ROAD RUNNERS

 

The Road Runners, from Teesside, started life in 1964. This is their story.....

The Road Runners in 1965 - left to right Paul Rodgers, Colin Bradley, Dave Usher and Micky Moody.

Two photographs of the Road Runners in the summer of 1965 taken in Joe Bradley's garden (Colin's eldest brother) in Norton. Left to right are Paul Rodgers, Dave Usher, Colin Bradley and Micky Moody.

The Road Runners again but they have changed positions as they posed for this photograph with Paul Rodgers, Dave Usher, Micky Moody and Colin Bradley.

The band in 1965 taken in that lovely garden in Norton, near Stockton, with Joe Bradley, the group's manager on the left, with Paul Rodgers, Dave Usher, Colin Bradley and Micky Moody standing at the back with Ken Taylor, their sound engineer, front right.

Four very smart young men - Dave Usher, Colin Bradley, Paul Rodgers and Micky Moody.

The guitar Colin is holding in this picture is a Hofner Congress, bought by his Mother from Greenwood's pawn shop. He sold it in late 1965 to a fellow in Redcar and then bought a Hofner Verithin. If someone on Teesside still has this guitar, he'd love to learn of it's location and determine if there was a chance of buying it back for nostalgia's sake. A very long shot we know, but if you can put the word out we'd appreciate it. Drop us a line if you can help!

This grand old 1954 Ford Consul Convertible would be worth a few quid today. The happy boys waving outside Joe's home at 31 Brentford Road, Norton, are Dave, Colin, Micky and Paul.

The Road Runners in concert with Colin Bradley on the left, Paul Rodgers playing bass and singing, and Micky Moody. Dave Usher is, of course, behind the Trixon kit, but is not really visible. Colin says: This was taken at the annual Crossley’s “sick club” dance at a restaurant venue on Corporation Road in Middlesbrough, opposite the old Odeon cinema sometime about 1965. "My brother Joe, who managed the Road Runners, drove for Crossley’s for 27 years". Photograph © Copyright Unknown.

A potted history of The Road Runners by Colin Bradley:

Formed in 1964, the Road Runners consisted initially of Colin Bradley (rhythm guitar and vocals), Micky Moody (lead guitar and vocals), Paul Rodgers (bass guitar and vocals) and original drummer Malcolm Cairns. Bradley and Rodgers attended both primary school (St. Joseph’s, Marton Road) and secondary school (St. Thomas’ Highfield Road) together in Middlesbrough, and Moody was also a pupil at St. Thomas’. Teacher Vince Early, also a guitarist, facilitated the Road Runners’ first public performance at the Middlesbrough Cathedral boy’s club on Sussex Street in December 1964. Cairns was soon replaced on drums by Dave Usher from Stockton, who had been recommended by Ian Naisbitt, another local drummer of note. At the time, they were amongst the youngest musicians playing in a local band, but soon began pounding the circuit of youth clubs, pubs and working men’s clubs along with the many other talented musicians working in the Teesside and surrounding during the era.

Encouraged and chaperoned by Joe Bradley, Colin’s eldest brother who assumed the role of manager and promoter, they were together from late 1964 until late 1966. What set them apart from other groups (the term “band” had not yet become part of the lexicon in this context) was a combination of their tender ages and the eclectic mix of material in their repertoire, which included songs from the Chess record stable for example, juxtaposed with top twenty hits of the period. This, combined with the remarkable voice of a young Paul Rodgers, who eventually assumed the role of lead vocalist and front-man with the addition of Eaglescliffe’s Bruce Thomas on bass, gave the Road Runners a unique sound. Prominent local business entrepreneur and musician John McCoy saw something in the band and became a mentor of sorts, using the Road Runners to open many shows for his own band The Crawdaddies and offering them rehearsal space in his club, Mister McCoy’s on Bottomley Street. Following the addition of Bruce Thomas to the line-up, the burgeoning professional aspirations of all members except Colin Bradley, meant that the Road Runners would eventually leave Middlesbrough to try their luck with the Cana Variety Agency in London, changing their name to the Wild Flowers as the summer of 1967 bloomed. The London sojourn was short lived and the band folded after a tough period of one nighters and the attendant strain on personalities typical in the circumstances. However, Rodgers, Moody and Thomas would each go on separately to leave indelible marks on popular music culture. Most notably, Rodgers formed the seminal blues rock outfit Free which sold millions of records and has been enshrined as an iconic piece of British rock music history. Subsequently, he fronted Bad Company, another hugely successful and revered blues-rock band which had a string of chart hits. Later years would see him work with a host of notable artists and musicians, including a world tour fronting Queen. Moody had success alongside another of Teesside’s sons, David Coverdale, as a founding member of the band Whitesnake. Thomas was a member of Elvis Costello’s “Attractions” and as a result, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Both Dave Usher and Colin Bradley have continued to be active as musicians from the late 1960’s into the 21st century. Colin lives in Toronto, Canada and Usher lives in Ireland.

My thanks to Colin Bradley for sharing his photographs and memories for this page.

You can enjoy Colin Bradley's performance at Sunrise Records playing guitar for Paul Rodgers during his autograph signing session on YouTube.

The links below are YouTube clips of Colin Bradley playing a regular gig in Toronto as a sideman for local roots singer/songwriter Michael Brennan. Enjoy them!

Worried Man
Lights of the Town
Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

A few words about The Road Runners in 1967 by former bass player, Bruce Thomas:

In 1967, the Road Runners were Paul Rodgers, vocals; Mick Moody guitar; and me on bass — along with a drummer (Dave Usher) who only wanted to earn enough money to buy his own truck.

Shortly before turning pro and leaving Middlesbrough for London, the band recorded a rehearsal at a local church hall. This tape, made on a domestic reel-to-reel machine, was thought lost decades ago. It was found recently, but obviously in very poor condition. Best efforts have since been made to clean it up.

Either way, it’s the first known recording of three aspiring musicians who went on the greater things. You can already hear that Paul Rodgers was destined to be one of the great voices of rock. Within a couple of years of this recording he'd already moved on to help set up Free, before going on to Bad Company and, eventually, Queen. Mick Moody later played with many solid blues/rock bands, the best-known being Whitesnake. On this tape I’d been playing little more than a year and was only too obviously trying to run before I could even walk — yes folks, I ‘overplayed’ from the very beginning. So here it is …‘as tight as a pair of clown’s trousers’ …a historical or hysterical recording …however you care to hear it.

Early In The Morning
‘Early in the Morning’ is a traditional Blues that we learned from ‘The Sound of ’65’ album by the organ-based Graham Bond Organization, a band that featured Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

Getting Mighty Crowded
‘Getting Mighty Crowded’ is the Betty Everett song that was also covered many years later by Elvis Costello and The Attractions.

Get Ready
‘Get Ready’: The Temptations’ song is given our own unique treatment.

Rock Me Baby
‘Rock Me Baby’ is the B.B.King song that featured in the Jeff Beck Group’s live set at the time we first heard it.

The Walk
‘The Walk’ is a Jimmy McCracklin R&B favourite of the time.

Rehearsal Jam
‘Rehearsal Jam’: An early attempt at song writing by the band, with lyrics yet to be sorted out. Jimi Hendrix had recently made his first appearance on British TV, and his impact on the Road Runners is obvious.

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