Shard End, Birmingham

The Andicaps in 1963

Jeff Lynne guitar (left in 1965)
Rob Reader bass guitar (left in 1964)
Dave Walsh drums (left in 1964)
Dave Watson guitar
John Kerton
lead vocal (joined in 1964)
Kevin “Kex” Gorin drums (joined in 1964)
Dave Merrick bass guitar (joined 1964 – left 1966)
William Watson harmonica (joined 1964 – left 1965)
Jake Commander guitar (joined in 1965)
Malcolm Garner bass guitar (joined in 1966)
Mike Heard lead guitar (joined in 1966)

The Andicaps were formed in early 1963 by four teenagers
who lived in the Shard End area of Birmingham.
Bass guitarist Robert Reader and drummer David Walsh were both pupils at
Alderlea Boys Secondary School.
The guitarists David Watson and Jeffrey Lynne both lived on Shard End Crescent.

Jeff Lynne was born in Birmingham on December 30, 1947
and lived with his parents in a council house at 368 Shard End Crescent.
While a schoolboy, Jeff went to a Del Shannon concert at Birmingham Town Hall
and was so impressed, that joining a band became his main ambition.
Roy Orbison was another early influence on the young Jeff Lynne as well as
Chuck Berry, The Shadows and later of course, The Beatles.
Jeff’s natural talent for music enabled him to master the piano and guitar
and he spent many hours practicing in the front room of his parents house
as well as making recordings and experimenting using an old tape recorder.
This early experience in home recording would prove valuable later in his career.

Jeff Lynne

Jeff, Rob and Dave first got together playing Spanish guitars before purchasing cheap electric instruments.
What the line-up lacked in financial resources, they certainly made up for in enthusiasm.
The band was originally called “The Rockin’ Hellcats” but Dave Walsh
(who had only a drummer’s practice pad) had to save up for a set of drums
which resulted in his idea to re-name the group “The Handicaps”.
This was wisely amended to “The Andicaps” and so avoid offending those with a physical disability.

The Andicaps rehearsed regularly at the Shard End Community Centre
and it was there where Dave Walsh’s dad got them their first gig to play at a dance
for which the band was paid the sum of five pounds.
The Andicaps were well received so ended up playing there every Friday
. At this time, the band performed only instrumental numbers by groups such as The Shadows.
Jeff Lynne at that time did not have the confidence to sing in front of an audience
and in any case, the band could not afford their own PA system.

Dave Walsh remembers; “The Harlequin Pub was roughly halfway between my house and Jeff’s.
The Modernaires were the resident band and many other groups also played there on Tuesday nights.
All the Andicaps were too young to get in so me and Jeff would hang around the doors
outside immediately adjacent to the bandstand and were able to get a good listen.
It also afforded the opportunity to talk to the bands when they loaded and unloaded their gear into the pub.
We were soon able to blag our way in and always stood ‘nerdlike’ right in front of the band
so Jeff could see what “Mo” (Maurice Jones) was playing on lead and I could drool
over the subtleties and completely effortless relaxed style of Tony Finnister’s playing”.
The Andicaps

It was during his time with the Andicaps that Jeff Lynne first started to write songs.
One of his early efforts was an instrumental number written for the band entitled
Andicapped but even at this early stage, Jeff showed an interest in classical compositions.
The Andicaps performed a version of Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake
as an up-tempo arrangement apparently entitled “Saturday Night At The Duck Pond” –
probably the same as The Cougars record that reached the charts in 1963.
However, the Andicaps’ performances featured mostly songs that were hit records
played on the radio at the time.
By now, The Shadows had been replaced by The Beatles as Jeff Lynne’s favourite band
so many of their songs were incorporated into the Andicaps’ shows.
A lead singer was now considered an essential part of the band so John Kerton was enlisted as vocalist.
The Andicaps started to play many more gigs around Birmingham which included weekly bookings
at the Regal Cinema in Handsworth where they played sets in between the Saturday matinee shows.

As with many amateur bands who formed at a young age, there was some pressure
after leaving school to find “real” jobs. Dave Walsh left the Andicaps in 1964.
According to Dave; “Jeff and I were always falling out (nothing new there!)
and I was propositioned to join The Boulevards who were rightly regarded as the best band
on the Shard End/Kinghurst estate”. Dave later helped to form the Brum band Second City Sound
who had a hit record in 1966 with the classically-styled Tchaikovsky One.

Jeff Lynne soon brought in Kevin “Kex” Gorin on drums and Dave Merrick as bass guitarist
to replace Rob Reader who was also leaving. Dave Watson’s brother Willie joined the Andicaps
for a short time as harmonica player which gave the band a more blues-based sound.
Despite winning second place at a local competition for “Band of The Year”,
Jeff Lynne had musical ambitions that lay beyond what the Andicaps provided
and longed to turn “pro” with an established band. It was to this aim that Jeff left the Andicaps
at the end of 1964 and joined a well known local group called The Chads (see The Sundowners)
as replacement for their departing lead guitarist Mick Adkins.

The Andicaps voted to carry on, so after enlisting Jake Commander
to replace Jeff Lynne on lead guitar, they got a proper manager
and started undertaking many more bookings. The band went over to Germany in May of 1966
with their van having a large Union Jack painted on it. John Kerton recalls;
“In Germany we watched England win the World Cup before we went on stage.
Lucky for us we did not get beaten up!”.
The Andicaps also visited Lapland in 1966 becoming only the second British group to perform there.

The Andicaps

As well as headlining, the Andicaps also opened up for and supported many famous bands
and performers who were big at the time.
Despite the large amount of bookings undertaken by the band, lead vocalist
John Kerton left the group in 1967.
By this time, the pop music scene was undergoing some radical changes.
Bass guitarist Dave Merrick left the Andicaps and was replaced by Malcolm Garner.
Jake Commander also went and was replaced by Mike Heard from the John Bull Breed.
Within a year, the remaining Andicaps also decided it was time to explore new musical avenues
and the group disbanded.

Dave Watson left music to become a successful commercial artist and advertising director.
Kex Gorin went on to play drums in the well-known Brum band Magnum whose first album
was produced by his former Andicaps bandmate Jake Commander.
Jake would also work for the Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.) in the 1970s
under supervision of former Andicaps leader Jeff Lynne.
Malcolm Garner joined the Jasper Stubbs Gloryland Band and later joined The Exception.
Original Andicaps drummer Dave Walsh after his time with the Second City Sound,
went to live in the USA where he now works as an airline pilot.
John Kerton fronted the successful U.K. function band Red Sun who were the resident band
at the Birmingham Locarno for eight years.
He then went on to become band-leader on the luxury ocean liner Q.E.2.
These days, John is Director of his own company JLP Events in the U.K.

Jeff Lynne, after his time with The Chads, joined Birmingham’s legendary Nightriders
who became the psychedelically-styled Idle Race in 1967.
From there, he went on to join Roy Wood in The Move. By 1972,
The Move had evolved into the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and fronted by Jeff Lynne,
they became one of the most successful British bands of the 1970s.
Jeff’s many other musical accomplishments are beyond the scope of this forum,
and can be sources on the internet

With Special Thanks to
Brum Beat
Copyright © John R Woodhouse
and to John Kerton, Dave Walsh, and Jake Commander
for assistance in preparing the Andicaps biography

Compiled by Keith Law