Ged Peck's Memories

 
Guitarist Ged Peck played with Carlo in various line-ups of the Savages and Flowerpot Men.
He also performed with Marsha Hunt, Billy Fury, Marc Bolan, and the Freddie Mack Band throughout the 1960s. He was later with Warhorse in early 1970s, but gave up playing with bands in 1971 after becoming bored with the music. He took up classical guitar instead and became a college lecturer.
Ged passed away in January 2015. This is his story of life on the road, as told to this website...

"It's not that I'm ashamed of any of it; in fact, although it literally drove me mad, it also taught me a lot and I wouldn't change it for the world. We were all a bunch of complete bastards to each other in the Sixties, largely because the life was so hard. It seems that almost everyone from that period has some sort of beef. I'd be the same. It shows you how bad relationships really were. When you are in each other's company 24/7, it can drive you barmy. You notice the other person's every horrible habit.

 

Looking back, I have to say that there are not too many people I would like to bump into again. Unfortunately, some of the nicer people are no longer with us. I saw Nicky Hopkins' obituary in the Guardian a few years back. He was - in my view - a really good pianist, and a nice guy whom I always got on with. The last time I saw him was in the late Sixties and Wembley Arena, then Wembley Empire Pool, when Carlo and I were performing with the Flowerpot Men. There was a revolving stage and one act would immediately 'appear' as the other was disappearing. As I got ready to go on stage I unexpectedly saw Nicky Hopkins coming off the other side. Nicky and I were good friends and I hadn't seen him for some time. You can guess what happened.

Ged Peck (left) and Carlo Little - Copenhagan, 1968.

We began a conversation as the stage was starting to turn and I nearly missed it. At the last minute I jumped on and desperately tried to keep standing. Carlo began to tap out the beat on the hi-hat, only to bawl something inaudible at us for getting it wrong. The show went on TV in the middle of that week and we all watched it from some hotel where we were playing. We then heard the exact words Carlo had used. As the TV announcer did a talk-over introduction, we could just about hear the hi-hat only to be followed by the immortal words, "Too f***in' FAST!", which could easily be picked up on TV! It's quite possible that Carlo even beat Ken Tynan to use the 'F' word on TV. Now that's a first!

 

Photo: some field north of Birmingham, taken by Mark, our roadie.

L-R: organist Billy Davidson, me, Nick Simper, and Carlo (in infamous 'desert boots').

Carlo was like everyone's 'father', not just in that he was older, but in experience. He knew much more than any of us, had done more that us, and if we got above ourselves, didn't mind telling us that he knew more! I suspect people were afraid of him. Actually, when I first worked with him we didn't get on, largely because he (rightly) saw me as this young big-headed kid who overrated himself. It led to the (in)famous fight we had somewhere in Scotland which destroyed a table full of food and cream cakes. Mind you, it cleared the air, and I quickly realised that if I wanted to learn anything about the 'business', Carlo was worth listening to. Ritchie Blackmore dominated Deep Purple, and he would never have got away with it had Carlo been there. As for the Savages, as you know, Carlo ran it like a military operation. All the moves on stage, what to do when Sutch did this or that, it was all barked out like a regimental sergeant major; and all this whilst playing the drums. I had it, and Ritchie must have had it too. However, in musical terms Carlo was really good. Yes, he 'blew is top' when we screwed up. But it simply meant that we didn't screw up again.

Nick Simper, Tony Dangerfield, and myself just avoided conscription, but you could always see that Carlo had been in the army, even if you weren't told. You see, he was so bloody tidy! When I shared a room with Jon Lord in Germany in the late 60's, it was total wreck. It's a good job we had room service otherwise the local environment health people would have been called in. Unlike some I could mention, he was fanatically clean...clean clothes...everything washed etc. I shared with him a few times and it was an experience. He would hang a piece of string across the room from which he used to hang his socks. Each one was been washed in the sink, and each one hung at a regulation four inches from the one next to it. If that didn't smack of the army, then nothing would.

