Rod & the Sceptres


The time is late 1962, October the 21st. to be exact, and we see a young Rod Goodway embarking on what is to be a career spanning the years of Rock'n'Roll's coming of age, to the present day. On this date Rod, along with drummer Pat Murphy, played his first gig (on Rod's 16th. birthday). At this point there was no band name. This came in the following year when Andy Rickell on lead guitar, Roger Hartley on rhythm guitar, and Mick Andrews -aka 'Goldfish'- on bass were recruited to become Rod & the Sceptres. All of the bands members were either from Calne or the nearby village of Compton Bassett.

The band congregated and practiced above Rod's parents shop in the village of Goatacre, a few miles down the road from Calne. At this time they were driven to the local 'village hall' gigs they were playing by Pat's dad, Bill.

At the same time as Rod & the Sceptres were giging, Calne also boasted such bands as The Meteors, The Saints and Tony & the Richelles. The Saints -who were managed by Kev Tinson's dad- achieved a modicum of notoriety by appearing on television playing those good old rythm'n'blues in a church. Heavens above!!  Surely  it was only taking it back to its Gospel roots.

The Sceptres also played r'n'b leaning to blues then. Rod has said, one of his earliest vocal influences was Howlin' Wolf. Hardly any wonder then that as time goes on, Rod would get into Captain Beefheart. But more of that later. Playing bluesy r'n'b in the West Country at that time was not the normal thing. Most bands stuck to 50s rock'n'roll. A typical 'set-list' at the time of Rod & the Sceptres would read...  well let Rod tell you himself: 

I used to come onstage after the group had played a couple of 'instrumentals' like "Rumble" & "Shindig" (Android was a big Shadows, Ventures, etc., fan when he was very young) and launch into "Sweet Little 16" followed by "Fortune Teller", "Smokestack Lightning", "Keep Your Hands Out'a My Pocket, Woman"("-When I Go To Bed" ... by Otis Span ??)) + "Road Runner" and "Got My Mojo Working" + "J.B.Goode". Then we'd take a break. The group would wander on & play a couple more instro's, by this time purely Link Wray -type stuff, before I'd jump on & launch into "Too Much Monkey Business" + "Memphis Tennesse" + "Mona" + "You Be Mine" + "Howlin' For My Baby" (both 'Wolf songs) + "Carol". Finish that set with an instro'. Take a short break. Come back on stripped down to waist- coats, shirtsleeves, etc.... smoking & looking mean. Huh. Start again with "Whiskey & Wimmen" (Hooker) + "Goin' Down Slow" (Wolf) + "Dimples" + "Maybe Baby" (could this be the old Buddy Holly song?? Seems well out of context?) + "Talkin' Bout You" + "Around & Around" +  "Bye Bye Johnny" (Encore: "Tell Me What'd I Say")

This is an actual Set from McIlroy's ballroom in Swindon, circa early 1963

By now Rod was driving the band van as well as managing the band. Yet his van driving landed him in the Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon after an altercation with a tree at a place known as Clyffe Pypard Hollow after a gig at the village hall in Broad Hinton. Let Rod recall the incident:
"
Android Funnel -as Andy Rickell later became known- says he was the first person to reach me on the night of the accident. He said he thought I was dying, laying there amongst the mangled wreckage of the van covered in blood. Then the ambulance arrived and they lifted me on board I opened one eye and grabbed Andy's sleeve. He said he thought I was going to whisper a few last words to him; sure enough, just before I lapsed back into unconsciousness I apparently winked at him and whispered 'it's a publicity stunt!!'. Ha Ha!!"

It is with this incident that the story moves on and Rod & the Sceptres become The Pack.