I had a very enjoyable chat to Micky Ashman who is 82 years of age and has retired to Holland on Sea in Essex. He has glowing memories of his time with Lonnie apart from his sacking when it was said that his energy on stage (which I well remember) was upstaging Lonnie. The sad news he had to tell was that Nick Nicholls died a couple of years ago, so he is the only living member of the original band.
The original band was put together by producer Denis Preston and was supposed to be Micky, Colin Bowden on Drums and a guitarist who Micky can’t recall (Spencer Leigh says John Booker). When it came to the session for “Sylvie”, only Lonnie and Micky turned up. A couple of phone calls and a short while later Nick Nicholls and Denny Wright arrived (Mickey said Denny wasn’t wearing Pyjamas under his clothes) and they recorded “Sylvie” and “Dead or Alive”.
He vividly remembers the night at the Albert Hall when Denny was really drunk and had to be helped onto the stage. When they played “Sylvie” Denny was almost slumped over his amp much to Lonnie’s consternation, and when it came to the solo he yelled out “Mickey Ashman” to play the solo although Denny carries on in another key. These tracks are on the Conway Hall CD. Denny was sacked after this but remained a further three weeks to play that amazing solo on “Cumberland Gap” for which I’m sure we’re all grateful.
Micky said that although he was a jazz player he had no musical conflict with Lonnie’s music and enjoyed every minute of his time in the band. He has no collection of records that he played on but said that from his memories in the studios his two favourites were “Nobody’s Child” and “Wabash Cannonball”.
Micky didn’t have too much contact with Lonnie over the years but teamed up with him, Joe Brown and Bert Weedon on a programme called “The trouble with the fifties” when Joe played Denny’s solo on Cumberland Gap note for note. I think I’ve got this on tape somewhere.
I told Micky about the forum and said how much we would value any contribution. He says he’s not great with technology but I sent him the link and between him and his wife they’ll see what they can do.
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