paper with The Four XXXX's being the band of the day. Later in the year In Black and White made a return as the place for the young popster to find out what was happening including news of an exciting local band The Convention. The Public Notices page continued to be the place to find what was on including the new phenomenon - the Discotheque.
Once again 1968 and 1969 saw the Herald's music column go walkabout with the local music fan having to be satisfied with large adverts for events at the new 'in-place' the Foseco Sports and Social Club. Vince Baker had moved operations to the Atherstone Memorial Hall and Foseco became the place to be seen with Status Quo, Edwin Starr and Fleetwood Mac appearing.
A new decade and new musical tastes were around and about the town, Camelot, describing their music as 'heavy acid rock' were featured in the body of the Herald. Large Public Notices adverts featured such 'name' bands as Black Sabbath and John Peel appearing at Polesworth Memorial Hall. Mid-April 1970 did see the one-off appearance of a dedicated music column - Random Records. The column simply listed that weeks latest record releases including Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, Ronnie Aldrich and His Two Pianos and The Sound of Music soundtrack.
Disco, Hot Pants and Noel Edmunds - Hawkwind, Gentle Giant and Johnny Slade - all featured in advertisements or general articles in the Herald of 1971. But...on December 3rd 1971, the Herald featured the first ever appearance of Musicbox. Yes, on this day David Millar reported on the appearance of King Biscuit Boy at Tamworth College of Further Education, the Emperor Rosko Christmas Show at the Assems and latest releases by Santana and the Coasters. The first Musicbox report on local bands appeared at the end of the year with a feature on 18-year-old Phil Bates from Dosthill.
1972-74 saw Musicbox become a regular weekly feature in the Herald. Two to three columns including a picture of a local band it featured all the latest local band news and also details of national record releases. Local bands of note at this time featured in Musicbox included The Four XXXX's, The Power and the Glory and the rise of Johnny Slade and Barry John as local disco-kings. Elsewhere in the paper 1973 featured articles concerning the beginnings of the conversion of the old Church Street Baptist Chapel into the new Arts Centre - something which was to feature greatly in the Musicbox columns in a few years time. 1974 saw the rise of Folk music local with Andy Dwyer appearing regularly in Musicbox.
In 1975, Concept were the local band of the year but there was really only one story in the Herald in that year, the opening of Tamworth Arts Centre on Friday November 21st 1975. What a day!
Now a regular feature positioned directly underneath the T.V. listings, Musicbox would see the first mention of legendary Tamworth bands, Flash Harry and Lucifer. '76 also saw only the second named Herald reporter to put his or her name to the Musicbox column - Peter Brown, a committed 'rocker', Pete was now in charge of the precious Musicbox column inches.
Typically, with good old Tamworth, the next big thing in the Town in '77 (in the columns of Musicbox at least) was Folk music, with Steve Adams, Andy Dwyer and Alan Whittle the names to follow. While the rest of the country became immersed in the delights of PUNK, good old Tamworth was in folk heaven. Except that was, if you read a full half-page feature in the Herald on September 9th 1977 by Musicbox man Peter Brown featuring local punks Ed Ake and Suzie the Headbanger. Something even more significant than the arrival of punk in the town was featured in the Musicbox of October 7th 1977, when we read; "Dave Armour, manager of the town’s Arts Centre, has given the go-ahead for concerts in the Church Street building providing the demand is there." And, on Friday 30th September - Willow a local progressive rock band featuring Mick Rutherford were the first band to play at the Arts Centre.
As we moved into 1978, Tamworth was moving rapidly from a Folk town to a Rock town with Flash Harry and Brewster playing the Arts Centre. Music was featured in the main body of the Herald when we were shocked to read about the alleged chart-rigging associated with Green's Records of Church Street and the ex-Eton schoolboy Hugh Inge-Innes Lillingston who was drummer for national punk band, Rikki and the Last Days of Earth and whose Father lived at Thorpe Hall. Not in Musicbox but in Scene Around we read the exciting news that bands were to play in the Castle Grounds. Dave Armour (Arts Centre Manager) was keen to include rock bands in the live music played in the bandstand throughout the summer. And so, on August 6th Flash Harry, Ice on August 13th and Brewster on August 20th 1978 all played in the Castle Grounds. The end of the year saw a Herald reporters strike resulting in the preview of The Reliants (Tamworth's one and only punk band) being written by the band themselves!
