Where are they now? – British rock and roll group – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

Where are they now? – British rock and roll group – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
rock music
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Johnny Kidd & The Pirates were a British rock and roll group led by singer/songwriter Johnny Kidd.

They scored a few hit songs from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, and are remembered for appearing onstage in pirate costumes, complete with eye-patches. Though sometimes dismissed as a novelty act because of this gimmick, critic Bruce Eder describes the band as "underrated."

The original group was signed to HMV in 1959 under the auspices of Walter J. Ridley. Their first single was the raw "Please Don’t Touch". This became a minor hit reaching number 25 on the UK singles charts in 1959. The song has since been covered many times, most successfully by the team of Motörhead and Girlschool known as Headgirl.

After this initial success the band was reorganised to streamline the sound and visual appeal. Kidd would naturally take centre-stage at the front, but with Clem Cattini (drums) directly behind. Flanking Kidd on either side would be Alan Caddy (guitar) and Brian Gregg (born 31 January 1939, in London) (bass); and Kidd would high-kick in time to the beat. In an attempt to re-create the feel of his recordings Kidd employed the use of an echo unit on his vocals, one of the first UK rock acts to attempt this on stage.

"Please Don’t Touch"/"Growl" (May 1959)
"If You Were the Only Girl in the World"/"Feelin’" (1959)
"You Got What It Takes"/"Longin’ Lips" (1960)
"Shakin’ All Over"/"Yes Sir, That’s My Baby" (June 1960)
"Restless"/"Magic of Love" (September 1960)
"Linda Lu"/"Let’s Talk About Us" (March 1961)
"Please Don’t Bring Me Down"/"So What" (September 1961)
"Hurry On Back To Love"/"I Want That" (January 1962)
"A Shot of Rhythm and Blues" b/w "I Can Tell" (November 1962)
"I’ll Never Get Over You"/"Then I Got Everything" (June 1963)
"Hungry For Love"/"Ecstasy" (November 1963)
"Always and Ever"/"Dr. Feelgood" (April 1964)
"Jealous Girl"/"Shop Around" (June 1964)
"Whole Lotta Woman"/"Your Cheatin’ Heart" (October 1964)
"The Birds and the Bees"/"Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did" (February 1965)
"Shakin’ All Over ’65"/"I Gotta Travel On" (May 1965)
"It’s Gotta Be You"/"I Hate To Get Up In The Morning" (April 1966)
"The Fool"/"Send For That Girl" (posthumously) (November 1966)

Kidd and the Pirates’ finest moment might have been the powerful song "Shakin’ All Over", which features memorable opening guitars and solo from Joe Moretti, (who also featured on the follow up "Restless"), and reached number one in the UK singles charts in 1960. The song and the group’s proto-power trio line-up both made a strong impression on The Who, who would cover it in their 1970 album Live at Leeds, whose CD liner notes proclaim the original to be the UK’s best pre-Beatles rock single. Music critics Roy Carr and Tony Tyler would later write that "Shakin’ All Over" was the second-ever genuine British rock classic, following Cliff Richard’s "Move It".

The distinctive ‘Shakin’ effect on the track, was created by Joe Moretti sliding Brian Gregg’s cigarette lighter very fast up and down the guitar strings.

Frederick Heath, known as Johnny Kidd (23 December 1935 – 7 October 1966) was the front man for the rock band, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. He was one of the few pre-Beatles British rock and rollers to achieve worldwide fame.

Kidd’s most famous song as a composer was "Shakin’ All Over", which was a #1 UK hit for the band in 1960. Kidd’s own version didn’t chart outside of Europe, but two cover versions did: The Guess Who topped the Canadian charts (and hit #22 US) with their 1965 version of "Shakin’ All Over", and in Australia, Normie Rowe topped the charts with it later the same year.

"Shakin’ All Over" was also covered by The Who on the classic Live at Leeds album. Iggy Pop also included it on his solo album "Avenue B".

Heath was born in 1935 in Willesden, North London, and died aged 30 in 1966, in a motor car accident near Bury, Lancashire.

His date of birth is alternatively listed as 1939 in some sources.

Kidd was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London.

Video – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates – Jealous Girl