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MEMORY LANE: Grantham rock ’n’ roll pioneers are fondly remembered

The Atomic Four
The Atomic Four

Regular Memory Lane contributor Stan Matthews sent in these photographs on hearing of the recent passing of two of Grantham’s rock ’n’ roll pioneers –Michael ‘Pedlar’ Palmer and Johnny Murphy (aka Rumfitt), best known as his alter-ego Ricky Elvin.

Pedlar was in early skiffle outfit The Atomic Four with John Shields, Dave Doncaster and Graham Bennett.

The Atomics
The Atomics

They expanded to a six-piece renamed The Atomics, with the addition of another guitarist, Roy Clarke, with Doreen Jackson adding a touch of glamour.

The band used to rehearse at the Liberal Club on London Road.

Stan said: “Pedlar was a brilliant guitarist, and was equally at home harmonising with many local vocalists.”

Pedlar also played lead guitar with the group Danny and The Donnas, when he met Johnny Murphy.

Ricky Elvin
Ricky Elvin

Pedlar teamed up with Paul Carpenter, Kerry Wilcox, Bob Pate and Ian Welby to form the second incarnation of Tennessee Stud, originally a trio.

Stan said: “In 1975, they produced an LP recordiing ‘Free Country’ at the Westwood Recording Studios in Montgomery, Wales, which is now a collectors’ item.”

Johnny Murphy cut a version of ‘Singing the Blues’ on a penny-in-the-slot recorder in the USA which Grantham Granada theatre manager Harry Sanders played to a Sunday evening packed house.

On the advice of Noel Wallis, he became lead singer of local band The Pontiacs.

Johnny later became resident vocalist at the Peacock Inn, Redmile (pictured), performing with local bands The Melody Makers and The Olympians, plus others.

‘Ricky’ would also team up regularly with Grantham’s Trevor Leeson.

Stan said: “Many Granthamians will recall two very talented entertainers.

“May they rest in peace, as they will surely be missed.”


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