Crazy Cavan 'n' the Rhythm Rockers - The Story

It was during the early sixties that the popularity of Rock 'n' Roll music was at it's lowest. 1960 saw the media pushing sloppy Bobbie and Frankie type crap and watered down Elvis look-alikes, etc., until the explosion of the Liverpool Beat groups came and everything. Amongst teenagers at this time, to mention even the words "rock 'n'roll", brought scorn. (Ironic really, when you consider that even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones relied on Chuck Berry songs). Teddy Boys were labelled along with the Greasers and the Ton-up boys as "Rockers" for their love of the 50's Rock 'n' roll music, which by now was considered out-dated. If you went to a dance you saw only beatgroups playing the charthits of the time. So if you was an "oddball" who still loved real wild Rock 'n' Roll - it was impossible to find. The answer, as far as five teenage Teddy Boys from Newport, South Wales, were oncerned, was to play it themselves.

"Crazy" Cavan Grogan started out as "Screamin' Count Dracula & the Vampires", along with Lyndon Needs, Terry Walley and Gerald Bishop. Although they loved doing those first early gigs, the band was short-lived due to their young ages and no one having a driving licence. It was a good start though and encouraged by those who went to see them, they knew that, despite the bastard media who wouldn't play it, Rock 'n' Roll wasn't dead and forgotten, and there were still thousands of kids out there who hadn't even heard of Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent or Johnny Burnette.

Cavan's sound was first heard of as far back as 1964, when cavan Grogan, Lyndon Needs and Terry Walley decided to form a group which at first was called "Count Dracula and the Vampires" and later for a short time was known as "The Sundogs". In 1968 Cavan, Lyndon and Terry teamed up with wild boogie piano player Brian Thomas and bass player Don Kinsella, as "The Sundogs". They were soon knockin' 'em dead in the local clubs. Cavan and the boys were out 'n' out Rock 'n' Roll fans before anything! They played the music because they loved it and not because it was the "in thing".

They got 'Crazy' Cavan Grogan; a dynamic, mean-looking and rubber-legged singer with the longest pair of drainpipes in the business. Lyndon Needs, fresh from school and the guitar shop; ready to play all the flashy leads, and if you gave him an inch of stage he'd leap miles in every direction. Terry Walley, who doffed a rhythm guitar and a cowboy hat and hasn't been seen without either since. Mike Coffey, a tubs man with a fearful backbeat; who, you might be forgiven for thinking, learned to play drum by sinking piles in Cardiff dockyard single- handed. And, of course, a Mr. Bassman. First it was Don Kinsella, a powerful anchor for six years. Now new boy Graham Price (a fully paid-up Welshman) has slotted in neatly as the four-string backman.

A source of inspiration at that time was when Newport Rock 'n' Roll fan, and editor of "Boppin News", "Breathless" Dan Coffey, who had for some time been shipping hundreds of rare, mostly unreleased, and uptill then unheard of Rockabilly records out of the USA into Newport.

When in 1970 this band was joined by Don Kinsella and Mike Coffey it was the start of "Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers". For four years they build up fame as a semi- professional unit, playing their own music, which, influenced by rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and country music, became known as "crazy rhythm". By the end of 1973 they had acquired a large following and there was increasing demand for a record by the group. It all resulted in the release of a single and an EP on their own label "Crazy Rhythm".The demand far exceeded the supply, however, and very soon these records became collector's items. Even though they did not perform in many countries, fans from everywhere responded to their music. To reach more people, the band decided to become fully professional and soon bookings flowed in thick and fast. March 1975 stands as a landmark in their development, for then they were top of the bill at the famous "Lyceum" in London, England. Fans from all over often travelled hundreds of miles to this concert, which turned out to be an enormous succes.

Thursday, February 26, 1976: Crazy Cavan 'n' The Rhythm Rockers with faint, nervous smiles on their faces shuffle awkwardly into the Finsbury Park office of their manager, Lee Allan. They congregate in a small room on the first floor, which looks over the noon bustle of the Seven Sisters Road traffic. Today the band will sign their first major British recording contract with Charly Records. John Schroeder, their producer who previously worked with Status Quo, is already in the room. He's a quiet, softly spoken gentleman with collar length white hair, and he wears a leather suit. Bleary greetings are mumbled while the band push wooden chairs into a cluttered, tight semi-circle. Then they sit down and nervously wait for their Big Moment. Charly's Chief, Joop Visser, the guy who snatched up the British rights to Hank Mizell's 'Jungle Rock' from the King catalogue, places himself next to the group. On a desk is a thick pile of contracts. There's an air of nervous anticipation. Muffled Welsh voices idly pass the time of day. Feet scratch over the floorboards while fingers drum relentlessly on knees. Deliberate smiles of reassurance are passed between the band like comics in a dentist's waiting room. Then Lee scoops up the contracts and begins to explain the terms of the deal. 'I think they're the most dramatic band in the country' Joop proudly states. He'd seen them headlining at the Strand Lyceum, and on numerous other occasions in pubs and clubs throughout the country. He was impressed. Cavan Grogan is an evil looking dude with a strong, powerful vocal; Lyndon Needs, a fresh faced young fella, leg splits and slides all over the stage while snapping out dazzlingly effective lead licks; Terry Walley (rhythm), Don Kinsella (bass) and Mike Coffey (drums) quietly position themselves behind the two front men, firmly laying down steady rhythms. Their style is simple and direct, influenced by Rockabilly, Country and Rock 'n' Roll, but interpreted by the individual musicians to create a unique musical form which they describe as Crazy Rhythm. Joop has been known to Bop at their gigs. Hopefully, John comments, I can bring out a lot more in them than has been found. The problem I have is to take this group, who're very good live with all the atmosphere and excitement, and transfer that into a studio and capture it on a record. And at the same time produce a commercial record that isn't offensive to their fans. Broaden their appeal without destroying what they are. One by one the band sign on the dotted line. Lee continually pacifying their last minute qualms. Pop! Pop! The bubbly's poured into waiting cups. The Welsh voices rise with cheerful relief. Photos are snapped. Hands shaken. Then somebody passes round a bowl of peanuts. Now that's got to be a joke, coz Crazy Cavan 'n' The Rhythm Rockers are on their way!

For bookings contact:
Paul Barrett Rock'n'Roll Enterprises
16 Grove Place
Penarth, CF62 2ND
South Wales, UK
Phone: +44 (0)1222 704279

Picture Gallery: Crazy Cavan at the Dutch Teddy Boy Fest 2003

Crazy Cavan Official Website: