- At a
Christmas party in South London in 1976 John Bayley, Ken Dampier
and Colin Minchin made the fateful mistake of performing (with
a borrowed bassist and drummer) two of the songs they'd been
wisely hiding for years.
The success of this performance, due largely to the benevolent
nature of the Christmas-Spirited audience inspired these three
lads to form a band of their own.
As all of them played the guitar, they needed a bassist and a
drummer, so they asked an old friend, Peter Hornsby, to join
them on keyboards. Peter agreed, despite the fact that he played
the guitar too.
These four looked no further than their local pub before finding
their fifth guitarist, Howard Edgar. Howard was a serious and
dedicated drinker, who at some stage in his career had picked
up a bass guitar by accident. Luckily for the embryonic band,
he agreed to play bass as long as his glass was constantly refilled.
When Fiona Imlah and Beverley Glick foolishly decided to sing
with the five guitarists the die was cast.
Because they had no drummer "The Five Guitars" would
sit in The Three Tuns in Beckenham trying to think of better
names, and when Stewart T. Booth, who had never played the guitar
in his life, suggested that the band was called Tennis Shoes
he was immediately offered the embarrassing task of singing one
of the group's compositions entitled "Black Leather".
This was it. Vic, the borrowed drummer, came back and the band
started rehearsing frantically when there was nothing better
- As the
great day set for Tennis Shoes' Penge debut approached, Vic was
reclaimed by a more serious outfit and Derek Thomas joined the
band in time to mess up his solo on the opening night.
Strangely, everybody laughed at Tennis Shoes, and they continued
to play in Penge, occasionally venturing further afield to perform
in venues like the notorious Rat Club (really) in London's exotic
But something was wrong, and in a series of devious manoeuvres
involving women, bribery and threats. Tennis Shoes second drummer
Luckily Glen Morris, (who may have played the guitar occasionally),
left a lucrative pop group and neglected his studies to join
Tennis Shoes. He felt immediately at home, largely because the
band only played once every six weeks.
But fate took a hand, and a series of coincidences found the
complete 9 piece band back in Penge, where a devoted crowd of
people with no taste flocked to their every performance.
This support encouraged a new enthusiasm, which led to offers
of gigs in Colleges, London pubs and village halls. Success followed
success, and now as the Summer of '78 draws upon us. Tennis Shoes
are expanding their operations by negotiating with obscure record
companies, playing bigger and better venues and moving into sportswear,
restaurant chains and nicer residential areas.
Always proud of their suburban origins and true to the timeless
British philosophy of "Gentlemen, rather than players"
Tennis Shoes are forging into the latter part of the atomic age
with all the style, wit and excitement of rose patterned wallpaper.
Bayley, Stewart T. Booth, Ken Dampier,
Edgar, Beverley Glick, Pete Hornsby,
Imlah, Colin Minchin and Glen Morris,
all play guitar.