You won't find many photographs of Cliff
Bennett and his band of budding musicians much earlier than this
one. It was kindly sent to me by Mike Currell who was one of
the founder members of the Rebel Rousers. The picture above was
probably taken during the autumn of 1957. It shows the group
practising a skiffle number in Mike Currell's back garden. Left
to right are:- George Mattingley, Dave Edmonds, Cliff Bennett,
Ben Jordan,and Mike Currell. Mike tells me that the washboard
and tea-chest were items inherited from another local bunch of
musical wannabees- these were the Ted Woods Skiffle Group.
Teddy Woods was the younger brother
of Arthur Woods, and older brother of Ronnie Woods (Faces/Rod
Stewart/Stones). They lived on the next street and proved to
be inspirational in getting Cliff and his mates interested in
forming a group. Arthur had started a band, but was called up
to do his 'National Service' and Teddy took over for 2 years.
When Arthur returned he reformed under 'The Arthur Woods Combo",
later the "Artwoods". Mike Currell tells me that the
Woods had the best musicians, but Cliff's rock and roll vocals
became a more popular local choice than Arthur's more sophisticated
The list of musicians listed at the
top of this page are all those that Mike can remember, or are
listed in the precious log book for the group that he has kindly
given me access to. Some of the group members were only transient
and perhaps only played on one gig. Nevertheless, I have listed
them all in the hope that they may somewhere jog a memory or
Percussionist Dave Edmunds was replaced
by Alfie James in February 1958 and that line up was maintained
until the acquistion of saxophonist Sid Phillips in September
of the same year. They played their first gig as rock and rollers
on 9th May 1958 at the Red Leaf Jazz Club in Hayes. This also
proved to be their last night to play at that venue which may
not have been just coincidence.
Here's what Mike had to tell me about
the group's switch to rock and roll and becoming "Cliff
Bennett and The Rebel Rousers":-
"First posters with 'Rebel Rousers'
as the name, was for the first night at the 'Osterich Inn' in
Colnbrook (6 Oct 58). We had toyed with the name from when we
got our first amp and I had learned the guitar part to the Duane
Eddy tune. It never became the signature tune until Sid joined
and could play the Sax part. From then on we used it as the nightly
opener and closer. The first rock tunes we learnt and played
in public (Robb's Fisherman's Club, 10-May-58) included 'Rockhouse'
and 'Undecided' by Johnny Burnette, 'Ooby Dooby' by Roy Orbison,
'20 Flight Rock' by Eddie Cochrane, and 'Whole lotta woman' by
Marvin Rainwater ( I screwed up the hooks real bad, and we never
played it again!). We had just enough to do interval spots (Cowley
Hop, 07-Jun-58). The response from the 'Teds' and even the 'Mods'
was a fair indication that the Trad/Skiffle boom had run its
course. This didn't matter to us because 'Rock n Roll' was the
only thing we wanted to play. We never played skiffle again."
Early 1959 saw some personnel changes.
Loss of George Mattingley and Ben Jordan reduced the line up
to a four piece until Ben's return in the Spring, and during
the Summer of that year Alfie James was replaced by Rick Winters.
The end of 1959 brought more changes including the addition of
Mickey King (Borer) from Hank Fryer's band. and a little later,
Brian St. George from another local group called The Skyways.
Mike Currell left the group in the middle of 1960 and later emigrated-
unfortunately losing touch with the band. I'm sure that Mike
would be glad to hear from any Rebel Rousers that remember him
and those wonderful times. RS