Rockingscots is a website dedicated to Scottish beat groups of the '60s and  early '70s. Visit the Rockingscots homepage for more groups or to e-mail us.

The Verge

Top, left to right: Gordon McIntosh: Bass; Charlie Miller: Keyboards; Willie McKellar: Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals.
Bottom, left to right: Jim Berney: Drums & Backing Vocals; Bill Hendry: Lead Vocals.  
Pic- courtesy of Alex Scott.

Gordon McIntosh recounts the band's history and adventures: 

When I first joined the band in 1968 I was 16 and we were originally a 6 piece, myself on bass, Willie McKellar on lead guitar, Charlie Miller, keyboards, Jim Berney, drums, Roger Glover on sax, and vocalist John Ryan.  John came from Warrington in England and knew  quite a few agents down that way so we managed to get a some gigs around there including the Cavern Club in Liverpool.  John left the band in early 1969 and was replaced by Bill Hendry.   I first saw Bill singing with a band called Sunset Culture at the Maryland in Glasgow and  he sounded like Robert Plant, only better.  We asked him to a rehearsal and after trying out a few songs he  agreed to join the band.  Shortly afterwards, Roger left and we became a 5 piece till 1973.  

Above pic and those from the photo shoot below courtesy of Willie McKellar
We were playing a minimum 5 gigs a week from Inverness to Gretna - the Beach Ballroom Aberdeen, the Kinema Dunfermline, the Raith Kirkaldy, the Cavendish Edinburgh, the Trocadero Hamilton the Albert, the Flamingo, and Locarno in Glasgow and the Bobby Jones in Ayr.  I think the only ballroom in Scotland we didn't play was the Barrowlands as it was closed in the late sixties for about 10 years because of all the gang trouble that was going on at that time.  We once did 5 gigs in one day starting with a charity thing in the West End of Glasgow about midday then we went on to play Easter Road football ground  in Edinburgh along with the Tremeloes.  That night we played a club through there, I think it was called the Cave  then back to Glasgow for 45min spot at the Picasso before finishing off at about 4am in Sgt Peppers.  After all that we still went back to our flat in Pollokshields for a party. 

My favourite gigs were the Cragburn in Gourock,  the Watermill in Paisley, Hamilton, Airdrie and Cumnock town halls, , the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock, the Olympia, East Kilbride, all the universitys, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Queen Margaret union, and the rag balls at the Locarno ( they were crazy).  We used to have good following in the north east  in places like, Nairn, Elgin, Buckie, Ellon, inverurie and Kemnay.  Arran was great too;  we'd go over for a few weekends throughout the year to do Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay.  The Electric Garden in Sauchiehall St was also a good venue as was  the Terminal 1 Club in St Enochs Square and the Maryland in Scott St.  We were also the first band to play at a club called Clouds directly above the Greens Playhouse which was later renamed the Apollo.  Then there was the Lindella Club in Union St.

The roadies hated the Lindella as it was about four flights up with no lifts.  I felt sorry watching them carry the 4x4 marshall cabs, Hammond organ and Leslie unit and PA system up all those stairs but then again that's what they were paid for - ok a half pint of beer and ten fags wasn't  much, especially amongst all of them.  We had quite a few roadies over the years.  So, to Davie Fowler, Davy Gilchrist, Brian Agnew, John McBrearty, Bobby, Benny, Jim Kelly, Seamus, Ian Hosie (formerly with the House of Lords) Chris Watson and the famous Stanley, Alan (Muttsey) Miller who was our longest serving roadie, and finally our flat mate and part time Aussie DJ Ken Kane - Thanks guys.

A couple of wee stories about roadies come to mind.  I remember us doing a Hogmanay ball in Newton Mearns along with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.  I think it was 1969 and it was quite a formal do, all suits, bow ties and long dresses.  We finished our set about 11.30 and went up to the dressing room to see in the bells only to discover that we had no mixers.   Muttsey and I went to get some but the bar was packed 10 deep and it was obvious we'd never get served by midnight.  Now, 'Muttsey' used to frequent Tam Shepherd's joke shop in Queen Street quite a lot and he brings out a couple of stink bombs from his pocket and smashes them over his head.  Within about ten seconds everybody was just about throwing up, including me.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl faint and fall over a table filled with champagne glasses and another one slipped over on the spilled drink; it was like a scene from a Carry On film.  Suddenly, there was about 20 feet of empty bar space and Muttsey just walked up like Clint Easterhouse and ordered a dozen cokes et voila! - Happy New Year. 

