Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts
|Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts|
Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs
Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, formed in 1968 is a rarely performing British pub blues band. Band members Jona Lewie and Keith Trussell were members of Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs a pseudonym for the band which released "Seaside Shuffle", a single that reached #2 in the UK charts in 1972.
Brett Marvin and The Thunderbolts was formed from a previous connection in 1967 to Thomas Bennett Comprehensive School in Crawley, Sussex. Teacher at the school Peter Gibson, a graduate of Liverpool College of Art set up a blues and folk club at which sixth-form student Graham Hine played. Gibson was also playing in a blues duo called Bottled in Bond. Hine with fellow student Keith Trussell (aka Keef Trouble) and friend John Randall were joined by Gibson and new acquaintance Jim Pitts to forming a new band: Hine (acoustic/electric guitar), Trussell (rhythm/zobstick), Randall (rhythm/washboard), Gibson (kazoo) and Pitts (mandolin/banjo/harmonica/). This new band, now called Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, developed a country blues style accompanied by a variety of eccentric percussion instruments.
During 1968, Brett Marvin had been performing around the South East and London music venues where they had become acquainted with blues musician Jo Ann Kelly. Kelly invited Brett Marvin to play at Studio 51, Great Newport Street, London, where she held a residency as did the John Dummer Blues Band after the departure of The Rolling Stones. When Kelly and Dummer vacated their residencies, Brett Marvin was offered the position of replacing them. It became the resident band for 4 years running a Sunday session as a drop in venue for blues musicians, including Howlin' Wolf, Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup, Fred McDowell, Dave Kelly, Juke Boy Bonner, Medicine Head, The Steve Miller Band, Lol Coxhill, Sam Mitchell, Bottleneck Bill, Mick Taylor, Larry Johnson, Tony McPhee, the John Dummer Blues Band, The Groundhogs, Roy Bookbinder and Long John Baldry. While at Studio 51, John Lewis (who later changed his name to Jona Lewie,) saw the band. Lewie also played on the music club circuit with interval spots playing blues and boogie-woogie on piano. In 1969, following a gig at Wolfie Witcher's blues club at the Nag's Head where Brett Marvin and Lewie were booked separately, Lewie joined the band as its 6th member. In 1992, Trussell, Lewie and Pitts were interviewed on Greater London Radio about the band’s times at Studio 51.
Recording and performance
In 1970, Tony McPhee from the Groundhogs invited Brett Marvin to contribute recordings for a British Blues Collection on the Liberty Label, Gasoline, produced by Mike Batt. Later some of these were reproduced on the album Son of Gutbucket. Soon afterwards the band began a 5 year recording contract with the Sonet record label that released the band’s first album, Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts. In 1971 the band released its 2nd album on Sonet, entitled 12 inches of a combination of blues standards and songs written by band members.
During the early 1970s Brett Marvin toured the UK blues club and university music circuit, having signed to the Robert Stigwood Agency while appearing on television in Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. In 1971 the band performed in a concert with Son House and undertook a national tour supporting Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes. Shortly after this, Gibson and Pitts dropped out of touring. Lewie had begun writing for the band, and his Seaside Shuffle was released as a single under the pseudonym Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs a recording that included Hine, Trussell, Randall, Gibson and Pitts. In 1972 Sonet entered into a marketing and distribution agreement for the song with Jonathan King's UK label; it reached #2 in the UK singles chart, leading to three appearances on Top of the Pops. Another single release under the Terry Dactyl name, On a Saturday Night, didn’t achieve such popularity. However, Sonet issued a 3rd album Alias Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs which took advantage of the success of Seaside Shuffle and included a compilation of tracks from the first 2 albums. Following this album’s release, Lewie left the band. He was replaced by David Davies (keyboards) who had been playing in the Jaw Bone Jug Band. Gibson rejoined the band, as did a new bass player Tony Proto. Consequently, a 4th album was recorded and released on Sonet: Ten Legged Friend.
The new line-up performed at the Colne Blues Festival and The Blues Band's Christmas Party. During the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s Brett Marvin became almost exclusively an act on the London pub music scene, particularly at the Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington and the Stapleton Hall Tavern near Finsbury Park. In 1992, the band performed at The Town & Country Club.
In 1993, the Brett Marvin released a new album: Boogie Street, (Exson Music Ltd.) with the addition of a new bass guitarist Peter Swan. In 1998, Brett Marvin was featured on two compilation albums: Gutbucket, (EMI Records,) and Tony McPhee & Friends, (BGO Records), and released a CD version of their original LP, Alias Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs. The band collaborated with Peter Moody in 1999, resulting in the CD Vintage Thunderbolts, (Mooncrest Records - part of Trojan Records), being of previously unreleased live and studio recordings from 1970-1989. Swan left the band in 2001, being replaced by Dougie Strathie (bass guitar).
Brett Marvin have played rarely since 2000, some of the band members have gone on to produce solo albums. In 2010 the band released the studio-based EP Keep on Moving featuring Keef Trouble and Brett keyboard player, song-writer and vocalist, David Davies. In early June 2010, Davies died – his obituary was published in The Guardian newspaper. In May 2012 sax player and vocalist Jim Pitts died.
In 1971, two members of Brett Marvin, Trussell and Pitts took part in a live radio broadcast discussion on the Jeremy Gilbert Show on Radio London with the tagline ‘Can White Men Play the Blues?’. This compered by Viv Stanshall, where the indisposed Keith Moon joined in the discussion by 'phone-in'.
In 1992, Trussell, Lewie and Pitts were interviewed on Greater London Radio’s Mary Costello Show about Brett Marvin and its history.
Notable band musicians
Notable musicians who have played in the band are Wilgar Campbell on drums; Lol Coxhill on saxophone and flugelhorn; Dennis Elliott on drums; Jona Lewie as composer and on vocals and keyboard; and Keef Trouble as composer and on vocals, percussion and guitar.
- Gibson, Sandra (2011); "Zob Stick", Ain't Bad for a Pink: The Life of Bluesman Pete 'Snakey Jake' Johnson, p.280. ISBN 1848766653
- "History Of The Newfoundland Ugly Stick", Uglysticksarei.com
- "Christmas Special", British Comedy Guide. Danny Baker references "Seaside Shuffle" and the zob stick on QI.
- Hickling, Alfred; "Sole stars", The Guardian, 28 October 2008
- Jona Lewie
- Guardian obitury
- Jim Pitts dies
- Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts discography at Discogs
- official site