Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Rockin' Vickers - The Complete It's Alright!

A competently energetic but relatively faceless British mid-'60s band, the Rockin' Vickers are mostly remembered today because the guitarist for the bulk of their recording career was Ian Willis, who would eventually gain international fame as Lemmy with Hawkwind and Motörhead. The Blackpool band were still Lemmy-less when they made their debut in 1964 with a supremely raunchy version of Neil Sedaka's "I Go Ape," which was anthologized in the '70s on Hard-Up Heroes, the British equivalent of Nuggets. They'd only record three other singles, all of which had Lemmy aboard on guitar. Although capable of generating respectably raunchy, modish heat, they had nothing in the way of original material. Their third single, interestingly, was a version of a Pete Townshend song called "It's Alright," which sounds like a prototype for the much superior "The Kids Are Alright" (although, puzzlingly, The Who had already released "The Kids Are Alright" by the time the Rockin' Vickers' "It's Alright" appeared in March 1966). Who producer Shel Talmy liked the band and produced their final 45, a cover of The Kinks "Dandy," which actually made number 93 in the States (where it was far outpaced by Hermans Hermits version) before the Vickers split in 1967.
(~allmusic) by Richie Unterberger

The Rockin' Vickers a.k.a. 'The Rockin' Vicars' (or 'The Wild Ones') was a notorious rock'n'roll group from Blackpool, England, whose first record "I Go Ape" was released on Decca in 1964. The Rockin' Vicars had a reputation of a wild and unexpected live band, which they strenghtened by using the priest costumes and dog collars as their stage outfit. However, after visiting in Northern Finland in the mid 1960s, they got the new idea of wearing Lappish national costumes, which no doubt looked even wilder in Britain.

The Rockin' Vickers is also remembered as being one of the first British groups to perform behind the Iron Curtain, when they toured in Yugoslavia in July 1965 as part of a cultural exchange with the Red Army Youth Orchestra. In november 1965, the group was ready to conquer Finland as well. Besides touring here as Rev. Black & the Rockin' Vickers (mostly in Northern Finland), they also appeared at the recording studio, where they cut altogether 8 songs, including "Stella" and "Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart", which were released by Decca of Finland in early 1966, and leased later to Decca of Ireland.

Only a month after the first trip, they toured again around the Southern Finland (towns of Hämeenlinna, Helsinki, Lahti and Turku). At this point they were calling themselves just The Rockin' Vickers, and the line-up consisted of Harry "Reverend Black" Feeney, Nicholas Gribbon, Stephen Morris, Ciggy Shaw and Ian Holbrook. It was unclear, when Ian Fraiser Willis alias Lemmy Kilmister (ex-Rainmakers/Motown Sect), the most famous member (and the son of a vicar!) joined the group. He might have been in the band already during the first Finnish tour, which would mean that he also appears on the Finnish Decca single. However, all the written sources published in Finland during these tours allude to another guitarist Nicholas Gribbon, a steady member of the group until late 1965. In any case, when the Vickers recorded their last recordings (including Pete Townsend-song "It's Alright" and Ray Davies-song "Dandy") in 1966 for CBS, the guitarist was unquestionably Lemmy. In December 1967, The Rockin' Vickers did their last tour in Finland, and quite soon after the group broke up. Lemmy continued working with (Sam) Gopal's Dream, Opal Butterfly, Hawkwind and Motorhead, and Ciggy Shaw for instance with Soloman King. Steve Wilks and Jeff Carter who were one of the last members to join the group, still play in a band called Manitou with another Blackpool music veteran Pete Gurney. Nicholas Gribbon has maintained some music activities as well, and plays nowadays with his band Nick Unlimited. Nod Turner who was also in the Vickers lives on the isle of Man, and Harry Feeney has a large local main dealership for cars.

Listen: HERE


  1. Hey Rick!
    I 'm the drummer for Chicago power pop band, Daemon Familiar. We just released our second album and I'd really like to send you a copy or some mp3s to listen to.
    What's the best email to contact you?
    We're very influenced by bands like Sloan, Teenage Fanclub and Big Star.
    Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Wendi, I have mailed you and look forward to hearing from you!