Al James was one of Showaddywaddy's founder members, being with the band since its inception in 1973. He was a member of Choise, one of the bands that merged with the Golden Hammers to form Showaddywaddy.
Left: Al playing Three Steps To Heaven on Top Of The Pops, 1975.
His real name is Geoffrey Betts, but he took on the stage name Al James shortly after Showaddywaddy's formation. In fact some early Showaddywaddy records are credited to Allured, Bartram, Challenger, Deas, Field, Gask, Betts, Oakes.
Choise released a single in 1969 to which Geoff wrote the b-side, "She's A Man".
This wasn't his only non-Showaddywaddy release as he performed on a single with the band Burglar's Dog (also featuring Bill Gask and Malcolm Allured) in 1981 and again wrote the b-side, "Mississippi".
Al played bass with Showaddywaddy, sharing duties with Rod Deas. He played bass on the band's first single, "Hey Rock And Roll", and went onto play on many other singles including "Sweet Music", "Three Steps To Heaven", "Trocadero" and "Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller".
His talents weren't confined to just playing, having written and performed lead vocals on a number of album tracks and b-sides, including "King Of The Jive", "Rocker Boots", "Record Machine", "Feelin'", "Superstar" and "Do It Again". He also sang lead vocals on the band's cover of Gene Vincent's "Say Mama".
One of the most enduring songs of Showaddywaddy's career has been "Jailhouse Rock", with lead vocals by Al, and performed by the band since 1973 to the present day.
Al also took an active part in the band's stage routines during their energetic shows of the '70s and '80s.
Al decided to call it a day and retire, just short of his 63rd birthday, and performed his last gig with the band at the Cheese & Grain in Frome, Somerset, on Saturday 20th December 2008, where the band announced his retirement during the show.
This also marked the end of Choise, whose line-up was still in tact since Romeo Challenger joined in 1971.
Showaddywaddy fans and music fans alike wish Al a long, happy and peaceful retirement.
Al performing at the Swap Shop Rock Garden Party, Jubilee Gardens in London, Spring Bank Holiday 29th May 1978. Picture copyright of Peter Lane and courtesy of www.saturdaymornings.co.uk
Al with Dave, April 2007