News / History Page
Like many teenagers in
the 1950s, the lure of the new rock 'n' roll and
skiffle music caused him to move from the piano to
the guitar. Bev started his guitar days with his
pals in a four-piece skiffle group called "The
Nomads". They participated in the National Skiffle
Contest at Aston Hippodrome in December 1957 which
had Jim Dale and the Vipers Skiffle Group topping
the bill. Shortly afterwards their repertoire took
in a lot of rock 'n' roll songs plus several chart
standards of the late 1950s. As a result, the group
changed its name to "The Rhythmaires". During 1958
bookings increased and they had regular weekly gigs
at Halesowen British Legion and Evesham Public Hall
to name a few. Bev was keen to improve his guitar
playing and soon became influenced by the jazz
guitar work of Django Reinhardt and Eddie Lang.
Around July 1960 Bev met the young and wonderful jazz
pianist Duncan Swift who had just moved from Rotherham
into the Stourbridge area with his parents. Bev
consequently became heavily involved in the jazz world
playing trio gigs with Duncan and forming their first
traditional jazz band "The Blue Blood Jazzmen" together
with Rick Vaughan. The band commenced a weekly Saturday
night gig at Stourport Boat Club from April 1961. The
place was packed every week and the club was very
successful. Word got around that Bev was a useful guitar
player and an offer to go professional with Bill Niles'
Delta Jazzmen was tempting, but Bev decided to keep his
proper daytime job in the engineering industry and remain
a semi-pro musician. Local Bands such as "George Huxley's
New Orleans Jazzmen" and "The Second City Jazzmen" booked
Bev as a dep whenever their regular guitarist or banjo
player was away. By Autumn 1963 Ken Rattenbury invited Bev
to join his band to which Bev was more than happy to
accept. Ken was one of the best trumpeters and jazz
musicians in the UK and regularly hosted and supported
some of the world's finest jazz stars, besides being a
bank manager during the daytime. Various Midlands dance
band leaders such as Brian Pearsall, Sonny Rose and also
Norman Nankervis also began booking Bev at dance venues
and dinner dances mainly because there were not that many
guitarists around who could play and sing both jazz and
rock 'n' roll which had suddenly become in vogue again
following the popularity of "The Beatles". Bev appeared on
TV with "The Dave Taplin Quintet" and also played his
banjo on a TV commercial for Dudley Zoo during the latter
part of 1964.
Bev got married and started a family in the mid-1960s and
was also very busy with his daytime job. Consequently, he
ceased virtually all of his gig commitments to concentrate
on his priorities. During this period, to satisfy his
musical hobby, Bev converted his garage at home into a
basic recording studio. Many recordings and LPs were
subsequently produced there with folks such as Clifford T
Ward and also high-profile folk performer Dave Cartwright
doing all of their early demos there. One memorable
recording was for Ken Rattenbury who had fixed a short
notice session at The Crown and Cushion, Perry Barr,
Birmingham on Saturday 23rd June 1969. The reason for this
was due to the legendary American trombonist Bill Rank, at
that time, 65 years of age being in Birmingham and
agreeing to play with Ken's band for a one-off recording
which included Bev on guitar. Bill Rank was well known in
the 1920s for playing alongside the wonderful Bix
Beiderbecke and later the famous Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
Dave Cartwright's "Middle of the Road" was the first LP to
come out of Bev's small studio in 1970. This led to Dave
being signed to the Transatlantic label where several
albums of his were released.
Bev was also a regular at the "Gentlefolk" folk club at
The Navigation Inn, Wootton Wawen, near Stratford-on-Avon
appearing with his five-piece folk band or solo on many
occasions alongside top names in the folk world at that
time. Organisers John Starkey and Bob Hill ran this very
popular club. John Starkey together with Jasper Carrott
had an agency named "Fingimigig" who also found Bev a few
folk gigs here and there.
During this period Bev was involved in several recording
sessions with Clifford T Ward's group and in 1972 he was
playing bass guitar and singing backing vocals on Clifford
T Ward's first album "Singer Songwriter" recorded at The
Marquee Studios off Dean Street, Soho for John Peel and
Clive Selwood's "Dandelion" label.
