The Keytones formed in 1983: James Knowler, Cliff Marshall and me, Jarrod Coombes. Jim and I had been playing together for just over a year with Jim’s cousin Andy Knowler; we started out rehearsing together at Andy’s house as Jim and Andy had already been playing together for a few years. We used to play lots of early Elvis, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran songs and were called The Rocking Trio. We began playing in small pubs and were really enthusiastic while I was still at school and just coming up sixteen. At this time Cliff Marshall was a friend of mine. I used to look up to him as he had all the cool records and cool clothes; we knew him as Tiff.
Jim and I wanted to have a drummer in the band and play more vocal harmony led material, so we asked Tiff to join, but he said no. We persuaded him to join, but initially he only stood in until we found a permanent drummer. Luckily for us he stayed as our temporary drummer for two years. Tiff was a big influence on the Keytones as he had a lot of the songs we wanted to cover in his record collection, which was very impressive and well looked after. We thank him for all the good times and for being so cool that we just wanted to be like him.
The first time we went abroad was to France, to play as a last minute, stand in band. At this time in the 1980s there were a lot of rockers and the music was quite heavy and no one had heard of us. But even before we played we had sold out of all the records that we had taken with us; at the time we looked different and it was an exciting time.
After we played that day, we met some Dutch people who became our closest friends – still are to this day - and were invited to play in Holland, then Germany and proceeded to have a nine year career playing many, many gigs in these and other countries.
We did all our first recording with Tiff and learnt the recording process together. We used to record everything live and were very proud of the results as recording time was very expensive and we only got a few cracks at getting it right: that’s where the practice paid off.
After Tiff left The Keytones we searched for a new drummer and found Peter Bowers who was with us for a couple of years, after which we invited Shaun O’Keeffe to join us. Shaun had been playing for many years in the Rock and Roll group Red Hot (great guys) but made the move to The Keytones and was to stay with us from then on. It’s hard to encompass all of those years in one short page, but we had a lot of great (and I mean great) gigs, met some wonderful people and these memories will stay with us forever.
After about nine years Jim and Shaun found they wanted to do something new and this suited me too. Jim and Shaun went on to gain good musical knowledge with their new band, while I joined a jazz band for six years which really helped my playing and musical awareness. Jim was lucky to later join a group that was very successful in Japan, where they toured, and were signed to Sony Records; I also had some great experiences with my group and played around the world.
We are all now in a group called Hullabaloo which is a bit more jazz orientated - we now have a sax player and enjoy playing swing and vocal harmony. You can check us out at www.hullabaloo-uk.com
Jim and I also have a passion for the music of Django Reinhardt and early jazz. We have a band called The Jazz Police that you can see at www.jazzpolice.co.uk
Well, here we are in 2006. We’ve decided it would be good to play some gigs as The Keytones as it’s been about 25 years since Jim and I first started playing music together and we’d like to have some fun playing some of those great songs; playing great music for music’s sake, so come along and enjoy.
We will only be playing a small number of gigs due to our already busy schedule, so don’t miss out!
See you soon,
Jarrod, Jim and Shaun, THE KEYTONES