Another roadie story that I remember was when we were playing at the Dam Park hall in Ayr and we were supporting Slade.  It must have been in November because we had bought a few boxes of fireworks on the road down and we were going to let them off after the gig.  Slade had their dressing room across the corridor from us, and one of them came into our room and saw the fireworks and said, 'Do you mind if I take a couple of bangers?'  We said, 'Certainly, take what you want.'  Then we lit a few and chucked them into Slade's dressing room.   After the screams of, 'You f****** b*******!' our door burst open and bangers were lobbed back in at us.  Next thing, rockets, and cartwheels were exploding all over the place and a stray firework started a small fire in some boxes of rubbish in the corridor.  As the flames started to get bigger, our roadie Stanley tried to douse them with the contents of a bottle of brandy that we'd been given by a fan  - whooosh - a massive flame erupted and set a corridor door alight.  The gig had to be put back about an hour while the fire brigade sorted things out.  We blamed it on Slade and I think their management paid the bill for the damages.  

We played with Status Quo in the Cavendish in Edinburgh one night, must have been about early 1970, and they were about to call it a day.  After the gig they asked us to meet up at their hotel, the Royal Stuart in Glasgow.  They said they were really impressed with our set and told us they would like to manage us,  though as we found out later it was Alan Lancaster who was most keen on going into management.  After a couple of months we hadn't heard anything so I went down to London and met Alan at his mum's house in Peckham and he told me he was still very much interested and was trying to put a few ideas together with Max Clifford, a relatively unknown PR man at that time but as it was a bit difficult for them to arrange anything for us while we were based up in Glasgow, we were to come down to London and try the club experience down there.

Then they told us that Barry Ryan was looking to go back on the road again with a bit of a heavier sound and needed a new backing band for a 3 week tour of Italy in August 1970.   So they arranged  an audition for us in Ronnie Scott's jazz club. Barry and his manager at that time, Clive Mclean who also managed Cat Stevens, really liked us and asked if we would like the job.  We thought, 'Mmmm a 3 week tour of Italy in the month of August, a bit of sun, getting a few quid, staying at all the top hotels with drinks thrown in, yes we'll have a some of that.'   After a couple of weeks of rehearsal we went on our first gigs outside the UK.

All Pics below from Gordon McIntosh
                                                     At the Flamingo                                                                                                            Bill, Gordon Charlie 

 The opening night was in Milan and it was a disaster.  Nothing went right.  Maybe because there had been big expectations and we were not used to all the media, photographers and TV attention that we got - and probably a bit of nerves as well.  I remember Barry was thinking about cancelling the whole tour there and then.  The next night was in a football stadium in a place called Rappallo in front of 13.000 and we were topping the bill along with Shocking Blue and the Equals.  We were not due on till about midnight were all a bit jumpy about how it might go the nearer it came to time to go on.  The sound check in the early evening was good but the Equals had done quite a good set and Shocking Blue were tremendous.  We said to Barry, 'Yeah, maybe you should have cancelled the tour.'  But we had a couple of refreshments and were in a better frame of mind by the time the car came to take us from the dressing room  to the stage.  We opened up with 'Eloise' a number 1 hit for Barry all over Europe.  The sound was great and we went down really well.  From then on in the rest of the tour was unbelievable. We never realised how big Barry was on the continent at that time.  Germany was another fantastic place where Barry was huge.  In fact in Germany he was the biggest selling artist for 3 years in a row.
Barry Ryan (centre) and the Verge

Charlie                                                                                                     Gordon

John Ryan                                                                                                                 Jim Berney

Our first gig in London with Barry was to open a new nightclub called 'Bumpers'.  John Peel was the DJ that night and after we finished  he said he really enjoyed it. We were Barry's backing band for a couple of years on and off doing tours with him around Europe and loads of gigs all over England, mainly on the club circuit like the Fiesta in Sheffield or the Cavendish in Blackburn with some of the top pop acts and comedians of the day - Dustin Gee and Ken Goodwin were two of the funniest guys I ever met.  

