Sunday, March 20, 2011

RIP Jet Harris: The Shadows bass player until 1962, he left them at the height of their fame to achieve the first bass guitar driven hits in the UK charts with 'Diamonds' and 'Applejack' with drummer, Tony Meehan.
At a 'Festival of the Sixties' weekend at Butlin's, Barry Island, in the 1980's with friends Eddie and Sue Evans; Jet was one of the star acts on the bill.
Sitting in one of the bars, Mrs. B and Sue had taken autograph books, as the year before, (when we went with friends Eric & Frances Billett), made it obvious these star's of yesteryear didn't hide away, they were very accesible.
I noticed Jet Harris walk in and order a pint at the bar. Nodding in his direction and mentioning this to Sue and Mrs. B, by the time they had found autograph books and pen, he had downed the beer and gone.
Five minutes later he returned, so they hastily approached him for his autograph before he escaped again.
With another pint in hand, he sat down with us and bummed a cigarette.
He was nervous as he couldn't find his backing band. Black Cat Bones backed all of the solo stars like Jet, Wayne Fontana, Screaming Lord Sutch, etc; at events like this.
We had a quick chat, he told us he had a new album on sale which he'd recorded in a prison. This was still in the days of vinyl.
At those Butlin's weekends they have 3 venues with band's playing almost non-stop from Noon to 1am. You have to dodge and weave between the 3 to see your choice of the bands on offer. We were due to see Jet Harris anyway, as we liked his songs, well, they were instrumentals, like The Shadows, with his bass playing the main melody as mentioned above.
After smoking one of our cigarettes and drinking his pint a little slower, he said "cheerio, see you later at the gig," and away he went.
Onstage that evening, he gave us a nod and a smile of recognition, which the girls appreciated.
Our ladies found plenty of stars who signed their autograph books, and it's such a shame now that so many of them, like Jet, have passed on.
Gradually, those 'Festival's of the Sixties' will fade away as indeed the stars pass, so it's a good job we went to see them while they were still around.