Again Musicbox was a regular weekly feature in the Herald but what often tended to happen was that a band would feature in Scene Around - the full-page in the paper dedicated to the Arts. As the Arts Centre was in its pomp this was the place to be seen. A Spring Arts Festival took over the Town around Easter '79 including Tamworth's first open-air Rock Festival in the Castle Grounds. Featured in Scene Around it took place on Easter Monday, April 16th an featured Ice, Brewster, Ramblin' Band, Flash Harry and Asylum. May '79 saw the first appearance of 'Musicbox Mistress' - Annette Witheridge and in the same month version 2 of The Reliants (still Tamworth's only punk band) played their final riotous gig. The summer saw sad headlines in the Herald: "PUNK GANG LEFT TRAIL OF BLOOD" and November saw an almost full-page feature by Annette Witheridge on Tamworth's bored teenagers with interviews with mods and bikers. Musicbox of 1979 was growing and growing, at times almost a half-page spread and the end of the year saw a feature on The DHSS and their soon to be released demo tape 'Packaged Pleasure' - the first band to sell a tape in the town. And Annette then ended the year with a Musicbox review of the decade covering a whole half-page of the broadsheet paper with The DHSS tipped as 'the band of the 80s' . (We split up a week later! - Ed.)
Rob Sly became editor of Musicbox in 1980 and along with Richard Whitehead continued to develop the column. With local DJ Rikky Patrick now in the guise of local Synth Band Supremo Rikk Quay in his band Those Attractive Magnets and coincidentally working at the Tavern in the Town, Musicbox featured reviews at the exciting new venue - The Stable. Rob Sly reported on Tamworth's first Punk Performance Poet - Edward ian Armchair. Ice and Flash Harry continued to Rock. At the end of the year Rob and Richard asked local pop and rock fans for their Top Twenty records of the year - the beginnings of the famous Musicbox Poll. (Stevie Wonder and Whitesnake featured heaviliy in their choices!). Dave Armour left the Arts Centre (a sad loss) and on Novermber 28th, a local schoolboy penned his first Herald Musicbox local band article - under the headline 'Explosive line-up' one Sam Holliday wrote a preview of a CND benefit gig at the Prince of Wales featuring Concrete Evidence and Ethis. 1980's Musicbox featured a Tamworth Top Twenty in collaboration with Rock-it Records. By the end of the year the Musicbox column was covering a full half-page of the paper.
Omen, Those Attractive Magnets, Ice and Georgie Jackson the new Arts Centre Manager are featured in the weekly half-page Musicbox edited by Rob Sly. St. John's is THE venue to be seen at with The DHSS, The Assets, Thirty Frames A Second, The Fretz and The Classified Ads being featured regularly and Sam Holliday was once again a featured scribe.
Cathy Pettigrew was a new name to Musicbox with many enthusiastic reviews of Those Attractive Magnets. The local scene was now so vibrant with new rock bands, schoolboy bands and synth bands appearing almost weekly. In May 1982 the Herald went tabloid, Musicbox still remained a fixed half-page column, now landscape rather than portrait. The DHSS and Those Attractive Magnets featured on an Ebony Records sampler and Cathy Pettigrew bravely reviewed the 'interesting' Armchair Guide to Insanity by Edward ian Armchair - recorded in the kitchen at the Tavern in the Town.
The above logo was one of the longer lasting. In February 1983, Richard Whithead wrote a full-page in the main body of the paper on the 20-year anniversary of The Beatles playing Tamworth
. Gary Holt took over from Georgie Jackson at the Arts Centre. In early April, Sam Holliday wrote nearly a full-page article on the apathy of the local scene and then finally started to get paid by the Herald after joining the paper in July - he took over Musicbox almost immediately. Coincidentally at the same time the Dream Factory emerged as THE local band. Through Sam's inspirational enthusiam the first 'proper' outdoor Rock Festival took place over the August Bank Holiday and duly merited a full-page spread (written by Sam) in the body of the paper. The scene that Sam had written about as apathetic in early '83 began to grown and grow and grow, with the emergences of such bands as Sitting Pretty, Love On Board. To cap off '83, Sam introduced the Musicbox Poll voting for Those Attractive Magnets as his band of the year - the results of the poll with Dream Factory winning took up a whole page on December 30th 1983. Darryl Jones made a brief appearance as a Musicbox scribe in 1983.
