The A-Cads

Left to right: Louis McKelvey, Les Goode, Sam Evans, Hank Squires, Dick Laws and Rob Kearney

Mid-1960s beat merchants The A-Cads heralded an exciting new age in South African rock music and were promoted by the local press at the time as a super group of sorts.

The band’s leading figure, rhythm guitarist/singer Hank Squires (b. Henry Stephen Smitsdorff, 20 May 1941, Johannesburg, South Africa) was well-established in South African musical circles, having previously worked with British expat Mickie Most, then a popular singer in South Africa and later one of rock’s most successful producers.

Hank Squires’ early career

Squires’s career began in the late 1950s when he made his debut on the city’s fledging rock ‘n’ roll scene playing with the popular rock ‘n’ roll outfit, The Playboys.

Training to become an electrical engineer, Squires soon abandoned Johannesburg Technical College after witnessing a concert by English émigré, the late Mickie Most (real name: Michael Hayes), a singer of modest talent who had moved to Johannesburg in 1958 to marry his South African fiancée. Impressed by the singer’s performance, Squires approached Most for guitar lessons and after a few months joined his original backing group, The Playboys.

Most’s move to the colonies proved to be extremely fortuitous – his British solo recordings (as well as singles recorded with future producer Alex Murray as The Most Brothers) had all met with widespread indifference back home. However, after changing his name, Most and his newly formed group quickly established themselves as one of, if not, the most successful band(s) in South Africa, scoring six consecutive South African hits over the next three years (including one with Jackie Frisco). And although Most would subsequently return home during 1962 to try his hand at production, he would continue to maintain contact with Squires, seeing him as one of the few musicians in South Africa that he thought had the potential to go on to greater things.

Squires, meanwhile, had already left The Playboys prior to Most’s departure for the UK and formed a new band, The Silhouettes. This short-lived outfit also featured another ex-Playboys member, Leon Booysen (bass), alongside the late George Hill (drums) and the late Archie Van der Ploeg (lead guitar). During The Silhouettes’ short lifespan, the group supported singer June Dyer on her number one single “Whirlpool of Love”. Squires moved on soon afterwards and joined another local group, The Giants, who scored a number one hit in late 1961 with “Dark and Lonely Street” and also recorded a rare album entitled Meet The Giants. The Giants subsequently changed their name to the Rebels and became June Dyer’s backing group.

While his old friend Mickie Most struck gold in the UK as a producer for The Animals and Lulu, among others, Squires kept busy performing and recording with Johnny Kongos and The G-Men. This exciting band was arguably one of the best outfits to emerge in South Africa during the early-mid 1960s and included some of the city’s most accomplished musicians. The group’s potential, however, was cut short when the band’s singer (and future solo artist) John Kongos (best known for penning the international hit “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”, made famous by indie revellers The Happy Mondays in the 1990s) left to do national service.

Kongos later enjoyed moderate success with his solo work and his UK bands Floribunda Rose and Scrugg. The former also featured English expat Pete Clifford, who had toured South Africa with Dusty Springfield and worked with Tom Jones before forming The 004 and later joining South African rock-comedy group, The Bats.

Kongos’ replacement in The G-Men was another expat, singer Sam Evans (b. 1947, Glasgow, Scotland), a short, burly man with a rough-edged voice, who had arrived in South Africa in early 1964 after fronting a number of now long forgotten bands back home. Evans would ultimately become Squires’ first choice as the singer in what would become The A-Cads. Another former G-man, drummer Robbie Kearney (b. South Africa), fresh from a nine-month army stint at Simons Town naval base, joined him soon afterwards.

Before such a project could materialise, however, Squires left The G-Men during December 1964 to pursue a short-lived solo career. Spotted playing in a club by Mickie Most (on a flying visit to South Africa), Squires was subsequently offered a recording contract and a single, a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’ve Been Around”, produced by Most, was issued in spring 1965. A follow up single, “Stand By Me”, produced this time by Squires, also failed to attract much attention and the singer began to look around for fresh adventures. After brief stints with The Falling Leaves and a short-lived line up of The G-men featuring John E Sharpe, Squires started to put together a new group that would storm the South African charts.

