It is with much sadness that we have to advise that Pete Fyfe passed away in 2015.
My passion for ‘folk’ music started officially on New Year’s Eve 1971 when, attending
a party which was playing the likes of David Bowie and Benny Hill burst forth (a
bit like that famous scene from the film ‘Alien’ only without the blood and gore)
with the Folk-Rock of The JSD Band bang on midnight! Mass hysteria ensued and everyone
agreed we’d catch the band when they were gigging at The Greyhound in Croydon a few
months into 1972. It was also at this gig that my identical twin brother Chris and
I met and became friends with mandolin player Bruce Hunter of whom much later.
The JSD Band featuring the flailing digits of fiddler Lyndsey Scott was even better
live and that night I asked the band backstage where else I could hear this type
of music. Helpfully (?) one of them suggested I check out “The Spinners”. As it happened,
the garishly bedecked ‘yellow perils’ (as someone had uncharitably dubbed them) were
going to be performing across the road at the 1,800 seater Fairfield Halls a couple
of weeks later.
Now, the ‘folk’ scene has always knocked The Spinners but I for one won’t hear a
bad word against them for who else could fill 2,000 seats on regular 20 date tours
and have the whole audience joining in the choruses at every opportunity? OK, so
they might have been more ‘commercial’ than other traditional styled folk bands at
the time but they were certainly popular for a reason.
Having been bitten by the bug my brother and I teamed up with Bruce Hunter in “Captain
Wellyboot And The Mudflaps” and although a short lived title I have continued to
work with Bruce in numerous line-ups throughout the years.
Most memorable perhaps was a period spent as resident musicians at London’s famous
Prospect Of Whitby pub in Wapping. As a band “The Churchfitters” enjoyed great craic
featuring the talents of raconteur and multi-instrumentalist Geoff Coombes. With
all of us being multi-instrumentalists we regularly performed standards such as “Amazing
Grace” on three ocarinas and “Blaydon Races” on two harmonicas etc. Little did I
know at the time but the title of the band officially belonged to Geoff along with
Anthony McCartan and yes, this is the same Breton based Churchfitters that have achieved
much success on the ‘folk’ scene.
Anyhow, back to the Prospect where we enjoyed the company of some established local
regulars John and his wife who, if memory serves me right was called Fay. They always
sat below stage level holding court along with what appeared to be twenty pints of
Guinness and a tomato juice and I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to
who drank what. This fascinated the visiting tourists who obligingly always managed
to top up the quantities of the black stuff although, unbeknownst to John his wife
would always pour a pint away everytime he made a visit to the loo. By the way, for
those of you that do remember those heady days and wondered what the numerous bits
of silver paper were doing stuck to the ceiling it was the regulars putting silver
paper on the end of a straw, dipping it in their drink and trying to get it to stick
on the ceiling. Heaven knows what health and safety would make of it now.