TEGAS, or to give the full name The Electric Guitar Appreciation Society of Great Britain, was founded in 2001 by three seasoned professional musicians from Leicestershire – John Williams on guitar, Trevor Hilton on bass and Malcolm Phillips, drums.
These people had served their time in different pro outfits playing with the likes of Bobby Vee, Del Shannon, and members of John Barry’s Orchestra (remember Thunderbirds Are Go?).
This was the main house band line-up, though for several months Andrej Zivanic helped out on bass and guitar, and they staged open mic sessions.
While free and easy, open mics were not a new concept. Typically, a band might run an extra gig a week as an open mic. But in many ways, TEGAS and its members were way ahead of their time.
Back in 2003, TEGAS had the oldest playing rock ‘n’ roll band The Rolling Crones, featuring then oldest member Bob Allen who took up the bass aged 80. This was four years before the BBC put together The Zimmers to highlight the issues around older people.
Dave Whitmore was in a motorcycle accident, unconscious for three weeks, declared dead, but then he came back to life. And the goal of Dave Whitmore was to learn and play Apache.
When BBC Radio broadcast the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar alongside Strat alumni Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, they had TEGAS member Dave Whitmore play it instead of Shadows’ Hank Marvin.
The great news is Dave has been tracked down, and he will be playing Apache one more time at the TEGAS reunion event at the end of January, alongside other society members celebrating the classic decades of popular music from the 50s to the noughties.
By 2004 in June alone there were 16 society nights that month, across not just one location, but Nuneaton (Nags Head/Cock and Bear), Hinckley (Clarendon Club/ Beavers Bar), Coventry (Ex-Servicemens Club and Devonshire Arms) Birmingham (Land Rover Club and Harvester/Dingle) and even Swadlincote/South Derbyshire at The Angel.
Many people from age five through to 80 either got up to play for the first time, or the first time in a long time. Friendships were formed, bands were formed.
Members included locals through to celebrities through the Tegas Plectrum collection – even having one former British Prime Minister as a member.
2019 is the 40th anniversary of The Specials and the 2-Tone legacy. While Tegas wasn’t The Specials, it sure was special to so many – and its legacy continues.
The TEGAS Reunion is on Sunday January 27 at The Coundon Social Club, Shorncliffe Road, Coventry.
Unique unseen Delia pictures at the museum
This year, amongst all the 2-Tone celebrations, there will be items on show that will be of interest to Delia Derbyshire fans.
The museum has been gifted (by two separate ladies), unseen original photos of the electronic music pioneer as a child in Cedars Avenue.
The pictures show Delia at Christ The King Junior School at her eleventh birthday party in 1948 with her guests including Betty West who kindly donated this picture to us. On the reverse is Delia’s own handwriting thanking each person for coming.
Other photos include Delia and her sister Benita as they are confirmed at Christ The King. Benita passed away at the age of five. These photos were donated by Barbara Yannall.