Johnny Kongos & the G-men, 1964, l-r: Jesse Sumares, Johnny Kongos, Ed Burns (with bass), Rob Kearney (drums) and Hank Squires
The Falling Leaves, 1965: Leib Brews, George McCauley (on chair), Hank (standing) and Arthur Fisher (high chair)

The G-Men, l-r: Jesse Sumares, Leib Brews, Hank Squires and John E Sharpe

l-r: Jesse Sumares, John E Sharpe, Hank Squires and Leib Brews

The A-Cads form

Formed during October 1965, The A-Cads were essentially the brainchild of English émigré Peter Rimmer, a former support musician for the likes of Marty Wilde and The Tempests, who had decided to try his hand at management following his move to South Africa in 1963. By the time that Rimmer ran into Squires, he had become the manager of the Rand Academy of Music, and it was probably this experience that inspired him to form what would essentially be the first South African super group. Squires immediately recruited Evans and Kearney for the new project. He was also instrumental in bringing in the band’s remaining members, lead guitarist Dick Laws (b. 15 May 1946, London, England) and bass player Les Goode (b. 10 September 1946, Surrey, England). Both musicians had impressive pedigrees and were first-rate musicians.

Londoner Dick Laws had first visited Johannesburg in early 1963 when his band, Bill Kimber & The Couriers, got work in the city through local-born businessman Frank Fenter who had seen them play in his London coffee bar and raved about them to friends back home. Like many British artists who ventured to the colonies during this period, the group arrived to be greeted like visiting royalty. Over the next year or so, Bill Kimber & The Couriers scored a string of South African hits for the Renown label, including covers of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and Booker T & The MG’s Green Onions. They had a starring role in South Africa’s first rock movie, Africa Shakes, where they also backed local singer Sharon Tandy on various songs, including the well-known R&B hit, “I’m Movin’ On”.

The Couriers eventually returned home, but Squires was convinced that Laws was key to his new group’s success, and with Rimmer’s support, managed to coax him back to join The A-Cads. Laws brought with him a unique guitar style and, perhaps more importantly, an in-depth knowledge of the UK rock scene, as well as choice material to cover.

Les Goode (real name: Les Gutfreund), meanwhile, had emigrated from England in 1952 and played with Shadows tribute band, Les Beats, which morphed into The Nitwits, before working with The Deans, formed in 1963 with the late singer/guitarist John E Sharpe. Coinciding with the arrival of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Deans subsequently adopted the more progressive name John E Sharpe and The Squires and quickly became Johannesburg’s top R&B attraction.

The A-Cads’ unusual name appears to have been, according to press releases from that period, a compromise between Rimmer and the band. Apparently Rimmer was keen to name the group after the Rand Academy, while the group members’ preferred choice was The Cads, the result being The A-Cads. After weeks of intensive rehearsals, Rimmer duly launched The A-Cads at a cocktail party at Ciros in Johannesburg, hosted by A G J McGrall, a managing director of a well-known record company. The event attracted a great deal of publicity and made the front cover of the South African music rag, Record Express.

Soon afterwards, the band signed a recording deal with Teal Records (with distribution by RCA Victor) and, on the recommendation of Laws, recorded a stunning version of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ “Hungry For Love”, which reached #1 on the South African chart in January 1966. The South African music press was quick to praise the band’s debut disc, with one review quoted as saying “an excellent disc by an excellent group, backings are great, and vocal beautifully handled, this is about the best record ever produced in South Africa…”Laws’ piercing guitar work on the single’s b-side, a storming version of Bo Diddley’s “Roadrunner” meanwhile, provided a more accurate insight into the group’s musical abilities and hinted at its potential to develop into a formidable force. In addition, the track featured some amazing throat shredding vocals from Sam Evans. However, as the next few months would prove, the band would never capitalise on this early success.

During December, The A-Cads began work on an album, and while in the process recorded a cover version of The Small Faces’ “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, which for some inexplicable reason was later omitted from the album when it was issued the following spring. To add to the confusion, the track was finally issued as a single following the album’s release and after the band had relocated to London in April 1966.

