Early Planning 1

I started thinking how I would go about planning the reunion more or less as soon as I got back home on the Friday after the Celtic Manor meeting. How would we find anywhere to play?  Would anyone want to see us after nearly 50 years?  There were 6 of us at the Celtic manor, but how do we find the other people who played in the various versions of the group?  What songs would we play?  What about rehearsals?  These and many more questions were going through my brain, while I tried to enjoy the rest of the Christmas break with my family.     

I decided to start in earnest on the Sunday before New Year’s Eve. I jotted down the things I would need to do. Firstly, I needed to compile a list of all those who had played or been involved in the Pieces of Mind, back in the 60s. Then I would have to try and track those people down, some of which I had never met and some I hadn’t seen for well over 45 years.

Assuming I even found people, I needed to confirm they wanted and could play somewhere. I had moved away from South Wales in 1971, so I needed to work out how to find a venue that would let us play and how much it would cost us. Then there was the issue of whether we would just play amongst ourselves or would we attempt to play a gig in front of an audience.      

At this stage, I thought that there was not much point in trying to answer hypothetical questions of what songs we would play and whether we needed to rehearse, so I would try and find people first. I also began to think that the task I was presenting myself was too big for one person, so I would need help from somebody, but the question was who?
I obviously had those who met at the Celtic Manor, but 2 lived in Spain, 3 lived in South Wales and I lived in Northamptonshire. It was going to be difficult, even with the power of the Internet and email in particular. Of the 5 other people I met with after Christmas, Adrian, Phil and Chippy were contactable direct by email. I had telephone numbers for Andy and Percy.

Andy was also contactable through his wife’s email and I had the email address of Ted Dyer. Ted had contacted me back in August 2010, when Chris Sharley had been communicating with Ted’s older brother Jim and passed on my email address. I had forgotten about Ted when arranging the Celtic Manor meeting and for this, I do apologise, as I’m sure he would have come along.

I decided that I would use Adrian as a point of contact for researching who played in the group after I had left and he could keep Phil informed as to what we were doing. Being as they were both retired, I thought that Andy and Ted would be good people to sort out the logistics for where and when we would play.     

I also began to have thoughts as to how we could let people know what we were intending to do, if we decided to try and play a gig. A huge factor we have today, in 2013, is the power of communication. Technological advances have brought us mobile phones, email and the Internet. In the 1960s, our nearest telephone was about 100 yards away; these days it’s quite common to have multiple mobile phones in a house, as well as what’s become to be called land-lines. What took days, or longer, to contact people back then, can now be achieved in mere seconds.

I have had the www.johnreardon.com website for quite a few years and often received emails from people who remembered me. I also had a Facebook account, with around 40 friends, but the biggest issue was that both websites were about me and not really the Pieces of Mind. We also needed to attract attention of the media, such as the local newspaper, the South Wales Argus and local radio stations.
So I thought I would create a new Facebook account that was about the group and not just me. First issue I encountered was that Facebook did not allow having 2 accounts with the same email address. Their solution to this was having ‘Pages’, however, I wanted to create an Account that covered the group and not just me. The solution was to create another Facebook account using a newly created Gmail email address and then add information and photographs about the Pieces of Mind. Whilst Facebook allowed me to have the Pieces of Mind, or at least ‘The.Pieces.of.Mind’ as a username, it still insisted on having a name for the account as well, so I put ‘John Reardon’.

I sent out invitations to my existing friends and received a message from Chris Sharley that I needed to include my nickname of ‘Ducksy’ as people would be more likely to remember me, so as Facebook permits you to update your name, I put ‘John Ducksy Reardon’. In the ‘About’ section I indicated that this Facebook account was going to be primarily about the Pieces of Mind and that we were contemplating getting together to play again. I soon began to receive more and more friend requests. Within a relatively short time, I went from 40 to over 100, and it became obvious to me that there was a lot of interest in seeing the Pieces of Mind playing again.

In addition, Steve Leman, who plays drums in a band with Andy, had been spreading the news around Newport of a potential Pieces of Mind reunion in 2013. He said there appeared to be a lot of interest, perhaps not as much as the Stones, but still people were interested. The talk at the Celtic Manor of playing a gig was starting to become more than a pipe dream; it was looking like it was a possibility.

By the 2nd January 2013, I had email addresses for Adrian Williams, Andy Gibbon (c/o his wife Jayne), Bruno Sampson, Chippy Chapman, Dave Kubinec, Glyn Williams, Mickey Evans, Phil Edwards, Rob Evans, Ted Dyer and Vic Johnson. In addition I had telephone contact details for Robert ‘Percy’ Price.
Adrian was keen on trying to play any gig at the end of the coming April, which was less than 4 months away. My first priority was to determine how many of the old group wanted and could play, so I sent an email to all 11 asking them if they were up for attending and playing at a possible reunion. I also asked them to let me  know whether they still played and what equipment they had. The 11 possible players included 4 bass players, 3 drummers, 3 guitarists and a keyboard player, assuming of course that everyone wanted to participate and was fit enough. As there were still people I needed to try and find, I also asked them to let me know if they had any contact details for those missing.

