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Jet Harris

Jet Harris

Jet Harris from Wikipedia

Jet Harris
Birth nameTerence Harris
Born6 July 1939
KingsburyNorth London, England
Died18 March 2011(aged 71)
Winchester, England
Occupation(s)Bassist
InstrumentsBass guitar (4 & 6 string), guitar
Years active1952–2011
Associated actsThe ShadowsJeff Beck Groupthe Vipers Skiffle Group
Websitejetharris.biz

Harris, the only child[2] of Bill and Winifred Harris,[3] was born Terence Harris at Willesden Maternity Hospital, Honeypot Lane, KingsburyNorth West London, England.[1] His prowess as a sprinter at Dudden Hill secondary modern school earned him the nickname Jet.[4]

Although he learned to play clarinet as a teenager, he made his own four-string double bass to play in a jazz group and later graduated to a professionally made double bass. In 1958, while playing jazz with drummer Tony Crombie and his group the Rockets, Crombie got a Framus bass guitar for Harris, making him one of the first British exponents of the instrument.[4]

He played in several groups including the Vipers Skiffle Group and the Most Brothers before, in 1959, joining Cliff Richard‘s backing group, the Drifters,[5] who, in July 1959 at a meeting in the Six Bells pub in Ruislip,[6] changed their name to The Shadows at Harris’s suggestion, to avoid confusion with the U.S. band.[7] In 1959, after the neck of his Framus was terminally damaged in a dressing room accident, he was presented by the importers with a Fender Precision Bass, one of the first to come to Britain from the United States.[citation needed]

Other sources state that Cliff Richard gave Jet the first Fender Bass (sunburst) guitar in the UK in 1960, about a year after band-mate Hank Marvin got his first red Fender Stratocaster guitar. Both instruments were eventually replaced with matching versions which were used in the film The Young Ones, in which The Shadows played “The Savage” (showing the famous Shadows’ walk) to an invited audience of teenagers.

Harris also contributed vocally, adding backup harmonies and occasional lead vocals. He had a trademark scream, used in the Shadows’ “Feeling Fine” and Cliff Richard’s “Do You Wanna Dance?

In Mike Read‘s book, The Story of the Shadows, Harris attributed the start of his depression and related alcohol addiction to discovering that Cliff Richard had had an affair with his wife Carol Costa (whom he had married in 1959) after they were separated.[2]

In 1962, Harris left The Shadows following disagreements, mostly with Bruce Welch over his drinking habit (documented in The Story of the Shadows, written by the group with Mike Read).[8]

He signed with Decca and released solo instrumental and vocal work with some success, “Besame Mucho” and “The Man with the Golden Arm” featuring a Fender VI six-string bass guitar. Then, as part of a duo with former Shadows drummer Tony Meehan, he topped the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in early 1963 with “Diamonds“.[9] Harris and Meehan followed this with two further hit singles, “Scarlett O’Hara” (also written by Jerry Lordan) a UK No. 2, and “Applejack” (composed by Les Vandyke) reaching UK No. 4 also in 1963.[9] Tracks from “Diamonds” onward were recorded with Harris using standard Fender Jaguar and Gretsch guitars, usually de-tuned to D instead of E. Harris was partly responsible for helping Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones break into the music business. Page’s first major session was as a rhythm guitarist on “Diamonds” in late 1962. After “Diamonds” became a hit, Harris and Meehan hired Jones to play bass in their touring band.[10]

There were several court appearances involving drunkenness and violent behaviour[4] before the partnership with Meehan came to an abrupt end in September 1963 when a car crash on what was then the A44 (now the B4084) near EveshamWorcestershire, (in which his girlfriend, singer Billie Davis,[11] was also injured), meant that this success did not last long.[1][12] Harris attempted a comeback as the Jet Harris Band, in 1966 and was briefly in the line-up of The Jeff Beck Group in 1967, but somewhat fell out of the music industry.[1] He then worked variously as a labourerbricklayerporter in a hospital, bus conductor, and as a seller of cockles on the beach in Jersey. Harris and Meehan also made two short cameo appearances in the black and white film Just for Fun, released in 1963. In the film, Jet and the Jetblacks played “Man From Nowhere”, whilst the duo performed “(Doin’ the) Hully Gully”, a vocal track released as the flipside of their hit “Scarlett O’Hara”.

