All posts by Nick Warburton

The 004

The 004 were a mid-1960s R&B group put together at the suggestion of Trevor Boswell, a partner in the Hugo Keleti agency, after Dusty Springfield’s disastrous expulsion from South Africa in late 1964. (Hugo Keleti was the father of Eve Boswell, the South African 1950s star, and Trevor was her husband.) The band comprised of expatriate Britons, who recorded a string of singles and a lone album for the CBS label.Lead guitarist Pete Clifford (b. 10 May 1943, Whetstone, London) had first played with The Jesters and then briefly worked with Georgie Fame in London before visiting South Africa for the first time in 1964 with Dusty Springfield as a member of her backing group, The Echoes. Following the fateful trip, Clifford played with Tom Jones on a UK tour and then formed The 004 to return to South Africa, sailing on the Capetown Castle on 10 June 1965 where the band got its set list together.

Bass player/singer Jack Russell (b. 29 April 1944, Caerleon, South Wales) and rhythm guitarist/singer Brian Gibson (b. 17 March 1942, Newport, South Wales) had first met in Wales as members of The Victors, who had a residency at the Latin Quarter in London’s West End. When the band broke up in June 1964, Russell toured the Costa Del Sol and Morocco with French pop singer Teddy Raye while Brian Gibson joined The Laurie Jay combo where he met and socialised with Pete Clifford. In March 1965, after the failed continental tour, Russell got a job as production manager with Vox in Dartford. When Clifford had the call from Boswell and was asked to form a band to return to South Africa that summer, he recruited Gibson, who in turn recommended Russell. The band added Londoner Peter Stember on drums to complete the line up.

Personality, November 25, 1965.
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with Gene Vincent and Jackie Frisco, Daily News, December 3, 1965
After arriving in Durban by boat on 30 June 1965, the group began playing at the Al Fresco Night Club in a hotel on 1 July. The band signed to CBS and recorded a string of singles for CBS, kicking off with “The In Crowd” in November 1965. The following month, the band backed Gene Vincent in Durban for three months.Prior to the release of the group’s debut single, The 004 had briefly relocated to Johannesburg and worked the 505 Club in Kotze Street, Hillbrow. Back in Durban in early 1966, The 004 opened Tiles club, playing with The Ivy League in May. The following month, the band’s lone album It’s Alright was released and contained Gibson’s promising originals, “She’s Going Back Home Today”, “I’ve Found Her” and “Beverley” alongside covers of Curtis Mayfield’s title track and Mann, Weil and Stoller’s “On Broadway”. The album had been recorded in CBS studios in Johannesburg in late 1965 on an old two-track machine with overdubbing rather than the four-track Studer equipment widely available in Europe. During this time, Clifford and Russell did lots of studio work as session musicians recording with Eve Boswell, The Dream Merchants, The Sandpipers (the South African version), Johnny Collini and many others.

In August 1966, Nick ‘Doc’ Dokter (b. 24 July 1945, Kampen, Overijsel, Holland) was recruited from The Leemen Limited to replace Stember, who returned to the UK and later became an internationally renowned photographer, based in California.

Two months later, The 004 returned to Durban to play at Tiles and on 24 December joined a number of acts, including The Gonks, The Difference and The Dream Merchants to play a Christmas Eve show at Durban City Hall.

In March 1967 Gibson also left and Barry Mitchell from The In Crowd briefly took his place. Gibson later played with progressive rock band, Abstract Truth and lives in South Africa. Two months later, the band met John Kongos who invited the musicians, by then down to trio without Mitchell, to the UK to record that summer.

Clifford, Dokter and Russell recorded with John Kongos as a group called Floribunda Rose in London during mid-late 1967 before Clifford left to return to South Africa to join The Bats. Dokter also moved back to South Africa, albeit briefly, working as a boilermaker. He soon moved to Holland before emigrating to Canada where he played with Five Man Cargo, a UK band who later morphed in Cross Town Bus. In later years, he did session work for the Bruce Allan Agency and currently lives in Vancouver.

