MUSIC MATTERS: Remembering top bloke and great musician Phil Packham - The Coventry Observer

12th Aug, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS: Remembering top bloke and great musician Phil Packham

Editorial Correspondent 13th Oct, 2018 Updated: 19th Nov, 2018

Phil Packham

It’s with massive sadness that I have to report the passing of top bloke and great musician Phil Packham.

Phil joined one of Coventry’s first rock bands The Vampires in 1962, alongside Ron Cooke on bass, Alan Palmer on drums, Johnny Buggins and Robin Bailey on guitars and Vince Martin on vocals, knocking out the classics of the time like Blue Suede Shoes, Great Balls Of Fire and Don’t Be Cruel.

Phil went on to join Coventry’s first charting band The Sorrows playing bass. with former Hawkes vocalist Don Maughn (Fardon), Pip Witcher lead guitar, plus Bruce Finlay drums and Terry Jukes rhythm guitar.

From having secured a residency at The Pilot in Radford and even playing at Highfield Road, they were eventually spotted in 1964 by Picadilly label manager John Schroeder, and duly signed.

Phil soon settled into the pop star life, playing all over, including TV’s Ready Steady Go, but a hit single alluded them.

That was until the single Take A Heart. Originally written by Miki Dallon (aka Mickey Tinsley) for a band called The Boys Blue, The Sorrows took it on and produced an original piece of blues with a rare foreboding quality.

An appearance in 1965 on TV’s Ready Steady Go saw the single rise to number 21 in the UK charts, no small part to Phil’s driving bass-line that energised the whole sound of the song.

At last, a Coventry beat band had made the UK top 30 singles chart, Phil and the boys were in demand, and their songs were hits in mainland Europe, especially Italy and Germany where foreign language versions were recorded (Take A Heart became Mis Si Spezza Il Cuore in Italian and Nimm Mein Herz in German). Even pre-Slade combo The ‘N’ Betweens had a shot at it for a French release.

Phil and the Sorrows did all the shows around. Easy Beat, Ready Steady Go, Top of the Pops, For Teenagers Only, Screen at Six Thirty.

Phil eventually left the high life in 1966, but would often take part in Sorrows reunions, and was still playing in the band in 2013. It won’t ever be the same without him.

The following Sorrows Trivia was once provided by Phil…

“Pip’s mum called us a sorrowful lot when practising – hence the name “Sorrows”.

“The name Sorrows was covered up on the drum kit as we played at a wedding in London’s Savoy Hotel.

“I signed an autograph book for a girl in 1963 at the Coventry Theatre. I married her in 1966.

“Pip smashed a guitar to pieces at a Theatre gig while tuning up, because we would not be quiet. Luckily a girl in the audience had one at home and the show went on.”

We’ll Live and Die In These Towns, Belgrade B2

When I first heard there was to be an Enemy-inspired production involving Tom Clarke written by Geoff Thompson, I thought that between them these Coventry icons would create something very introspective and very special.

That was around two years ago and last week, all was revealed and with the direction of Hamish Glenn We’ll Live and Die In These Towns proved to be everything I hoped for and plenty more.

Some musical productions have the habit of including songs that are seemingly squeezed in for effect, resulting into a less than pleasant flow to the whole thing. No such worries here, We’ll Live and Die In These Towns flows so very naturally, as Tom Clarke himself said, “He never wants the songs just to appear out of nowhere”.

Through clever scripting and amazing acting, it works like a charm. Each character is multidimensional, you know someone like this, maybe you are like this.

I was engrossed from the very start, clever dialogue making every word count (a Geoff Thompson trait of course). Then there are those classic Tom Clarke songs, we have lived with them since 2007, yet tonight, they finally made sense, almost like they were waiting to be part of this play to really come alive, not just a random playlist, but a wonderful soundtrack to a Coventry moment in time.

If you get a chance, please go and see it as it ends very soon. Be prepared to be taken on a wonderful journey, be prepared to move to the songs, steady yourself at the plotline twist, and let yourself smile at the sheer brilliance of it all. Gets a five out of five any day from me.

Album Day

This Saturday October 13, it’s National Album Day, and the vinyl LP is 70 years old.

At the Coventry Music Museum, we reveal what three Coventry albums our visitors have voted for.

Gary Jackson will play his tribute to Coventry music in an acoustic set and in a special Sounding Off, I will be discussing with Nigel Fletcher (Lieutenant Pigeon), Sarah Sekula (manager of HMV Coventry) and Dave Gordon (Broadcaster & Record seller & Collector).

We will all be inviting the audience to bring along their favourite LP (it can be any genre and non-Coventry connected) and join in on the debate.

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