The rockets

 
Arthur Jacquest, Nick Dytham, Rod Carroll, Les Pittam, David Williams, Terry Carroll and Roy Church.

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We were allowed to use most of the following newspaper reports by the  ‘Living Archive’, the remembering is mainly from members of the band.

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The start of the Rockets was totally spontaneous – not planned. Terry had an aunt who ran an electrical and wireless shop at New Bradwell. She had a gadget which looked like a gramaphone it had a magnetic disc and it recorded like a tape recorder but with a stylus on the disc. (Believed to be a Pye record maker) This took Terry’s fancy, everybody came round to the Coffee Pot and had a go at recording on it. That was the start of the Rockets.

It is likely the group did something in the pub for Terry’s mum before performing in the Village Hall. Terry played piano, Arthur the guitar (he knew three chords!) as they needed new chords for a song he worked them out from what he knew. Rod was on an antique drum for the first performance, none of the others played anything but had dried peas in cigar tins to shake so they could do skiffle, might have had one string bass on a tea chest. Also in the band were Roy, David, Norman (one performance) and Michael, these took turns to sing together and shook things. They wore red shirts initially

After the first performance Rod got a saxaphone and Michael a clarinet, David took over the drums and Roy was the singer. Singing the Blues was the first tune learnt along with all Lonnie Donnegan’s early songs like Alabama bound and Cumberland Gap. Terry would use songs he heard on Radio Luxembourgh that were in the top 20. Once they got other instruments they did some fairly straight dance tunes as well. ‘Mr Wonderful’ was the foxtrot and ‘Around the world in 80 days’ was the waltz. Nicky came along with his double bass when he was available, Les started playing trumpet just before Michael went for national service, Peter joined playing trombone in their last engagement as the Rockets.

The band was mainly booked by the committee raising money to build a new village hall in Old Bradwell but they also did regular jobs at the County Arms, some at the Mess Room in the Works as well as the North Western at Wolverton.

All the other bands in the area were playing big band and dance music; the Rockets were the only ones playing what was in the hit parade like Lonnie Donnegan’s skiffle etc. This was probably why they caught on, they were different, they had to be because they hadn’t got the experience to do anything else.

The band had been going for about 18months when Wolverton were running a big annual charity concert with local artists. Tommy Claridge’s big band were top of the bill. The Rockets were asked to close the first half. Terry believes that that was when they got their uniforms that they are wearing in the photograph. They were an absolute smash hit – stole the show – most embarrassing. There were the Tommy Claridge Band, super musicians being ignored. From that moment it all took off, afterwards they had a big street parade in Wolverton and it was like being the Pied Piper, people followed them all the way round. They managed without a piano Terry played another guitar. Never had there been a night like it, it was like Beatlemania before the Beatles. They had 12 months on a high. One classic night Doug Dythan & the Rhythm Aces had one advert in the Wolverton Express, the Rockets had sixteen.

One year later was again the charity event, their last show, after that they were banned. The organiser rang Terry and said that they had checked with the Police and that it would be all right for them to appear. They played with a big notice in front of them saying ‘Terry Carroll and the Rockets’. When they came to the last number they turned the notice round and it had on the back ‘The Rockets appeared by kind permission of Wolverton Constabulary’. They played ‘We may never pass this way again’ and they didn’t.

The band then became known as Terry Carroll’s Band, the name and their image changed; they began playing Traditional Jazz then evolved into a straight dance band and called themselves ‘the Blue Streak Combo’.

Mick Ford, Rod Carroll, Peter, Les Pittam and Terry Carroll

Trad Jazz, Michael, Rod, Peter Taylor, Les & Terry

For dancing, Mick, Roy, Rod, Michael Church, Les & Terry

 

 

Les, Terry, Tony Hood, Roy & Ellie Butterworth

 

SNIPPETS FROM THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

An advertisement from The Wolverton Express 16th August 1957

TOC H PRESENTS IN THE PREHISTORIC MANNER

ALF PLONK & HIS CAVEMEN

FEATURING FRED FUDGE-NUCKLE

ALSO THE 1957 SKIFFLE GROUP

TERRY CARROLL AND HIS ROCKETS

WHO WILL “ROCK WITH THE CAVEMEN”

TOURING THE TOWNS —–

TONIGHT, NEW BRADWELL

SATURDAY Morning, STONY STRATFORD

NEXT FRIDAY, AUGUST 23rd, WOLVERTON

(Weather permitting)

There were adverts in the Wolverton Express 13th September 1957 for –

Dancing in the modern manner at the Memorial Hall Deanshanger
to the Terry Carroll Skiffle Group on Saturday September 14th.
Admission 2/6
Castlethorpe Cricket Club, Modern Dance at Cosgrove Victory Hall
Terry Carroll’s Rockets. Admission 2/6

There were adverts in the Wolverton Express 13th September 1957 for –

Dancing in the modern manner at the Memorial Hall Deanshanger
to the Terry Carroll Skiffle Group on Saturday September 14th.
Admission 2/6

Castlethorpe Cricket Club Modern Dance at Cosgrove Victory Hall
Terry Carroll’s Rockets. Admission 2/6

Article in The Bucks Standard dated Saturday November 1st 1958

“Rockets” Forced Out by Their Own Music

Terry Carroll and his Rockets, the rock ‘n’ roll group which has played in most of the dance halls throughout the district, has almost been forced out of business — by their own music! According to police spokesman their music which caters for rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts, has also attracted an “undesirable element.” Youths from Northampton, Leighton Buzzard and Bletchley have been attending the dances at which the Rockets play and there have been brawls and fights — resulting in many pounds worth of damage.

