Birmingham

Bob Burnett guitar (left in 1966)
Steve Gibbons lead vocal, harmonica
John Gordon organ (left in 1965)
Jim Holden drums (left in 1968)
John Hustwayte bass guitar (left in 1966)
Roger Hill guitar (joined 1966 – left 1967)
Jimmy O’Neil piano, organ, bass guitar (joined 1965 – left 1968)
Dave Pegg bass guitar (joined 1966 – left 1967)
Will Hammond guitar, vocal (joined in 1967)
Dave Morgan bass guitar, vocal (joined 1967)
Keith Smart drums (joined in 1968)
Richard Tandy piano (joined 1968 – left 1969)

This well known Birmingham band was active throughout the 1960s
and had a much-changing personnel line-up featuring a list of members
that reads almost like a who’s who of Brum Beat.

The Dominettes rock The Grotto in 1963

The Uglys evolved from a late 1950s outfit called The Dominettes
whose early members included Roy Bates, Bob Burlison, Mick Burrows, Jimmy Holden,
John Hustwayte (whose brother was in Pat Wayne’s group The Deltas) and singer Colin Smith.
A new vocalist, Steve Gibbons who was a plumbers apprentice from Harbourne,
had joined the Dominettes by 1960 to replace Colin Smith
who had left to join Jimmy Powell’s backing group.

Colin Smith later changed his name to Carl Barron and became the singer with The Cheetahs. An Elvis Presley fan, Steve Gibbons’ first performance with
The Dominettes was at The California Pub near Weoley Castle.

Regular venues for The Dominettes in the early 1960s was the Grotto Club on Bromsgove Street and The Cecilia Coffee Bar in Edgbaston with the group by this time including
many R&B numbers into their set and this style of music suited Steve Gibbons’ gritty vocals perfectly.

Although the Dominettes had a rougher image than most groups at that time
and were sometimes hired to back strippers at some of the more seedy establishments, they attracted quite a following.

Another regular venue for the Dominettes was the
Firebird Jazz Club on Carrs Lane in central Birmingham
and the group posted advertisements which read “anything considered”,
but by 1963 the group was re-named The Uglys.

Eventually, the Uglys were able to secure a recording contract with the Pye Records company and the first release from the group in 1965 was an original song entitled Wake Up My Mind, composed by Burnet/Holden/Gibbons. The single was advanced for its time and featured some socially conscious lyrics -very unlike the kind of material produced by most other pop groups of the period.

Surprisingly, the record did not sell well in Britain but was a big hit in the Australian charts.

John Gordon left in 1965 and was replaced by Jimmy O’Neil from a local band called
The Yamps (he had also spent some time with The Walker Brothers).
A second Uglys single released the same year was of another great original song called It’s Alright. This one featured prominent use of a harpsichord as played by Jimmy O’Neil
who was becoming a major attraction on-stage to a growing following of female fans.
The record fell short of the British charts – possibly due to a record company strike
– even though the group made an appearance on the popular television program “Ready Steady Go!” to promote it.

Other Uglys singles were released between 1965 and 1967
including a great version of End Of The Season, a song composed by Ray Davies of the Kinks.

This represented a departure from the Ugly’s previous records as they had all been group compositions up to that point. Interestingly, Jim Holden and Roger Hill composed a song called Can’t See For Looking which was recorded by Birmingham’s youngest pop group
The Bobcats and released as their debut single in 1967. The Bobcats even got to perform the song on the popular children’s TV show Blue Peter.

During this period, there were many personnel changes in the Uglys line-up which included the departure of Bob Burnett and John Hustwayte. Bass guitarist Dave Pegg joined for a year before leaving to join the Ian Campbell Group. He was replaced by Dave Morgan from a local band called Blaises and had also been a former member of Danny King’s Mayfair Set.

Dave Pegg was later in a local group called The Exception and from there, he joined Fairport Convention. Dave Morgan also worked with Carl Wayne of The Move
to compose the song Something which ended up as the b-side of the Move’s chart-topping Blackberry Way single.

Jimmy O’Neil left the Uglys in 1968 to join The Mindbenders and founding member Jim Holden also departed later that year.

The Uglys in 1968

Former Brumbeats guitarist Roger Hill joined the Uglys and stayed for almost a year before leaving to join previously-departed Dave Pegg in forming a new band called The Exception. Roger Hill was replaced by Will Hammond (from The Yamps)
who stayed in the Ugly’s line-up until the end.

Jim Holden was replaced by drummer Keith Smart from Danny King’s Mayfair Set.
Keith was previously involved with a group called The Lemon Tree and later joined Roy Woods Wizzard (see The Move).

Another member to join the Uglys who had strong Move connections was keyboard player Richard Tandy who also played on the Move’s Blackberry Way
and eventually joined the Electric Light Orchestra.

By the end of 1968, Steve Gibbons was the only remaining original member of The Uglys.
This final line-up also included Will Hammond, Dave Morgan, Keith Smart, and Richard Tandy. They recorded a projected single I’ve Seen The Light which was unfortunately never released officially – a demo copy recently sold for £1,200 !

Steve Gibbons teamed up with guitarist Trevor Burton from The Move in 1969
and by April of that year they had formed a new group called Balls along with singer/guitarist Denny Laine (formerly of the Moody Blues), and Uglys drummer Keith Smart. The project was relatively short lived and after recording a solo album,
Steve Gibbons joined a late line-up of the Idle Race which evolved into
the Steve Gibbons Band by the early 1970s.

This group had a hit record with the Chuck Berry song Tulane in 1976
as well as undertaking extensive touring in the USA.
Steve Gibbons continues to be very active musically around Birmingham to this day.

With Special Thanks to
Copyright -© John R Woodhouse
Brum Beat and Will Hammond for assistance in writing this bio.

Compiled by Keith Law