Four guitarists who go back a long, long way – some more than 50 years in fact – caught up again this month for what one could only call a “gathering of the ages”.
Issy Ariefdien, Ivor Wagner, Basil October and Bernie Lawrence were brought together in a surprise “party” to reminisce about the good old days when pop was in its infancy and disco and rap unheard of.
Three of them – Issy, Ivor and Basil – are in their Seventies and Bernie is in his Sixties. Each had started their music career around the mid-Sixties in different bands but their paths crossed numerous times back in the day when bands shared gigs at venues.
Issy started his career in a group called The Magnets in Elsies and they were known for their superb vocal harmonies. He later helped form Respect with Mel da Silva and then went to launch Pacific Express and was part of Love Supreme, Big Daddy before an extended period playing overseas.
Ivor Wagner started out with The Big Beats and for a few years it was one of the top groups in the country, playing a distinctly Shadows style of guitar instrumentals which was so popular back then. He then joined Issy at Respect and finished his career in in Cape Town playing with Tony Schilder. He moved to London where he qualified as a solicitor.
Basil October was rhythm guitarist and lead singer with a group called The Raiders. They had a huge following in the Maitland-Elsies River area and regularly packed out venues like popular Stardust spot in Woodstock and The Reo Hotel in Elsies River. Basil could sing raunchy, rock tunes all night without raising a sweat.
The last guitarist in this “seniors” quartet, Bernie Lawrence, started in a group called The Excitement and they caused a fair few ripples where they played. Bernie moved on to have a spells with Respect, Little Wing, Big Daddy, Mahogany (among others) and now is part of a group called New Beginnings playing the best of the ’60s and ’70s for those who love the sounds of Hendrix, Chicago, the Beatles and Clapton. I caught a gig of theirs three weeks ago and the dance floor was packed all night.
Issy and Ivor are still working on taking their “private” jam sessions to a venue. Watch this space.
Ivor was effusive in his praise for the get-together: “It was a brilliant idea to throw together a bunch of retired musicians of the 60s and to let them simply indulge themselves. The togetherness, the nostalgia, the reminiscing, with all the anecdotes, formed the ingredients of a most wonderful afternoon.”
Issy, Bernie and Basil pretty much echoed the same sentiments for an occasion where each one trotted out hilarious moments those early days. I should have recorded it. Bugger!
There was one other guest at the party – one Charles Jeremiah Dette. No, he wasn’t on stage, he was a backroom boy. He was the manager for both The Raiders and Respect and, as such, had more than just a bit of a role in the careers of all four. Charles hadn’t seen Issy, Bernie and Ivor since the Sixties and only recently made contact with Basil.
His take on the party. “It was bloody marvelous, I could have gone on talking to them about the good old days into the early hours of the next day.”
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