The Saddlers
The Lofthouse Cowboys

The Saddlers in 1973: top row - Derek Tolson; Ken Kirby; Tony Renney
bottom row - Chris Graham; Colin Wright

The Saddlers evolved from the "Lofthouse Cowboys" who, during the latter half of the 60's were resident band six nights a week at the Lofthouse Motel, Bothel.

Personnel over the years included Chris Graham, Stan Watson, Dennis Blamire, Derek Tolson, Hughie Stewart, Arnold Miller, Tex McKeating, Mel Adams & Tony Renney.

In keeping with the Lofthouse's western theme & decor, the band would dress western style & perform Country & Western songs.


The Lofthouse Cowboys
In 1970,Chris Graham(vocal),Derek Tolson (bass),Dennis Blamire (rhythm guitar) & Tony Renney (lead guitar & fiddle) left the Lofthouse, renamed themselves The Saddlers,& with the addition of drummer Colin Wright totally updated their image & material to a modern Country Music band.

These were the golden years of live entertainment in the clubs & theatres,& for the next five years the band were extremely busy all over Northern England &  Scotland . The Saddlers never thought of turning professional, so midweek work (of which there was plenty back then) tended to be within the county while weekends usually brought trips to the Northeast, the Midlands or up into Scotland. Whenever time off work could be stolen, week long tours were arranged to places as far North as Orkney & as far South as Lincolnshire . But, The Saddlers were never happier than when they were back playing the friendly clubs of their own West Cumberland .

The remarkable voice of Chris Graham & the highly professional standard of stage presentation he demanded from the rest of the group meant they were much in demand as a support for visiting artistes,& The Saddlers provided both support act & backing music for many top British Country Music names of the day. Ken Kirby later replaced Dennis, then the late & sadly missed Colin had to retire due to the ill health he'd bravely struggled with for years.But throughout, the Saddlers remained a steady, happy & dedicated group who lasted well in to the mid 70's & enjoyed an amount of work & financial reward that, for a five piece live music group would be almost undreamed of today since the coming of disco & "backing tracks". How times have changed in music & those of us who now use our bus pass more than we use our guitars should count ourselves lucky to have been around in those days.


More on the Lofthouse Cowboys from Brian McKeating -

The Lofthouse Cowboys became resident at "The Lofthouse" Bothel after playing there as "The Westerners". Colin and Jean Rigg (the owners) liked them so much that they offered them regular work. Once established they changed their name to "The Lofthouse Cowboys".

The Westerners and the original Lofthouse cowboys linup was,
Lead singer - Tex McKeating, Lead Guitar - Tony Bannister, Rhythm Guitar - Stan Watson, Drums - Chris Graham, Fiddle - Arthur Ferguson, Singer - Syd Donockley.

When the Lofthouse closed the resident band split up and two bands were formed.
My dad Tex McKeating retired from regular gigs and just appeared by request at local venues Chris Graham formed his own band - The Sadlers.
Syd Donockley formed - Travelling Country (also featured on your site). Stan Watson had spells with both bands and finally settled with Traveling Country both bands were very popular and were around for quite a few years.

As a side note The Lofthouse interior furnishings were bought from the filmset of "Carry On Cowboy" !