George Peckham's Story (A Porky Prime Cut)

Music lovers of a certain age will remember liking to examine their vinyl records by the inner groove for messages. Many times "A Porky Prime Cut" was found. This interesting story is about the man who wrote that message and most probably other (sometimes humourous) messages too, George Peckham. In the late 60s he worked with the Beatles at Savile Row and I didn’t know that until today.



Valued writer Bill Harry, Editor of Liverpool's Mersey Beat paper, known for his association with The Beatles and the lively Liverpool music scene published this article on the internet - it can be found here. Bill, one of the Beatles 'Inner Circle', continues to inform and entertain via his books and Facebook. Many thanks to George Peckham for telling his story and many thanks to Bill for sharing extensive knowledge.


‘I was brought up in and around Liverpool and up to the Sixties I played with pals trying to learn guitar and to form a group. I did form a group called the Renegades. At first I was on guitar and my friend from school Peter Jones was on lead guitar. Our drummer was Bob Evans of Bob Evans & his Five Shillings fame. He was a great driving drummer. On bass guitar was David Harrop who later had to leave the band as it was just a bit too much for him. I had been teaching my younger brother Derek to play rhythm guitar and when Dave Harrop decided to leave my brother jumped in to play the bass, and I was surprised he was reasonable.
I had to build a bass cabinet for him as he only had a 15 watt Gibson single speaker amplifier and that was for rhythm, so off I went and bought an 18” bass driver speaker. Then I went to the local wood yard to get wood for four sides and a top and bottom (I had seen Adrian Barber of the Big Three, who made cabinets for bands and they sounded powerful and loud). I noticed that Adrian used Kapok padding and weights in the base of the cabinets to help with the transmission on the bass end and of course stopped the cabinet traveling across the stage too. He had also cut a bass port in the lower front of the cabinet which he told me helped the air to move in and out and gave better transmission.
Whilst playing in many of the clubs and dance halls I remember seeing a band called the Beatles who had been doing gigs in Germany and each time they came back they seemed to have a more driving beat and looked more like motorbikers with their leather jackets and leather trousers, but it didn’t deter from their music at all.
We did a gig at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton one night and low and behold who else was on the bill but the up and coming Beatles. After we had done our spot Paul McCartney came up to us and asked if we would lend him our bass amp and speaker as his had failed backstage. In those days it was no problem as bands used to help each other out.
They played their gig and a few comments were pointed out at me for leaving George some Coasters numbers for him to sing (as we did a lot of the Coasters numbers). Later on after the gig had finished Paul McCartney came up to my brother and asked him if he would sell the bass set up to him, but we wouldn’t. That has been my brothers claim to fame ever since!
Later on I gave up the Renegades as I had seen a group around Liverpool called the Pawns. They had a singer called Dave Percy who I thought had the most magnificent voice that I had ever heard and equally a fantastic drummer named Sid Knapper. They told me that the bass player was leaving and were not sure how things would go. I chatted to them for a few hours explaining that I would dearly love to join their band on guitar and vocals.


