Man, that island scene........


Ivy's girls in full flow on the Isle of Man 1965

After doing a season with Nat Temple at the Isle of Man, my first reaction was to borrow a pen and sign up for next year. A raving scene. The casino was like Archer Street, Monday evening. Here, the gamblers lost their money, then came into the bar to borrow more off the drinkers. After getting clipped a few times, we worked out a foolproof system - Keep Out.

The Temple band had its own house for the stint, much to the consternation of the neighbourhood. Those who recall the "Mission" in Paddington, frequented by so many characters in the heyday of touring bands, will get the message.

Musicians as a race should feel grateful to those in command of I.O.M. entertainment, if only for the number of bands employed there.

 

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Apart from regulars like us, there were visiting big-shots - Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Bob Miller and others. On our Sunday concerts we had guests! Craig Douglas, Roy Castle ( this lad knows the score, musically), Anne Shelton - and Sabrina, yet. (Eyes down, boys).

Douglas is something of the lad. While Nat held the attention of the audience with an announcement, Craig found time to tell me the latest bar-room story. I nearly keeled over.

We had to play "I like it" naturally. Still, the Ivy Benson band was around to ease the monotony. The Benson girls did mornings and afternoons at the Villa Marina. Coarse laughter from musicians at the back? Well, let me say the band was no joke. The brass section was particularly good. Christine Leeworthy (Crissy Lee), the drummer, happens to be a very good soloist. A Max Abrams pupil, no less! Said I to myself, "Get that practice pad out, Wally". Eileen Stoker, the vocalist, was versatile and popular.

The girls were good sports, good company. Typical musicians, you might say - on and off the stand.

Caught the Squads on a couple of sessions. Good sound - but aiming, repertoire wise, at the market that exists. Cliff Townshend fronted the band on some afternoon concerts and did a first class compering job.

Incidentally, the Benson band is now on yet another tour of American bases in Germany. Say what you like, this band has been in demand for years, so Ivy must have steered it capably. And despite the unfair stigma attached to girl's bands, the Benson crowd still take its music seriously.

By Wally Thompson, Drummer with Nat Temple I.O.M 1965.
Written for "Crescendo" - November 1965