Russell meanwhile stuck with John Kongos until 1969 and recorded a string of singles in London as Scrugg before moving in to an advertising agency. He currently lives near Hampton Court.

Article by Nick Warburton

Pop Gear article, May 1966
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August, 1966, clockwise from top left:
Brian Gibson, Jack Russell, Pete Clifford and Nick Dokter

Article in the Natal Mercury, November 26, 1966.

Final group photo, 1967
List of releases:
45: The In Crowd/Without You (CBS SSC 599) 1965
LP: It’s Alright (CBS ALD 8911) 1966
45: Goin’ Out Of My Head/Little Miss Trouble (CBS SSC 677) 1966
45: Happening Humpty/Lah To The Power of 6 (Continental PD 9198) 1966Many thanks to Jack Russell, Nick Dokter, Pete Clifford, Vernon Joynson and Tertius Louw

Copyright © Nick Warburton, September 2008. All Rights Reserved

Ed: The oddball single “Happening Humpty” was recorded in order to get Matt Mann to release The 004 from the CBS contract. The band felt suppressed by Mann who offered them no material. Mann refused to release the idiosyncratic and oddball trumpet work by one of South Africa’s top trumpeters. The idiotic inclusion of “out of time” bum notes was deliberate. Mann released the band. Graham Beggs then released the single under the Continental label. It has since become a collector’s item.

May, 1966, l-r: Pete Stember (foreground), Brian Gibson, Jack Russell and Pete Clifford

Interview with Chris Demetriou

John E. Sharpe & the Squires on the cover of Pop Gear S/A, February 7, 1966.
Chris Demetriou is seated at left.

Chris Demetriou is best known for co-writing the UK top 5 hit “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” with fellow South African John Kongos and for producing Cat Stevens and former Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo. He talks to Nick Warburton about his South African years, working with UK-based groups Floribunda Rose and Scrugg and becoming a pastor.
Q) Hi Chris, I gather from your surname that your heritage is Greek? I know that you grew up in South Africa so what is the connection?I was born in Cyprus but my parents immigrated to South Africa and I stayed there until John Kongos and I moved to the UK in 1967.

Q) You started out as a keyboard player. Was John E Sharpe & The Squires your first group and how did you come to join them?

In fact I started playing guitar, moved on to bass guitar, and ended up playing a Farfisa organ out of necessity. I’m not sure, but I think Les Goode brought me into The Squires.

Q) Besides John E Sharpe and yourself, the other original members were bass player Les Goode, guitarist Barry Saks and drummer Mervyn Harris. The group has a reputation for being one of the best groups on the Johannesburg live scene in the mid-1960s. What do you remember about recording with the band?

We played as more of an R&B band when doing gigs but somehow changed styles in the recording studio. Hence, the cover version of “I am a rock” (by Paul Simon). The band was South Africa’s answer to The Rolling Stones.

Q) You co-wrote a few songs for the band with John E Sharpe. What prompted you to start composing material?

Although I had been writing lyrics since I was twelve and experimenting with different musical styles, it was very natural for me to write with someone else. I chose songwriting partners because that’s what worked for me.

Q) John E Sharpe & The Squires were managed by Clive Calder, who later went on to become one of the richest men in the music industry. What was he like to work with?

I found Clive to be very focused and extremely astute as a musician. You could see that he had a future beyond South Africa.

Q) The band’s lone album “Maybelline” is now almost impossible to find but is regarded as one of the best South African records from that period. What do you remember of the album’s sessions?

Hey I’d love to hear it again! We recorded it at Gallo Studios on a four-track machine. Not many overdubs or clever tweaking. A nearly “live” recording in a true R&B style.

Chris Demetriou, October, 1966.

Floribunda Rose in Johannesburg, May 1967 before setting off for England. Left to right: John Kongos, Chris Demetriou, Pete Clifford (foreground), Jack Russell and Nick Dokter. Courtesy of Jack Russell.
Q) In mid-1967, you left the group to join fellow countryman, John Kongos in London for his new group Floribunda Rose alongside Dutch-born Nick Doktor, Welshman Jack Russell and English guitarist Pete Clifford. How did you make the connection with John and how did you know the other players?John located me through the Jo’burg Greek club. I was invited to his house and the next thing I knew we were planning to leave the country and seek fame and fortune in London. The other players were already in place.

