:: BACK ::

Queen before Queen

"Record Collectors"
Initial research John S. Stuart. Additional researh and text: Andy Davis.



Young turned out to be the Opposition's archivist, keeping a diary of each gig played, the equipment used, and the amounts of money earned (as indeed did John Deacon). Richard's diary documented the day Deacon -- now, of course, bassist in one of the world's most famous groups -- first picked up his chosen instrument. "In an entry for 2nd April, 1966," says Young, "it reads, 'We threw Clive out on the Saturday afternoon. Had a practice in Deaks' kitchen, and Deaks went on bass. Played much better.' John didn't have a bass, so we went down to Cox's music shop in King Street in Leicester, and bought him an EKO bass for £60. I paid for it, but I think he paid me back eventually."

"John's bass style with the Opposition was the same as with Queen," reckons Nigel Bullen. "He never used to play with a plectrum, which was unusual, but with his fingers, which meant that his right hand is drooped over the top of the guitar. Also, he plays in an upward fashion, which I'd never seen before, certainly when we were in Leicester. Over the years, I've watched many bass players adopt that style. I'd say he has been copied a lot. I've mentioned this to him, but he doesn't agree."

Clive Castledine wasn't the last member of the band to be dismissed. "The vocal and lead guitar side of the Opposition was changing all the while," recalls Nigel. "Myself, John, and Richard Young were always there -- as were Dave Williams and Ron Chester later on -- but we had a succession of other musicians who I can hardly remember now. There was a guy called Richard Frew in the very early days, and a young lad called Carl, but he didn't fit in. After we began playing proper gigs, Richard decided he wasn't happy with his singing and wanted to move onto keyboards, so we brought in Pete Bart (formerly with another local band, the Rapids Rave) as a gutarist and vocalist. He was good, but again, didn't last long."

"Bart was a bit of a rocker, while we were all mods," remarks Dave Williams. "We were impressed by mod bands like the Small Faces and the original Who. Bart seemed to come from a different era altogether."

"Deaks had the Parka with the fur collar," remembers Ron Chester. "And shot hair, a crew cut. Mirrors on his scooter." Richard Young agrees: "John was more of a mod than us. But you couldn't really pigeonhole the band, because our music went right across the board."

Buying Deacon his bass was no one-off, and Richard Young is remembered as the group's benefactor. Being older than the others, he had a steady job working for his father's electronics company in Leicester, which brought him a regular, and by all accounts, generous wage. He rarely thought twice before splashing out on equipment for the other members.


"Richard bought me a P.A.," recalls David Williams. "But he didn't ask, he used to think that the group needed it. He'd buy it and then say, 'You owe me this'. My mum used to get really annoyed. She'd was at that going-through-my-pockets stage, probably looking for contraceptives. She once found a receipt from Moore and Stanworth's, a local music shop. It was for a Beyer microphone, which cost about £30. I was still at school, getting pocket money, and my mum said, 'What on earth is this?!' Receipts on the Sunday dinner table, that sort of thing. It was good, though. The group needed it."

"I was dead serious about the band," claims Young, who switched to organ with the arrival of Williams in July 1966. "Perhaps more so than anybody else. I could see it going nowhere if money wasn't pumped into it."

"Dick Young was an accomplished organ player," adds Dave, "and he improved the group quite a lot. He always had plenty of dosh, and a car. But he was totally mad, a crazy broke. He'd come round with an organ one week, then next week, he'd have a better one. He ended up with a Farfisa, with one keyboard on it, then one with two keyboards -- one above the other. Then he had a Hammond, an L 100, which was really heavy. Then he had a 'B' series one. The 'L' was top-of-the-range and he sawed it in half to make it easier to carry!"

Dave Williams helped to improve the group as well. "He was at school with us," says Nigel Bullen, "but in another band, who we always looked up to." That band was the Leeds-based Outer Limits (who went on to issue several singles -- without Dave -- in the late 60s). "I joined the Opposition after they asked me to watch them and tell them what I thought," recounts Dave. "The Outer Limits were older lads, all mods, but I was after something a bit more easy going, and the Opposition were my own age. They were okay, but I first saw them at John's house, when they were still practising in bedrooms, and they were absolutely awful. I said, 'Have you thought of tuning up?' They said they had. But it sounded like they were playing in different keys -- totally horrendous. It was so funny. They were so conscientious, they'd all learned their bits, but hadn't tuned up to each other. That was my first tip."

"Our first proper gig was supporting a local band, the Rapids Rave, at Enderby Co-Op Hall," recalls Nigel Bullen. "They used to play at this village hall every week, and then we ended up doing it every week for quite some time." Richard's diary records the Opposition's debut taking place on 4th December 1965, and that the band's fee was £2. Thereafter, they began to offer their services in the local 'Oadby & Wigston Advertiser', which led to bookings in youth clubs and village halls in local hot-spots like Kibworth, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Thurlaston and Great Glen.


:: BACK ::