New Licensees have decided to stop holding Rock ‘n’ Roll dances because they fear that the Police might oppose the renewal of their music and dancing licenses at the next Brewster Sessions.

The Police have advised Terry and his “Rockets” to stop playing in this district. (They have no powers to order them to stop). This is not because they have anything against the players personally, but it is just the type of youth they attract.

This move by the police means that many who went to enjoy “The Rockets” music will be deprived of a little pleasure just because of a few unruly elements. Terry’s own opinion is that it is unfair to the vast majority of people who have listened to his music. He is still willing to take engagements — if the promoters are prepared to accept the consequences! But it seems certain that “The Rockets” are on the way out.

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An article from The Wolverton Express dated 7th November 1958

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TAKES A KNOCK

But Police Deny a Ban on “Rockets”

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, it seems has taken a knock, and Terry Carroll of Yardley Gobion, who with his Rockets band started the ‘teenagers’ in the district rocking and rolling 18 months ago, says: “It’s old fashioned now: we concentrate on the ‘Top Twenty’ tunes. Some of the youngsters do jive, of course, but I think they do that to any band..”

But for Terry and the Rockets, a long list of engagements and a following of up to 350 dancers, has almost disappeared. This has come about as the result of cancellation of all their bookings to play at the County Arms, New Bradwell, following the licensee (Mr Albert Meadows) being interviewed by the Police.

“Not Fair”

Says Terry: We don’t think it very fair to stop dances for quite a lot of people because a few unruly types, especially as none of the fights that have occurred have been in the dance hall. I don’t see any proof that the people fighting were even going to the dance.” Members of the Rockets band are Terry Carroll and his brother Rodney, Roy Church, David Williams, Arthur Jacquest, Leslie Pittam and Nicholas Dytham.

”No Ban”

Police Inspector D. Robbie, who is in charge of the Stony Stratford sub-division, told the “Express”: “There is no ban as far as we are concerned on this band. I don’t think the band has anything to do with it at all; there have been fights at other halls where different bands have been playing. The trouble is caused by youths who come into the district from such places as Leighton Buzzard, but the problem is not peculiar to this district—it happens at Bletchley and elsewhere.

Inspector Robbie said that as a result of incidents occurring in or near the County Arms, New Bradwell, he had spoken to the licensee (Mr Meadows) but put no pressure on him to end the dances. “Things were getting to such a pitch, however, that we had to consider what was to be done to stop the nuisance,” said the inspector.

He added: ”The trouble has been caused by a small number of hooligans . . . it is not the question of which band is playing, or the majority of the young folk who attend.”

”Out Of Hand”

Mr Albert Meadows told our reporter: “I have nothing against the Rockets band at all. It has been a big loss to me not to attract people to the dances, but I felt I had no alternative but to put a stop to it for the time being.

”Some of the youngsters coming to the dances were getting a little bit out of hand, but it was not a question of them having too much to drink..”

For the time being, the measured tempo of the old time dancing only will be heard at the County Arms. Whether jive, or even jazz, returns seems to rest with the small group of people who in the past have failed to behave themselves.

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Letter to the Bucks Standard November 8th 1958

THE ROCKETS

SIRS, — I would like to correct the police spokesman who was quoted in The Bucks Standard last week as saying the Terry Carroll’s Rockets were a Rock ‘n’ Roll group whose music attracted undesirable youths.

When this group started about two years ago, with a piano, drum kit, and one guitar they may have played rock numbers as those most suited to these instruments, with no expectations of ever playing in a dance hall. Their youth and enthusiasm however, carried them along and since then they have purchased a new drum kit, saxophones, trumpet and guitar, to form themselves into a modern dance band.

They have enlisted the services of Nicholas Dytham, a fine bass player and member of a well known musical family, and play — and may I stress this point—“Top Twenty” tunes heard everywhere on TV, radio and records, and have always done so in dance halls they have played in. Therefore when the police try to pinpoint the disturbances in the district (two in 18 months, with no knowledge on my part of the pounds worth of damage quoted) on these boys and their music. I think it is a very unfair impression to create.

The Band have certainly been far more popular than they could ever imagined, and have, I will admit, attracted large numbers of youthful dancers who do not follow their grandparents’ style, but as youth always follow the fashionable trends, one cannot criticise them on that score.

As trouble outside the halls (and all the bothers have been outside) are the policeman’s headache, I can quite see why in trying to get rid of the Rockets he feels he can get rid of the crowds.

When quoting the Rockets are on the way out remember Asquith said; “Wait and see.”

SYLVIA CARROLL, (Mrs)

”The Coffee Pot,” 30 High Street, Yardley Gobion, Towcester, Northants.

FIFTY YEARS ON

Terry and Les still playing together in 2006

Both have sadly died since 2012

There were just 10 unsold tickets at the nine performances of the Rockets which toured 7 venues in three counties

 

 

 Posted by at 11:34 am