Fenderstrat's History

I have recently become aware that fenderstrat is now in its tenth year! I had worked with computer systems for over thirty years, starting off with punched cards and a mainframe with 4K of memory. I really just wanted to see how a web site was created and how the web worked. It started off in a very small way when I created my first web page using pictures of The Defenders.

Out of the blue my son Marcus gave me, as a fathers day present, the domain name of www.fenderstrat.co.uk.
Thus fenderstrat came into being.

Talking to John Fisher, who I had known since I sold him my old amp in 1964, I found that he also had a collection of photos of bands he had been in, namely The Firebirds and Konchords, so I added them to the site. John told his longtime friend Les Holden, who had been with him in the Konchords and in many bands since, what we were up to. It turned out that Les lived near Frank Kenyon's mother who had a large collection of photos of the Ramrods and VIPs.

It seemed to me that one member of each band had kept photos and clippings of their band's history. For instance Jimmy Henshaw had very few photos and it gave us great pleasure to supply him with the ones we had and also to sit listening to him telling of his many adventures.

Meanwhile in Workington I called in on Brian Holmes at his Northern Sounds shop. Brian had been the first drummer with the Defenders before joining the Electrons. He supplied a picture and information about them and pointed out to me that George Reid, the drummer of Marshall Scott & The Deputies had a newsagents shop round the corner.

I bought a small cassette recorder and went to see George who provided a load of information and speaking to him led me onto a sequence of drummers as they all knew each other. I interviewed George Houghton of Lenny & The Silhouettes and Robin Melville of Billy Steele & The Strollers. George Houghton also put me on to Bob MacFarlane of The Invaders.

A huge asset to the site was John's artistic talents. He comes from a family of watercolour artists and became adept at colouring black and white photographs. Examples of his work are the pictures of The Ramrods, VIPs, Marshall Scott, Meteors, Firebirds, Defenders and Microns, most of which are shown here.

In general John covered the Wigton to Carlisle area bands while I carried on with the West Cumbrian bands.

I had also got back in touch with John Forster, who I had known in the sixties, who was writing a book about the his adventures in the Meteors. The book is downloadable from his website and is hilarious.

We carried on seeking out more bands, but in time word spread about what we were up to and people started getting in touch with us.
A huge boost to the site was when, having previously supplied some band information to Ann Jones of the Cumberland News, when she had the idea of the weekly Timeline feature she asked us to provide articles about local bands during it's six week trial run. Three years later we have featured almost all the bands from the website and it has become known far and wide. Ann has herself contributed quite a few bands to the site, through bands getting in touch with her via Timeline.

One aspect of the site which has given me much pleasure and satisfaction has been putting people in touch with other members of their band who often they have not been in contact with since the sixties. I have also had sons discovering to their amazement that their dads had been in a Rock'n'Roll band!

I once got two emails in one batch, one from a lady in Florida who had lived in Japan in the sixties and had run the fan club of the Liverpool Five and wanted to get back in touch with them, the other from a guy in Australia who had been a roadie for the Ramrods asking if we could put him in touch with any of the former members.

John was able to supply them both with the email address of Dave McCumiskey who had been in both bands!

A Swedish band (The Speeders) got in touch to see if they qualified for the site as they lived in Iggesund in Sweden and the bass player worked for Iggessund Paperboard who have a massive plant on the outskirts of Workington. As they supplied a track of themselves playing a great version of Shadoogie they were in!

In 2007 I was invited to do a series of radio spots on the Tony James show about Cumbrian bands of the sixties. I was delighted to be able to get several tracks by local bands like the VIPs and Des Murdoch's fabulous “Golden Days” played on the air.

John was instrumental in getting Jimmy Henshaw featured and interviewed on Border TV's "The Way We Were" program. We have recently been contacted by a TV production company for information and contact details for a documentary on The Liverpool Five.

We would like to thank all those people who have contributed information over the years, particularly Danny Holmes who took us into the forties and fifties and Buzz Elliott who took us into the seventies.

It has been great meeting up with people we haven't seen for years. I keep thinking there can't be any more bands, when along come some more – quite a few that we had never heard of. If there are any more of you out there keep them coming!