The Count Bishops

 
Testimonies - Part 1
 

Josh THORNE
 
My name's Josh Thorne and I'd just like to say that I think your Bishops' site is great. I was the road manager and sound engineer during the 1978 tours, including the Irish tour which you don't mention on the site.

My memory doesn't serve me that well but I think we did around 9 gigs over there : Dublin, Belfast and some coast towns too. We also did Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow up in Scotland, and of course all the good R&B clubs and pubs in London where I come from.

A load of venues around England where also gigged. I remember The Bishops cutting an EP ("Mr. Jones") for Chiswick in the middle of all that too, recorded not far away from the famous Greyhound Music venue, in Hammersmith, London.

Dave Tice and I are still in contact, even after all these years and I still miss Zen (who signed me up for the band in the first place).

Josh THORNE

July 20th, 2003


I was quite young and fully into being a roady at the time, so keeping record, gig stuff, dates, taking picutres and keeping memorabilia wasn't really my thing at the time. I'm 46 now and of course sorry that I didn't keep ANYTHING.

Ireland was the only outside England gigs that I was involved in which Chiswick sent us on. I remember really well going around to Dave house, in North London, and listening to him and Zenon working songs out (originals). That was fun.

Unfortunately for me, Chiswick records did not treat me well and that's why I left them.

Also Zen died and that sort of did it for me. Zen was a good friend at the time and I was very sorry to loose him. Dave and Paul were my next best buddies. Dave and I still keep in touch ... he's gone a bit grey though!

Josh THORNE

July 27th, 2003


Apart from hanging around at Paul and Dave's place, all I remember is small little details like having to clean all the spit off the gear after a gig ... disgusting.

We were right in the middle of the Punk era and The Bishops had nights where they would play songs slightly faster than usual (although Paul did it without knowing sometimes ... hahaha ! ! !), just to get the crowd going.

If it was a Punk venue, then the lads would turn the speed up big time and the crowd would love it, but I knew, watching people spit and gob at the band meant CLEAN UP TIME for me after the gig.

It was fun doing gigs with other bands too : Motorhead at the Roundhouse was interesting, just as The Stranglers in Ireland. One of my horror moments throughout my time with The Bishops was when I'd packed up all the gear, loaded it into the truck after the gig (in Glasgow, I think) and started my journey back down to London. I was so whacked that I fell asleep at the wheel and had it not been for the little bumps on the side of the road, I may not have survived.

Josh THORNE

September 28th, 2004

 

 

Ian JOHNS
 

I worked as a roadie for The Bishops way back in 1976. A guy I was living in a squat with called Alex Denholm was their live sound engineer and roadie and he asked me to join him as a roadie. I was 17 at the time and jumped at the job. The few quid Zen paid us greatly helped suppliment my dole. When I say the few quid, we actually got more than the band did at that time!! (that's what Zen told me anyway). 

Alex left and so I recruited my mate Armand and his brother Neil. We all wanted to be in a band so this was a good intro to the music biz.
We did so many gigs that year. The band were really hardworking and the manager at the time "Speeding Pete" booked them everywhere and anywhere. 

I cannot remember any dates but I can recall many places, all the London venues of the time : the Marquee, the Roundhouse, Zen's local The Kensington, the Speakeasy, the Rock Garden, upstairs at Ronnies, the Nashville Rooms. We also worked further afield doing lots of colleges. I can remember doing Eric's club in Liverpool. The Sex Pistols had played the week before.We spent many hours driving up and down the motorway. 

The band was a four piece at the time and looking for a singer during auditions at Blackhole studios. I was shocked by how crap all the singers were so jumped up and did a song. I was offered the job but was a few years younger and was starting a band with Almand and Neil, so I never took up the offer. 

Zen used to hire out the P.A. on the nights The Bishops weren't playing. So we used to do loads of punk bands gigs which was great as we hired that P.A. to most of the punk bands of the day and were doing the legendary Roxy Club all the time. We then brought that old transit and most of the P.A. off Zen and went our own way in early 77. I am so glad I was working with The Bishops at age 17. They were all great guys and I had loads of fun. 

I bumped into Johnny with his son, about 8 years ago in Sainsburys in East Dulwich.

Ian JOHNS

July 30th, 2004


I know The Bishops played in Amsterdam just before I worked with them. It sounded great fun as you can imagine. Amsterdam always is!!

I think they may have done some gigs in France with Little Bob Story. They played with him at the Marquee Club in London a couple of times. 

