A good friend of mine, when I was around 16, got a job at a guitar shop called the Bass Place in Suffolk Street that was owned and run by two members of the Redbeards from Texas and thus my introduction to the band began. It’s a little tricky to describe the Redbeards act without using the phrase ‘mock ZZ Top’ but it’s fair to say that, particularly in their early days, they really modelled themselves as ZZ Top soundalikes which, at least during that period of the mid-1980’s, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in terms of gaining a listening audience.
In fact, prior to actually meeting the band, I do recall reading about the Redbeards from Texas in Kerrang and a few friends of mine told me about a particularly torrid gig they’d seen them play at one of the short-lived ‘Blast, Blitz and Boogie Nights’ at the Birmingham Odeon supporting black metal ‘inventors’ Venom: whoever thought-up pairing a ZZ Top genre group with a death metal act needed help!
My particular introduction to the band was when a friend asked me if I could help out as a roadie for the day at the Portland Club where the band were to shoot a video for their single Shoot It Up. I jumped at the chance and spent the day with the band – along with their preferred PA company Tourco headed by Richard ‘Fez’ Ferriday (about whom you can read more as bassist with Cryer) whom I had got to know through Edwards Number 8 gigs – ‘Crazy’ Al King, Tony Smith, ‘Big’ Mick Hughes, Dave ‘Sprog’ and Den York. It was an eye opening experience and great fun.
The band consisted of:
Morton Pinkley (Ian Allen) – Guitar, Vocals
Wild Hoss Maverick III (David ‘Kink’ Keates) – Bass, Vocals
Bud Weiser (Craig) – Guitar
Duke Delight (Colin) – Drums
Neil Troman – Drums (final tour)
During their time they release several singles from their one and only album – Havin’ a Ball – performed a BBC Peel Session on 25/06/85 and made several TV appearances. However, despite being a good live act and pulling a considerable audience for their gigs, they were somewhat limited in appeal due to their musical adherence to the ZZ Top mould and their association with their early days comedy gimmicks such as false beards etc which was a pity.
I helped out carrying equipment etc at a number of gigs for them during the mid-late 80s and had a blast – endless Budweiser, practical jokes and far too much running around naked (won’t elaborate further but some of the band’s antics were legendary) ensured a good turn was had by all, except possibly at a gig at the Kent Custom Classic bike show where Fez pulled the gearstick off the van exiting Toddington Services on the return journey at about 5am in the morning and we had to get the AA to bring us back to Birmingham – which they did, in just enough time for me and Fez to pick up the Tourco PA truck to go off to a gig elsewhere!
The Bass Place was also a hive of activity with many of the City’s musicians shopping there – or at least popping in for a natter with Ian and Kink.
However, by the close of the 80’s the band had called it a day with Ian and Kink going on to form Mazique with vocalist and ex-recording studio owner, Guy Stanway (brother of Magnum’s Mark Stanway) – who had a minor hit with a cover of Golden Earring’s Radar Love – only to reform a year or two later – this time with Neil Troman on drums – for a final (Inland Revenue-related) UK tour. Ian and Kink also had had a song entered to be the UK song for Eurovision but it lost out in the final of ‘Song for Europe’ several years ago.