The Welbeck Group; a History: 2. School Days and the Welbeck Brothers first Gig

Danny and Robby Welbeck went to the same school, just outside of Herne Bay;  Thanet School for Boys, now the Thanet Academy. With a little parental urging, both boys enrolled in extra-curricular music lessons on a Thursday afternoon and evening. Danny takes up the story:

“The music teacher was a dude called Elvis Brabantia, he was Italian, and a bit of an eccentric. He loved all types of music, both classical and contemporary, and dressed in similar style. The top half was like a Conductor at the Royal Albert Hall, white short, red bow-tie and a Tuxedo. The bottom half was tattered jeans and sneakers. Awesomely bad!”

“He was really interested when I told him about my Dad’s old Group, and asked me if ever fancied making a career out of music”.  I was surprised because while I was competent at music, and had learnt to read quite quickly, I didn’t think I possessed any phenomenal talent or was a ‘wunderkind’.  I was 14 and Robby was 13, and I asked if Robby could be included in the extra lessons.”

Mr Brabantia had access to some musical instruments, including a battered electric bass that seemed to have no name on the headstock, but looked like a Paul McCartney Style Hofner Violin bass.

Robby Welbeck's reconditioned Hofner Vioin bass

Robby later acquired a Hofner badge for it and glued it to the end! No instrument was needed for Danny Wellback. He was going to use his Dad’s old Telecaster.

Encouraged by the music teacher and now with equipment and a place to practice, the brothers began to copy hit songs of the day. By now the new romantic movement was in full swing, and the Welbeck brothers found that they had to be quite inventive in their musical arrangements in trying to simulate such things as synthesisers and orchestral “stabs”.

Elvis Brabantia said that nothing would hone their musical ability like playing live, and he said that he would give them a ten minute slot at the end of the Spring Term concerts, in late June.

Danny and Robby buckled down to their task and came up with four songs; three covers and one of their own, that they practised until they were note-perfect. They didn’t have a drummer, but Danny had bought a cheap Korg second-hand electronic drum machine. Together the Welbeck brothers programmed it for their four songs, and were all set to go.

Come the day of the concert the Welbeck boys had their first taste of butterflies before going on stage. It would always continue to be a problem for Robby Welbeck.  The lights dimmed, and the drum machine thudded out the intro to their first song, a Human league cover. Robby played the synthesiser riff on the bass, while Danny played rhythm with some adept fills here and there. They both sung. They went down a storm;

“There were kids dancing at the front of the stage!” recalled Robby. “And I really liked playing bass- I saved up and got a new better one!”

Robby Welbeck and Furry Friend

In a subsequent interview, Mr Brabantio, the music teacher said that their performance was very good, although they struggled a little with the timing, as the drum machine had developed a nasty habit of dropping a beat here and there and even speeding up towards the end of a song as the batteries faded!

The performance was also witnessed by the Welbeck brothers’ Mum and Dad, who were justifiably proud.

“What are you going to call yourself?” asked Jess Welbeck when they got home  “The Welbeck  Group?”.

“No Way!” said Robby.  “That’s so naff and boring!”