Crawdaddy BLUES BAND
Crawdaddy Blues Band was formed in 1984 , but the individuals involved all started back in the 1960's playing the R and B Club sounds that they are re-creating today. This is a brief history of the band and the people in it ......
The story starts in Chiswick , West London where along with many other lads who had played in groups at school
in those days, Paul Stokes (drums) and his twin brother Dave (Vocals and Harmonica) decided to put together a band after leaving Staveley Road school and going into apprenticeships with a local firm. They were regular Rhythm and Blues fans who went to places like Eel Pie Island in Twickenham and the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond where the Rolling Stones had started, and by then the Yardbirds had taken over the residency. They knew and talked to several other ex - schoolmates from Chiswick including the Lucas Brothers, members of The Tridents whose guitarist Jeff Beck had just replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds and in their search for a guitarist they had spoken to several people who had seen and been impressed by Mick Gibson, a couple of years younger than Paul who had been at school with them all and was also a Crawdaddy Club fan. Mick was still only just 16 and about to take exams. He wasn't interested in being a pro musician at the time and his parents were insistent he get a "proper" job, but Paul chatted to him and he went along to rehearse, with his old cheap acoustic guitar that he had altered by filing down the frets to lower the action to almost zero and a single pickup taped above the soundhole. Through a small amp turned right up it sounded amazing! The band was called "Wot Four" and they played at various local factory social clubs and pub gigs in 1965 and 1966 doing Blues and R and B standards and covers in the styles of all the bands they were listening to at the time like Stones, Yardbirds, and all the other bands on the 60's R and B club scene. Three of "Wot Four" later became founders of Crawdaddy Blues Band.
By 1967, the band name had changed to "Sudden Change" and now included the fourth founder of Crawdaddy Blues Band , Alan Brown, another Chiswick ex - school pal of Paul and the repertoire now included Wilson Picket or Sam and Dave style Atlantic soul (which was called R and B too in those days) songs along with the Blues and R and B standards. They played regular pub gigs like The Hole in the Wall in Chiswick and dance halls like the Orchid in Purley and the Boathouse at Kew. In 1968 Dave Stokes got the urge to travel and move on (as he did several times over the years) so a new singer was needed.
John Habes went to the Grammar school in Chiswick and like the others played in school R and B groups and when he left Ealing Art college in 1968 he formed a band called Medusa with a friend from school Nigel Foster on keyboards and a couple of friends he had known since they were all cadets in St John Ambulance, including Pete Johnson on drums. Nigel and Pete have both remained friends of Crawdaddy having depped on several occasions ... Nigel now sings and plays harp with the excellent "Blues Anonymous" in the Isle of Wight and Pete has now retired and lives in Cambridge. John was a singer and not really a guitarist so Pete brought in an old schoolfriend who was a fellow apprentice at Eversheds in Acton to help them out .... Sudden Change's Mick Gibson. John and Pete had already seen Mick play when the two of them (as serving local Youth Councillors) had booked the band to play a St John Ambulance arranged dance at Hogarth Youth Centre in Chiswick. And Sudden Change, soon to be renamed Synopsis, also needed a singer. So John joined them too and for a while Mick and John played in both bands. Medusa did not last long, they played a few local youth clubs and pubs in Brentford, Chiswick and Hounslow. At a famous party at the Beehive in Brentford John was unloaded with the P.A. from the back of Pete's Minivan where he had been lying squashed on the top of the speakers ... music was still blues and R and B but also bringing in more Blues Rock of the time like Fleetwood Mac and Cream covers. After Medusa fizzled out, Pete Johnson went off to be a road manager, big rig truck driver and stadium PA man with some big pop bands, including tours with Suzi Quattro, The Rubettes and Roy Wood's Wizzard. He was the guitar playing gorilla on "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" in the Top Of The Pops Christmas Special in 1973!