I never went into the studio with the band, but I can remember how Zen got his name Zenon de Fleur. He was a bit worse for wear when they were recording at
Rickmansworth and was so out of it, he was crased on the floor, so someone named
him Zenon De fleur!! A true story.
I can remember a few of the other gigs. JB's a club in a carpark in Dudley (West
Midlands),the West Runton Pavilion ... er my memory fails me as I was usually well
out of it myself. God knows how we made it up and down the motorway so many
times.
Armand and Neil and myself went on to form a seven piece 60's soul band called Street Chorus and played around the same curcuit as The Bishops. We split. Then, they formed The Small Hours, a mod revival band that made a couple of records and had cult success. A CD was put out last year, 20 years later!! (www.thesmallhours.co.uk). I sing on two of the tracks.

I then formed a band called Voxpop. We played loads of gigs in London and made two singles. We split in 1983 and I was recruited into Freeez shortly after they had their N° 2 hit "AEIOU". But we had no further hits after I joined!! Hey, that's how it goes...

I stopped singing after that and have been running a vintage clothing shop in
Greenwich, London for 15 years. Still love music and was so glad to have been
involved with The bishops. Pity we all have to grow old, eh?

I was the dogsbody and beerdrinker!!

Ian JOHNS

August 28th, 2004

 

 

Armand THOMPSON
 

My name is Armand Thompson. Myself and Ian Johns were road crew for The Count Bishops from around 1976 up until Josh (Thorne) took over, the year Zen died, I think (my memory is a little hazy around that time, as Iīm sure you will
understand). 

I joined after the original roadie (whose name was Alex something) left. It was a few years of madness - as the band were playing solidly in London, and up and down the country at colleges and clubs. It was the height of pub rock (punk bands had just appeared) and there were lots of places a good band could play. I remember many gigs with lineups that included The Stranglers, Dr Feelgood, and others like that.  

Mostly though, the band headlined tours all over the place. We would drive 500 miles up to Scotland for one date, then back to Bristol for another, back to Lancaster
the next night, zig-zagging all over the country like this, endlessly. Of course this was only possible because of a man named "Speeding Pete" who was the bandīs counsellor, friend and part-time booker/manager. You can imagine what was going on. 

I remember one time we had just finished off the last of Peteīs stash and were stopped by the police, who took one look at our pupils and decided to search the van, unloading everything by the side of the motorway. Luckily, they didnīt find anything and let us go.

Curiously, another police incident occurred in Scotland. We got a flat tyre and couldnīt change a wheel because we had no tools. We walked into town, found the police station, on the door of which was a sign :  "If closed, try across the road". The only place across the road was a pub, but sure enough inside were the boys in blue (this was around 2am). They bought us a few drinks, then drove us back in the police car, and proceeded to change the wheel for us. Scottish hospitality!

Another story revolves around a missing case of microphones, stolen after a gig at Queen Mary College, in East London. We had to turn detective and sleuth around asking questions and acting hard to get them back, which we did. That was the first and last time we lost anything.

At one gig (in I think Bristol), Zen was turning up separately, only he never showed (later we heard that he had been arrested and detained for driving a friendīs VW Beetle with foreign plates) so I had to stand in for him. Luckily, by that time, I had heard the songs so often, I was able to do a pretty good impersonation. Later on, with my own band, The Small Hours, I borrowed Zenīs trademark dark glasses on stage trick. Couldnīt see a thing half the time and kept bumping into the piano,
but it helped me get over my initial stage fright. Thanks Zen.

The band also played in Holland and France. Le Mont St Michel was one notable date, although often we didnīt go along, since there was P.A. and kit supplied.

As well as the band, Zen ran a successful P.A. hire business, as you know,
which we used to operate for him. He was a good friend and a good employer.
Also his mother made the best cheesecake in West London! One of the P.A. hire
jobs we got was as house sound crew for the Roxy, the birthplace of punk, ran
by Andy Czechowski, before he took over the Fridge. There, we used to see The
UK Subs, The Clash, Souxsie Sue, and bump into people like Billy Idol, Adam Ant, Don Letts and Tony James most nights. They all wanted to play real LOUD. This was in the days of binliner dresses (for boys), mohair jumpers and bondagewear (for girls). 

It was all pretty weird to us. Other P.A. jobs were with John Cale, Television, and early Blondie. Through that experience, I worked as a producer for a few years. Learned all I knew from Zen. Did you know that the car crash was in his old Aston Martin DB-something? Zen had lovingly restored this fine car over many years, and finally it was ready to drive on the road. He went out one night, hit a roundabout and that was that. It was a shock to us all.

I used to have more, but now I only have one Count Bishops album, the Dutch
"Good Gear" release. You can still hear the energy on those tracks, which is what the band were best at.

Anyway, I hope this is interesting to you. It was a great part of my life that Iīd almost forgotten. Now Iīm going to play the album again...

Keep up the good work on the site. All the best.

Armand THOMPSON

August 28th, 2004

 

 

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