Early '84 saw mention of a band called The Crowd (Who? I hear you say), they included Paul Hanlon and Neil Sheasby - yes - in mid-84 they became Dance Stance. April also saw Sam introducing a new U2/Alarm style trio - Breaking Point. June saw plans once again for the Rock Festival - with 18 bands showing an interest in playing, Nick Ewbank became the new Arts Centre Manager. One On One, Sitting Pretty and The Dream Factory monopolised the columns of Musicbox until July 27th 1984 when, under the headline "You are awful but we might like you!" Sam introduced - WOLFSBANE. I quote Sam: "It was hard to believe as you surveyed, the packed, enthralled audience that this was the band's first ever gig in Tamworth. As a gig it was excellent, but as a debut it was outstanding." Friday Augusy 31st saw another full-page spread reviewing 'the biggest and best ever local pop festival'. Later in the year Caprice (and Mike Fleming) made their Arts Centre debut and in November, Sam gave himself a rare moment of self-praise by announcing the split of The Classified Ads. The end of the year saw Musicbox swamped by the Poll results again (with the Dream Factory victors once again) and in the main body of the paper the first appearance of one - Ian Gibbons - raising money for Ethiopia. Marcus Day made a brief appearance as a Musicbox reporter.
Another long-lasting logo, the one above. An Ethiopia charity gig, Dream Factory single and Expresso Bongo opening and the very first Battle of the Bands - a very busy start to 1985 for Musicbox. Edward ian Armchair came out of retirement to raise money for striking miners. In late February '85, Sam introduced 'Gossip Box' which did what is said on the box! The end of March '85 saw a feature on Tamworth's first proper rock club, The Rathole which was due to open - it didn't! Sam continued to rave about Breaking Point, Sitting Pretty and Wolfsbane and July saw a half-page preview of what promised to be the biggest and best-ever Rock Festival. The body of the paper saw a feature 'Band aid for the Centre' with the news that the Arts Centre was in financial troubles once again. Bands were raising money for problems further afield with the Tam Aid cassette and the end of August saw the the headline 'Rock defies the rain!' as the Festival of '85 is a roaring success depite horrendous weather. As a result of it's success, the main body of the Herald reported that the Arts Advisory Council saw the Festival as a moneyspinner and were considering supporting it. But...Sam at his socialist best concluded: "...but the people who have struggled to make this event a success must not be overriden in the search for financial gain." At the end of October '85, when things were a little quiet Sam introduced the 'Rogues Gallery' - a horrendous collection of mug-shots of local musos. Local musicians joined forces with local megastar Edwin Starr for a National Day for Ethiopia on December 21st 1985 including a gig at the Assembly Rooms. The concert features in many a column inch in the Herald as the bands raise over £1,000. Sam finished off the year with a full page summary of the year "A year in the life...of a Town's busy music scene."
