Contest-winning band reform after 35 years

The judges and winners of the Search for a Star talent competition in June 1972

The judges and winners of the Search for a Star talent competition in June 1972

0
Have your say

it’s hard to imagine Simon Cowell saying “yes” to a band called Fags’n’Matches, but things were a little different in 1972.

Back then, the band were handed top prize in the Evening News Search for a Star competition by host Hughie Green, resplendent in their smart suits and huge bow ties.

Fags and Matches pop group

Fags and Matches pop group

Now they are to reform for a reunion gig with other classic Edinburgh bands, 35 years after they last played together – and complete with a 70-year-old lead singer.

Bassist Roy Martin, 61, said he was looking forward to getting back to rehearsals on Monday, and recalled the excitement of the competition final at the Playhouse – the venue where, coincidentally, the final of our Edinburgh’s Got Talent contest will be held.

“It was a great thing at that time. We reached the final the year before at the King’s Theatre but we didn’t get placed anywhere and we thought we’d give it another go and we came up trumps. It was a great feeling, I remember it was packed and we had quite a noisy support in the audience.

“I think there were eight acts all together and they announced the third place and then second, and we thought we’d lost out again, and then they said ‘This year’s winners are Fags’n’Matches – after that everybody was jumping around like they’d scored in the cup final.”

The group on stage, 5/6/1972

The group on stage, 5/6/1972

His happy memories of the night – where the five band members won a Caribbean cruise – are shared by singer John Miller, 70, who added: “It was brilliant. It was almost like winning the X Factor, in Edinburgh, it was fabulous.”

Mr Miller also came up with the name of the band, which played covers including Elvis and Neil Young: “I was working in Fife at the time and there was a labourer that used to come in with his Fife accent and say ‘Where’s my fags and matches? Where’s my fags and matches?’ and I thought it’s a stupid name, but I thought it would stick – and to this day I’m in the supermarket and people go ‘You were the singer with Fags ’n’ Matches!’”

Mr Miller kept the band name with many different line-ups, but this is the first time since the mid-70s that the competition-winning line-up will be back together.

They are not the only classic Edinburgh band of the 60s and 70s to take to the stage for the night of entertainment at Finnegan’s Wake on October 12. The event has been organised by Ian Forrest, 61, drummer with 70s folk rock band Netherbow, which is also reforming for the night.

Roy Martin (with bass guitar) and John Miller from the band Fag 'N' Matches

Roy Martin (with bass guitar) and John Miller from the band Fag 'N' Matches

Mr Forrest said: “The catalyst was my son, who was on the Jambo’s Kickback website and they were asking people to send in their best undiscovered bands and there was a guy that had put in Netherbow.”

Mr Forrest ended up making a CD of one of their albums for their long-lost fan, and the idea spiralled from there.

Also on the bill for the night, which begins at 8pm, are Bright Red Tandem, aka Wales O’Regan, and Fayne and the Cruisers, aka Dollyrocker Band.