Bev's daytime business commitments made it impossible for
him to be involved with further Clifford T Ward recording
sessions in London. Instead he continued with his home
studio weekly evening sessions with various musical
friends producing several LPs in the folk / pop style with
several well-known and soon to be famous folk dropping in
regularly such as Bob Williamson, Pete Atkin and world
number one rock vocalist at that time, Led Zeppelin's
Robert Plant to name just a few.
As a matter of interest, Bev's LPs from 1975 onwards were
all mastered by ex-"Fourmost" member George Peckham who
had previously mastered most of The Beatles albums at
Apple studios before starting his own "The Master Room"
business in Mortimer Street, London. All of these LPs
apart from "The Foundry Ditty and the Industrial Air" had
a limited number of pressings between 50 and 99 off. As a
result, these albums have become valuable to record
collectors. A glance at "The Record Collector Rare Record
Guide" would verify this.
From May 1969, Bev joined the newly opened Stourbridge
Lawn Tennis Club and became a keen tennis playing member.
During August 1970 Bev and a few friends put on a
successful comedy night at the club. As a result, Bev
organised various entertainment evenings on a regular
basis such as comedy nights and folk nights, including on
the appearance on one occasion of Jasper Carrott who
entertained for a fee of £40.00 back in August 1972
alongside Bev. In August 1978 Bev was asked if he could
provide a band for a forthcoming function at the club. As
a result, "Bev Pegg and his Rock 'n' Roll Band" were up
and rolling on Friday 29th September 1978. Following this
gig, such was the demand, they performed at least every
year at the club right up to 2017.
Bev's rock 'n'roll band performed weekend gigs all around
the Midlands during the early 1980s. He was invited to do
a few solo song and comedy spots in the twice yearly "Hi
Society" variety shows during September 1982. This was
followed by number one Black Country comedian Tommy Mundon
offering Bev several gigs with his Black Country variety
shows at local venues. As a result Bev's gigs evolved into
50% band and 50% solo comedy right through the 1980s. Bev
recalls a nice gig in Birmingham as support artist for the
talented Jake Thackery who he found to be a lovely and
During late 1989 Bev's band hosted a couple of gigs at
Arley Village Hall in October and Kinver Community Centre
in December where they were flattered to be joined by
Robert Plant who did cameo spots with the band. The band
also appeared as support to the Syd Lawrence Orchestra at
Stourbridge Town Hall during November.
Bev's rock 'n' roll and comedy gigs carried on during the
early 1990s. There were several memorable gigs during this
decade such as at Arley Village Hall where Stan Webb of
"Chicken Shack" stepped on stage and did a few numbers
with the band. Another was at Kinver where ex-Buddy Holly
& the Crickets member Sonny Curtis appeared with
Hogan's Heroes plus Dandy and also Bev's group. Sonny came
over fron the USA again three years later in 1993 and
appeared alongside Kelvin Henderson plus Dandy plus Bev's
Rock 'n' Roll Band.
Bev's annual Stourbridge Tennis Club gigs continued
featuring top Black Country comedians such as Tommy
Mundon, Lee Wilson, Reg Keirle, Dandy, Colin Dennis and
Aynuk & Ali appearing alongside Bev's band. The band
was honoured several times by the presence of Robert Plant
plus Kevyn Gammond doing batches of songs with them.
There were a series of "Here Comes Summer" variety shows
at Brierley Hill Civic Hall where "Bev Pegg & his Rock
'n' Roll Band" hosted Tommy Mundon, Dandy, Dave
Cartwright, Giggetty and Marlene to packed houses.
A significant event occurred on Saturday 3rd May 1997.
Bev's good friend Duncan Swift was unwell. This prompted
Bev with the desire to record a vocal album with an
eight-piece traditional jazz band made up from many of his
old friends from his jazz days of the early 1960s. Duncan
was the intended pianist but unfortunately, his illness
became worse and Bev consequently secured another good
friend, pianist Ken Freeman to replace him. Duncan sadly
died three months later. The recording of 12 songs was
completed by P.E.K. Sounds in just over three hours such
was the excellent musicianship of the bandsmen. A casual
comment afterwards by trombonist Derek Halford, "That was
pretty good. We ought to get some gigs with this band!"
caused Bev to start thinking about this.
