IF YOU can remember the ’60s you probably weren’t there, or so the saying goes.
Members of various incarnations of the band Pieces of Mind were there, plying their musical trade on the South Wales gig circuit and earning a sizeable regional reputation and following.
But it is the remembering that is the difficult bit.
Musicians from various of the band’s line-ups, some of whom have not seen each other for decades, others who have never met, have completed two days’ rehearsals ahead of a 50th anniversary reunion charity concert next month.
The air was thick with reminiscences, but details – the who, what, when, where, why and how – often got mixed up or forgotten altogether.
“It’s a long time ago, we played a lot of shows, had a lot of really good times,” said Adrian Williams, the band’s vocalist fromits earliest days in 1963.
“It’s the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary and that got me thinking that it’s 50 years for us this year. Some of us met at the Celtic Manor after Christmas and it has snowballed into this concert.”
The Pieces of Mind were originally a six-piece, with members from Newport and Cwmbran, who honed their set of blues and rhythm and blues covers in rehearsals at the St John Bosco Hall in Newport’s Cromwell Road.
The band built its following with regular dates in Newport, Cwmbran and throughout South Wales and the Valleys, with occasional forays further afield, such as to Birmingham.
Nowadays the collective memory may be a little fuzzy around the edges, not least concerning who was in the band when. But many tales of rock-and-roll ribaldry at home and abroad – a later line-up tried its luck in Germany and France in the late 1960s – were recounted during their practice sessions at Dragon Bands in Pontypool.
As in the 1960s, however, the music remains at the centre of things, as the band put together a setlist for their reunion concert, in aid of St David’s Hospice Care, at Cwmbran Workingmen’s Club on Friday, April 26.
Founder member John Reardon (lead guitarist) and others still play regularly, but for some the rehearsals were a chance to get familar with their roles again.
Drummer Phil Edwards has not played for 12 years, while Mr Williams, who went on to perform with other bands after the Pieces of Mind dissolved, before rising to a senior managerial position with Sony Music, has not sung for 40 years.
“It’s been hard work, but we hope to have 30 songs ready,” said Mr Reardon.
“I’ve been amazed at the response to the concert.
We’ve sold out, 250 tickets, and had to set up a reserve list. We’ve got to be good!”
Memories of the 1960smay be a little hazy in parts, but this could be a concert that the band, and those lucky enough to have a ticket, won’t forget in a hurry.
Group supported many famous names
AS WELL as headlining their own shows, the Pieces of Mind supported many of the most popular artists and bands of the 1960s when they played in South Wales.
These included Billy Fury, John Lee Hooker, Gene Vincent, Manfred Mann, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, The Searchers and The Who.
The Who were on the bill at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970 – famous for being the occasion of Jimi Hendrix’s final concert – and it was here too that Adrian Williams last opened his lungs in anger, singing with short-lived rock band Judas Jump, who opened the festival in front of a crowd comfortably into six figures.
“I’m gradually getting back into it but it’s been a long time,” said Mr Williams, who spent four years at Whiteheads before leaving to pursue his rock-and-roll dreams full-time. He now lives in Spain.
The Pieces of Mind supported The Who at Cwmbran’s Coed Eva community college in January 1966, when the latter were already established as stars.
And this is one occasion of which the memories have remained vivid: “I remember that one because we came back into the dressing-room and Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were having a punch-up and Keith Moon was just laughing his head off!” said Mr Williams.