John ‘Drumbo’French – The Duchess York 2012

When I heard that the Magic Band were reforming and touring I was ecstatic. My favourite band! After the initial euphoria, I was much more circumspect. How could anybody possibly substitute for Don Van Vliet? Don probably had the best (and loudest) voice in Rock Music history. He gave Howlin’ Wolf a run for his money. I checked out the line-up and it looked great. There was Gary Lucas, John ‘Drumbo’ French, Denny ‘Feeler’s Rebo’ Walley and Mark ‘Rockette Morton’ Boston. Even so I was expecting little more than a tribute band. How wrong I was. They not only had the vibe and the excitement of the original incarnations but somehow Drumbo turned out to be a dynamic frontman and even carried the vocals to within a gnat’s crotchet. Amazing. After that the band toured regularly and I got to as many gigs as I could, took my younger son and his friends and introduced them to real music. They were blown away. Gary Lucas unfortunately, dropped out (Oh, if only he had been replaced with Zoot Horn Rollo) but Eric Klerks came in and did a fine job. The standard didn’t drop. I even liked the Henry Kuttner incarnation (though I sorely missed both Mark and Denny). Far from a tribute act – they were indeed Magic! Here’s a number of shots of John in action at the Duchess York in 2012.


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