THE MIDNIGHTERS

 

The Midnighters - one of Teesside's most popular bands during the late 50's and early 60's - with Ray Hudson on bass guitar, Tommy Gibson on rhythm, Barry Thompson on drums, Johnny Rocco the lead vocalist with Granville Blair Leacy on lead guitar. Granville was the envy of many guitarists as he was the first person in the area to own a red Fender Stratocaster - the same as Hank B. Marvin used in The Shadows. The Midnighters was formed by Tommy Gibson who recruited the services of Ray Hudson and then later, Granville Leacy.

Another rare photograph of the band with Barry Thompson, Rod Smaling, Granville Blair Leacy, Ray Hudson and Wilf Graham. A former Midnighters vocalist, Bart Bardsley, says: "The photograph was taken the week after I left the group (1958-59) and it was for a promotion to announce the arrival of Wilf Graham as their new lead singer. "They were just beginning a two week gig at the Empire Continental in Middlesbrough. "I was with the band for eight years and later formed my own group with Frank Feeney. "We stayed together for a few years and finally I settled into a double act known as Bart & Pluto Bennett with Eric Whitehouse, of The Blue Caps. "I stayed in the music scene in the north east up to emigrating to Canada in 1977 where I still live. "I have many fond memories of playing at the Empire Continental and all the famous workmen's clubs in Hartlepool." Barry is still in Middlesbrough and Bart is in Calgary, Canada.

Thanks to Rod Smaling and his son, Lee, for this publicity shot which was taken at the Empire Continental in 1960 and featuring, from left to right, Granville Blair Leacy on lead guitar, Ray Hudson on bass, Tommy Gibson on rhythm guitar, Barry Thompson on drums with Wilf Graham taking care of the vocals. Rod Smaling felt it was important to note that Granville's Fender Stratocaster was quite possibly the first one to be owned in Middlesbrough and was especially notable as it was Cherry Red and not Salmon Pink as most Fenders were at this time.

Another publicity shot from The Empire Continental in Middlesbrough in 1960 with, left to right, Granville Blair Leacy, Wilf Graham, Barry Thompson, Tommy Gibson and Ray Hudson.

This photograph was also taken at the Empire Continental and dates to January 1961 and is a rare colour picture (hence the slight blurr) and was the first publicity shot featuring Rod Smaling who replaced Tommy Gibson on rhythm guitar. Rod also referred to this look as the Midnighters "Pirate" phase before they grew up and bought suits. It does also show that Granville's Fender Stratocaster was indeed red and not pink. Ray Hudson's instrument is a Fender Precision Bass.

This is the last of the publicity shots taken at the Empire Continental in 1961 and the line up has not changed - although they did finally ditch the pirate outfits! They are, left to right, Granville Blair Leacy, Rod Smaling, Ray Hudson, Barry Thompson and Wilf Graham.

One from the archives this is and provided for us by Neil Leacy. It shows his dad, Granville Blair Leacy, playing his Futurama/Grazioso guitar at, he thinks, could well be the Gladstone Hotel, Middlesbrough. The curtains and window look very much the same as in the one showing Bart Bardsley and Barry Thompson in the right hand column and we are informed by Bart that Tommy Gibson is the man with his back to the camera playing a Hofner.

If you’ve enjoyed your visit to our bands pages why not tell us which group, in particular, you’ve enjoyed seeing and reading about. You're quite welcome to send me an email to record you own personal memories of those glorious sixties!

This page is dedicated to the memory of Tommy Gibson, Ray Hudson, Granville Blair Leacy and Johnny Rocco. Also RIP Emile Ford 1937 - 2016.

 

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