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2018 marks 10 years since Al James (real name Geoff Betts) left Showaddywaddy and I had a brief catch up with him in January 2018.

Geoff played bass in the band, an instrument he first took up aged 13 having initially played guitar - his favoured models of bass to play being a Fender Jazz and Danelectro Longhorn Bass.

As well as playing bass, he wrote and performed lead vocals on a number of songs such as “King Of The Jive” (1974), “Rocker Boots” (1975) - a track he still listens to today - and “Record Machine” (1976). He also wrote a number of songs in his pre-Showaddywaddy ‘Choise’ days, including, “Think Of Me”, “Butterfly”, and “She’s A Man”, the latter being a B-side to the one and only Choise single, “Cecilia”, released in 1969. Geoff says “She’s A Man” was influenced by The Beatles’ “Get Back”. The 1969 version was released before Dave Bartram and Romeo Challenger joined Choise, and is not as heavy as later live versions. During his time in Choise, he also wrote “Feelin’” which was to later be recorded by Showaddywaddy and included on the 1977 album ‘Red Star’.

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During 1972, Choise played in the same Leicester pub (The Fosse Way) as another local band The Golden Hammers, and the two bands joined to form Showaddywaddy in 1973.

There were no reservations from Geoff about leaving Choise behind - “it organically took over”. He continued to play bass in Showaddywaddy, a role shared with the band’s other bass player Rod Deas. It was straightforward for Geoff and Rod to decide who played bass on particular songs, they knew between them who would be best suited to a particular track. He didn’t play anything other than bass on any SWW recordings.

Geoff continued to contribute further songs for Showaddywaddy “Superstar” (1977), “Teen Canteen” (1980), “Tribute” (1981) and “Do It Again” (1982). “Do It Again” is a particularly strong track and although it wasn’t included on the “Living Legends” album, but he wasn’t particularly disappointed that it wasn’t included on the LP. No lyrics were contributed to any other songs, the rest of Showaddywaddy’s original material being written by Dave Bartram and Trevor Oakes.

Unusually for an album track, “Teen Canteen” was performed on the band’s own BBC special, “Showaddywaddyshow’ in 1980, and Geoff also sang lead vocals on a cover version of “Say Mama” which was also performed on TV a couple of times, and was a song also recorded for the ‘Trocadero’ LP (1976). “Say Mama” was a regular in the band’s live set for a number of years, as well as “Jailhouse Rock”, which was sang by Geoff throughout his whole time in the band (1973 to 2008). Geoff wasn’t too disappointed that he didn’t get the opportunity play some of his recorded songs in the band’s live set, but I don’t suppose you can play them all.

“Tribute”, which was written as a tribute to John Lennon, remains a favourite of Geoff’s to this day. (One of his regrets is that he never had the opportunity to meet John Lennon, Elvis or Jimi Hendrix). His favourite SWW single is “Three Steps To Heaven”, a song which he still listens back to, his least favourite single being “I Wonder Why”. As far as albums go, he is most proud of “Red Star” and least proud of “Living Legends”, an album which also contains his least favourite track, “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me”.

Geoff’s fondest SWW TV memory was playing behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in East Berlin in 1978, which was reputedly broadcast to 300 million people. His favourite live venue to play at on UK soil being the Glasgow Apollo.

Into the 1980s, the band’s original line up started to disintegrate, with Malcolm Allured, Russ Field and Bill Gask leaving in 1984, 1985 and 1987 respectively. Geoff says whilst it was sad that they left, he never felt tempted to leave around that time himself, he just wanted to carry on playing in the band. However when he finally decided to hang up his bass in 2008, it just felt like it was the right time to call it a day.

He is proud of his time with Showaddywaddy and has many happy memories. Since leaving the band, he has enjoyed reading and gardening at his home in Market Harborough, where he has lived for many years.