Paul Craven &
The Gravediggers
Me & The Midnighters

One of Carlisle's earliest rock and roll bands was formed in 1961/2 as Paul Craven and The Gravediggers. At the time the lads were all aged around 17. This was the era of the guitar instrumentals and they featured numbers by the guitar heroes of the time such as Duane Eddy.

The lineup of the band was - Geoff Dixon (guitar & vocals), Frank Beattie (vocals), Kenny Allen (bass & vocals) and Terry Sainty (drums). Geoff Dixon was taught to play guitar by Jimmy Henshaw who was to become the lead guitarist of Carlisle's greatest band The VIPs. In those days Jimmy was repairing televisions for a living. Jimmy Henshaw and Frank Kenyon were both friends and idols to Geoff. They used to practice together on Saturday mornings in the old Dorries wool shop behind Marks & Spencers

In their days as Paul Craven & The Gravediggers they started their shows with Frank coming out of a coffin on stage! In those days Frank Beattie was also known as "Moses Dakota". Frank is currently still an active member of the Carlisle Musical Society (but without the coffin!) The group later changed their name to Me and The Midnighters.

The band was probably the first to play live in a Carlisle pub. They had the idea to approach the manager of The Dive Bar which was situated under the Central Hotel on Victoria Viaduct. The idea of a group playing in a pub was unheard of at the time, but the manager took a chance and allowed them to do it albeit unpaid! They made a few bob by having Tom Cherry go round with his hat to make a collection for them. They made sure they always played on Saturdays when Carlisle United were playing at home and the pub was absolutely packed. The Dive was christened Carlisle's "Cavern" by the Carlisle Journal.

 

They were also one of the first groups to play in the Cameo club in Carlisle. As they had no transport at the time it would take at least six bus trips to transport their gear from the pub in Currock where they practiced to the Cameo club.

Another venue they played at regularly was The Queens Hall. As they were all under age they had to make do with lemonade and crisps while watching the audience enjoying their drinks. The band supported Freddy Starr when he appeared at the Queens Hall in the days when he was a singer in a Liverpool group.

The group was often augmented by friends joining in. Sometimes John "Pagger" Pagen would play marraccas and George "The Cat" would play tambourine. When they played at The Dive Ronnie Walker, Jazza Boyle and "Smouldering" Chuck Johnstone would join them on stage.

The lads eventually acquired their own transport - an old green Bedford van which was soon covered in lipstick kisses and messages. They were now able to play all over Cumbria from the Carlisle area down as far as Barrow, playing all the usual venues in between such as the Empress in Whitehaven and halls in Workington,Maryport and Clifton. They often supported visiting groups from Merseyside.

At one gig in Kirklinton the group was somewhat disconcerted when the curtain went up to reveal The Moody Blues sitting in the audience!

The group lasted until 1966 before splitting up.