Unfortunately during the recording process, the band started to unravel as Laws increasingly voiced his objections over the choice of material being presented to the group. As he later recalled: “A lot of stuff we did was just floating around in memory (Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas etc.), old favourites, that sort of thing. But some of it was producer Derek Hannan playing us things in his office that he thought would be good for us. I never agreed with his choices, but then I had a distinct vision of what the group should be. I always thought that it would have been better if Teal had just let us loose in the studio to get on with it ourselves (as we did initially with “Hungry For Love”). I think the band would have lasted a lot longer and surprised a few people.”

Louis McKelvey, Andy Keiller and the Upsetters

At this critical juncture, Squires decided to introduce a second lead guitarist Louis McKelvey (b. 31 October 1943, Killorglin, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland), as Laws looked increasingly to be on the verge of splitting. McKelvey, whose family had moved to Twickenham during his adolescence, was already a seasoned player on the West London club scene.

His earliest musical venture had been local group The Persuaders, but he quickly jacked this in to become the lead guitarist in R&B outfit Jeff Curtis & The Flames, regulars at the famous Ealing Jazz club. Though no recordings ever emerged from this period, The Flames did record an acetate comprising four tracks for the late, legendary Joe Meek. The band also spent a brief period playing at the Star Club in Hamburg and secured some bookings as a backing group on cross-channel ferries with big names like Jerry Lee Lewis.

After the band’s drummer Malcolm Tomlinson quit the band to play with The Del Mar Trio, McKelvey eventually grew restless and took off for South Africa with his newly wedded bride (not before joining Tomlinson’s band in Germany for about a month’s worth of gigs).

McKelvey’s parents had run a theatre production company in Leicester Square and on their travels had been struck by Cape Town’s beauty. McKelvey’s dad was briefly director of theatre in South Africa and the guitarist had spent part of his childhood in the country. On the look out for fresh musical adventures, he decided to follow their advice and return to South Africa for a few months.

Arriving in Johannesburg around September 1965, McKelvey quickly fell in with another expat, singer Andrew Keiller. Though relatively new to the music business, Keiller had nevertheless, witnessed first-hand many of the hotbeds of the early London rock scene (including a brief incarnation of The Rolling Stones featuring Carlo Little and Rick Brown), before moving to South Africa in March 1964 and recording a single for Continental Records, “Find My Baby” c/w “Elaine”. This was followed by an album, Round About Midnight, which was held back for release until mid-1966 when it was given a write up in Teenage Personality in its 12 May issue.

Within a short space of time, Keiller and McKelvey established one of Johannesburg’s finest beat groups, The Upsetters, with former Playboys member Leon Booysen (bass) and future Freedom’s Children member Colin Pratley (drums), who soon made way for George Hill.

Thanks to Booysen’s contacts at Trutone Records, the band (with George’s brother Frank on the skins) recorded a single for the label, “Daddy Rolling Stone” c/w “Pain In My Heart”, at EMI studios in Johannesburg. The single’s a-side, which was brought to Keiller’s attention when he heard The Who cover it, is an arresting R&B tune written by Derek Martin and features some fiery guitar work from McKelvey. The flip meanwhile is more restrained and is the same Otis Redding song that had recently been made popular in the UK by The Rolling Stones.

The group’s name appears to have been McKelvey’s idea – The Upsetters being his idol, Little Richard’s original support band. The Upsetters proved to be particularly apt as it was also a fashion at the time to insult the audience and, according to sources close to the band, Keiller was keen to emulate what The Who were doing back in London.

Shortly after the single’s release, the band underwent a number of personnel changes as Leon Booysen and George Hill both left to be succeeded by 18-year-old drummer Gregory Allen Plotz and former Johnny Kongos & The G-Men bass player Jesse Sumares.

The new Upsetters line-up ventured back into the studio to record further material for a follow up single – “Down Home Girl”, “Boom Boom” and “High Heel Sneakers”, but for some inexplicable reason, the tracks were subsequently left in the can. Perhaps it was this disappointment that led to the group’s collapse later that autumn.

