The Early Band History
Early facts courtesy of Dinky Dawes.
Flight 56, first formed in 1969 / 70 as 56 Flight Rock & Roll band the members were Dinky Dawes (Bass Guitar) Mick Burgin (Drums) Graham Constable (Rhythm Guitar) Mick Mills (Lead Guitar & Vocals) and John Peters (Piano).
After some of the members went down a new road, 1972 saw the line up as Dinky Dawes (Bass Guitar) Gary Cooper (Lead Guitar & Vocals) Mick Cousins (Drums) Graham Jones (Keyboard) and a very young Nick Barnes (Rhythm Guitar) This line up took us all around East Kent.
In 1973 the band took off with a top line up, plus the name change to Flight 56. The new line was, Dinky Dawes (Bass Guitar) Ralph Thompson (Tenor Saxophone) Jerry Kelk (Lead Guitar) Nick Barnes (Rhythm Guitar & backing vocals) Perry White (Piano) Keith Hedges (Alto Saxophone) Martin Wakefield & Steve Murray (Drums) Les Wills (Vocals) Tina Dawes (Vocals)
At the end of 1974 Les Wills, Martin Wakefield & Keith Hedges left the band and ex Wild Angels frontman Mal Gray joined us for a couple of tours and our first single on the Arista label ‘Look out for love’ and ‘Ballroom queen’
1975 to 1978 The Little Tina & Flight 56 years
Around the middle of 1975, Mal Gray, Steve Murray, Perry White and Ralph Thompson all left the band and were followed a few months later by Dinky Dawes. This left Nick, Tina, Jerry and new drummer Nick Walker (all under 20 years old) with a month long tour of Denmark and Germany contracted, a band van with a seized engine, no piano player and no bass player.
All our family and friends were drafted in to help, (Chris Broad, our friend and local R&R disc jockey even paid for a 2nd hand engine for our van). Perry White was persuaded to return, Nick was persuaded that he wanted to trade in his Fender Telecaster for a bass guitar and with a few hours to spare the van engine was replaced.
For the next three years we toured extensively in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark with Tina, Nick and Jerry as the constant nucleus of the band. We were joined by Drummers; Nick Walker, Les Bailey, Steve Murray, Wally Doyle, Barrie Jenkins (Nashville Teens & the Animals), and Piano Players; Perry White, Steve Cameron (Jerry lee Lewis band), Charlie Barber, Dave Taylor and Pete West (Rocky Sharpe and the Razors).
In our final three years we covered 120,000 miles and around 500 gigs.
Our old van was sold and we used a contract hire van till the end,
In February 1977 we recorded an album for Rockhouse records in Amsterdam called “This Little girl is Gonna Rock It”. The album was also released by charly records and tracks from it were included on various compilation albums of the time, I am told it was released as far away as Japan.
In 2006 we were all in contact again for the first time in 19 years and as all of us were still gigging in various bands, we decided to put the band back together for a select few 30th anniversary gigs. This has proved to be so enjoyable that we are still together two years later and hope to have some new recording available soon.