The Pack



B
y now it's July 1963. Rod has been discharged from hospital and Rod & the Sceptres have now become The Pack. Their first gig sees them actually billed as 'The Quagmire Pack'. Is this an indication of the sounds that the band had been covering? The swampy sound & roots of the likes of Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker. Both have been included in the bands repertoire, both were born in Mississippi, the home of delta 'swamp' blues. By now The Pack were including stuff by The Kinks, Stones, Beatles, Animals and the Pretty Things. Still within the 'r'n'b' vein, but from this side of the pond.

Rod had taken on more of the running of and leading the Pack. He had brought & drove the 'Pack Wagon' and the Marshall P.A. system. He would set this up himself and balance the overall sound whilst on stage singing. He managed the Pack & acted as secretary & booking agent.

It was when The Pack met Brian Gregg and things started to happen for the band. Brian had given up touring with various bands in order to diversify into managing bands and was in that part of the world because his wife was living in Wooton Bassett and pregnant. Brian's aim was 'to try and put local groups more on the map', and to this end he had first seen the band perform at The Plume of Feathers in Calne in 1964 and  as was impressed enough after several more gigs to take on the Pack. The Pack were chosen out of 40-50 other local bands so a suitable impression must have been made.

A Pack demo was made and duly sent to Mickey Most who then dispatched Peter Grant -known for managing Led Zeppelin- to check the band out. So it was that Pete first caught the band at Lyneham village hall, with the whole hall agog at the obvious affluence that Pete so blatantly displayed. The local media were soon onto the fact that 'big money' was in the area and one local paper ran a piece headlined 'Rags-to-riches scene for Calne's top five'. Then The Pack lost Kev Tinson to the teaching profession and Brian Gregg took over the bassist role. The band released a single on Columbia, a cover of The Loving Spoonful's 'Do You Believe In Magic?'/'Things That Bring Me Down'. By now Pat Murphy had also left to be replaced by Bob Duck who changed his name to Duke for the event. The single made it to number 27 in the NME charts & number 8 on Radio London & number 10 on Radio Caroline. A local paper, The Wiltshire Echo, ran the article: 'The Pack On The Way Up' in October 1965.

All this fame brought the Pack into contact 'the names' of the time like: Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Chris Andrews, Sandy Shaw, Hedgehoppers Anonymous -that tune, It's Good News Week' still finds its way into the consciousness-  & The Honeycombs.

A name that stands out from others that Rod got to meet was that old gunslinger, Bo Diddley. The Pack shared the billing with him on the ITV show, Discs A Go Go. The show, when it was televised, emptied the streets of Calne. 

The second single by The Pack, "Searching for Some Place" failed to materialise, 'Greggsy' left the band and several more line-ups would emerge with only Rod and Andy as the original members before the bands final line-up as "Flower Of Wisdom" (thought to be the Chinese name for the Opium poppy). Not before the band recorded several cover versions under the name of "The Alan Caddy Orchestra".

After the Flower Of Wisdom folded finally, Rod moved to London in July 1967. He figured he needed to to follow his musical career and landed a job at the Wessex Sound Studios. He started doing session work and writing songs which he would occasionally sell the copyright to for cash.  It was at this time that Rod met Arthur Brown & Drachen Theaker for the first time. The next band on Rod's horizon were The Artwoods who were advertising for a singer.