Axis was formed in a hurry – no one can be certain quite why, in Ashford Kent, in about 1967, rehearsed in a garage and played wherever a hall could be hired, broken into or an audience bribed. It is suspected that the founder was Billy Redding, who was born in London at the age of two, which was a surprise to his mother, as she was on holiday in Margate at the time. The band is proud of its innovation and artistic integrity and that it never played in the same shed or worked for the same promoter twice. The owners of the sheds and the promoters were equally proud of their record on that.The band never sought a recording contract, being far ahead of their time and unappreciated. As a proto-Punk Blues band with its roots in Soul, (and branches in a High street near you), they found that this genre never gained general acceptance west of Willesborough Hospital.
Although at least two members were too stoned to notice, the band folded after about 18 months, as it was becoming too expensive to hire halls and play to the floorboards – Axis had unwittingly become the initiator of an art-form known as the ‘rehearsal-performance’. This dispensed with the need for an audience on the night, leaving the band free to improvise at will. (Or - at Will, as he often turned up looking for free booze and loose women – or was it the other way around?).
The Bootleg Years Included on this album (one tape only issued) are loose approximations of some of the chord sequences of the following numbers: Dock of the Bay Albatross (God knows why!) Down in the Valley Green Onions (the symphonic version with a 25 minute drum solo) Mojo? Many of the correct notes can be heard, but in the words of Eric Morecambe - ‘not necessarily in the right order’ Other unidentified but vaguely familiar noises are to be heard, including – if you listen to ‘Nuts’ version of Albatross carefully - a passing seagull - Jonathon Livingstone, I presume. We especially appreciated Stuart’s bassline which was cunningly pitched out half a semitone throughout.
The Band Lead Guitar – Billy "Cheesecutter" Redding - Went to work in a mental hospital after hearing this tape. Vocals??, Harmonica, Saxophone and defector to Mother Earth - Andy "Gutbucket" Wenham - Moved on to become a pillar of the Financial world (at least I think they said something that sounded like pillar) Rhythm Guitar and overdue library books – Keith "Nuts" Parry - Rumoured to have become a taxidermist…or was it a Librarian? Bass Guitar and bread rolls– Stewart Beaumont - Now working for the Government…… now there’s a good laugh! Drums and other items not usually available on prescription - Hugh Drury - Last heard of in a Gypsy caravan in Southern Ireland looking for a roll-up Saxophone and transport manager – Iain Crump - Still waiting for a proper job and the time to learn how to use more than 3 of the keys and remember two of the tunes Guest Vocalist and deputy transport manager, (trading as Cliff Richard) – Graham Soar - An accountant for the second time …..but who’s counting Entourage – Will Ward….. well, he turned up at a couple of gigs Alive and well and making picture frames, despite appearing on Top of the Pops (Didn’t we have a lovely day the day we went to Bangor………etc) holding a bassoon which never got blown. Electronics and Pyrotechnics - Keith ‘Thirty Speakers’ Hammond - Probably became Brain of Britain or went into therapy Promoter, for a fortnight or so - John ‘Gombo’ Webb - Still ‘on the nest‘ no doubt Sound System – courtesy of the back of a Rediffusion van and Keith’s mother’s knitting machine Vox AC30 - courtesy of John Brind (why? and who was he?)
Quotes across the years: ‘Why do you call it Axes?’ (Stewart’s mum) ‘Like a fine wine, Axis is a band whose music should be laid down …….and then set fire to!’ (Music correspondent of the Kentish Express) ‘Axis has a background of learning, but sadly not about music’ (Ashford Advertiser) ‘Thanks for making us look professional’ (Gary Swinard) ‘I can’t come down I’m on the nest!…do you need 2 GoGo dancers? – her sister’s available ’ – (‘Anon’). ‘What the hell was that noise and what were they doing using our kit????’ (Long John Baldry – Bridge Country Club 1968) ‘Are all those guys with leather coats and shaven heads really bald hippies?’ (John Mayall, Tofts Club, Folkestone 1969 ) (We didn’t think so either – we did a runner! (Ed.))
Submitted by Ian Crump