Local bass legend played in band with Clapton

THERE’S been a first-rate live music scene in the Woking area for many years, and one of its stalwarts was bass guitarist Mike Dann.

Typically, musicians who grace their local music scene for a lengthy time play in numerous bands with lots of other musicians. Mike was one of those musicians.

ROCKIN’: Mike Dann playing with The Retaliation Blues Band

He grew up in New Haw and started playing guitar at the age of 14, in 1959.

By 1964 Mike was playing bass in a band called the Cutaways. The guitarist was Ian Jelfs from Farncombe, the singer Paul Love, and his brother Tony Love on drums.

Beat groups back then often had a second six-string guitarist, but it was said the Cutaways didn’t need one as their sound was so solid – probably due to Mike’s bass playing.

It is believed The Cutaways were the first group in the Guildford area to have a fan club, which boasted around 80 members.

Mike did a stint playing in bands in Hamburg, Germany for three months. He also brushed shoulders with some famous people – once playing a gig in a band with the legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, thought to have been at the famous Eel Pie Island venue on the Thames at Twickenham.

LIVE IN PARIS: When The Skidmarks Blues Band played at The Frog & Rosbif

In more recent years, Mike hooked up with two much admired American bass players, Doug Wimbush and T. M. Stevens at a bass tuition event at Earls Court in London.

At one time, Mike was in a band called The Skidmarks Blues Band. His partner of recent years, Jean Page-Smith, has a poster for a gig they did in Paris at a venue called The Frog & Rosbif. The date on the poster  reads: “Samedi le 21 Juin”. That may have been in 2003. It has been signed by many names – perhaps by the people who packed the English-style bar that night?

Jean had first met Mike in 1998 and they got together in 2010. They holidayed in Madeira and he sat in with musicians at a bar there called The Hole In One.

Mike developed bowel cancer and had an operation in 2016.

Despite this set back he resumed his first love of making music and in particular the blues. This was with The Retaliation Blues Band, whose Facebook page has some clips of them playing live. The Duke of Wellington in Shoreham was a favourite venue.

Another band he played in, again with a great pedigree of rock ’n’ roll musicians, was The Flat Top Band.

Mike died in December 2019. As a tribute to him, The Flat Top Band hosted a gala charity evening in March in aid of the St Luke’s Cancer Centre at Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Held at the West End Club near Chobham, it also featured The TR5s, The Outlaws, Tex Preston, the legendary Jackie Lynton.

The star guest was Kenney Jones, drummer of the Small Faces, Faces and The Who.

And as they say, Mike has now proudly gone to “play in that great gig in the sky”.

Jean Page-Smith would like to hear from other musicians who played with Mike and their memories of him and the bands he was in. Contact me and I will pass on any information.

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

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