More of Bev's comedy and rock 'n' roll gigs followed at
Bewdley High School in November 1997 where Bev was booked
by Robert Plant to take his Stourbridge Tennis Club format
over to Bewdley. Robert, Kevyn and a group of mainly
Kiddermister College lads played the interval whilst Tommy
Mundon and Bev's Band provided the comedy and rock 'n'
Taking Derek Halford's advice, Bev took the plunge and
organised the first ever gig with his "Good Time Jazz
Gang" at Hagley Community Centre on 3rd October 1998. Word
got around and the hall was packed with folks. After costs
were met, the proceeds went to Sunfield Homes in Clent.
This was the start of what was to become an annual charity
fund raising gig for various charities.
Another interesting event took place on 11th October 1998
when Bev helped to organise most of the original Clifford
T Ward band to perform at the Clifford T Ward Convention
in Kidderminster. Clifford himself was present to enjoy
Derek Thomas, Terry Clarke, Ken Wright, Terry Edwards, Bev
plus a couple of Bev's band mates Harry Rowlands and Brian
Godwin making up the number. A nice catch-up for all.
Two more Robert Plant / Bev Pegg gigs at Bewdley followed
in 1998 and 1999, the latter being one of, if not the
first gig of Robert's "Priory of Brion" group. Reg Keirle
provided the comedy for the '98 gig whilst Dandy performed
at the '99 evening.
During 1999, "Bittersweet" a biography of Clifford T Ward
written by Dave Cartwright was published. It is a much
sought-after book today with a premium price being
demanded by sellers. In the book, Dave refers to Ken
Wright who has drummed alongside Bev in his bands since
1961 and was on Clifford's first four or five albums a "An
"A" class drummer with style, flair and imagination. One
who listens." Dave refers to Bev as follows: "Bev, however
is irrepressible. He continues to gig wherever and
whenever possible; jazz, folk, joke, rock 'n' roll. As
keen and as able as ever, an all-enduring enthusiast. The
Gigs continued as before around the Midlands including
the regular rock 'n' comedy shows at Stourbridge Lawn
Tennis and Squash Club, Jazz at Hagley Community Centre,
many Black Country comedy nights plus one further Bewdley
rock 'n' comedy night with Robert Plant flying back from
his world tour in Eastern Europe to sing a few numbers
with the band for the crowd.
On 23rd June 2001 Bev made his debut at The Upton Jazz
Festival with his four-piece group which was well
On 9th April 2001, Bev's old bandleader Ken Rattenbury
died. As a result, a memorial gig took place in Stafford
on 7th April 2002 featuring jazz musicians such as Digby
Fairweather, Sticky Wicket, Joe Lees, Brian Casson and Bev
to name just a few. Also during 2002, The Rotary Club of
Stourbridge took over the organising of Bev's Charity Jazz
Nights in Hagley which proved to be a most successful move
for both parties.
Bev appeared at The Upton Jazz Festival in solo mode
during 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 doing short songs and
stories sessions between various band's appearances.
During Autumn 2004 Bev was hired to play lead guitar with
Giggetty for the Black Country Night Out Tour of Midlands
Bev was given the job of doing a comedy spot and also
being MC for the very first "Lady Chainmaker's Festival"
that was held at The Black Country Living Museum. He wrote
a song dedicated to Mary Macarthur which he performed
there. A newly formed eleven-piece folk band named
"Bellowhead" appeared at this event. "Bellowhead" would
soon achieve considerable fame and their 2012 album
"Broadside" reached number one in the UK Independent
Charts and sixteen in the UK official album charts.
During January 2004 and January 2005 at Stourbridge Lawn
Tennis and Squash Club, Bev's band again had the pleasure
of Robert Plant doing a spot with them. In fact, in the
official biography "Robert Plant, A Life" by Paul Rees,
there is a photograph of him singing with Bev's band from
the 2004 gig.