Q) What were you first impressions of London and where did you all end up living? Also, do you have any memories of playing live on the local scene? I found one date for the band playing at Tiles in London in September 1967 with Simon Dupree & The Big Sound.

Wow! You have sourced some interesting information. The Tiles Club! I remember playing the Tiles Club more than once. However, most of our gigs were up and down the M1 at less prestigious venues. We did play some university events and supported more well known acts, but it’s so long ago, I wouldn’t be able to confirm if we were just in the crowd or on the actual bill. I remember seeing Joe Cocker and Jethro Tull.

Q) The group signed to Piccadilly Records and worked with John Schroeder on the single “One Way Street” c/w “Linda Loves Linda”, both sides of which are great tracks. What do you remember about recording this single? Were there are any other songs recorded that were subsequently scrapped?

John Schroeder was very organised when it came to booking studio time. We were in and out as quickly as was necessary to lay down the backing tracks. No real freedom to create on our own.

Q) What was the decision to change the band’s name from Floribunda Rose to Scrugg? Was it the same line up of musicians? I read that Henry Spinetti played some drums?

The “flower power” thing was on its way out and we thought a name change would help us re-focus and take a slightly different direction. Also, Henry had just joined the band.

Q) Scrugg issued three hopelessly rare singles for Pye, none of which seem to have sold that well. What do you remember about these tracks and why do you think the group never got the success it deserved?

We were managed by The Walker Brothers’ manager and had reasonable exposure on radio and some TV, so I do not really know why we didn’t make more of an impact. I suppose that this is just the way the music business runs.

Q) When Scrugg folded in early 1969, you elected to stay in England and continue to work with John Kongos on his solo material. What happened to the other members? I believe that Pete Clifford returned to South Africa to join The Bats?

John and I had burnt our bridges after leaving South Africa. Going back was not an option. John and I were very close – like brothers. Therefore, continuing to work together was natural.

Q) How did you come to move into production work? Did you still continue to perform?

Before “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” became a hit (and after the group had disbanded), I answered an ad in Melody Maker for a production assistant. It was GEM Productions, which was set up by Laurence Meyers and Tony Defries. Tony took me under his wing and I got to help their artists and producers in the studio and out. Sometimes mixing singles, other times helping with promotion. David Bowie, Gary Glitter, Johnny Johnson and the bandwagon, and Mike d’Abo were all part of the team. Right after the successes with John Kongos’ recordings on the Fly label, I seized the opportunity to get into production. I was introduced to Barry Krost (Cat Stevens’ manager) and he took me on board and immediately introduced me to A&M Records. I then established a strong connection with the label and recorded four albums with different artists (including “Down at Rachel’s Place” with Mike d’Abo).

Q) Tell me about your work with Cat Stevens. How did that come about?

As I was being managed by Barry Krost (BKM) it was only a matter of time before Stevens and I would work together. I first helped out on some live recording and then worked with him on the “Budda and the Chocolate Box” album. But it was not a good combination. Two Greek boys in the studio! I eventually had to back out in order to preserve the relationship. We are still friends.

Q) You also worked with Mike D’ Abo on his album “Down At Rachel’s Place”. What were those sessions like?

This is my finest recording. Even now I listen to it and enjoy every moment. We had the best of everything – musicians, arranger and engineer. Ken Scott was my engineer (he went on to produce David Bowie, Supertramp and Chris de Burgh).

Q) You are probably best known for co-writing “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” with John Kongos which became a huge hit in the UK, South Africa and the States and became a hit for The Happy Mondays years later. Tell me about the inspiration for that song and how you and John came up with it?

