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 THE STORY
An essay by Ez Jon Erikson of Detours
August 2010

It all began in late 1984 when the Duddle brothers, Richard (lead guitar) and Paul (drums), with fellow Saddleworth School friends Bryn Gator (rhythm guitar) and Carl Robinson (bass) got together rehearsing as a rock band in a barn at the Duddle's farmhouse, near Pots 'n' Pans, Greenfield under the name Catch 23. They were unhappy with this name and were trying to think up a suitable alternative. The band's new name came to Paul one day whilst cycling past a road sign. When he put Diversion Ends to the rest of the band no one was laughing.

Now they had a line up, they had strength in song writing through Richard and Bryn, a very convenient and free rehearsal arrangement that would not offend any neighbours because there were none, and a great name that gave free advertising, but it soon became apparent that they lacked a true singer to front the band.

Paul knew just the guy. Another Greenfield lad, a singer/songwriter and brass player, who had gained a lot of experience and respect amongst local musicians whilst with a band by the name of Emerald Lake. A guy who's first passion was music, who found singing as natural as breathing (but could talk even more!) whose many influences included The Beatles, and singers such as Robert Plant, David Coverdale, Ian Gillan, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley and Paul Young. The guy's name was Sam Johnson. An audition was soon arranged in early 1985. Sam sang It's Not The Night by The Cars, unaccompanied down the microphone. The reaction was a stunned silence, followed by "****in' hell!!!" There were no hesitations. Sam was aboard.

The group were keen to use Sam's brass talents. Soon added to the lineup were Sam's mate Tim Scott as saxophonist, and Richard's friend from Hyde, Andy Buckley on keyboards. Name changes soon took place, and Carl Robinson became Carl Devene, Richard Duddle became Richard Anthony, Andy Buckley became Andy Zeer ("Andy's 'ere" get it?) and Tim Scott became Rudi de Setelle!

As Sam's brother, and probably his biggest fan, I have very exciting memories of the Diversion Ends days. I was very lucky to be present at many of their rehearsals and early gigs around the North of England, and Wales, and also wrote the lyrics to the song No More A Fool which the band performed regularly in their early days. I have of course since recorded the song myself, for my Summers Of My Life album, and performed it as a duet with Sam in concert with Coxx (Sam's duo with Paul Adshead). I also co-wrote the lyrics to Time Out and Be My Lady and the original version of Stay With Me Tonight for which Bryn had asked Sam and I to write a second verse, so we did, but it never even reached rehearsal stage as Bryn wrote a second verse himself. I was even lucky enough to stand in and sing for Sam at a rehearsal once when he had a sore throat. I'm not surprised he had throat problems in those days though. You could not hear yourself sing in rehearsal. Finger in the ear job!!!

For those who frequent The Church Inn, Uppermill, you will be interested to learn that Julian Taylor was one of the roadies Of Diversion Ends in their early days. The band appeared with his XR3i in an article in The Mossley and Saddleworth Reporter, as it was then known. Special reference must also be made here to another roadie, Carl's dad Jim 'Decorum Moonlighting' Devene, i.e. Jim Robinson. Also Richard and Paul's mum Paula, and her boyfriend John, who both worked incredibly hard as acting managers/agents in the early days. I should also acknowledge the sound engineer of the early days, Nick Hield.

I truly feel that the band had the potential to become one of England's greatest bands of the eighties and nineties. They had no political agenda, but simply stood for a good time pop rock band, whose music was very melodic and infectious with a unique sound, which I can only describe from my own opinion as being something like a cross between U2, Kiss, Spandau Ballet, Big Country and Ultravox.

The band remained highly creative throughout their existence, writing no less than 46 original songs in a period of seven years. There are recordings in existence for all but three of these songs, the three being Thin Line, If You Wanna Leave Me Now and New York Nights. A demo was recorded for the latter of these three at Robert Harper's house (Bobbie Ball of Cannon and Ball fame), but  no member ever got a copy as far as I am aware! 