During 2006, Bev's Good Time Jazz Gang Show toured several
Midlands theatres and during June appeared at The Upton
Jazz Festival together with two extra gigs for Bev's newly
formed "Railroad Skiffle Group" at the festival. Doing a
gig at Astley and Dunley Village Hall, organiser Mike
Jones announced Bev's band stating that the crowd will be
getting two for the price of one. They will be getting a
comedy act plus a great band all in one night.
With Bev now retired from his daytime engineering job,
gigs with his various line-ups were increasing
On 13th August 2008, another band was formed. This time
it was "Bev Pegg and his Cowboy Band". A six-piece outfit
appearing at Hagley Community Centre with the generous
backing and organising of The Rotary Club of Stourbridge
from which more funds were raised for charity in the
process. These Cowboy Band gigs became an annual
springtime event for several years ahead and also
attracted bookings from around the area.
With both Duncan Swift and Rick Vaughan passing away, Bev
decided to hold a "Severnside Jazz Club Reunion" during
June 2009 at Stourport Boat Club (before it got too late).
This was 48 years after the club started back in 1961.
Many of their musicians who played with the band were
there to join in plus a large crowd of folks who used to
spend every Saturday night there during the early 1960s
making it a lovely night to remember. The surplus funds
from the event came to £341.00 which was donated to The
British Heart Foundation.
Alan Watkiss of UK Country Radio chose Bev and his Cowboy
Band to be the Spotlight UK Artist during the early
October 2009 Show, playing many of the tracks from their
latest album "Come Along Boys and Listen to My Tale".
Bev's diary was pretty busy during this decade, appearing
with his many types of bands plus doing solo gigs or
fronting local bands in various parts of the UK from
Salcombe to Colchester to North Yorkshire to Liverpool and
also appearing at many Black Country Nights with Tommy
Mundon and his friends. The annual Hagley Jazz and Cowboy
gigs continued as did the Stourbridge Lawn Tennis and
Squash Club and Blakedown Parish Rooms Rock 'n' Roll
Nights, and also the annual jazz and skiffle appearances
at The Upton Jazz Festival. From 2011 to 2013 Bev's Good
Time Jazz Gang were given the late Sunday night slot at
the Upton Jazz Festival to ensure that the crowds stayed
until the end of the festival. All three of these annual
sessions were crammed with folks as can be seen from
various videos on You Tube. From 2014, the bands organiser
of the festival changed and obviously new bands and groups
were introduced to the festival. Meanwhile during 2013 Bev
released another folk music album. His first since 1980.
This was followed by Bev appearing at TheWoodman Folk Club
in Kingswinford. Things went well with Bev and his two
mates Pete Hartley-violin / mandolin and John
O'Connor-double bass, an consequently Bev did the clubs
annual summer season closing gigs right up to 2017. From
this, other folk gigs entered the diary widening the
spread of musical genres plus stories even more.
In 2015, Bev's "Blue Blood Jazzmen" dating back to the
1960s was reformed to provide gospel jazz songs at The
Upton Jazz Festival Church Service. This carried on every
year right up to 2019. Bev's seven-piece Good Time Jazz
Gang was back at the festival in 2018 apparently following
completed questionnaires from the previous year's
programme buyers requesting that Bev's full band show was
included once more.
Bev's general gigs were in abundance comprising of Jazz,
Rock 'n' Roll, Skiffle, Cowboy, Black Country Comedy,
Folk, Corporate After-Dinner functions, Wedding
Anniversaries, Birthday Parties at a wide range of venues
and village halls. This was together with his CD tracks
being played on various local radio stations all around
the UK including interviews etc.
During Autumn 2017 Bev appeared for just one season once
more on the Black Country Night Out Show at various
theatres around the Midlands appearing alongside comedians
Ian "Sludge" Lees and Dandy.
At the end of 2018, Bev made a big decision to make 2019
his final year of organising, leading and playing in
various bands. He had been doing band gigs for sixty-two
years since he started gigging in 1957 and felt that he
would rather get out while things were going well than
just carrying on past as he puts it, his "sell-by" date.
He is still gigging but purely as a solo performer from
2020 onwards. He also still has his recording studio at
home where new songs and recordings are being worked on
daily, consequently music is still all around him. His CDs
are purchased as far away as the USA, Spain and Italy and
are available online for various collectors.
