A Phil Brodie Band
Sadly left us August 1999
Sheffield's Jerry Lee, The Piano Man, what ever you feel the need to
call him, Chuck was an amazing singer, multi - musician, excelling on
the piano, and a vigorous entertaining artist. Performing in 5 decades
he became one of the most wanted acts and virtually a household name
in Sheffield & surrounding areas ~ to most, Hillbilly
Chuck was born Brian Fowler, into a musical family
at Beighton. Musically influenced very early in life by his father an
organist, playing the pipe organ in many cathedrals and churches. At
the age of seven Chuck was made to start piano lessons, which like many
other kids of this age he'd prefer to be out playing, not piano practice.
In the 40's Jazz had crept into the UK and
after the war onto the radio.
This was very different to the classical music in their home. Chuck
started to take notice, his first influences being Glen Miller, Count
Basie, Stan Kenton and the likes. He also enjoyed gospel. Then along
came Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the country of Hank Williams. By now
he was wanting to play music with a band, so Chuck invested in an old
worn out Spanish guitar, which, he
soon changed to a Martin Coletti which he
taught himself to play. At this early age he thought a guitar more macho
than playing his piano. Chuck had an older brother Don who played the
drums, so together with fellow muso friends Pete
Taylor (bass) and Frank
Miles (lead guitar) they formed
their first band, a skiffle / rock n roll ~ The Frantic Four. Their
first gig was at The Angel in Killamarsh. In those days there wasn't
much modern music on the radio and TV (If you had one), so most of their
money went on records which they played along to, to learn new numbers.
THE FRANTIC FOUR
With the arrival of Jerry Lee Lewis in the 50's, Chuck returned to his
piano. He played Jerry numbers by ear and sang the tracks of this great
new sound. Chuck loved to sing.Then it all came to a sudden halt. Chuck
joined the Royal Air Force, and spent the next 3 years in and around
Singapore, then Stanford. While in service he and a few forces muso
friends played when ever possible. On his return home he didn't waste
much time to get back to the music scene. He managed a band Jess Hunter
and The Trekkers.
When Jess left, Chuck took
leadership of the group which consisted of Lol Naylor on drums and Bob
Taylor on bass. This was the start of quite a few bands which Chuck
fronted over the next few years, playing all the high spots in and around
Sheffield. 1965 saw him take another road, he and drummer John Firminger
formed a duo and took a Friday / Saturday residency in Rotherham. But
not for long!
Three months later The Chuck Fowler Six was born. Chuck on piano and
vocals, Dick Dodd on bass, John Firminger on drums, Bob Threadgold guitar,
two sax players Keith Chambers and ex Dave Clarke Five member Jimmy
Spencer. This was a great solid band. Next he teamed up with Dave Hawley
for a few months. 1967 sees him with drummer John Hunt ( x Jimmy Crawford)
and bassist Keith Richardson. 1968 sees him with bassist Bob Taylor
and John Firminger. This trio did the clubs, the dances, the cabarets.
up with the times they introduced a little soul and swing jazz into
the band. Old friend Frank
Miles who had been with Dave Berry took over from Bob, and Hillbilly
Cat Roger Jackson took over on drums. Gerry Wrigley (drums) and Terry
Jenkinson (bass) played in the trio a while. The 1974 line up Chuck,
Steve Smith and Ian Matthews Appeared on Opportunity Knocks hosted by
Hughie Green. They had a great night but unfortunately nothing came
from it. As Chuck continued playing the clubs the late great Roy Barber
played with him, bringing with him a very different sound with his steel
pedal. They did some awesome recordings together featuring the steel
pedal. Also Kenny Slade from Joe Cocker fame joined him for a while,
as did drummer John Riley.
The Chuck Fowler Band:
Dave, Alan Wood, John Crookes, Steve Denton, Chuck and Dave Hopper
THE STORY CONTINUES
As the 80's approached Chuck, Steve
Alan Wood, who
now had a musical agency, formed a band. Rock n Roll was in demand again.This
band included Chuck on piano and vocals, Dave
on drums, bassist
Alan Wood , John Crookes with harmonica and sax, Steve Denton vocals
and Dave Hopper on lead guitar. They cut an album and their single reached
No 5 in the national rock n roll charts. This bought them plenty of
work with Radio 1 and doing jingles for Kid Jenson and Peter Powell.
Alan got them a recording deal with Rockburgh Records who published
a single, Chuck singing "Rockabye Boogie" on one side and
Steve Denton singing "Mystery Train" on the other side. The
single reached No 1 in The Melody Maker's alternative rock 'n' roll
chart. This line up was a sensational rock n roll band, a real show
band all specializing in their own favorite's. Alan Wood with his Chuck
Berry, Steve Denton doing an awesome Elvis, John Crookes with Yakkety
: Steve Denton - singer, John Crookes - harmonica & sax,
Chuck Fowler - keyboard, Alan Wood - bass and John Firminger on the
THE FINAL CURTAIN
Keeping a band together with such big personalities
is near impossible, the band split. Chuck formed one last band before
going solo. Different again, this band had a bit of a country style
mixed in and they came second at a national talent contest at Wembley.
By now with over 40 years of band politics and personality differences
Chuck took to the road solo with a keyboard. He was the most sort after
act for the pubs, parties, and weddings. Sadly he was diagnosed with
cancer. This did not deter Chuck, his love for music kept him working
continually and bravely till a couple of days before is untimely death,
when he gave a superb last performance at the Richmond Club.
Ronnie Blythe, Alan Wood,
Chuck himself, Chuck's wife, Pat Fowler,
the late Tony Capstick and Bobby Knutt
(who jointly compered the charity night)
In Memory Of Brian
for his family, friends and fans.
~ Rest In Peace ~
Many thanks to :
Chuck's stepson Robin Rawson-Tetley for the photos.
John Firminger for added information.
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