The Motivation

The Motivation, 1967, left to right: Bryan Stevens, Malcolm Tomlinson, Jimmy Marsh, Mick Ketley, Chris Rodger and Martin Barre All photos of the band courtesy of Bryan Stevens
Jimmy Marsh (lead vocals)
Martin Barre (lead guitar, saxophone)
Mick Ketley (keyboards, backing vocals)
Bryan Stevens (bass)
Chris Rodger (saxophone, trumpet)
Malcolm Tomlinson (drums, backing vocals)


October The group evolves out of Bognor Regis group, The Noblemen, which was formed in late 1964 to back South African singer Beau Brummell (aka Mike Bush). Bass player Bryan Stevens (b. 14 November 1943, Laha Datu, North Borneo) and keyboard player Mick Ketley (b. 1 October 1947, Balham, London) have been with the band from the outset. After splitting from Brummell in April 1966, the Noblemen undergo a significant change in personnel when most of the members leave in June. The following month, Stevens and Ketley reorganise The Noblemen bringing in a new singer, Jimmy Marsh (b. 9 April 1941, Carmarthen, Wales). Marsh first met Stevens and Ketley in mid-1964 at the Top Hat in Littlehampton when they were playing with The Detours and he was fronting The Del Mar Trio.

When The Noblemen’s drummer Bernie Smith opts to take up a more regular job, Marsh suggests his former colleague Malcolm Tomlinson (b. 16 June 1946, Isleworth, Middlesex) as his replacement. Tomlinson has worked with Marsh in The Del Mar Trio and James Deane and The London Cats. Before that, he was a member of Jeff Curtis and The Flames, the house band at the Ealing Club. Stevens advertises for a new sax player in the 23 July issue of Melody Maker, which hits the newsstands on 16 July. Former Moonrakers members, Chris Rodger (b. 16 October 1946, Solihull, Warwickshire) and Martin Barre (b. 17 November 1946, Kings Heath, Birmingham) respond to the advert after missing out on a job with Screaming Lord Sutch. On 22 July, Barre buys a saxophone at Sound City in London’s Shaftsbury Avenue for the audition three days later. Both Rodger and Barre are hired for the new line up as sax players, with Rodger doubling up on trumpet and Barre doubling up on lead guitar. In September, the new Noblemen line up moves up to London and shares a flat in Chelsea (and later Gloucester Road). They sign to the Roy Tempest Agency and start backing up visiting US soul acts.

Motivation on Bognor Regis station, late 1966 – left to right: Bryan Stevens, Martin Barre, Mick Ketley, Malcolm Tomlinson, Chris Rodger and Jimmy Marsh
Bognor Regis station, late 1966, left to right: Jimmy Marsh (white top), Martin Barre, Bryan Stevens, Mick Ketley, Chris Rodger and Malcolm Tomlinson
November  (1-2) Having supported The Vibrations, Edwin Starr and Alvin Robinson as The Noblemen during September-October, the group adopts the more ‘Mod’ sounding name The Motivations (although they are sometimes still billed as The Noblemen, at least until early December). Under the new name, the band plays with Alvin Robinson at the Club Cedar in Birmingham for two nights. Soon after, The Motivations back Robinson at Newcastle University (the most likely date being 3 November).
(4) Billed as The Noblemen, they begin backing The Coasters with a show at the King Mojo Club in Sheffield with Sonny Childe & The TNT.
(12) Having shortened the name to The Motivation, they perform at the Oasis club in Manchester with The Coasters and Hari Kari.
(13) The Coasters are billed playing at Tiles in London (most likely with The Motivation in support). Two days later, The Coasters appear at the Whisky A Go Go. It is around this time that Mike Ketley and Malcolm Tomlinson take up The Coasters’ offer to attend a party where Jimi Hendrix (who had previously played with The Coasters support band) is in attendance. The Jimi Hendrix Experience are launched to the UK press on 25th November.
(20) After playing at the Cavern in Liverpool with The Coasters the previous day (where they are billed as The Noblemen), The Motivation join the soul act for two shows in Greater Manchester, starting with the Domino Club in Openshaw and culminating with a second gig at the Princess Theatre in Chorlton. A riot takes place at the second venue after disturbances between The Coasters and the rowdy crowd.
(25) A hectic day in the band’s schedule. Billed as The Noblemen, they support The Coasters at the New Yorker Discotheque in Swindon, Wiltshire before heading north to play at St Bernadette’s Youth Club in Withington, Lancashire with The Shindigs, billed as The Motovation. Around this time, they also work with The Drifters who are touring the UK.
(26) The Motivation appear at the Starlight Room at the Boston Gliderdrome, Lincolnshire with The Coasters. Also on the bill are Ronnie Jones & The Blue Jays and Heart & Soul.
December Sometime during this period, The Motivation play at the 400 Club in Torquay with Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds.
Syon Park, early 1967
With the Modesty Blues at Winter Gardens in Penzance, January 6, 1967