 

The other thing was his legendary propensity for ensuring that nothing went to waste. When we were on tour in Denmark, we used to play the clubs until about 4.00 am in the morning. Therefore, making breakfast time in the hotel was always a bit difficult. Now I usually got there, somehow. But Carlo wanted the best of both worlds - breakfast and sleep. Therefore, one morning I was sitting there eating some wonderfully cold ice bun (yes, for breakfast) along with other hotel guests. Suddenly, the door burst open and in rushed Carlo, looking somewhat the worst for wear, in his vest and holding a paper bag. He barged his way to table and began to shovel the food - buns, cakes, etc - into the bag, emitting the legendary words "If I'm paying for it, then I'm having it!" before rushing out again to the complete consternation of the room. 

 

L-R: Nick Simper, Billie Davis, Ged and Carlo.

On tour in Frankfurt, 1968.

1968ish and in Germany. We'd just played the K52 (or some number like that...am I mixing it up with American B52s?) It's like the 19,000th visit to Germany in 12 months. It took ages to get there in the back of a Transit in the stifling heat. However, Carlo works out that in order to get home the next day after the final gig, we have to make the Hook of Holland (or wherever) at a certain time, otherwise we would be stuck at the port until the morning. "Easy," he said confidently, "get your cases packed before the gig, out of the back door, into the van, and off!" Sounds too good to be true. Simple logistics. It all went well at first. We even help the roadie to pack the van (unheard of), and we are on the autobahn with time to spare. No traffic, late at night, and doing fine. Then somewhere in the middle of nowhere (it always is), the fan belt breaks. "No sweat," says Carlo confidently, looking at Mark the roadie who is driving. "Get the spare out Mark and let's get on our way." Nothing happens. Mark just sits there staring out of the windscreen. "Get the spare out Mark!" Carlo says a little more emphatically. Of course, Mark, who had the knack of annoying everyone every minute of the day had forgotten to buy one. A simple error that even an untrained baboon would make. Nick and I look at each other knowingly. It is not a time to offer any helpful tips - indeed, it is time to pretend we are invisible. Fumes start to rise from Carlo's head. We knew the signs. 

Suddenly, Carlo grabs his suitcase which has been jammed in the doorway and slams it into Mark's head, nearly knocking him out of the van and into the road. Not for the first time, Carlo has lost it...big time. Nick Simper and I are not too bothered about Mark's predicament. He had it coming anyway. Next, Carlo's case then flies out of the driver's side window, to be followed by its seething owner. The last thing we see is Carlo stomping off up the autobahn hard shoulder swearing and shouting. Scene in the van: total silence. No one moves, no one says anything. It is only broken when Nick adds the obvious; words to the effect that Mark is a "stupid f*****!" I concur. In time, Carlo comes back. Reality has returned. The suitcase is violently returned to its original location. Even this man cannot walk across Germany and Holland! He gets in the van to complete silence. We (of course) miss the boat. Mark is then made to stay outside the van for most of the night. Serves him right.

Photo: somewhere in Denmark, 1968. Nick, Carlo, organist Billy Davidson, and the dreaded van. I took the picture. Mark, the roadie, nearly killed us here! We ended up in this field.

The next day (again, very hot) we have to try and find a fan belt. We travel short distances off the motorway and eventually discover a small hamlet which appeared not to have seen civilisation for 50 years. As we roll into the square, shutters on the windows slam shut. Hungry and tired, the van is left at a garage and we find a small cafe and order some food. At first they don't want to serve us for some reason, although we must have looked a bit of a state. As the sun streams in through the window and we consume our food, we gradually fall asleep. Suddenly we are awakened by two police officers who insist on seeing our passports. Now, Carlo has his on him (well, he would, wouldn't he), whilst Nick Simper and myself try to explain in halting German that ours are at the garage. Hence, we are frog-marched to a police car and disappear from view. They finally accept our story and things are sorted out. This Mark guy has a lot to answer for.

 

So that's what I meant when I said that the life drove me mad. I can look back and laugh now, but it wasn't funny at the time, just pure hell.

 

Ged in Munich, 1968.

However, the worst escapades largely involved a certain bass player Carlo and I know well, although I didn't play with both of them at the same time. This involved full scale fist fights, vans rolling downhill minus a driver who had also been booted out the van, smashed up hotels with room doors that simply went missing(!), getting turfed out at absurd times, and finding out that the drummer had boozed all the petrol money away on the boat to Germany. We subsequently ran out in a freezing cold winter and tried filling up without a bean in our pockets. And talking of fights...another story has come back into my mind about Carlo. It brought back memories of how the pressures of life really affected you. I got into a blazing row with him before a gig (about what, I haven't a clue!) It began to get out of hand and both of us started to lash out. In the room, which was fortunately empty, there was a long table with loads of cakes on it. One of us (can't remember which) ended up across it with the other thrashing around underneath! You can imagine the mess.

