Looking Back: Golden years of Midnights music

A 1964  photo of Tommy J and the Midnights outside the Globe Hotel in Overton.
A 1964 photo of Tommy J and the Midnights outside the Globe Hotel in Overton.
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In 1964 a pop music band was formed and 50 years later they are still going strong.

Tommy J and the Midnights (TJM) was born out of the friendship of Tom Jackson, Tony Holden, Bill Houston and Eric Darwent through their common interest in playing the music of the era.

Lead guitarist Bill and drummer Eric had just finished a stint with the Don Whitfield Trio and were looking for a singer.

Eric, an auto-electrician at Chapmans, was going out with Tom’s sister, Joan, (they eventually married) and used to visit the family farm where he heard Tom singing as he worked. He was so impressed Tom was signed up on the spot. Rhythm guitarist Tony Holden worked with Bill at Gilfilms, and so the band was formed.

Bill was a well known photographer, moving on to open Regent Studios. After playing with TJM he joined another local band, Ring Of Fire. He passed away in September 2012.

Tony is still the mainstay of TJM, spending a lot of his spare time in the small recording studio he built for himself at the bottom of his garden.

The band played their first concert at The Globe Hotel, Overton on March 28 1964.

They went on to play at The Redwell Inn, Hunting Hill Lodge, The Jubilee Club and also at many farm barbecues around Stodday for the Lancaster Agricultural Show.

A vivid memory of the 60s, was a trip to Wray by the group in Tom’s Farm Bedford Van to play and help raise funds for the disastrous flash flood which inundated the village on August 8 1967.

They continued playing every week until 1968, then had a 20-year break.

In 1988 TJM held a sold-out reunion charity concert at The Jubilee Club.

The lads asked bass guitarist Garry Pugh, who currently plays with the Paul Hayes Collection, to join them.

For the next few years and into the 90s they were joined by Andy Jarvis as lead guitarist and Andrew Turner as drummer.

Also during that time Tony Crane, who had played with The Vagrants, Nemesis, Devious Soul Machine and Coaster, began playing bass guitar.

After a while Christopher Holden took over on drums and they played at venues including Ocean Edge Club, Thurnham Hall, Calder Vale Club and The Carleton Inn.

Eventually experienced drummer Charlie McMahon joined TJM and continued with the group until he passed away in 2009.

Not long after Charlie joined, Dave Gange, who had played with The Senators, The Shud B Band, The Survivors, the West Coast Wailers and the Agents, joined as lead guitarist.

After being helped out by local drummer Mick Edmonson, the band welcomed Mike Kemp as their latest recruit.

TJM have decided to commemorate their 50th birthday by holding a charity concert at Morecambe Golf Club on Saturday, May 31. Tickets will cost £5 and the proceeds will go to St John’s Hospice, Lancaster. Tickets are available from band members or by telephone 410233/email dmg1947@hotmail.co.uk.

The evening will be hosted by entertainer and ex-Mayor, Paul ‘Woody’ Woodruff’.

The band are currently working on a CD, sales of which (£5 each) will also go to St John’s Hospice.