I also told them I knew of a really great bass guitarist named Dave ‘Mushy’ Cooper who was a pal of mine (Mushy or Dave Cooper). He used to play bass with the Undertakers who were a big contender band in Liverpool and for whatever reason Mushy had left and was looking for another band.
We did get the Pawns really well liked and gigs were coming fast and furious. Then Dave Percy said that he wanted to leave the band as his girlfriend was giving him a hard time as she now saw very little of him. It was now “The band or me” syndrome which loads of jealous girlfriends laid on them. Some stars fell by the wayside, whilst others blossomed and found this new popular life with as many girlfriends as you could handle, and they didn’t suffer from earache any more!
Anyway the ‘pop’ industry was now well on it’s way. Everyone in a band found loads of work and got paid too, and they also got to travel not just the full length of Britain but Germany opened up more alleyways with the Star Club.
Manfred Weissleder owned the Star Club and had started opening other ones using the same name. His gig’s always had really big artists and of course some smaller bands as ours from Liverpool.
I first played at the Star Club when a friend of Mushy and me called around to see us to tell us that Lee Curtis had a falling out with his band, so he asked Mushy and me to get a band together. Lee had lots of commitments and as he was to record for Decca Records and he had contracts with the Star Club coming up soon, we both were looking around for a drummer and a lead guitarist. 
We came across a drummer named Don Alcyd who was the most competent drummer I had ever seen, he’d previously played a lot of jazz and lots of drum solo’s at gigs as he was really the business, so professional, and just so good. By his standards we had to work really very hard to match his quality work and this became so good for us we improved daily.
We then had to find a guitarist, which we did. His name was Paul Pilnick, a very good guitarist indeed. Mr. Moody was his nickname as we kept calling him the James Dean of Rock. This was because of his stance and his dead pan look while laying some very decent licks on the guitar.
We did the sessions for Decca Records, a number “I’ve Got My Eyes On You,” and the session went like a dream. The Decca people were well impressed and released the record.
Then we were off to Hamburg for a month of working through the night, gigging, drinking, and a couple of drugs may have been consumed as well. It was great, we all just loved it there, life was magic and Germany loved us too. It felt that we had been there months when we got back home and everyone said just how fantastic we now sounded.
But, when everything seems rosy, trouble is always around the corner. Arguments kept breaking out between Mushy and Don. It just seemed that we were reaching a magic situation with everything going our way, and, “I’m leaving the band” words popped out of Don’s mouth. “I’ve had enough of that little shit,” he said. I tried to make the two of them see eye to eye but it wasn’t to be. Then Paul said, “I’ve seen another band I fancy joining and they don’t seem to argue like you lot.” So low and behold here we are again, Mushy and me.


“Hey” said Mushy “let’s get Sid Knapper and re-form the Pawns. We were good when we were together and there were no arguments at all.” I thought long and hard - would Sid come back to us and want to play with us again? Well, would you believe it, “YES” was the word and we started rehearsing. But we still needed a lead guitarist and started looking around. The first guy we decided immediately should be Dave Myers as he was such a good guitarist and a nice personality too. This guy could also drive so if we shared the driving we could save ourselves some of the expenses till we got better known.
We did fall together really well and gigs started flying in fast again, and we later on got Howie Casey to join us. He was a fantastic saxophone player and had been in some great Liverpool bands with Derry Wilke and Freddie Starr. He’d also led bands in his own right.
Talking of Freddie Starr there are so many stories that could be told as Freddie is a one-off guy. If you have ever seen him perform there is no way you could imagine what he will get up to next. I used to be made aware of this as just before Freddie gets up to anything his eyes go just like a kitten before it goes mad, runs around and eventually runs up the curtains.
Freddie has always been this way. One of the tales I remember was when a load of bands played an all-nighter at the Iron Door Club in Liverpool in aid of a children’s charity to help to raise money. It was really successful and did raise quite a lot which caught the press praising the bands. It also caught the eye of Lady Pilkington of the glass company. She had arranged for the Liverpool Echo and a couple of local papers to attend at the Iron Door Club as she wanted to personally shake all our hands and thank us for our efforts in this.
I remember us all lining up as she came along thanking each of us one by one. Freddie was standing next to me and low and behold he had ‘that look’ in his eyes. As I looked down: what met my eyes was his cock hanging out - and it was by no measure a small one. He said to me “I want her to shake my dick as a thank you.” I said, “No Freddie put it away we’ll all finish up in the police station.” Eventually he did put it away to the relief of all of us standing close to him and it all went smoothly after that.
Another time I was out with Freddie we had been to the Tatler Cinema. We used to try to copy all of the cartoon characters voices and the next stop was to be the Kardomah Café for a drink and to see who else might be in there. We met some other members of different bands and were chatting when Freddie walked over to a girl who was serving there.


