As THE VIBRATORS gear up for a tour-de-force show celebrating 40 years of the band, including appearances from the classic line ups, original guitarist John Ellis takes Vive Le Rock back to his formative days as an aspiring musician.
"I was a lover of music, the thing is probably my mum actually, she was a big Lonnie Donegan fan; every time we were on holiday, in places like Great Yarmouth, at that time bands used to play those kind of gigs, summer residences, on the pier. Cliff and the Shadows had been around a long time as well, so I saw Cliff and The Shadows do pantomime, so I was well into the twangy guitars! And also the Beatles were coming through when I was eleven or twelve, and that was pretty amazing. But prior to that I’d seen Lonnie Donegan live a few times.
"Now I teach blues guitar workshops and I’m a massive fan of the blues, it’s one of the main musics for me; but what I didn’t realise when I was a young man, eight or nine years old - and why would I have done - but I was actually witnessing the birth of the British blues boom. Lonnie Donegan was almost single handedly responsible for creating what you could call that blues revival, him and Alexis Corner, and those few people were responsible for bringing over those blues greats. And out of those little bands, you’ve got your Eric Claptons and your Jeff Becks and your Jimmy Pages. You’ve got your burgeoning birth of the British blues. And of course British blues went on to become rock music and then went on to become, eventually, punk and everything else.
"That was my background as a musician and I’d fiddled around with a guitar - my gran had bought me a guitar and everything. But I never really got into guitar (until) I started Bazooka Joe with my friend Daniel. You’re probably talking about ‘68, we were probably doing those Hampstead Town Hall gigs. After I left (Daniel) carried it on, so he’d have much more understanding of the history of the band, and of course Adam Ant became a member of Bazooka Joe - and the first ever Sex Pistols gig was supporting Bazooka Joe!"
The Vibrators play the O2 Academy Islington on February 27th.
John Ellis on Facebook