Of the original group members, at this time, I still needed to locate Steve Strong, Will Lowe, Dave Sargent, John Beardmore and Roy Winston Davies. I had an idea that Will Lowe was still living in Australia, but had no idea of how to contact him, other than searching the Internet. A Google search revealed nearly 200 million results, including a professional bareback rider; however none seemed to be our old harmonica player.

The early Pieces of Mind. Only one missing is Dave Sargent (RIP)

I then went on to try and find John Beardmore. Whilst speaking to my sister, who still lived in Newport, I mentioned that we were trying to have a reunion and wanted to find people including John Beardmore. She told me that she thought John had become a Vicar and operated out of a Church in Maindee, Newport. She had been to several funerals over the last few years and often the officiating vicar was a John Beardmore. She thought it was the same John Beardmore who had been our manager.

I must admit that I had serious doubts about John being at all religious; however, I looked at the Church in Wales’s web site and certainly found a Reverend J K Beardmore listed as an assistant curate in the Benefice of Maindee, Newport. The site gave his address and telephone number, but I didn’t want to bother someone, who may not be the John Beardmore I knew. The contacts listed on the Parish of Maindee website included an email address for a Reverend, who I assumed was in charge, so I sent an email, including my telephone number, asking if the John K Beardmore was the same person who managed the Pieces of Mind, back in the 60s.

A week or so later, John rang me up. It turned out that he hadn’t become religious after leaving the group; the John K Beardmore was in fact his cousin, who, when contacted by the reverend, passed on my details to our John Beardmore.

We were both overjoyed at finding each other again after all this time. John said he was only thinking about us, and wondering where we were, a few days before his cousin contacted him. He knew where Percy lived and often bumped into him, but the rest had more or less disappeared of the face of the earth. After chatting for almost an hour, I explained what we were trying to do and he was literally over the moon and wanted to be as involved as much as he could. He has certainly achieved this, as John has been heavily involved with the organisation of the reunion gig and what happens in the future. He has been invaluable.

John mentioned that he had numerous photographs and posters from when we were playing. This made me really happy as I had very few photographs and mementos from when I had been playing in the 60s. I wanted to see these straight away, however, I would have to wait a week or so whilst John arranged to scan them and get them to me. I suggested he use Dropbox, as I already had an account. It took a while; however, it was well worth the wait. John had well over 100 photographs of the group and miscellaneous posters of when we played various venues.

I downloaded all of them and briefly took a look at them. I was amazed to find that I had never ever seen the majority of photographs he had sent. After trawling through them again, I uploaded all of them to Facebook.

I decided to create Albums for the band members and also ones for those bands that people had played in after the Pieces of Mind. The observant amongst you will notice that I have now started using the modern term of band, as opposed to group. I am proud to be a Luddite; however, eventually I do give in and follow convention.

The photographs and posters I loaded began to attract a lot of interest amongst the 100 plus friends and before long; I began getting more and more friends; hitting the 150 mark and then just under 200. This number may not be large, compared to some Facebook accounts; however, the account was about a South Wales local band that played way back in the 1960s.

In early January Steve Leman had offered to help in any way he could. He has very good artistic skills and also said that Phil Edwards could use a set of his drums, to save bringing one across from Spain. Whilst the offer of the drum set was extremely generous and fantastic, for me, the biggest help he provided was utilizing his artistic skills. In the time leading up to and past the eventual gig, he has designed tickets, posters, t-Shirts, band passes, publicity material and generally provoked interest and comment with fabulous cartoons. The band and I could not have achieved what we did without his help; he was amazing.

When speaking to Percy in mid-January, he mentioned to me that Steve Strong played in a Newport band called the James Boys, but he didn’t know how to contact him. I did a Google search for them but came back with several hits for bands called the James Boys, none of which appeared to be relevant. I then added ‘Newport’ and came across a hit about Tributes being paid to a popular Newport musician, who played with the James Boys.

Fearing the worst, I started reading the article, which was from the South Wales Argus, but quickly found out it was a Glyn Woodman who had died. Glyn had played guitar with the James Boys for 16 years. Despite being close in age, playing guitar and attending the same St Julian’s School, I don’t think I knew Glyn.

I did an image search for ‘James Boys Newport’ and the first hit was a photograph of the James Boys playing at the Caldicot Festival, in 2009. On the extreme left, behind the guitarist, I saw a familiar, though a bit chubbier, face peering out, whilst holding some drumsticks. It certainly looked like Steve.

Further Internet searches revealed that the band were due to play at the Three Saints Hotel, in Llantrisant on Saturday the 26th January 2013. I phoned the hotel up a couple of days before the gig and asked a lady on reception if she could leave a message for the band. She agreed to do this and so I waited expecting a call sometime the next week. I heard nothing, so assumed that my message was not passed on and gave up hope.

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