Whatever the reason, Keiller decided to return to London in late November and the others drifted apart after a short Bloemfontein tour with the A-Cads the following month, during which Sam Evans handled vocals for both bands. It was shortly after the final tour that Squires approached McKelvey about joining The A-Cads.

Dick Laws and Sam Evans depart the A-Cads

As mentioned earlier, McKelvey’s primary role appears to have been to take over from Dick Laws, who had increasingly come to blows over the band’s musical direction.

As Laws later admitted: “The band was moving in a super-commercial direction, recording puff pieces like “Fool, Fool, Fool”. I was interested in keeping the heavier sound of “Hungry For Love”. Also, there were too many people involved in the band’s management – three managers actually. It felt like no one was interested in the music itself. Producer Derek Hannan was coming up with these hits (which I suppose was his job). Yet the success of “Hungry For Love” should have proved that a song doesn’t have to have an infantile hook to top the charts, but no one was listening.”

Within weeks of McKelvey’s arrival, Laws abandoned the group, initially to work on a solo rock instrumental album for Teal Records, but he soon lost interest and the project was shelved. Over the next few years, Laws would maintain a relatively low profile, working occasionally with The Derick Warren Sound in South Africa during 1969. However, that same year he joined Tommy Roe’s visiting support band and subsequently moved to the US. During the early 1970s, Laws contributed to Tommy Roe’s critically acclaimed albums We Can Make Music and Beginnings, but has kept a low profile since then, although he is still active musically in Los Angeles where he resides.

Review in Pop Gear, May 1966

Pop Gear discusses the breakup, February 1966

Sam Evans during his time with This Generation in mid 1966
Laws was quickly followed by Sam Evans, who was keen to go solo and wisely used the success of the group’s debut single to launch his career. After a brief stint with local beat group This Generation, Evans debuted with a revival of Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made of This” on the Pye label, and later that same year scored with Roy Hammond’s composition, “Shotgun Wedding”. Incidentally, the song was at #10 in the South African charts on 12 August 1966 when the Beatles’ hit “Paperback Writer” was removed from the Springbok charts as a result of a SABC Board decision that no Beatles songs may be played on any government-sponsored radio station. They took the decision in response to Lennon’s apparent remark about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus.Later, Evans would go on to record a string of singles throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s for the WRC, Parlophone and Nitty Gritty labels. He enjoyed further chart success with his singles, “Ain’t Love A Funny Thing”, “Goodbye Girl” and “Goodbye Guitarman”. Evans also issued a solo album in 1970 for Parlophone entitled “Ain’t Love A Funny Thing”, but sadly passed away in Johannesburg on 23 December 2004.

The A-Cads, meanwhile, briefly split up for a few weeks, but soon reformed with Hank Squires handling the vocal duties and McKelvey covering the lead guitar. “Evans and Laws were responsible for the group’s break up,” explains Squires. “Evans conspired to have me kicked out, Laws backed him. Their whole scheme backfired when Les and Robbie joined with me, giving us the majority to carry on as The A-Cads. McKelvey was in the right place at the right time, so I replaced Laws with him.”

The new line-up quickly emerged with a follow up single, “Fool Fool Fool” c/w “Zip-A-Dee Doh Dah” (the b-side in fact had been recorded before Evans’ departure) and, in a rather unusual move, also toured the Garden Route by train with the Boswell-Wilkie circus during the school holiday. One of the most memorable dates during this period was appearing at the Vaal Festival where the band played to 3,000 screaming fans. Soon afterwards, the new line up toured Mozambique.

Hungry for Love

Amid all this activity, RCA Victor issued the band’s album, which credited McKelvey for lead guitar and Dick Laws for bass (Les Goode wasn’t mentioned at all in the sleeve notes!). Curiously, the label also chose to use a rare picture of the short-lived Laws-McKelvey line-up for the album’s front cover with the group pictured on the back of a lorry. The true extent of McKelvey’s involvement in the sessions, however, is a matter of contention.

According to Dick Laws, McKelvey wasn’t around in the studio when he was recording with the group, and Laws is almost certain that he played lead on all the album tracks and three of the singles. Other sources close to the band, most notably Hank Squires, support his claim although McKelvey insists he played on some tracks.

