In Memory Of Rockin' Ray Neale - March 18, 2012

It is with great sadness that I have to write yet again the passing of yet another old friend and founder member of my old band Shotgun. Rockin' Ray passed away on March 18th at the age of 62. He had been suffering from ill health for several years with severe breathing problems that finally proved to be fatal, he passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.

I first met Ray back in 1967 when he was playing with his band The Kingpins at a Rockers reunion party in South London, and from then on we became close friends and frequently jammed together with many players around at that time throughout the South London Rock 'n' Roll circuit, and in 1978 the name Shotgun was born.

Ray's vocals and guitar playing were out of this world and were second to none. He was loved and admired by everybody who had the privilege of knowing him throughout the length & breadth of the international Rockin' scene. He was a true character, and one of my best friends who I shall miss dearly. There will only be one 'Rockin' Ray Neale', as he was unique, and from that old school from where Shotgun first began. This has again been a very bitter pill to swallow, but his memory will always live on through his music, and all who knew him. He was and always will be a true 'Son Of Rockabilly', and a 'Rockabilly Brother' to us all in Shotgun!

R.I.P. Ray. Always a Friend.
Wild Bob Burgos & Your Rockabilly Brothers... Shotgun!
(March 2012)

 
 
South London Rockers Mourn the Passing of Shotgun's
Craig 'Cowboy' Collins - November 23, 2011

I recently received the very sad news that our long time friend and fellow Rockabilly Brother Craig 'Cowboy' Collins passed away on the 23rd of November, 2011. Prior to his untimely passing, he had been suffering breathing problems for a short period of time from a lung infection that proved to be fatal.

I first met Craig back in the mid 1980's when our paths crossed many times on the established South London Rock 'n' Roll Circuit where we both played. He formed his own band called 'Fairlane Rock', and often asked me to back him up on drums which I did many times in those days. Over the years we became great friends, and his involvment with myself and all the other members of my band Shotgun made him the perfect replacement for our 'ol buddy and founder member Rockin' Ray Neale who wasn't always available due to ill health.

Craig was one of the best, not only as a person, but as a great vocalist and guitarist too. He was a true friend to all the boys in Shotgun, and we shall miss him dearly alongside his family and all the Rockers from South London and beyond... He was a true 'Son Of Rockabilly' and we were proud to have him as a member of Shotgun!!

R.I.P. Craig. Always a Friend.
Wild Bob Burgos & Your Rockabilly Brothers... Shotgun!
(November 2011)

 

In the late Sixties and early Seventies, South London was widely regarded as being the birth place of British Rock'n'Roll with bands playing every night of the week in small pubs filled with Rockers and Teddy Boys. The atmosphere was always electric with Rock'n'Roll musicians taking the stage, jamming along with whoever was playing at the time. There was never any rules in those days - just gut feelings for Rock'n'Roll and a good time! Among those musicians that played so frequently together, came a sound that would be remembered for decades to come - not only in South London, but in every Rock'n'Roll club across Europe and Scandinavia. Night after night a driving rhythm could be heard as South London rocked again and again throughout the Seventies and into the Rock'n'Roll revival boom that shortly followed.

Ray Neale, Bob Burgos and Rob Murly were all founder members of the South London revival days, and had been playing together for many years without a name for the band. On any stage at any show they were always known as "Wild and Explosive" as they ripped through Rock'n'Roll songs with an energy no other band possessed. Their many followers packed out pubs wherever they played and in 1978 the name "SHOTGUN" was born.

Terry Parker, the owner of Billy Goat Records, often went to see Shotgun play and soon signed them up for their first single on the Billy Goat label in September of 1978. During this period a second guitarist was needed to add depth to the Shotgun sound that was to follow. On many occasions Jim Carlisle (who also recorded on Billy Goat Records) played guitar with Shotgun and recorded many of his own songs with the band, but due to personal problems couldn't remain with Shotgun. He was soon replaced by guitarist Iain Terry. Piano and saxophone were also added to Shotgun's line-up on large shows and recordings, but on occasion would remain a trio of Ray, Bob and Rob who were the originators of the band Shotgun.

In 1987 guitarist Dave Briggs moved in to replace lain Terry and is still today playing with the band as its fourth member. Throughout the '80s and '90s, Shotgun have gone from strength to strength, recording many albums and working with Rockabilly stars Johnny Legend, Ray Campi, Mac Curtis and many, many more. Although many years have passed, Shotgun still remain Britain's wildest Rockabilly band and will go on being remembered as probably one of the finest.

Guitar, Bass and Drums, that's the heart of Rock'n'Roll. Lean, mean and ready for action Shotgun have taken their unique high-octane Rockabilly sound across Britain and Europe through a hundred screaming festivals, a thousand sweaty heaving clubs, and a million miles of motorways, autobahns and truckstops. Caged in a recording studio, their music breaks out with a sound from the time when Country Music shacked up with Rhythm'n'Blues and their offspring rocked the world.

Bob Burgos is a great drummer. No, that's not me talking, that's the men who know. Drummers like Dick Richards, in at the birth of rock'n'roll with Haley's Comets. Rockabilly stars like Sonny Burgess and Ray Campi. Showmen like Freddie 'Fingers' Lee. Bob has backed Berry (and I do mean Chuck), been a Savage with Sutch and beat the skins for Matchbox during their glory years in the Seventies. He's a singer, a songwriter and his beloved Ludwig kit has been the powerhouse behind many of the greatest rockin' recordings. Wild Bob Burgos is the best.

Rob Murly plays the bass. Fender Bass, Fender Amp, Fender Cab. Rock'n'Roll throbs with Leo's great invention because, hell, they were made for each other. Stand Bob blindfold on a stage anywhere in the world, put a bass in his hands, give him an intro, a note, a beat and he's right there in the key, in the rhythm and in the music. Like Bob, Rob has toured with the Screaming Lord and before Shotgun, Rob was in the well-remembered Cruisers. Rob sings too, a strong rocking voice and writes some fine songs, both vocal and instrumental.

If Bob and Rob supply the gunpowder then Ray Neale is the shot that peppers the audience with words and chords. He favours a Rickenbacker and it hangs easily from his big shoulders. Ray played in the Sixties with bands that included the Mojos, the Fading Colours and Ainsley Dunbar. He met Rob and Bob in the early Seventies and their paths crossed and re-crossed in bands such as C.S.A. (with the late and much missed Tony Vincent) before Shotgun was set up and the word spread in the pubs and clubs of South London about a new and exciting brand of rockabilly.

Ray Liffen
(Contributor to Pipeline Magazine)

 
 

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