The Zenith Skiffle Group


Wondered if you would like to hear about the first Rock and Roll Group in Cumbria (formed as a Skiffle Group in 1956 ......The Zenith Skiffle Group............ but after seeing and hearing Bill Haley and the Comets live at Newcastle Essoldo Theatre in 1957 we quickly changed to a Rock and Roll Group modelled on the lines of Bill Haley and the Comets.


Our lineup at first was -

Dave Batey on guitar (electric of course - Dave went down to London for it )

John McKie...guitar & vocals

Syd Monk .. Guitar

Tommy Lomas..drums

Plus a chap who came every other week on Bass (name of Sanderson )

As we got busier, Dave found an Elvis look-a-like named Stan Bell who sang like Elvis too !!!! then another recruit arrived on Guitar and vocals.......Kenny Hartness

We were so busy until we had a bad accident between our motor and a bridge parapet and were off the road for a while ! After a short break till we licked our wounds and got some fresh gear.....off we went again (we only missed a handful of bookings ).


As a few years passed, one or two of the band left and new ones came in, but Dave Batey being the driving force behind the band always managed to put on a good show.

As the years passed Dave was called up for National Service ( one of the last to go as the government was ending conscription.......the rest of us were just a bit too young anyway !!!!!)

Dave stayed in the Army for 12 years and by that time the rest of them had moved on (myself I played with various Dance Bands etc.) Dave arrived back in Carlisle after leaving the army and formed various types of bands etc including his own Big Band which contained most of the best musicians from Carlisle and beyond, a measure of how well he was respected both as a person and musician. He often called at my house (at all times of the day and night asking if I knew such and such a musician he was trying to track down) and often would take me as a duo.......he played Organ........and I learned a lot about entertaining from him.

Syd joined the Police force and retired as a Chief Superintendent.

John McKie is still in his own business selling Caravans.

I am retired but still playing drums with one of the last Big Bands, briefly called Big Band `95, before going back to being The Cliff Eland Big Band as it had been known for 25 years.

Ken Hartness sadly died a few years ago and so of course has Dave Batey. We had staged a benefit night for Dave, who had Cancer around 2003 and it really was a superb night. Some of us hadn't seen each other for about 35 years !

 
Many Thanks to Tom Lomas for the information and picture.