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Later CCM in Liverpool

In January 2005, I received an e-mail (below) from Bob Oldfield.  Bob not only experienced some of the VERY early days of CCM in Liverpool, but also went on to be heavily involved in the Christian music scene - especially in the 1980s.

The e-mail explains itself, and gives some of the surrounding history - though the italics show some editing on my part:

31 January 2005


Don't suppose you'll remember me, but the last time we probably spoke would have been somewhere round 1982 or 83 when you came over to my church - Elim Pentecostal, Woodchurch Rd, Birkenhead (this may have been Crimson Connection, though Bob also talks later about me being 'alone'?). I looked after 'music' and asked you to come and sing a few songs and I think you might have spoken as well. I'm pretty sure you came alone, though I seem to remember you talking about Sam.

I have to say I am flabbergasted at the website you have created. The attention to detail is superb and the value of your site as an important archive of church activity in the 60s / 70s is enormous. Just reading the names of the people you worked with brings back so many memories.

I'm a little younger than you (!) born in 1953, but I do remember seeing you at least twice in the 60s. I have narrowed it down to one of the two Sunday nights you played at The People's Church (29 Dec 1963, 23 Oct 1964 - bookings page) and one Saturday night you did at Central Hall (Youth For Christ - 30 Nov 1963, 1 Feb 1964 - bookings page) 1963/1964 era. Back then I belonged to Murray Hall, (Liverpool City Mission) on Breck Road/Poplar Street.

II was only about 10 yrs old but I was already smitten with the music bug and was utterly thrilled to get the chance to see a real live 'guitar group'. I loved watching and listening to you and I remember getting home after seeing you at Central Hall and telling my mum and dad that you had played a song that reminded me of 'House of the Rising Son'!! At the first opportunity I was playing music myself, though I initially went into the acoustic singer/songwriter domain. By 1972 I was at Bethel Green Lane and with three other guys we wrote two multimedia 'musicals' - one about Jesus birth, one about his life and death. In several incarnations we played music all over the Liverpool churches, and although I have an archive of where we played and what we sang, the gig count doesn't even scratch remotely close to your 700!!

In 1976 I had moved to the Wirral to start teaching and joined Elim Pentecostal, Birkenhead. Here I picked up bass and played for several years (starting 1980) with Neil Jump in Agape. Neil then joined me in a band venture which to some degree ran parallel with Agape. The band was called 'Waveband' and we released just one cassette, recorded in a studio in Palm Grove, Birkenhead. Waveband wound up in 1983. The lineup included Steve Noakes on drums who had played with another Liverpool group earlier, (whose name slips my memory, but I have a cassette somewhere). In 1985 the Elim Church moved down the road into the old Children's Hospital on Woodchurch Road. There I built a studio in the old Xray department of the hospital which I managed along with Peter Elliott (formerly of 'Salt', St Mary's Upton). We employed several engineers, the most notable being Tim Speed who, while working at the studio, formed 'River City People' who went on to have a degree of national notoriety and a top twenty hit with a cover of the Mamas and Papas California Dreamin'. As well as RCP, we also recorded Flock of Seagulls, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and HRH Princess Alexandra, to name but a few!

I joined David Eastman in about 1985 for a year and a half playing bass. David released one album called 'Hands of God' and had a voice that was staggeringly similar to either Paul McCartney or Phil Keaggy, take your pick. He was a keyboard player from Lytham St Annes who burst onto the CCM scene gaining rave reviews and then suddenly slipped off the scene, never to be heard of again (by me, anyway!!). For the rest of the 80s I was playing with variations of friends mainly from St Mary's Upton and St Marks New Ferry (Mal Peters). I became Barry Crompton's drummer for a year or so from 1987-1988. My drumming phase lasted into the mid 90s.

At the beginning of the 80s I started promoting concerts and ended up being the only major concert organiser in Liverpool for the bulk of the decade. I noticed in your bookings pages the names of a few people I became very friendly with, namely Bill Hampson in the Warrington area, Alan Godson, Simon Beckley, Roy Barker (who now lives in Canada, near Vancouver) Robert Scott in South Shields (my wife's home town) came to my wedding. I established a little organisation called 'Merseyside Christian Concerts' and we brought in Nutshell, Graham Kendrick, John Pantry, Barry Crompton, Mark Williamson Band, Leon Patillo, Michael Card, Liberation Suite, Bryn Haworth, Sheila Walsh, David Edwards, Alwyn Wall Band, Larry Norman etc and then during my time at Elim (now called Wirral Christian Centre) I brought in Larry Norman twice more, Randy Stonehill, Michael Card (3 times) , Bryn Haworth, Norman Barratt, 2nd Chapter of Acts (twice) and a bunch of others whose names have slipped my memory (will have to check the books!). I was also broadcasting the 'Gospel Gig Guide' during the weekly religious programme on Radio City from about 1981. I switched to Radio Mersyside at the end of the eighties having also done a music and chat programme that was beamed weekly to Manx Radio for a couple of years.
At the beginning of the 90s I emigrated to Canada and that's where I still am -- in Vernon, British Columbia. To this day playing more music than I ever have, but I won't bore you with all of that.

Hope you didn't mind me doing a bit of reminiscing -- it's your fault for creating such a great 'reminiscible' web site!!

Just want to say a very belated 'thank you' for the small but significant influence you had on my life and development in those early years, an influence that now with me at 51 doesn't die away easily. (No I did not do music full time by the way -- I'm vice-principal of a school here in Vernon).

I always enjoy the chance to natter about those 'good' old days so if you want to scribble a few lines if I've hit any names you remember, then please do ! I noticed also that you played at Barnston Dale camp -- my uncle and aunt ran that place from 1969 -- 1993 (Ron and Lucy Shaw.)

Thanks once again for a great site -- I'm sure I'll be reading it musch more. The cross-referencing is truly amazing -- you must have spent a long time on this! Congratulations!

Best Wishes and blessings

Bob Oldfield


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