Barnham-based songwriter/composer/producer Robin Mayhew rolled back half a century for a partial revival of his 60s band The Presidents.
You can catch the results if you search for More Love Required, Robin Mayhew and The Presidents on YouTube.
Robin on guitar got together with former President Tony Busson, who lives in Aldwick, and fellow former band member Ed Patterson who lives in Addlestone. Completing the line-up was Robin’s son Olly on guitar.
The Presidents always played to a full house of devoted fans at their weekly pub residency in the early 60s. But when they kindly made way for a little-known band by the name of The Rolling Stones, the crowds dwindled to just a dozen.
Robin still laughs at the memory. The last laugh probably belongs to the Stones, however. They’re still going strong more than 50 years after The Presidents, dogged by bad luck and bad breaks, decided to call it a day in 1965. But just recently, Robin, Tony and Ed relived a little of their nearly-glory days. And they are contemplating fixing a few gigs in the not-too-distant future. They won’t necessarily be playing full sets, but Robin suspects they might join a few open-mic nights in the area.
“The band formed in 1958 in Sutton, in Surrey,” Robin recalls. “There were three founder members, and they invited me to their rehearsal because I had a Burns-Weill guitar! I was 18. At the time I was working at a company that made air circulation systems, but I had had a skiffle group before that, and both Colin and Phil (founders of The Presidents) knew me back then. I was playing guitar, strumming away in places like the Granada, Sutton. But then I bought an electric guitar, and that side came along. Things were changing, and I fancied my chances.”
The Presidents enjoyed a degree of success – but they simply didn’t get the breaks. They started to work with engineer Glyn Johns and recorded a version of Candy Man: “Glynn took us to Decca, and Decca signed us immediately. We went for a photo shoot, and they took a number of pictures of us. A release date was set. But then at the last minute, Glyn phoned me and said that Decca had given Candy Man to Brian Poole & the Tremeloes because they were their star band. They did a version that was pretty tame, and it went to number eight. If our version had been released, it would have gone to the top of the charts. We had to release it as a B-side, and we all got disheartened. We missed the big chance. Had we released our version, it would have made it. It was an r&b rhythm climate with the Stones and all they were doing in 1964. With all that happening, we would have made it. We were all very bitter about it.”
And in 1965, the band folded: “I emigrated to South Africa. My father had bought a business out there and decided to grab the moment. I came back a year later and got married and then took my dear wife out there. We stayed for about 18 months and came back because apartheid was raging at that point. Being English and naturally involved with coloured people, we found it very difficult to be there and so came back.”
Back home, Robin built a highly-successful career, working on the sound for a string of massive names including David Bowie: “But it was great to go back to this music. We all agreed it would be good to get together more regularly. We agreed it would be wonderfully therapeutic, something other than all the usual mundane things!”
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