Derek Shelmerdine


Derek Shelmerdine – author of Rock’n’Roll Unravelled

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    In a nutshell

  • I Love music – Grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s
  • An enthusiastic drummer – played in Cleo’s Mood in the 1960s and Rowleys Drive now
  • Worked as a roadie for Pat Travers and Meal Ticket in 1977
  • Vinyl junkie, as a collector and dealer of collectable 1950s, ’60s and ’70s vinyl
  • “Resident rock’n’roll researcher” on a Canadian radio station in 2009
  • Regular monthly radio appearances on Dave Roberts’s Music for Grown Ups on Meridian FM (England), Dave Hodgson’s The Daily on Talk Radio Europe (Spain), The John Lebang Show on Alien X Radio (USA) and The Frank Carlyle Show on Mersey Radio (England)

How did I come to write the book you may ask?
Well, I had been looking for a history of rock’n’roll from its roots up until mid-1970s punk rock, that also took into account social influences such as the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Struggle. It did not exist so I decided to write it. Seven years later, Rock’n’Roll Unravelled is being published on 1 June!

Click here to find out more about the book,Rock’n’Roll Unravelled.

It all began…
I grew up in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire in the 1950s and ’60s, the dawn of youth culture. My record collection started with the purchase of the Everly Brothers’ Poor Jenny, at a cost of six shillings and four pence – a little over 30p.

As the decade moved forward so did the music. Skiffle morphed into British rock’n’roll and then beat music. We danced at the youth club and scout hall to the sounds of singles played on mono Dansette record players. These machines were designed to stack ten singles, loaded and ready to play!

By 1964 it was time to form my first group, Cleo’s Mood. The group’s name was inspired by a Jr Walker track. We had never heard it, we just thought that it sounded cool. We were a typical ‘local band’ with a repertoire of covers, mostly of the Who, the Stones, Atlantic Soul and R&B. After a brief flirtation with the bass guitar I opted for the drums, with a philosophy of hitting everything as hard as I could, as fast as I could and as often as I could. I left the group in the Summer of Love, 1967, to get an education.

I emerged from our great British educational system with an Honours degree in Engineering Science. At the beginning of 1977 I had a change of pace, leaving the world of a “proper job”, as my mother called it, to become a professional roadie. My first experience was with the Pat Travers Band, followed by a spell with London pub-rock band Meal Ticket. My life as a roadie lasted lasted until the end of 1977. A really enjoyable year but it was time to return to engineering and another “proper job”, although another change of direction took me into sales in the IT industry a couple of years later.

By the early 1980s my record collection had expanded to about 1,500 albums and 1,000 singles. In the mid-1990s I started attending record fairs as a record dealer, specializing in collectable 1950s, ’60s and ’70s albums, EPs and singles. This was a great experience, my first taste of selling music to music lovers.

A trip to Vancouver Island in 2009 proved interesting when I met a DJ from Eagle FM. I became his “resident rock’n’roll researcher” and provided him with background stories for the music he was playing.

I thought that I had left my drumming activities behind in 1967 but when my brother and his friends formed a band, they invited me to be their sticksman. I love drumming. In a parallel universe somewhere, you’ll find me as a drummer in a rock’n’roll band. The band members of Rowleys Drive are spread around the country, even outside the UK, so gigs are few and far between. A really enjoyable evening was spent in April 2014 as a part of the Nercwys Music Festival. North Wales – mid April – it was COLD! But one of my most enjoyable experiences. The festival is every two years and we have been invited back to play again this year, 21 May.

I have regular monthly radio appearances on Dave Roberts’s Music for Grown Ups on Meridian FM (England), Dave Hodgson’s The Daily on Talk Radio Europe (Spain), The John Lebang Show on Alien X Radio (USA) and The Frank Carlyle Show on Mersey Radio (England)
Each month we look at a different aspect of rock’n’roll. It might be about a band, a genre, an event, in fact it could be just about anything from the period covered in my book, Rock’n’Roll Unravelled.
For details of all of my radio appearances, past and future