January (1) No longer backing visiting US soul acts, The Motivation begin touring under their own name. On a tour intinierary, they are listed as appearing in Dereham, Norfolk (most likely at the Tavern Club).
(6) After playing a gig in Acton, Middlesex, The Motivation travel to the Southwest and appear at the Winter Gardens Ballroom, Penzance, Cornwall with The Modesty Blues.
(7) Billed as Brian Stevens and The Motivation they appear at the Blue Lagoon in Newquay, Cornwall with The Accoustics.
(8) The band performs at the Bure Country Club in Mudeford in Hampshire with The Tension and Lavina Lavells.
(9) The Motivation make an appearance at the New Spot in Thorngate Halls, Gosport, Hampshire. The next day, they play a venue in Portsmouth, most likely a naval base.
(14) They are listed as playing in Bradford, West Yorkshire the previous day, after which The Motivation move south to appear at the New Yorker Discotheque in Swindon, Wiltshire with supporting acts.
(20) The group appears at the Bromel Club in Bromley, Kent.
(21) The Motivation travel to Norfolk and play a show at the Royal Links Pavilion in Cromer with Soul Concern.
(24) Having played a gig in Bournemouth on 22 January (most likely at the Bure Country Club again in Mudeford), the band performs a show at the Concorde in Southampton, Hampshire.
February (5) The groups travels back to Norfolk to play the Tavern Club in Dereham on a bill that also features The Barry Lee Show.
(6) The Motivation play their first show at the famous Marquee club, opening for The Herd.
(7) The band appears at Kodak Hall, Harrow, Middlesex with The Beachcombers.
(10) Having played in Aldershot the previous day (most likely at an army base), The Motivation travel to the Birmingham area and perform at the Carlton Ballroom in Erdington, billed as The Fantastic Motivations. The next day, they head to the Southwest and play a venue (possibly the town hall) in Exeter, Devon.
(13) The band appears at a venue in Weymouth, Dorset (most likely at the Steering Wheel). The next day, The Motivation travel to Portsmouth and make an appearance at a venue in the city (possibly another naval gig).
(16) The Motivation head to Oxfordshire and perform for the Royal Air Force at RAF Benson.
(17) The day after, the band returns to London and appears at the Cook’s Ferry Inn in Edmonton with John Evan Smash (which will morph in to Jethro Tull, a band that Barre will join in December 1968).

Accounting for Jan. and Feb. 1967

March  (4) After completing their February itinerary with shows at an Oxford College on 25 February and an appearance in Tunbridge Wells on 26 February, The Motivation return to London and perform at Tiles with C Jam Blues and Malcolm Magaron.
(6) The Motivation return to the Marquee for a second show supporting The Herd. Within days, the band leaves for Rome, Italy to hold down a six-week residency at the famous Piper Club, most likely kicking off on 10 March, playing six hours a night until 3am.
April While playing at the Piper Club, Ray Charles’s dancers come in one evening and dance to the band’s set.
(6) Some of The Rolling Stones’ entourage visit the club while The Motivation are playing. The Rolling Stones are playing in Rome on this date and there is talk about getting the band on the Stones’ tour as a warm up act. No commitment comes from the discussions.
(10) The Motivation’s six-week residency is cut short around this date when Jimmy Marsh is forced to leave. The singer punctures his vocal chords and returns home. The remaining members also head back to the UK. Marsh drops out of the music business, only resurfacing briefly in the early 1980s with the short-lived west London band, A Touch of Gold. He currently lives in Chiswick.
(15) The Motivation (without Jimmy Marsh) are billed to play at the New Yorker Discotheque in Swindon, Wiltshire with James Garnet Soul & The Roll Band. It’s most likely that Ketley and Tomlinson share lead vocals. Soon after, Chris Rodger also leaves and the band searches for a new lead singer. Stevens and Ketley remember a talented singer from Liverpool band, The Clayton Squares, who had shared the stage with Beau Brummell & The Noblemen in Germany in March 1966 – Denny Alexander (b. 10 March 1946, Liverpool). The Clayton Squares have recorded two brilliant singles for Decca before splitting in late 1966. Alexander, who has gone on to sing with The Thoughts, is invited to join the Motivation and fulfil outstanding dates.

By the river in Syon Park, 1967, left to right: Chris Rodger, Martin Barre, Mick Ketley, Jimmy Marsh, Malcolm Tomlinson and Bryan Stevens

July (1) With Alexander fronting the band, the new look Motivation support Cream at the Upper Cut in Forest Gate, Essex.
August (5) The Motivation travel to the Birmingham area and appear at the Carlton Ballroom in Erdington, which is followed by a second show on the same night at the Elbow Room in Aston.
(6) The group appears at the Casablanca Club in the Sportsman’s Arms, Allesley, Coventry.
(25) The Motivation play at Chateau Ipney in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The band’s stax/soul sound is becoming increasingly outdated as the psychedelic scene blossoms. The Motivation return to Bognor Regis and rehearse a new act, introducing Alexander’s strong original material into the set and changing name to The Penny Peep Show.