Rehearsals with Barry Ryan

Willie McKellar remembers the last phase of working with Barry Ryan: Our intention had been to get based in London while a record deal arranged by Alan Lancaster was set up with Decca.  Touring with Barry was a way of earning a few bucks on the way.  However, Barry enjoyed the 'band' experience so much that we ended up writing songs together and he wanted to change his image and become part of the band but his record company wouldn’t allow this. We recorded a couple of songs then Decca decided to put all new artists on hold and concentrate on their established acts. There are eight original songs on YouTube: just type Barry Ryan and the following song titles:  Storm is brewing; Slow down; I think you know my name; Alimony honey blues; All thoughts of time; When I was a child; Life’s so easy; Come home.  We did a few more tours with him and then things just petered out.   We came back to Scotland but it just wasn't the same. Bill, our lead vocalist, moved back to Fife and we eventually disbanded. Still, I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it.

Gordon McIntosh takes up the story again:  The songs written by Willie and Barry mentioned above were recorded in De Lane Lea Studios London and were produced by Martin Birch who also produced Deep Purple.  A few other songs were recorded in IBC Studios, but only 2 have been saved from there: 'Lonliest night of the year' and 'Moonshine girl'.   Just as things were quieting down with Barry, the Quo's career had started taking off again so we weren't hearing anything from Alan Lancaster.  As no contract had been signed with Alan or Max, we let Matt  Nicholson, brother of Hugh and Davie of the Poets, Marmalade and Blue take over as our manager.  Matt said he would now try and get us a deal with Decca but of course Barry found out about it, Alan and Max found out about it, and we all kinda fell out.  Then, as Willie said, Matt's deal with Decca didn't materilise so we came back up to Glasgow and started playing the usual gigs for a while,


I think after all the tours we had done with Barry and having that wee taste of the pop star life, like appearing on "Top of the Pops" and various TV shows in Europe, and all the big clubs on the UK cabaret circuit, coming back to do the Scottish scene again got a bit tedious even though we still had a great following wherever we played.  We got in another singer called Johnny Burns for about 6 months.  Johnny was a good singer and frontman, but as Willie mentioned at the start, things were just not the same and we split up.

In France: l-r: Alan (Muttsey) Miller; Bill Hendry; Gordon McIntosh; & Jim Berney.

For me  our biggest compliment was when we were rehearsing  the Crosby Stills and Nash song 'Suite Judy Blue Eyes' in the Electric Gardens and David Bowie walked in with his backing band he was using for a Scottish tour.  They sat about for a while listening to us while the roadies brought in their gear.  After we finished rehearsing Bowie came up and said, 'Man that was ******* fantasmagorical" or something like that.  I wonder what happened to him? 

A big disappointment for me is that we don't have any videos of any of our gigs or our TV performances like the edition of Top of the Pops with Barry doing the song 'Cant let you go'. Unfortunately it was one of the hundreds of reels that were deleted between 1970 - 1975.  If somehow anyone recorded that show on 21st Jan 1972 I would be grateful if you could get in touch through Rockingscots. As a wee reminder, Benny Hill was no 1 with Ernie and also on the show were Congregation, John Kongos, Petula Clark and Marmalade doing 'Cousin Norman'.  I also remember on the Italian tour there were  a lot of brits on holiday that came to our gigs in Rimini and Cattollica  with their 8mm cine cameras, so if anybody has still  got any film from that time, please let me know.  Or any of the German TV shows we did.

I met up with Alan Lancaster again in 1976 when the Quo were playing Glasgow Apollo.  He was ok about what had happened before and said he felt we could have gone on to better things together which is perhaps easy to say years later. And, maybe if we had stayed with Barry who was just coming into his own as a songwriter we could all have progresssed but, in truth, we had always wanted to be our own band.  I'll end by agreeing with Willie - I wouldn't have missed a moment of it either!  

 Mr Alan 'Muttsey' Miller on a holiday cruise in 1995 - letting everyone knows he's a Scot - as we do!

Gordon, Charlie & Bill in February 2013