One possible explanation is that both guitarists recorded material for the album and RCA Victor handpicked the best cuts when choosing on a final track listing. That might explain the delay in the album’s release and may also explain why the group’s second single, as well as earlier recordings with Laws – “Roadrunner” and “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” were subsequently excluded.

Whatever the reason, the media was unaware of any musical differences, and its response was overwhelmingly positive. Record Express gave the album a beaming write up in the April 1966 issue: “This tremendous, versatile, local group have followed up their hit single with this terrific album of bluesy R&B type numbers.”

Though no long lost classic, the album, named after the group’s debut single, does show The A-Cads in fine form with the band tearing its way through covers of R&B favourites like “In The Midnight Hour” and “Got My Mojo Working”. If any criticism could be levelled at the record, it would have to be the absence of any original material. Even The A-Cads’ British contemporaries, Them, The Rolling Stones and The Animals were writing their own songs, and The A-Cads’ dependence on such well-trodden material would probably not have helped the group’s cause over the long-term.

The album’s appearance also coincided with the belated release of the non-album track “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”, which as mentioned earlier, had been recorded while Laws was still in the band. Despite the changes in personnel and fresh developments in the group’s career, which will be discussed in a moment, the media continued to sing the group’s praises. Record Express’ Cordy Gunn enthusiastically told readers in that month’s issue: “’Sha-La-La-La-Lee’ is the A-Cads’ best since ‘Hungry For Love’ …I predict that this new single will immediately leap to the top.” Though it never quite matched the success of the band’s debut single, “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” did indeed become a sizeable hit that spring, but by then the band was no longer in the country to promote it.

Departure to London

With Squires’ old mate Mickie Most now acting as the group’s agent in London, the group’s fortunes appeared to be on the up, and plans were made to launch the group overseas. Record Express was quoted as saying in the April issue, that “Louis McKelvey has left South Africa on the Edinburgh Castle bound for London where he’ll meet the other members of the group in a month’s time”.

Pop Gear, June 1966

Pop Gear, May 1966
Squires and Goode (joined by former member Dick Laws) sailed on the Windsor Castle during May 1966, and the trio ended up renting a flat in Notting Hill Gate where McKelvey occasionally dropped by.

Robbie Kearney meanwhile decided against the move as he had recently married the leading dancer from the Boswell-Wilkie circus. He would maintain a profile of sorts, reportedly playing briefly with The Falling Leaves and recording with Birds of A Feather in late 1968. Later qualifying as an artist, he went on to design the cover of the Ancient Mariner album, which featured Les Goode on bass! Today, he is a successful artist.

However, plans to get The A-Cads’ singles issued in Europe remained just that, and though a recording company in Amsterdam was reportedly interested, Most’s attempts to negotiate a deal quickly floundered. When the opportunity to play some dates in Hamburg also failed to materialise, and tentative plans to move to India to play at a major festival fell through, Goode returned somewhat despondently to South Africa in September 1966. (Incidentally, Teenage Personality reported in its 21 July issue that Squires was in Hamburg, so perhaps he did play there as a solo artist?)

Re-establishing ties with John E Sharpe, Les Goode became a member of The John Sharpe Set. Goode continued to work with the guitarist and was also a member of his next outfit, Impulse, which was formed in September 1967 with John Elliot (sax), Albert Rossi (drums) and Alan Shane (bass). Impulse recorded a number of tracks, including the fascinating “Melon Man”.

Impulse changed its name to The Board of Directors in August 1968 and recorded two excellent singles: “New Orleans” and “Legend of A Big Toe”, before Sharpe and Goode left in November to put together The Crystal Drive alongside South African guitar legend Julian Laxton from Freedom’s Children. Goode also briefly played with The Derick Warren Sound during this period, recording two singles with the group for the Continental label: “Lingering On” and “Every Other Saturday”.

Since then, he has become one of South Africa’s most highly regarded bass players and has appeared on records by (or played with) such notable outfits as Dickory, Backtrax, Morocko, Foxy and 909. Goode also worked with future Yes member and fellow South African Trevor Rabin’s support group when he toured England in 1979, and during the 1970s was also a member of Hawk. He is currently A&R and owner/director of Great Value Music in Johannesburg, a successful wholesale/distribution budget record company.

