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16 October 2014

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Let Me Entertain You

By Roger Bates
November 2006,
A digital story from Coleg Sir Gâr

"Everyone has their musical idols. The first person I admired was Alun Thomas from Ponthenry. Who is he? you ask. He played guitar in the school concert and he had all the girls swooning after him. I had to do folk dancing.

I asked my parents if I could have a musical instrument. They borrowed a piano accordion from a friend. I couldn't even lift it, let alone play it.

Later, they bought me my first guitar. Lessons from the Falcon Music Shop and having a bit of an ear for music soon had me spending hours in my bedroom copying The Shadows note for note; Apache, Foot Tapper. A few chords, I was away.

My first gig was Cross Hands dance. We played in inbetween Bryn's Band and The Blackjacks. Two strings broke after the second song. So fame was short-lived.

During my apprenticeship, I met another guitarist called Dave, later to become my best man, and we formed a duo called The Three Eyes. Dave had lost an eye in a firework accident, but not his sense of humour. We played in folk clubs and also wrote a song about the Aberfan disaster. We didn't follow it up, it didn't seem right somehow.

My marriage introduced me to my then brother-in-law Ken and his brother Robbie, and they introduced me to Three Part Harmony. For months we sang in our local pub until fame beckoned. And along with Paul, another guitarist, and Dennis our drummer, we formed The New Graduate Show Band.

We even had an agent. We played in most of the clubs in South Wales, supported acts like Freddie Star, P J Proby, and even strippers on a Sunday morning.

Two days before our audition for Opportunity Knocks, I busted my nose and teeth in a motorbike accident, but we still had to sing, Smile For Me My Diane, for Hughie Green. He thought I'd been fighting but we still passed.

The Graduates split up before our tv debut so Paul and myself went out on our own as The Heyward Duo. We were rubbish really, but we got away with it. Dennis rejoined us and injected some comedy into the act. Being smaller, we really took the mickey out of him. But this got the women on his side. Thus The Calton Brothers were born.

Eventually, all good things come to an end. I was away from my family too much and decided enough was enough. Did I miss the rush and the applause of performing? You bet I did. I purposely didn't play a guitar again for years until I played a one-off gig at the hospital review with a band called Time Out which rekindled the entertainer in me.

Now I play for my own entertainment back in the bedroom. It's come full circle, recording into a computer which gives me a new interest in music and who knows, I may even learn a few more chords."

Your comments

"Thanks Roger for a bit of nostalga, the memories of the good old days will stick in my mind forever more. PS I still haven't grown, the women still love it.Congratulations on a good programme." Dennis Patterson (drummer) Llanelli, Sept 2007.

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