Who was/is Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Johnny Kidd and the Pirates

Johnny Kidd and the Pirates began their professional recording career in April 1959. Prior to this, the group had originally been gigging under the name of The Mike West Group and more recently, Fred, Mike and Tom Show. The Fred in that moniker was Fred Heath, a 23-year-old from Willesden who had joined The Mike West Group after his own outfit, The Fabulous Freddie Heath Band folded. Heath had started out playing solo in pubs and clubs before meeting a fellow skiffle enthusiast, Frank Rouledge. In late 1956, the two decided to form a comedy skiffle group and after recruiting Clive Lazell (washboard, drums), Johnny 'Fruit' Gordon and Brian Donalon, The Five Nutters were born. The group did fairly well on the local live circuit, sometimes going out as Fred and The Frantic Four or Bats Heath and The Vampires. They recorded a demo disc that survives (available from Jason Lazell via moochinabout.com) before splitting up around Autumn 1957.

Heath subsequently met agent / musician Don Toy and the two formed The Fabulous Freddie Heath Band whose main gig was a residency at Toy's Krazy Kurzon Klub. Promotor Guy Robinson saw the group and was impressed enough with Fred to pay for singing lessons and encourage his songwriting. When The Fabulous Freddie Heath Band folded, Robinson took Heath along to one of the club nights he ran at Wandsworth Town Hall. The resident group at these shows was The Mike West Group and Robinson asked if his client could sing a number with the band. After a quick pre-show rehearsal, Heath sang If You Were The Only Girl In The World and was immediately taken on as the group's third singer. Mike West's group included West and Tom Brown on vocals, Alan Caddy on lead guitar, Tony Doherty on rhythm guitar, Ken McKay on drums and possibly some other unidentified individuals. The core line-up eventually settled as those five (West, Brown, Caddy, Doherty, McKay) plus Fred and his old pal from The Nutters and Fabulous band, Johnny 'Fruit' Gordon who took over bass guitar duties.


A good idea of what their early stage sets sounded like can be heard on the surviving tape of their June 27th 1959 BBC Radio appearance on Saturday Club which is due for release from pristine tapes in the near future. After opening with two Kidd vocals, the group returns with two Mike West performances, a Pirates instrumental (Setarip), a third Kidd vocal and then two from Tom Brown before finishing their nine-song session with Please Don't Touch.


Two of the songs from that broadcast are Fred Heath originals and it was Heath's songwriting (and voice) that had led to EMI A&R assistant Peter Sullivan auditioning the band for HMV. Fred had made some demos of half a dozen of his songs at Regent Sound in late 1958 or early 1959. It's unclear whether he was backed by The Mike West Group or accompanied himself on guitar but the acetates of the demos reached B.F. Wood Publishing who snapped up at least one of the songs, Please Don't Touch, which was subsequently recorded by The Bachelors for Parlophone. The Bachelors were an Everly Brothers-style duo (unrelated to Charmaine hit-sters The Bachelors) and their rendition of Please Don't Touch is well worth hearing. After listening to Heath's demos, Peter Sullivan made enquiries about hearing Heath and the group in person. Sullivan later recalled going to Fred's house and listened to him playing some of his songs. Suitably impressed, Sullivan arranged for a test session at EMI Studios (aka Abbey Road) where the group attempted versions of Please Don't Touch and (as it was then titled) Growlin'. While both tracks were later re-recorded, the booking form for the session reads to be recorded by Fred Heath with InstrumentalAccompanimenr.


This has been crossed out with the amended artist name reading Johnny Kidd and The Pirates. Peter confirmed that he and his wife, Joy, had come up with the name. It was quite the vogue for beat groups to be named in the Cliff Richard and the Drifters, Marty Wilde and the Wildcats style and after coming up with Captain Kidd, the Pirates soon followed with 'Johnny Kidd' replacing the `Captain' at the helm. At this point, it's worth mentioning that only Fred was actually signed to HMV and collected any royalties. The other musicians merely collected a session fee, a situation that persisted until the final Johnny Kidd and the Pirates release in 1966. Sullivan recalled Johnny Kidd and the Pirates to Abbey Road on 18th April 1959 where Please Don't Touch and the re-titled Growl were re-recorded and pressed for release in May....