Harris was declared bankrupt in 1988.[3] The BBC reported that it took Harris 30 years of heavy drinking before he finally admitted to being an alcoholic and sought help. For many years, Harris made a point in his stage shows of saying how long it had been since he quit drinking, winning applause from audiences who knew how it had wrecked his career in the ’60s. Harris still played occasionally, with backing band the Diamonds or as a guest with the Rapiers, and guested with Tony Meehan at Cliff Richard’s 1989 ‘The Event’ concerts.[citation needed]

In 1998, he was awarded a Fender Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in popularising the bass guitar in Britain. He appeared annually at Bruce Welch‘s ‘Shadowmania’ and toured backed by the Rapiers (a Shadows tribute band). He recorded continuously from the late 1980s with a variety of collaborators, including Tangent, Alan Jones (also an ex-Shadows bassist), Bobby Graham and the Local Heroes. His previous problems with stage nerves had seemingly disappeared, and 2006 saw Harris’ first single release in over forty years, “San Antonio”.[citation needed]

From 2005 to 2009, Harris achieved a lifetime ambition by touring UK theatres with his own show, “Me and My Shadows”. The Rapiers performed as his ‘Shadows’, and he had a special guest star in his former girlfriend Billie Davis, who had rescued him when the pair were in a road crash in late 1963 that effectively ended his career. “I’m going to go out in my twilight years with a big bang—and ‘Me and My Shadows’ is one of my little dreams,” Harris said at the time. Harris said of the Rapiers’ lead guitarist Colin Pryce Jones: “He is on a par with Hank Marvin.”

In 2007, Harris was invited by UK singer Marty Wilde to be a special guest on his 50th Anniversary tour. This culminated in an evening at the London Palladium, with other guests including Wilde’s daughters Kim and Roxanne, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, and original Wildcats members Big Jim SullivanLicorice Locking and Brian Bennett, who joined Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch of The Shadows on stage with Wilde and the current Wildcats (Neville Marten and Eddie Allen on guitar, Roger Newell bass, and Bryan Fitzpatrick, drums). The show’s finale featured the closest thing to a Shadows reunion possible, with Marvin, Welch, Harris, Locking and Brian Bennett (who in 1962 had replaced Tony Meehan, now deceased) all appearing on stage with the show’s company.

The evening was filmed, and a DVD released, with Harris playing three tunes – “Diamonds”, “Theme From Something Really Important” and “Scarlett O’Hara” – backed by the Wildcats. So successful was this tour that Wilde repeated the invitation to join him on his 2010 Born to Rock and Roll tour, which finished in Basingstoke on 20 November. Harris said that this was his most enjoyable working experience in years (he told us this on many occasions during the two Marty tours: Neville Marten, Wildcats guitarist).[citation needed]

In a December 2008 interview for the Daily Mail, Harris spoke about not having been invited to join The Shadows for their 50th anniversary, at the Royal Variety Performance.[13]

His fan club arranged a 70th birthday party for him on 5 July 2009, at the Winter GardensWeston-Super-Mare.[14]

In 2010, Harris started working with the Shadowers, led by guitarist Justin Daish. He began plans for a new show, featuring fresh material he had never performed before. However, regular tour dates and studio recordings with the Shadowers, Brian “Licorice” Locking and Alan Jones, though discussed, never materialised due to Harris’ poor health. His last concert (5 February 2011, Ferneham Hall, Fareham) saw him perform one tune (“Here I Stand” from his album “The Phoenix Rises”) with both Locking and Jones; this was the only time the three Shadows bass guitarists would ever perform together.

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.[15]

In 2010, Harris was presented with a special award from the US Fender guitar company for his services to their company in effectively launching their bass guitar in the UK in 1960.

Harris had five sons and a daughter.[3] He resided in BembridgeIsle of Wight. He was a heavy smoker[3] and died on 18 March 2011, two years after being diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary, at the home of his partner Janet Hemingway, in Winchester.[16][17][18][19]

In 2012 the UK Heritage Foundation erected a blue plaque in his memory at the Kingswood Centre, Honeypot Lane, Kingsbury, on the site of the former Willesden Maternity Hospital where he was born.[20] At the luncheon that followed the unveiling of the plaque, various musicians took part in a performance in Harris’ memory, including Mike Berry, Clem Cattini of The Tornados, bassist Mo Foster, and Harris’ backing group the Shadowers. Tributes were read by Bruce Welch and Marty Wilde. Brian “Licorice” Locking could not attend but a few days prior had made a live recording of a dedicated harmonica performance of Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer”, which was played. Hank Marvin sent a written tribute but it did not arrive in time to be read.[citation needed]

Liam

Liam

Anyone who knows me are aware that I am a bit of a movie buff. Over the past few years I have been collecting signed photographs of my favourite actors.

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