Bev's final gig with his "Good Time Jazz Gang" was held at
Hagley Community Centre on Saturday 26th October 2019,
once more being organised by The Rotary Club of
Stourbridge who have raised approximately £25,000 for
various charities from these annual events over the years,
plus a further £4,500 raised by Bev and other
organisations from these jazz nights, plus another £6,000
raised by Ken Cowdry's rock 'n' roll events featuring
Bev has played alongside world famous musicians too
numerous to mention. Bev has always had the pleasure of
having top musicians playing in his various bands. He was
always aware of the advice given to him by an experienced
professional musician during his younger days that "Your
band is only as good as the weakest player in it".
2020: Here we come!
You Tube Videos:
There are currently over 250 various videos on You Tube
of Bev and his various bands in live action at various
gigs. There are also several songs such as "The Cradley
Heath Song", "The Clent Song", "Song of the Soch",
"Halesowen '57" and "Strictly Business" comprising of a
soundtrack and many nostalgic pictures relating to each
song. Also, there are a couple of "snippets" of Bev
jamming at The "Didmarton Bluegrass Highlights 2010"
video. There are also videos of Bev's Good Time Jazz Gang
playing in the Sid Pearman video of the Upton Jazz
Festival, and also Bev's Railroad Skiffle Group playing
amongst other bands on his Bromyard Music Festival video.
Alongside Bev's musical and business activities is his
sporting life. During his late teens and early twenties,
he played soccer in the Birmingham AFA League. // Taking
up tennis during his late twenties, he represented and
later captained Stourbridge Lawn Tennis and Squash Club
playing in the top division of the Hereford and
Worcestershire League. He was runner up in the Hereford
and Worcester Over 45 Tennis County Championships in 1986.
He represented the County during the late 1990s in the
Over 55 Team. He won the Hagley Tennis Club title at the
ripe old age of 58, beating the 19 year old favourite! //
He captained Hagley Squash Club in the Hereford and
Worcester Squash League, winning several club awards
during the 1970s and 80s. He narrowly lost to the ultimate
winner of the Over 45's title, in the 1986 Hereford and
Worcester County Squash Championships. // Bev ran the
marathon in 1986 in the time of 3 hours 54 minutes. // Bev
won the over 65s Hereford and Worcestershire County Tennis
Singles Championship on 20th September 2008 at Manor Park
Tennis Club, Malvern. The tournament was based on a
"one-set shoot out" round robin system with each player
playing about four 1-set matches during the day. Bev
beat Andrew Saunders 6-3 in the final to take the title.
// Bev won the over 60s Worcestershire County Racketball
Championship at Redditch on 28th March 2010, beating John
Bromley 3-0 in the final. // Bev won the West Midlands
over 65's Racketball Championships on 6th March 2011
beating George Garner 3-1 in the final. // Bev's
Racketball goal was finally achieved on 6th May 2012.
Seeded number one for the Over 70's category, he beat Rod
Embley 3-1 in the quarter-final, Chris Isaacs 3-1 in the
Semi-final, and George Alpin 3-2 in the final to take the
UK National title. //Bev was unable to defend his title in
2013 due to the date clashing with his band playing at The
Upton Jazz Festival. However he entered the National
Championships once more on weekend 20th - 22nd June 2014
as number one seed. The draw included 5 ex-national
champions at previous over 60s / 65s and 70s categories.
He beat Roger Middleton from Sussex 3-0 in the
quarter-final, Chris Isaacs 3-1 in the semi-final and
narrowly beat current champion Rod Embley 3-2 (11-8, 7-11,
11-3, 13-15, 11-6) in the final to regain the Over 70s
Bev retired from tennis around 2010 and from racketball
during 2014 mainly due to an aching hip being caused by
many years of competetive tennis, squash, running and
racketball. He currently keeps in shape by working out 3-4
days per week in his local gym. ///
Contact Bev Pegg on...
Telephone: 01562 883493
Mobile: 07979 917374
(Alternative Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
12, Woodchester, Hagley, Stourbridge, West Midlands