The longest-lasting Musicbox logo this one, covering probably it's busiest ever period. 1986 begins with a full-page feature on the Musicbox Poll with the Dream Factory making a hat-trick of victories. January 10th 1986 saw a review by Matthew Dolan of a young band from Atherstone making their debut - Catch 22. The second Battle of the Bands streched to four heats with sixteen bands. A 'new wave' of bands were beginning to appear regularly in Musicbox, including Terroah and Catch 23 and Dance Stance were taking over the mantle of the Dream Factory, while Wolfsbane gradually got more, and more impressive. One On One won the Battle of the Bands and Musicbox featured Edwin Starr's presentation of the trophy. Almost 12 months after the original planned opening - The Rathole finally opened in 1986 and featured among others a 'unique' local band - The Soil Brothers. Dan Collins wrote a half-page feature on Edwin Starr and why on earth a mega-star would live near Polesworth! Recharge became the Town's second recording studio - and yes, there was enough business for both! And then, in May '86, Ian Gibbons began to put name bands on at The Rathole - many a Musicbox column-inch was soon to be taken up by these out-of-town bands. Big name after big name appeared at the venue. Edward ian Armchair was featured again - now in his new role as t-shirt impresario. The Herald featured the story of how the '86 Festival was saved after a massive hike in insurance fees. August also saw an entry form for the Tamworth Pop Quiz, jointly organised by the Herald and the L.K. Roadshow. The Festival was now spread over four days, with two Arts Centre shows preceeding the two outdoor events. The Herald of August 28th featured the story of how the the event had still been a monumental success despite the heavens opening. September saw the release of Wolfsbane's debut single - Clutching At Straws. More and more out-of-town name bands appeared at the Rathole including Wonderstuff. Alongside the edition of Musicbox of November 14th 1986, on the Scooper page we read the caption to a photograph of a young girl "Gemma gibbs loves badges" - almost as significant was a feature in Musicbox on the appearance of Dr. Feelgood at the Assembly Rooms. Over the coming weeks we read how Wolfsbane were off to the Gulf , Dance Stance released a single and The Dream Factory split up. The year ended with the heartening news of TAMAID and how local musicians joined forces to record "Youth Is Our Future".
1987 saw Dance Stance win the Musicbox Poll, Wolfsbane return from the sun, Battle of the Bands kick-off again and John Garforth take over as Arts Centre Manager. Although after the initial Battle of the Bands meeting, Sam asked the question in Musicbox "Where have all the rock bands gone?" "Is Tamworth's rock scene in a state of crisis?" Sam went on to list the bands who had recently split and called for a 'new wave' of bands. His call was answered with the appearance of Rape in Yellow, Fetch Eddie the Baby's Gone Blue and The Great Express. But it was the mighty Wolfsbane who won Battle of the Bands. April saw Musicbox feature the second TAMAID with 'Bombs Away' recorded in aid of Quince Tree School. The Rathole moved to the Arts Centre, big name bands flooded in, One On One split. July saw Musicbox feature the debut Cath 23 single and Wolfsbane's continued growth in national status was regularly featured with their debut Marquee gig almost filling an entire page by itself - and rightly so. Two whole pages of Rock Festival preview and review followed at the end of August. September saw Sam write "Decade with a Herald of Punk" a feature about Edward ian Armchair who had been performing locally for ten long years and he wrote about the biggest gig of the year with the Toy Dolls and The Wilsonz and Catch 23 appearing at the Rathole. October saw three big names appear in the paper - Dan Collins wrote how Edwin Starr was releasing a new single, John Garforth was sacked as Arts Centre Manager and Ian Gibbons left the Town and the Rathole closed. Dan Collins again had been busy on the typewriter with a full-page feature on Leigh Smart, Tamworth's 'Mr Northern Soul'. November 1987 in Musicbox saw that Tamworth bands were finally hitting the big-time for real. Wolfsbane headlined the Marquee and Dance Stance were the first unsigned band to release a CD single and the year ended with the news that an all-new version of The DHSS were about to resurface.
1988 saw Sam and Martin Warrillow struggle to keep up with all of the local gigs and it was becoming more and more frequent that local musos would review gigs for the Box. February saw the Battle of the Bands featured again in Musicbox - this time for new and up-and-coming bands including Spiral Eye, Scream Dream and Kraze. Scream Dream won. April saw Sam get rather excited with a return gig by Wolfsbane (now on the verge of mega-stardom), support from Kraze and the debut of The DHSS. A debut which resulted in front-page Herald (and national newspaper) coverage of the infamous 'Ashes' incident. Sam Holliday went on Holliday!! at the end of April and the April 29th edition of Musicbox was put together in his absence by Dan Collins and - surprise, surprise featured Soul, Soul, Northern Soul and Soul!!! Rock Festival plans featured again with previews of the event in a new July slot. And then...on May 20 1988 in a full-page feature under the banner headline "Rock kings Crowned!" we read how Wolfsbane had finally got a record deal, with Def jam Records. Sam allowed for two small boxes aside of the main feature, one apologising for the lack of your usual Musicbox, the other saying "I hate to say I told you so but..." - and he did! In the June 10th 1988 edition of Musicbox Sam announced "And now...the album!" - yes, Tamworth Bands had got together to produce a cassette of their best tracks, with the tape being jointly reviewed by Sam and Martin a month later. The Festival and the rain featured again with Wolfsbane giving one of their last performances befopre jetting off to L.A. But not until putting on two farewell shows at the Arts Centre - Fetch Eddie and Catch 23 supplied support for the Saturday show, The DHSS and Scream Dream for Sunday's - the mighty Wolfsbane headlined both a said farewell - and Sam missed it!! (thankfully there was still Kettlebrook to come!) . The departure of Wolfsbane to the bright lights of L.A. saw the arrival of a new crop of young bands in the town to be featured in Musicbox, these were led by Emma Gibbs Loves Badges. September '88 saw a feature in the main body of the paper under the headline "Town nightspots put ban on 'acid' pop". Wolfsbane's debut single - the Wasted But Dangerous EP was released in October. The Musicbox of November 4th '88 saw the birth of King Woderick and the Yogots and the announcement of the very sad death of Dance Stance manager Ray Sheasby. The end of the year saw an abundance of gigs listed in the Box and then it was Poll time again, Sam raved about The DHSS 'Clarke Gable' demo, the band hit the headlines again supporting Sigue, Sigue Sputnik and finished off the year, under the headline "DHSS claim their benefit" - they'd won the Musicbox Poll.