July 1966

Pop Gear, September 1966
After the A-Cads: Hank Squires and Louis McKelvey in Canada

Back in England Hank Squires’ decided to trade in a career as a performer. His decision may primarily have been influenced by The A-Cads’ recent demise, but it is likely that other factors played a part. During the summer, the South African division of Columbia Records had released Squires’ solo album Strange Effect, but neither it nor two singles – “Don’t Come Knockin’” and “Strange Effect” had been commercially successful. Nevertheless, the album, recorded in late 1965/early 1966 (largely with the original A-Cads in support, although McKelvey appears on a couple of tracks), did receive a positive write up in the South African music press.

Tony Hamilton writing in Teenage Personality that summer said: “[The album] carries 13 carefully chosen numbers including “It Only Took A Minute”, “Concrete and Clay”, “Up On The Roof” and “My Girl”. Hank has lots of talent and deserves a break. He is now in England, and this new LP may help him over there.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t and after recording a number of demos with American producer Steve Rowland, South African songwriter Hugh Patterson and his mentor Mickie Most, Squires was forced to leave the country. “Due to the politics practised in South Africa I wasn’t able to secure a work permit and had no choice but to leave the UK, so I immigrated to Canada,” recalls Squires.

According to Teenage Personality in its 22 December 1966 issue, Squires recorded a rare single in Europe and then headed to Canada for a three-month engagement after he couldn’t get a work permit to perform in England. Arriving in Montreal in December 1966, he hooked up with McKelvey who’d made the crossing months earlier.

Like Les Goode, Louis McKelvey decided that England was not the ideal place to pursue his musical ambitions and around September 1966 he took the boat to Montreal with only $10 in his pocket. However, after only a few weeks in the city playing with the French-speaking Les Sinners, during which time he performed at the Paul Sauve Arena sporting a Union Jack jacket (an extremely daring move considering the political climate in Quebec), he took off for a cross-country jaunt to Vancouver. Returning to Montreal that December, he hooked up with Our Generation.

Hank Squires in the studio, 1969
Reunited with Hank Squires, McKelvey helped his former A-Cads band member find work with (arguably) Montreal’s finest garage band, The Haunted, who had recently scored a sizeable Canadian hit with “1-2-5”. Squires would work with the band and be given co-production credit on their lone album, which has since become a popular collector’s item.

McKelvey was also briefly involved with The Haunted. He was given co-production credit for the single “Searching For My Baby” c/w “A Message To Pretty” with Squires and, according to band member Jurgen Peter, was responsible for suggesting the ‘A’ side’s gutsy guitar intro. In an interesting side note, The Haunted single was given a South African release on the Continental label during early 1968 and was given a positive write up by Tony Hamilton in Teenage Personality.

A short while later, Hank Squires became a talent scout for Johannesburg-based label Highveld and through Jurgen Peter produced a single for Montreal singer, Andrew Storm (real name: Andrew Lacroix). Storm’s single, “Tic-Tac-Toe” c/w “I’d Love To Love You Again”, which features McKelvey on guitar, was later given a South African release on Highveld in 1970. Squires sadly died on July 13, 2009.

McKelvey meanwhile had thrown in his lot with Our Generation – a Haunted spin-off featuring former members Bob Burgess, Tim Forsythe and Jim Robertson. Our Generation already had one single to their credit, “I’m a Man”” c/w “Run Down Every Street”, issued on the Transworld label, but McKelvey’s arrival gave the band a “shot in the arm”. His fiery lead guitar work is immediately distinguishable on the group’s second (and arguably best) single, “Cool Summer” c/w “Out To Get Light”, which was issued in May 1967 and was produced by Squires.

By the time it reached the shops, McKelvey had moved on and pieced together a new musical project, Influence alongside Andy Keiller from The Upsetters. Keiller had arrived in Montreal in April 1966 and spotted McKelvey playing on TV with Our Generation. Influence subsequently recorded an album for ABC in late 1967 before splitting late the following year. McKelvey then worked with the short-lived groups Milkwood, Damage and Powerhouse.

