BRASS & Scarborough Bands

BRASS & Scarborough Bands

On September 9th 1964 I took my first band pictures and this was to become the next stage in my evolution towards a career in photography which began with taking pictures of BRASS & Scarborough Bands. For a while before, I had forsaken the Railway Society meetings for the Friday Blues Night at the Condor Club on Ramshill Road in Scarborough. Music had attracted my curiosity for something new and girls had started to turn my head.

Still returning home from college at weekends, my older brother Mick and I began to make friends with a group of punters who gathered on Friday nights in an alcove in front of the stage at the Condor. We became known as BRASS, an acronym for ‘Scarborough Sect for the Appreciation of Rhythm and Blues’. Original members L-R below – Nigel James, Rob Best, Mick Cooke, Rex (Boris) Barker and me. My brother Mick was still holding on to his Beatle look with a now overgrown moptop and Cuban heels and I was moving onto the beatnik stage, emulating one of our favourite bands of the time, The Downliners Sect. Having lost my original 1964 released LP, which was probably the first record I ever bought, the undated Charlie Records re-release shown below certainly got it wrong in describing the Downliners as Punk. They were out and out R&B, 1960’s Rhythm & Blues that is.

Rolleicord VA 1957-1961

From the BRASS corner I began to get to know the local bands and I started to knock about with a band called The Incas, helping a bit with the equipment. BRASS member Pete Little used to roadie for them, later joining on bass guitar. This was my ‘in’. The guitarist Brian Thompson lived in a pub at the end of our street and I got to know him first, probably because of the added benefit of under age drinking. We took this picture of me in the front bar, which was a set up as I did not smoke, and never have. The Incas are shown below in what were my first available light live group pictures.


However, back at the start of photographing local bands I took the pictures below of the Tennesseans from the BRASS corner at the Condor Club in September 1964. The Tennesseans were a popular local band who had been together for a few years and had a large following. Hutch, on the far left below, left Scarborough later on to join David Bowie And The Buzz and later still Feathers with Bowie, then played on Space Oddity and finally two years later toured America, Japan and the UK as guitarist on the Aladdin Sane tour. On this night I was experimenting with my brand new professional electronic flash, which had a large flash head and enormous heavy battery, which was akin to dragging about a sack of potatoes.

Five months later, on a freezing February evening in 1965, I was back at the Condor Club where I photographed another local band, The Mandrakes, who later on were to play a pivotable role in my story.

 My music business pictures are available at Getty Images and on my own website briancooke.com.

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