Early 1989 saw the regular Battle of the Bands event replaced by an Indoor Rock Festival with four consecutive Sunday gigs at the Arts Centre in February and in the same month under the headline 'What a Catch' we read how Catch 23 had once again won through to the final of the TSB Rock School Contest. More and more letters began to appear in Musicbox (on Sam's request) - was it a prediction of things to come when Sam headlined "Holliday gets slagged off parts 1257-1260!" Scene Around was still going strong as the Herald's general entertainment page and featured an enormous picture of Dave Caswell and his Chapman stick (mic it up Denis!!) . By the beginning of March, Musicbox was taking up an entire page of the Herald - as Wolfsbane announced their World Tour was to begin at Tamworth Arts Centre. More evidence of Tamworthian World domination occurred the following week with news that Dance Stance were to appear on Opportunity Knocks and on March 22nd 1989 Catch 23 took part in and WON the TSB Rock School cotest in Bradford meriting a full page spread in Musicbox the following week. The DHSS finally did another gig and then jumped on the FA Vase bandwagon producing a song for Tamworth F.C. putting Sam Holliday in Tamworth's version of heaven combining his two greatest loves. The DHSS continued down the Music Hall road producing a video with Buttercup as Big Butty and the Wide Boys and then imploded at the now regular Scum Ball at the Assembly Rooms. Sean Atkins came of age as the new Musicbox reporter, putting the final nail in the band's coffin. The Musicbox Letters column continued to grow and grow as did the popularity of Emma Gibbs Loves Badges and the Rock Festival planning took off once again with the news that Wolfsbane were to headline. A full page review headlined 'Town is Rocked' - as Sam said "It was billed as the biggest and best Festival yet, and for once it was a case of DO believe the hype...". Monday July 24th 1989 saw probably Musicbox's greatest ever news story with the release of Wolfsbane's debut Def American album 'Live Fast Die Fast'. August saw Dance Stance go from strength to strength playing at the Mean Fiddler and The DHSS fall apart as their split was explained. As Wolfsbane began to steal the national headlines with features in Sounds, NME and Kerrang!, Spiral Eye were taking over the local headlines. A Herald frontpage headline of "NEVER AGAIN! Farmers apologise after acid house party rave up" saw a new pop phenomenon hit the town - Jo Marsh took a look and reported back for Musicbox. Wolfsbane supported Guns 'n' Roses and then released their first single from their LP, 'Shakin'. With the hectic national and international activity of Wolfsbane, Catch 23 and Dance Stance and the local mayhem of Emma Gibbs, Scream Dream and Spiral Eye, Musicbox was a permanent full page feature in the Herald, topped off by many letters - several criticising the Arts Centre. Mike Turner was recruited as a new member to the Musicbox team and we also saw contributions from Helen Machin. The Christmas '89 Musicbox saw Spiral Eye announce a national tour and the new DHSS appeal for members and a week later the announcement that Catch 23 had won the '89 Poll.