During the early 1970s, McKelvey briefly re-united with Hank Squires, working as a songwriter and session guitarist for Squires’ short-lived studio group Marble Hall, which featured singer Brian Redmond. McKelvey contributed to the group’s lone single, “Marble Hall” (originally recorded as a demo with Influence).

Following his work with Andy Storm, Hank Squires released one more solo recording that year – “Ecstasy”, which appeared on a compilation album called Command Performance. Squires later produced a number of recordings in the early 1970s for a singer known as Martin Martin. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, he is preparing an album of new material, which will be released under the name, SmityBoy.

Interest in The A-Cads has grown meanwhile and an Italian label, Crystal Emporium, brought out a CD of The A-Cads album in 1998 complete with bonus tracks featuring some rare Hank Squires solo material, taken from an unreleased EP recorded in 1966.

Hank Squires in Montreal, 1970
Many thanks to the following for generously helping to piece the story together: Hank Squires, Les Goode, Dick Laws, Louis McKelvey, Andy Keiller, Tertius Louw, Jurgen Peter, Ian Hannah, Mike Paxman, Garth Chilvers, Tom Jasiukowicz, Gregory Plotz and Leon Booysen.

Strange Effect LP photos courtesy of Ivan Amirault.

© Copyright Nick Warburton, September 2008. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.

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14 thoughts on “The A-Cads”

  1. Sadly, this was confirmed to me by Nick Dokter, who has been in touch with Hank’s son. I had only been back in touch with Hank during the last six months or so. Sad news.

    Richard Laws
    Los Angeles

    1. Hi! I worked with hank in 1968 at the Hunter’s Horn Irish pub on Peel St. Montreal. He was a nice guy. Always friendly and a very talented musician and singer. I’m very sad to hear of his passing. I lost contact with him then as I returned to Ireland. It’s a lifetime since I saw him last. If anyone could give me more information on Hank afterwards,where he lived and so on,I would be very grateful. Peter Martin.

  2. On October 9th, 1966 a band called the A-Cads was playing in my hometown Winterswijk (Netherlands). Local heroes Death were opening up for them. The band was announced as bein’ from London. I do not know of any other group called the A-Cads except for the South African one. As the SA A-cads had a strong connection with the U.K., I suspect it was one and the same group. A band promo photo was handed out to the youngsters that day. I’m wonderin’ if somebody can tell me who’s on this picture:

    Looking forward to hear from anyone of you.


  3. Some of you were amazed by the group that was opening up for the A-Cads: DEATH. Yes, a wild name for that time!! They were undoubtly the most famous 60’s band from my hometown Winterswijk. When they started out early 1966 they played a lot of Stones and Outsiders (!!) covers, later on they became real Them adepts. The band lasted for about two years. Sadly no recordings were left. Lead guitarist Rini Wikkerink went on to Mother’s Love and The Dream. Bass player André Reijnen was in the first line-up of Brainbox, a famous Amsterdam-based prog/rock band from the late 60s/early 70s.

    In the last picture take note of the bass player’s instrument, amongst local musicians called the “toilet seat”: WEIRD!!! (note: it’s an Italian Wandré Meazzi bass)


  4. That’s a strange one. The A-Cads would have been totally insignificant in Europe as a name to draw a crowd, yet it’s such a unique name that the likelihood of two bands sharing it is too remote for it to be even coincidental (the “Cads” and “Academy” hybrid). In any event, none of those faces look familiar to me — although the guy on the left bears a faint resemblance to Ersel Hickey. Must be the hair…

    Richard Laws
    Los Angeles

  5. Erik weet je wat de andere bandleden zijn gaan doen bv Peter Klok?
    Ik heb ook in Winterswijk gewoond en kende Death vrij goed. Gr. Mieke


  7. Here are 4 bands that I played drums for in the 60’s in and around Montreal

    Burd and the Bombshells (recorded at rondack records in Plattsburgh NY)
    The Suspects
    Jamie and the Jesters
    The Mean Little Kids

    All pre 68 bands






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