Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
KIDD, Johnny and the Pirates
Singer, songwriter Kidd (b Frederick Heath, Willesden, London, 23 Dec. '39; d 6--7 Oct. '66, Bury, Lancs) led seminal UK rock'n'roll band. Played guitar and banjo during the skiffle era, formed group Freddie and the Nutters for local gigs; wore eyepatch over defective eye, changed style to rock'n'roll, name of group to Captain Kidd and the Pirates, by '59 Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. Lineup: Clem Cattini (drums), Alan Caddy (guitar), Brian Gregg (bass). Played on Saturday Club radio show, signed to HMV, first single 'Please Don't Touch' written by Kidd (manager Guy Robinson got a piece) reached top 30 '59 (recorded without the Pirates). Next year 'You've Got What It Takes', cover of Marv Johnson hit, did well but 'Shakin' All Over' was no. 1, beaten (maybe) only by Cliff Richard's 'Move It' for title of the classic early Brit-rock single. Further hits incl. Kidd original 'Restless' (also '60), 'Linda Lu' ('61, cover of Ray Sharpe single). The band left, Cattini, Caddy and Gregg retaining nautical gear to back Tommy Steele's brother as the Cabinboys before joining the Tornados (see entry for Joe Meek). Kidd replaced them from Cuddly Duddly's backup group (John Patto, Frank Farley, Johnny Spence; Patto shortly replaced by guitarist Mick Green); hits continued with minor success 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues', then abandoned mix of covers with original R&B to jump on Merseybeat train, probably a mistake despite top five hit 'I'll Never Get Over You', top 20 'Hungry For Love', all '63; toured with visitors Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. Last hit '64 with 'Always And Ever'; Green left, replaced by John Weider; band continued to please crowds but records didn't sell. Band split again '66, Weider joining Eric Burdon; Kidd brought in Buddy Britten's Regents as new Pirates, incl. Nick Simper (bass), later of Deep Purple; then was killed in a car crash.
Kidd had a posthumous cult status among UK rockers; HM bands Motörhead and Girlschool combined for hit revival of 'Please Don't Touch' '81. Green's ability to play simultaneous lead and rhythm made him the premier UK axe-man before Eric Clapton; he played with Billy Kramer's Dakotas, Engelbert Humperdinck, Cliff Bennett; re-formed Pirates with Green and Farley during mid-'70s R&B revival sparked by Dr Feelgood (with Green-infl. guitarist Wilko Johnson): Out Of Their Skulls '77 was half live, half studio, and Green had lost none of his touch; Skull Wars and Happy Birthday Rock'n'Roll '78--9 were less impressive but marked a happy reunion, even if the backdrop of a lighted galleon was missing. Cattini became the quintessential UK session drummer, once playing on 21 recording sessions in a week; by not returning a phone call he missed a chance to join a group called Led Zeppelin, but he played on a total of 42 no. 1 hits, more than Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts combined. He re-formed the Tornados '90 for touring, attributed success and good luck to stability, married to the same woman since '58.