The Golden Years gigs: 20 years of local music and charity in Norolk

 Zodiacs with guitarist Terry Wickham

The fabulous Zodiacs with guitarist Terry Wickham, on the right, who went on to organise the Golden Years for 20 years. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive

This was the time when the former Norfolk skiffle kids turned into the grandfathers of rock ‘n’ roll… the Golden Years were dawning reuniting hundreds of musicians and raising tens of thousands of pounds for charities and good causes.

It was 25 years ago when a former “Toff” by the name of Derek Moore asked if I could help try to find former members of the band for a reunion.

five men in suits, some holding instruments, stand in a line.

The Toffs. It was drummer Derek Moore who inspired the Golden Years. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive.

The Toffs had been a bunch of lads working at Jarrolds who had decided to form their own skiffle band in the late 1950s…. they had a washboard made out of an old tea-chest, a couple of guitars, and would head to the Red Lion in Norwich to listen to the much-loved Alley Katz.

Before long skiffle was heading out of the back door to be replaced by rock ‘n’ roll. Drummer Derek joined the lads and off they went… playing in and around the city and towns – the Samson was one of the biggest venues.

As signed photo of the band, The Planets.

Yes, it is them. The early days of The Planets. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive

When I wrote the story I asked for memories of other bands at the birth of rock in Norwich and all over Norfolk.

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The response was quite extraordinary.

A collection of respectable and rather mature citizens were emerging from the shadows (good old Hank) and revealing their past – as local heroes.

Malcolm & The Jetblacks

The fantastic Malcolm & The Jetblacks with Malcolm Hooper in his white shoes. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive

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Letters were arriving at the office from all over this country and abroad. Friends were meeting up for the first time in many years to chat over the days when they were in groups and having the time of their lives.

A few months on, in the summer of 1996, Derek was back in the office, this time accompanied by his mates from other bands so pleased to see each other again.

I asked them if they had ever thought of playing again.

Ricky Lee & The Hucklebucks

The brilliant Ricky Lee & The Hucklebucks who backed The Beatles when they played Norwich in 1963. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive.

“Would there be enough interest?” asked former Zodiac Terry Wickham.

Just then a woman in the office came over and tapped Micky “once a Cadillac always a Cadillac” Woodcock on the shoulder.

“I used to love listening to you play,” she said… and Micky smiled.

Garry Freeman and The Contours

One of the earliest pictures of one of the greatest bands from Norfolk – Garry Freeman and The Contours. - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive

Radio Norfolk’s David Clayton, Andy Archer and Roy Waller climbed aboard and the Golden Years was up and running.

And when they walked back on the stage – WOW.

The Cadillacs in action with the late, great Stewy Mackintosh up front

A picture of those The Cadillacs in action with the late, great Stewy Mackintosh up front - Credit: East Anglian Music Archive

While dozens of bands did re-form, the one that didn’t make it was The Toffs.

Keep tuned as we follow the story of the Golden Years.

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