Heavy metal South Shields-style


Time for a few of your letters and emails, that add a bit more detail to articles and photos that have appeared recently in the page.

Firstly, regular contributor Dorothy Ramsey got in touch to shed more light on a picture of a mystery shop, taken in March 1973.

Dorothy writes: “The unknown grocer shop, featured in a recent article, is the old MI Dickson shop, on Fowler Street. It features the counter where bacon and raw meat was sold from.

“To help you in your quest, here’s a photo of the interior when the Tonneson’s owned the shop before 1960. The interior remained the same.”

What are your recollections of Tonneson’s and of the shop when it became Dickson’s?

Thanks, as ever, go to Dorothy, and to another familiar contributor, Gary Wilkinson, who emailed me following the piece about Wavis O’Shave and his close encounter with former Sex Pistol singer Johnny Rotten.

Gary wrote: “The story you featured the other day about Wavis and Johnny Rotten was great to read.

“I filmed Wavis a couple of years ago talking about his time, in the late 70s early 80s, of playing gigs around Shields, and collecting autographs of Debbie Harry, Kenny Everett and more (which you featured in a story from Gary Craig).

“Wavis features in a ‘rockumentary’ I made in 2011 called We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll, which was all about the rock music scene in South Tyneside in the late 1970s through the 1980s.

“Some of the South Shields bands were a big influence on Metallica and Def Leppard and the new wave of British heavy metal scene.

“They included the likes of Kev Charlton, now in Bessie and the Zinc Buckets, playing north eastern gigs, biker festivals and, last year, playing the Newcastle City Hall.

“Also Vince High, of Mythra, who are back together playing heavy metal festivals around Europe after 30-odd years.

“Lou Taylor is also still playing with Ronnie James Dio tribute band called Heaven & Hell, while Duncan Binnie is playing again after 30 years with his heavy metal band Mandora.

“The full length 90-minute film is available to watch via You Tube, so why not give it a look. There are some great stories in it, all told by the musicians.”

What are your memories of the local music scene at the time, Gary is talking about – the bands, the gigs, the music and the songs that certainly struck a chord with a generation?

Gary’s mention of Mythra reminds me of the time I bought their 12-inch single, Death & Destiny, at WH Smith.

The music was great, though the sleeve was just a simple paper bag. So eager to tart it up a bit, I glued some suitable cut-out photos on the sleeve, only to find sometime later that the glue had seaped through the paper and onto the vinyl beneath. My worst fears were realised when I tried to play the record, and the stylus just skidded across the surface.

Thankfully Smith’s had another copy, and I added Mythra’s EP to the many other new wave of British heavy metal records (including North East rockers Tygers of Pang Tang, White Spirit and Fist, to name a few) in my rock collection.

What are your memories of the NWBHM scene and the music from those days? Much of it still stands the test of time today.