Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson

Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson
hartrockrecordI couldn’t finish my blog project without saying a few words about these two bands.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson (along with Beckett who I have already covered in earlier posts) were arguably the top North East bands in the early ’70s, playing in ballrooms and clubs around the region.
Brass Alley were a heavy rock band with a bluesy edge, fronted by singer Dave Ditchburn and featuring Barry Alton (guitar), Frankie Gibbon (bass), and Howard Martin (drums). They were heavily influenced by Free, and always included a few Free covers in their set. I saw them loads of times at Sunderland Locarno (Mecca), Newcastle Mayfair, in several working mens’ clubs and supporting touring acts at the City Hall. I remember that they had, for a short period, a Sunday night residency at Sunderland Top Rank. I can picture us all now, standing on the tables chanting for “The Hunter”; which was their encore at the time. The guitarist would do a great instrumental version of the “Theme from Exodus”.
Lucas Tyson were a much more guitar-oriented band fronted by the excellent, Hendrix-influenced, Pete Barclay. Pete played a Fender Strat, made heavy use of wah-wah and fuzz, and was a guitar hero for many of us young guys. I also saw Lucas Tyson play at Sunderland Mecca, Newcastle Mayfair, Sunderland Poly, and at the City Hall. Pete would do great Hendrix covers (“Voodoo Chile”, I think) and other guitar-led tracks. I remember seeing them support Edgar Broughton one night at the Mecca, when they played an awesome version of the Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson both feature on the single pictured above. I still have a copy and it’s a gem of early ’70s rock psych. The 45 EP features four tracks: “Daylight Child” by Lucas Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57TSW5w1j6s&list=PLRBjLK_SZFghJcBolYpCMkTVt9L60TtCv&index=1 ; “The Hobo Song” by Yellow; “Pink Pills” by Brass Alley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeR7xmNupF8 and “I Know You Well” by Trilogy. The single was released to promote Hart Rock, a 1971 rock festival held at Hartlepool football ground which featured these four local bands, plus others and was headlined by Arrival and Beggars Opera.
Four days to go.

34 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gordon Hamilton on January 26, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Well knock me over with a pretty pink straw!

    I didn’t think there was anybody out there still alive – and compos mentis enough, to remember Lucas Tyson and Brass Alley.

    I’m working on a music video at the about the music of my life and both these bands featured heavily in my past. So when I typed Lucas Tyson Google I was surprised at the amount of hits I got.

    I followed these two bands all over the place in my youth after seeing Brass Alley for the first time in Shiney Row Working Men’s club and Lucas Tyson at the Mecca in Sunderland, both in the very early 70s.

    I’ve lost count (many, many years ago) of how many working men’s clubs I visited around the north east just to see these two bands play.

    It’s really pleasing to know that these two bands are still remembered and more so, here on the internetty-wotsit-thingy! As they say, the internet is forever!

    Just the mere mention of the Mecca in Sunderland made me think of my second home; five nights a week I was there :O

    Many thanks for this blog which I will have to read much more thoroughly and keep tabs on.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 26, 2016 at 7:18 am

      Happy days Gordon Best wishes Peter


    • Posted by Sean Clark on December 29, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      . . . and to add to the groups that were playing the working men’s social clubs etc. in Sunderland (and the N.E. more generally) at that time, does anyone remember Ponders End? I remember seeing the lead guitarist and singer in particular – he had this trick of being able to spin his plectrum in the air and catch it (without fail!), sometimes behind his back during any and every short break in a song. Turns out he was John Parr – the writer and singer of “St Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” made famous in the film of the same name! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVf4_WglzWA


      • Posted by Allan Ball on October 21, 2022 at 12:11 pm

        I saw Ponders End quite a few times across the north east and once at Penshaw Working Mens Club, the the lead guitarist you mentioned was actually John Parr’s brother.

      • Posted by vintagerock on October 21, 2022 at 1:02 pm

        Hi Allan there’s a name from the past! I also recall seeing the band in I think in the late 1970s at a club somewhere. Happy days Peter

  2. Posted by Terry on March 12, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Great days and the memories come flooding back. We would travel the north east club circuit following these great bands, Beckett (I had a crush on Jan who worked at Windows and introduced me to Wishbone Ash when I was 15 but deflated when she told me she was married to the bass player in Beckett?!) Lucas Tyson (one of the best gigs ever at the High Pit Club in Cramlington was a stand out) and Brass Alley and Geordie (when they were Yellow and USA). Shame there isn’t some video footage; the atmosphere these guys created was always amazing!


  3. Posted by ian bateman on March 20, 2016 at 10:08 am

    i remember all these bands,mint


  4. Posted by David Orchin on April 15, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I saw Brass Alley in 1972 at Newbottle Workmens Club, they made an impact on my love of heavy metal rock music, I was only 16 at the time. That same year, 1972, I saw for the first time Lucas Tyson at Shiney Row Club and I was hooked, saw them many times after that. The lead singer changed to a black guy who I think came from Chester Le Street and he was an excellent front man. A fantastic band who’s rendition of Sweet Child In Time still sends a shiver down my spine. My memory recall is somewhat limited due to the early onset of “you know what” but the lead singer rocking to the strobe light on Sweet Child’ was brilliant. Do not get too close to the stage at the end of the set though as the lead guitarist always slammed his instrument down onto the stage floor, absolute delight to be there in the early 70’s. Thank you for the memories.
    David Orchin


  5. Posted by Dave Dawson on April 17, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Around this time I used to see a van parked in a Pallion street with ‘Lucas Tyson’ written on the front.


  6. Posted by BOB DUNBAR on May 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Don’t forget Fogg with the great Dek Rootham on guitar.seen them many times all over the northeast .