I had written the first part of the lyric in South Africa in protest of the political situation and the mistreatment of the black population. I had seen similarities between this and the abuse of the Red Indians. John liked the theme and we started writing a song with the guitar riff as a strong lead. John and I could write five songs a day if necessary but when we started writing this song it was different – we knew something truly unique was taking place.

Q) When did you give up a career in music to become a pastor? What prompted that change in career?

I had already moved away from the music business and into the media industry. The career change never took place, rather, I evolved. However, there was a distinct heart change. My career in the media is still very active, even though I am a pastor. Business is what I do – a pastor is who I am. The difference between “calling” and career. I trust you understand.

© Nick Warburton, January 2008

Many thanks to Jack Russell for the use of photos from Pop Gear SA and his personal collection.

The as-yet unnamed Floribunda Rose in Jo’burg, May 1967.

The Gonks

The Gonks, Pop Gear, December 1966.

South African R&B/pop band, The Gonks were one of Durban’s leading groups in the mid-1960s. Formed in the summer of 1965, the original line up was put together by former Clansmen drummer, turned lead singer Craig Ross (b. 27 January 1946, Durban) and rhythm guitarist and singer Howard Schachat (b. 7 November 1949, Durban). The pair completed the line up with lead guitarist Noel McDermott (b. 31 March 1946, Durban), bass player Brian McFall (b. 26 December 1945) and drummer Rob Clancy (b. 2 May 1948).

Taking their name from a 12-inch high stuffed doll that was popular at the time, The Gonks’s first gig was at the Lido Resort (playing around the pool) in Umkomass, on the South Coast.

The Gonks’s first big break, however, took place in October 1965 when they played a show at the Journey’s End Moth Hall in Durban North. They then followed this up with a number of appearances at Durban City Hall, at the Al Fresco Terrace on Durban’s Bayside and at various South Coast resorts.

Signed to the Fontana label in late 1966, the band recorded its debut single, a cover of Mike Curb’s “You Can’t Stop Me Loving You” backed by the Edden-Cline-Schachat-Ross collaboration, “Crying My Heart Out”, which was produced by Graeme Beggs for Trutone and featured studio guests, Johnny Kongos, Pete Clifford and Peter Lotis. Issued on Fontana single TF 772 in November 1966, the band’s debut release climbed the South African Springbok charts and peaked at number 7 in January 1967.

The Gonks featured in Pop Gear, June of 1966.
Interestingly, within weeks of the single’s release that November, the band had returned to the studio to record a follow up, a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Nobody But Me”, backed by the Ross-McDermott co-write, “Woman, Yeah”, which was again produced by Beggs at Gallo’s studio in Johannesburg.

For reasons that remain unknown, Noel McDermott left the band immediately after this recording (and prior to the debut single’s success) to work briefly with his own group. In his place, the group recruited lead guitarist, Mervin Gershanov from The Mods, another local band, which featured several musicians that would join The Gonks throughout 1967. At the same time, bass player Brian McFall also departed (years later playing with Third Eye) and Barrie Cline from The Deans took his place. (Incidentally, Barrie’s brother Dave was a member of The Mods.)

The reconstituted Gonks line up made a notable appearance at Durban City Hall for a Christmas Eve show with The Difference, Bobby James & The Plainsmen, Jody Wayne, 004, The Dream Merchants and Dunny & The Showmen before further changes ensued.

During early January Peter Gilder, ex-Deans and The Section, took over the drum stool from Rob Clancy, although The Gonks’s original drummer would return later in the year. According to the Natal Mercury newspaper, this line up played at the Arena Club in Durban on 28 January.

Amid all of these changes, The Gonks enjoyed some notable chart success with their debut single –“You Can’t Stop Me Loving You”, which was subsequently included on the 162/3rpm long-playing Fontana compilation album, It’s All Happening.

On 11 March 1967, The Gonks returned to Durban City Hall for a show alongside singer Billy Forrest and R&B group, The Etonians. That same month, the band’s long awaited second release, “Nobody But Me”, backed by “Woman, Yeah” was released on Fontana single TF 784 and became a modest hit.