The greatest memories of Diversion Ends for me are of the early days. i.e. 1985 and in particular 1986, which was their busiest live period by far. Although their later live and studio performances were more polished with some brilliant songwriting by Bryn and Sam, and the group had truly developed, their early live performances were raw, powerful and great fun. Their very first performance was at Uppermill's Commercial Hotel on Thursday 13th June 1985, admission only 50p. Their second performance was at the wedding reception of our cousin Phil Harrison to Pauline, which was at The Birch Hall in Lees, Oldham on Saturday 13th July 1985, Live Aid day (Phil became the regular disc jockey for the band’s gigs and can be heard at the end of a live version of Time Out in our live recordings). Diversion Ends also performed at Oldham’s own Live Aid event outside Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday 31st August 1985, which was unfortunately affected by heavy rain. A couple of other notable early gigs were a Battle Of The Bands Final at Froggies nightclub in Oldham on Thursday 22nd August 1985, and their performances at The Civic Hall, Uppermill on Friday 6th September 1985 (our brother Jonny made a great Union Flag backdrop that the band used at this gig), The Oldham Coliseum Theatre on 22nd September 1985 after a play entitled Bouncers, and The Pennine Lounge, Oldham on Friday 28th February 1986.

The band recorded a three song demo on a four track tape at Richard and Paul’s mum’s house, setting up a portastudio in a bedroom, but although it was good for a home recording, they were unable to capture the excitement of their live sound. An article and photo on the demo appeared in the Oldham newspaper The Advertiser.

Soon Diversion Ends were appearing at many pubs, clubs and theatres around the North of England, in particular the Manchester area, and also in Wales. One highly enjoyable and wild outing was to a gig they played at a nightclub in Oswestry, arranged by our eldest brother Michael (nicknamed Badger).

Richard and Andy left the band after a relatively short period of time, so Rudi and Bryn took turns on the keyboards. Some of the direction seemed to be lost with Richard's departure, and with hindsight the band should have replaced him, as he was a very strong guitarist and songwriter. However, they opted for Bryn to be sole guitarist, and although he was (and still is) an excellent guitarist, this put a lot more pressure on him, but he rose to the challenge admirably. During the fall of 1986, they set about recording an eight song demo at Cresta, Moorside, which was owned by Ian Fenn (Bill Haley imitator of Stars In Their Eyes fame), completing it in the Spring of 1987.

Diversion Ends’ inclusion in a Saddleworth Festival in May 1987 was an exciting achievement for the lads although unsatisfying, as unfortunately controversy broke out when they were forced to cancel on the day of the gig, Wednesday 27th May, due to sound regulations at Uppermill’s Civic Hall. They had managed to bypass this problem on their previous visit, which made a mockery of the cancellation imposed on them. There was a lot of coverage in the press for weeks to follow.

Soon, Rudi left the band and my very good mate, fellow singer/songwriter and Detours member Julian Flindle replaced him on keyboards. The saxophone was dropped, as the band moved more to an AOR sound. The final personnel change came when Andy Marston replaced Paul on drums, as Paul decided to become the singer of his own band Twenty Twenty and later formed Kane with his brother Richard. Diversion Ends' rehearsals temporarily moved to Greenfield's Satellite Club, and then to a barn in Denshaw. The band were then very lucky to have a professional sound engineer on board in Andy's brother, Steve.

Diversion Ends unfortunately played a lot less gigs from this point on, as they were busy writing new songs and recording demos for record companies following interest from Manchester record producer Geoff Gill (of Blue Mink fame). Geoff had written a song entitled Heartbreaker for Pat Benatar, so the lads felt they were heading in the right direction. With a publishing deal sealed and a recording contract under negotiation, Diversion Ends recorded several tracks at Pennine Studio and Barclay James Harvest's studio in Oldham. They also backed up Smokie on their Boulevard Of Broken Dreams tour during 1990. 

The reason the band failed to breakthrough to the big time is because, as many bands do, they naively placed their trust in the hands of the wrong people, and within the group there lacked business direction. Also due to frequent changes in the line up, they regularly had to rebuild their unity and their sound. Sadly the band finally broke up in March 1992. There was no animosity between them. They had all grown up and now needed to live their adult lives outside of the band, with the responsibilities it brings. From the final line up only Sam and Julian continued to seriously pursue their musical ambitions and formed the acoustic rock trio Detours with myself. Rudi and Bryn attended some early Detours concerts, and I bumped into Richard, Paul, Carl and Andy on occasions.