  7. Posted by Bill Dimmick on October 15, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Remember listening to all of Peter Barclay’s practice sessions living 4 doors away from his family in Loughborough Avenue in Sunderland back in the early 70’s. My mother and father always complaining of the racket while they practiced in their converted garage. Great memories.

    Hull Mackem Bill Dimmick


  8. Posted by Norma hall on December 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Hi My husband was a roady
    for both Lucas Tyson and circus in early seventies great memories ,(Alan hall(h)!!!


  9. Posted by Ron on August 20, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I remember brass alley and the John miles set playing at the Manhattan Sunderland in the early 70’s. They were both on the same bill.I was very lucky. Never forgot that club and that evening.A memory that will never leave me. Even though living abroad for over 40 years,the golden age of Geordie rock .Memories are precious .An old fan Ron.


  10. Posted by Bill on January 4, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    I remember seeing Beckett as a support act at the Odeon c.1973 but can’t recall who was headlining. Terry W-S was superb: probably the reason I remember them and not who they were supporting. Can anyone help?


  11. Posted by George Davies on September 14, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Yeah. Brass Alley,(Dave Ditchburn)Beckett,(Terry Sless.,)Lucas Tyson,Cirkus,Cycle,Mynd (Two organs on the stage- from Newton Aycliffe)Raw Spirit,White Spirit(Hartlepool-Janice Gers on lead guitar) Yellow, U.S.A. Geordie – Brian Johnson. Government from Redcar lead singer David Coverdale. Piranha Brothers. Great times in the clubs and pubs in the North East in the 70,s Goldie, 747. 80,s Great musicians and Bands.


  12. Posted by Ben on March 8, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I would really like to get in touch with Peter Barclay about some of his music for a project I’m working on. Please send me a message if you have a contact. Thank you !


    • Posted by Dave Phillips on April 12, 2019 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Ben I’m in touch with Pete.


      • Posted by Benn on April 13, 2019 at 8:11 pm

        Hi Dave, thank you much. Could you please email me here (captainbenjr@gmail.com) or pass it along to Pete. Or, we could try to connect on Facebook. Just let me know what’s easiest for you. thank you!

    • Posted by david thorpe e on October 23, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      peter passed away last year\ sorry


      • Posted by vintagerock on October 24, 2021 at 10:39 am

        Yes Pete Barclay sadly passed away last year. There was a lovely write up about him in the Sunderland Echo at the time RIP a great local guitarist Peter

  13. Posted by John Johnstone on March 13, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Ah, the memories … Geordie, Lucas Tyson, Brass Alley, Last Exit at Washington White House Club, Goldie at Shiney Row Club.

    I’ve also still got a copy of the the Hart Rock ’71 singles as well (I think that this had a track by Ying Tong John on it … he played Ali Frazer’s bouncer in the second series of Auf Wiedersein, Pet)


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      hi I also have the Hart Rock single and I recall great tracks by Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson. I have not played it for ages! Cheers Peter


  14. Posted by Stef on April 11, 2020 at 8:51 am

    I remember seeing Lucas Tyson play at the Mecca in Sunderland. Possibly 1972. One of thr band members was going out with my mates sister. Happy days.


  15. Posted by Bill Frostwick on December 12, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    Remember queing outside Houghton comrades club at 5 o clock on a Saturday night to see Brass Alley, wonderful nights and memories, 6 couples met every Saturday night to see a live band, either Houghton or Sunderland clubs, not many of us left, but wonderful memories . Committee men making sure that you singed in and put your money in the box.


  16. Posted by Mick Duncan on February 3, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Just mourning the passing of Pete Barclay guitarist extraordinaire with Lucas Tyson. The Jimi Hendrix of the North East as the Sunderland Echo so fittingly called him.
    I was drummer with the second version of Tyson with Paul Cook and then Alan Roadhouse on vocals, Billy Steven on bass. So many really good bands in those days and so many gigs some in really weird places. They were brilliant days for bands and you could play a youth club one night and then the Locarno or the Mayfair the next. Many a time playing a WMC and then off to do a nightclub somewhere and then up for work, happy days.
    All good things come to an end and the music was moving from heavy rock to the more American sound of Santana and the Doobie Brothers, we tried to move with it but it wasn’t right and eventually we just fizzled out.
    Been great reading all the previous comments and anyone reading this I wish you well and keep rocking.
    Mick Duncan


    • Posted by vintagerock on February 3, 2021 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Mick
      I too was very sad to hear of Pete Barclay’s passing. I saw Lucas Tyson many times at Sunderland Locarno, Newcastle Mayfair, several working men’s clubs and (I think) supporting acts at Newcastle City Hall? I must have seen yourself play many times.
      I knew Pete quite well and was always in awe of his guitar prowess. I too played a Stratocaster, but nowhere near as well as Pete did. I remember he advised me not to sell my 1962 Stratocaster in the 1970s, I ignored his advice, much to my regret. I needed the money to repair my car. Big mistake.
      The tribute in the Echo was lovely. The guy was a legend, and a really nice gentleman.
      Sadly missed Best wishes Peter


  17. Ah, Beckett – what a band!
    I saw them back in August 1974 at The Penthouse in Scarborough.

    Favour time…
    I have recently bought the vinyl LP but there’s no inner lyric sheet; could some kind person please email be a big scan that I can print so that the lyrics are legible?
    There’s one on Discogs but it’s completely illegible.
    Failing that, can I pay someone for a posted photocopy?


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 24, 2021 at 1:43 pm

      Yes Beckett were great. I’m afraid I can’t help with the lyric sheet. Can anyone out there? Best wishes Peter


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