I said “She’d better watch out because he’s in one of those mad moods at the moment,” and true as usual he was walking around with her. But he had got a handful of plastic knives, forks, and spoons behind his back and was making out that he loved her hair and was stroking it and inserting a knife or fork or spoon each time. The poor girl had one of those bouffant hair do’s which stand up quite high off the head and now looked like she had just arrived from outer space with all these plastic things sticking out. Sadly, the manageress caught sight and that was that. We were all barred out of the coffee bar.
I remember many years later Freddie was appearing at the Palladium in London and I had popped around to see him with a couple of pals. When we got there Freddie was very pleased to see us all, and when he saw that I had a Monkey Bike (miniature motor bike) he wanted to have a go on it. So off he went up and down Argyle Street, at the front entrance of the Palladium. A crowd of people were queuing for the next performance and here was Freddie as usual playing to the crowd, giving them a free show of him kneeling, side saddling generally messing about on my Monkey Bike. He was having a great time and the crowd loved it too, then Freddie said that he had to go into the dressing room to get changed in readiness for the performance and said to us “Come on in we’ll have a laugh before I have to go onstage”
We did and one of my pals, John, asked Freddie if he could use the toilet. Now John was wearing white trousers, and Freddie said “They don’t have toilets in the Palladium, you have to Piss in the sink.” So poor John hung his thing over the edge of the sink and Freddie waited till he was in full flow and then made a loud knocking sound on the wall and shouted as loud as he could “Come in.”
John tried to stuff his member into his trousers which of course now had urine all over the front of them, and Freddie being Freddie opened the dressing room door and promptly pushed John outside. We were all laughing and Freddie wouldn’t let him back in despite his pleas, the poor man what a state he was in, which made Freddie laugh even more.
Anyway, to resume the story: We were booked to go to Germany again but not to the Star Club. This time it was the New York City Club in the south of Germany. We found out later that it was run by gangsters who really didn’t want to pay us what was owed at the end of each week. I was sent in each time to collect the money and had to go through all sorts of excuses that there didn’t seem enough money to pay the full amount. This went on for weeks and weeks and in the end I told everyone that I would rather be back home than have to go through this all the time.
The master plan: I rang up Manfred Weissleder and told him that we were here in Germany and wondered if he had any use for us to come up to Hamburg and give us some work in his club. Luckily he said that he had opened up some more Star Clubs and ‘Yes’ he liked us and would give us a couple of months work if we drove up to the Star Club. When I told the rest of the band they were over the moon and said we should get our wages from the New York City Club and sneak our gear out and do a runner.
We did sneak the equipment out and I went over to the hotel. The Frau there said that she hadn’t been paid and she wouldn’t let anybody leave till she got her money. Oh Oh, here I am in the Hotel and the rest of them had already taken their clothes out to the van around the back and I was stuck. So I opened the window and threw my case down to the ground. Then I had to shin down the drainpipe as I wouldn’t be allowed out of reception. My hands were covered in tar from the drainpipe and I had nowhere to clean them so I dashed around to the van. Then Howie announced that he was going to go to France with a pal of his and wouldn’t be coming with us up to Hamburg.
Just then one of the girls we knew from the club ran over and told us to get out of town as the boss and his thugs were looking for us as they’d been to the club and found there was no equipment there, so now they were going to shoot us. I believed this as they used to like to show us their guns now and again.
“Right in the van and we drive straight to Hamburg now” I said, and there was mega agreement too. We waved goodbye to Howie and one of the girls said that she would come with us and show us the way to the motorway. She said that she thought we were nice guys so she would come to Hamburg with us if we would look after her. YES, resounded from our sheepish group, now rearing to go and get out of the area as fast as possible. We’d been on the road for about half an hour when I said to Dave “Pull off the motorway and park on the slip road.” I don’t know why I said it at that time maybe a sixth sense, but about five minutes passed and the girl said “Look there it’s their car, the big Mercedes they always drive.”