I set this Diversion Ends website up in 2005 as a tribute to mark the 20th anniversary of the formation of the band. It embraces as much info as I could get my hands on - every photo I could find, any ticket stub, poster, newspaper clipping etc. When I formed the band Detours with Sam and Ju, we were only getting together to acoustically perform several Diversion Ends songs for our Badger's birthday. Whilst refreshing our memories of the songs, and working out arrangements, I personally had the pleasure of compiling all of our collections of Diversion Ends recordings onto a digital source, focusing on all of their studio demos, many of the available live soundboard recordings, and two audience bootleg recordings of early gigs (thanks to my mate Phil West for one of them) which include many songs for which no demos were ever recorded. Although the dialogue in between songs is not the band’s most entertaining (“this next one….”) the live recordings capture the atmosphere and energy of their early live performances. Also included in our collection are many rough recordings of their rehearsals over the years. The sound quality for these ranges from pretty good to very, very poor indeed, but are essential as a document and reference point. These recordings are all from a period prior to the digital quality that bands of the present now enjoy. Most of the live soundboard recordings existed on only one channel, with certain instrumentation missing. The sound levels were poor and inconsistent, but I made every effort to bring them to an acceptable condition, so that they can be enjoyed. It is certainly true to say that Diversion Ends were very poor at documenting their work, but I have always tried to act as the archivist and historian! Sam and Ju agree that my own collection is an excellent representation of a potentially great rock band. To me it is an audible feast. We are hoping to release a "best of early demo recordings" compilation from this archive collection.

Over the years I often thought how much I would love to see the guys get together for a reunion. Well, I managed it! On Thursday 16th June 2005, at The Railway, Greenfield I reunited seven of the nine members of Diversion Ends for a social evening of reminiscing and drinks, with a view to a possible 21st Anniversary Reunion Concert for 2006. What a great evening! Check out THE REUNION photos. Thanks to Paul Adshead and our Jonny for those.

Next up, the five members keen to be included in a reunited line-up moving forward (Sam, Carl, Rudi, Bryn and Andy M) joined me and our Jonny for a night out in Manchester on Friday 7th October to plan the rehearsals, and to see Blue Thatcher live in concert at The Late Room.

Carl and Bryn agreed to perform on the opening song of Detours' third album A Dark Storm. The song, written by myself, is entitled Together and is a song about old friends reuniting to achieve their dreams and create some memories! Unfortunately Bryn was too ill to make the recording session, but Carl did perform on the recording.

Then I invited the lads to join Detours at our 2005 Christmas Acoustic Concert at Player's Theatre to perform some songs acoustically. This would be the official reunion acoustic performance, kick starting the new line up. Rehearsals began in Carl's kitchen on Tuesday October 18th, and so began the reunion. A second chance for the lads to share something truly special together. Long may the music and their rekindled friendships continue.

On Friday 3rd February 2006, Bryn and Carl joined me and Sam for an acoustic concert at Cellar Bar, Jackson's Pit, Oldham, performing several Diversion Ends songs. Then throughout 2006 the band begin rehearsing with me with a view to them performing full electric concert performances. Several weeks into the rehearsals Rudi realised that he could not give the commitment required to the band and so parted company with them. Sam, Bryn, Carl and Andy then turned to their friend Alex Flanagan to be included as a session keyboard player moving forward. Alex has since become an official member of the band.

Sadly, on January 10th 2007, Sam was involved in a near fatal road traffic accident when he was hit by a van. Since then the music of Detours and Diversion Ends has been stop/start as Sam has received ongoing surgery to his knees, and vocal therapy for voice trouble caused by the impact of the accident. Diversion Ends did perform a private party at Greenfield Conservative Club on Saturday 19th April 2008, but to date this is their only concert since the acoustic reunion.

However, as I type this I can confirm that I have arranged a Diversion Ends 25th Anniversary Reunion Concert to be held on Saturday 5th February 2011 at Playhouse2 Theatre, Shaw, for which Detours will be the special guest support act. I can hardly wait for what will be an exciting, memorable and emotional evening!

Diversion Ends and Detours would love to develop this website, and to make it as accurate as possible. If you have any material at all that you feel would benefit the site, we would be grateful if you would please contact us. We promise that we would only copy the material for inclusion on this site, and would return it immediately afterwards.

Many thanks,

EJE

Ez Jon Erikson, Detours

August 2010

 

   

 

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