One of our members has had his memory stirred a bit following the posting of a newspaper report on our website highlighting the Red Lion public house in 1963.
Amongst those ‘down at the local’ was Bill Cater (actually, we think, Carter), where he had installed his own £2,500 electric organ in the Red Lion.
Bill explained in the article that he had been playing for the public since 1935 and had ‘made his way’ into music when only four. Bill states; ‘My mother took me to visit some friends and while they were talking I climbed on to the piano stool and started playing.’ In the article it was stated he was aged 48 and couldn’t actually read music.
Our member Dave Gregg thinks that Bill’s electric organ was actually a Wurlitzer purchased, at some time, from Blackpool Tower.
But Bill was to reach much higher heights – as remembered by Dave. The story goes that Ken Dodd was visiting the Top Rank Club on Beetwell Street, to perform but, for one reason or another, hadn’t anyone to accompany him.
Bill Carter was recommended to him; Doddy went to hear him play and was impressed. Being even more impressed at the actual performance, Doddy offered Bill a more-or-less permanent job. Bill probably couldn’t turn down an offer like that, so accepted. He went to live near Doddy, touring and playing with him for many years.
There’s another twist to this story in that Bill’s car was a Rolls Royce, which suitably impressed Doddy. When the car was sold it was scooped up by Universal Studios who used this on their film sets. Dave Gregg also thinks that Bill’s Rolls was also loaned to and used in the first series of the 1960s TV hit series ‘The Avengers’. Or so the story goes!
Bill, lived in Devonshire Street, in the short block of terraces. His house is now flats – numbers 19 and 19A. He garaged his impressive silver Rolls Royce (complete with side running boards) in a building down the side of this block, where he could often be seen cleaning his treasured possession. We wonder how many Rolls Royce cars there were in Brimington in the 1960s?
Prior to his touring with Ken Dodd, Bill had been employed with a company that made instruments such as barometers. We know of at least one such instrument he made that is engraved with his name.
We’d really love to put some dates to the story and hear more about Bill Carter, and what he did for his full-time employment. Please contact us if you can help fill in some of the details.