The Wimple Winch Story


The band was formed out of the ashes of Just 4 Men when Parlophone dropped their option to re-sign us, Bassist Kieth Sheppard left and our management & agency kept overlooking our requirements and left us to fend for ourselves. The priority was to find another bassist and get gigging again a.s.a.p otherwise we would starve,and so the search was on!. We started auditioning for a new Bass player immediately and although we auditioned a few guys, none of us were really happy with the standard but after a few failures Barry Ashall turned up and gave us a sample of what he could do. He was really good, and his style was excellent and we had no hesitation in asking him to complete the quartet and we were back in business.

We had only done a few gigs when we met our future manager, Mike Carr, who was in the process of opening a venue in Stockport and as I had knew him from school days the rapport was good and after a discussion amongst ourselves we teamed up with him and began to help get the club ready for an earlier opening. In return we acquired regular gigs at the club, although when Mike announced he was calling it – The Sinking Ship – I did feel a slight foreboding that it was a name tempting providence.

However the address Royal Oak Yard had a ring to it, and having office and flat space above it meant we could keep all the business side of things under 1 roof and a big bonus was we could use the place whenever it was closed for rehearsals if we wanted. So with a guarantee of at least 1 gig a week when we weren’t booked anywhere else, and a regular cost free place for practising, living space above and an office to tout for gigs from it looked like we had turned another corner!

Hendrix and the Winch

Despite our appearances rapidly starting to attract punters to the club, it seemed a good idea to try and book a major chart act to really launch the place, however acts that were even reasonably ‘famous’ were charging prohibitive fees for an appearance.

However, one agent we knew suggested a ‘new’ band who were due to have the first single released and proposed a deal whereby although a basic affordable fee was agreed, that fee would increase if the record charted and continue to rise dependant on it’s chart position when the band appeared at the club. At first, Mike Carr was worried that he should have spent more on a ‘name’ but several weeks later. ‘Hey Joe’ was in the top 10 and so to a full house, Wimple Winch supported The Jimi Hendrix Experience and between us did a gig that got the venue, and ourselves, well and truly established.

Afterwards, (Hendrix had arrived separately by train) we drove him back into Manchester and took him to a well know watering hole were we whiled away a couple of hours drinking and talking music until his train was due in. When we last saw him on the platform boarding that early morning express to London, he was locked in a bit of a tiff with his girlfriend as he disappeared into the carriage, afro, cape and all.

For weeks afterwards, the sound he created echoed around the place, despite one band member who actually thought that we had blown Hendrix away!! Needless to say I disagreed and could only remember wondering how big could he actually become? His influence was immediate though as I noticed everyone turned up the volume a few notches after that night and this move in itself injected more life into our music.

Fontana’s Feelgood Factor
Anyway after E.M.I. had dropped their option to extend our record deal, it wasn’t too long after that we aroused interest from Philip’s Records who owned the Fontana label,(thanks to a frenetic journey to London sporting our newly acquired scarecrow image(more about this period later) and 1 Audition later we had booked ourselves a recording session at their Stanhope Place Studio.

Under the supervision of Jack Baverstock, producer Dick Leahy was given the job of capturing our now individual style to tape and ultimately onto vinyl disc. Compact and relatively intimate, the studio suited us better than the formal Abbey Road where we had recorded for Parlophone, and 8 original tracks were recorded over that day, much to the delight of DL. I remember during our time there, Mike Carr had sent a telegram which stated simply ‘OUR FATHER, MAKE THIS NUMBER ONE!’ (however little did we know at the time, this prayer was to fall on deaf ears) and together with some glorious playbacks we were really buzzing.

However when the first single “Whats been done” was issued the overall sound we heard on the playback had gone and in it’s place was a remixed flat kinda sound which was somewhat disappointing. Nevertheless the vitality and excitement of our live gigs showed through and the release brought us some media attention which helped promote the group and it’s newly found image.

How this image came about differs from member to member but in my mind the real point was that it was different to what everyone else was doing at the time and as it turned out was a forerunner of the punk style which appeared on the scene some years later.

(…to be continued…)

New CD
“Tales…” Contains 29 great tracks (including ‘Save my Soul’, ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘ Rumble on Mersey Sq South’) chronicling the bands history from 4 Just Men days through the Wimple Winch period and beyond. Inside is a full Band Biog and a family tree booklet with complete track listing.
You can purchase copies of the CD for just £7.95p (£1.05 u.k.p&p. International on request.) from this website if you wish. Just e mail stating your order and we will send you details of how to obtain copies of this latest release direct! (CD Front cover image)>>>>>>
P.S. Another website has been set up to run in conjunction with this one and although still contains limited info a lot of new stuff will be added at some time in the future.

VIDEO Extract: Live in Paris 1970

The opening Track only from our concert in Paris for French TV – less to download if you are having difficulty with the full concert download elsewhere on this site.