|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.
Click for larger image
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.
John E. Sharpe & the Squires on the cover of Pop Gear S/A, February 7, 1966.
Chris Demetriou is seated at left.
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 www.nickwarburton.com.
© Copyright Nick Warburton, September 2008