4th Jul, 2022

Music Matters - Legendary city drummer Harry Heppingstall heading to Coventry Music Museum

Coventry Editorial 7th Apr, 2022 Updated: 7th Apr, 2022

COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.

Harry Heppingstall

This Saturday (April 9) the Coventry Music Museum continues its core pledge to celebrate local musicians in the long running interview segment that we call Sounding Off.

This time, it’s the legendary drummer Harry Heppingstall, who has such a big story to tell that he will be promoting his superb new book ‘A Drummer’s Life’ on the day too. Harry has had a glittering career that continues to this day, although he will be best remembered as a member of the Hinckley beat combo The Matadors.

Formed out of the entry-level band, the Rapiers in 1961, who were one of the first bands in the area. By early 1962, they had re-branded themselves to The Matadors. Then The Beatles came and changed everything. Like the Beatles, they would often indulge in three-part harmony they ever got called the Midlands Beatles.

By 1966, The Matadors had got a chance to record a single with the legendary Joe Meek, who was a loose cannon, a changeling producer who had an original approach to sound techniques.

He had produced the first US number one by a British pop group namely Telstar by The Tornadoes.

Harry said: “We went down to Holloway Road, London, to his house he used as his recording studio.

“I found him arrogant and not over-friendly. Instead of a normal mixing desk, Meek had his in a stack and worked standing up, and he looked like a teddy boy.

“He fixed Dan Findley’s piano keys with paper and drawing pins to get the sound he wanted, everything was very experimental.

“I recall how very bossy he was – I put my drumsticks down at the end of a take and he shouted at me to pick my sticks up again,

“I’ll tell you when you can stop!”

The Matadors (or the Four Matadors as they were known at the time of this single), were not happy with Meek’s arrogance, the way he had delayed releasing the record and what he had done to it.

He had speeded the whole thing up, and the vocals just sounded far too high.

Its B-side was self-penned by the band Fast Cars and Money, as is the song they are most proud of.

Interestingly enough, it has a strong Status Quo 12-bar sound to it, long before Quo had adopted that style!

After internal wranglings with Joe Meek, the single was finally released by Columbia, and sold tremendously well locally, selling out in Jill Hansons, Coventry, in a matter of hours.

Sadly, Columbia never promoted it enough and the lads eventually left the inane world of Joe Meek.

Post Matadors Harry joined soul band Natural Gas and A Band Called George who signed to Bell Records and released the single ‘NCB Man’ and played drums in Lonnie Donegan tribute act ‘Paul Leegan and The Legends’.

On Saturday, he will tell the audience about all the many other bands he was part of and play some live music.

It starts at midday and runs until 1pm.

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