Dear Friends

DF 62 - Ian Gillan & The Javelins 2018

Dear Friends,

Here's a picture of me with The Javelins, in 1964.

We have a new record out at the end of August, comprising songs from our old set list, by Howling Wolf, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, The Coasters, and others of that era.

There's promo blurb around here somewhere, so I won't iterate the content, but I must say what a thrill it was to revisit all these amazing songs with my old mates, Gordon Fairminer (lead guitar), Tony Taco (rhythm guitar), Tony Whitfield (bass) and Keith Roach (drums).

They recorded the 16 backing tracks in two days. Third and fourth days were dedicated to solos and vocals and on the fifth day we filmed a couple of videos.

As I listen to the mixes, which have just arrived, a stupid grin spreads across my face. This isn't 'retro', it's the real thing; authentic, just as it was 55 odd years ago; OMG!

I'm very grateful to Max Vaccaro and his lovely team at Edel/e-a-r Music for all the encouragement and support, as well as Eike Freese at Chameleon Studios in Hamburg, for his joyful understanding of the gig, as well as his technical ability to capture the essence of this unique session.

Not long to wait then, until you can hear how it all started.


Ian Gillan

Copyright © Ian Gillan 2018

How the Javelins started in 1962 by Tony Tacon

Tony Tacon and Keith Roach lived in the same street in Hayes, Middx. and had been friends for some years.


Tony Tacon had been learning guitar whilst a pupil at Bishopshalt School in Uxbridge, having been encouraged by his friend and classmate Nick Simper (who also sold Tony his first electric guitar). Nick was already playing guitar and had formed a band with friends in Hayes.

Early 1962

Tony was approached by an local acquaintance Mansell Reece to join his band on rhythm guitar and after a couple of practice sessions this band played a gig. Both Keith Roach (who by this time had started to play drums) and Nick Simper (who loaned gear for the gig) came along and both ended up playing on stage to bail the band out of a disastrous performance.

Following this event Tony and Keith decided to form their own band. Mansell Reece fades from the picture and Nick Simper eventually became bass player in Deep Purple Mk.1 .

Auditions followed on Friday evenings in a classroom at Pinkwell School, Hayes to complete the band. Following a recommendation Gordon Fairminer came along and joined on guitar and also knew a classmate who played bass guitar: Tony Whitfield.

The boyfriend of a local girl joined as singer: Ron Dormer. Thus was formed "Ronnie and the Hi-tones" Timeline:- Spring/Early Summer 1962.

This band practiced every other week on a Sunday evening in a room at the back of the stage at a local youth club (St Dunstan's, Cranford, Middx). The deal was that the band could use the room as long as they played a few numbers on stage at the end of the evening for the kids there. Another band also had the same arrangement with the club on alternate weeks. This was the Moonshiners, singer : Ian Gillan aka Garth Rockett.

It became very clear to The Hi-tones that they were a much better backing band than the Moonshiners but the Moonshiners had the best singer.

Inevitably it was decided to approach Ian Gillan with a view to him joining the Hi-tones.

In late summer 1962 Tony Tacon got a friend with a tandem cycle to take him to Ian's house in Heston one Saturday morning. Ian's Mum said he was at the local sweet shop at Henley's corner and that is where Tony invited him to come to a band practice the next day at Dave Bone's (a part-time piano player with the band) house.

The practice took place, Ian joined the band which was soon renamed Jess Gillan and the Javelins, Ron Dormer faded from the scene and the Javelins with their new singer continued to play at St Dunstan's for some months until other band commitments made it difficult to accommodate.

Gordon's father Harry was very supportive of the band and undertook the duties of a manager i.e getting bookings and transporting the band in his Ford Consul. This continued until Keith passed his driving test at 17, the band bought an old Post Office van and Keith drove from then on. Harry still being involved with bookings and administration. (Hire purchase agreements for gear, etc).

From January 1963 The Javelins obtained a Thursday night residency at Wistowe House, Church Road, Hayes . The opening fee was 2.50 but by Dec 1964 this had risen to 9.00. This regular income enabled equipment to be upgraded through hire purchase agreements, this being a continual process throughout the band's life.

From May 1963 another regular booking started on Friday nights at The Lord Palmerston public house in Staines Rd. Hounslow. This opened at 5.00 per night and by the time of the last gig at that venue one year later had risen to 8.50.

Jess Gillan and the Javelins played over 200 bookings between October 1962 and the end of December 1964.These bookings were all around London and the Home counties, mostly clubs, pubs ,dance halls and private functions. Many gigs were repeat bookings as the band were popular and very proficient in what they played which was 50's and 60's covers, rock and roll and rhythm and blues.

The original blue Post Office van was changed for a later grey Morris J4 van during 1964.

One particularly memorable gig was at the Station Hotel, Richmond, Surrey on 17th August 1963 when the Javelins played at a venue only just vacated by the Rolling Stones. On 22nd November 1963 the band was playing at Harrow Tennis Club and members will never forget the news coming through between sets of President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. On 9th May 1964 the Javelins played on board a boat for a river cruise party along the Thames from Hammersmith Pier.

On 19th June 1964 the Javelins were winners of the the Grand Final of a band contest at the Essoldo Cinema, Hayes and Keith still has a large silver plated cup to prove it!

Ian gave notice to the Javelins in late November 1964 whilst the band were playing a gig at Botwell House, Hayes. He had been asked to join another local band, Wainwright's Gentlemen. He left soon after and the Javelins broke up and went their own ways.

Instruments & equipment used in Javelins Summer 1962 to Dec. 1964

Amplification:- Vox, Fender, Selmer and Marshall (one of earliest Marshall amps made).

Watkins Copicat effects unit. Speakers for PA bought from Cliff Bennett.


Gordon:- Burns Sonic solid guitar then Gibson 335 in cherry red.

Tony T:- Hofner Club 40 semi-acoustic guitar then Fender Stratocaster in sonic blue.

Tony W:- Framus semi-acoustic bass guitar, Framus solid bass guitar in red then Fender Jazz Bass in sunburst.

Keith:- Original drum kit unknown then Premier drum kit in pink sparkle finish bought from Jim Marshall's shop and previous owner was Mitch Mitchell. (A former pupil of Jim Marshall).

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