HARRY FEENEY (THE ROCKIN' VICKERS): "Lemmy was a big fan of the band and some time later he stepped in as lead guitarist"

Exclusive interview with Harry Feeney, frontman of the band The Rockin' Vickers, the first professional band featuring Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead on guitar.

Objavljeno: 27.07.2019. 16:13

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What was first thing what you remember about getting into music?


Entering talent competitions and all my pals cheering for me to win and we all went out spending the winnings at the local chinese restaurant.

What was your first band and bands before Rockin Vickers?


I was in a band called The Cartwrights named after the Bonanza cowboy TV series. After that I joined a band called The Detours as lead singer, we all had our hair bleached blonde to gain attention, calling ourselves The Golden Detours. Then we changed the name to ‘Reverend Black and The Rocking Vicars’ this caused massive publicity in all the national newspapers and TV, with headlines saying we were Blasphemous, Sacrilegeous, and this in turn gave us lots of bookings and we turned professional. Always playing to big audiences and we became a sort of cult underground group and played a lot at all the Universities around UK.


What were yours influences?


We liked a large range of music and modified songs to our style, we also had special amplifiers and speakers made so we were very loud and our gear was a lot more powerful than the average bands using 30 watt Vox amps. we played a style called progressive rock.



Did you started Rockin Vickers in 1963?


Yes, late '63.


Your idea was to just play covers or?


We just could not write decent songs between us and this is why we had to record other bands songs from The Who and The Kinks.


You released 4 singles. How in those days recording sessions looked like? What can you remember of being in studio in those times?


We recorded our discs at IBC Studio Portland Place London, we had a young Glynn Johns as recording engineer who became very famous and all the stars used him we recorded on 8 track equipment. Our main recording manager was Shel Talmy who also had The Kinks and The Who and Creation and more.While at the studio we met Rod Stewart with The Small Faces then, The Walker Brothers and lots of people who became big stars later.



Why all 4 singles were without sleeves? I know in those days there were things like that, but did you have some photos for sleeves or you wanted to put them out like that?


Most records came out in those day with a paper sleeve with no pics on, they came out later.


On cd it was released all 4 singles plus 6 more unreleased songs, its called 'Complete: Its Alright'. Were you involved in this release?


Yes, Cherry Red Records got in touch and I provided all the info and pics that are on the disc sleeve.


Who's idea was to give name of the band 'Rockin Vicars'? It was 'blasphemy' in those days was it? Hehe. You had problems right? I knew Monthy Python had problems with 'Life Of Brian' film, you were 15 years before that film. Was it worse?


We did this to create publicity and it worked, we got lots of bookings and had to get better on stage by turning pro. We later changed the spelling of the name to The Rocking Vickers in order to get on TV and release a record with Decca records.



How did you met Lemmy?


Lemmy was a big fan of the band and one night we played at the Oasis club in Manchester and he asked if he could join the band as assistant road manager, he then came and lived with us in a big house we rented in Manchester and he did a great job setting up the gear and tuning the guitars ready for our performance. Some time later he stepped in as lead guitarist with us after we had a fall out with two of the band who left.


Vickers with Lemmy did go wild. Is it true that you played as support to Beatles, Who...? Can you remember those times and how is look to you from today point of view?


Yes, twice at the Imperial ballroom Nelson, we were playing to around 5,000 people and they were chanting ‘We Want The Beatles’ we also toured with Brian Poole and the Tremolo’s, Lulu, and appeared with The Hollies, Kinks, The Who, Swinging Blue Jeans, P J Proby, Hermans Hermits and many more famous artistes and bands. It was strange to explain that you were at work and we all got on with it and no body got time to think that the stars you worked with were just normal people doing a job. We had road managers setting up our gear in the 60’s now the gear is set up by specialist companies and you go and plug in and play and go home after the gig not worrying about your gear.



Is it true that you stole show from some of them, audince shouted 'We want Vickers'?


Yes, it was not nice for the bands we were working with, especially if they were famous and had records in the charts. we did like it though.


Were you popular as Beatles on north, I heard you earned good money for those times?


Yes, we got lucky that our stage show was well liked by our followers and we were liked by students and the word went round and we filled places so we agreed to no fee for playing, we took a percentage of the door take instead. Before Lemmy joined the band he would be on the door with a number counter to make sure we got the right amount.


What was your equipment in those times? Lemmy said that he first saw in his life double bass pedal on drumms in Rockin Vickers?