The single helped raise the band’s local standing and on 29 April, the band played another show at Durban City Hall with It’s a Secret and singer Beau Brummell, who’d returned to South Africa after several years working in UK and Europe with British band, The Noblemen. On 26 May, they also made an appearance at the Scene club in Durban. Soon afterwards, the band recorded two tracks, which were never released: “Ain’t I Met You Somewhere Before, Little Girl” and “Dreams”.

Also around this time, The Gonks recorded a cover of Gordon Haskell’s “Lazy Life” backed by Neil Diamond’s “The Long Way Home” for the Troubadour label, with singer Billy Forrest producing. Forrest had discovered the song while in England and given it to the band. However, after laying down the backing track, Ross told Forrest that the song didn’t fit the band’s image and so Forrest decided to issue the tracks under the name Quentin E Klopjaeger and The Gonks.Later copies omitted The Gonks and the single (released on Troubadour TRS-E-9093) eventually became a big hit, peaking at number 1 on the Springbok charts on 21 June 1968.

But we are jumping ahead of ourselves. With the recording done, Craig Ross jumped ship to hook up with South Africa’s premier psychedelic group, Freedom’s Children. In his place, the band recruited guitarist and singer Alan Reid from Gershanov’s former band, The Mods.

Further changes ensued. By the time the group released its third single, “Hard Lovin’”, backed by “You Don’t Know Me”, (issued on Renown N 1416) in January 1968, Rob Clancy had returned to the band to displace Peter Gilder and Rodney Aitchison had taken over from Mervyn Gershanov.

Gershanov would subsequently team up with singer/bass player Clive Calder and others, including English guitarist Pete Clifford from The Bats, for a one-off live album, Live At The Electric Circus, released by The First Electric Jamming Band for Parlophone in 1969. Gilder meanwhile, would later work with Spectrum alongside fellow Gonks member, Barrie Cline.

Soon after the release of their third single, The Gonks underwent further changes with another former Mods member, Trevor Turner taking over bass from Barrie Cline. Rob Clancy also left and was replaced by Roger Johnson. Clancy sadly later committed suicide in England during the 1980s.

With all of these changes, it was perhaps not surprising that the band soon ran its course. By mid-1968, the final line up had imploded and Schachat reunited with former members Craig Ross (fresh from Freedom’s Children) and Barrie Cline in Parish News. The project was relatively short-lived and sometime in 1969-1970, Ross and and Schachat formed The Pack with Clive Goodwill (keyboards), Ian Bell (flute) and Dave Evans (drums) among others.

In 1971, however, Aitchison, Ross, Cline and Dave Evans briefly reformed The Gonks and backed singer Alan Garrity. The band never recorded and soon broke up. Evans then joined forces with Schachat alongside other former Gonks members Alan Reid and Mervin Gershanov in Sweet Grass alongside Ian Bell from The Pack.

When the latter unravelled, Evans then formed Jigsaw with Craig Ross and Barrie Cline. A horn band, Jigsaw also comprised Glen Turrel, Mike Slavin, Dave Ridgeway, Tony Hynde and Kiwi.

Schachat and Gershanov meanwhile formed the group Haggis and played original hard rock music in Durban. They had three different drummers – Richard Pickett, Robbie Pavid (ex-Third Eye) and Bokkie De Beer (later with Johnny Clegg) but the band split when Schachat left Durban in 1974 and moved to the US. The guitarist became a lawyer and currently lives in San Diego, California where he plays in a six-piece classic rock band called 9th Floor Band.

Little is known about the other members of the group, who have all kept a low profile. Craig Ross, however, who still lives in Durban and designs kitchens, occasionally sings live and has enjoyed some recent exposure with growing interest in Freedom’s Children.

Article by Nick Warburton

Many thanks to the following for their help: Tertius Louw, Howard Schachat, Peter Gilder, Craig Ross, Rodney Aitchison, Garth Chilvers, Mervin Gershanov, Tom Jasiukowicz, Dave Evans, Brian Colborne and Rob David.

Nick Warburton is a UK based freelance writer. His website is

© Copyright Nick Warburton, September 2008