Royston Ellis with Jimmy Page (Late 1960 - July 1961)
Royston Ellis did performances of rock and roll poetry - rocketry - with the future founding member of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page from Late 1960 to July 1961, taking over The Shadows who became so in demand after the success of their single “Apache”. Only 3 of these performances can be pinpointed within 9 months:
• TV show with Jimmy, late 1960, on Southern Television (from Southampton, with Julian Pettifer)
• 4 March 1961, HERETICS society of Cambridge University
• Sunday 23 July 1961, the Mermaid Theatre, London
“I gave Jimmy Page his first stage and TV shows when he backed me reading my poetry...”
“This was after my stage and TV appearances with The Shadows, because they became so in demand, I had to find other musicians…”
“I appeared on television with Jimmy on Southern Television from Southampton, with Julian Pettifer, in late 1960.”
In fact, Jimmy Page already appeared on television with The J.G. Skiffle Group, performing 2 Skiffle numbers on Huw Wheldon's All Your Own talent quest programme.
“We did other shows together, too, in the 1960s…
There was one to the HERETICS society of Cambridge University on 4 March 1961 and another at the Mermaid Theatre, London, on Sunday 23 July 1961 which was just Jimmy and myself on stage as part of an evening of poets and actors (Ralph Richardson, Flora Robson, etc) reading works…”
“I used to appear with Jimmy alone (not with the group in which he played then, the Red Cats and managed by Chris Tidmarsh who later emerged as Neil Christian) although I think we may have recruited a bongo player for some dates…”
“Jimmy was sitting down in the background while I was lecturing.”
About that time, Jimmy Page was lead guitarist in a rock 'n' roll band called Red-E Lewis & The Red Caps and that was managed by Chris Tidmarsh who later emerged as singer “Neil Christian” fronting his Crusaders that also included Page on guitar. Tidmarsh was the guy who had shown Ellis how to use the Vick inhaler (see Royston Ellis & The Be"A"tles)…
“Yes, the Vick inhaler story has become part of drug legend. I was shown how to do that by a singer who later became Neil Christian and his guitarist, who used to accompany me in those days, Jimmy Page.”
The previous line up of the Red Caps left Red-E Lewis to team up with black singer Cuddy Duddley then emerged as the new version of Johnny Kidd’s Pirates from July 1961 to early 1962 and featuring lead guitarist Johnny Patto, bass player Johnny Spence and drummer Frank Farley.
By 1961, the “New Red Caps” were Jimmy Page on guitar, then nicknamed “Nelson Storm” after the 18th century admiral, “Jumbo” Spicer on electric bass and Jim “Tornado” Evans on drums.
In addition to being the lead guitarist of the Red Caps, Page used to backed Royston Ellis in a different way from his illustrious predessors, The Shadows and The Beatles. Page and Ellis were just accompanied on stage with a bongo player. This couple of musicians backed Ellis reading sequences of poems from his first book “Jiving To Gyp” and “Rave”, released in 1961.
“Jimmy composed his own music to back my poems - usually ones from JIVING TO GYP although I might have been performing the one with the line "Easy, easy, break me in easy" from RAVE”
The Mermaid show was the peak - and possibly the final one - of our stage performances.”
After their final stage performance together, at the Mermaid Theatre, London, in July 1961, they finally parted company and Jimmy Page toured throughout Britain with the Red Caps who had fallen out with Red-E Lewis and then became The Crusaders backing Chris Tidmarsh aka “Neil Christian”. Page began his career of recording session musician with Neil Christian & The Crusaders, on their first singles, released in late 1962 and summer 1963, just after he left them because of his delicate health. Jimmy Page met up Royston Ellis once again also in Guernesey, also in 1963…
“I remember that Jimmy visited me when I was in Guernsey in early 1963 and we did a TV interview on Channel TV….
We are still in touch and have met several times during the past decades... we are still firm friends...”