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The Rockin' Berries

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The origins of the band go back to the late 1950’s when Brian “Chuck” Botfield (born 14 November 1943, Birmingham), and Geoff Turton (born 11 March 1944, Birmingham), met while attending Turves Green School and playing clarinet in the school band. Chuck Botfield later went to Moseley College of Art where he formed a skiffle group with fellow Turves Green school-mate Tim Munns who played bass guitar along with guitarist Bob Bates, drummer Barry Taylor, and piano player Christine Perfect from Bearwood who would become a well known blues singer in the later 1960’s - she eventually became Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac (see Chicken Shack). The group was originally called “The Bobcats” and later the “Rockin’ Berries” as they played a lot of Chuck Berry songs and their first booking was at the Cofton Community Centre in Longbridge.

Singer Paul Hewitt and guitarist Doug Thompson who both worked at the Austin Motors were putting together their own group in 1959 along with drummer Terry Bond (born 22 March 1943, Birmingham) and bass guitarist Mark Johnson. In search of a good lead guitarist, they learned that the Rockin’ Berries were disbanding and so invited Chuck Botfield to join them. Botfield agreed providing that the new group would also call themselves the Rockin’ Berries. Doug Thompson made a deal with the owners of the disused Palace Theatre in Redditch that the Rockin’ Berries would play there and keep the door takings in return for cleaning the place up. The arrangement proved so successful that The Rockin’ Berries started playing there regularly along with many other local groups.

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