Country Boy came to the band through one of the music shop ads (see Alistair Bryson ). He was our country period drummer, when we were known as “Handsome Hank”. Country Boy was a no bad walloper, he did the trick for the country stuff. He certainly had a better grasp of the rockabilly beat than any of his more illustrious predecessors on the sweaty Charlies’ drum stool. He had played in pipebands but had never been in a four-piece or anything.
At first he enjoyed the novelty of it all, and we enjoyed it too. It was fun to be playing with a drummer again; Country Boy was really the first since Alistair, a gap of about four years. The whole country thing was a real learning experience for us. We had to play to a level of precision that we hadn’t achieved before. When you are copying the cliches of such a rigid style you have to get them just so, it’s very exacting. You are forced into playing runs and bends that don’t come naturally. I found my playing improved no end, Lawrence would say the same if you asked him. About his playing, not mine, if you see what I mean.
Anyway, pressing onwards, things went pretty well with Country Boy for a while. He wasn’t cut from the same cloth as the rest of us so to speak, being more the horny-handed worker. Lawrence and I were more of the lillies of the field who neither spin nor toil persuasion at that time. Gigs were the issue that led to the inevitable rift. I couldn’t be arsed getting them and Country Boy wanted to play them by the barrowload. So as time went on and gigs remained thin on the ground Country Boy became restive.
Country Boy was a drummer of strong opinions. If he didny like a song we didny play it was what it boiled down to. Frankly, this got on my tits. I would slide in a song I had written now and then and I found I was having to tell the bugger it was by Don Gibson or Hank Thompson before we could play the thing. So tensions mounted.
Finally Country Boy hit us with his ultimatum – mer gigs or am oot! Well, Stevie wasn’t standing for this kind of pish. He was royally fed up with moaning drummers, citing an extensive back catalogue of incidents of this kind in the past which had resulted in doom, gloom and desolation all round. So he called Country Boy’s bluff and told him where to get off. Which he did after a few more weeks. And that was the end of Handsome Hank.
I saw Country Boy once more, in Safeway about eight months later. He gave me a strained nod and that was that. There you go, he just wisnae Charlies material. Although as Lawrence says he was always very polite.