Seeds are sown

Sometime in early October 2012, Adrian Williams and Rob Evans were having a drink in a London Pub, when the news of the Rolling Stones having a 50th Anniversary tour was announced on TV. Adrian remarked to Rob that the 50th Anniversary of the Pieces of Mind forming was coming up in the next year and they should try and get as many of the band members together for a drink and perhaps a meal. Adrian sent me the following email on 15th October 2012:
Hey Ducksy, how you doing?   I was in London last week with Rob Evans from Ebbw Vale. Naturally the conversation went back to the olden days and we thought how cool it might be to have a 50th anniversary meet of all the guys who ever played in the band, so we're talking Steve Strong, Dave Sargent, Chippy Chapman, Percy, Andy etc. Don't know what form it would take, probably just a piss up. Location would be another thing. Anyway before getting into it anymore, do you fancy it?  Talk soon.
I answered saying I thought it was a great idea and perhaps we would be able to hire a club where we could have a back line for anyone who fancied a thrash and we could all get to play together for one last time. We could also have someone playing records from back in the day.     

In the email that followed, he suggested advertising it in the local paper as a ‘Night of Nostalgia to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Pieces of Mind and the music you listened to then, or shall we all just go and get pissed’.
In the same email, he listed a series of names of previous band members that we needed to contact. The majority of these people I had not seen or heard of since the late 1960s, so I could see it was going to be a bit of a challenge. I knew one person went to live in Australia, as I had bumped into him on a steamer cruise out of Minehead, when I was on leave from the RAF. Were the others still living in Wales or were they even still alive?  Sadly, as I would find out later, a couple had passed away.

I started straight away, trying to track down various people. I had the telephone number of Andy Gibbon, who had been one of the bass players and also my best man, so gave him a call. He thought he could get contact details for Robert Price or Percy as we called him, and Dave Sargent.

He confirmed that Will Lowe had moved to Australia and the other bit of bad news he gave me was that he thought Chippy Chapman had died a while ago. Thankfully Chippy was resurrected when someone living in Sheffield contacted Andy through his band’s website, saying he had been a fan of the Pieces in the 60s. When Andy spoke to the chap, he mentioned that we were hoping to have a reunion of as many members as possible. When Andy said that Chippy had died, the chap said well ‘I spoke to him a few days ago and he was very much alive’ and then gave Andy the contact details for him.     

Andy came back to me a few days later with Percy’s telephone number, so by the beginning of December 2012, in addition to Adrian, Andy and I, we knew how to contact Chippy, Phil Edwards, Percy, Dave Kubinec and Rob Evans. We still needed to find some more; however, I had already managed to track down Ted Dyer, so we were getting there. Andy also mentioned that one of his band-mates had been spreading the news around Newport and Cwmbran of a potential Pieces of Mind reunion next year. He said there seems to be a lot of interest, perhaps not as much as the Stones, but still people interested in seeing the old band perform again.

Adrian mentioned that he and Phil usually came to UK around Christmas, so we suggested that we meet in Newport either before or after, so we could discuss what we were going to do and when we would do it. After a few emails and telephone calls it was decided that the 6 of us would meet in the Celtic Manor on Thursday the 27th December 2012.
So a couple of days after Christmas 2012, I had arranged to meet up with Adrian Williams, Phil Edwards, Chippy Chapman, Andy Gibbon and Robert ‘Percy’ Price in the Merlins bar at the Celtic Manor, Newport at just after 4 p.m.

I had a good idea of what Andy looked like, as I had visited the website of his band, Timesup. I also knew that Adrian had lost his golden locks, as I had viewed a clip of him when he appeared as a judge on a TV show, with Sharon Osbourne. However the only memories I had of the others was from around 45 years ago, so it was going to be interesting trying to find each other in a large bar. With hindsight, perhaps I should have suggested meeting in the reception area.     

Being quite good at timekeeping I got into the bar dead on 4 p.m. and walked around to check if I could see any of the others. I waited and waited, until around 5 p.m., I heard someone say ‘Hello Ducksy’. I turned around and for a minute I thought who the hell this person was stood in front of me. It then dawned on me that it was Percy. He was the person I hadn’t seen for the longest time, probably 47 years ago. He easily recognised me, so despite losing my hair and putting the odd stone on in weight, I can’t have changed that much. At least that’s what I like to think.

We bought a drink, sat at a table and chatted for a while, about what each of us had been up to since we last met, before Andy came into the bar. There was still no sign of the others, so I decided to go to reception to check if Adrian and Phil had checked into the hotel, as like me, they were staying the night there.      

The receptionist confirmed they had booked in and tried ringing their rooms, but there was no answer. On the way back to the table, I heard another ‘Hello Ducksy’ and turned to see a rather dapper looking Chippy, who despite a loss of hair and the adoption of a goatee beard had not changed much. When we got to the table, Adrian and Phil were sat there with Andy and Percy.

The Celtic Manor Meet

Left to Right: Garnet ‘Chippy’ Chapman, Robert ‘Percy’ Price, Adrian Williams, Phil Edwards, Andy Gibbon and John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon.
The 6 of us were discussing a possible reunion, whilst consuming numerous bottles of wine, at the Celtic Manor on the 27th December 2012. First time I had really been drunk for several decades.

All of us had so much to tell each other with so little time to tell it, but we still tried. Adrian and Phil were living in Southern Spain, in fact as next-door neighbours. They also gave us a brief run-down of what they had done, both with the Pieces of Mind and other bands since we had all split up.     

Andy and Chippy were living close to each other in Pontypool and Percy was living in Newport, fairly close to where we had first met all those years ago. When it was mine turn to say where I lived and also a little about myself, it turned out that Chippy had been living in Brampton village for a large portion of time I was stationed at RAF Brampton. Considering how small Brampton village was, it’s amazing we never bumped into each other.

After a couple of hours chatting and drinking, we still hadn’t got round to discussing what we had come here for. I was beginning to think that this was the reunion we had all been so excited about a couple of months earlier. Eventually someone asked what we were going to do about a reunion. Great, I thought, about time we got down to business.      

By that point, the drinks round was bottles of wine and not beer, so we were slowly getting plastered, even more so because none of us had eaten. Chippy was the only person who was sober, as he no longer drank alcohol; however, he was just as exuberant as the rest of us.
The 6 of us all wanted a reunion that involved us playing together, whether it was a case of hiring a room somewhere or even trying to do a gig. To be honest, at the time, the thought of us actually doing a gig was probably more the drink talking than a potential reality. The night sort of fizzled out, particularly as most of us were very drunk. Andy was being picked up by his wife and had arranged to take Percy home, although I found out later that they had lost Percy, who ended up walking the couple of miles home. Chippy was driving himself and the rest of us just had to find our rooms. I remember being sick in the toilets before I got to my room and then crashed out in my bed.

I hadn’t arranged to meet up with Adrian and Phil at breakfast; however, I bumped into them as I was waiting for my car to be brought to reception. I heard a shout of ‘Ducksy’ and the 2 of them were standing outside, whilst Phil was having a smoke. Adrian said that they had been laughing at the little red Ford Fiesta, with a private plate, and then realised it must have been mine, as it had my initials on.  
The 3 of us chatted for a while and all agreed that it had been a great night. The keenness to do something was still there, so it wasn’t just the alcohol talking the night before; they really wanted to further progress the idea of playing somewhere. I said I would get on the job as quickly as I could, probably starting in the New Year.
The seeds were sown for a 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Pieces of Mind.      

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