Ken Headley

Guitar (1942 - 1960)

Sadly, we have not been able to trace any of Ken’s family members or other contacts who may be able to tell us more about him and what happened after he left The Presidents to pursue a university scholarship. All we know that he was born in 1941 and lived in Sutton, Surrey.

Prior to becoming a founding member of The Presidents in 1959, Ken often played guitar with Robin Mayhew and had worked on some jazz instrumentals with Colin Golding. During the mid 1950s, Ken and Robin formed The Grasshoppers, a skiffle group which also featured Eric Archer, who joined The Presidents toward the end of their career. The Grasshoppers played at various venues including a grand skiffle contest at the Granada cinema in Sutton.

At one point Ken was dating Angela Weighell (who became Angela Forster when she married Malcolm), of Cheam, Surrey. She recalls that Ken was a dedicated Manchester United fan and that on a date on the 6th of February 1958, she found him in tears having just learned the news about the tragic air crash that took the lives of so many of his beloved football team.

Ken was also an avid jazz fan and would play Angela tracks from his large collection of jazz records. She wasn't "won over by modern jazz” but does remember that during the summer of 1958, Ken did a summer show in Blackpool, playing in a dance band which supported comedian Charlie Chester. She also remembers that he was the proud owner of a customised Ford Pilot V8 convertible.

Ken was academically brilliant and possessed a great sense of humour. He had a lively interest in psychology and insisted on trying some of his theories on the band: Before gigs he would lead “glee” sessions during which band members would be encouraged to grin broadly while repeating the word “Glee” over and over. It must have been effective as by the time twe went on stage we'd be in high spirits. There was no need for drugs while Ken was around.

As a guitarist Ken was meticulous, as can be heard on early tracks on the Sound Bites page. In 1961 and prior to leaving the band he penned two of his own compositions, “Slide Rule” and “Crantock” . The tunes were recorded onto an acetate demo disk in September 1961 at the IBC Studios in London. Lost for almost 60 years the original acetate recording suddenly turned up in early 2019 thanks to an avid Swedish record collector who discovered it hiding in his extemsive record collection. The two songs can now be found and enjoyed on the Sound Bites page.

If you have any further information about Ken, please email us.