The Welbeck Group; a History: 3. Local Touring, Gaining Reputation

Following that initial gig at their school, the Welbeck Brothers spent the next year polishing up their act, writing some of their own songs, and doing small local clubs, pubs and halls in Kent.

Home Town: Herne Bay, Kent

They spent a long time trying to think of band name that would encapsulate what their original music was trying to say. The style of music was definitely in the “pop” region, but Danny Welbeck’s lyrics were not flimsy throwaway tales with banal chorus lines. Jess Welbeck, his Father, suggested that they were a combination on old traditional family values such as loyalty and solidarity, with more modern concepts such as embracing “green” values such as encouraging wind, wave and solar power, and new technology to eradicate poverty and starvation. They came up with “Old Futures”, “Grasp it or Lose it” or the slightly cringe-making “The New Changers”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people talked about Danny and Robert Welbeck as “The Welbeck Brothers”. That started to be put on flyers, but then Danny said that he really didn’t want to be a duo- he wanted a Group, because that would add versatility and allow some others to shoulder the musicianship, while he could concentrate on the songwriting. But could a duo be a Group? If he wanted The Welbeck Group, they needed new personnel!

They advertised in the New Musical Express (the edition shown here), and had a hilarious month of auditions where they met some talented and crazy people. Eventually they settled upon a drummer, Alex “Animal” Cooper, a tub-thumper with jazzy leanings, who was liked because he wasn’t “busy”. He kept the beat going nicely with occasional well-thought-out syncopations, while putting in clever fills, but only where it enhanced to overall song.

The final member of the four-piece was keyboardist Colin Cornell, who was older than the Welbeck Brothers, and had been in many Groups, but wanted to play with young up-and coming talent.

As a temporary measure they called themselves “The Welbeck Group”, and spent the next year practicing, writing, and playing gigs in the London and South England areas.

The Welbeck brothers’ father began ferrying them to gigs in his rec-conditioned Ford Transit, but as his health was beginning to show signs of failing, they recruited a roadie/driver and general dogs-body Mr Fixit. Lionel Parfitt was his name. He had long hair, didn’t particularly like their music, but was reliable, and didn’t drink- essential for a reliable roadie/driver!

The Welbeck Group began to build up a following of fans in their native Kent, but also further afield in other South Coast counties, and in certain parts of London. They got a very favourable review in local Kent papers, and even a few lines in a national paper. But that was mainly because one of their songs “Listen to Her” was about a Shi’ite girl whose brother was a hard-liner, and who tried to dictate how to live her life to her. While performing the song as a support Group in a small Camden Town venue, the main act, a group of “world Music” musicians from the Middle East, took offence, and they and their supporters stormed the stage, damaging the Welbeck’s equipment and prematurely ending the gig. It just happened that an arts reporter for the Daily Telegraph was there, and did a short piece on it. Sadly he got the name of the Group wrong- calling them “The Welbecks Group” rather than The Welbeck Group! That venue changed hands a few times and eventually is now the infamous Camden Underworld venue, home to many goth, indistrial and metal Groups.

But fate was going to be kinder to the Welbeck Group. Someone else at the gig liked them and soon they received an e-mail with an offer they couldn’t refuse…