 

 

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Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
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Please Don't Touch! (LP & CD, 10inch, 45rpm)
Johnny Kidd: Please Don't Touch! (LP & CD, 10inch, 45rpm) Art-Nr.: BAF14021

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1-LP 10inch vinyl with 12-page booklet, 12 tracks (LP), 33 tracks (CD). Total playing time approx. 28 min. (LP), 77 min. (CD). The newest hit in Bear Family Records®’s 10inch vinyl series - Brit Rocker Johnny Kidd. The album and the...
$29.37 $33.89
So What?! - The Brits Are Rocking Vol.7 (CD)
Johnny Kidd: So What?! - The Brits Are Rocking Vol.7 (CD) Art-Nr.: BCD17638

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1-CD with 36-page booklet, 34 tracks. Total playing time approx. 70 min. Bear Family Records® continues its CD-series of recordings by benchmark British rockers with an album dedicated to Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. Johnny Kidd died in...
$18.05
At The BBC 1959 - 1963 (LP & CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: At The BBC 1959 - 1963 (LP & CD) Art-Nr.: LPBLA8037

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(Blakey) 17 Tracks - The album includes a CD inlay containing the same material! Live on BBC radio!
$25.97
Rarities 1961-1966 (CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: Rarities 1961-1966 (CD) Art-Nr.: CDSEE120

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(See For Miles) 20 tracks (51:52) including 10 unreleaesed tracks. 8 page notes by Roger Dopson. Great rarity collection of his output! A Must Have for every serious British Rock'n'Roll Collector. Original stock copies of this long out...
$19.18
Maximum Rhythm 'n' Rock (10x7inch EP Box, 45rpm, Ltd.)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: Maximum Rhythm 'n' Rock (10x7inch EP Box,... Art-Nr.: 45SR195

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(Sleazy Records) 7inch deluxe box set, limited edition of 500 copies Limited Numbered Edition (500). All original recordings - amazing British rock 'n' roll! The Rock 'n' Roll Sides Part 1 Side A: Please Don't Touch / Growl Side B:...
$135.75
Keith Hunt: Shakin' All Over The Birth Of British R&B - Life And Times Of Johnny Kidd
Johnny Kidd: Keith Hunt: Shakin' All Over The Birth Of... Art-Nr.: 0011007

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(1996/Magnum Imprint) English, Paperback, 21.5x28 cm, 200 pages/Seiten; The birth of British Rhythm & Blues, throughout illustrated with rare b/w pictures and articles from the past. Contains a complete discography. Incredible rare and...
$67.85 $90.48
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The Best Of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates (2-CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: The Best Of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates (2-CD) Art-Nr.: CDEMI22814

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(EMI) 56 tracks 1959-66 including 2 previously unreleased Pirates tracks with 8 page booklet - Essential! Incl. the dancefloor fillers 'Castin' My Spell', 'Shakin' All Over', 'Ecstasy' and more!
$11.26 $19.18
The Classic & Rare (CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: The Classic & Rare (CD) Art-Nr.: CDSEE287

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(See For Miles) 22 tracks
$19.18
The Classic & Rare (CD)
Johnny & The Pirates Kidd: The Classic & Rare (CD) Art-Nr.: CD3930924

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(2012/MAGIC) 21 tracks 1959-61 24bit mastering - papersleeve.
$16.92
Johnny Kidd And The Pirates (CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: Johnny Kidd And The Pirates (CD) Art-Nr.: CDJK01

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(Custom Pressing) 25 tracks
$28.24
Memorial Album - Your Cheating Heart (CD)
Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: Memorial Album - Your Cheating Heart (CD) Art-Nr.: CDBGO580

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(BGO) 30 EMI masters 1970-73 with 8 page notes
$20.31
Old Rock New Roll #7 7inch, 45rpm, EP, PS
Johnny Kidd: Old Rock New Roll #7 7inch, 45rpm, EP, PS Art-Nr.: EMI05255

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$9.90