 

Other 'normal' experiences involved fire extinguishers which surprisingly went off at strange times in the morning, and rooms which were flooded. And then with Carlo, room tannoy systems that got pumped full of gun shot holes every time the landlady wanted to make an announcement to her guests...and you thought Keith Moon was a nutter?!

 

Copenhagen, 1968.

One of the funniest things was when Carlo, myself, and Tex Makins went with the FPM to Switzerland. We met David Garrick there who was having trouble with his Swiss backing band. They were God-awful! Garrick - a big star over there - begged us to back him that evening (in fact, only about four hours away), and we decided to do it, much to the FPM's annoyance. Following the gig, they came back to Britain whilst Garrick wanted us to tour the country with him. This we did, traveling around in his red Mustang and by train, always accompanied by a party which seemed to never end. What I found amusing - and I confess to a rather cruel streak here - was that Carlo had just met Iris, his wife, and had obviously told her that he would be back in Britain as such and such a date. Obviously, this went by the board as Tex and me were having a great time. Poor old Carlo. We were sitting in a bar when the phone rings. Somehow, Iris had tracked him down and he had to explain his non-appearance. All we heard was Carlo saying "Look Iris, this phone call is costing me MONEY!"

Photo: a live TV show in Munich, 1968 >>

Me on the left watching Carlo do his solo.

Nick Simper right, and on the far right, Jon Lord.

I met Ritchie Blackmore in Hamburg in 1967; Carlo introduced me. Ritchie was in this grubby club and at that time living with stripper. He hardly said a word and it took some time before we got to know each other better. How he survived in Hamburg I'll never know. I hated the place. It was seedy, dirty, and 24/7. This is the place that Ritchie lived for a while.

 

We all played at Star Club in Hamburg, although you had to be careful when walking past other clubs. Carlo and I were walking past one when the guys who had to the job of getting clients to come in got hold of us and tried to physically drag us in. That was Hamburg, you either loved or loathed it. Ritchie clearly loved it. And, Tony Dangerfield did too.

One of the guys I knew was Graham Bond. I played with him and Dick Heckstall-Smith a few times, and sometime used to go around with him socially. In the late 60's, I was working at a big East End club (The 'Uppercut'...Carlo will know of it...and that's another story involving George and Billy Walker and the Kray twins). Graham used to turn up and we became friendly. I recall going down a club called the UFO and seeing the Soft Machine, and then being led into this back  room where Paul McCartney was hanging out with some of these people. However, Graham's personal life seemed to be in total mess, and I wonder how much of that was due to the fact that so many people had gained from him and then passed him by to wealth and riches. I wasn't that shocked when I heard years back that he'd ended his life under a tube train. It was a terrible loss though. He was so good.

There were so many talented people in that decade that have been forgotten, or not even known about today (and I don't include myself in this list). As usual in life, once there is the slightest prospect of anything becoming popular, some slick A&R man would sign them up, alter them drastically for 'the market', and due to the pressure on all of us to stay alive, we generally went along with it and basically lost the plot. That's what made the 1960s so frustrating. You wanted to play really good music, but usually ended up doing session work and backing singers. Nick will tell you about our days with Marsha Hunt. Nick managed to get on with her up to a point, but she absolutely hated me because I refused to take her seriously and generally sent her up. She even threatened the drummer and me with a broken bottle before a gig in Scotland one night because of what we'd been saying. Mind you, it was the Isle of Wight Festival of 1969 that got it going. There's a famous photograph of her there which is often used with me in the background (see right). She was really into the 'hey man' thing in the car going out there, which just sent the rest of us into hysterics. The final insult was when she inquired whether we were going to stay for the next day when we could all meet "Bob" (Dylan), and received a reply from myself and Nick that we could wait to get home.

 

There are 'other stories' I could tell, but never will. Too embarrassing I'm afraid, so you'll have to press others on those, although I suspect you'll get the same response. My lips are permanently sealed. Even money will not shift me. Yes...these were happy days...happy days..."

 

Ged Peck, 1947-2015.

Links