Then it was to be hell for leather up to Hamburg into the safer zone of Manfred Weissleder, knowing full that the gangsters from down the south wouldn’t want to mess with him as he had a reputation as a very tough man and the people who worked for him also had a reputation: people such as Horst Fascher and his brother Freddie, a couple of nice guys to us lot but anyone else used to give them the largest berth one could or one’s facial designs could be speeded up to ugly quite quickly.
Manfred had us work in Koln for a month and then to Gelsenkirchen for a month, and eventually back to the Star Club in Hamburg for a month. He used to get us to do one night stands too. I remember doing Harburg just outside Hamburg and Itzehoe. These gigs I believe were for some friends of his and the word came back that Manfred was very proud indeed that his friends were very impressed with us and of course he made it known that we were his little blue eyed boys which, Horst and Freddie told us, was a good compliment. Manfred was always really kind to us and we never felt worried as if anyone tried to give us any trouble on the street we would only have to mention that our boss might get annoyed and have a word with them. When they asked who our boss was and we said Manfred they just disappeared very quickly.
Anyway it was time for us to head back to England so we eventually made our way back to the Hotel to find that the van wasn’t there. We rang the Police in case it had been stolen, only to be told that as it had been parked there so long they thought that it had been dumped and so they had it scrapped: which means they took it to a scrap yard and had it squashed! Our faithful mode of transport was now dead and we now had no means to drive back home.
We all stood there and said a little prayer for our poor van which had never let us down considering all of the miles it had taken us without a single moan ever, we spoke to Manfred about our van, but he said that there was nothing anyone could do as the Police are a law to themselves and there is never any comeback even if we tried to file a complaint. In fact, if we did, the Police would ensure that we would never get back into Germany they would always find some excuse not to let us back in.
So we arranged transport to get us to the ship leaving from the Hook of Holland to Harwich then we would have to hire a van to get us back to Liverpool with all our guitars and drums. We were a little disgruntled I must add, as now we would have to try to get another van.


We carried on gigging around for about another six months or so and things within the band started to look like a split up was on the cards so I started to keep my eyes open as to what other bands would be doing the same. Out of the blue I was in the Peppermint Lounge club watching Earl Royce and the Olympics play when Brian the bass player in the band ‘dragged’ me to the bar for a drink. He said that he’d heard that our band may be breaking up and would I be interested in playing with his band as their lead guitarist was leaving.
They had lots of gigs still to honour, so he arranged a meeting with the band and their manager George Blott. I got on with him immediately. I really liked him he seemed so genuine in amongst all the lots of dodgy ‘Managers’ about. He really did care about the band, so even though I hadn’t plied my trade as a lead guitarist, I thought “Into the deep end I’ve got to have a go”.’




Editor’s Notes: The Renegades were a Wallasey-based group who formed in 1961. They comprised George Peckham on guitar/vocals, Dave Myers on lead guitar, Bob Evans on drums and Derek Peckham on bass guitar. Immediately following the Renegades, George became rhythm guitarist in Lee Curtis And The All Stars. The other members comprised Lee Curtis on vocals, Mushy Cooper on bass guitar, Paul Pilnick on lead and Don Alcyd on drums. Don left to join the Delmont Four and Paul to the Big Three. The record they cut at the time ‘What About Me?’ c/w ‘I’ve Got My Eyes On You’ was released on Decca F 11830 in February 1964. The Pawns appeared regularly at the Iron Door, which was then managed by Les Ackerley, who also managed the group. The group traveled to London to make a record, ‘Casting My Spell’, but it was never released. The group comprised George Peckham on guitar/vocals, Mushy Cooper on bass guitar, Howie Casey on sax, Syd Knapper on drums and Dave Myers on lead. The group appeared in Germany between February and July 1964 – and as Syd was so young at the time, the group had to agree to chaperone him. Howie left them to join the Krew. George Blott, with the help from his brothers, ran the Peppermint Lounge, a particularly good club situated above Sampson & Barlow’s restaurant in London Road. George also managed several groups including Denny Seyton & the Sabres and the Blackwells. Virginia once went to work for his agency.

A_Porky_Prime_Cut





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