Soon Synopsis was the only working band, with Paul, Mick, Alan and John playing pubs, clubs, Air Bases and occasional Town Hall gigs and private parties with the same old standards mixed with current rock sounds and their Free and Led Zeppelin covers became a bit of a speciality. They continued to build a good local following right into the 1970s but by 1975 mortgages, kids and careers meant the band more or less fizzled out apart from occasional reunions. Paul and John played together in a couple of bands over the next 10 years, including pop and rock covers bands Good Times (who played the Hounslow Jubilee Street Party in 1977 ) which became the the Ritchie Stewart Band, and original rock band Moby and the Dicks in the early 1980s who included another good friend of Crawdaddy who has depped on occasion Dave Shepherd. Both those bands can still be found on YouTube clips.
Crawdaddy Blues Band was formed in 1984 and completed the circle. Original 1965 bandmates Paul and Dave Stokes , Mick Gibson and Alan Brown decided to recreate the times from when they most enjoyed playing and listening to the music, those 60s R and B Club days. They were offered a fortnightly residency at the Halfway House in Hanwell and with Paul's friend and colleague at British Airways Steve Berrington, they built a very loyal following over several months. Steve moved away from London after a few months and Mick became sole guitarist again.
John had kept in touch (he and Mick were by now Brothers -in-Law) and he had been helped to find a job at BA by Paul. He was called on to fill in for Alan on bass and Dave on vocals during their holidays, so when Dave decided to call it a day John replaced him (again!) in the band in 1987.
There have been a few more changes since 1988 both in and out due to careers and other priorities as Crawdaddy is very much a hobby for fun rather than a business. Paul Stokes left for most of the 1990s and a few years into the 2000s and was replaced by Alan Brown's friend Mike Handley, a fine and very versatile drummer. It was a busy time, with regular bookings at the Red Lion pubs in both Waterloo and Brentford, the Raven in Hammersmith and many pubs and clubs in Twickenham, Weybridge, Staines and Hampton. They also played a very special BBC Christmas Party at the Shepherds Bush Empire (Now the o2 ) club in Shepherds Bush. and for a year or so the had regular gigs at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond which was now in its third reincarnation at the former Station Hotel location.
Mike had a bad back and eventually had to stop drumming, and ex - Medusa drummer Pete Johnson filled in for a short while before his retirement and move to Cambridge. Alan Brown also retired and moved to South Wales and was replaced by an old friend and neighbour of Mick, the talented bass player Tony Hennessy in 2002. Tony had grown up in Liverpool in the 1960's and witnessed the Merseybeat scene there. The Tony Hennessy Band was a group of friends playing in a similar way and at similar gigs in Liverpool to Sudden Change in London. He moved to London with his job in the 1970s when he met Mick and family. Tony fitted in seamlessly into the band and continues with Crawdaddy Blues Band to this day, 22 years later at the time of writing.
After Pete Johnson retired, founder Paul Stokes (whose brainchild Crawdaddy had been in 1984) was welcomed back into the fold on the drums after over a decade away, and together with Mick, Tony, and John that 1960's R and B club sound has hopefully been sustained for our fans and friends ever since. Paul has many commitments both in the UK and overseas so for the last 6 years Cliff Shipman (of Uglybus and Rough Justice) has often depped and also Geoff Coxon (of The Others) has helped sometimes since 2020 . In 2022 Paul played 5 times, Cliff 4 times and Geoff 3 times.
At the end of 2022 Paul finally decided to call it a day so the band decided not to replace him as they already have backups who know their sets. Cliff Shipman is their No1 drummer now and when he has prior booked gigs with his other bands Geoff Coxon will step if he is free , and the band also have a third drummer whose family the band have known since he was just a child, the brilliant young 60's R&B enthusiast and drummer Chris "Sticks" Teager from Ministry Of Mod and Strange Brew. Chris is due to play with Crawdaddy Blues Band for his first gig in May.
Mick, John and Tony have now retired from their day jobs and Crawdaddy Blues Band are all getting older so they play a limited number of selected private parties and gigs and just a few pubs on a regular basis. They do not use advertising or agents but can be contacted through this website, Facebook, or Lemonrock if you would like to book them.