Weston band have back catalogue released - almost 56 years after forming

Fumble.

Fumble. - Credit: Des Henly

A rock ‘n’ roll band from Weston have had their entire back catalogue released, almost 56 years after they made their first recordings. 

Fumble were popular in the 1970s, touring with Bill Haley and Fats Domino, backing Chuck Berry, supporting David Bowie on two American tours and appearing in Elvis: The Musical. 

After 16 years, four studio albums, and 15 singles, the band called it a day in 1982.  

But one of their founding members Des Henly was approached by Cherry Red Records, who asked if they could buy the rights to release all of their recorded works in a four-CD box set, including their BBC sessions. 

The set, which includes 92 tracks and a 40-page booklet, was released on November 27. 

Fumble performing in London in 1982. 

Fumble performing in London in 1982. - Credit: Des Henly

Lead vocalist and guitarist Des told the Mercury: “Earlier this year I got an unexpected phone call from Cherry Red Records asking if they could pay to licence one of our tracks, Free The Kids, then a week later they asked to do our whole discography. 

“I went on BBC Points West to discuss the release; it all happened very quickly and came out of nowhere.  

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“We began playing in Weston many years ago and went on an amazing journey, playing at some incredible venues with some huge names.” 

Fumble performing in London in 1979.

Fumble performing in London in 1979. Des Henly - Credit: Des Henly

The roots of Fumble lay in the friendship between Des and Mario Ferrari, who had known each other since they were three years old, growing up together in Weston. 

By the late 1950s, they were both obsessed with American rock ’n’ roll. Des had acquired a guitar after seeing the Elvis Presley film Loving You in 1957, while Mario had been taking piano lessons since the age of five, although he would later switch to bass.  

In 1962, Des and Mario joined forces in a band called The Iveys, which also featured Mario’s brother Remo and, on drums, John Watson, although the latter was quickly replaced by Bob Davies.

Having played their first gig at Weston’s Grand Atlantic Hotel, they went on to build a local reputation over the next couple of years. 

The Iveys broke up in 1967 when Remo got married and Bob joined the army. 

However, Des and Mario were keen to continue their musical journey, and they subsequently met two students, pianist Sean Mayes and drummer Barry Pike, who together formed The Baloons. 

Although a recording contract eluded them, The Baloons continued to work regularly, both abroad and at home - including gigs at London clubs the Scotch of St James, Samantha’s and Whiskey-a-Go-Go, alongside several bookings at Liverpool’s world-famous Cavern Club. 

Weston band Fumble

Fumble. - Credit: Des Henly

In 1971, they changed their name to Fumble and in September they released their first album, Fumble, on the EMI-Sovereign record label. 

A US tour with David Bowie followed in spring 1973. Bowie used them as a support act on two separate tours and would later add Fumble’s pianist, Sean Mayes, to his own band. 

Speaking about Fumble, Bowie was quoted as saying: ”I adore them. They're very unpretentious about revamping that whole era.” 

Back in Europe, they performed on the famous German TV-show Musik Laden.

That summer saw them play several festivals all over Europe including Reading Festival, Alexandra Palace Festival, the Clitheroe Festival and Roskilde Festival in Denmark. 

Fumble performing at a festival in Germany in 1981.

Fumble performing at a festival in Germany in 1981. - Credit: Des Henly

By the end of the 1970s, Fumble had played with Chuck Berry several times, supported Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney, and were regulars in clubs including The Cavern Club, The Marquee in London, Dingwalls and the Rock Garden. 

In June 1980, they went to South Africa to support Bill Haley on his very last tour. At the end of 1982 the band stopped touring, but continued to play occasional gigs in their home town. 

Des still lives in Weston and works as a guitar tutor. 

He added: “All we wanted to do when the band started was to play Europe and get to see as many countries as we could. 

“We actually never were conscious of the fact that someday we might hit the big-time the way I suppose most bands do. We were in it to travel." 

To purchase to CD boxset, log on to www.fumbleontheweb.com 

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