Robbie Hood & His Merry Men


Mike West aka “Robbie Hood” started with an audition with John Kennedy, Tommy Steele's manager, at the Two I's Coffee Bar when they were looking for a new Tommy Steele. Then he formed his own band, the Mike West Group, that became the resident band at Wandworth Town Hall in 1958. Their new manager, Guy Robinson introduced singer Fred Heath to them. He guest-performed "If You Were The Only Girl In The World", after which he joined the group full-time and roped in John “Fruit” Gordon as the full-time bassist. They called them “The Fred, Mike and Tom Show”, and all three singers shared the limelight before West and Brown stepped aside to provide backing vocals to Heath, to allow him, the better vocalist take centre-stage.
By the way Mike West had a terrible squint and he often hid it with an eye-patch. Heath would Later fully exploit the prop.

Saturday 18th April was their first recording session at the Abbey Road studios in north-west London.They decided to work on a number entitled "Please Don't Touch". As they entered, they were given a piece of paper with the name “Johnny Kidd & the Pirates” recording session and Fred Heath had suddenly a new recording name that became his stage name until his death.

On June 6th 1959, they appeared on BBC Radio Saturday Club #36.
There was hardly time for nerves as the rest of the band were mercilessly taking the mickey out of Mike West - he turned up wearing an eye patch due to a nasty stye, and Brian Matthews even asks him about it on air.

In late 1959, Mike West left Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and formed his own group first with former Pirates Tony Doherty (lead guitar), John “Fruit” Gordon (bass) Tony McKay (drums) adding two musicians who stood-ins for them earlier, Pete Newman (tenor sax) and Vic Clark (rhythm Guitar). They first called themselve “The Federals” after the Federal Road where Clark lived, then “Mike West & The Silhouettes”. Both Newman and Clark left to join a north London outfit called Johnny Dark & The Midnighters that eventually went on to become the new Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages during a big part of 1960. Meanwhile Mike West teamed up with new musicians: Micky Cottle (drums) and Carl Hasden (bass) who owned the first five-string bass in the UK, custom-made by Johnny "Fruit" Gordon. The band gradually had a complete change of personnel and went on to record some records for EMI. Their debut single was with a Heath original, "Tell Me When".

Mike West went on to become Robbie Hood and was managed by Reg Calvert, with some success.
Reg paid for him to see an eye surgeon and he had an operation to correct his squint. Mike didn’t stay long at Clifton Hall, because he wouldn’t work within the rules there.

His backing group - The Merrie Men, later became the main part of the Fortunes with another singer - Glen Dale.
They made several hits, with 'Caroline' 'You've Got your Troubles, I've got mine', 'Look Homeward Angel' etc.

Another outfit from Birmingham took over them for 6 months at the height of the Beatlemania: The Sundowners who went on to become The Chads later featuring Jeff Lynne of ELO.

Robbie Hood's stage show involved the gimmick of appearing on stage dressed as the famous outlaw "Robin Hood" which included not only a hat but a full costume of Lincoln green consisting of tunic, boots, and tights.



Line ups

The Mike West Group #1 (1958 - January 1959)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Tom Brown (Backing Vocals)
· Alan Caddy (Lead Guitar)
· Tony Doherty (Rhythm Guitar)
· Ken McKay (Drums)


The Fred, Mike & Tom Show (January - April 1959)

· Fred Heath (Lead Vocals)
· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Tom Brown (Backing Vocals)
· Alan Caddy (Lead Guitar)
· Tony Doherty (Rhythm Guitar)
· John Gordon (Bass)
· Ken McKay (Drums)


Johnny Kidd & The Pirates #1 (April - Late 1959)

· Fred Heath (Lead Vocals)
· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Tom Brown (Backing Vocals)
· Alan Caddy (Lead Guitar)
· Tony Doherty (Rhythm Guitar)
· Vic Clark (Rhythm Guitar)
· John Gordon (Bass)
· Ken McKay (Drums)
· Don Toy (Drums)
· Brian ?? (Drums)

The Mike West Group #2 (Late 1959)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Tony Doherty (Lead Guitar)
· Vic Clark (Rhythm Guitar)
· John Gordon (Bass)
· Pete Newman (Tenor Sax)
· Tony McKay (Drums)

The Federals (Late 1960)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Vic Clark (Lead Guitar)
· John Gordon (Bass)
· Pete Newman (Tenor Sax)
· Carlo Little (Drums)


Mike West & The Silhouettes (Late 1960 - June 1961)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals)
· Tony Doherty (Lead Guitar)
· Carl Hasden (Bass)
· Micky Cottle (Drums)


Robbie Hood & His Merry Men #1 (September 1961 - March 1963)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals) "Robbie Hood"
· Barry Pritchard (Lead Guitar)
· Rod Allen (Bass)
· Gary ?? (Drums)

Robbie Hood & The Lawmen (April 1963)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals) "Robbie Hood"
· Mike Clifford (Lead Guitar)
· ?? ?? (Bass)
· Andy Brown (Drums)

Robbie Hood & His Merry Men #3 (June - Late 1963)

· Mike West (Lead Vocals) "Robbie Hood"
· Mick Adkins (Lead Guitar)
· Keith Warrender (Rhythm Guitar)
· Joe Parsons (Bass)
· Keith Harrison (Drums)

1 comment:

  1. Garry Fletcher was the drummer in the picture and was in the original line up of the Fortunes. He was replaced ( in the Fortunes)by Andy Brown. Under Reg Calvert as Robbie Hood Mike West would have ocasionally had other musicians backing him as in Regs stable all the musicians worked together and knew each others repertoire and often swapped between bands if someone was ill, or if Reg put together an impromptu band for something else.

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