Malcolm & The Countdowns

At St Bernadettes school in Hillingdon. Steve Priest is far left

Malcolm Sargeant – lead vocals

Richard Herring – lead guitar

Steve Priest – bass

Gez Lee – rhythm guitar (replaced by Raymond Thompson on keyboards)

Eddie Richards – drums

Malcolm Sargeant very kindly provided the following information and photos about the group, which included future Sweet member, Steve Priest.

Joe Meek promo photo
At the Martin Baker club in Denham, Buckinghamshire

I started singing with the school band at Mellow Lane, Hayes, west London and when I left I joined The Countdowns around 1962/63. I was always known as “Sadge”.

Their singer Bernard Powell was leaving. I auditioned at Eddie Richards’ (the leader of the band) house in Hayes and got the job. I joined Eddie who played drums, Richard Herring on lead guitar, Steve Priest on base and Gez Lee on rhythm (later replaced by Raymond Thompson on keyboards) who all sang backing vocals. Raymond Thompson was with us until the group disbanded around mid-1966.

Steve went on to join The Army and later Sweet with Brian Connolly (Mac) and Eddie went with First Class and then later Edison Lighthouse.

Gez Lee had left to continue his studies and Richard went on to work with many different bands (including reuniting with Priest in The Army) and the last I heard he was still gigging.

Ray Thompson emigrated to Canada with his parents and had a brilliant career in writing and broadcasting. He now lives in New Zealand and owns the Tirohana vineyards. His autobiography is called Keeping The Dream Alive.

I joined The Carltones (made up of members of the RAF central band) on the dinner and dance circuit; this fitted in with my career at British Gas.

The Countdowns played all the local venues, including cinemas, Burton’s club in Uxbridge, Botwell and Wistowe House run by the Fripps in Hayes, the A Train, various community centres, the Attic club in Hounslow, the Martin Baker Club in Denham, Buckinghamshire, and St. Bernadettes in Long Lane, Hillingdon where one of the promo photographs was taken.

Our band was friendly rivals of The Javelins (Ian “Jez” Gillan’s group) and Paul & The Alpines on the local circuit. We supported Steve Marriott’s band, The Pretty Things, The Rolling Stones, Wayne Fontana, The Outlaws (Ritchie Blackmore) and many more.

A gig under the temporary name of Malcolm James & The Callars

Richard and Eddie’s dads used to transport us and our gear all over the place: Margate Dreamland was a regular gig, The Kursaal in Southend too as well as a venue in Clacton and Crayford Town Hall in Kent among others.

I don’t recall where the temporary change of band name to Malcolm James & The Callers came from, maybe when we were recording with Joe Meek?

We got picked up by Phil Jay (ex-pirate DJ and local management agent in Hounslow). He got us the opportunity to record several covers with the legendary Joe Meek at his studio in Holloway Road. One of which recently made it onto a CD of undiscovered recordings found in the “tea chests” that Joe had stored in a lock up garage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.