Johnny Kidd and the Pirates were a seminal British rock ‘n’ roll band that emerged in the late 1950s. Known for their energetic performances and unique sound, they played a significant role in shaping the rock landscape and influencing countless musicians. In this article, we will explore the captivating history of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, from their formation to their hit records, and delve into the talented musicians who contributed to their success.
Formation and Early Years (1959-1960): Johnny Kidd, born Frederick Heath, embarked on his musical journey in the late 1950s. Initially, he performed as a solo artist, but he soon sought to form a band to enhance his sound. In 1959, Kidd joined forces with guitarist Alan Caddy, bassist Brian Gregg, and drummer Clem Cattini to create the original line-up of the Pirates.
- “Please Don’t Touch” (1960): Released in 1960, “Please Don’t Touch” was Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ breakthrough hit. The song, a collaboration with prolific songwriter Guy Robinson, showcased their distinctive blend of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues. It reached the top 30 of the UK Singles Chart and established the band as an emerging force in the music scene.
- “Shakin’ All Over” (1960): Following the success of their debut hit, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates released “Shakin’ All Over” later in 1960. This iconic track featured a memorable guitar riff and Kidd’s powerful vocals, garnering widespread attention. It soared to the top of the UK Singles Chart, becoming their signature song and a timeless rock ‘n’ roll classic.
- “Restless” (1960): Continuing their winning streak, the band released “Restless” in 1960. This infectious tune, driven by Kidd’s dynamic vocals, captivated audiences and climbed to the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart.
- “Linda Lu” (1961): In 1961, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates recorded “Linda Lu,” a vibrant rockabilly track that demonstrated their versatility. While not a chart-topping hit, it showcased their musical range and ability to experiment with different styles.
Changes in Line-up (1961-1966): In 1961, guitarist Alan Caddy left the band and was replaced by Mick Green, known for his dynamic and inventive guitar playing. Drummer Clem Cattini also departed, and his position was filled by Frank Farley, who brought a new energy to the rhythm section. This revised line-up of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates continued to record and perform.
Later Years and Legacy: In the mid-1960s, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates faced commercial challenges due to changing musical trends and the rise of the British Invasion bands. Despite this, they continued to release music and perform live, but their chart success dwindled. Tragically, Johnny Kidd’s life was cut short in a car accident in 1966 at the age of 30, marking the end of an era.
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates left an indelible mark on British rock ‘n’ roll. Their raw, energetic performances and innovative sound influenced numerous artists, including The Who, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones. Johnny Kidd’s powerful vocals and the band’s dynamic musicianship remain celebrated elements of their legacy.
Conclusion: Johnny Kidd and the Pirates were pioneering figures in the British rock ‘n’ roll scene. Their short-lived but impactful career produced a string of hit records, including the unforgettable “Shakin’ All Over.” The band’s lineup changes over the years, with Mick Green and Frank Farley joining the fold, added depth and creativity to their sound. Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ influence and contribution to rock ‘n’ roll continue to resonate, cementing their place in music history.
Some listening for you you might like are:-
- “Shakin’ All Over” / “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (1960, HMV)
- “Please Don’t Touch” / “Growl” (1960, HMV)
- “Restless” / “Linda Lu” (1961, HMV)
- “Hungry for Love” / “Longin’ Lips” (1963, HMV)
- “Sweet Little Sixteen” / “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (1977, See For Miles Records)
- “Johnny B. Goode” / “All in It Together” (1978, Warner Bros.)
- “My Babe” / “Milk Cow Blues” (1979, JVC Victor)
- “Boppin’ the Blues” / “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (1981, A&M)
- Out of Their Skulls (1977, See For Miles Records)
- Skull Wars (1978, Warner Bros.)
- Happy Birthday Rock’n’Roll (1979, JVC Victor)
- A Fistful of Dubloons (1981, A&M)
- Home and Away: Live in the 90’s (1998, Angel Air Records)
- Land of the Blind (1999, Angel Air Records)
- Don’t Munchen It: Live in Europe 1978 (2000, RPM)
- Still Shakin’ (2000, Thunderbolt)
- From Calypso To Collapso (2002, Thunderbolt)
- Skullduggery (2006, Prism Entertainment)
- Burning Rubber (2006, Synergie)
- Hard Ride (2010, Angel Air Records)