Documentary under way on South Shields band Warbeck – filmmaker wants your memories

A copy of Janice Blower's article about Warbeck.
A copy of Janice Blower's article about Warbeck.

When it comes to researching and archiving South Tyneside’s past, few historians have done more to preserve the stories of the local people and places than film-maker Gary Wilkinson.

Over the years, Gary has made numerous documentaries, featuring a wide range of interesting characters.

Alvin Stardust poster.

Alvin Stardust poster.

Now he is seeking help from readers in relation to the music blog he posts, namely photos of South Shields band Warbeck.

The group’s story was first recorded in the Gazette in 1972 when Janice Blower featured the band in the paper’s Young Ones column.

At the time, Janice revealed that the four-man, satin and silk-clad Warbeck, had originally taken their name from Perkin Warbeck, the fifteenth century Frenchman who impersonated one of the murdered sons of Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower. However, they became simply Warbeck due to the many mispronunciations of the name.

The name-change certainly seemed to work for the lads, Michael Emms, Roger Price, Howard Baker and Stuart Wilson, went on to find brief success, as Gary goes on to reveal.

Baron Avro Manhattan

Baron Avro Manhattan

“In my music research for my blog I came across a story about rock band Warbeck.

“In the late 1970s they were signed to EMI but were dropped after recording an album.

“I was told by singer Howard Baker that ‘we behaved like rock stars really’.

“During my interview with him he told me many stories about his time in Warbeck supporting AC/DC, Whitesnake, Alvin Stardust and more which I will be featuring in my blog.

“He is still performing around the North East and recording in France.

“To illustrate the blog I am looking for photos of the band and wondered if any of your readers have any. If they have they can get in touch with me on or 07949 328 066.

Meanwhile, Gary has news on another project he is working on, a one which, once again, you have been helping him with.

“I thought I would keep your readers up to date with the documentary I am making about Baron Avro Manhattan who lived in South Shields from the 1970s to his death on November 26, 1990.

“Avro was a prolific artist and author.

“Through the Shields Gazette, contact was made with Dimitri Cavalli from the Bronx, in New York.

Avro wrote a lot of anti-Catholic books and Dimitri came across the books while researching and writing about the controversy surrounding Pope Pius XII.

“Mr Cavil’s research found Avro changed his name in 1953 from Teofilo Angelo Maria Gardini to Avro Manhattan.

“He has also looked into Avro’s background but couldn’t find any information to verify claims of him running a ‘Resistance’ radio station during the Second World War and other claims Avro made before he came to the UK.

“Research is ongoing between myself and Dimitri to look for any evidence to support his claims.

“Also via the Gazette, contact was made with the German lady Dr Gunda Kraepilin, she knew Avro when she was young and living in Italy. Her mother was a very good friend of Avro’s when they lived near each other close to Lake Maggiore.

“We are regularly in touch, and she has sent a few images of Avro Manhattan when he was young. Dr Kraepilin also put me in touch with a woman in the Italian parliament called Elisabetta Gardini, who is a relative of Avro, telephone calls are being arranged to help add another piece to the jigsaw.

“The ongoing documentary ‘Secrets & Lies’ features very interesting stories, some based in fact others very sketchy but a fascinating project – I wonder what else will turn up?”

We will keep you posted.