THE KON-RADS

JUNE 1962 - DECEMBER 1963

Musicians:

  • David Jones/Dave Jay: Vocals, Tenor Saxophone

  • George Underwood: Vocals

  • Neville Wills: Guitar

  • Alan Dodds: Guitar

  • Dave Crook: Drums

  • Dave Hadfield: Drums

  • Rocky Shahan: Bass

  • Roger Ferris: Vocals

  • Christine Patton/Stella Parton: Backing Vocals

Repertoire included:

It's Only Make Believe | Quarter To Three (A Night With Daddy G) | A Picture Of You | Hey Baby | In The Mood | China Doll | The Young Ones | Sweet Little Sixteen | Move It | Lucille | Good Golly Miss Molly | Ginny Come Lately | Let's Dance | Hall Of The Mountain King | I Never Dreamed | Twisting The Night Away | Jezebel

By the time George Underwood replaced their original lead singer in the autumn of 1961, Bromley schoolboys Neville Wills, Alan Dodds, Rocky Shahan and Dave Crook had already been playing as The Konrads for about a year. With the arrival of Underwood, it wasn't long before another ambitious schoolmate began dropping hints: "David was dying to get into the band," Underwood told Kevin Cann. "He regularly asked if he could get him in." In June 1962, Underwood drafted David in to sing Joe Brown's "A Picture Of You" ("he looked like Joe Brown in those days"), and to help out on vocals for a cover of Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby". David soon introduced his new tenor saxophone into the mix, and The Konrads were relaunched. According to legend the group's name had emerged when they supported Jess Conrad, who apparently introduced them as "my Conrads", but details of this particular tale are thin on the ground.

David's first documented date with the group was at a school fete on June 16th 1962. The Kentish Times reported a crowd of nearly 4000, although not all were watching when "a group of young instrumentalists called The Conrads [sic] played music on guitars, saxophone and drums."

 

"The Konrads did cover songs of anything that was in the charts," recalled David thirty years later. "We were one of the best cover bands in the area and we worked a lot." In the autumn of 1962 the line-up underwent a series of changes: in October, Underwood's friend Dave Crook was replaced on drums by Dave Hadfield, a move which upset Underwood, who consequently left the band in November. He was replaced by a new lead singer, Roger Ferris, while the ranks were swelled by two backing vocalists, the Patton sisters. At around this time, David began designing stage backdrops for the group, and painted a logo on Hadfield's bass drum which added a hyphen to the group's name: thus, for most of David's time with the band, they were styled "The Kon-rads".

It wasn't long before David's ascendancy in the group was complete. "I was originally in as a sax player," he later recalled., "Then our singer, Roger Ferris, got beaten up by some greasers at The Civic, Orpington and I took over the vocals. I could only do Little Richard songs 'cos they were the only ones I really knew the words to." Thus it was that, following the customary show-opener "In The Mood", the likes of "Lucille" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" were added to the repertoire. As David's confidence grew, other new additions included Brian Hyland's "Ginny Come Lately" and Chris Montez's "Let's Dance".

The Kon-rads kept David busy throughout 1963, playing at youth clubs, church halls and dances. They did well enough to splash out on a band uniform ("I hated those suits," David later confessed, "They were brown corduroy"), while their restless young singer experimented with an array of extravagant hairstyles and, significantly, with his name: on the band's 1962 Christmas card it became "Dave Jay", while drummer Dave Hadfield later told the Gillmans that David was already considering the name Bowie. He had also begun composing his own songs, some of which were added to the band's repertoire. According to Roger Ferris, David was already "getting into cutting up bits of paper with lines on them and throwing them in the air and seeing what came out. He was very avant-garde very early." Before long, however, The Kon-rads proved too restrictive an outfit for David's roving musical eye. "I wanted to move into rhythm and blues," he later said, "and they wouldn't. They wanted to stay with the Top 20. That's when I broke away."

Before the end came, David's time with The Kon-rads saw a small but crucial moment in his career: in August 1963 he made his earliest known studio recording (see "I Never Dreamed"). Despite his waning interest in the band, and despite having already formed The Hooker Brothers with George Underwood, David remained with The Kon-rads until the end of the year, bowing out after a New Year's Eve concert in West Wickham. After David's departure The Konrads dropped the hyphen and went on to enjoy a modicum of success, supporting The Rolling Stones on tour and even releasing a single, "Baby It's Too Late Now", in 1965. Intriguingly, 2001 saw the discovery of another previously unknown Konrads single which some Bowiephiles, despite the absence of concrete proof, believe may date from David's time with the band. For more on the elusive "I Didn't Know How Much" see "I Never Dreamed".

The Kon-Rads 1962
David Jones - The Kon-Rads 1962
David Jones - The Kon-Rads on stage 1962
David Jones - The Kon-Rads on stage 1962
David Jones - The Kon-Rads on stage 1962
The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg

The Complete David Bowie

by Nicholas Pegg

New Edition: Expanded and Updated

"This is the best Bowie reference book one could ever hope for"

Tony Visconti

David Jones - The Kon-Rads 1962