1990 started off very strangely in Musicbox with moans, moans and more moans. Bands were moaning about the quality of the sound and costs at the Arts Centre - was this a hint of things to come. Sam took comfort in a series of features on Bands of the 80s. January's Box saw the beginning of The DHSS saga of why the band had split. A series of fundraising gigs for the Arts Centre took place and then the gig glut began. Lincolns was now putting out of town bands on each Sunday and the Arts Centre was also staging gigs - they clashed - things were to get worse. In March, Night Moves began Sunday night gigs. At the end of the month it got to such a furore that Sam's headline: "One Week, One Town, FIVE gigs!" summed it up. April 6th 1990 saw a milestone in Musicbox history - Sam Holliday wrote a bad review, nay, a scathing review - the victims of his poison pen - The DHSS (1990 version), prompting another Letterbox saga. Musicbox was now one WHOLE BIG PAGE with an enormous Rathole advert filling the page (paid for by Clive Bartram!) And then in May, Sunday May 18th to be precise, the first full Rock Festival meeting took place. The following week's Musicbox reported on the meeting - yes, 24 bands were to play, but the Committee's suggested line-up had been thrown out and in a small 2-column piece Sam Holliday briefly annouced that he was quitting as Rock Festival Chairman, as Sam said "...I went home on Sunday night to face a night without any sleep whatsover as I worried about every aspect of the event and realised that I simply don't need this crap anymore." Letters of support flooded in to support Sam. More shocks followed soon, Aaron James quit Fetch Eddie, The First Conspiracy split. Rhythm Damage continued to be lauded and The DHSS continued to be slated. July saw some good news with the Council contributing £400 to the fuunding of the Rock Festival and a week later with the massive full width headline 'Tamworth Rocks!' Sam proudly previewed the 1990 Festival and followed it up a week later with the headline 'Hot Fest is Hot Stuff!' The third Letterbox saga of the year droaned on with Lee Revelle and Mike Fleming holding handbags at 10 paces. Paul Speare expanded Expresso Bongo to 24 tracks and Wolfsbane released six tracks with the 'Kathy Wilson' mini-album. Plans for the 1991 Festival were put in place with the election of a new committee with Rikk Quay being installed as Chairman, Sean Atkins as Vice-Chairman and Mike Fleming as Treasurer beating off the Turner, Gibbons, Garforth dream-team! Spiral Eye, The Yogots, Banned in Yellow and Emma Gibbs continued their rise in popularity and Wolfsbane supported Iron Maiden on their British tour. Sam married Carla, Rhythm Damage released a single, Banned in Yellow split and Catch 23 announced they would do anything in pursuit of fame. This year of years in Musicbox was rounded off with a trip down memory lane with The Dream Factory and Love On Board reforming for a nostalgic charity event. In his last Musicbox of 1990 Sam said: "Practically every local band worth his (or her) salt has been in action over the Festive period" and reviewed no less than eleven bands' performances. The end of year Poll was won, of course, by Wolfsbane, winning National and Local Band of 1990 and top Single and Top Album. As Sam said "Wolf-It!"
On January 11th 1991, Sam Holliday, Musicbox Editor 1983-1990 started his Musicbox column with the words: "AND so we enter a New Year. A time for new resolutions, a time for new ambitions and a time for new dreams. And, also a time for a new MUSICBOX Editor too. Yes, O’faithful MUSICBOX reader, I, James Samuel Strangler Holliday, have finally decided to knock it on the proverbial head." By way of explanation Sam said: "A lot of the new bands arriving in Tamworth have an alien sound to me because I hate practically all current music and ignore most of it. I am an old punk rocker stuck in a 1977/8 timewarp and as a result it is best for me to bow out gracefully now rather than become the Rolling Stones of the MUSICBOX columns!"
And his column ended: "To all my very loyal readers, I say a fond farewell."
And so ends this tale. A little old column, in a little local newspaper that grew and grew from a few words promoting a concert by the biggest band of all time to nearly two thousand words every week filling an entire page in the newspaper - almost every single word about local bands and the local scene. A scene, encouraged, nurtured, developed, promoted and supported by one man - Sam Holliday.
From one punk rocker stuck in 1977 to another - I salute you Sam.
Edward ian Armchair