COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
IT IS with great sadness that I report the passing of another local musician Dave Colkin (88) of The Matadors. The band were actually from Hinckley, but due to their constant Coventry gigs, they were always classed as a Cov band (even winning the title of the Best Coventry Band).
Dave told me in an interview a few years ago: “The Beatles came and changed everything – the line-up was that of The Beatles, bass (Dave Colkin), lead (Neil Tyson) and rhythm (Dave Findlay) guitars and a drummer (Harry Heppingstall).
“We also shared the vocals like The Beatles and would often indulge in three-part harmony again like the Fab Four.
“We even got called the Midlands Beatles, though in our defence we were playing the same songs as them. We went to see The Beatles when they played at The Co-op Hall in Nuneaton October 1962 and we all turned to each other and declared that they were doing our act.”
It’s worth pointing out at this point that the Matadors, were not your average beat band.
Dave and the boys were a very professional unit that knew how to work an audience, they had a great stage presence and an exciting set-list. Their one and only single came out in 1966 (A Man’s Gotta Stand Tall / Fast Cars and Money) it was produced by the legendary Joe Meek.
Meek was a loose cannon, a changeling producer who had an original approach to sound recording.
He had produced the first US number one by a British pop group, namely Telstar by The Tornadoes.
He liked to experiment with sound – the easiest and most simple way was never an option for Meek.
Dave told me: “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.”
After internal wrangling 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, it never charted nationwide. However, it would set you back £100 to buy it now.
The lads continued doing what they did best, working as a jobbing band seven nights a week, supporting the likes of Matt Monroe.
They eventually split up, sadly Neil Tyson passed away. Dave Colkin carried on performing doing a wicked Elvis impersonation in places as diverse as Thailand and Tenerife.
Band mate Harry Heppingstall had this to say about his Dave: “He was a pioneer in the local rock ’n’ roll scene, initially in 1960 with The Rapiers, who later became The Matadors.
“For the next six years, we travelled together all over the UK, very often playing six or seven nights-a-week, sharing the stage with stars Little Richard, Gene Vincent and the 16-year-old Stevie Wonder.
“Dave was an important part of the show and so many will be sad that he has gone.”
Dave was a great musician and a top human being, I and lots more people will miss him.