Since the break-up of the 'group', I have continued to play both bass and acoustic guitar, starting from 1970, when I also started to have lessons on double bass from Phil Bates, a London-based pro-bass player and teacher. This was the first time that I had needed to learn to read any sort of music, being a self- taught musician and like so many group players in the '60s, tended to play by ear! For around two years I played the double bass in a Country and Western group based in the Kingston area, and during this time, through playing in pubs and clubs, met up with other musicians and, back on bass guitar, helped form the pop band 'Atlantic Gap' in 1972. Though very popular with audiences this band dissolved around 1974, largely due to the lead singer emigrating to Australia in much the same way that Robin moved to South Africa, bringing an end to The Presidents.
Following that I played with various pop and country groups, two names recalled being 'Nito's People' and 'Mirage', whilst also taking lessons brushing-up reading music for the bass guitar. Sometime after this saw the start of a five year span as semi-pro, backing the late Colin Hindmarsh, an Australian piano-player/pub entertainer on the London pub circuit, at least three nights a week. Needless to say, this did not require any reading ability, but those studies were to bear fruit several years later.
I had re-married in 1975, and two years after the birth of our second child my wife Jeanne and I moved to Bognor Regis to escape the traffic and 'rat race' of the London suburbs. Working full-time in the commercial lighting industry left little time for music and it was not until some twelve years later, after the birth of a third child, that an opportunity presented itself for me to play the bass guitar, and later the acoustic guitar, with a local church music group.
With key players of all ages, from this group of musicians I went on to form a small local instrumental group which initially was known as' Octave Up', and which was the forerunner of the current 'Bognor Regis Concert Band' which became established in 1996/97.
I still own a vintage 'P' bass, circa 1966, although not the actual bass I played with The Presidents. Today I use an 'active' Musicman 'Stingray' 5-string bass for concert band playing as it enables me to play both parts written for string bass and/or the tuba. My ‘other bass’ is a Fender 5-string ‘active’ Precision, and is an option for rock ’n’ roll with ‘The AceTones’.
Currently I’m still playing in Bognor Regis Concert Band, and was a member of local 'Shadows' tribute band called ‘Simply Shadows, from Sept 2007 up until Sept 2009. In October 2009 I changed horses and joined a local Rock ‘n’ roll band, ‘The Ace Tones’, playing mainly ’50’s and ‘60’s rock ‘n’ roll favourites in West Sussex clubs and pubs.
Returning to playing popular music of the ‘50s and ‘60s has been surreal but something I have enjoyed immensely and which I believe is helping to keep me young at heart.
I've dug out a few photos taken during the early years of my musical career, back in the late 50s and early 60s (before I joined The Presidents), starting with "Malcolm Austin and The Whirlwinds":
|Malcolm Austin & The Whirlwinds - Circa 1959
||The Whirlwinds play a Christmas dance - Circa 1959
Also in the same era I played with a group known as "Vern Rogers and the HiFs":
|Yours truly, at 18
||With Vern Rogers and the Hi-Fis, early 1960s
A recent invitation to the 'Jimmy Page' book launch in London was an unexpected opportunity to meet up with my teenage musical associate, from when we both lived in Epsom, Surrey some 51 years or so ago, but despite the event being crammed we had a brief chat about the early days and relived
some fond memories. It was an amazing night that came out of the blue and well worth documenting.
The invite to the Launch Party came about subsequent to my having provided four photos for use in the book, of Jimmy rehearsing with myself
and some friends in the late 50s (One of these photos is displayed on the 'Photo Gallery' page). Jimmy's Mother was in attendance and we talked about my
visiting the Page household on numerous occasions.
'Jimmy is quoted in an interview as being highly impressed with these early photos, describing them as being "ethic in our dreams" at a time when
we were emulating American and British rock 'n' roll artists to the best of
The event was relevant to my Presidents website biography, as who should be in the same room that night but Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood of ‘Rolling Stones’ fame. Jimmy introduced me to Bill Wyman and we recalled the time when the Stones and The Presidents shared alternating Friday nights at 'The
Red Lion' in Sutton.
Catch up with Tony at: www.theacetones.co.uk
See me when
I played with
Visit the Bognor
Regis Concert Band web site.
T.B. December 2010