When Lemmy joined the band we already had a fantastic Showman drummer Ciggy Shaw who had two bass drums and two of other drums which we placed him at the front of the stage alongside me in the middle and Lemmy on the right, our Bass player Steve Morris was at the back. Our bass speakers were four double 18 inch speakers in two cabinets with a concrete strip in the back of the speaker cones made by a specialist from TVM in Manchester, not only did you hear the bass you felt it through your chest. Lemmy had two twin Marshal stacks with 16 twelve inch speakers in them powered by a twin 400 watt amp. We also had our own very powerful PA system to bring the vocals out above the music. When we performed with other bands we were asked if they could use our gear when they came on, we had to refuse because the rarity of our system that was unique to us.



You were very popular in Finland, you even wore their national costumes. How come that you got so popular there?


We had great publicity before we arrived and went on Finnish TV playing three songs which ensured we had good crowds and we released a record ‘Zing went the Strings at the same time, we were in Yugoslavia in the summer that year getting sunburn, then to Finland in November / December with temperatures 30 degrees below freezing. when we came off stage after a gig we used the big saunas as changing rooms to keep warm, once we went outside with our sweaty damp hair and all our hair hanging below our russian hats froze and frizzed so we had to have it cut short.


I came from former Yugoslavia. You were first rock n roll band behind iron curtain in todays Croatia. This is specialy interesting to people. It was some culture exchange thats how you came?


The tour was arranged by our manager at the time Robert Hartford Davies who was a film director, he sent us in exchange for a jugoslavian orchestra who came to UK. we were booked by a government run called Locomotiva in Zagreb, I noticed online that Jugobeat put on its web site that we were the first UK group to play behind the Iron Curtain, When we played at the Olympic Stadium in Zagreb there was a massive crowd and our guitarist took his shirt off and set it on fire and swung it round his head and hundreds of people in the audience did the same, it was amazing. We were introduced to Niki Pilic at the time and we stayed at Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb which we were told we had been invited to a big dinner Gala at the hotel and the invite came from President TiTo, we attended but there was so many people who appeared to be dignitaries from lots of other countries at the event we never saw him.



How many shows did you have and what you remember from them, what was reaction of people in audience (in Yugoslavia)?


We spent over a month touring and went to Belgrade, Ljubljana, Split, and many other places which we could not pronounce the names. In one place we had to have a police escort to the amphitheatre which was a half mile from the hotel, the crowd was so big and closing in that the policeman pulled out his gun and held it in the air and everyone parted to let us through, the people were really curious and called us Beatlis, we got to the Roman looking theatre and decide because of the acoustics to sing The Jimmy Brown song ‘When the Chapel Bells are Ringing’ without music just vocal harmony the crowd went wild and all the front of stage was full of fruit baskets and flowers. The people were really nice and very friendly.


Are there any tapes from those shows?


Not to my knowledge.


How Yugoslavia as country looked like to you? Was it grey, poor, interesting, boring?


It was strange to be in a lovely city and 5 miles down the road there were people begging and seemed very poor, amazing contrast. everyone we met were interested in us and really friendly, we were pleased we came and would like to have stayed longer and would like to come again someday.


Did you ever had a plan for album with Rockin Vickers?


No we had it done for us with the CD and left it at that.


After Vickers, you left music?


I continued to finish all our bookings and final performance was in 1968, Lemmy then went to London and three years later had a no 1 record with Hawkwind singing Silver Machine.


In Vickers did you ever had fun with some other bands?


We had lots of fun and when touring we threw marbles on the stage when Brian Poole and the Tremolos were playing and they could hardly keep upright, we also went water skiing with them and on our speedboats. We took Lulu horse riding and the horses were all out so not to miss out I picked her up and sat her on a pig which was very funny.


We also used to have Jam Sessions with other bands who came back to our place and in one night we had The Undertakers group and P J Proby and Van Morrison and the Wheels all having a musical bash, it was great.







From 1992 you have your bussines  with Toyota cars?


Yes we are still with Toyota and really love the product.


Others from a band are not in music world either?


Our ex guitarist Nick Gribbon who left when Lemmy took his place still plays in a local band called Nick Unlimited, some others have passed away.


Mr. Feeney thank you for your time!


Thanks Saša! All the best to you and best Regards!


Pročitaj više o temama: the rockin vickers, harry feeney, lemmy, motorhead, sada milakara


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