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Jamming with Ozzy and entertaining refugees . . . .

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 15, 2014

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THE rock band appearing before a crowd of more than 600 people in a venue near Eccleshall were unsure of the reception they would get as they began to reel out songs by the Rolling Stones, The Who and Slade.

After all, they were playing rock music to an audience of Ugandan refugees who may have felt a culture shock on hearing Western music

It was 1972 and the despot known as Idi Amin had, as part of his ethnic cleansing, thrown out Ugandan Asians, some of whom were housed in former huts design for war-time servicemen and women at Raleigh Hall.

Band member, guitarist Ken Evans, remembers it well as a gig was booked at short notice for the Gnosall-based Revolution whose line-up also included Lindsay Moore (vocals), ‘Chalky’ White (bass) and Tim Jones (drums).

Recalls Ken: “They seemed to like songs by The Rolling Stones and were clapping along until 30 minutes into the set when they all got up and left the building. “We stopped playing, looked out at the empty room. I thought we must have upset them by playing an inappropriate song."

Band members expected to get a ticking off by the organisers only to be told that the Ugandan Asians had gone for a prayer session and would be back in 20 minutes. “The gig went on for about two hours and by the end of it, they were dancing in the aisles," says Ken.

Revolution started off by playing at local venues, though band members were limited in having to rely on lifts to every gig but in those days there were working men's clubs and pubs aplenty.

Revolution used a few home-made pyrotechnics for opening up a show by placing camera flash powder in one of Tim Jones' upturn cymbals in front of the stage.

Road manager Jon Hughes would lit the powder before the first song and then the band, peering through clouds of smoke, would open with Arthur Brown's Fire. But it didn’t always go to plan.

In one village hall, the opening gimmick saw the stage curtains being ablaze and though a fire extinguisher was used, the incident led to the band buying a new set of curtains and paying for recharging of fire extinguishers.

The Hand and Cleaver pub at Ranton was a regular venue for Revolution and it resulted in band members meeting the infamous Ozzy Osbourne, lead singer with Black Sabbath.

Osborne lived with his then wife Thelma in an old farmhouse about 200 yards from the pub and was able to give the band some valuable advice about the music business.

He had built a studio at the back of his home and Revolution had jam sessions there with Ozzy who was asked to manage the band, but his band and solo commitments in America led to him leaving the area - and eventually getting a new wife, Sharon.

Ken says he still has Ozzy’s VS PA speaker which has recently been donated to the British Music Experience museum at the O2 arena in London.

Gradually, it became apparent that the Revolution band members were not going to make a living out of music and they went their separate ways, with Ken teaching music, concentrating on the guitar and experiencing a boost in trade as punk rock became more popular.

These days most of Ken's teaching is in schools and he masterminded the first open mic session in Newport which is still going strong today helping local bands and musicians to turn semi-professional.

His music experience allowed him to meet bands such as Showaddywaddy, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and solo artists Ben E King, Del Shannon and Roy Wood.

Our recent article on pop groups asked the question: Revolution - did they make it?. As Ken says: “Not quite but I certainly wouldn't have changed anything for a fantastic 40 years of wonderful memories and absolute musical pleasure."

Ken may be contacted at evansongs.co.uk

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