Casablanca Club, August 6, 1967

Flying Colours by Greg Russo, Crossfire Publications, 2009.
The South Coast Beat Scene of the 1960s by Mike Read, Woodfield Publishing, 2001.”/images

Many thanks to Bryan Stevens, Mick Ketley, Jimmy Marsh, Malcolm Tomlinson, Denny Alexander, Dave Allen, Nigel Norman, Mick Capewell, Chris Bishop and Sylvia Stephen. Thank you Bryan for The Motivation gig listing for January/February 1967 and Ian Green for some additional dates.

Disclaimer: Concert adverts have been sourced from a number of music magazines and regional newspapers listed below. They have been reproduced fairly for research purposes and are not to be copied for any other use. Additional concert listings sourced from Melody Maker, Nottingham Evening Post, the Liverpool Echo, the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Evening Mail, Bournemouth Evening Echo, Southern Evening Echo, Portsmouth Evening Argus, Sheffield Star, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Harrow Observer, Cornish Guardian, The Cornishman, the Lincolnshire Standard and Eastern Evening News.

Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2011. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.

I have tried to ensure the accuracy of this article but I appreciate that there are likely to be errors and omissions. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone who can provide any additions or corrections. Email:

The Blue Lagoon in Newquay, January 7, 1967

Royal Links Pavilion, January 21, 1967

with the Herd at the Marquee, February 6, 1967

Tiles, March 4, 1967

Opening for Cream at the Upper Cut, July 1, 1967

10 thoughts on “The Motivation”

  1. Modesty Blues were drummer Roger Dell’s first band. Roger was drummer with pop-psycher’s The Onyx (Tamarisk Khan, etc.). The Jaguars on the same bill also featured Al Hodge who was guitarist with The Onyx.

  2. My brother, Peter James Beckett and I were tHe MoTiVaTioN around south London 1964-67, FROM BALHAM. We played the Marquee in 1965, The Crawdaddy Clubs, RikiTick clubs, the south coast. Hamish Grimes, under Gomelsky handled us, and just like The Authentics, with John and Berne Williams, we got fed up with the BS and theft of our payments. Get me here, and here, ,

    We will be playing a big fund raising charity gig organised by Peter in the city of London in November, with many guests (
    best BB

  3. More gigs with the Denny Alexander line up of Motivation from Northwich Chronicle, Cheshire (ED: NOTE THIS IS THE CHESHIRE GROUP NOT THIS BAND)

    20 May 1967 – Northwich Memorial Hall, Northwich, Cheshire
    29 May 1967 – Mr Smith’s Club, Winsford, Cheshire with The Look Twice

    24 June 1967 – Nantwich Civic Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire with Jeff Beck Group and Blue Angels

    1 July 1967 – Bunbury Public Hall, Bunbury, Cheshire (billed as The Motovations). This clashes with Upper Cut gig with Cream above though so may not have happened


    The first band to use the Motivation name was a group from the Balham area in southwest London (see Peter’s comments above) during 1964-1966 (which I’ll do an entry on in the future). The version in this entry started using the name around November 1966 and ran with it until August 1967.

    However, it appears that there was at least one (and possibly two) other group(s) that used the Motivation name. The first was a band that recorded a single for Direction in 1968. This may well be the same group as a Northwich, Cheshire band, who used the name throughout 1967 and 1968, sometimes billed as The Motovation.

    Unfortunately, the gigs listed in the comments for the Cheshire area appear to have been this group and not the Martin Barre one listed in the main entry.

    Apologies for any confusion

  5. Few more gigs that I have found recently for the band:

    4 December 1966 – Hotel Leofric, Coventry (Coventry Evening Telegraph)

    10 December 1966 – Gala Ballroom, Norwich (Eastern Evening News)

    17 December 1966 – Britannia Rowing Club, Nottingham (Nottingham Evening Post)

    23 April 1967 – Dereham Tavern Club, Dereham, Norfolk with Reformation (North Norfolk News)

  6. According to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard, The Motivations played at the Beeches Barn Theatre in Cirencester on 11 August 1967

  7. Two more gigs missing from the list:

    20 December 1966 – Concorde, Southampton (Southern Evening Echo)

    19 August 1967 – Royal Ballrooms, Boscombe, Dorset (Bournemouth Echo)

  8. Another two missing from the list:

    9 February 1967 – New Central Ballroom, Aldershot, Hampshire with Ziggy Turner Combo (Aldershot News)

    3 July 1967 – Royal Ballrooms, Boscombe, Dorset (Bournemouth Echo)

  9. The Redditch Indicator has a gig listed for 7 July 1967 which has Hedgehoppers Anonymous playing at the Warwick Arms with The Motivation. This could be the same band but possibly the other band from Cheshire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.