I have played in a band (The Four Dees…later to become a three piece) since leaving school in the early 60’s.As the band played a wide variety of music from rock & roll and 60’s to country and strict tempo we were always in demand for corporate functions and masonics etc…and played in most of the major ballrooms and theatres in the North West.Although we also played the usual club circuit we specialised in covering the whole spectrum (even a bit of “old time” if required).I have also played many solo gigs and eventually retired from the road in 2015 but I still jam on a weekly basis with my local musician pals at the Cheshire Cats fundraisers for sick children www.thecheshirecats.co.uk
I have always written songs and in 1978 one of my compositions reached the final of “The Opportunity Knocks Songwriters Contest” which was televised on Christmas Eve of that year where I introduced my entry.I also wrote songs for local artistes who I knew from the club circuit several of which were performed on TV and radio (Googi The Liverpool Duck…which I wrote for Penny Page…ended up in a TV drama and a film).In the late 70’s Evolution Records signed me on a major publishing deal where I was to write songs for their artistes (which included Georgie Fame and Mudd) and I was to have material recorded by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Diana Dors among others.I then signed with Mingard Music and continued writing for the artistes on their books….Mingard Music was run by Angie and Ruth McCartney…step mum and sister of Paul…and they became great friends…and still keep in touch.
In 1980 I decided to form my own recording and publishing company (Cy-
During this time I wrote a song for my great friend Paul Damian entitled “How To Say Llanfairpwllgwngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” which,with it’s pure novelty value,made the national press and was even featured on “Woman’s Hour” and the World Service.It received much radio airplay and sold in droves in Wales.A copy was even sent to Lady Diana (to help her with her Welsh) AND I got a reply from the Palace thanking me!! I also wrote and produced an album for Paul which included the Llanfair song…which I recently sent to William and Kate as a wedding present…and got another nice reply from the Palace…got to keep things going….Paul now lives in Spain but remains in touch.
I have a lot of material on YouTube (check out donwoodswirral) where the Llanfair P.G. song went viral.
Although I wrote and recorded ballads my novelty songs paid dividends and a chance meeting with wrestler Adrian Street resulted in me composing songs and producing two albums of “wrestling” songs for this larger than life character with titles such as “Breakin’Bones”…”I’m In Love With Me”…”Merchant of Menace”…”Violence Is Golden”….etc…etc…Adrian was a big name in the wrestling fraternity in this country but he became even bigger when he moved to the States…and took the music with him….This resulted in me going over there and writing and recording more songs and appearing on national television (as Sir Cedric Everhard-
On returning home I got back into my comfort zone and was commissioned to write and record jingles for various radio stations which brought in commissions from advertising agents for jingles for their clients…these resulted in numerous radio and TV commercials…I also wrote a half hour Christmas musical for Radio City which was broadcast on two consecutive Christmas’s and was nominated for a Sony award…the play went on to be performed by several schools in the area which resulted in me writing three more for the schools.
I also wrote songs about my beloved Merseyside and marketed them locally.My composition “The Wirral Song” was taken up by the local council who placed a substantial order and sold them via their libraries and sports centres etc…becoming the first council to do this…which also had the song used for TV and radio promotion.I was also approached by Merseyside County Council to write and record a song for them…which I did with the same results.Seeing there was a huge interest in the area from its locals I continued writing songs of the locality, produced several albums which proved very successful,and eventually went into producing videos (and currently DVDs ) of the area featuring narration and original music which I composed for them….these can be found on the Shop section of this site…
I have appeared on shows in several major theatres both with my band and solo and it was during an appearance with The Krankies that a new friendship began.
In the 80’s I had written a novelty song which I forwarded to the management of the comedy duo who were to eventually sing it on the Royal Variety Performance.Up to this point I had never met them…during the show I made myself known… and since then I have been writing novelty songs for them each year for their pantos and cruises….fandabidozi!!
I was asked by radio presenter Monty Lister (the first bloke to interview The Beatles) if I would assist him in presenting his popular Sunday morning programme on BBC Radio Merseyside (we had originally become friends through my jingles which Monty used…all 22 of them).This combination was to last 5 years and took me all over Europe taking care of the sound on Monty’s many travelogues…and also interviewing many top celebs.
I still produce CDs and DVDs which find their way all over the world to ex-
Here is the story of the band
My band was formed in 1963 (top to bottom)…Russ Hancock on drums…me on guitar and vocals…Barry McMahon on guitar…Danny McMahon on bass…
…later Mike Rudd (left) replaced Danny on bass…
…Tom Bennett eventually replaced Russ on drums…and also added his vocal talent.
…Barry retired in the late 80’s and the band continued as three piece until 2000
…Derek Smallridge later replaced Tommy on drums….
…and Steve Woods replaced Mike on bass until we disbanded in 2015…..
…stand in drummers have included Trevor Carlisle…Tony Aldridge…Barry McClavey…Mike Holmes and Phil Allen……..Derek Green stood in on bass from time to time………
…all members of the band have remained good friends over the years …..good times…great memories…